UP with STEVE KORNACKI
September 21, 2013
Guest: Suzy Khimm, Doug Wilder, Jason Barro, Evan McMorris-Santoro, Jason
Horowitz, Carl Sciortino
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Congress has a major crisis on its hands and
they have no one to blame but themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: At the start of this weekend, we are reminded of accelerated
passage of time. In Congress, lawmakers have seen to it the clock is
ticking down to another government shutdown. Deadline is now only days
away, and they are the ones who activated the detonator. We`ll have full
details on that in just a moment.
We will also be looking today at the calendar for how much time President
Obama has left during his second term to get things done to meet the
promises of his 2012 re-election campaign. You might think he has three
more years, but Washington`s calendar does not necessarily match up to the
one hanging on the wall of your mother`s kitchen.
Also, my money for the most interesting governor`s race in the country
right now is on the great state of Virginia. It`s not exactly a tough
call. There are only two governors` races going on this year. But with
only weeks to go, we will be joined by a former governor of that state to
hash out where things really stand and where he stands.
And are you ready to go up against the clock? It`s time for another
exciting edition of our look back at everything that happened in politics
this week, classic 1970s game show style. But we begin this morning on
Capitol Hill. That is where the republican spending plan was passed
yesterday by the house -- let me start that again. The spending plan that
was passed yesterday by the House could if you look only at the surface
seem like a perfectly reasonable piece of legislation.
It`s a measure that would keep the government running for a couple more
months until mid-December. It`s a measure that would avoid the shutdown
that would, otherwise, be less than two weeks from today. Republican
members of the House were cheering behind Speaker John Boehner after
yesterday`s party line vote.
One Republican voted in favor of the measure. If you`re John Boehner, that
almost never happens for you. And they were demanding that the Senate
immediately follow their lead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN CARTER, (R) TEXAS: I urge the Senate to pass this and the
president to sign it into law as soon as possible to avoid a devastating
and avoidable government shutdown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But, of course, to get the entire House GOP conference to stand
together like they did this week, well, there almost has to be a catch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: Furthermore, this bill responds to the clear will of the American
people by defunding Obamacare, a tremendously flawed law that is casting
havoc upon businesses and citizens alike and there must be repeal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: There it is. That is the price that Boehner decided to pay,
that he decided he had no choice but to pay in order to bring his party
together yesterday, tying (ph) the funding of the government to the gutting
of President Obama`s health care law, passing a bill that the president has
no chance of ever signing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right now, the debate that`s
going on in Congress is not meeting the test of health and middle class
families. It`s just, they`re not focused on you. They`re focused on
politics. They`re focused on trying to mess with me. They`re not focused
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But for that bill that Republicans passed to get to Obama`s desk
for him to veto, it would first have to make its way through the Senate.
That`s where Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the senate, has already
said that any bill that defunds Obamacare is dead. Instead, Reid is
marshaling his troops to take out the part of the bill that defunds
Obamacare and to then kick it back to the house.
All as that October 1st shut -- deadline for a shutdown gets closer and
closer. A Senate fight will begin next week, although at this point, it`s
unclear exactly what kind of a fight the most conservative members of the
Senate will actually be putting up. Senator Ted Cruz made a lot of noise
this week by admitting that the House proposal to defund Obamacare was
likely to falter in the senate.
But then, a day after that, after enraged House Republicans attacked him,
he vowed to stop at nothing to keep Obamacare from being fully implemented.
Now, he`s hinting that he might try to filibuster, try to block the bill in
the Senate. As things stand now, though, it looks like Democrats in the
Senate will be able to take out the part of the bill that defunds
And then, thanks, to some procedural craftiness they`ll also be able to do
it in a way that gives some coverage to Republicans who don`t fight them.
And that will then put the ball right back in the House`s court, right back
in John Boehner`s court. The Senate will hand him a bill that funds the
government, but it doesn`t touch Obamacare.
With the country on the verge of a shutdown, Boehner will be in a pickle.
Will he be able to convince his fellow Republicans that it`s better to
swallow hard and back down in Obamacare funding? That it`s better to do
that than to be blamed for a shutdown? Will the Tea Party bock (ph) at
that and force Boehner to rely on Democratic votes to keep the government
A move that could precipitate a coup that could cost Boehner, the speaker`s
gavel. Maybe he`ll do nothing. Maybe he`ll standby with the rest of his
party as October 1st comes and goes and the government closes down.
Here to help answer that, I want to bring in MSNBC`s Krystal Ball, my
former co-host at "The Cycle," Evan McMorris-Santoro, he`s the White House
reporter with BuzzFeed.com, Josh Barro, he`s the politics editor at
BusinessInsider.com, and MSNBC.com national policy reporter Suzy Khimm.
Thanks, guy, for joining us. So, when I wasn`t stumbling and flailing
around there trying to figure out what to say.
KORNACKI: You know, more caffeine, I can read that a little better, I
think. But --
KORNACKI: My challenge to you guys is I want to sort of understand the
roadmap that`s immediately ahead here, because there`s a lot of pieces --
the continuing resolution if it ends up being enacted takes it to December
15th. There`s going to be a debt ceiling thing in a few weeks. I wanted
to just focus on the issue of the shutdown and on the issue of this
My challenge to you is to do it in a way that doesn`t lapse into Senate
speak. So, I`m going to fine you if you use the word closure, the part
that make this as understandable as we can for people. But with that in
mind, Susie, maybe I`ll start with you, because we started to outline it
there. The expectation is that Harry Reid and the Democrats in the Senate
will be able to take out the part of this bill that defunds Obamacare.
It looks like this is sort of coming down to a procedural vote that`s going
to take place I think in the Senate on Monday. The Ted Cruz is threatening
to launch a filibuster. Can you explain exactly what Ted Cruz is
threatening and why this ultimately should get through the Senate. What
exactly is going on there?
SUZY KHIMM, MSNBC.COM: So, basically, Ted Cruz is threatening to do
something that would force basically for that bill without the Obamacare
revision to pass, debate has to stop. And basically, what Ted Cruz has
threatened to, do although his comments earlier in the week suggested that
maybe, you know, it`s just kind of an empty threat is to -- you know,
basically keep going, to talk -- filibuster basically means that you`re
just talking and talking and talking and then they won`t be able to close
debate and they won`t be able to hold a vote.
The question is, I mean, Ted Cruz kind of already showed his hand earlier
this week. And this is the reason that all these Republicans are attacking
him and I would say for very different reasons. What you`re seeing right
now which is very interesting is that you have some moderate Republicans in
the House who realized that Ted Cruz is their out.
Basically, they can blame Ted Cruz for not standing up tall enough that,
yes, he`s saying all these things now, that yes, I will definitely stand
tall against Obamacare, but he said earlier in the week that actually, you
know, after all is said and done, this is going nowhere. So, now, they
kind of have an out for blaming Ted Cruz, having him take the fall for the
reason that Obamacare didn`t actually pass.
Everyone knew this was the case to begin with, but, you know the question
is now, how long is this going to take basically will the Senate just the
kind of last minute pass a bill without Obamacare, force it back to the
House, and force them to make a sort of midnight decision.
KORNACKI: That was a really interesting dynamic you talked about with the
House -- with Republicans in the house. I haven`t seen him turn on a
prominent member of their own party, Republicans like this, really since
Obama became president. And here`s Peter King, you know, a Republican from
New York in the house talking about Ted Cruz this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: Whether it`s Custer, whether it`s kamikaze
or whether it`s Gallipoli or whatever, we are going to lose this and we
have so many winning issues against the president. I think he`s at wing
within our party led by people like Ted Cruz who really, as far as I`m
concerned is carrying out a fraud with the people by, somehow, implying or
even seeing that this strategy is going to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, Josh, take us inside Republican world here, because Ted
Cruz`s gain for the last two years is he`s sort of reason (ph) the national
promise (ph). He`s positioning himself as the voice of conservative
purity. He`s the standard against which purity is measured. All these
squishes in Washington, Boehner, his fellow senators, they just don`t
measure up to him. Is that turning it all in the minds of Republicans now
because of this?
