'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, August 24th, 2013
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
August 24, 2013
Guests: Steve Lonegan, Lizz Winstead, Amanda Terkel, Blake Zeff, Kate Zernike, Evan McMorris-Santoro, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ayman Mohyeldin, William Dobson
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Fifty years after the march and still
grappling with the dream.
It`s a weekend of commemoration and recommitment to the ideals of the
ci8vil rights movement as tens of thousands of people are gathering in
Washington, D.C. right now this morning,just as they did 50 years ago this
week when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the most moving and best
remembered speeches in American history.
Labor and civil rights groups are among the expected 100,000 people who
will participate in today`s march which is led by the Reverend Martin
Luther King III and by the Reverend Al Sharpton. One of the featured
speakers today will be Congressman John Lewis. Back in 1963, he was the
23-year-old leader of the student non-violent coordinating committee
sneaked and helped organized the original march on Washington.
He spoke at it, too, back then. Nancy Pelosi will also be speaking today
along with the families of Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till. We`ll all get
under way later this morning and we`ll be checking in and bringing you the
latest proceedings throughout the day.
We`ll get started right now. We introduced our panel here in New York. We
have a Amanda Terkel. She`s a senior political reporter and politics
managing editor for the HuffingtonPost.com, Blake Zeff, the political
editor of Salon.com, Evan McMorris-Santoro, he`s a White House reporter for
BuzzFeed.com and Lizz Winstead, co-creator of the "Daily Show" and author
of the book, "Lizz Free or Die."
So, thank you for joining us. The entire political world it seems is in
Washington today, so I`m glad we can get some people up here in New York.
And we`ll be dipping into the coverage. MSNBC is going to be on this while
day, but I guess I just sort of start with, you know, with your thoughts,
Amanda, about, you know, 50 years later, I guess it says something that
there`s still a need for another march on Washington.
Although, it also says something about the progress we`ve made that one of
the speakers, you know, this week at the events will be at the nation`s
first African-American president.
AMANDA TERKEL, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: I mean, it`s really exciting that
President Obama is going to be speaking this week. He`s spoken about race
lately with the Trayvon Martin case. And when he speaks about race, I
think, it`s some of his most powerful speeches. He speaks very personally.
He tends to get out some of the more wonky aspects that he, sometimes,
And, you know, I`m very, very excited to see what he says, but like he
said, I this march is so necessary. I mean, we focused a lot on sort of
racial equality and racial progress from the first march, but a lot of it
was on economic progress and economic equality. And as we`ve seen, we are
still very, very far from there. And so, I think that will be a big part
of the march.
KORNACKI: I would have -- and Blake, you have somewhat of a background in
politics, too, before journalism. I wonder from the standpoint of people
around Barack Obama trying to get him ready for this moment. You know,
he`s going to be speaking where Martin Luther King spoke 50 years ago.
How do you think he`s preparing for this? How do you think, you know, his
staff is preparing him for this? It almost seems like an impossible
challenge even though he, obviously, is a great speaker.
BLAKE ZEFF, SALON.COM: I think that`s right. You know, this is obviously
held up as one of the great speeches of all time in American history which
is actually kind of funny as kind of a side note because we look at it as
kind of this iconic moment in American history now and everyone kind of
rallied around how that`s a great moment.
But at the time, this was really an act of -- this was a dissident act that
much of the White establishment, many of the people in America were not
supportive of this event. And so, it`s important, I think, to recognize
And that being said, to answer your question, Barack Obama does have a
very, very tall order ahead of him to try to match the moment, but we know
in the past, as Amanda said, I mean, his oratory skills have never been in
doubt in terms of the preparation. I think, look, you can`t try to do what
Martin Luther King and the other people spoke that day did. He has to be
his own speaker and I think that he will rise to that moment.
KORNACKI: Yes. And you always wonder about these things, too, Liz. It`s
like we think back on the March of 1963, I think, the way I was sort of
taught it in school growing up, I was taught, well, everybody gathered in
Washington to hear Martin Luther King speak, and he gave this great speech,
but the march on Washington was so much bigger than that.
He was one of many speakers. Nobody expected to go there and just be, you
know, just be sort of move by Martin Luther King. There are so many other
people participating, and I think, you know, we look at the program this
weekend. We look at who`s talking and what`s, you know, sort of what`s
being discussed. To remind you, this is a -- the message here is broader
than just what we remember Martin Luther king talking about.
LIZZ WINSTEAD, COMEDIAN AND AUTHOR: It certainly is, and I think the thing
that I think I`m really excited about is we get so textie, Facebookie,
Twittery, and when you go to a march and you become part of a group of
people who are reflecting on what it means to stand up for other people.
We talk so much now. You hear the rhetoric about takers and about all of
The people there, it`s going to be a lot of times it`s going to be their
first march and their first time experiencing that and it`s really, really
powerful. So, I`m really excited to have people do a reset and a reconnect
in that group in an environment like this.
KORNACKI: What do you think, Evan, just covering politics, you know, the
effect of such a polarized country right now? The divisions between the
two parties are so clearly drawn, a lot more clearly drawn than they were
in 1963. Do you think, you know, watching all these people gather today
and over the next few days, do you think this is something that could have
an effect on the political system right now?
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, BUZZFEED.COM: I mean, on the system as it exists,
I`m not totally sure, but I will say going back to what we talked about
earlier about Obama and what he might say and what he might do. He
previewed -- I just on a road with him on his bus tour coming down from
Buffalo, New York down through Scranton talking about college and he did a
town hall yesterday where he kind of previewed a little, but he talked a
little about race, talked a little about gay rights, as well.
And I think it`s something that ties him maybe to the Martin Luther King
speech is they`re both pretty positive about how race relations in the
country. I mean, he spoke about Trayvon as Amanda said, but the core of
that speech was really about, I think, the country is sort of getting
better and bending towards more equality.
I think that`s the kind of thing you`re going to see him say and I think
that`s the kind of thing he`s been saying and that is, I think, what people
who care about this issue think might help change the political calculus,
right? They`re hoping as more people sort of rallied to the cause of
equality that it`s going to shift as maybe pick unto those wallets and
divide us so much politically.
KORNACKI: Yes. And I mean, so much -- we can talk to about the march for
jobs, as well, back in 1963 and, Amanda, you talk about this, the sort of
economic component of the message in 1963 still relevant today, and I guess
when -- it seems like when Obama had great success when he talks about,
when he talked about race and he`s talked about the progress and sort of an
optimistic message of getting to a place where all the equal opportunity
and everything, that seems to go over well, but when you start getting into
the specifics, this is how we`re going to combat economic inequality, these
are the policy prescriptions system may be right now is not as universally
ready for that.
TERKEL: Yes, I mean, people want to see progress. But how you get there
is what gets tough. So, I don`t -- you know, this isn`t going to be a
state of the union address from President Obama with his specific policy
prescriptions. I think Evan was right that he will tend to be positive.
He did that during the 2008 campaign when he was caught up in the Jeremiah
Wright scandal and gave his first speech and a lot of it was sort of
talking about the progress and where the country is now.
But, you know, I think President Obama will use this, though, to sort of
frame and explain why he is doing, you know, everything on college
affordability and raising the minimum wage that he wants to put that sort
of in the large framework. And it`s like, I think, will be a more sort of
a conceptual speech than rather, you know, here`s what I want Congress to
do today and here`s Republicans obstructing it.
KORNACKI: You know, also, we`re coming up on the 150th anniversary of
Lincoln`s Gettysburg address. And I actually raised -- the president has
been invited to take part and speak there, as well.
KORNACKI: The "I have a dam speech" and the Gettysburg address, you`re
going to show up and do both of those in the same year.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: No pressure at all, I guess, right --
KORNACKI: But he is, I mean, you know, I will say, you know, we think of
recent presidents, you know, Ronald Reagan being the great communicator.
Bill Clinton in certain settings, I think, as a speaker, you know, sort of
in a formal setting. Bill Clinton, you think of Oklahoma City maybe in
He sort of brought out the best in the country there, although, you know,
Bill Clinton was more better in less formal settings, I think. But as an
order, you know, Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan are really the only two
presidents I can think of maybe since like FDR and JFK, I guess, who could
really kind of rally the nation with their words.
WINSTEAD: Yes, I mean, I think that that`s right. And I think it`s a
luxury to have. When you have that skill, what`s really nice about it is
that when you take to the podium, the sigh of relief that one feels just as
somebody taking in the information that the order is going to make sense,
be clear and be inspiring.
It`s a great advantage to have because you aren`t going to -- is he going
to sweat? Is he going to go for the water? Is he like a mess? And so, to
really have that person, to have that in your pocket before the words pass
your lips is more important, I think, than people think about.
KORNACKI: And these are the things we end up remembering presidencies for,
too, right? I mean, it`s like you can look at the policy record of any
administration, but there are sort of these iconic moments. I mean, that`s
sort of one of the reasons I think Republicans have had great success over
the last generation of reviving Ronald Reagan`s legacy and the most popular
Republican in America today is probably Ronald Reagan.
And if you go to a Republican convention, if you go to these Republican
events where they play videos, they`re playing, you know, Ronald Reagan at
Normandy in 1984 (ph). They`re playing him after the challenger explosion.
They`re playing tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev.
It`s these moments when they -- the sort of the stage craft of the
presidency, the power of the oratory and I don`t mean to trivialize it, I
think it`s important I think they speak to sort of higher ideals, the
aspirations. It`s an important part of the presidency and very few
presidents are really have it.
ZEFF: And not just the presidency. Look, part of the reason why we are
talking about this today is because of the iconic moment in Dr. King`s
speech where he talked about I have a dream. And let`s be clear, there
were ten other speeches that day that were also riveting and very, very
important and this was a very, very important event.
But, you know, we were talking about in American history, it`s sort of the
folklore that develops when you have these very famous moment of speeches
can be very, very powerful.
