'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, August 10th, 2013
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
August 10, 2013
Guests: Christina Bellantoni, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Nick Acocella, Brendan
Nyhan, Krystal Ball
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Members of Congress return to their district
this week to report back to their constituents. And Republicans, in
particular, even hard line conservative Republicans, got an earful from
Take Robert Pittenger, he`s a Republican from North Carolina, and he should
be the poster child for Obama era conservatism in the House. He won a seat
just last year, and already, he has put his name on over a dozen bills to
repeal parts or all of President Obama`s signature health care law.
But when Pittenger faced the locals at a town hall on Monday, he found
himself confronted by Tea Party conservatives who demanded to know if he`d
vote against any federal spending bill that includes any money to implement
Obamacare, even if that means shutting down the entire federal government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Real quick easy question, this is what the Tea Party
wants to know. Will you vote with Mike Lee and end (ph) meadows here to
defund Obamacare? Yes or no.
REP. ROBERT PITTENGER, (R) NORTH CAROLINA: A thoughtful answer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want yes or no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That answer, as you can see, did not go over well. The crowd
began pushing back against Pittenger who tried explaining that even if it
passed the House, any spending bill that defunds Obamacare would never pass
the Democratic Senate and would never be signed by President Obama. That
only enraged the crowd even more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you make a stand to get them back on board?
PITTENGER: Do you think Harry Reid is going to pass --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to show the American people we stand for
conservative values --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Pittenger is not the only Republican catching heat like this
back home. Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, is himself facing a
primary challenge next year. The challenger is Matt Bevin. And Bevin used
what amounted to his campaign kickoff speech in Kentucky last weekend to
bash McConnell for not signing on to the shutdown threat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT BEVIN, (R-KY) SENATE CANDIDATE: Stop talking about yanking it out
root and branch and start voting in the U.S. Senate to kill it by defunding
it. Stand with Senator Mike Lee. Be a man, stand up and put your money
where your mouth is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The pressure on McConnell and Pittenger and others are coming
from Republicans like Marco Rubio who fan the shutdown flames in the talk
radio appearance on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: I`m not attacking anyone directly.
All I`m saying is you cannot say that you are against Obamacare if you`re
willing to go for a law that funds it. If you`re willing to fund this
thing, you can`t possibly say you`re against it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That is at least one big-name Republican who was urging caution,
but the party may not exactly be interested in what he has to say anymore.
That would be Mitt Romney who is slowly returning to the political scene,
speaking Tuesday at a state GOP fundraiser in New Hampshire.
Romney said, quote, "I badly want Obamacare to go away. Stripping it of
funds has appeal, but we need to exercise great care about any talk of
shutting down the government. I`m afraid that in the final analysis,
Obamacare would get its funding, our party would suffer in the next
elections, and the people of the nation would not be happy."
I want to bring in Christina Bellantoni. She`s the politics editor at PBS
Newshour, Nick Acocella, editor and publisher of Politifax New Jersey.
Nick, that doesn`t do your career justice. I`ve known you for about ten
years in my New Jersey days, but you run with what was -- but became - new
service. You were with ESPN. You had a very interesting career. So,
MSNBC contributor, Perry Bacon, Jr. is here, too. He`s also the political
editor of our sister site, thegrio.com, and Democratic representative,
Jerry Nadler, of New York. He needs no introduction, a regular on the
Christina, let me start with you, because -- tell me if I`m wrong on this,
but it`s sort of a roller coaster on this government shutdown threat. A
few weeks ago, the idea started getting some circulation, and I noticed
that John McCain and the number of other Republicans sort of came out and
seemed to bat it down, and I thought, OK, that`s not going to happen.
And I`m watching that town hall we`ve just showed in North Carolina and
this has happened in other town halls across the country where Republicans
are being confronted with very angry and demanding crowds saying this is
the litmus test of whether you`re a true Republican. And, I`m wondering if
they`re not going to come back from their recess just spooked by this and
saying this is something we have to do, whether we want to or not.
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, PBS NEWSHOUR: Yes. I don`t know why anyone would
want to be a member of Congress right now. This is such a tough position
to be in, right? And you`ve had this continual crisis governing. And for
Tea Party Republicans or particularly conservative Republicans, it`s very
easy for them to say shut it down, shut it down, because they know that it
may not pass the Democratic Senate just like that congressman said.
And then, of course, Mitt Romney, the realist, is out there saying probably
what would happen. You might have this vote, you get blamed for it,
Republicans get in trouble, and you`re not going to defund it anyone
because you have divided government. So, meanwhile, Democrats are kind of
laughing at this divide, but it does put the country in a very difficult
position of waiting to see what`s going to happen yet again with no real
funding for the government in place.
KORNACKI: And congressman, you`re going to have to deal with whatever the
consequences when you guys all come back next month. You know, you
represent the west side of Manhattan. I`m sure you`re being deluged with
Tea Party members at your town halls telling you to defund Obamacare, but
what do you expect the consequences of this are going to be when you guys
all reconvene next month?
REP. JERRY NADLER, (D) NEW YORK: I`m very worried that the Republicans
will force a government shutdown, not so much over this. I mean, they may
or may not be crazy enough to force a government shutdown over this. But
the fact is, they can`t agree among themselves, never mind with the
Democrats, on funding the government.
We had a bill on the floor to fund the departments of the treasury and HUD,
Housing and Urban Development, and the bill had draconian --
transportation, not treasury. Draconian --
NICK ACOCELLA, POLITIFAX NEW JERSEY: This was the THUD bill.
NADLER: Yes, transportation and HUD. Draconian cuts, 50 percent cut, 50
percent in community development block grants which is aide to cities, less
than President Ford allocated (ph) when he first started. Thirty percent
cut for Amtrak, 30 percent cuts for transportation. Ridiculous.
A number of Republicans could not vote for it because no suburban
Republican can go home and say I voted to raise the fares on Long Island
railroad or New Jersey transit, whatever, which is what this would do. And
some Republicans voted against it because it wasn`t bad enough. They
couldn`t get a vote.
They had to pull the bill off the floor. The Senate bill -- the Senate
counterpart bill was far more generous, was a reasonable bill in my
opinion, a Democratic bill with Senator Collins of Maine, and they
filibustered and killed that because it was too generous. So, I don`t know
how Republicans can agree among themselves, never mind the Democrats, on
the bills that are necessary to fund the government past September 30th.
KORNACKI: That`s right. It is a bigger issue here than just whether the
implementation of the Affordable Care -- passes is basic, you know,
spending bills to fund the government, that`s also a question mark. But I
want to stay on that point about the Affordable Care Act implementation
(ph) , and President Obama had a press conference yesterday and he
addressed these Republicans to shut down threats. I just want to play what
he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the really
interesting question is why it is that my friends in the other party have
made the idea of preventing these people from getting health care their
holy grail, their number one priority, the one unifying principle in the
Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don`t
have health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So Perry, I mean, there are some Republicans who see that the
potential political disaster that would come from actually forcing a
shutdown. They can remember 1995, Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, that
shutdown. That`s two decades ago. I wonder how many Republicans in
Congress really have a working memory of that.
But there seems to clearly be a divide in the Republican Party right now
with some warning about this and some, you know, what we`ve seen in the
town halls this week. How does that get resolved? I mean, how can the
John McCains of the party actually convince the Pittengers of the party
that it`s safe to, you know, keep funding --
PERRY BACON, JR., THEGRIO.COM: If you talk to Heritage Action, one of the
big activist groups on the right, what they say is we misremember the
1990s. In fact, the Republicans still want control the House in 1996 even
after the shutdown. It wasn`t that bad. Why is it a problem? So, that`s
part of what they`re hearing, too.
But you notice, if you look at this Mike Lee letter, the Mike Lee letter
that says we should defund Obamacare, there were 15 senators that signed on
it two weeks ago. That number is still around 15, as I understand. So,
even though Mitch McConnell has got a lot of pressure, I don`t think
(INAUDIBLE) was get a lot of applause, but it still hasn`t pushed him.
In fact, right now, Eric Cantor last night talked to National Review and he
actually said I don`t think a shutdown is the way to approach this in terms
of defunding Obamacare. We don`t have enough -- he said what Pittenger
said, we don`t have votes in the Senate yet. Eric Cantor usually is pretty
aware of where the caucus and the Republicans are.
And I guess -- he thinks the other members are not necessarily rated do
this yet, even though -- constituents are. So, I think there are
Republicans, not even just the John McCains, but pretty conservative people
who are saying this is not a great idea.
NADLER: Let me just say one comment there. There are some sane
Republicans, yes. But I think there`s a great difference, which is very
interesting, from what happened 18 years ago. The big political struggle
during that shutdown was who is to blame? Is it President Clinton`s fault
that we had a government shutdown or is it the Republicans` fault we had a
But whoever`s fault it is, it`s terrible and we`re going to exact political
price from them. But no one was claiming we wanted it. Here, you`ve got
Republicans saying we want a shutdown, we want a shutdown. If there is a
shutdown, for whatever the reason, the Republicans are going to get blamed
because a lot of them are saying they want it. And nobody in the public is
going to like that.
KORNACKI: And the other point, Nick, is - Congressman says there are some
sane Republicans still, but the definition of what that means now in
today`s politics, in today`s Congress is somebody who`s not willing to shut
down the government over implementation of a law that was passed upheld by
the Supreme Court and validated by the voters in the election. That`s now
the new definition of what political sanity is?