JOSH BARRO, BUSINESSINSIDER.COM: I think so. There`s something remarkable
about Ted Cruz, how he seems to manage to make people work with him but
BARRO: It`s not just the House. You also have seen this in the Senate
this year. Republicans who have been around in the Senate for a long time
think that Cruz doesn`t respect traditions in the institution, doesn`t
respect them, and you`ve seen a lot of complaint from people like John
McCain about him.
And I think what you`re seeing in the House is the top goal for leadership
and Republicans close to leadership in this fight over the continuing
resolution with the government opened was they want to keep the low levels
of spending that are set out by sequestration that Republicans won in the
last debt ceiling fight in 2011.
The whole Obamacare push has been interfering with that. When this goes to
the Senate and Harry Reid strips out to defund Obamacare provision. The
question is what`s he going to do with the parts of the bill that actually
say how much money the government will spend next year. He gets an
opportunity to jam Republicans in the House, not just with a bill that
doesn`t defund Obamacare but with one that might spend more overall on the
So, Republicans in the House correctly realize that if they kept their eye
on that and not gotten distracted with this Obamacare thing, they would
have had a stronger hand to play and would have got been more likely
obtained their goal.
KORNACKI: Is that the expectation that the Senate right now, the Democrats
in the Senate in sort of as they touch this bill that they actually would
change sequester levels at all? They would change spending levels or would
they just sort of say we`ll be happy to let the continuing resolution go
through for a few months and have Obamacare out of it and not have a
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, BUZZFEED.COM: Well, it`s funny because, you know,
we don`t talk about sequestration very much at all. I mean -- bring up in
this conversation, but this is a whole -- there`s a huge issue that has now
been pushed off by the Obamacare talk. So, in a sense, I don`t really know
what the democrats are going to do with that.
I think there`s some discussion they`re fixing it. I think that the White
House would like it to be fixed. People would like it to be fixed. But
the battle is really now about keeping the government opened and that`s
about the Obamacare provision now really.
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC`S "THE CYCLE": Steve, I`m sorry, I`m going to have to
laugh into Senate (ph) speak here, but not only do the Republicans the
continuing resolution that they passed in the House, it keeps sequester
level funding for non-defense spending, so the discretionary non-defense
spending which is the part that they really want to cut and they actually
add 20 billion to the defense side which the whole idea of sequester was
that the defense cuts would hold the Republican`s feet to the fire.
The non-defense cuts would hold the Democrat`s feet to the fire. So,
they`re trying to ease the pressure on their side but not on the Democratic
side. So, I don`t think Democrats will stand for those levels of funds.
And as we look down the road at how this is going to play out, I don`t
think that the Ted Cruz, me first, I mean, really what they are is
incredibly selfish. They`re both destroying their party and threatening
I don`t see them backing down on this. They want to really go to the wire,
because look, Ted Cruz is a hero among the Tea Party base even if his
colleagues hate him. This has been great for him. So, I think they`re
going to have to go to Nancy Pelosi and Democrats for help, and they`re
going to have to change the funding levels in order to get there.
KORNACKI: First of all, you said non-discretionary (INAUDIBLE) $3.50.
BALL: I`m sorry.
KORNACKI: But Susie, let`s pick it up for a second, because that`s the
Dilemma for democrats here, because as I`ve understood it and correct me if
I`m wrong on this, on the Senate site, Democrats were more willing to sort
of accept the sequester that really reduced level of spending just to get
Obamacare out of it t. The House side that`s not quite as tested.
KHIMM: Yes. This is the interesting thing. I think what`s easy to forget
is that as recently as over the summer. You had some House Democrats
saying, yes, I think it`s worth risking a shutdown to get rid of
sequestration. The Democrats were making this threat, and instead, you
have this playing out on the Republican side. So, on the downside,
Republicans could get blamed for a shutdown.
This could be really bad for other party, so on and so forth. On the
upside, Obamacare has become a distraction. You don`t hear with all the
sequester at all. In fact, it makes Boehner in terms of just continuing
the sequester seems more reasonable like, oh, OK, we just want to continue
what we`re doing along. No one pay attention. Just keep going along. And
the longer sequestration stays in place, the longer it`s -- the more likely
it is --
KORNACKI: It becomes the new normal. Right. It`s the new standard.
KHIMM: Yes. And that`s the advantage of having this, you know, you could
argue, this is the reason if Boehner decided that yes, I`ll bring this bill
forward. It makes them seem crazy. It makes me with my still very
conservative ideas about spending seem more normal.
BALL: What Suzy is saying is totally true. The one thing I will say is
let`s not forget when they actually were trying to pass appropriations
bills to put numbers to the budget at sequestration levels, even
Republicans were unable to do it because the funding cuts were so
KORNACKI: Well, that leads to big question we`ll pick this up right in the
next -- the big question, can this kind of unity we saw from Republicans
yesterday, can that exist before the shutdown deadline if the bill they
passed gets altered in anyway. Let`s talk about that after this.
KORNACKI: So, I want to talk specifically about if we stipulate -- it
could be messy. Ted Cruz can put a big show. It could take a little bit,
but if we stipulate that the Senate, the Democrats and the Senate would be
able to take out the defunding and pass funding of the government, you
know, without defunding Obamacare and they send it back to the House,
that`s where I want to pick it up.
And I`m imagining it`s late in this month. It`s a week from now. It`s
closing October 1st and that bill, you know, the same bill that the House
passed yesterday minus the Obamacare defunding is in the House. You`re up
against the shutdown deadline. John Boehner for the good of his parts just
wants to pass.
He does not want to be blamed for a shutdown. And I`m looking at today`s
Republicans, the Tea Party Republicans and could he, Evan, do you think in
that situation get the kind of unanimity we saw yesterday or is he going to
have to go deal with Democrats?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, I mean, the pressure on him will be from the
outside. I mean, we were saying earlier, the people who are the Republican
voters, who are listen to (INAUDIBLE) listen to the radio, they are not mad
at Ted Cruz. And so, when Boehner gets his bill back, the pressure on him
will be immense from the outside.
So, I think that going to -- and that sort of helps, you know, unanimity
happen, right? I mean, we saw a lot of Republicans say, ted Cruz, how dare
you. I can`t believe you did this to us. We`re stuck, and then, they all
voted for his bill, anyway, right? So, I think that you`re in a position
where he`s going to have immense pressure on him.
And I don`t know that going Democrats will be accepted at all by people on
this. I mean, he may have to, I guess. But I think this over the cliff
shutdown thing would be more credible for him (ph) politically.
KORNACKI: This is the quote I think that sums up how Washington works or
doesn`t work and how the Republican Party works or doesn`t work right now.
It was Tom Massie whose freshman Republican congressman from Kentucky this
week who was talking about, you know, he`s sort of the Rand Paul wing of
the party talking about the shutdown.
And he said, "All that really matters and what my district wants and my
district is overwhelmingly in favor of my position." And he`s right.
Nothing to worry about the general election. And if you do the numbers on
this, I think all but nine Republicans in the House right now come from
districts that Mitt Romney won last year.
So, they were much more about the primary, Josh, than the general election.
What could John Boehner ever say to them to make them think it`s in their
best interest to fund Obamacare? Is it will be portrayed (ph)?
BARRO: I think that`s very unclear, and I think he may need at least a
brief shutdown to convince them that a shutdown is not a successful
political strategy. I think it`s likely that we`ll have one. I don`t
think it`s going to be long. I think it might be just three days or five
But the other thing I`d notice that Boehner has options when the bill comes
back to the Senate other than letting it pass or bringing nothing to the
floor. They can amend it again. And so --
KORNACKI: And probably back to the Senate --
BARRO: Exactly. And I saw at least one Republican member of the House
saying, well, if they send it back to us with Obamacare funded, we`ll just
put something else they don`t like in and send it back.
And so, I think that`s a likely outcome as well that they will come up
with, maybe they`ll put a one-year delay of Obamacare instead of this
defund provision, because a lot of people in the Republican caucus have
been talking about a one-year delay associated with the debt ceiling, but
there`s no reason you couldn`t do that in a CR or they could attach some
other poison filth.