KORNACKI: Yes. It makes you wonder, what have we -- are there other
messages from 1963, you know, besides Martin Luther King`s that sort of we
talk about the legacy of the march today that may be have been forgotten.
WINSTEAD: Things go better with Coke. I believe --
KORNACKI: But, the other thing I`m also looking forward to, you know, I
think he`s going to be speaking this morning, as we said in the intro, was
John Lewis which is another -- it`s an amazing story, but this is somebody
who helped organize the first, the first march in 1960, 23 years old. You
look at the ages of some of these people back then.
I`m struck by the youth of the people who organized this. And in fact,
we`re going to actually be talking to one of them now. And folks, she`s in
place that improvising (ph) for the last few minutes. I don`t know if you
can tell, but I wanted to bring in Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton who
represents Washington D.C, and she was on the staff for the 1963 march of
Washington for jobs and freedom.
She joins us now live from today`s march in D.C. And congresswoman, thank
you for joining us. I just want you to know, you helped organized this 50
years ago. You`re here again today and I just kind of want to know, what
are you thinking about right now as you get ready for the 50th anniversary?
REP. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, (D) WASHINGTON D.C. DELEGATE: First thing I`m
thinking about is a lot cooler than it was August 28th, 50 years ago. And
then, I`m looking out there. I`m going to be doing the same thing I was
doing then. As a member of the staff, I was looking out from behind the
statue or near the statue. And as far as the eye could see, I couldn`t see
to the end of the people.
Now, there are a lot of people here gathered now, but we will see. And I`m
sure, and I`m sure there will be many who want to come simply to
commemorate this 50th anniversary and, frankly, to raise many more causes
than we ourselves raised, because there was only one cause then. The
overwriting issue on the United States of America then was race and racism.
KORNACKI: Right. And it was, you know, within a year of the 1963 march
and the civil rights act of 1964, a year after that, the Voting Rights Act.
Although, you`re part of sort of -- also part of the long-term legacy of
the march in 1963 because of the equal employment opportunity commission
was one of the demands from the march. That was created, what, about a
decade and half later and you were the first chair of that, right?
NORTON: Well, it was created a year later, actually, with the
establishment of title 7 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And the amazing
thing to me, at least, when you consider that I was a law student then was
that not 15 years later, I would become the chair of this commission, which
was of overriding concern to the Black community.
Remember, Bayard Rustin, the genius who organized the march had been a
mentee of (INAUDIBLE) Randolph, the titular head of the march. And
Randolph had threatened a march on Washington in order to get a fair
employment practices commission and he got it without a march, because FDR
So, you can imagine that since the -- since World War II, Black people had
been carrying the demand. We not only want jobs, they got jobs out here.
But we can`t get those jobs because, if you are Black and go for a job,
north, south, east or west, they can look into your face and say, we do not
hire black people here.
So, that was the greatest concern of the march, along with, of course, the
notion of a comprehensive Civil Rights Act which we finally got by 1968.
KORNACKI: And you mentioned the name Bayard Rusten and you worked with him
on his staff. He, you know, one of the chief organizers of the march in
1963. I feel he`s one of those names that you look at all the big civil
rights names from that era, he`s probably been forgotten a little bit,
maybe more than some of the others. I wonder if you can just tell us a
little bit about him and what it was like to work with him.
NORTON: Well, it`s a name that really shouldn`t be forgotten because in a
very real sense, I can tell you, I don`t see how the march could have been
organized without Bayard Rustin. There was no president for a mass march
on Washington of anytime, and there was nobody who had the experience to do
And he had put together a life-long act of activism. I was one of a small
class of young people who would gather around Bayard. We regarded him as
the movement intellectual, the great strategist, the man who had gone on a
freedom ride in 1942. So, we long for a life of activist who were
impatient that people were not in the streets, who were impatient, frankly,
that we have been in the streets for ten years and had nothing to show for
We were ready for the march. I was in the Mississippi Delta as a member of
the student nonviolent coordinating committee when I got a call from
friends who said Bayard says if you want to work on the march, it`s going
to happen. Get yourself on to a plane and come to New York. And that`s
how I got to be on the staff of the march. One of the Seminole experiences
of my life.
KORNACKI: And 50 years later, you`re there again, too. Anyway,
Congressman Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of Columbia, I want to thank
you for joining us and we will be returning today`s commemoration of the
march later in the show.
Ahead though, the pressure is mounting for President Obama to do something
about the horrifying carnage in Syria. Was there anything he can do? A
live report is next.
KORNACKI: Obama administration officials are weighing potential military
responses to the conflict in Syria, this, after rebels accuse the regime of
Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons in an attack outside Damascus on
Wednesday. Well, the U.S. investigation into the attack continues, senior
officials told NBC News yesterday that they believe the Syria military did,
in fact, use chemical weapons against the Syrian people earlier this week.
Today President Obama`s top advisors will meet at the White House to
discuss how and when the U.S. military might respond. The administration
has not discussed putting boots on the ground or establishing a no-fly
zone, according to a senior administration official. For more now, we go
to NBC News foreign correspondent, Ayman Mohyeldin, who is live in Cairo.
And Ayman, I guess, I want to ask you first about the reports overnight and
this morning about warships being sort of put on the ready by a defense
department. Not sure exactly what to read into this, but do you have any
information, is this a sign of something imminent, maybe?
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, by all indications,
there is no clear sign yet that there are any operational orders, if you
will, to respond militarily to what has happened inside Syria over the
course of the last several days.
However, defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, did hint at the deployment of
these forces or the repositioning of these forces off the eastern coast in
the Mediterranean and that will certainly allow Syria to be within the
vicinity of certain strike capabilities of the U.S. enabled ships that are
there, if in fact, that is an option.
But it seemed more according to the defense secretary and media reports
that at least they were being positioned there to give President Obama an
option should he, in fact, order any type of military response, though,
there has been already reaction coming out from the region in anticipation
of any possible western military intervention inside Syria.
The senior Iranian lawmaker really criticized the deployment of those U.S.
forces. And in fact, he said that if there was a military operation
against this Syrian government, that would lead to all-out war in the
region and it would certainly be a war that would not end favorably to the
United States or Israel.
So, already the reports that, in fact, the U.S. has deployed some assets
off the coast of the Mediterranean has drawn a sharp response from some of
Syria`s closest allies. And that has been one of the sticking points
throughout this entire conflict is to try and get multi-lateral
international efforts to try and resolve the conflict one way or the
KORNACKI: All right. Something to keep an eye there. Thank you NBCs
Ayman Mohyeldin in Cairo. Thanks for joining us.
I want to bring in now William Dobson who`s a politics and foreign affairs
editor at Slate.com. He wrote a provocative piece this week that argued
that Middle East autocrats have turned, quote, "The president`s
judiciousness on Syria into an effective weapon for murder."
Will, thanks for joining us. You`re very, you know, critical of the
administration`s sort of reserve when it comes to involving itself in
Syria. I guess, I look at this as sort of, I`m as horrified as anybody by
what I saw this week and by what I`ve been reading, you know, for more than
a year now.
I also look at what happened in Iraq and I look at Afghanistan and I say,
you know, isn`t one of the lessons that, you know, when we get involved,
sometimes, there are even worse consequences that we don`t anticipate?
WILLIAM DOBSON, SLATE.COM: That`s absolutely the case. I mean, and I
think you can make a strong case that, perhaps, those eight years of the
Bush administration were probably the most searing lessons on foreign
policy that President Obama has really taken away.
I mean, that was really his education in foreign policy in many ways is you
can say it`s looking at what happened in the administration before him and
steering the United States in a way so that it does not make those
mistakes, again. And, you know, we want that. We want a president to be
very judicious in the way he approaches this.
When President Obama talks about foreign policy, he always talks about U.S.
long-term interests. He`s been doing that in the conversation about Syria
this week as well. At the same time, there`s another sort of axiom of
foreign policy, which is that policy in action is a decision in itself.
That, too, can lead to interventions ultimately as what we`re seeing today,
because what does it mean?
It means that the other side is learning and probing what you`re doing all
along and they`re taking signals from that policy and what we`ve seen from
Assad over the last two years is his probing and moving the chemical red
line, a red line that President Obama established by saying it a year and a
day before these attacks and he`s not only successfully probed that line,
he`s actually moved the line.
I mean, because look at what happened. Initially, the U.S.
administration`s policy was movement or use of weapons would be
objectionable, then, it became the use of weapons and then it became the
systematic or long-scale use of these weapons. So, now, we`re faced with
the question of, is what happened on Wednesday that trigger --
KORNACKI: OK. But you say trigger point and that is the other question.
Specifically, what could the United States be doing here? We`re not
talking about sending troops in, right? What could the United States do
that would actually have a measurable impact here?
DOBSON: So, first, your options are terrible. And that`s, that`s always
been the case, which is why sort of faced with a fork in the road, the
president has consistently for two years sort of taken the fork. Now, here
we are with really bad options. What are they? Well, the president is
going to be trying to steer an option where he can somehow deter future
chemical attacks, but at the same time, not entangling the United States in
another Middle East war for just the reasons you indicated.
So, you`re looking at options like something coming from those two
destroyers there in the Mediterranean right now that are both equipped with
tomahawk cruise missiles. Something that allows for there to be a
response, because the president`s credibility is on the line.
The red line is something he said repeatedly over time. He feels pressure
to do that, for that reason, and then, additionally, there`s another really
important aspect, which I think is probably very important for President
Obama, which is that there is a norm of not using chemical weapons in
warfare that was established at the end of World War I.
That norm has been chipped away very methodically by this regime. If that
norm disintegrates on President Obama`s watch, that has consequences for
our allies and for all future conflict.
KORNACKI: I hear the red line. You know, I understand what Obama said
last year when he evoked the red line. But I mean is the contention here
that because it`s said that just to prove that it, you know, that you have
to back that threat up, you have to do something, because you talk about
Syria and you`re talking about the population living so close together,
these rebels -- the rebels are multi-faction here, but these rebels are
living in close proximity to the government forces.