ACOCELLA: Yes. Well, the older I get, the less I understand. This
started -- Obamacare started as a Republican initiative. I mean, that`s
not a Democratic initiative. Democrats, you know, would prefer something
like a single-payer system. You know, individual responsibility is
supposed to be Republican mantra. Well, that`s what you got and they`re
I don`t know why they`re against it, but, there you go. As I said, I don`t
understand a lot of things anymore. The whole Republican Party, it seems
to me, why are we surprised about this? These are the people who wanted to
drown the federal government in the bathtub. So, I`m just really not
KORNACKI: Let`s look at the other pieces. We asked where the leadership
could come from on the Republican side to sort of, you know, call off the
hounds on this. You would look to, you know, maybe John Boehner in the
House. We know that`s not going to amount too much. Mitch McConnell in
the Senate -- and I think there was a really kind of telling exchange, you
probably saw this.
First, this is Jesse Benton. And this was Rand Paul`s campaign manager. I
think this is like a Rand Paul family in law. I think he married like Ron
Paul`s granddaughter or something like that. You know, as close as you get
to Ron Paul, managing Mitch McConnell`s re-election campaign and he was
secretly taped talking about Mitch McConnell, and this is what he had to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between you and me, I`m sort of holding my nose for two
years (INAUDIBLE). So, that`s my long vision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: He says he`s holding his nose, managing Mitch McConnell`s re-
election campaign next year in Kentucky. Mitch McConnell (INAUDIBLE)
primary challenge. They tried to make light of it. This was the picture,
you might have seen this this week. Mitch McConnell and there`s Jesse
Benton holding his nose. And Mitch going, oh yes, funny guy.
But to me, this illustrates how powerless Mitch McConnell is, because it
seems like Jesse Benton actually could say anything he wants about Mitch
McConnell and he`s not going to get fired because Mitch McConnell needs the
Rand Paul people.
ACOCELLA: If you`re looking for leadership, you`re not going to get it
from any senator who`s up for re-election this year. And that then applies
to the entire House of Representatives. They`re all scared. So, I don`t
know where the leadership is going to come from. And I`m going to warn
these guys, in New Jersey, we know every recording --
KORNACKI: That`s right. It`s not an activist from Iowa --
ACOCELLA: You have to be very, very careful.
BELLANTONI: But what`s interesting about this exchange is that that`s what
people assumed anyway when Jesse Benton was hired by the McConnell
campaign. McConnell has been very, very strategic about knowing he was
facing a tough re-election fight. People always want to challenge the
leader of the parties no matter what statement they`re from.
And so, he made (ph) all these smart hires. And everybody sort of assumed,
well, that`s just what he`s doing. So, now you have him on tape saying
that. So, that`s one reason why it resonates.
But at the same time, Jesse is not going anywhere, and he is a fairly smart
political operative that has run races there and also captivated a lot of
different people in the Republican Party. So, he knows exactly what he`s
doing. It doesn`t mean he`s going to win, and this is obviously a tough
primary challenge, but he`s been very, very deliberate about his moves.
KORNACKI: Yes, I know. It`s just so fascinating with McConnell because I
can`t remember seeing a sitting Senator, especially somebody in leadership
who has those dual challenges of you got to survive a serious primary
challenge and then the general election challenge if you get through that
is just as serious. Any move you make to help you in one hurts you in the
And so, again, we look at this pending fight in the fall, and I can`t see
how he can do anything except cater to the Tea Party and that. Lord knows
what that`s going to mean. Fried butter on a stick in a presidential --
call. It is a busy Saturday in Ames, Iowa, and we will have a live report
KORNACKI: Day three of the Iowa State fair is getting underway in the
college town of Ames this morning. And just across town, Republican
politicians and activists are gathering for a summit hosted by the family
leader, possibly the most powerful conservative group in the first in the
nation caucus state.
Among those who will speak, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Congressman Steve
King of Iowa, former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 presidential candidate,
Rick Santorum, and yes, Donald Trump. I guarantee he`s not running for
president. So, let`s ignore that. Yes, I know, it is early. Yes. The
2016 race, though, really, is under way. Much more on the republican side
than on the Democratic side. We`ll talk about that more in a second.
But first, I want to bring in NBC`s News political producer, Kasie Hunt,
who is at the family summit in Ames, Iowa. Kasie, we can see the crowd has
yet to fill up. I know it`s very early out there, probably, a time zone
change. But tell us just who is going to be there today. We gave you of a
few of the names, and what can we -- what are we expecting to hear from
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC NEWS, AMES, IA: Well, Steve, you hit on the major names
that are coming here on the 2016 hopefuls or potential 2016 hopefuls. You
have Donald Trump, you have Rick Santorum who, of course, eked out a
victory over Mitt Romney here in 2012. But, in some ways, what`s notable
are the names that aren`t yet coming out here.
I mean, there was a long list of Republicans who were invited but who are
not actually speaking this year. Rick Perry, governor of Texas, Bobby
Jindal, governor of Louisiana, Senator Marco Rubio from Florida. So, there
are a lot of banner names that are likely to pop up on the Republican side
who haven`t yet arrived here in Iowa. But what we are going to hear from
and also Senator Ted Cruz will be here.
So, what we will be hearing from Cruz, Santorum, those who do come is
really a focus on the family leaders` core messages and values, which are,
you know, they are anti-abortion. It`s sort of the evangelical cadre of
the cadre of the Republican Party here in Iowa. And that`s the audience
that they`re going to be speaking to today on stage.
KORNACKI: All right, Kasie. And in another part of the state, as we say
and certainly, but the stuff is happening. In another part of the state
yesterday, there was an event called Madam President that Emily`s List, the
group that supports Democratic -- female Democratic candidates for office
hosted. And this was basically called the First Hillary 2016. Hillary was
not there. Senator Claire McCaskill who has already endorsed her was
there. Tell us a little bit about what went on there yesterday.
HUNT: For sure. When McCaskill was acting as though she was a surrogate
for a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, I spoke to her after the
event, and that was really focused on, in fact, being a counterpoint to
this event that we`re seeing here today. Emily`s List organizers really
wanted to make sure that there was a contrast between what we`re going to
see on stage today, which is largely men and who are focused on issues that
Emily`s List in particular disagrees with.
And they wanted to make sure that they were showing that, you know, there`s
already discussion of a potential female president. And, while Hillary was
the focus of it, there was also some discussion of other women that could
potentially be leaders in the Democratic Party going forward, Senator Amy
Klobuchar, Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, even Wendy Davis in
Texas. So, a lot of names thrown out at that Madam President forum
KORNACKI: All right. I want to thank NBC News` Kasie Hunt reporting live
from Ames, Iowa this morning. Thanks for joining us, Kasie. I am really
jealous of Kasie, I have to say, first of all, because I`ve never attended
the Iowa State fair. I`ve attended a couple other state fairs in the
Midwest, and we said fried butter. You know, the Massachusetts State fair
does not compare to what -- the kind of food. So, I`m jealous that Kasie`s
getting to sample that this weekend.
But, let`s talk a little bit about the Republican race that`s sort of
taking shape here, because it`s a lot more active than what`s happening on
the Democratic side. In particular, Ted Cruz is going to be at this event
in Iowa today. Now, the head of the group, Family Leader, that runs this,
Bob Vander Plaats. His claim to fame and Iowa Republican politics is he
was with Mike Huckabee in 2008. Mike Huckabee won the state.
He was with Rick Santorum, and it took two weeks of counting, but we found
out that Rick Santorum won the state in 2012. This is a state where in the
Republican caucus is 60 percent of the electorate at least will be
evangelical Christians. So, this -- I mean, this is sort of ground zero
for evangelical Christians in Iowa.
And he said about Ted Cruz -- I don`t have the -- oh, here. He said in an
interview with CBN. This is Bob Vander Plaats just the other day about Ted
Cruz. He`s never seen anything like it before, like the appeal of Ted
Cruz. I`m wondering what you make of the phenomenon, Perry.
BACON: I`m not surprised by it. One of my views about this is the
republicans are looking someone on their ticket who`s not a White guy. I
think there`s going to be somebody on the ticket that`s not a White guy.
And therefore, the fact that Rubio has kind of gone down a lot of
evangelical, a lot of conservatives because of the immigration issue, I`m
not surprised that, therefore, they`re looking for somebody else.
And Cruz is a pretty charismatic guy. He went to Iowa a couple of weeks
ago. And a lot of good one-on-one meetings. People liked him there. He
met with Vander Plaats. So, I`m not surprised there`s a little bit of a
Cruz boom right now, even though Cruz just entered the Senate. There`s a
search for a non -- Latino candidate, particularly, on the Republican side
and Cruz has done a very good job of capturing that. He`s against the
comprehensive immigration bill. So, I think that helps as well.
KORNACKI: He`s against everything.
BACON: -- a very good job of cultivating that part of the party. He`s
doing a very smart thing by -- this is a moment where he can -- like Obama,
Cruz is very new to the Senate, but the moment might be there and why not
just jump it and take it.
KORNACKI: You know, we were talking last time about where the pressure is
coming on Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and Republicans who might have
instincts to resist like a shutdown. It`s coming from people like Ted
Cruz. And Ted Cruz gave his interview to "Time" magazine this week. I
thought it was interesting because I hear this argument made a lot to sort
of justify far right, you know, etiology.
And Ted Cruz basically said, hey, look back at history, look back at the
last 40 years of history, and when the Republican Party has nominated a
moderate, it loses. When it nominates a conservative, it wins. And I
think it`s such a narrow reading of history because, "A," it leaves out 49
years ago when they nominated the most conservative candidate, Barry
Goldwater, and he lost jsut about every state in the country.
BACON: He would be a liberal in today`s Republican Party.
KORNACKI: I`d say moderate -- but even like, you know, look, they
nominated Ronald Reagan in 1980. If Ronald Reagan wasn`t running with
double digit inflation, with double digit interest rates with the Iran, you
know, hostage crisis, I`m not sure Ronald Reagan wins in 1980. But, I also
look at what Ted Cruz is saying and I get the basic power of that to the
Republican base, the power of purity. And i see how that`s helping him
politically and how that`s hurting the Republican Party nationally.
ACOCELLA: Ronald Reagan would be red out of the Republican Party today.