So, I think that also might be thing that takes us past the September 30
deadline. It`s not that the House takes nothing up. It`s -- if they send
something back to the Senate which is run out of time.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: You`re still stuck in a bad political position then. I
mean, the same Congress will stuck with the shutdown. You know, they have
given the delay stuff which I think a lot of them think they can actually
do. The delay thing seems to be, I heard about this yesterday, the
Republican I --
KORNACKI: They think they can delay Obamacare for a year or two.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I mean, I talked to a Republican yesterday about this
and say, well, we`re talking about defunding, so if we take that back a
peg, we put a delay up into the Senate, then people like Kay Hagan and
KHIMM: Well, the interesting thing is that if we have a shutdown, it`s not
going to stop the implementation of Obamacare. The reason that all of this
stuff is kind of converging now is that October 1st is extremely important
date for the beginning of a huge part of Obamacare, which is the
implementation of the exchanges.
So, you could see them saying that, listen, OK, I understand we don`t like
Obamacare. A lot of people in this country don`t like Obamacare, but
shutting down governments is actually not going to do anything practically
speaking to stop Obamacare.
KORNACKI: The other issue here, though, too, is on the issue of, if
Boehner gets this through by saying, you know, we can get a one-year delay,
maybe we can use the debt ceiling, maybe that`s the out is like swallow
hard on this, because in three weeks, we get to have him. you know, we get
to do the debt ceiling, but that`s even more --
KORNACKI: I mean, that the consequences of a debt ceiling.
BALL: I mean, here`s the thing, the bottom line for me is John Boehner
needs to decide who he`s going to be when he grows up, because right now,
there is nothing that he could do that is going to satisfy the Ted Cruz
wing of the party. That`s the bottom line and he needs to realize that.
His speakership is in danger, anyway.
He is not likely to stay past 2014, I don`t think. So, if he decided that
he wanted to partner with Democrats, you could avoid a government shutdown.
You could avoid a debt ceiling`s default. You could pass immigration
reform. You could have tax code reform. You could actually make progress
on the things that Republicans claim to care about. It is all on his
shoulders. He needs to decide what he wants to do.
KORNACKI: Do we have a sense? There are 233 Republicans in the House. Do
we have a sense how many of them are sort of true believers on this? They
really believe they could do away with Obamacare. They believe in the
whole Tea Party message. And how many of them are just sort of going along
with this because that`s what they have to do to survive in the next
Republican primary? Do we know what that breakdown is at all?
BARRO: The number I keep seeing in press accounts is somewhere between 30
and 40 --
BALL: I was going to say 40 and 50.
BARRO: Who will not vote for a continuing the resolution that funds
KORNACKI: Those are the diehards.
BARRO: There are other people who you could describe as diehards in other
ways. I mean, this is really a tactical dispute within the Republican
Party. They all hate Obamacare and most of them are very focused on
finding some way to undermine it and cause the law to become repealed.
The reason that this only has support from 340 or 40 or 50 members instead
of a majority of the Republican caucus in the House is that a lot of them
recognize accurately that this is a bad strategy for undermining Obamacare.
They want other undermining strategies. It`s not that they want to work
productively to make a lot better.
KHIMM: I mean, just take a look what happened with the fiscal cliff deal.
I mean, this was an instant in which Boehner did he try to just rally all
his Republicans at the last minute. He said he had this thing called a
plan B, which was -- which he had. With plan B, it didn`t end up working.
So, you go with plan C. Plan C is working with Democrats. So, he ended up
having to violate what called the Hastert rule which is to have the
KHIMM: They ban together when Democrats passed the fiscal cliff deal. It
was something that -- it wasn`t exactly what Democrats wanted but did
include some tax creases (ph) for some people, and then the last time the
debt ceiling happened, the last time we hit it, he ended up blinking. We
ended up - suspended the debt ceiling which technically allowed Republicans
to basically bypass having to vote for increasing the debt ceiling that
effectively the same thing.
I mean, why not just suspend it all over again. I mean, so the question
is, is Boehner, not is Boehner going to finally band together with
Democrats, is he going to do what he`s done with the fiscal cliff deal,
what he`s done with the violence against women act, in which he has been
forced to --
KORNACKI: You just exhausted every other option the last minute, something
with Democrats. That`s your government for you right now. We will tell
you a lot more about this in the next few weeks.
The second-term slump. Is President Obama entering one or is the whole
concept just a myth? I`ll have something to say about that in a minute.
KORNACKI: I want to show you what it looks like, what it sounds like, what
it feels like when a presidency is going right, when it really just seems
like everything is working and everyone is happy. To do that, we are going
to hop in the up time machine and we are going to head back 27 years to
The 4th of July, it falls on a Friday that year. It`s actually the kickoff
of something called liberty weekend. It`s a three-day national
celebration, not just of America`s independence but of the preeminent
symbol of that independence, the statue of liberty, which has just
undergone an extensive and expensive and long overdue refurbishing.
It`s nearly 10:00 p.m. that Friday night and everyone tuned in at home to
any of the major broadcast networks watch us live as the president of the
United States, Ronald Reagan, boards the USS John F. Kennedy in New York
Harbor, makes his way across the flight deck and delivers a pitch perfect
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans,
we`re known around the world as a confident and a happy people. Tonight,
there`s much to celebrate and many blessings to be grateful for. So while
it`s good to talk about serious things, it`s just as important and just as
American to have some fun. Now, let`s have some fun. Let the celebration
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And there she is, Lady Liberty in all her revitalized glory.
Whenever you think of Reagan, you got to get him this. His people got
stage craft. It was a beautifully choreographed scene, a perfectly
choreographed scene. It was a scene that led "Time" magazine to put Reagan
on its next cover with this headline, "Why Is This Man So Popular?"
Ronald Reagan, the article inside begins, has found the American sweet
spot. And it`s hard to argue with that conclusion. A year-and-a-half
earlier, Reagan scored an epic 49-state landslide over Walter Mondale. In
July 1986, his approval rating is a goddy 63 percent. That`s the president
at the peak of his popularity.
But now, let`s look at the "Time" magazine cover just five months after
that, five months after Reagan stood on that ship and tickled America`s
sweet spot. And there it is. It`s an ominous photo of the White House.
How far does it go and the it there is Iran contra. That was a complicated
illegal scheme in which the administration flouted in arms embargo to sell
weapons to Iran and then used the proceeds to bank role (ph) and illegal
war in Central America.
This time, the first line in "Time" story had a very different ring to it.
Washington, it read, is in its full Watergate crouch. And with that, not
quite halfway through his second term, the momentum behind Reagan`s
presidency stalled out. Overnight, his poll numbers plummeted. You can
see it there from 63 to 47 percent as soon Iran contra came to light.
And this became the story of the final two years of Reagan`s presidency.
There were Congressional hearings. There were criminal investigations.
There were criminal convictions. Reagan was forced to go on national TV
and admit that he traded arms for hostages. At one point, the articles of
impeachment were even (ph) introduced.
With that finally settled, Reagan kept his job, but he was a lame duck. He
coasted through the final days of his presidency on fumes. And the thing
is, the story of Reagan`s second term is more or less par for the course
when it comes to the modern presidency.
The details vary, but for presidents who win two terms, the basic arc is
the same, an invigorating, a rejuvenating re-election victory, lofty talk
of ambitious goals for the next four years, and then somewhere in the
second term, a slump, declining poll numbers increasing dissent, talk of
diminished clout, lost relevance, all the markers of lame duck status.
Richard Nixon won all but one state in 1972, but his second term, at least
the year-and-a-half of it that he actually got to serve was lost to
Watergate. Bill Clinton never lost the public during the impeachment saga
of his second-term, but he did lose a year of his presidency. George W.
Bush, did anything go right for him after Katrina?
And now, less than a year after he beat back Mitt Romney, we`re starting to
hear it. The chatter from Washington that President Obama is reaching a
tipping point. At his own second term slump, the beginning of his own
dissent to lame duck status is upon us. And that noise got louder this
week. Here`s a taste from "Politico," their headline, "What`s Wrong With
Across the capital it reads, "anxious friends and chortling enemies alike
are asking what`s wrong with Obama?" The evidence that something is wrong
with Obama, it`s something gone bad, of course, in his second term? Well,
his approval rating has dropped. It`s dropped a little from the high 40s
now to the mid-40s, this is in the last few weeks.