You start, you know, you start lobbing in missiles. There`s going to be
lots of -- I mean, we talk about maybe it was a couple hundred, maybe it
was a thousand people dying in the chemical attack the other day. You`re
talking about just as many potentially when you start -- watching missiles,
DOBSON: I think there`s no question that President Obama could go back, he
would not use that language again. And you know, some reports are that he
was speaking from the gut when he did. And, I think you`re right. To have
to have that be the trigger point, for that to be the soul reason to act
would be insufficient. I mean, it`s a terrible reason to involve the
United States in another conflict.
But I do think there are wider reasons to do so besides that, although,
when the president speaks, this is something that our allies across the
region and others throughout the region are looking at, too. Some would
even -- have argued that the way that United States treated the military
crackdown in Egypt just a week earlier was also signaled to Assad that, you
know what, this is an administration that really is giving you a free hand.
KORNACKI: If Assad, you know, is forced out, let`s say it`s strikes or
something and it empowers the rebels and Assad is deposed, we`re looking at
chaos, aren`t we? Because we`re talking, we`re talking about a civil war
here. We`re talking about the situation we had in Iraq.
DOBSON: What was supposed to be the goal? The goal was supposed to force
a stalemate, a stalemate that then would, hopefully, lead to some sort of
negotiated settlement for opposed (ph) Assad Syria where you keep elements
of the government in place for just that reason, but Assad would have to
go. So, that was the ideal.
One of the questions they should be asking and I`m sure they are asking the
White House this morning and tomorrow will be, will military strikes make
that a more remote (ph) possibility, too? That`s something to be worried
about, as well. The reason you push him into a corner with military
strikes, how much does that raise the possibility of additional chemical
These are all the concerns. I mean, I guarantee you that the conversation
and the debate within the White House is no more clear eyed than the one
people are having outside the White House.
KORNACKI: No, it`s a scary situation. I know it seems to be coming to a
head right now. So, obviously, we`re going to be keeping a close eye on
I want to thank William Dobson of slate.com.
Republicans may have killed immigration reform this week. What if they
don`t actually pay a price for it? That`s coming up.
KORNACKI: So, on this show last week, we talked to Bill De Blasio who`s
rocketed to the top of the polls in the race for mayor of New York. I
think it was a tough and fair interview. That also gave him some
unqualified praise for one thing. You still admit as a New York politician
that you`re a Red Sox fan and I think that takes the courage and I wish
more politicians -- I can`t stand politicians who move somewhere and
pretend they cheer for local team their whole life. So, I give you -- I
really honestly --
KORNACKI: I want to thank New York City public advocate and mayoral
candidate, Bill De Blasio --
KORNACKI: We will tell you what happened after that exchange, coming up.
KORNACKI: The prospect of Congress passing comprehensive immigration
reform took a big hit on Monday when Bob Goodlatte who`s the Republican
chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which is the first hurdle for
immigration legislation in the House, he said he is against a path to
citizenship not only for undocumented adults, but also for their children,
the so-called dreamers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BOB GOODLATTE, (R), VIRGINIA: The folks who want to have the pathway
to citizenship have held everything else hostage. We think a legal status
in the United States and not a special pathway to citizenship might be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The fact that such a key player is now staking out such a hard-
line position is being taken as confirmation by many that Republicans are
ready to let comprehensive immigration reform die, which is why Josh
Marshall (ph) with the liberal-leaning talkingpointsmemo.com is bluntly
urging advocates to read the writing on the wall and, quote, "Stop
pretending that the GOP House is hardening resolve to kill the senate Bill
is going to change and take this whole question back to the people looking
forward to the 2014 election."
But what if there`s really no way to hold reform opponent`s accountable in
those midterm elections next year? That`s what New York magazine`s
Jonathan Shea (ph) argued when wrote this week that, quote, "If Republicans
kill immigration reform and they suspect it could cement the hostility of
Latinos for years and years to come, but the House map will allow the
Republican majority to survive with almost all White voters for a long
Frank Sherry (ph) who`s the executive director of America`s Voice, the
leading reform group vow to fight on anyway, said he is not deterred. He
wrote this week, "Over the years, we`ve been told that Latino and immigrant
voters would never make a difference in electoral outcomes. That
immigration is a third rail issue that works against Democrats, that
President Obama would never take bold executive action to protect dreamers
and so on, so much for conventional wisdom.
Well, let`s talk about whether there`s any way to hold Republicans
accountable if this thing dies. But first, let`s just establish why Bob
Goodlatte said this week is so significant. We`re talking about -- he`s
not just saying he`s against a path to citizenship. He said it would
He also does not want a path to citizenship for children who are brought
here by their parents. So, he (ph) just take us through to politics of
Capitol Hill, why he`s such a player, and why this means -- everybody is
making it out --
TERKEL: Well, he`s chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, so pretty
much, any immigration bill is going to have to go through his -- by his
desk and he doesn`t like the Senate bill. He and Eric Cantor are working
on the kids act, which would provide legal -- it would make children the
dreamers legal, but it wouldn`t make them citizens.
And so, he is -- so, basically, refusing to provide any sort of path to
citizenship is not what Democrats want to see and it`s not what a lot of
Republicans want to see. I think Republicans who are looking down the line
and seeing these long-term trends that we could lose Latinos for many, many
years if we don`t do something.
KORNACKI: So, what about that argument, though, from Shea though that
long-term, there`s a demographic issue here, but to every Republican member
of Congress, there`s almost all of them come from districts that Mitt
Romney won last year. They`re looking at 2014. They`re looking at
Republican primaries, and they`re saying, there`s no incentive for me here.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, that`s true. I mean, they do have their lines
drawn to protect themselves. The protection plan is in, you know, is in
good order in Washington. But what`s interesting about this is that if you
look at this August that was supposed to be this huge battle over
immigration reform in which we`re going to see, you know, sort of a relapse
of what happened in 2007 when we had big pushes from the anti-immigration
They haven`t shown up that much. And so, it`s kind of confusing as to who
the Republicans are actually afraid of in this case, because we haven`t
seen the anger from that other side, you know, from the opposition that we
saw before. so, it`s almost like that fight from 2007 is rolling over to
KORNACKI: The Tea Party is in their head now.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: And they`re fighting -- I mean, you know, we`ve seen
polls showing, you know, the country is largely behind this immigration
reform as they were before. So, it`s a decision that Republicans need to
be making on their own as opposed to sort of they can`t really blame
someone else for it this time.
WINSTEAD: And I just see it as, you know, when you keep proposing,
basically, the ripping families apart act, Americans don`t like that. They
don`t like to hear that. They don`t like to hear that children who were
born and raised here and didn`t come here of their own volition and want to
cause this (ph) and really want to invest in America are not being allowed
to do that.
And, it`s like you guys have all said. It`s this weird red herring thing
that a lot of these congressmen who don`t have very many Hispanics and
Latinos in their districts. It`s like the Sharia law bill. It`s the thing
that they can hammer home. I`m going to protect you from these people that
don`t exist anywhere near you and they`re going to keep electing some of
those people over and over and over again because they don`t have to do
KORNACKI: I have to tell you, since the movement to ban Sharia law began,
nobody has tried to oppose Sharia law --
KORNACKI: I kind of think it`s working. I don`t know.
ZEFF: That`s a really good point.
ZEFF: Also a good point, though, just to pin (ph) you back on what Lizz
was saying, it`s really important to put in context what the Republicans
are doing here, which is to say that this abstinence (ph) against illegal
status for dreamers. We`re talking about the part that was actually sort
of the consensus part.
This isn`t even like the other tough stuff. We`re not talking about
adults. We`re not talking about all -- we talked about the 11 million
people. We`re just talking about kids who were brought here when they were
little by their parents that have lived here. This was supposed to be the
easy part and they`re against this. So, let`s just be clear about just how
extreme this position is.
KORNACKI: The other thing, the point that Josh Marshal (ph) makes there is
sort of like it reminds me of where Washington kind of -- the point
Washington reached in the summer of 2011. You know, the whole debt ceiling
showdown and no real deal could be reached. And both parties basically
agreed, we`re going to stop even pretending to try for the next year and a
We`re going to have an election. We`re going to put the issue out there
and the voters will resolve it. And you look now almost, you know, nine
months after the election or whatever, the great fight hasn`t really
resolved, because the Republican in the House, you know, are still -- their
hills are dogged (ph) in.
When the president was re-elected, he hasn`t been able to convince to do
(ph) anything. So, I just look at immigration and I say, if that`s the
same approach here, OK, it`s dead, let`s take it to the voters in 2014.
We`re going to come back with the same split verdict after 2014., after
2016. really one of those, if they can`t get this done, can anything big
happen in Washington these days?
ZEFF: I mean, I think -- to me the issue here is, I don`t think that the
Republicans are going to get penalized in 2014, unfortunately, and maybe
not in 2016. I think they kind of have what I would call Fox News
problems. In this case, what I mean is -- the people who watch Fox News
largely are like 65-year-old White people and older.
And so, what`s going to eventually happen, one of their problems is that
over years in 10, 15 years, how do they keep their audience when those
people sort of die of (ph), not to be so morbid about it, but I`m just
keeping it real.
ZEFF: The Republican Party is a similar problem here, which is they`re
going to have a serious branding issue. The young voters who are coming in
are going to see what`s happening here and there`s going to be a serious
long-term branding problem because as the older voters recede, shall we say
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I thought they know that. I mean, only true thing about
this is that there has been a lot of short-term discussion in the GOP about
this. When Steve King came out and made this infamous, you know, calves
the size of cantaloupes attack on dreamers, a lot of people in the GOP,
leaders with the GOP turned on him. And they are interested, I think, in
not putting that face forward.
And sort of the hard thing about this is that if they, they can talk all
they want about Steve King being wrong and about his rhetoric being off,
but if they then go ahead and don`t support a dream act, they`re stuck with
him getting the victory. So, I mean, they are actually interested in
trying to change their message. The hard thing is, as we said before,
about this Tea Party in our head. Can they actually take action to back
KORNACKI: I`m just still rattled by this people dying thing. I thought
grandparents were going to live forever.