Ted Cruz not only wants to shut down the government, he wants to keep it
shut down. I mean, I think he`s using the Obama model, as Perry said. I
think he`s -- why build up a record that can then be used against you. Run
as soon as you have the opportunity. I think that`s what`s happening.
BELLANTONI: And go back even to the convention, right? He was one of the
best-received speakers on the floor at the Republican National Convention.
He has this style, this sort of, you know, preacher-like cadence. He wears
the little hand -- or the, you know, face mic or whatever like he`s
Madonna. And he does have a lot of that charisma.
BELLANTONI: But, what`s interesting, it goes back to what we were talking
about in the last segment, too, with the government shutdown idea. He`s
not well-liked in the Senate. He`s well-liked among the people he`s
meeting out there and a lot of these folks that he`s talking to in early
But Mitch McConnell, not a friend to this guy. And a lot of these people
that try to get deals done, the John McCains of the Republican Party don`t
like him and then that creates this really tense environment.
KORNACKI: So far, we`ve likened him to Madonna and President Obama. I
wonder, you know, not being able to get a deal done in the Senate, not
being cooperative with Mitch McConnell, it seems like that`s almost a badge
of honor for a Republican.
NADLER: I think it`s very interesting that you`ve really got two different
groups for whom that`s a badge of honor now. Two different groups that
think that Mitch McConnell is a sellout. Ted Cruz personifies one of them.
And this is just far right off the wall, wackiness, and sort of neocon
foreign policy that we associate with Republican Party, hard-right foreign
But then you`ve got Rand Paul and company. And they`re just as wacky, off
the wall on everything else. But, on foreign policy, they`re throwback to
the Robert Taft pre-World War II isolationists which we haven`t seen
because you have the isolationist (INAUDIBLE) don`t want to deal with the
rest of the world and was, you know, was fine with Hitler taking over
Europe, and they didn`t want that, but they didn`t want to think we should
do anything to prevent it.
That went into eclipse because of Pearl Harbor, because of World War II,
and then because anti-communist and the cold war. Cold war has been over
for 20 years. Russia, we don`t like these days. China we don`t like, but
they`re not communists. So, the isolationism is reasserting itself, and
although, Rand Paul on any domestic issue is going to be very similar to
Ted Cruz on foreign policy, he`s going to be much more similar to the
extreme left wing of a Democratic Party.
KORNACKI: Well, speaking of Rand Paul who`s not going to be at this event
today in Iowa, but I think his presence will be felt, there was a -- one of
our colleagues here at MSNBC had a very interesting prediction about Rand
Paul this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama won in 2008 over Hillary Clinton because the
opponents of the Iraq war had had it with the party leaders who played it
safe and backed the war. I believe the Republican base will do the same in
2016. They put up with George Bush I, put up with Bob Dole. We`re deeply
disappointed with the big spending George W., and last year again by Mitt
Romney, and are now going to come loaded for bear for the race for 2016.
So, I predict the hard right is going to take over the Republican Party in
2016 and the nomination is going to Rand Paul. You watch. This is what I
do for a living.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Well, I kind of doing it for a living. I get predictions wrong
a lot of time, too. I love that he went out on a limb there. But, I
guess, I don`t quite see it with Rand Paul for a couple of reasons. I
mean, one of them that I just look at is we`re talking about Ted Cruz,
we`re talking about Rand Paul, we`re talking about Scott Walker.
There`s going to be so much territory that`s occupied by all sorts of
different candidates on the right, I almost wonder if that`s the perfect
setup for that establishment candidate who always seems to win these
BACON: In the last six Iowa caucuses, the winner in the Iowa caucus has
won the nomination twice. It`s not a path to the nomination. I mean, like
Santorum, Huckabee, et cetera. Also, the moderate candidate or the Mitt
Romney won last time, John McCain before that, this candidate tends to win
the primary. And that puts in -- Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan.
I think someone in that area is more likely to win the nomination. And
even in the Republican primary, California has more votes than Iowa does.
You have to always think about that is a moderate candidate can do really
well. And Rand Paul, I mean, he talked about -- he doesn`t support the
civil rights act, you know, he talks about he doesn`t believe in the
minimum wage. I just don`t see Rand Paul --
KORNACKI: Yes. And he had this aide who now is a former aide who like co-
wrote his book in 2010, "The Southern Avenger," a neo-confederate, and
there was an interview, I think this week on NPR with John Harwood, and
Rand Paul, I don`t think he handled it well at all. It`s a sort of thing
if -- I guess, it`s bad enough if you`re going to associated with a neo-
confederate, but you at least should be able to handle the question about
it, and I think at this point he`s got those two strikes --
BELLANTONI: All the things that Democrats are going to bring out against
him, but he does connect with a lot of Republicans, that he has to making a
lot of these early primaries. And if he can do better than his father did
among some of the younger generation, actually, get these people to show up
to vote, he could have a chance.
NADLER: But there`s one thing that`s going to give him a huge problem on
the right among the evangelical Christians. The evangelical Christians are
very large in Iowa, very large in Republican primaries and other areas, a
very strong supporters of American aid to Israel and Israeli security.
Rand Paul doesn`t care about that. He`s made very clear among his other
isolationist tendencies among everything else that he would abandon Israel
in every way conceivable. And I think that will present a major problem
for him among the evangelical base of the Republican Party.
KORNACKI: Yes. I think the term from Ron to Rand. I think the Paul (ph)
can be still might be one generation at least from a breakthrough, but
we`ll see. It is early, as we say.
Stop calling Chris Christie a moderate. He is not one, I swear, and I can
prove it. That`s ahead.
KORNACKI: You know the rap on Chris Christie. You`ve probably heard it
once or twice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Christie is a moderate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A governor from the liberal northeast. A lot of people
say, well, he can`t win the Republican nomination because he`s not
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But here`s the thing. They have got him completely wrong.
We`ll talk about it next.
KORNACKI: So, the conventional wisdom is that Chris Christie is a moderate
Republican, an old northeast Rockefeller Republican, someone who could
maybe win a general election but could never win the Republican
presidential nomination, another Rudy Giuliani. But perception is not
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: I believe that the institution of
marriage as it`s traditionally known is between one man and one woman.
They said it was impossible to touch the third rail of politics, to take on
the public sector unions.
I`m pro-life. I believe in exceptions for rape, incest or life of the
mother. That`s my position. Take it or leave it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, we were starting to talk a little bit about what`s going on
in Iowa. Chris Christie will be nowhere near Iowa today. Chris Christie
is running for re-election of blue state. He will be nowhere near Iowa for
the foreseeable future. But I`ve been hearing and watching this
conventional wisdom kind of take hold about Chris Christie, the moderate
Republican, and I`m saying to myself, I`m not buying it.
I think this guy is a totally viable contender for the Republican
nomination. I think he would be the Democrat`s worst nightmare if he wins
nomination. And I remember seeing this -- I used to cover New Jersey, so
I`m a little biased when it comes to Christie, because I sort of watched
him coming up a little bit, and I remember thinking to myself that if he
ever could get the spotlight, I don`t think it would be like this.
I don`t think he`d get quite the attention he`s got. I remember thinking
to myself, with that personality, if he can get the national spotlight, he
can make -- you know, interesting things would start to happen. The most
interesting thing to me about him was he`s in the blue state and he was
against abortion. And that`s sort of -- that`s the litmus test, the
fundamental litmus test for national Republicans and he passes it.
BELLANTONI: But in a state where it doesn`t matter. It`s not like he`s
ever going to be presented with a bill like Virginia, like Texas, like
South Carolina, some of those states. So, it allows him to have those
positions, and it`s not even for this right position on the Republican
Party, right? But in addition to that, I did a story on Tea Party
activists -- female Tea Party activists in 2010.
And I went to all these different states, and I was in Minnesota and I was
in Nebraska, and they all brought up his name saying they loved that he
took on the unions. And that`s one of the reasons he`s generating this all
the time. But at the same time, Democrats saying he`s the best candidate
to go up against Hillary Clinton. I heard a lot of that about Rudy
Giuliani. Not that they`re similar in politics, but that this is the guy
that can beat the Democrats. Republicans don`t vote that way in primaries.
KORNACKI: But here`s the Rudy comparisons. What I would take issue with
is, first of all, Rudy had the pro-choice background. Rudy had been very,
very liberal on gay rights, very, very liberal on immigration. Christie
has got a little bit of baggage at least within the Republican universe on
immigration. But I also look at the Rudy Giuliani who ran for president in
2007 was like comatose.
They were so scared of Angry Rudy showing up and yelling at people or
saying something too liberal. And he was -- and I look at Christie, and
I`m like, you know, Christie is not going to have that problem. He might
have the other problem where he says way too much and, you know, Lord knows
what will happen. But Christie has got that personality where people want
to give him -- Republicans want to give him the benefit of the doubt. You
know this guy better than anybody.
ACOCELLA: It depends on what you mean by moderate anymore. I mean, we`re
playing games with this. The Republican Party has moved so far to the
right, he may be a moderate in the modern Republican Party, but I`m not
sure any of that matters. I think a lot of politics about personality and
stack up any of those guys that you`re talking about in the last segment
against Christie and he`s going to win personality.
NADLER: I think he`s clearly no moderate. You can go down a list of
positions and he`s very right wing on them. But, he has a number of
positions where he appears somewhat moderate, and although he`s not really,
like, he has nuance positions on some things like gun control, like
immigration, and I think those are enough -- those may be enough to really
hurt him in the Republican primary.
ACOCELLA: When he appointed a Muslim judge, and some of the people in the
Republican Party, it was a pretty moderate party, got very upset about this
and started ranting about Sharia law. And he said I`m tired of dealing
with the crazies. I can see that and --
KORNACKI: New Jersey Republican Party is a pretty moderate --
KORNACKI: You mentioned, congressman, gun control. So, there are bills on
his desk right now. He signed a couple of gun control measures the other
day, but he did not sign, did not take action on measures that are opposed
by the NRA. They`re sitting on his desk right now.