There`s been some vocal dissent in his own party, Democrats helping to
derail Larry Summers, Democrats opposing the White House on Syria, and
there`s a whole Syria drama, itself. Stories about the White House
haphazardly lurching from one posture to another. So, you add that
together and you have something that we, in the media, love, a narrative,
the story of a presidency losing steam.
But here`s what I`m wondering, is there really anything to it? Is anything
really changed in how Obama is doing his job and how he`s perceived to be
doing his job? I mean, for all the criticism he`s taken on Syria, he
didn`t up (ph) getting Assad to fess up on chemical weapons without
launching a single missile.
Is there really a second term slump here or we, in the media, just so
conditioned to look for second term slumps that we`re bending over backward
to create one, to fit a few weeks of bad headlines to the administration
into something bigger, something deeper? Are we forcing a narrative here?
We`re going to talk about that with the panel after this.
KORNACKI: So, we`re talking about President Obama`s second term and if we
can actually call it a slump, if slump even exists, or if these are
narrative. And Krystal, I just want to -- I mean, the Obama presidency now
-- we`re basically almost a year into the second term. Where do you think
it stands right now and do you think anything meaningful has changed in the
last few weeks?
BALL: Not particularly. I mean, I don`t think the last few weeks have
been the best for him, certainly. And we had Howard Fineman on our show
this weekend. He said that he had kind of lost the narrative thread of his
reason for being in the presidency. People have sort of forgotten why he
I think there`s some truth to that. But honestly, referencing the
conversation we were just having, I think the republicans are kind of
saving him. You know, the attention is shifting to the government
shutdown. That`s going to be a lot more salient to people than Larry
Summers or Syria, which as you pointed out, has actually turned out pretty
well. People now support the president`s approach there. So, I think it`s
more of a media narrative than the real thing there this was a clip.
KORNACKI: Well, this is a clip -- this was Obama talking yesterday. I
think it was in Kansas City and this was just after the House Republicans
had voted for the defunding bill. This is a clip from yesterday. Let`s
play and talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Now, let`s put this in perspective. The Affordable Care Act has
been in the law for three and a half years. It passed both Houses of
Congress, Supreme Court, ruled the institutional. It was an issue in last
year`s elections. The guy who was running against me said he was going to
repeal it. We won.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Suzy, I was that speech, I was just struck that he seemed a
lot more focused, a lot sharper, a lot more lively, energetic than he
seemed, you know, lately. Maybe this fight with the Republicans, as
Krystal said, is sort of giving him some purpose for the next few weeks and
the next few months, and just this one narrative that`s kind of started to
take hold a little bit. Maybe there`s an opportunity here to kind of
reverse that narrative.
KHIMM: Yes. I mean, one thing that was interesting when we were showing
the -- of his approval rating at where it is now, that is just miles above
where it is how people feel about --
KHIMM: You have to keep that in mind. And Obama knows that. And he knows
that that`s -- their still polls overwhelmingly show that whatever happens
with the shutdown, people are going to blame Republicans. It also is a
good running. I mean, the advantage potentially from the White House
perspective in terms of Republicans fixating on Obamacare is that this is
as big coming out party.
This is as big moment that the White House genuinely believes beyond the
politics is going to actually help Obamacare signature achievement,
actually convince American people that this is the way to do it. This is
the way to go. They`ll be able to shop for insurance on these exchanges.
They`ll see for themselves beyond the political rhetoric that this can
actually help them. So, I think that`s what may be energizing him as well.
BARRO: I think the president is in a slump. And I think the reason for it
is that I think he`s lost the narrative as to why he`s president. I think
in his first term, he really wanted to get the health care law done which
he did, and now, he`s been spending the last three and a half years, I
think, to defend instead of getting to move on. I think he also didn`t
envision himself as a president who would spend eight years struggling
decline out of an economic recession.
And I think he is sick of having to deal with exactly the same economic
problem that Congress is getting very much in his way all the time as he
tries to fix. He hasn`t gotten on to move on to whatever is new. But I
also think that much of the blame lies within the White House on this. I
think the Larry Summers nomination was a key example of this.
I think that was one opportunity to really focus on job creation
rhetorically and talk about how it`s important to have a Federal Reserve
chairman who would focus first on unemployment and use it to run against
Congress and say, look, Congress is broken. The only part of our economic
policy machinery (ph) that`s working is the Federal Reserve.
I need a chairman who will focus on this. He could have had a really
strong pitch for Yellen there that would have united Democrats around and
given him a stronger economic message, allowed him to drive the narrative.
Instead, he just sort of -- he picked Summers because he seems to really
like him or wanted to pick Summers because he really liked him personally.
And then when he talks about why, why he would pick a given fed chairman,
he doesn`t send a strong message about the economy. So, I think that was a
missed opportunity there. And when he doesn`t drive the narrative on
economic policy, he allows events to throw him around which is how -- as
things changed with Syria and as the Russians sort of drove the Syria
situation, the president looked out of control because he was out of
And i think that`s true on broad parts of policy right now where the
president isn`t driving the agenda and that`s why he`s --
KORNACKI: Isn`t that a part of the story here is sort of the limits that
are imposed on any president by divided government, by having the other
party control one or both the chambers, and even if your party controls the
Senate, in today`s, you know, reality, you need 60 votes to get anything
through the Senate.
And so, as long as that situation exists, this president or any president
isn`t going to be able to do anything affirmatively. And he`s going to
have to look for opportunities like Josh is talking about here with the
Federal Reserve or something to actually, you know, make his mark. It sort
of limits what any president can do.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yes. I mean, that`s why House is in great at (ph)
nominees. We saw what happened with Susan Rice, too. But, look, I happen
to recall, you know, the spring when a series of three scandals were going
to tear down Obamacare and each hope he ever had of doing anything. He
came out of that.
I mean the Syria thing that you`re saying, the numbers are going back. I
think the fundamental Obama has had is that there was a central question in
the 2012 election that was not the one between Romney and Obama that was
what are you going to do to break this log jam? And he never really had an
answer for that question --
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Other things are going to happen. And as soon as he
came in, there was that brief period where he got his tax hike that he
wanted and that was a little bit of a thaw and then we saw, you know,
immigration come up on all this talk. And now, we`re back to where we were
before and that is just the sort of like, it`s a slump for everybody.
Nobody likes the way this is working out. And I think that that`s really
what he`s facing is that central question, he didn`t answer really well in
2012 is still dogging him out.
KORNACKI: And Krystal, I have to cut you off. You`re going to forgive me,
because we`re going to talk about a subject you love, the state of
Virginia. The Republican Party in Virginia. The commonwealth of Virginia,
Massachusetts, Virginia. I should know this. The Republican Party and the
commonwealth of Virginia is not at all healthy and its candidate for
governor is not at all popular.
So, how is it that Ken Cuccineli is virtually tied for the lead with Terry
McAuliffe? We`re going to get to the bottom of what`s happening in the
most competitive election of 2013 with a former governor and presidential
candidate, Doug Wilder. He`s going to join us next from Richmond.
KORNACKI: Just about every other day this summer, we learn something new
and scandalous about Virginia governor, Bob McDonnell. Federal and state
investigators have been trying to determine whether he gave sweetheart
deals to a Virginia company in exchange for lavish gifts that its CEO
showered on the McDonnell family. We heard about expensive trips, jewelry,
a loner Ferrari, more than $160,000 in counting in value.
McDonnell and his wife are expected to meet again with prosecutors soon to
make their case for why they shouldn`t be indicted. The whole saga has
tarnished the Republican Party`s image in Virginia. It also isn`t helping
that the Republican trying to succeed McDonnell this year, state attorney
general, Ken Cucinelli, also accepted gift, $18,000 in gifts from the same
Last week, Cucinelli announced that he would donate the value of those
gifts to charity. With all these bad headlines, you`d think the race would
be a slam dunk for Democrats, and yet, despite all this scandal, it is
basically as close to being a dead heat in Virginia. The latest
independent poll in the race shows Cucinelli just three points behind, and
that`s with a three percent margin of error.