I mean, rising star, national Republican politics in a Canadian birth
controversy and, no, I am not talking about Ted Cruz. I`ll tell you who I
am talking about, next.
KORNACKI: To most Americans and even to a lot of Republicans, the rise and
the persistence of birtherism on the far right has been annoying and
frustrating and unsettling, even enraging. This week, it also became
ironic because this was the week we found out that one of the right`s
biggest names, rising star who appeals to the same crowd that spent the
last four plus years questioning President Obama`s citizenship, that rising
star, it turns out, is a Canadian citizen.
The "Dallas Morning News" reported it on Monday. They obtained Ted Cruz`s
birth certificate. You can see it right there. He was on born December
22nd, 1970, in the city of Calgary, in the province of Alberta. Ted Cruz
was born on Canadian soil. And under Canadian law, that means that he is
right now, and he has been for his entire life, a citizen of Canada.
Now you ask, it`s true when the story broke on Monday, Ted Cruz immediately
announced that he would be renouncing his Canadian citizenship which is
apparently a more complicated process than you might think. According to
the "Washington Post," it involves six different steps and he has to pay a
fine and there`s a wait that could take months.
But in the end, Cruz will probably get his way. He won`t have trouble
renouncing his citizenship. It`s also true that Cruz was born an American
citizen, as well, because the mother he was born to in Calgary was an
American citizen. So, that makes him one-two (ph). What this means for
his presidential ambitions for 2016, that`s a matter of some debate.
Constitution says the president must be a, quote, "natural born citizen."
Most scholars say that someone like Cruz, someone who was born to an
American citizen who happened to be living abroad at the time counts as a
natural born citizen and is therefore eligible to be president. But the
issue is a little murky and there are plenty who disagree and it`s safe to
say that Ted Cruz will be hearing a lot about his Canadian heritage between
now and 2016.
What you might not know, though, is that Ted Cruz is not the first
nationally ambitious Republican to be haunted by Canadian roots. This is
Fairfield, Vermont. This is a classic small Vermont town. There`s barns,
there`s fields, there`s foliage, all that stuff. You can see it on the
map. The nearest city is St. Albans, a few miles away, although city is a
probably a relative term here because St. Albans has just 6,000 people.
Thirty miles away from Fairfield is Burlington. That`s Vermont`s biggest
city. It`s got 40,000 people. It`s the home to the University of Vermont,
the Catamounts. And Fairfield`s biggest claim to fame, the reason I`m
talking about it right now and maybe its only claim to fame is that it is
the birthplace of America`s 21st president, Chester Allen Arthur, or is it?
This is one of the great unsolved mysteries about an American president.
If you take a trip to Fairfield, you can visit the house where Chester
Allen Arthur was born. You can visit the church where his father preached.
You can even pose with a life-size Chester Allen Arthur cardboard cutout at
town hall. What you won`t find being prominently displayed in town,
though, is this. A book called "How a British Subject Became President of
the United States?"
It was written in 1884. It was the final year of the presidency of Chester
Allen Arthur, and it was the culmination of a year`s long quest by one of
Arthur`s political enemies, the lawyer named Arthur Hinman, to prove that
Chester Allen Arthur was not born in the United States, and that he was
there for an impostor president.
What Hinman did was pick up on chatter during the 1880 republican
convention when Arthur, who was then a machine politician from New York,
was unexpectedly chosen to run for vice president on James Garfield`s
ticket. The rumor around the convention was that Arthur was born, not in
Fairfield, Vermont, but about 40 miles away, across the border. It was
then called lower Canada, Quebec today.
The evidence for this, well, Arthur`s father was from Northern Ireland
originally and his family then moved to Quebec. His mother`s parents
started out in Vermont, but they ended up in Quebec, too. That couple,
Chester Allen Arthur`s parents, moved frequently between Quebec and Vermont
and upstate New York during Arthur`s childhood.
Besides his word, there was not any documentary evidence to show that he
was actually born in Fairfield, Vermont. So, Hinman and Arthur`s other
enemies fanned the rumors and those rumors took on new intensity and
Garfield was shot and Arthur assumed the presidency in 1881. There were
rival conspiracy theories. There all sorts of conspiracy theories, and the
wildest version, a mysterious sibling named Chester Able Arthur was born in
Faireld, Vermont, but died as an infant.
At which point his parents sold his body to science and transferred the
dead child -- dead infant`s American identity to his older Canadian-born
brother who became Chester Allen Arthur, if that makes any sense. And the
rumors outlived Arthur.
He passed away in 1886, and his presidency was quickly forgotten, but the
controversy was revived in 1949 when the Arthur family bible turned up at
the New York Public Library, and it was discovered that Chester Allen
Arthur had lied about his birth year. For his whole political career, he
claimed that he was born in 1830.
But now, it turned out he was actually born a year earlier than that in
1829. Could it be proof that the birthers were right, that there was some
kind of grand plot to mask Chester Allen Arthur`s true Canadian heritage?
Personally, I don`t buy it. No smoking guns ever emerged and the man who
started all the rumors, Arthur hinman had a checkered history than obvious
political axe to grind.
And the more you read about Arthur, the more you learn how vain he was. It
makes sense that he would have tried to shave a year off his age. But the
story has never really gone away, either. The doubts, the mystery, the
possibilities, they linger and they bubble up every now and then.
Which, come to think of it, maybe it`s a good thing for Ted Cruz. A
president born in Canada -- he could say, I might not be the first one.
Michael Bloomberg has tried hard to make New Yorkers believe he cheers for
the local team, but he`s actually from Massachusetts, Red Sox country. He
once called Yankee`s manager, Joe Torre, Joe Torres, the politics of
playing to sports fans, the good, the bad, and the just plain awkward,
we`ll take a look, next.
KORNACKI: Little while ago, we played a clip from last week show where I
offered praise, since praise for Bill De Blasio for not backing away from
his life-long allegiance to the Boston Red Sox even as he runs for mayor of
New York. I`m not saying there`s a connection here, but this past Tuesday,
three days after I brought up De Blasio`s Red Sox fandom, the "New York
Times" ran a story of its own on the subject.
That Boston fan, the headline read, he wants to run New York. While De
Blasio showed his true colors, red and blue, other politicians have changed
their allegiance to please their constituents. Yes. You can see Michael
Bloomberg there, Medford Mass (ph) as Michael Bloomberg with the Yankees
Hillary Clinton of Illinois, by way of Arkansas, the life-long Yankees fan
from 2000. And I know they said there was something in 1992 where she
actually had said she grew up with an American league team and the national
league team. I never got -- it didn`t look good. I don`t know.
But I always thought this is kind of ridiculous and this is why I praised
De Blasio last week, because if you`re a real sports fan -- I don`t know
the voter who`s going to vote based on sports allegiance, but let`s say
they`re out there, it means they care a lot about sports. You`re going to
respect somebody who`s like a real sports fan, and hey, this is the team I
was born with, and I`m sticking with them, right, like I grew up in Boston
WINSTEAD: Are you high?
WINSTEAD: Critical thinking and sports fans --
WINSTEAD: Do not put those two things together. I mean --
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: There are a lot of sports fans. How dare you?
WINSTEAD: I know. I`m -- these are people who high five themselves when
someone made a play that they had nothing to do with. They take credit.
These are not -- I just feel like --
WINSTEAD: I`m now digging a hole. But I just feel if you don`t know about
sports, just stay out of it. Like you don`t have to wear the hat --
KORNACKI: But if you`re a real fan, right? Like, if you`re a real Red Sox
fan and you`re in New York, I think the New York fans are going to respect
you for sticking with your team. Oh no, wait, I hate the Red Sox, go you
know, Mets, go Yankees.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I feel like the sort of like sticking by your team is
the new changing your team, right? Because even Chris Christie got in
trouble because he`s a Cowboys fan or something like that.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: And you know, Chris Christie`s whole thing is I`m going
to tell you like it is, and he`s telling like it is that I`m a Cowboys fan
in giants country. So, it seems like this is the new thing, right, the new
thing before it was. I`m for whatever team is doing better and winning. A
politician would say like in a Super Bowl. I`m for the winner. But now,
it`s like, no, I`m for this. I`m taking a strong stand, right?
ZEFF: I think the rule is you have to not make a dumb mistake when talking
about sports. So, when Mark --
ZEFF: -- chilling (ph) a Yankees fan and I think John Kerry referred to --
ZEFF: -- I would say that`s not the best reason that we didn`t have
Obamacare for a couple months --
ZEFF: -- and that led to Scott Brown winning, and then, you know, there
was a problem, probably wasn`t the most substantive reason for it
happening, but --
KORNACKI: But what a screw up that was. Not only did she screw up a local
sports hero, she also accused him of being the enemy of being a Yankee. I
mean, it wasn`t just --
TERKEL: And if you`re not a sports fan and you pretend to be, you just
look ridiculous. I mean, it`s like President Obama when he was bowling on
the campaign. He`s (ph) a terrible bowler. Like Mitt Romney at a Sear
(ph) pretending he`s in every man eating like a corn dog.
KORNACKI: Sport fan. Sport fan.
TERKEL: Because his friends are owners. So, you know, you try to be
authentic by showing, you know, sports, but it does end up showing how sort
of you are not the --
KORNACKI: My other (INAUDIBLE) the ridiculous bets. You know, the two
teams in the Super Bowl. I mean, I`ll bet you 2,000 pounds of lobster and
you`re going to give a million pounds of ham if the Packers win (ph).
Anyway, that`s another topic.
KORNACKI: Very conservative and very outspoken Republican who says he will
beat Cory Booker. We`re going to talk to Steve Lonegan. That`s live next.
STEVE KORNACKI, HOST: We`ve talked a lot about Cory Booker. He`s favored
to win a special election for the New York Senate in New Jersey this
But he does have an opponent and that opponent is Republican Steve Lonegan.