One would have firearms permits that would be printed on your driver`s
license, another would be mandatory safety training course if you`re going
to be buying gun, background checks for private sales of guns. These are
on his desk right now. These are all issues that the NRA, the gun crowd
will go crazy about if he signs, but it also running in 2013 in New Jersey,
Perry, you know, it would be good politics to sign.
BACON: You say abortion is one litmus test. Gun control is certainly
another in the Republican Party right now. And voting for these bills
would be -- it`s a long way from the election, so I`m not going to say it`s
going to hurt him or hurt him permanently who win on the primary but those
-- the signing a gun control bill in this political environment,
particularly after President Obama talked about it so much this year will
be a very dangerous thing for him.
And I think that`s one of the challenges. Look at him more broadly,
though. He also had the right tone for the Republican Party. The
Republican Party wants someone who`s an aggressive, the government wastes
money. He has the right personality. I think that`s why he could have won
the nomination in 2012 if you think about it.
I mean, it`s hard to say he`s too moderate for a party that was begging for
him to run two years ago. In some ways, you know, Mitt Romney, why he`s a
pretty viable candidate.
KORNACKI: This is why I think he`s dangerous for Democrats, because I
think he -- the problem that Mitt Romney ran into was the nominee in 2012
was he got pegged as a top one percent guy, running on a top one percent
message. Chris Christie, I think, has the appeal of a 99 percenter. He
would still be running, let`s make no mistake about it. The platform he`d
run would be top one percent. But I think he could sell it in a way that a
guy like Mitt Romney couldn`t.
ACOCELLA: He`s a middle class guy with middle class values. That`s the
image he projects and wants to project. Does it ultimately play? I don`t
BACON: He`s a very charismatic guy. He`s not stiff. Romney is like hard
to talk to versus Christie is very -- can be funny occasionally. He can be
caustic. He`s got a personality to him in a way that he will not be boring
like Mitt Romney.
BELLANTONI: And in 2012, so many former lawmakers, right, former
governors, their tenure was so far in the past. This would be somebody
who`d be running on his record today, of competence something to be able to
say I manage my state well.
KORNACKI: We got to end it here. I`m sorry. I want to thank you,
Congressman, I know this is the end of the segment. I want to thank
Congressman Jerry Nadler from New York for joining us.
Arkansas, it was once a Democratic stronghold. It kind of isn`t right now.
What happened? That`s next.
KORNACKI: It`s the middle of August. The weather is beautiful. The
pennant races are starting to heat up. So, I think i know exactly what
you`re thinking about right now, the 2014 U.S. Senate race in Arkansas.
OK. Maybe not. There probably aren`t even people in Arkansas who are
thinking about that right now. I mean, come on. The first game of the
college football season is three weeks from today.
August 31st, historic Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. Arkansas playing
host to the Louisiana Lafayette raging Cajuns, the best name in college, of
course (ph), catch the excitement. So, yes, the 2014 Arkansas Senate race
is not on many people`s minds right now. But there was still some pretty
important news that happened there this week. And that news is Republicans
have a candidate.
Tom Cotton is his name, and he is a very conservative freshman Republican
congressman. He`s 36 years old. He has two degrees from Harvard. He
served in Iraq and Afghanistan. And now, he`s going to run for the Senate
against the Democratic incumbent, Mark Pryor. Why is this important?
Because this is a race that Republicans absolutely have to win if they`re
going to take back the Senate next year.
Right now, Democrats hold a 54-46 advantage in the chamber. That advantage
is going to grow to 55-45 two months from now when (INAUDIBLE) Cory Booker
is elected in New Jersey. That means Republicans will need a net gain of
six seats in 2014. If these targets go, they don`t get much riper than
Arkansas. This is a state that voted for Mitt Romney by 24 points last
There is no Democratic incumbent running in 2014 who will face a more
Obama-phobic electorate than Mark Pryor. Republicans can`t win this race,
and they are not going to be winning the Senate next year. The poll at the
end of July had both good news and bad news for the incumbent Pryor. The
good news, he was ahead of Cotton by eight points.
The bad news, his support was just 43 percent, well under 50 percent which
is a very dangerous place for any incumbent to be, especially an incumbent
Democrat in a state like Arkansas. Now, Pryor could hang on, but this is
definitely a winnable race for Republicans, especially now that they have
the candidate they want, but there`s something bigger going on here.
We are watching a state that not long ago was one of the bluest in the
country transforming into a Republican Bastian before our eyes. Part of
this has to do with a familiar story. You know it, the steady decades-long
shift of White voters in the states of the old confederacy away from the
Democratic Party and into the Republican fold.
It started during the civil rights movement more than half century ago, and
it`s created what is today the most deeply and reliably Republican region
in America. But the story is more complicated in Arkansas. Yes, since
1964, it has voted for more Republican presidential candidates than
But it also gave us Bill Clinton. It still has a Democratic governor
today. Since reconstruction, it`s only had grand total of three Republican
governors. As recently as just three years ago, three of the four House
members and both of the U.S. senators from the state were Democrats.
Arkansas didn`t vote for Barack Obama in 2008.
But if Hillary Clinton, that`s former Arkansas first lady Hillary Clinton
had been the Democratic nominee that year, there`s a very good chance she
would have carried the state. And Arkansas isn`t the only state like this.
It`s representative of a very specific area of the country, a cluster of
rural states around the Appalachia and the Ozarks, states with deep
Democratic traditions that did not abandon the party with the same ferocity
as state in the deep south.
These are the states that Bill Clinton was able to carry twice in the
1990s. You can see them there. You`ve got Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky,
Tennessee, West Virginia, with an even throw-in Louisiana. These are
states that Al Gore had a chance to win in 2000. If he`d won just one of
them, it would have made him president.
And they weren`t even that far gone for John Kerry in 2004. His campaign
really thought it could win West Virginia when that race started. But in
the Obama era, these states have swung hard to the GOP. Take Arkansas.
Kerry lost it by only nine points in 2004. Four years later, Obama was
swamped by 20 points against John McCain.
In the 2010 midterms, Democratic senator, Blanche Lincoln, lost by 21
points. That was one of the worst showings for any incumbent senator
anywhere ever. In the same year, in 2010, Republicans won three of the
four -- three of the state`s four Congressional seats. That was the first
time in history they did that. And then last year, they turned around and
they made it a clean sweep.
There are a couple of forces at work here. Some of it`s demographic, older
voters who grew up when these states were Democratic bastions are now dying
off and are being replaced by younger voters with a more natural loyalty to
the GOP. Some of its cultural, too, and it`s hard to believe that race
isn`t playing a real role as well.
The question, though, is how far gone Arkansas and states like it are from
Democrats. Those states that Clinton carried twice in 1990s add up to a
total of 48 electoral votes. We talked a lot about Democrats needing to
turn out the Obama coalition to keep winning national elections when the
president is no longer on the ballot.
What if the next Democratic nominee is able to win back some of those old
Clinton coalition states? To win back a state like Arkansas. This sounds
like a long tease for a segment on the Clintons. It kind of is. Guilty as
charged. Bill is getting a presidential Medal of Freedom, Hillary is
getting two movies. Republicans are angry about them. We`re going to talk
about that after this.
KORNACKI: All right. Let`s talk all things Clinton here, because the
Clintons were in the news a lot this week. First, I want to bring in
Krystal Ball who`s joining us, the co-host of MSNBC`s -- what` the show
called? I`m not familiar --
It`s called "The Cycle," 3:00 p.m. eastern time weekdays. And you should
really catch it sometime.
KORNACKI: It must be new.
KORNACKI: I`ll update the DVR at home. Welcome Krystal Ball. So, the big
news with the Clinton this week, obviously, was the movie that`s going to
be on NBC, apparently. We stress that there`s the wall between NBC
Entertainment and MSNBC. CNN doing a documentary on Hillary Clinton. The
twist that broke overnight, "The New York Times" has a report that says the
company that actually produces this Hillary Clinton movie may actually be
So, this whole idea that the Republican National Committee threatening to
withhold debates from CNN and from MSNBC because they`re associated with
this, you know, demon Clinton film, or whatever you want to call it, well,
it may be produced by Fox, P.S. So, we`ve got that.
ACOCELLA: It is after all a business. And people do what they have to do
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC`S "THE CYCLE": If i was Hillary Clinton, I would be
very nervous and uncomfortable. And you know how careful the Clintons are
about managing their image and nobody more than Hillary Clinton. Here`s
something you have no control over.
She also wants to emphasize certain parts of her resume, her time as
secretary of state, in particular, and not be thought of so much as the
first lady. So, I think that, even in and of itself, is an issue for her.
KORNACKI: That`s what I wonder when I think about this. I mean, I wonder
two things. First of all, these movies, when they do these bio pics, made
for TV bio pics about contemporary, you know, figures are almost always
BELLANTONI: But when you`re in the business of making money, you might
look at the most popular figure not just, you know, in the Democratic Party
right now, but also worldwide. She`s got all this global respect. But of
course, you`re going to make a movie about her. And it`s not the first
movie made about her and it`s not going to be the last.
BACON: I rarely say this, but smart Reince Priebus move, though, that he
doesn`t want (INAUDIBLE), anyway, so why not --
BACON: -- pretend he`s outraged. You know, I`m going to cancel a debate.
He wanted to do that anyway. It was a very brilliant move on his part to
lower the number, because the debates were an embarrassment for them last
time. And the only better this time is there won`t be as many --
candidate, but it`s still, the debates themselves are not useful for the
Republican Party right now. If they produce that number, that`d be a good
strategy whatever this movie is about or if there`s a producer or not.
ACOCELLA: But if he eliminates NBC and now he may eliminate Fox, where is
he going to go?