And now, as even a third party spoiler who could add to the mix, a little
known libertarian candidate currently taking seven percent of likely
voters. So, just what is going on in the commonwealth of Virginia? With
to us explain is Doug Wilder who served as governor of Virginia from 1990
to 1994. He also ran for president in 1992. Governor Wilder joins us from
Richmond this morning.
Thank you for taking the time, governor. I guess, I`ll start with, you`re
an interesting political figure for many reasons, but you`re a Democrat.
You ran for president. And yet, it has never given that you`re going to
endorse a Democratic candidate in any major election and you have not
actually endorsed Terry McAuliffe, the democratic candidate in this race.
You`ve not endorsed Ken Cucinelli. I just wonder what is holding you back
from endorsing your own party`s candidate in this race.
FMR. GOV. DOUG WILDER, (D) VIRGINIA: Well, I don`t think it`s a question
of hold back, Steve. I don`t know of any Democrat who has not endorsed
Terry McAuliffe. So, my endorsement is not that important. I thank the
people of Virginia --
KORNACKI: Does that mean you`re supporting him, though? Are you for Terry
WILDER: It means that I`m doing what the people of Virginia do when they
look to vote for somebody, they want to meet on the bones of the candidate.
I think you phrased it beautifully when you said that with all of these
things going against the Republicans, with all of these things going
against Cucinelli, why is the race a dead heat?
So, that obviously tells you something about the Democratic candidate.
Does that candidate project to the Virginia voter the kinds of things they
want to hear? Is there meat on the bones of that candidacy? What are the
issues that you`re going to speak to? The fact that you are not Cucinelli
is one thing, but who are you?
What are you? What do you propose? What do you bring? How can I rely on
you? Virginians are increasingly becoming independent and you`ve seen that
and you`re absolutely right. I think the third party candidate can take
votes from either party. If that election were held today or tomorrow,
it`s up for grabs.
KORNACKI: So, let me just follow up on that. So, the point with -- it
seems to me you`re saying Terry McAuliffe is not making a strong, positive
case for why Terry McAuliffe should be governor of Virginia. I know --
WILDER: That`s exactly what I`m saying.
KORNACKI: Have you talked to him about that? I know he was in your class
a few days ago.
WILDER: Yes, I talked with him, and I intend to talk to both of them. And
I want to correct something, I don`t believe that my endorsement is of any
impact as such. However, I just don`t believe that I should fall into -- I
never have fallen into the Pied Piper syndrome of saying, OK, you must
follow the leader, because we tell you to do this.
The people of Virginia didn`t vote for me because of that. I was never
supposed to be elected governor, because it`s not what happened in
Unfortunately, for them, it did happen. I`m saying to you that with the
economy being what it is, with people looking for jobs, with the high price
of education in colleges and tuition increases going up, people are
concerned about where their dollars are going to go, where we are going to
be with education? What is going to be the difference in terms of finding
jobs? Where are these jobs going to be coming from?
And one of the things that Terry speaks about quite frequently is the
expansion of Medicaid, that he`ll fund a lot of these things through that.
And when you boil that down and itemize how much money you`re speaking
about, when that`s coming, it doesn`t spell out. After my class that you
spoke of, there were any numbers of discussions relative to the candidate`s
And I can tell you that that class, and I would measure the class to
believe that it`s a majority of Democrat, but there was not majority
enthusiasm for either of the candidates.
KORNACKI: All right.
BARRO: Governor Wilder, this is Josh Barro with Business Insider.
WILDER: Hey, Josh, how are you?
BARRO: I`m good. What is wrong with the Democratic Party of Virginia such
that Terry McAuliffe was the best candidate they can come up with? And he
didn`t really --
BARRO: I`m serious, you know, there isn`t an obvious candidate, oh, they
should have nominated so and so instead of Terry McAuliffe. Virginia is a
swing state. Why isn`t there a deeper bench?
WILDER: I think -- it`s a very good question. But I think there`s a good
reason for it. One, McAuliffe never stopped running after he lost the
candidacy, the nomination last time. Secondly, he does have a lot of money
and he`s shown that and, thirdly, there were those who may have considered
it. I think Mike Water (ph) was one of those persons who considered it.
But I don`t think that he had the acquiescence of his family necessarily to
Marvin Scott (ph) in my judgment could have won the primary nomination,
perhaps, but he waited and chose not to do so. Terry moved into the vacuum
and there were no others who were out there to block him, and consequently,
that`s where the Democrats are.
The unfortunate thing and I think Tom Perillo at one time was likewise
considering it, but it didn`t have the horses, and horses, in this
instance, means money.
KORNACKI: And governor, we`re very short on time here, but I want to get
Evan McMorris-Santoro from Buzz Feed. He has a question for you as well.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yes. You mentioned -- and you talk about enthusiasm in
your class. We`ve seen polling showing the least like set of candidates
for governor or in any election that people have been polling forever. Is
this the worse set of candidates for governor that you`ve ever seen in
WILDER: I hate to use that description, but I would say that this,
perhaps, is the most unelectrifying set of candidates --
WILDER: -- that we`ve seen to get some energy in the voters. I tell you
why. If you go out and say, OK, what is the issue other than anti-
Cucinelli? It`s difficult to find the Democrats coming up with an issue.
If you get to them and say, OK, Mr. Cucinelli what is the issue other than
the fact that you`re going to hold fast to making certain other things that
Democrats proposed at the national level, at the national lelve don`t take
place, it`s difficult to see that. That`s why the public is saying, pocks
on both of your houses.
KORNACKI: Governor, we`re running out of time, but I do want to just
mention. You say your endorsement doesn`t matter, but we have had -- the
commonwealth of Virginia has had an election with two very unappealing
candidates before. It was Charles Robb against Oliver North in the Senate
(ph) in 1994. You ran as an independent in that race.
And your endorsement very much mattered in that race because it is probably
the reason that Oliver North never went to Senate and Charles Robb was
reelected in a race he had no business winning. So, I think your
endorsement matters, and if you want to give it out on this race, feel free
to come back any time.
KORNACKI: We are out of time right now.
WILDER: But I never wanted all my cards is that I caused Oliver North to
KORNACKI: Well, thank you to former Virginia governor, Doug Wilder, who is
now teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University home of the Rams. And
thank you to MSNBC.com Suzy Khimm.
Get ready to put your current events knowledge to the test when we play our
very own quiz show, "Up Against The Clock." That is up next.
KORNACKI: It`s 1999 and the country is captivated by a brand-new
television phenomenon called "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" And finally,
after countless near misses, a contestant makes it all the way to the
million dollar question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which of these U.S. presidents appeared on the
television series "Laugh In?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. president that appeared on "Laugh In" is
Richard Nixon. That`s my final answer.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, my gosh, what can I say, except, Debbie, you`re
going to Paris. So, this is the final answer heard all around the world,
he`s won a million dollars!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And for those of you out there thinking that much a pretty easy
question for a million dollars, I think I`m with you on that one. But last
week, we premiered our own game show where the questions were tougher and
the stakes were higher. It`s not exactly true, but we did premier our game
show, and by popular demand, it`s back. We are making it a weekly event.
We`re giving it a new name "Up Against The Clock" with some new twists and
it`s coming up next.
ANNOUNCER: Live for Studio 3A in Rockefeller Center, USA, it`s time for
"Up Against the Clock."
Today`s contestants, originally from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Evan
From Weston, Massachusetts, it`s Josh Barro.
And our returning champion, from King George County, Virginia, Her winning
total, $11 in cash and prizes. Say hello to Krystal Ball.
And now, the host of "Up Against the Clock," here`s Steve Kornacki.
KORNACKI: Thank you, Bill Wolf. Thank you, contestants. And thank you at
home for tuning in.
We have two new contestants today Josh and Evan. Welcome. And welcome to
our returning champ Krystal Ball trying to add to her $11 in winning and
If you joined us last week, you may have noticed we have tweaked the format
a little bit today. The name is now "Up Against the Clock."
And it`s real simple. This is a rapid fire quiz about what happened in
politics in this past week. We`re going to play for five minutes.