He`s the former mayor of the town of Bogota, where he served for three
terms from 1995 through 2007. And he`s one of the most vocal and most
conservative politicians in the state of New Jersey, maybe the most vocal
and the most conservative.
While he was mayor, he spearheaded initiatives ranging from cost reductions
in municipal services, to calling upon McDonald`s to take down a billboard
because it advertised iced coffee in Spanish.
He then became head of the New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity.
It`s a conservative group founded by David and Charles Koch. In 2009, he
ran for governor of New Jersey, positioning to the right of Chris Christie.
Christie won that Republican primary by 13 points and is now a rising
national GOP star. This past Tuesday, he formally endorsed Lonegan in his
race against Booker.
Lonegan has a big hill to climb. He`s a dyed in the wool conservative.
He`s for defunding health care reform, he opposes marriage equality, and
he`s running in New Jersey -- a state where won two landslide victories, a
state that last elected a Republican to the Senate in 1972.
New poll from Monmouth University released on Tuesday put Booker ahead by
16 points, 54-38. That is the first poll out since the primaries two weeks
The election will be held on October 16th and here to talk about it is,
Steve Lonegan, the Republican nominee for Senate from New Jersey.
Steve, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us. I appreciate it.
STEVE LONEGAN (R-NJ), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be here. Thank you,
KORNACKI: So, we`ll start -- actually, I was talking to your consultant
yesterday and I think he said you guys have seen this video and you`re
ready for it. I`m going to start by playing a clip -- this is actually
from our friends at "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW." Some say you`re very
conservative, very outspoken. This is some examples of it. I`m just going
to play this clip and talk about it.
We`ll start with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
LONEGAN: Yes, I`m a right wing radical. I don`t think there should be any
This is a Ponzi scheme. You know, the biggest disappointment I had last
week when Rick Perry came out and called Social Security a Ponzi scheme and
all the controversy around it is that he didn`t stick to his guns because
I have no interest in paying for health care. (INAUDIBLE)
I didn`t hear Mark Levin`s idea about Medicare and Medicaid. I think both
these programs are destined for destruction for the next generation and I
think they should be done away with and privatized. That`s what I think.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KORNACKI: OK, so, there`s a lot in there and I want to get into the
particular issues, but I think I want to start with the more philosophical
question and that is we put it in the intro there. The result last
November in New Jersey was 58-41, Obama. This is a state for six straight
presidential elections that`s going Democratic. It`s been more than 40
years since it sent a Republican to the Senate.
Why should New Jersey be represented in the senate with somebody with views
that you had?
LONEGAN: Well, because we`ve seen what happened after 40 years of having
Democrat senators and representing New Jersey in the United States Senate.
New Jersey ranks it the worst state if not close to the worst state of the
nation money back from the federal government, and we pay a massive amount
of taxes. We`ve watched New Jersey`s economy go from the 1960s being the
top rated economy in the nation to one of the worst states to start a
business and we just cannot afford any more of these economic policies.
KORNACKI: Let`s talk about specific policy questions then. They`re going
to be on your agenda right away. If you win this election on October 16th,
you`ll be going to Washington, D.C. potentially at a time when the prospect
of a government shut down or a debt ceiling default are on the political
agenda, because there are conservatives in the Senate and dozens of them in
the House who right now are saying that when the funding for the government
comes this fall, there should be no funding bill passed and we would rather
shut down the government if it includes any money for the implementation of
the Affordable Care Act, President Obama`s health care act.
They are saying shut down the government, shut down the entire government
rather than doing that.
I ask you, one of your first actions as a senator. Do you agree with those
who say we should shut down the government and not fund health care?
LONEGAN: Yes. In fact, I think it`s time to draw a line in the sand on
the spending problems taking place in this country, this explosion of debt,
reliance on government. You know, there is an article on wallstreet.com
just Friday about the Federal Reserve Bank and meetings from June 30th and
31st which reports the Federal Reserve balance sheet has increased from
$2.9 trillion to $3.4 trillion in only six months. That`s because the
federal government is printing money at a major -- almost $85 billion a
month in new money being printed to keep this government afloat.
This is a real problem for this country.
KORNACKI: But I want to be clear, again, you`re talking to voters who were
told last year that the future of health care reform, the future of the
Affordable Care Act is on the line in this election. Mitt Romney says
he`ll get rid of it. Barack Obama says this is mine alone and I`m standing
by it, and voters overwhelmingly in New Jersey re-elected President Obama.
And you`re saying not only repeal that law, but you would shut down the
entire federal government to do that?
LONEGAN: Steve, that was a year ago, before we learned all the bad things
happening under Obamacare every single day, including the Delta Airlines
announcement a few days ago, UPS consolidating, eliminating coverage for
spousal coverage. The fact that in New Jersey alone, 100,000 people are
going to lose their health care insurance because of Obamacare.
This thing is a train wreck. Even the president himself has said we have
to postpone the employer mandate, we`re going to have to postpone the --
"The Chicago Tribune", his home town newspaper, last week wrote an
editorial saying "halt Obamacare." So, things have changed radically since
people have tried to realize how bad this program really is.
We need to eliminate the Obamacare system and return to a solution to our
health care issues.
KORNACKI: There are a couple other issues that will come up pretty quickly
if you`re elected in the Senate, and I want to get your positions on them.
One is something called the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. And this has
been on and off the agenda in Washington for a few decades now. It
basically says that if you have a job and you`re gay, you cannot be fired
from that job because you`re gay.
It looks like it`s going to come up for a vote in the Senate this fall.
Would you vote for or against the Employment Nondiscrimination Act?
LONEGAN: I support the right of every American to have a job to be
protected in their employment, gay or straight. So, there are other
aspects of the bill that may have to be looked at. A lot of times in these
bills, they put other things that we don`t understand. But in terms of
simply protect the rights of gay people to keep their jobs -- yes, I would.
KORNACKI: Do you have a position? Have you looked at the bill?
LONEGAN: Not the whole bill.
KORNACKI: You don`t have a position.
Another issue that might come up in the Senate pretty quickly would be
guns. If the background checks bill, the compromise that Joe Manchin and
Pat Toomey, the Republican from Pennsylvania, if that comes back up --
would you favor background checks, universal mandatory background checks
for anybody trying to buy a gun? If you have a criminal history and you`re
not getting a gun.
LONEGAN: That`s correct.
KORNACKI: Would you favor it?
LONEGAN: I would support background checks for criminal history checks.
KORNACKI: You would support -- you would support background checks.
If there is a nominee for the Supreme Court that comes up, would you apply
-- I know you`re opposed to abortion -- would you apply the same standard
that you just sort of outlined? You would shut down the whole federal
government over Obamacare. I wonder, would you vote no on Supreme Court
nominee because that nominee favors Roe?
LONEGAN: You know, Steve, you`re asking me if I would personally shut down
the government. I am one of 100 votes. I will vote in things that I
believe in. If that was all shutting down the government, because I`m the
one vote that`s making that decision, so be it. I`m not going to be back
off from principles, because suddenly I`m the one single vote.
So, the answer is -- yes, I will vote the way I feel is necessary and the
things I believe in. If that happens to be one of the votes that results
in shutting down the government, so be it.
KORNACKI: I`m not asking you about being one vote -- I`m asking a movement
in the Senate and the movement in the House among a number of conservatives
who says we will vote no, we will do everything in our power to block a
funding bill for the government, if that funding bill for the entire
government happens to include money for the implementation of the
Affordable Care Act. And you would be alone in that. And you are saying
LONEGAN: I absolutely am.
KORNACKI: My question about a Supreme Court nominee who says that they
would uphold Roe v. Wade, is that a showstopper for you in terms of voting
to confirm that nominee?
LONEGAN: It is for me, I am totally pro-life.
AMANDA TERKEL, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Steve, I was wondering what you think
of the job -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has done. Some
conservatives are upset that he has -- for example, he didn`t insert
himself now on the filibuster reform debate or that he`s OK cut deals with
Democrats. What do you think he has done? Would you like to see anything
different from the Republican leadership?
LONEGAN: I would like to see draw a line in the sand. Yes, I like to see
them be less compromising with Obama on his issues, particularly in
stopping the funding of Obamacare.
TERKEL: And is there anyone in the Senate that you sort of see as a
kindred spirit or someone when you get into the Senate that you`d like to
LONEGAN: Yes, Ted Cruz. I think he`s brilliant. Rand Paul has been
outspoken. Ted Cruz is intellectual and I like the way he thinks.
JEFF BLAKE, SALON.COM: What kind of president would Chris Christie be?
LONEGAN: I think he`s a strong leader. I think Chris Christie, he`s a
very strong personality and kind of leadership this country needs to be put
on a different track from that of Barack Obama.
LIZZ WINSTEAD, COMEDIAN & AUTHOR: So far when I heard you talk, everything
you`ve said was -- line in the sand, shut it down. I haven`t heard you say
that you would compromise on anything. I don`t know a place in the world
where you get something done be it your marriage, be it the government or
be at your job where you don`t have to compromise on people.
Can you explain to me why compromise is not something that you at all want
to do, like compromising on Obamacare? Why not look at it and try to
compromise on it?
LONEGAN: First of all, I didn`t see Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi
compromise on Obamacare. In fact, Nancy Pelosi said, we have to pass the
bill to see what`s in it. That`s not compromise. There was no compromise
whatsoever when it came to jamming Obamacare down the throats of Americans.
WINSTEAD: If you believe that, that doesn`t answer my question. That`s
what Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi did. I`m asking you why you don`t want
a compromise so we can make sure Americans have health care.
LONEGAN: There`s places for compromise and there`s places for standing up
for your principles. Compromise means the abdication of your beliefs and
giving up your principles does not work for me.