KORNACKI: Netflix. I think that --
KORNACKI: I want to make sure to get my obscure 1979 political reference
in somewhere in the show. I`m going to do it here, because here is what I
thought of what the, you know, this could be a glowing, you know, portrait
of Hillary Clinton that could make Republicans mad. Krystal, the other
side of this is, is the Clintons may not end up being happy with this.
And I`m remembering, it`s a slightly different, but when Ted Kennedy got
into the presidential race for 1980, he was about to get in and CBS rushed,
you know, before equal time rules came into effect, they wanted to do a
primetime special on Ted Kennedy, and it wasn`t going to be about Jimmy
Carter, it wasn`t going to be about -- it`s just Ted Kennedy because of the
And this is where Roger Mudd (ph), the CBS newsman, got the exclusive
interview with Ted Kennedy and asked Ted K. a very simple question, why do
you want to be president? And Ted Kennedy could not answer the question.
His campaign was kind of derailed before it even started. And this was
supposed to be when this thing was announced, the Republicans were
screaming and the Carter White House was screaming that this was
preferential treatment for the Kennedys.
I know this is not a document -- this is not a seat interview (ph) or
anything, but you never know what these things. The Clintons may not be
happy with it. And like I said, it may just be a terrible movie.
ACOCELLA: How much are they going to emphasize the fact that she spent $62
million, you know, to blow the Democratic nomination --
KORNACKI: And you`ve got to relive the late 1990s, you`ve got to relive
the white water and all that. Anyway, how boom and bust media coverage
cemented a fake IRS scandal into place? That`s next.
KORNACKI, HOST: We are going to talk about the attention that has been
given or more recently that has not been given to the so-called scandal at
We`re here with Christina Bellantoni of "PBS NewsHour", Nick Acocella of
Politifax New Jersey, MSNBC contributor Perry Bacon of TheGrio.com, and co-
host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE," I got it right, Krystal Ball.
So, it was 39 years ago on Thursday night that Americans turned on their
televisions and watched this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: To continue to fight through the months
ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and
attention of both the president and the Congress in a period when our
entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity
without inflation at home.
Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, that`s what a real scandal can do to a president.
Watergate started small with a little noticed burglary in June of 1972 and
then grew and grew and grew until it finally toppled Richard Nixon this
week in 1974.
In the decades since, it has provided the single most overused and flat-out
abused point of reference whenever a hint of possible scandal comes
anywhere near an administration. Think of a few months ago when there were
reports that the IRS might have targeted conservative groups. Peggy Noonan
wrote back then that, quote, "We are in the midst of the worst Washington
scandal since Watergate."
And she wasn`t a lot alone. There were a lot of comparisons between Obama
and Nixon that were made back then, mostly by conservatives, but there were
plenty of people in the media who went right along with the basic White
House scandal narrative, present company included.
But unlike Watergate, unlike any real White House scandal, the IRS story
has not built and built and built. IRS officials testified under oath that
the White House was not involved. We learned targeted groups also included
the terms progressive and occupy, as well as other organizations without a
conservative bent. Hence, the original charges of the Tea Party groups
being uniquely singled out were debunked, media attention dropped off
On the right, the scandal narrative is still alive. If you haven`t heard
much about it from the rest of the media lately, well, that`s not an
A new study of IRS-related stories from "The New York Times," "The
Washington Post" and "Politico" shows as the narrative fell apart, major
media outlets basically dropped the story. No mea culpas, no former
exoneration of the White House and they let it go. The White House has
been happy to let them.
The author of that report is Brendan Nyhan. He`s an associate professor of
government at Dartmouth College and a contributor to "The Columbia
Journalism Review". He joins us now from Hanover, New Hampshire.
Brendan, thanks for being part of the show.
So, I said present company included. I remember when we first heard these
reports; I think I said on this show, this absolutely is a scandal. It
absolutely wasn`t a scandal. But maybe let`s go back to May when those
initial reports broke, when idiots like me were saying things like that.
Take us through what`s happened since then. What is the real story here?
BRENDAN NYHAN, DARTMOUTH COLLEGE: Well, the initial reports focused on two
points that made it so explosive. The first was that the White House might
be involved, and the second was that conservatives were being targeted
exclusively. Both of those fell apart. The wheels have come off that
As you said, the evidence suggests that other groups were targeted using
keywords and there`s no credible evidence that the White House was involved
in directing this process. So, it`s not clear at all that those initial
reports were correct. The impression the American public got from them,
hasn`t been supported. But, of course, the media doesn`t want to run a
headline saying not as much news here as we thought. So, instead, they
simply stop covering the story and that can leave people with a misleading
KORNACKI: Right. I mean, I think that`s sort of the old story, the
paraphrase a cliche, it`s like you`re indicted on the front page, and
you`re exonerated in, you know, page B-27 or something. But to pick up on
the point, you know, have we -- has this basically created the situation
where the narrative of the White House did something wrong here, the White
House was doing something Nixonian in orchestrating some kind of, you know,
investigation of its political enemies.
It seems to me there was some evidence that that perception has taken hold
precisely because of what you`re saying, that there was no real forceful
correction ever issued.
NYHAN: That`s right. It picks up on people`s suspicions of Obama who
don`t like him, fears of the IRS, beliefs that Obama practices so sort of,
quote, "Chicago-style politics." So, there are lots of threads out there
that this narrative swept up and capitalized on, even though the evidence
has gotten much more complex.
You know, we should say, Steve, in defense of your initial reporting, there
may still be important things to out here. At least as a policy question,
how to regulate these tax-exempt groups is a very difficult problem, and it
may be true that the conservative groups were subject to disproportionate
But that`s not what the original reports were suggesting. They were
suggesting that it was exclusively directed at conservatives. And that
fact hasn`t been supported.
KORNACKI: Brendan, Krystal has a question for you as well.
KRYSTAL BALL, THE CYCLE: Brendan, I was wondering if you looked at any
sort of public opinion or any sort of indication of what impression the
public was actually left with, because certainly, it would seem from your
study that because the coverage was most intense when people were thinking
that there was a scandal and then it sort of dropped off, that people were
left with the impression that there was a scandal.
But do you know, have you looked at any opinion research that would support
NYHAN: Well, so, the problem here is that because the media coverage
dropped off, the polling coverage dropped off as well. So my understanding
is that these questions haven`t been polled as much since the scandal fell
apart. My piece for "Columbia Journalism Review" does cite a CNN poll
showing about half of the American people said they thought the White House
was involved in this case.
Now, how many of them actually new about the scandal and how many were
saying that as an expression of dislike for Obama -- we don`t know. But it
at least suggests that people were coming way with a very negative
KORNACKI: The other thing I just want to ask here is, because I know
you`ve studied more broadly just scandals in general, presidential scandals
in general. How they take shape, what the sort of necessary ingredients
I wonder what your analysis of why the media sort of latched on to a much
more sinister narrative at the beginning of this than maybe was there.
What is your explanation for sort of what happened back in May to make this
the big sort of fake story that it became?
NYHAN: Yes, my research on presidential scandals suggests that the
conditions were ripe for scandal at the time that this took off. President
Obama had not had a major scandal since he took office, so there was
something of a scandal backlog. There was latent demand out there for
Obama scandal, both among the media and among the Republican Party`s base.
They believe there must be something shady going on, we just haven`t found
The other thing is, of course, the Republican base doesn`t like him and
there wasn`t much going on in the news. The political media needs stories
to cover, right? You guys have a news hole to fill regardless of what`s
In his first term, there was quite a lot going on, and there were many
other competing stories out there. But with Obama`s agenda stalled in
Congress, and we`re kind of hitting the second-term doldrums period, there
was a news vacuum and this story helped fill it.
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, PBS NEWSHOUR: And this story got more traction than,
say, the Solyndra investigation, where there is a lot of information there
that, you know, doesn`t make the White House look good, or Fast and
Furious, or some of the other things that congressional Republicans have
focused on. But at the same time, it came in the middle of finding out the
Justice Department was looking into what journalists were doing, you`ve got
surveillance stories. So, it all sort of bubbled up around the same time.
But show me a media that didn`t drop off on an important story? Like, the
Gulf Coast oil spill should have been front page for much longer than it
actually was. And this tends to happen.
But the real question I have, yes, the White House may not have been
involved here. But if they`re targeting any groups, does it really matter
what side it`s on? That`s for the IRS a big deal.
KORNACKI: Sure it is. I think what Brendan said is, you know, there are
definitely unresolved questions here. The key to me is like approaching
this through the scandal prism was probably a mistake.
And then I guess we wonder, the question then is, is targeting the right
verb for what happened? Was it an agency that was told to interpret the
new rules it was never set up to interpret?
BALL: And doesn`t have enough resources to do it either because their
budget has been cut by such a large amount by congressional Republicans.
NICK ACOCELLA, POLITIFAX NEW JERSEY: I sort of knew it wasn`t a real
scandal when nobody put the word "gate" on the end of it.
BALL: I think people did, though, didn`t they?
ACOCELLA: This is what we do. We hype stories and then when they prove
not to be as big as our hype, we drop them. That`s what we do.
PERRY BACON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It`s a bit of a feedback loop here, too,
where we hyped it, therefore, Obamas asks for resignations from the IRS.
Therefore, we hyped it more because people are resigning. So, that means
it must be real news.
BELLANTONI: Members of Congress can fundraise off of it.
BACON: Also, the other thing to keep in mind, there`s a bias in the media
for action. So, once a scandal starts, Darrell Issa has a press
conference, so does John Boehner, so does Eric Cantor, Harry Reid is
defending the White House from this, then there became stories about
reaction and so on.
So, once there`s action in the story, you`re always -- because right now,
the media coverage action. So, right now, there`s nothing happening. No
one is giving press conferences about it. This is a problem. We at the
MSNBC, "The Washington Post," "Politico", should cover press conference
less and news more. And that`s one of the core problems you`re seeing.