There`ll be five minutes on the clock. And we`re going to squeeze in as
many questions as we can. They are valued at $100, $200 and $300 points.
More difficult they are, the more they are worth.
There are also a few instant bonuses scattered in here, in these questions.
We`ll explain those when we get to them.
Contestants, remember, you will be penalized for incorrect answers. And if
you ring in before I finish the question, you will be frozen out for 3
seconds, 3 pivotal seconds.
We will remind our live audience here in the studio -- no outbursts,
please, our contestants require absolute concentration when they`re up
against the clock.
Also, to those of you joining and playing along at home, I apologize, we
will not have the scores for the players on screen during this. We are
still working on this. It`s a work in progress. But our trusted producer,
Casey, who`s just off camera, will be keeping there. I will update you
periodically so everybody knows who is winning, who is losing.
Contestants, are you ready to play?
KRYSTAL BALL, CONTESTANT: Ready.
KORNACKI: Yes, they sound ready to me.
Hands on buzzers, please? We`ll put five minutes on the clock. And away
First question, this is the 100-point round -- how many Republicans voted
against the continuing resolution that strips funding for Obamacare that
passed the House on Friday.
KORNACKI: One is correct. This is an instant bonus question. Very
quickly, how this works, if there is a logical follow-up, you can double
your winnings by correctly answering it. Only you can answer this
question. You are not penalized for a wrong answer.
The instant bonus -- name the one Republican who voted against it.
BALL: Scott Ridgell.
KORNACKI: That`s correct. Krystal jumps out, the defending champion to
Next question, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview this week
to what former member of Congress -- I`m sorry, you will be frozen out,
Evan, you rang in early. A little newcomer jitters there.
For a member of Congress who now works for FOX News?
KUCINICH: Oh -- Josh?
JOSH BARRO, CONTESTANT: Dennis Kucinich.
KORNACKI: Dennis Kucinich is correct.
Josh is on the board.
Next question this former House majority leader had his 2010 conviction on
money laundering charges overturned this week by a Texas court of appeals.
BARRO: Tom DeLay.
KORNACKI: Tom DeLay is correct.
Next question, still 100 points. Two former defense secretaries said this
week that they would have advised President Obama not to seek congressional
authorization for a strike on Syria. Name at least one of them.
BARRO: Bob Gates.
KORNACKI: Bob Gates is correct.
This is an instant bonus. Can you name the other?
BARRO: Leon Panetta.
KORNACKI: Leon Panetta is correct. You made 100 points.
This is the final question of the 100-point round. Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke made a surprise decision to maintain the Fed`s
monetary stimulus program. Ben Bernanke was appointed by which president?
BARRO: George W. Bush.
KORNACKI: George W. Bush is correct.
And with that, we will move onto the 200-point round. We have 3 minutes,
20 seconds left. Josh has 500. Crystal has 200. Evan, who jumped in a
little later, would have some points, still yet to get on the board.
EVAN MCMORRIS SANTORO, CONTESTANT: We are having problems.
KORNACKI: Two hundred-point round.
We heard that one before.
KORNACKI: Which former member of Congress which had an infamous run-in
with a Capitol Hill police officer visited Syria this week and praised the
Assad government for its universal health care and education systems?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Cynthia McKinney.
KORNACKI: Cynthia McKinney of Georgia is correct. Evan is on the board.
Two hundred-point question here. The Democratic Party of New Hampshire,
the state that holds the nation`s first presidential primary, announced
this week that which current governor of an East Coast state will be
headlining its annual fall fundraising dinner?
BARRO: Dan Malloy.
KORNACKI: That is incorrect. You will be penalized 200 points.
The question is still on the floor with 3, 2, 1 --
BALL: Martin O`Malley?
KORNACKI: Martin O`Malley is correct. And it`s an instant bonus question.
Quickly, to double your 200 points. The Iowa Democratic Party announced
its headline speaker for the fall fundraising dinner this week. Who is he
or she? No penalty for guessing, you have two seconds.
BALL: Cory Booker?
KORNACKI: Cory Booker is incorrect. It was Chuck Schumer.
KORNACKI: Sixteen buttons, ready.
Moving on here, we have two minutes left in the round. Krystal, 400.
Josh, 300. Evan, 200. It`s anybody`s game.
Caroline Kennedy testified this week to become ambassador to Japan. For 200
points, which country was her grandfather, Joseph P. Kennedy, the
BALL: The U.K.?
KORNACKI: The U.K. is correct. Two hundred points for the champion.
Final question of the 200-point round, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited
Capitol Hill on Wednesday and pronounced himself optimistic that
legislation on what issue would pass Congress this year.
KORNACKI: Krystal, you`re a little early.
It`s on the floor.
KORNACKI: Immigration is correct. Two hundred points for the challenger.
And now, we move to the much anticipated 300-point round. This is where
everything gets crazy, a minute twenty to go, for 300 points.
By the way, Krystal, 600, Josh 500, Evan, 200. For 300 points, though, I
mean, you can make it up for a hurry.
Paul Skune, who passed this week at the age of 78, was the governor general
of what small Caribbean nation when it was invaded by the United States
under Ronald Reagan --
KORNACKI: -- in 1983.
I`m sorry. Josh, 3 seconds freeze.
KORNACKI: Granada is correct.
For 300 points, Senator John McCain wrote this week Vladimir Putin has made
Russia, quote, "a friend to tyrants and an enemy to the oppressed, in a
column published on what non-American news site?
KORNACKI: Pravda is correct. Three hundred points for Evan.
Thirty-eight seconds left. Evan, 500, Josh, 500, Krystal, 900.
Three hundred-point question, a spelling bee pitting members of Congress
against Beltway reporters, was won this week by Senator Tim Kaine who
correctly spelled the word nonpareil.
KORNACKI: Is correct.
Let`s squeeze two more here. Three hundred-point question. At tomorrow
night`s Emmy Awards, the Netflix series "House of Cards", which focuses on
a fictitious Democratic politician played by Kevin Spacey, is up for nine
awards. What leadership post in Congress does Spacey`s character hold?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Majority whip.
KORNACKI: That`s correct.
We have time for one more question. That is the end of the regulation, but
we just start this one. It`s 300-point question. Crystal, 1,200, Josh,
500, Evan, 800. So, this is a completely worthless question. No, unless
gets it wrong, one of gets it right. I just gave you a strategy. Don`t
Three hundred-point question. Speaking at a charity event in Illinois,
Hillary Clinton said this week at which of the state elected officials,
quote, has just been entered into the Guinness World of Book Records as the
luckiest politician? Two, one.
BARRO: Pat Quinn.
KORNACKI: Pat Quinn is correct. Josh that moves you into a tie with Evan
for 2nd place. Unfortunately, not enough to catch the once and still
champion Krystal Ball.
You are the winner of today`s -- what do we call it again? -- "Up Against
the Clock." Congratulations to you.
First, though, to our challengers, to our contestants, we want to say thank
you for joining us. It was a spirited competition. And you do not leave
empty handed. You will receive the home edition of "Up Against the Clock."
It`s fun for the family, fan for everyone all ages. Except those under 12,
because they might choke on small parts.
And, Krystal, as our returning champion, I think you know the drill by now.
You win our prize package, first of all, which is the legendary "Up Against
the Clock" gold-plated mug. This is 24-karat. It`s very heavy here. But
this is yours to drink from. Congratulations.
KORNACKI: You also win an appearance on MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE."
BALL: I have been dying to go on that show, the best show on MSNBC. I
KORNACKI: I will let the audience know. We actually have a plan for this.
You will find out on "THE CYCLE", weekdays at 3:00 sometime this week.
But, Krystal, this also means you get a trip to the winner`s circle. We
still don`t have a winner circle, so you are now considered to be in the
winner`s circle. But in the winner circle, you get to play for our jackpot
BALL: Oh gosh.
KORNACKI: This is a one question, take it or leave it, for the jackpot,
which this week is a $50 gift certificate to Little Poland, the most
authentic Eastern European eating and drinking experience in New York`s
historic East Village.
KORNACKI: You are playing for a $50 gift certificate to Little Poland,
Krystal, and you will be answering this bonus question which I am
struggling to find. Here it is.