Now, I was a mayor of a two-to-one Democrat town for 12 years and I had to
work with the Democrats all the time. So, there are certain areas where
you can compromise and how you`re going to put budgets together, how --
WINSTEAD: A town of 8,000 people is very different than the United States
LONEGAN: Actually, a town of 8,000 people is the backbone of this nation,
that`s what makes up our local governments. That`s what makes up our
democracies. It`s very, very important.
And the ability to operate in the local level when you`re dealing with your
neighbors and with your friends one on one is very, very important training
for being U.S. senator.
KORNACKI: I want to talk to you about something else that`s I think very
important issue in New Jersey right now. And that`s the recovery of the
state from hurricane Sandy last year. I want to ask you, specifically,
about this involves Chris Christie because when President Obama first came
to New Jersey during the storm last year and he said that President Obama
was doing an outstanding job and the response from Obama and FEMA had been
outstanding. He took a lot of heat from Republicans on that.
And six months later, after the funding for recovery had been approved and
being implemented by the state of New Jersey, the president returned and
Chris Christie said, again, he said, the president has kept every promise
he made. I think he`s done a good job.
Do you agree with Chris Christie on President Obama`s response to hurricane
LONEGAN: Well, look, Chris Christie as executive of the state of New
Jersey has an obligation to bring back every penny he can`t from the
federal government. That`s far different than being a U.S. senator, when
you`re talking about issues of principle and federal spending.
So, I disagreed with Governor Christie and President Obama on Hurricane
Sandy funding because I thought it was over the top. I thought it was just
too much money.
KORNACKI: What was over the top about it?
LONEGAN: Too much money. Massive amount of money that`s not in there.
There was not spending restrictions. There was not controls in place to
make sure money went directly to homeowners and to real relief instead of
government programs, all kinds of pork barrel spending in that bill. And
over time, we`re seeing that, and we`re going to see more of it.
KORNACKI: So, you`re going to go down to the shore, you`re going to go to
Belmar, talking about the boardwalk wiped out, the sewer system wiped out,
the power system wiped out, businesses under water and say, you guys have
got too much?
LONEGAN: Yes, there`s too much money that has gone into the hurricane
Sandy bill and we`re seeing it every day. And, Steve, you`re going to see
more and more nightmare stories about millions and billions of dollars
thrown away unaccounted for, programs had nothing to do with hurricane
That`s what`s going to happen because there was just a total taking
advantage of the situation for this runaway spending bill.
And everybody jumped onboard and got their piece of the action. And we
will see that in the next couple of years. And the things I`m seeing today
will be vindicated.
ZEFF: Quick policy question -- unemployment in New Jersey now is around 9
ZEFF: To a single working mother in New Jersey who has a couple of kids
and trying to do the right thing and low-wage retail job is concerned about
health care, gets health care for the family under Obamacare and relying on
school lunch program under SNAP, is concerned about cuts that might come to
What is your pitch to her and what is your specific policy prescription on
how to help her?
LONEGAN: The same policy that my mom adopted when my dad died when I was a
teenager. And she had to go back to work as a single mom supporting two
boys and had no health insurance and all the things you just mentioned.
You go to work, your (INAUDIBLE), you do the best that you can. And my mom
built a successful career. We need to create, first of all, we need to
create an economy where single mothers can go and prosper, get jobs, make
an income, get health insurance. We never had to have SNAP when I was a
So, you know, this thing that every single mom is the poster child for the
welfare state is nonsense. And I`ll tell you the truth, I`m tired of
single mothers being used as the poster child for the welfare state. I
know a lot of single moms that go out to work and do very, very well for
ZEFF: You`re right, let`s talk about just families in general.
LONEGAN: Families in general.
Let`s talk about families -- let`s talk about families in the city of
Newark, which has a 15 percent unemployment rate and has received countless
billions of dollars. Billions of dollars in subsidies from state taxpayers
so that Cory Booker can have a drop our rate over 50 percent of the school
system and unemployment rate of 15 percent, skyrocketing property taxes as
we speak. Crime --
ZEFF: What is your --
LONEGAN: Free market economic policies, cutting the size of government and
into freeing up individuals to achieve their best potential and getting out
there, working hard and doing lots, like my single mom did when she had to,
when she was 37 years and old and kept our family together, worked really
hard and became a successful administrator at (INAUDIBLE) Hospital right
here in New York City.
That`s what we need to do in this country. We need to free up people to be
the best they can, not burden them with big government, not embrace more
entitlement programs and more welfare spending, more debt and more taxes.
ZEFF: There are certain piece of legislation that you are proposing that
you would support in that effort?
LONEGAN: A certain single piece of legislation? I think it takes a lot
more than that. I think it takes cutting the size of government across the
board, freeing up businesses and cutting regulation.
I`ll give you one very specific piece of regulation that I will push for.
Every seven years, the EPA and OSHA regulation should be sunsetted on a
regular basis and should be reviewed for each of their impact of those
regulations. We should be sitting down because we keep more and more
regulations on businesses, making it harder to survive and harder to create
jobs in this country. They need to be sunsetted on a regular basis and we
need to start from scratch. That`s one step in the right direction.
KORNACKI: Before we go, I want you to get you to weigh in on one other
thing. And that is, there`s sort of a debate within your party, within the
Republican Party right now about domestic surveillance, about national
security. Chris Christie who endorsed you this week and Rand Paul had a
very sort of public sparring over this in the last few weeks with Rand Paul
raising concerns about all the revelations we had about the NSA and Chris
Christie basically saying, hey, these policies work. I want Rand Paul to
come to New Jersey and make the argument to widows of 9/11.
Where to you come down on that debate? What side are you on?
LONEGAN: I`m more on the side of Rand Paul. I am deeply concerned about a
government that really should be protecting us from our enemies, instead of
spying on our friends and our neighbors and our families. The NSA has
overreached its power and intrusion into our privacy.
These are our Fourth Amendment rights. I`m also concerned about the IRS
abuse of power and the DOJ going after reporters like you guys and digging
into your e-mails and your privacy. We`re tapping (INAUDIBLE) than we
think. We`re seeing more and more scandals coming out of the NSA every
So, I`m very much concerned about individual liberty and privacy of
KORNACKI: And I just -- there is a difference you have with Governor
Christie. You have a difference with Governor Christie over Sandy. You
ran against him, as I said, from the right, in the 2009 primary. We`re
going to be talking about this later in the show.
But national conservatives have been looking at Governor Christie for the
last couple years, especially in the wake of embracing last year and saying
he`s not a real conservative. You have looked at him as a conservative
more closely than a lot of them have.
Would you tell them Chris Christie is an authentic conservative?
LONEGAN: I`m much more of a libertarian conservative. You know, everybody
doesn`t fall into a box. You can`t simply say, this guy is a conservative,
this guy is this. There are people who share various principles and I`m
one of those kind of people. I consider myself much more pragmatic in many
So, Governor Christie could be considered more conservative in some areas
than I am. But the fact is, you can count on this -- Cory Booker is
identical to Barack Obama on every single issue. There is nothing Cory
Booker differs from Obama on. And I will differ with my party on certain
issues. I will differ with Chris Christie on certain issues.
But at the end of the day, my campaign is about individual liberty. That`s
what I`m here for.
KORNACKI: All right. Well, Steve Lonegan, you didn`t have to come in
today and I appreciate that you did, and we have an open invitation here as
well to your opponent Cory Booker. We`d love to him come in and do the
exact same thing.
We will go to another New Jersey figure, Chris Christie, who is doing leg
work for the 2016 race as a new polls shows Democrats in New Jersey are
starting to remember that he`s a Republican. That`s next.
KORNACKI: Chris Christie is expected to win re-election in New Jersey this
November. He`s actually begun laying the groundwork for a 2016
presidential campaign as "National Review" reported this week from the
article, quote, "Their maneuvers have included huddles with Republican
moneymen, off the record powwows with conservative journalists and late-
night conversations with past backers."
A poll this week from Monmouth University finds that Christie`s lead may be
coming down from previous heights in his home state. He has now 56 percent
compared to Democratic State Senator Barbara Buono`s 36 percent.
Twenty-point lead may sound like a lot and it is. But just two months ago,
the same poll had Christie ahead by 30 points. The change in this latest
poll comes from Democrats who now give Buono 71 percent support, up from 59
percent last time. One way of reading this: Democrats are remembering that
Christie is a Republican, thanks in no small part to appearances with the
GOP establishment and his recent vetoes of gun control bills. He`s also
proudly backing the man we just talked to, Steve Lonegan, the conservative
New Jersey Senate candidate.
Christie previewed his pitch to national Republicans in an RNC meeting in
Boston last week, saying, quote, "For our ideas to matter, we have to win.
If we don`t govern, all we do is shout to the wind. And so, I`m going to
do anything I need to do to win."
Here to discuss this with us is Kate Zernike. She`s a national
correspondent for "New York Times" and a close Christie watcher.
Kate, thanks for joining us.
KATE ZERNIKE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Sure.
KORNACKI: So, I`m interested in this question of what he`s trying to do
this year in New Jersey in his re-election campaign, because as we said,
the polls have had him ahead by a huge margin and his pitch to national
Republicans is, hey, I`m in a blue state and I`m a winner. Everyone is
expecting this blowout win and I`m looking at this and I`m saying his
courtship of national Republicans being mindful of national Republicans is
starting to take a toll in New Jersey and that Democrats are starting to
come home there.
Could it produce a situation where, you know, the margin ends up being
interpreted this fall, hey, he wins but, hey, this wasn`t not that
impressive of a margin. I mean, I guess I`m sort of asking, what do they
need here? What do they need to win by this year to get an impressive
victory? That seems to be becoming an issue here.
ZERNIKE: Right. It`s interesting because, you know, Christie came into
this beating historic margin of victory. I want to beat Tom Cain`s record
in 1985 which was, you know, he won all but three towns.
KORNACKI: Forty-two points, yes.
ZERNIKE: So, he wanted to match Tom Cain who is his political mentor.