KORNACKI: And you raised an interesting point here, because I wonder, did
the White House react too swiftly to this? Look how they`ve handled this
since. Since this has sort of fallen apart, the idea of White House
orchestrated targeting. It seems like instead of, hey, look, we`re right,
we were exonerated, they just don`t want to talk about it. They just want
to get rid of it.
BACON: Now, we`re writing stories about Obama care is failing. Not we,
but people in the media are doing it, reacting to a new controversy that
may end up -- my guess six months later we`ll think about stories we`re
writing about Obamacare, now, we`re also wrong. They don`t have time to
say, hey, we were right about this because they have to move to the next
BALL: Well, remember at the time, the criticism of the president and the
administration was they weren`t getting out front on these scandals. They
weren`t being proactive enough to deal with them. So, I think there was
even more pressure, not only to deal with that scandal, but to show that he
knew how to lead and he knew how to handle when things went wrong.
BACON: To deal with the narrative as we call it.
BELLANTONI: But one part of this, when you look like at the media analysis
of it, one of the reasons "The Washington Post" had so many front pages in
Brendan`s study there was because they got leaked documents from the
inspector general`s report.
And sometimes, the media feeds into that, right, where you were able to get
something exclusively, of course, you`re going to put it on the front page
because you want to reward that. And so, it feeds itself. And again,
that`s why the politicians respond to it.
KORNACKI: Brendan, I want to ask you, I mentioned this before, it seems
like we`re talking about how this disappeared in your study, "Politico",
"The Washington Post" and "The New York Times," this alive and well, though
-- the idea of a scandal is alive and well in conservative media, if you
turn on talk radio, FOX News, conservative Web sites, this thing is still
going full force there, isn`t it?
NYHAN: It is, it is. That narrative is going to push forward. And it`s
interesting because it may feed the idea that there`s sort of a media bias
explanation for what`s gone on, which I don`t think is consistent with the
evidence. "The New York Times" and "Washington Post" were happy to play
this story to the hit at the time it was sizzling. But now that there
aren`t as many exciting new developments, you know, they`ve moved on. The
media does have a short attention span.
ACOCELLA: They`re still talking about who killed Vince Foster over on talk
KORNACKI: They hope Darrell Issa will shoot the cantaloupe or whatever --
BALL: I don`t know why Brendan didn`t include Breitbart in his study here.
I think that would have been --
KORNACKI: Yes, talk about skewing (ph) result.
Anyway, I want to thank Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College for joining us
from Hanover, New Hampshire. The Big Green, I try to get this college`s
nickname. I think it`s the Big Green, Dartmouth.
Anyway, thanks, Brendan, for joining us.
Just three African-Americans have ever been elected to the U.S. Senate.
But in about 84 hours, New Jersey Democratic primary voters could put Cory
Booker on the path to becoming the fourth. We`ll talk about what the title
of senator could mean for him, for his party, for the country. That`s
KORNACKI: Barring an act of God, on Tuesday, New Jersey Democrats will
pick Newark Mayor Cory Booker as their nominee for the Senate seat vacated
by the late Frank Lautenberg. Barring an act, by the way, doesn`t mean God
is against Cory Booker, it just means some random intervention.
Polls also show that Booker is on top to flatten his Republican opponent in
the special election in October. The Newark mayor has a unique national
profile with more than a million Twitter followers, in close relationships
with Mark Zuckerberg, with Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington, among
others. The Senate, though, is a notoriously stuffy club, tradition in
decorum are cherish and freshmen are expected to be seen and not heard.
Although it`s kind of hard to see Booker playing by those rules.
So, I guess before we officially coronate Cory Booker, Tuesday night, we`ll
have the results. This will be a low turnout election, I understand that.
He has three opponents in this race, Congressman Frank Pallone from the
shore in New Jersey, Congressman Rush Holt who`s from the Princeton area.
This is the guy who won "Jeopardy", who beat Winston, Wilson, Will Fred,
the super computer.
ACOCELLA: Bumper stickers that say "My congressman is a rocket scientist."
KORNACKI: That`s right. That`s Rush Holt.
And Gina Oliver, who is the speaker. So, they are also running.
The latest poll has Cory Booker 37 points ahead of his nearest rival.
So, Nick, confirm for me, no suspense here, right?
ACOCELLA: No suspense. Booker has over 50 percent in a four-way race it
would take a miracle at this point for anything else to happen.
KORNACKI: OK. With all due respect, let`s talk about Cory Booker because
I think one of the reasons why this is such a runaway, people in New Jersey
and, frankly, a lot of people nationally have been waiting like 10 years
for the chance to vote for Cory Booker for something. Here it is. It`s
why he`s able to raise all this money.
And, Perry, I know you wrote about him I think a couple months ago.
Senator Cory Booker, I mean, what is the model here? You look at like when
Hillary Clinton went to the Senate, when Al Franken went to the Senate, a
national celebrity. We have not heard from Al Franken from the last three
years. He is very quiet. He`s trying to be a senator, a long-term
Not the model Cory Booker going to follow, is it?
BACON: Not the model he`s going to follow at all. He`s talked about his
campaign about poverty a lot. He wants to bring that issue to the Senate.
You need to imagine him -- he`s in this thing where he lives on food stamps
for a week.
So, it`s easy to imagine if the Republicans cut food stamps again, doing
something like that, giving floor speeches, I`m sure he`s going to be
regular on "MORNING JOE" and shows on MSNBC a lot. I think he`s going to
be a big media figure.
The challenge for him I think would be, if you listen for him, he says I
want to be Mr. Bipartisan. I want to work with people the way I worked
with Chris Christie. There`s problems with that anyway.
Bu there`s also a challenge that he also wants to run for president. Those
two goals are going to be in tension continuously. I covered Obama when he
first gotten in Congress. And one of the things he want to do was he told
his staff, I want to vote for John Roberts as a show of bipartisanship. I
want to vote for him. Roberts is clearly very qualified. I can do that.
His staff said, sir, you want to be president, right? And he said yes
eventually. And they told him you cannot vote for John Roberts and run for
Democratic nomination any time soon. That would be a mistake.
And I think Booker is going to be pulled in the same direction. He wants
to be the guy who brings people together, but if you want to keep the
national option open, you need to vote the way Elizabeth Warren and so on
BELLANTONI: And because he`s a national presence, he`ll be under a lot of
media scrutiny and they`ll be treating him like a rock star. And so then,
how do you do it? You put your head down like Al Franken, do you sort of
do the Hillary Clinton workman thing and pick an issue that`s your
situation? Or do you do the Obama thing and become the star that you are,
BALL: I think Cory has sort of discovered a third way in the way he`s been
mayor of Newark, because even like his Twitter following and the things he
puts on Twitter, they are a lot of them focused on his constituents but
broadcast to a national audience. And just like you`re saying with living
on food stamps, that`s a way of empathizing with a certain constituency,
but doing it on a national scale. So, I think that`s been his brilliance,
ACOCELLA: I cannot see Cory Booker sitting in a committee meeting for some
subcommittee of the interior committee marking up an appropriations bill.
I just can`t see it.
He`s going to be -- he`s a celebrity. He`s got more name recognition than
almost anybody else in the Senate. And being a legislator is as much work
as you want to make it. You can do what Hillary Clinton went, from being a
rock star to being a diligent legislator, or you can continue that
projection he`s on of being a presidential candidate and a national
KORNACKI: Perry, you made an interesting point there about, you know, Cory
Booker won`t be the first politician to do this. Going from a city or
state whereby partisanship is a lot more possible than when you go into,
you know, the sort of hyper polarized realities of Washington. But that
relationship with Governor Christie that he has in New Jersey came up,
Democratic candidates did have their debate this week.
Cory Booker has been invisible the last two months. It`s shocking that
he`s been everywhere for 10 years before, but his opponents tried to play
up the close ties to Christie. I`ll show you how that looked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY SENATE CANDIDATE: Actually found it surprising
that they count it as a criticism that I worked with Governor Christie.
The truth is he and I disagree on most everything, from marriage equality,
frankly, to the issue of giving women access to preventative scare. But
despite our differences, I`m the mayor of the largest cities of the state.
I`ve got to work with the governor to get things done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOCELLA: To be bipartisan, you have to have a partner. It works with
Chris Christie because he is in a blue state looking to make a national
reputation and wants to cozy up to as many Democrats as possible. You get
down to Washington, Washington ain`t Trenton.
ACOCELLA: Washington is a jungle compared to Trenton.
BALL: Especially when Cory will be representing a very blue state where
his constituents don`t really want him to be looking to partner with the
Republicans as they exist right now.
ACOCELLA: Nothing to partner on.
BELLANTONI: He owes a little bit of the fact that this looks to be an easy
race to Chris Christie, who chose the timing of the election and he`s
making this a much easier thing where he`s spending less money and have
less vote (INAUDIBLE).
KORNACKI: The other thing is, the extent that Cory Booker got a taste of
the difference between getting media coverage in New Jersey and being Mr.
Bipartisan in New Jersey and what that translates into nationally -- this
is a clip from May of 2012. You probably remember this.
This is when Cory Booker tried to be sort of Mr. Bipartisan on "Meet the
Press", in the context of a national presidential election, this is what he
said back then. You probably remember this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOOKER: I`m not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, it`s
just -- we`re getting to a ridiculous point in America, especially that I
know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other things are
investing in things like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain
Capital`s record, they`ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow
businesses. And this to me, I`m very uncomfortable.
This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: This is what I`m really interested to see happen with Cory
Booker, because if you remember, the aftermath of that -- I`ve never seen -
- Cory Booker is generally an unflappable, you know, super smart, super
quick politician. In the aftermath of that, he was totally unprepared for
what he got hit with.