Are you ready for this? It`s a bonus question.
BALL: I`m ready. I`m ready.
KORNACKI: For the jackpot.
Congress is days away from the first government down since late 1995 and
early 1996. Tell me the names of the top Republican in the House and in
the Senate the last time there was a government shutdown.
BALL: Newt Gingrich in the House.
KORNACKI: Is correct. One more. You have five seconds.
KORNACKI: A guess?
BALL: I don`t know.
KORNACKI: No names?
BALL: No. Do you guys know?
BARRO: I know it.
KORNACKI: All right. Well, officially incorrect -- and, Josh?
BARRO: It`s Bob Dole.
KORNACKI: Bob Dole is correct.
That breaks the tie for second place. Josh is our official second place
KORNACKI: The grand prize win, someone will play for Little Poland. Evan,
enjoy the home game. We thank you for coming on today.
And that concludes this week`s "Up Against" -- here`s me at Little Poland.
KORNACKI: The central dilemma -- this is the awkward transition now -- the
central dilemma of being a Republican today is embodied by one member of
Congress posturing on one issue. We will tell you who that member of
Congress is and what he`s posturing on. That`s next.
KORNACKI: All right. We`re back and we`re going to try to calm everybody
First, congratulate Krystal again in her victory. Her gold mug lives on
But we are going to transition now to the next segment. And now, I will
awkwardly read the info for that.
If you are a Republican member of Congress and you want to move up the
political ladder, there is a good chance you`re in a real bind these days.
On the one hand, you want to keep getting reelected to your seat in
Congress. It keeps you in the game. It gives the platform you need to
raise to money and gain visibility, so that you can run for higher office
But that`s the catch. What if all of the things you have to do and say
just to keep winning in your district are simultaneously hurting your
prospects for appealing to voters outside your district? Voters, you`re
going to need to win over if you`re going to win state-wide office and move
Which is what brings us to the case of Cory Gardner. He`s a conservative
Republican congressman from Colorado. He`s young, 38-years-old and he`s
ambitious. He wants to move up. And he just recently flirted with running
for Senate in Colorado next year, although he decided not to.
And if he`s conflicted, one issue more than any other probably explains why
Gardner has yet to take a position on the comprehensive immigration reform
package that passed the Senate in June. And it`s now gasping for life in
the House, and it`s easy to see why that`s the case. The House district he
represents is fiercely conservative, strongly Republican, to say yes to
immigration reform there is to invite a career killing Republican primary
But to say no to reform is to alienate the rest of Colorado, to rapidly
diversify a swing state with a growing Latino population and plenty of
moderate suburbanites who are turned off by appeals to nativism.
And there are a lot of Cory Gardners in Congress these days. His dilemma
is the dilemma of every ambitious Republican in a swing state. MSNBC.com
reporter Benjy Sarlin trailed Gardner at town halls across this rural
district last month and watched him try to navigate sensitive politics of
immigration. He wrote about it in a new piece that is now up on our Web
site entitled "On immigration, GOP swing votes try to have it both ways."
And Benjy is back from Colorado and he joins us.
Benjy, thanks for being on the show today.
BENJY SARLIN, MSNBC.COM: Thanks for having me.
KORNACKI: Let`s start just by -- you know, Cory Gardner is not a name a
lot of people know. So, maybe just start quickly by telling us a little
bit about him, who he is, how he fits into the national Republican Party in
Congress right now.
SARLIN: Sure. Cory Gardner is a bit of a rising star, back home in
Colorado and in D.C. It`s only a second term. He is 38-years-old, he`s a
really sunny, charismatic young guy. Some suggested he might be a future
speaker, maybe even the one directly after Boehner. He`s moved up that
And in Colorado, where the Republican Party is basically died over the last
decade, they don`t hold any major statewide office, he is considered their
best bet to come back. People were really hoping he would run for Senate,
but he turned it down. So, he is in an interesting dilemma now, which is
that he is a fast rising superstar.
But as you mentioned, he`s in a state with 21 percent Latino. And not only
that, the share of the electorate is growing rapidly, really rapidly. And
immigration has just been killing the Republican Party with them. So, he
knows that if he votes against immigration reform that, or stakes out a
serous hard line position, that could be the end of a statewide ambitions
KORNACKI: So that was the big question we were asking, you know, a month
or two ago, when the interminable House recess began, and these members
went home. And would members like -- what would members like Cory Gardner
hear in their districts? What would they say back in their districts?
When they came back to Washington, would their position on immigration,
what they`re going to do in immigration, be clarified at all?
So, you went out there. We set up the basic dynamics of his district.
What did you watch? What did you see and hear and say, and what was he
hearing from the crowds in his district?
SARLIN: Well, there was a very active and organized pro-immigration side.
There is a lot of Latino groups that have organized themselves in a few
years especially. So, he was hearing from them and he was holding meetings
with them, too, over the last couple of months.
But there was also this undercurrent of conservative unease. There were
some people who got very vocal with him at one town hall, just urging him
to stand strong against any attempt to not just grant a path of citizenship
to undocumented immigrants, but in any way contemplate letting them stay.
He -- something he hasn`t entirely said he would. He`s been very much
trying to have it both ways on this issue, reassuring people that -- oh,
we`re looking at that, but never taking a position clearly on do we want
these people to say?
So, he`s feeling pressure from both sides. On the pro-immigration side,
it`s a lot more organized and well-funded. But he still has to worry about
those conservative voters because at any moment, they can get whipped up.
BALL: You might have said this early, but how red is this district?
SARLIN: It`s very red. It was redrawn, specifically to keep them safer, I
BALL: Got it.
SARLIN: The Republicans decided to sacrifice the guy next door, basically.
BALL: So how real is this threat? I think there are tons of Republicans
in Congress who are totally cowed by the idea of a primary challenger. You
haven`t seen when they do unseat an incumbent, it`s very high profile. But
there are a lot of times when a Tea Party or third party tries to come in
and do something and nothing happens.
How real is this let? How organized do you think the Tea Party is there?
Is it likely he could to be defeated if he did vote for immigration reform?
SARLIN: It`s possible. It would be a bit of a long shot just because he
is extremely popular for a variety of reasons. But Colorado is a state
with very competitive Republican primaries. There is no establishment
leader who can say, no, we`re going to protect that guy, we have to clear
the field for that guy. It`s kind of a chaos.
And it`s one of the reasons they collapse the last decade, is that they
have these brutal primaries that tend to produce extreme candidates who
just get killed. Even in 2010, which was the best year in decades for
Republicans, they lost the governor`s seat in a blowout, and they lost a
Senate race they were favored to the last minute to win --
SARLIN: -- because they nominated in from Gardner`s district, Ken Buck,
who is very hard on immigration.
KORNACKI: That`s easy, when they step -- when somebody like Cory Gardner
steps outside his district and now, he`s dealing with a moderate general
election audience, he`s still dealing with the same Republican voters who
are expecting the same thing.
SARLIN: Exactly. There`s this two levels. To get to that statewide
audience, you have to get past the Republican primary. And it could be a
very crowded field.
While his own district is likely less threatened, if he runs for governor,
say, or senator, there are probably six or seven Republicans, all of whom
are happy to stake-out a position to his right saying, well, I would have
been against this immigration plan and I`m hard line. So, he does have to
worry about that. That is a very real concrete threat.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: We didn`t see during the last immigration debate a lot
of organized, expensive talk of the anti-immigration side. I wonder when
you were out there on the trail following this guy around, did you see it?
I mean, are those guys out there spending money? Because we haven`t seen a
lot of it at least from the national level, of the -- you know the dollars
pouring in. We saw it like in 2009, right?
So it`s always a kind of a question as to who are they actually afraid of?
Are people going to spend money against them on immigration specifically?
SARLIN: The way I put it is that they`re not really afraid of money or
interest group. Just kind of a general vibe out there.
SARLIN: There was no sign of anti-immigration opposition. If you could
palpably feel the fear in Gardner when he gets his questions, how he
immediately sidestepped and talk about border security. It`s more that
there`s general sense among the grassroots that immigration is a raw deal,
the establishment is showing it at us, we`re not sure why we don`t like it
necessarily, but we know we don`t like it.