Now, they`re starting to scale back and say, look, New Jersey is a blue
state, if we get more than 50 percent, that`s a landslide in New Jersey for
a Republican. What`s interesting to me, though, is so, they are trying to
lower the expectations. What is interesting to me is how he is trying to
win, the coalition he is trying to win, which is he`s going to African-
Americans, to Hispanics, to Democrats.
Every time he gets a Democratic endorsement, there would be a cake
(INAUDIBLE). That was a big deal. Really, what he`s trying to do in his
lineup, you know, the Democrats, Democratic mayors who are going to support
him. That`s what he`s taking to the national stage.
He`s going to go in and say, look, I got this coalition, I got the
independents, I got the Democrats, I got the Hispanics, the Hispanics in
particular, it`s a block that Republicans need. I can do it. I`m the guy
to do it, I win in a blue state and I brought all these people with me.
KORNACKI: But we are starting to so, it looks like, series of gun control
bills made it to his desk a few weeks ago, or a week ago, I guess it was.
And he vetoed and sort of let die the one the NRA said we`re against. It
seems to me on that issue of gay marriage, he`s against gay marriage and
New Jersey is now a state that is like 60 percent support for something.
It does seem like the balancing act that has been so good at striking is
getting uncomfortable here.
ZERNIKE: It is. But remember when he vetoed them. He vetoed them at 6:00
on a Friday, right after he vetoed a medical marijuana bill for children
that he had been -- that everyone was watching closely. So, the guns was
almost an afterthought to a lot of people who are covering this.
So, yes, I mean, the governor -- he`s always going to have to strike that
balance partly because Democrats in New Jersey are trying to embarrass him
by doing things like putting this gun bill before him. One interesting
thing about the gun bill was the ban on the 50 caliber weapon was one he
had proposed a couple months ago. So, he is, definitely -- he is,
obviously, trying to find the balance there.
KORNACKI: How do you think national Republicans and conservatives, in
particular, we started to talk to Steve Lonegan about this last segment.
How are they -- so, they`re all this sort of bitter memories on the right
about a week before the election Barack Obama in New Jersey, you know,
Chris Christie saying he is doing an outstanding job, embracing him and
all, how are our national conservatives responding to sort of this outreach
campaign that "The National Review" reported on this week?
ZERNIKE: You know, I`ve always thought and I think the article in
"National Review" on this, I always thought that the sort of the outrage
over -- outrage on the right about Christie, I think that will be -- it was
overblown in the first place and it will be forgotten by 2016. And I also
think that Christie can go and say, look, people look at that, and say he
was doing what he had to do for his state.
You know, Chris Christie is something who says, to get the next job that I
want, I have to do a really good job at the job that I have. So, getting
the president on New Jersey`s side right after the hurricane was sort of
something, people say I`m a pragmatist. I needed to do that for pragmatic
KORNACKI: I`m just wondering how the Republican base, you know, views
that, because the name Obama with Republicans. If you have any sort of
association these days, it seems like poison.
ZERNIKE: Right. And I think -- that`s absolutely true. But again,
remember, he did come and he did endorse Steve Lonegan, who had a bitter
primary four years ago. So, I think that`s started -- he started to say
like I will do what I need to do to be a good Republican and that was one
of those things that he was going to do.
ZEFF: I think the reason why he may do OK with national Republicans what
gets lost a lot of the time is that he`s conservative. What he does is
sort of northeastern Republican game that Pete King from Long Island is
another person who has done this where they vote as Republicans or govern
as Republicans, conservative Republicans, I should say, and then kind of do
rhetorical gestures every now and then that aren`t truly substantive
apostasies among conservatives.
So, Pete King likes to pick fights with Grover Norquist and do rhetorical
things, where he says, New York donors shouldn`t support Ted Cruz. OK,
he`s still voting Pete King 90 percent of the time with his party or
whatever it is.
Same thing with Christie -- defund Planned Parenthood and we just talked
about guns. He basically made his career being a bully to public employees
and teachers. True conservative, but then do rhetorical gestures about
Sandy saying president did a good job and it seems like that`s sort of the
model that he`s using.
ZERNIKE: Right. And again, he`s back to criticizing Obama and criticizing
Obama on his leadership and you`re hearing some of that rhetoric again come
into his speeches.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, BUZZFEED.COM: That seems to really work with him --
worked for him this rhetorical stuff on the national stage. You talk to
Democrats all over the country, that`s the guy they like. They like Chris
Christie. They can see themselves supporting Chris Christie.
And I wonder if you what you`re talking about, this polling, this poll
number showing a shift getting behind Democratic candidate for governor
here. If that`s something you might expect could happen on the national
level as he comes out, because right now, I feel like his national identity
are still Republican Democrats like.
WINSTEAD: I think they need to switch that out. I think that if Democrats
are smart, they would be lining up his record, to Rick Perry`s record, to
Pat McCrory`s record, to John Kasich`s record, and say, this guy is no
different than all the people you think are cuckoo pants. So, do not,
please do a reset, please do not think that Chris Christie owns some
sweater vests and he wears them out and looks like a guy you know.
KORNACKI: It`s the fleece. See, you`re merging him with the Republicans
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: You went from pants to you`re a whole outfit.
WINSTEAD: I know. I really think that is the biggest mistake and we do it
-- the Democrats do it all the time. It`s like there is such a clown car
out there that Chris Christie doesn`t seem like, but when he votes, he
KORNACKI: But is it sort of an almost devious, maybe unintentional
devious. You know, it`s like, I think of the Democrats with John McCain in
2000. John McCain was running against George W. Bush. Now, George W. Bush
got elected or Supreme Court -- we can leave all that aside, but John
McCain I think would have beaten Al Gore by a bigger margin, it would have
a lot less trouble with him than George W. Bush did, but every Democrat in
the country was praising John McCain during those primaries and it allowed
George W. Bush basically look at the conservative and say, this guy is the
imposter, I`m the real one, just vote for your tribe. That was a powerful
ZERNIKE: Right. And, you know, you look at Steve Lonegan, for instance.
You know, Christie -- Steve Lonegan is one of the people who encouraged
Chris Christie to back out of the greenhouse gas initiative. So, he is
listening to conservatives. I mean, he is saying, I need your support.
But not as though he has completely abandoned them.
KORNACKI: All right. I want to thank Kate Zernike from "New York Times",
a Chris Christie watcher. We will have you back, I`m sure, between now and
2016 a few times.
We will go back to Washington, D.C. and talk more about the march on
Washington. That`s next.
KORNACKI: So, we mentioned earlier the new poll that puts Cory Booker
ahead of Steve Lonegan, 54 percent to 38 percent in the New Jersey Senate
race. Judging from Twitter this week, those numbers prompted a lot of
people to ask, shouldn`t Booker be winning by more? I mean, a national
celebrity against a conservative Republican in a deeply blue state?
Let`s look at the numbers. We can see that the floor for a Republican
Senate candidate in New Jersey is actually pretty high. This is how
they`ve done over the last generation from a 47 percent peak for Christine
Todd Whitman in 1990, to a low of 30 percent of the vote in last year`s
race for Joe Kyrillos. Lonegan`s 38 percent fits right in with that.
This week also brought some new numbers from Virginia in the closely
watched race for government there. Democrat Terry McAuliffe now enjoys a
six-point lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli. Among likely voters, that
is an ominous sign for Republicans until now had been a dead even race.
KORNACKI: This Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the march on
Washington for jobs and freedom -- a watershed moment in American history
and a turning point in the struggle for civil rights. Tens of thousands of
people are gathering in Washington again this morning to remember the
historic event. Marchers are starting at the Lincoln Memorial, which is
where the speeches took place back in 1963. They are ending at the
recently completed Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall.
And on Wednesday, which is the actual 50th anniversary of the march,
President Obama will join the former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy
Carter to speak on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Speakers are
expected to address the issues important to the marchers 50 years ago.
Issues like racial equality, economic justice and voting rights. And he
says that progress has been made and the nation`s first African-American
president is still grappling with these issues in his second term as he
said yesterday at a town hall in Binghamton, New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The legacy of
discrimination, slavery, Jim Crowe has meant that, you know, some of the
institutional barriers for success for a lot of groups still exist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, we have a little bit more time here to talk about this and
put this in context a little bit.
It`s interesting now we can look back with the benefit of 50 years of
hindsight and put in context a lot more, you know, what happened in 1963
and what it means in the grand sweep of history. But I want to go back to
sort of the moment and talk about it a little bit because a lot was
happening, obviously, politically at the time and there were a lot of
immediate political results and in t wake of the march.
First, I want to play, this is Martin Luther King who was on "Meet the
Press," I think actually 50 years. It was August 25th, 1963. It`s 50
years ago tomorrow. This is just a couple days before the march. He`s
previewing it and he`s talking about -- he`s talking about concept of
Let`s listen to this and take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ICON: I think we can see we are
in the midst of a great social revolution and no social revolution can be
neat and tidy at every point. I think the amazing thing is that it has
been as neat and tidy as it has been and as nonviolent has it has been.
This reveals a great deal of discipline in this movement and a great deal
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: He talks about no revolution can be neat and tidy. But it is. I
mean, nonviolence was the hallmark of the march on Washington of what
Martin Luther King represented and --
WINSTEAD: Think about what he said and the segment we just had, right,
with Steve Lonegan., who talked about line in the sand, if you don`t do --
it`s my way or the highway. Can you imagine that kind of attitude trying
to get whole bunch of desperate voices together to march. I mean, it would
be -- it`s almost impossible to think of that, and I think that is a big
schism between the left and the right, is that even though it is messy,
it`s murky, and it`s done in different ways and people get really mad, at
the end of the day, they all decided this needs to happen.
KORNACKI: The politics of the 1963 are so different than they are today
because you had -- the Democratic Party was almost schizophrenic. You had
these northern liberals. It was the parties of the big cities in the
North. It was a lot of Northern liberals. It was also the party of the
segregationists from the South.