BELLANTONI: A several-minute explainer video.
KORNACKI: The hostage video.
ACOCELLA: He didn`t expect it.
BELLANTONI: It didn`t go up -- I mean, the Republicans actually coined a
term Bookered because you didn`t see much of him on the national stage at
least running -- helping the president run for re-election. But at the
same time he said he`s not going along with the Democratic line and the
Obama line against Bain Capital at the time.
BACON: I guess my view is this is an ambitious guy. The next job he wants
is to be Videos like that aren`t going to help him in the Democratic
primary -- the Democratic primary is changing. There was an article in
"The New York Times" about him cozying up to Silicon Valley and working
with the company.
I think he needs to try -- for him being close to Silicon Valley and Wall
Street are helpful because that`s where the money is. If you`re running
for president, again, which I think he`s going to try to do, I think he has
to be a more liberal kind of figure now if he wants to move forward.
I do think there`ll be less intention to see you have people like Elizabeth
Warren, like Al Franken, like Amy Klobuchar, who don`t move to the right,
who are not talking about how great Chris Christie is. I`m not sure Booker
can do that if he wants to ascend any further.
KORNACKI: I want to just mention that you mentioned the Silicon Valley
story that came out this week. I wonder what the implications are going to
be long term for Cory Booker if there are any. I mean, this story raises
some red flags. A company called Waywire. Cory Booker was basically given
the eons of it by a bunch of Silicon Valley people. One member of the
board was the 15-year-old son of Jeff Zucker.
When this story came out, the 15-year-old resigned from the board. I would
love to have been on the board. We went to look at Waywire, some kind of
like social media thing, it`s a video aggregator that makes it easy to
collect, curate and share videos from across the web. It sounds like
YouTube to me. We went -- it was a cross between YouTube and BuzzFeed. It
was 30 bears explaining climate change or something.
KORNACKI: His interest was worth (ph) like $1 million to $5 million. He
didn`t put it on his disclosure. When they caught the story, he amended
the forms. And he`s going to get away with it now in terms of this primary.
But this is a story that maybe raises --
ACOCELLA: We have short memories. I`m not sure it affects him long term.
They`ll sell the thing off and it will be over.
But the thing that made me crazy about it was he left it off his financial
disclosure form. What were you thinking? How many $1 million to $5
million assets do you have that you didn`t remember it?
BALL: In fact, that was the only $1 million to $5 million asset that was
ACOCELLA: I don`t know many people with one of those, but if they had it,
they would remember to put it on the form.
BALL: I agree with you, I mean, I don`t think it has a huge long-term
implication. But just like you were saying, Cory is typically so smart and
so savvy. The two instances where we have seen really bad judgment were on
the Bain Capital thing and on this issue.
And the bigger issue, there`s nothing illegal here, right? But he`s
soliciting -- using his influence to solicit donors mostly in Silicon
Valley like these powerful tech entrepreneurs who are billionaires to have
this startup. It shows -- it confirms for some people what they fear about
Cory Booker, that what he`s really interested in is his self, the
constituency he`s most in touch with is Wall Street and Silicon Valley, and
not the people he`s supposed to be representing.
So, to me, it was just startling bad judgment and also you are mayor of one
of the most troubled cities in the country, how do you have time to be
starting a startup?
ACOCELLA: They called him inspiration architect. I don`t know what that
KORNACKI: It`s a new experience for New Jersey. Usually when the
politicians go to office and get rich, it`s through the taxpayers` expense.
Anyway, from Cory Booker to Michelle Obama to a very special episode of
"Different Strokes," we will show you how to get there, coming up.
KORNACKI: Long before Clint Eastwood was talking empty chairs, he was
teaming up with Nancy Reagan for a public service announcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY REAGAN, FORMER FIRST LADY: Drug dealers need to know that we want
them out of our schools, neighborhoods and our lives, and the only way to
do that is to take the customers away from the product. Say no to drugs
and say yes to life.
CLINT EASTWOOD: Of course your local drug pusher may tell you a little
something different about the drugs, and who you believe is up to you.
Then again, if you go ahead and try them, at least it won`t be out of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: You remember Nancy Reagan`s "Just Say No" campaign? We will
tell you what it does and does not have in common with the campaign
Michelle Obama has launched as first lady. That`s next.
KORNACKI: A few months ago, America`s foremost print source for fake news,
that`s "The Onion", declared that Michelle Obama`s fight against childhood
obesity, her signature crusade as first lady was officially a bust and that
she would be replacing it with a program fine, let`s just sit here stuffing
our faces until we drop dead.
It was pretty funny. We found out the joke was on an on "The Onion",
that`s because of an announcement on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease
Control from 2008 to 2011, the rate of childhood obesity dropped in far
more parts of the country that it increased.
Now, it`s tough to establish a direct connection here, but also hard to
believe that this good news does not have something to do with the fact
that one of the most prominent and popular women in America has made
getting kids to exercise and eat right her defining cause.
Michelle Obama has created a White House kitchen garden. She`s hosted kids
state dinners and her Let`s Move initiative has promoted exercise and
physical fitness in innovative ways, when she teamed up with Jimmy Fallon
to explain the evolution of mom dancing.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
KORNACKI: Now, every first lady has had a pet cause, but not every first
lady actually gets results.
One who did, though, was Lady Bird Johnson. Her cause was highway
beautification, yes, highway beautification -- clearing the enter states of
billboards and replaces them with greenery and landscaping. Of course,
billboard lobbyists, yes, they did and they still do exists, battled back
when she tried to do that.
But Lady Bird`s husband, Lyndon Johnson, told his advisors, quote, "You
know I love that woman and she wants the Highway Beautification Act and, by
God, we`re going to get it for her." And Lyndon Johnson did get it for
her. He passed the Highway Beautification Act in October 1965 over the
objections of some in Congress, including an up and coming Republican named
Bob Dole. Dole suggested when it came to removing billboards, the law
should remove all the references to the secretary of commerce and just
replace them with the words Lady Bird.
Betty Ford, with the renowned drug and alcohol treatment center that bears
her name, is also well remembered. She`s remembered for sharing her own
struggle with substance abuse after she left the White House.
But as first lady she had a different issue, it was breast cancer
awareness. She was diagnosed with the disease, just a month after she and
her husband moving into the White House. That was a move, by the way, that
took place 39 years ago yesterday.
Ford underwent a mastectomy and encouraged women to get screenings. And
sure enough, there was an uptick in the number of women who sought out
Other first ladies` causes have ranged from reading, literacy, mental
health and foster care. But in my mind, the most memorable first lady
crusade was probably Nancy Reagan and the "Just Say No" command. It was
the magic three-word commandment that she implored kids to remember if they
were ever offered drugs.
Among other things, it produced a classic sitcom moment, on March 19th,
1983, Nancy Reagan briefly unretired as an actress and shared her message
with Arnold and his classmates on a very special episode of "Different
Strokes" -- 32.5 million Americans tuned in, six million more than the show
And episode ended with Conrad Bain sweeping the first lady off her feet and
convincing her to move to New York to help raise Arnold and Willis. Well,
no, that last part didn`t happen, I just want to pay if you`re paying
Anyway, the legacy of the "Just Say No" campaign remains contested.
According to the Reagan foundation, by 1988, they were more than 12,000
"Just Say No" clubs across the country and around the world. Plenty of
skeptics wonder if her simple advice really shaped behavior.
As our friends at "The Onion" put it years later, Nancy Reagan ends
nation`s drug problem with very special "Different Strokes" appearance.
All I can say I can`t see what future first ladies or future spouses as the
case maybe choose as their signature issues.
The report that can stop the Keystone XL pipeline, that`s next.
KORNACKI: Listen to a Republican lawmaker talk for a minute, you`re bound
to hear him or her demand that President Obama approve the Keystone
pipeline. It`s a project that would deliver tar sands oil from Canada to
the Gulf of Mexico. Politically, it is a brutal decision for the president
because it splits his base. Environmentalists adamantly oppose the
project, but labor is for or parts of labor are for it, I should say.
Obama has been putting the final decision off. In the latest twist, the
State Department confirmed last Friday that it is investigating a potential
conflict of interest that could derail the pipeline.
Keystone is subject to public approval because it crosses the United States
border. Back in March, the State Department which will make a formal
recommendation on whether to go forward with the project, back it March, it
issued a report that down played the potential environmental impact of the
project. It was quickly revealed that experts with the state department
who relied on it previously worked for the company trying to build
That calls into question the legitimacy of that March report and it is the
conflict with the State Department is now looking into it. President
Obama`s most recent comments on Keystone came at a press conference back in
late June when environmentalists were encouraged by these words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Allowing the Keystone
pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our
nation`s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this
project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, Christina, there was that line that gave environmentalists
hope, that maybe the president is creating an out, where this is the
justification for turning down the project. The other thing was he also
kind disparaged the potential jobs impact of having it.
The big case that Republicans and some Democrats make is this is a boom for
jobs. Thousands of jobs will be created. I think he put the number at
like 50. Environmentalists looked at that and said, maybe he`s not going
to do this (INAUDIBLE).
But this is tough for me to read. What is your -- what do you think
they`re going towards here?
BELLANTONI: The delay is very interesting, right, because a lot of people
expected it at the beginning of the summer. The speech you showed him
giving, that`s a whole point, he`s going to lay out his bipartisan climate
change plan that Republicans and Democrats could get behind. That`s not
going nowhere in Congress. This is sort of the one thing that might have a
chance of occurring. So the White House is under a lot of pressure to see
I recently went to Canada and was talking to different government workers
about this. They`re saying they`re worried about it as well. They want to
see jobs created there. They don`t think that it should be a political
issue. It`s not a political issue for them. It`s an economic issue.
KORNACKI: It seems like, the conventional wisdom -- I obviously don`t have
any inside information on the deliberations of the White House on this, but
the conventional wisdom is they would ultimately approve this. At first it
was just getting through the 2012 election, and the wants to get through
some of these fights. But they`ll ultimately approve this.
I guess I`m kind of wondering because they`ve delayed this so long. What
is your read?
BACON: I`m with you, Steve. I thought he would eventually approve this.
But if you look at the interview with "The New York Times," where he said,
he said 15, 20 jobs, something like that, the estimates are 4,000. All the
groups said the president was wrong about this.
Whatever the merits of his statement were, he seems to be downplaying the
jobs impact of it severely, suggesting it`s not much of a job creator. He
seems to be talking about it being an environmental concern.
I don`t -- he doesn`t seem like someone who is on the verge of saying this
is a great project. I mean, it deals like the politics of this are moving
some and maybe he decides in the end to block it. I wouldn`t say -- I
think -- I wouldn`t say there was zero chance last year, now I think
there`s a stronger chance than before.
BALL: Actually, the time to approve it would have been during the election
when you can see here ask what I`m doing, I`m working across the aisle. I
think that would have been a very appealing general election message.
But I think you`re right, Perry. He seems like he`s sort of backing away
from it, trying to find any justification he can to not go through with it.
On the jobs numbers, this sort of thing is notoriously difficult to
predict, because you have the direct jobs on the pipeline and the
Republicans want to use the huge inflated figure of any job that is
possibly connected in any way, dancers, bartenders, whatever.
KORNACKI: Right, 8.4 million, I think.
BALL: Yes, exactly.
The truth was somewhere in between, I think it`s a few more than 50. But
it is very difficult to estimate so you can essentially put out there any
number that you want to and have some sort of report to back it up in.
KORNACKI: So, does this -- Nick, does this tell us something about maybe
the politics within the Democratic coalition? It`s kind of split there.
You have the old environmentalists versus the union fight. But is there
maybe a sense that the environmentalist side is winning a little bit?
ACOCELLA: He sounds that way. Ultimately, I think he has to do it. I
don`t see how he does --
KORNACKI: Why does he have to do it?
ACOCELLA: Because of the job situation -- I mean, you say it`s not 50, but
BALL: But even a couple of thousand is not much in this huge economy.
ACOCELLA: Even a couple thousand, it`s not much but he`s trapped with --
the labor unions want this, they want the construction. I don`t -- you
know, he may be right about 50 jobs on a permanent basis.
ACOCELLA: But the construction which is a jump starter for the whole
BELLANTONI: It`s not really only a political split. It`s also a regional
split. You`ll see people in states that can benefit from this be more in
favor in some cases or more against it. People on the coast aren`t going
to care as much or they want to hear more done about offshore drilling or
more done about wind energy or solar energy. So, it really is a divide
among the country.
KORNACKI: What`s different now, too, you have John Kerry in place as the
secretary of state and John Kerry has that long environmental record in the
Senate and the State Department will make a recommendation. Gina McCarthy
is now in place as the EPA chief. So, I wonder -- the team has changed as
this thing has sort of been delayed.
ACOCELLA: Nobody has said this is going to lower fuel prices or heating
fuel or whatever this Canadian shale oil -- is it for cars? Is it for
heating? Nobody says it`s going to lower prices. And that militates
against it. I don`t know what he`s doing. Make up your mind.
BALL: There`s also this myth that is will somehow be our oil, you know?
It`s tar sands oil, it`s the dirtiest that you can possibly extract from
the earth. I understand why Canada is very interested in the project.
But it`s not like this is going to increase our energy independence. It`s
a commodity, goes tint global commodities market. I don`t think it really
impacts prices one way or the other.
KORNACKI: I wonder if politically, we reached a point where four-plus
years, almost five years into its presidency, he`s made the gestures before
where Republicans are saying just do this, prove you`ll be bipartisan, take
one of our ideas, do it, you know? You think like in the budget talks
every time you offer something, it gets nowhere. They walk away from the
So, maybe if that was the rationale for doing this at all, to sort of prove
buy partisan, I wonder after five years, that`s not --
BACON: If you listen to him yesterday, he`s done with these bipartisan
proofs. I mean, the Republican, that Holy Grail line about health care was
very poignant comment. And I think he`s moving past this when they placate
them for reasons.
Also, if you`re looking at him, he`s also thinking about legacy at this
point. If some environmental calamity did happen because of this, a very
small chance of it, but if it did happen, it would look very bad on his
record considering that this is something if he approves will create 2,000
or 6,000 or some infinitesimal numbers of jobs in a very large economy.
ACOCELLA: Twenty years from now, you really don`t want Nebraska to look
like the Gulf of Mexico.
KORNACKI: Right. What do we know now that we didn`t know last week? My
answers after this.
KORNACKI: So, what do we know now that we didn`t know last week?
Well, we know that for the third straight election cycle, Republicans have
a real chance of winning the back the Senate, and that for the third
straight cycle, there are early signs that they might make a mess of it.
Latest came this week with the news that Ken Buck has decided to run for
the Senate in Colorado, again. Buck, if you`ve forgotten, also ran for the
Senate in 2010 against an appointed Democratic incumbent Michael Bennett.
Buck was running with a powerful national Republican and was well
positioned to win. Among other things he compared homosexuality to
alcoholism and he joked voters should choose him over one of his female
primary opponents because he, quote, "does not wear high heels."
Buck lost to Bennett in a squeaker, one of the reasons the Democrats will
able to hold on to the Senate that year.
This time, Buck would be running to unseat Democratic Senator Mark Udall.
And according to one of Buck`s consultants, quote, "Ken`s going to finish
the job in 2014."
Buck`s decision wasn`t the only good news Democrats got on the Senate front
this week. We also know now that in Georgia, Michelle Nunn, the Democrat`s
consensus candidate for Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss` seat is now
tied with or leading her potential GOP opponents. Nunn, who is the
daughter of longtime Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, is hoping her eventual
Republican opponent will have the same destructive instincts that Ken Buck
showed a few years ago. And that hope may not be so far-fetched, because
one of the leading GOP contenders, Congressman Phil Gingrey, is infamous on
suggesting on the House floor earlier this year that grade school should
teach children traditional gender roles.
A poll released this week has Nunn tied with Gingrey, 41-41. That wasn`t
the only eye-catching poll out of Georgia this week, we also know now that
former Food Network star, Paula Deen, who it was revealed earlier this
year, had mused about planning a wedding with a, quote, "true Southern
plantation style theme featuring black servants", remains well liked in
Georgia, especially among Republicans. Fifty-four percent of Georgians
said they had a very favorable view of Deen in a poll that was released
this week, compared to just 21 percent who view her unfavorably. Amongst
self-described Republicans, Deen actually had a favorability score of 73
percent. I`m really having trouble with that word.
You can compare those numbers to Martin Luther King`s. He was also tested
in the poll. His favorability score among Georgia Republicans, 59 percent.
And finally, we know now that in politics, pretty much anything can be used
as an excuse to raise money. And that includes a heart operation that the
former President George W. Bush underwent this week to relieve an arterial
blockage. Just hours after Bush left the hospital, the National Republican
Congressional Committee sent an e-mail to supporters, soliciting them to,
quote, "chip in $5 to help us send President Bush a bouquet of blue
bonnets, the Texas state flower."
Helpfully, the NRCC provided other donation options as well. The
possibilities went as high as $250, according to "The Dallas Morning News",
probably a very expensive blue bonnet bouquet that they got.
I want to know now what my guests know now that they didn`t know when the
We`ll start with you, Christina.
BELLANTONI: Very exciting news that PBS actually announced this week that
Gwen Eiffel and Judy Woodruff will be the first ever female co-anchors of a
nightly news show. I worked at "The NewsHour", they`re going to be co-
anchoring starting in September. And (INAUDIBLE) is going to be co-
anchoring our new "NewsHour" weekend. So, it`s really exciting times and a
lot of fun.
KORNACKI: Congratulations to them.
ACOCELLA: What I know is that while Hispanic Major League Baseball players
are 25 percent of the total, they are 62 percent of those who have been
suspended by Major League Baseball for drug use. I don`t know what this
means. It could mean that Hispanics are more likely to take illegal
substances or that Major League Baseball targets Hispanics or that they`re
more likely to get caught, but it`s an interesting fact.
BACON: What I now know, we don`t talk about sexting anymore. Anthony
Weiner is down to fourth in the polls in the New York mayor`s race, and
we`re seeing a real race about issues now, between Christine Quinn, Bill de
Blasio and Bill Thompson about police practices, stop and frisk
particularly. We`re having a real debate now, instead of a debate about
what Anthony Weiner has told women when.
BALL: So we can actually just ignore him now.
KORNACKI: (INAUDIBLE) Krystal?
BALL: We now know, thanks to Dan Balz`s new book, "Collision 2012," just
how much Chris Christie was encouraged and begged and sought by the
Republicans to get into the race last time around. We`ll see if he is
still so sought-after in 2012.
KORNACKI: We know that, thanks to Dan Balz and thanks to Chris Christie,
who clearly was one of the most cooperative of any of the people featured
in that book.
My thanks to Christina Bellantoni, of the PBS "NewsHour," Nick Acocella of
PolitiFax New Jersey, MSNBC contributor Perry Bacon, also of TheGrio.com,
and Krystal Ball, co-host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE." Thank you all for
And thank you for joining us for UP. Join us tomorrow Sunday morning at
8:00 when we`ll have former Congressman Tom Davis, and Julia Ioffe from
"The New Republic".
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY." On today`s "MHP": the
president`s problem with Putin. Even in the dog days of summer, it`s
feeling awful chilly between the United States and Russia. What that means
for future relations, the G-20 and the Olympics. That`s on "MELISSA
HARRIS-PERRY." She`s coming up next.
And we`ll see you right here tomorrow morning at 8:00. Thanks for getting
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