And the Republican Party, they were authentic liberals, not moderates, but
liberals in the Republican Party, and then there were these like Midwest
industrialist conservatives. So, there was a lot more sort of cross
pollination between the parties which right now seems like the lines are so
distinct that any development and any event happens -- each party kind of
immediately decides and each tribe decides this is our talking point and
each proves their loyalty -- this is especially true on the Republican
side. I think this cross pollination is a race today.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: You know what`s fascinating, though, is there actually
are a lot of parallels, though. Parts of that interview that "Meet the
Press " appearance, a lot of the questions that Martin Luther King got were
about violence. The inevitability of violence of this march, and there`s
got to be, you know, you got a lot of evil in one place, there`s going to
And it strikes me, there`s a lot of the conversation we`re having about
race in America right now. I mean, that conversation about that fear of
African-American violence that was so fundamental that that`s something
that`s going on now.
So, interesting that there are political changes that you were talking
about with tribalism and stuff, but sort of the position that African-
American males are in is similar in terms of what people, public
perception, I think, in some cases.
ZEFF: And you can link that to what happened after the George Zimmerman
verdict, right, where there was this expectation of violence and riots.
Ands so, the cops were on guard for this. This is what happened during the
march where they actually kept the courts open all night and didn`t serve
alcohol that day. There was this big concern that there were these huge
violent riots and, unfortunately, the same assumptions happened just a
month ago with the Zimmerman verdict.
KORNACKI: Let`s take a look at "Meet the Press", August 25, 1963, more of
MLK. This is him talking about social equality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I think that we must face the fact that in reality you cannot have
economic and political equality without having some form of social
equality. I think this is inevitable and I don`t think our society will
rise to its full maturity until we come to see that we live together as
brothers and we can genuine intergroup, interpersonal living and, still, be
in the kind of society which we all long to achieve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I want to talk about what he was saying there and I want to talk
about some of the immediate political fallout from that. And we have some
more great quotes. We`ll pick it up right after this.
KORNACKI: So, we just played another clip of MLK from "Meet the Press,"
previewing the march in Washington 50 years ago this weekend.
And, Amanda, you know, one thing, think of the context of the time of where
this was in the civil rights movement. It was a couple months that John F.
Kennedy, you know, still president, sort of recommitted himself to the idea
that I`m going to get a civil rights bill through Congress and then the
march took place and President Kennedy was killed a few months after that.
LBJ came in and in the next year, less than a year after the march on
Washington that the southern filibuster broke and the Civil Rights Bill of
1964 was passed and became law.
We talked about the march on Washington had so many goals and some of them
are not realized to this day, but there was also a very immediate impact.
TERKEL: Yes, I`m not sure if we`re going -- I`m pessimistic that we`re
going to see anything like that coming out of this march immediately. I
mean, while Congress is not in Washington, so, I feel like it`s not having
as immediate of an impact on lawmakers, as it would if they were here and
have to walk through the crowds and see it.
You know, it`s also taking place the backdrop of the Voting Rights Act sort
of being gutted by the Supreme Court, all these voter ID laws going into
place in places like Texas and North Carolina. I would love to see that
this creates some sort of momentum that look a lot of what the problems
were in the `60s, schools not integrated enough and people making equal
wages. Those are still problems.
But whether, you know, with this Congress, I don`t think we`re going to see
immediate new Civil Rights Act or anything.
ZEFF: Well, you know, there is some direct civil rights action that could
be taken in terms of civil rights and it could be taken by Obama.
What is interesting about the march on Washington is that it was proposed I
believe in the `40s, it`s like around the time of World War II. One of the
main goals was to get Roosevelt to sign an executive order banning
workplace discrimination against African-Americans.
And they proposed the march and didn`t end up going off and because of the
threat of it, Roosevelt signed that executive order. And, you know, that
kind of issue is facing Obama today. LGBT community wants him to sign a
similar executive order about discrimination among federal contractors for
LGBT Americans, and this is something Obama hasn`t done. He`s going to go
and speak at this time, something that go come right out of this. You go
and talk about civil rights. He could something right away.
So, there`s some action that could be taken. I`m not sure if it`s going to
happen. But, you know, it`s possible that things can change very quickly
if presidents want to go ahead and do it.
KORNACKI: And we have another clip here. This is after, after the march.
We talked about this earlier where we look back at it after a history of a
lot of kids grew up getting. The history I got, I had the impression when
I first heard about march on Washington as a kid, that everybody got in
Washington to hear Martin Luther King. And then you find out, no, you
know, it was almost -- nobody expected to be blown away by Martin Luther
King. It was an organic thing. He started speaking and then it just
became this amazing speech.
But, anyway, right after, you know, right after the march, right after that
speech, after he sort of stole the show, Martin Luther King gave an
interview and this is him reflecting on it like a day later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I would simply like to say that I think this has been one of the
great days of America. And I think this march will go down as one of the
greatest, if not the greatest demonstrations for freedom and human dignity
ever held in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, it wasn`t an interview and it wasn`t a day later. It was a
press conference in the same day.
But anyway -- history proved him right on that, though.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yes. I mean, the actions from that march, the fallout
from that march is an amazing thing to see this happening again. To have
people here at that march and be here now is amazing.
ZEFF: The other interesting thing to note about today is that when you
mentioned that, of course, we talked about President Obama will be
speaking. I think you mentioned other presidents will be there as well, to
go back to history you`re talking about Roosevelt and talking about
Kennedy, Roosevelt did not want that march in the `40s. That`s why he sort
of gave in. Kennedy was not crazy about this march either, it`s important
to note that.
Again, I said earlier, many white people did not want this to happen.
There was a lot of concern. I think they canceled baseball games that
weekend. They didn`t sell alcohol in the district, they kept the courts
open all night and they were worried about potentially having to bring
people in and this is something the presidents were not getting behind in
the `40s and `60s and today, to have presidents now supporting this shows
at least progress in that regard.
KORNACKI: The Kennedy story, he was worried about it at first and he was
against it and then when he accepted the inevitability of it, hey, this is
going to happen. He said, look, if I`m going to get the civil rights bill
through, this is going to be successful. The White House was able to get
some unions involved and cooperation from the administration.
Anyway, I want to say thank you to Amanda Terkel of "The Huffington Post",
Blake Zeff of Salon.com, Evan McMorris-Santoro of BuzzFeed.com, and author
and comedian Lizz Winstead, I want to thank you all for getting UP.
We`re going to do things a little differently because of the day we have
going on in Washington today. We`re going to go back live to D.C. after
this when Melissa Harris-Perris has a preview of what`s ahead there as
MSNBC`s coverage of the march on Washington continues. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every
village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able
to speed up that day with all of God`s children, black men and white men,
Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and
sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual -- free at last, free at last,
thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, it`s 10:00 a.m. here and events for the 50th anniversary of
the march on Washington are now underway. Thousands of people have
gathered with many more expected to arrive throughout the morning.
MSNBC`s Melissa Harris-Perry is one of them and she joins me from the
National Mall to share with us her thoughts on the day.
And, Melissa, first of all, the pictures we`re seeing so far seems like a
really beautiful day, first of all, but also, what an exciting day to be
there. I`m wondering if you can tell us what the scene is like right now
and what you`re feeling like being there.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Good morning, Steve.
Yes, it is. It`s a beautiful day. And interestingly, we have been talking
to many elders in the civil rights community who were here 50 years ago.
And often one of the first things they will say is, I remember how hot it
was, I remember how exhausted I was. I remember how long the day went on.
And so it is -- it`s a beautiful day in terms of weather. And I`m sure
people will now make that part of their story, of having been there. But
more than anything, I think what`s interesting in this moment is that this
was planned initially as a commemoration march, an opportunity to reflect
on the 50 years since the 1963 march on August 28th.
But it has become a march in and of itself. It has become a part of a
galvanizing aspect of a new movement that in so many ways reflects back on
the fundamental issues that were part of the movement 50 years ago --
issues of police brutality, of racial inequality, and of course, of
KORNACKI: That`s so interesting, what you`re saying, because part of this,
it seems, is honoring the past and it`s also about making the past relevant
to the debate going forward. Are there lessons from what happened at the
march in 1963 and from the era that you can apply right now when you`re
talking about voting rights, when you`re talking about what`s going on in
states across the country, when you`re talking about the George Zimmerman
verdict? What are some of the lessons that can be learned and applied?
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, you know, one of the most important things is for us
to remember that we have made real progress. I think one of the most
dangerous things to do would be to walk away from this day and say nothing
has changed, that we are in 2013, precisely where we were in 1963.
And that is simply inaccurate. And it fails to acknowledge the work and
the effort of all of the activists who were here 50 years ago.
We are in a different place, but it would also be nearly criminal and
certainly, it would be deeply intellectually negligent to pretend as
though, either that the dream had been achieved or even that the most
relevant question to ask is the question, has the dream been achieved?
We are part of a long movement. And when I say "we," I mean the American
people, are part of a long project -- a project that our current president
calls perfecting the union. But for us, I think it`s really a question of
whether or not we are marching that long, unsteady march towards something
where we have more people who are full citizens, more people who are part
of the process, or whether or not we are beginning to march backwards.
And so for us, I think the big lessons are that you need moments of
galvanizing, inspiration, of the kind of solidarity and even spirit that
comes from a moment like this. But then you need strategy and on the
ground work and willingness for sacrifice, because that`s what happened in
the years that followed this march in 1963.
KORNACKI: All right, Melissa Harris-Perry, that is just a taste, because
you are going to be on this all day for us. And good luck. Have a great
day down there and thanks for spending a few minutes with us at the end of
And join us, tomorrow morning, Sunday morning at 8:00, where I`ll have Bob
Herbert and Walter Fields reflecting more on the march, and we`ll have a
look at Martin Luther King`s legacy, how he was perceived back in the
1960s, how that legacy has evolved to this day.
So, keep it right here on MSNBC. As we say, Melissa Harris-Perry is live
from the national mall with continuous coverage of all of this nation`s
events live from the capitol. Melissa Harris-Perry, she is coming up next.
We`ll see you right here tomorrow morning at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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