That`s more what they`re trying to overcome. It`s more talk radio than it
is any organized opposition.
BARRO: Are people like Cory Gardner, is there a reason to think that there
won`t even be an immigration bill that comes to a vote in this Congress in
the House? Because I would have to think that his most preferred option is
not to vote for it or against it, but to never have to take a position on
the issue. It won`t necessarily be a big campaign issue in a future Senate
race or a governor`s race for him, especially if he`s never taken a vote on
Are people like him putting pressure on Boehner and other people in the
House not to bring this stuff to the floor at all?
SARLIN: I don`t know about putting pressure on him not to bring it to the
floor. They all say it themselves, they favor immigration reform, just the
most controversial elements they won`t take a position on.
SARLIN: Cory Gardner, for example, says, oh, yes, I want reform. I want
guest workers. I want it to be easier for skilled people in my district to
get a visa. But that`s -- it probably would be best for him and a lot of
people politically if there just never was a vote on the most controversial
But as a whole, I would just think the Republican brand. So, they end up
with the same problem Cory Gardner has on the national scale.
KORNACKI: And that actually was some of the other news that came out
yesterday, while this defunding vote was taking place in the House, is this
gang of seven in the House, which is this bipartisan group in the House,
putting together its own immigration plan fell apart yesterday.
KORNACKI: So, the prospects of anything happening in the House I guess
took a plunge yesterday.
Anyway, I want to thank Benjy Sarlin. His story is up on MSNBC.com. Go
check it out.
And thanks for joining us today. He will be hosting a Twitter chat at noon
Eastern to talk about his story. You can send him your questions using
Rogue lipstick, a word I can`t pronounce, Rodarte (ph) and Rand Paul. We
are looking at this month`s "Vogue". And that`s coming up.
KORNACKI: Rand Paul spoke to the Liberty Political Action Conference and
insisted that for all the criticism and infighting among the Republicans
over this past week, they`re still winning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Does anybody remember Charlie Sheen when he
was kind of going crazy last year, and he`s going around jumping around
saying winning, winning, winning, we`re winning.
I kind of feel like that, I think we are winning.
And I`m not on any drug. I just think we`re winning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: He is not on drugs, but he is in "Vogue" magazine. We`ll look
at that, next.
KORNACKI: Do not adjust your television set. I am going to talk fashion.
And it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I have
singlehandedly declared rugby shirts to be the must-have wardrobe item for
Last week, I bought four of them in the staff here, up world headquarters
is sick of seeing me wear them and intent on humiliating me with pictures
of me wearing them.
Anyway, though, now, you talk about that. Instead I am here to talk about
women`s fashion. Have you seen Sandra Bullock on the cover of the new
"Vogue" October issue? She is looking fierce in a sequined backless
Inside the magazine, I see that fringe is in, both as a skirt and a
backpack, also oven mitts, a ball gown is an OK thing to throw on if you
are throwing a dinner party. And I have absolutely no idea what`s
happening in this picture.
Actually, in case it`s not clear, I have absolutely no idea what`s
happening in any of the pictures or stories in this magazine, except for
this one. I totally understand this. It is Senator Rand Paul and his wife
Kelly Ashby. She is wearing a designer dress so they can be photographed
at their local Kentucky dinner, you know, as you do when you are being
profiled by the fanciest fashion magazine in the world.
And here to tell us why he agreed to this profile is the author himself.
He is Jason Horowitz. He`s a contributor to "Vogue" magazine, as well as a
features writer with "The Washington Post". And before that, he was my
colleague at "The New York Observer".
Jason, thanks for getting up early and being on the show this morning.
So, you went and you spent some time with the Pauls. You got a glimpse of
them that another people haven`t seen.
I just wonder, with that kind of access, just sort of hanging out with Rand
Paul, what were some of your observations? What were some of your
impressions of what Rand Paul is like?
JASON HOROWITZ, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I guess he`s a lot like you see
him on TV and you know in Washington.
But the thing that`s interesting is the dynamic between him and his wife.
It does show off a different side of him. He is more mischievous. He`s --
they had kind of a good rapport. You know, basically, it humanizes him
when you see him together with his wife and kind of a family environment.
He is less, you know, `caustic as he can sometimes be.
So that`s what was interesting for me, to kind of see him really
comfortable at home. I mean, this is a guy not uncomfortable a lot, right?
He`s a great talker and obviously out there in the media all the time.
But at home, he`s in his shorts, kicking back. It was odd to see that.
KORNACKI: There`s also -- you have a really interesting, you talked a lot
to Rand Paul`s mother, to Ron Paul`s wife. She actually is quoted on your
story basically saying that he has told her he is going to delay making an
announcement about 2016 until after 2014. But basically, what she`s
telling you is he is thinking and talking about how he`s going to run for
Can you talk about what you learned there?
HOROWITZ: Yes. I mean, what was interesting about that, it was
confirmation of what we all see, right? I mean, there is nothing that --
you know, he`s not hiding the ball much. He`s being a little bit coy. I
haven`t made up my mind.
But everything he is doing is running for president, exactly what that
person would do. So, she was basically stating the premise of the case
that, you know, he says that, you know, we won`t make any decisions after
2014, but we`re laying the groundwork now. So, she was just basically
pretty blunt about it.
But, you know, so, it was surprising to hear it. But then it also confirms
everything that we`re seeing him do in the public sphere.
KORNACKI: Well, as statements by mothers of would-be candidates go, it`s a
lot different than Barbara Bush who said a few months ago, she doesn`t want
Jeb Bush to run. She thinks the country had too many Bush. So, it could
be a little different.
But there was another passage in here really kind of struck me, where you
were talking about he was sort of casual, almost indifferent into some of
the conversation you were asking and into conversation you were having, and
then you raised the topic of this guy is a Southern avenger. This was the
former disc joke who wore the Confederate flag face mask, who wrote about
being happy that Abraham Lincoln had been murdered, who had co-written, I
guess ghost-written, Paul`s book in 2010 and recently part ways.
KORNACKI: When you brought that up, his mood just changed completely.
HOROWITZ: Yes, he really turned there. So, it`s funny the book that you
cited there. It`s, both their names are on it. It`s in his kitchen. It`s
not like they banished any memory of this guy.
And Paul stuck up for him a little bit, but he did now want to talk about
it, and he did this kind of great thing that politicians do, which I love,
which is they say, well, this isn`t good for me, so I don`t want to talk
But he did talk, to his credit, he did talk about it. He defended him. I
think, you know, he said, you know, he`s not a white supreme cyst. He`s
not a racist.
You know, he did say some stupid things that I didn`t know about. He`s no
longer in my employ I think was the fact thing that he said to me.
But it was the sort of thing that is not useful and is not helpful to Rand
Paul and Rand Paul is entirely uninterested in talking about things that
are not useful or helpful to him.
BALL: Yes, any time you have to say, no, he`s not a white supremacist.
That`s not a good place to be. But you also have this quote in there from
Rand`s wife expressing some ambivalence at least about a potential
presidential campaign in terms of the negative campaigning and the smears
and attacks that he would face.
Does she actually seem reticent about a campaign or was that just sort of a
line that she threw in there?
HOROWITZ: You know, I don`t think it was just candid. I think it was -- I
think it`s real. I think and I don`t think that that means that he`s not
running for president. I think that it`s something that shows getting used
to and kind of acquainting herself with the idea that this will be her
You know, she went through it when he ran for Senate. You know, remember,
there was the whole aqua Buddha thing. But, as they are both keenly aware,
this is going to be a completely different ball game.
So I think that she is going through a very normal, you know, human thing,
which is do I really want this? But I think at the same time, she`s also
getting very familiar with the idea that this is happening.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Hi, Jason. This is Evan from "BuzzFeed".
First, I want to congratulate you on the physically heaviest and at least
the copy I saw most fragrant political profile I`ve read all year.
HOROWITZ: I`m glad you are enjoying it.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I want to talk about Rand Paul`s social conservatism.
I`m interested in sort of where you see him coming down on a libertarian
spectrum. Obviously, you get credit for being a libertarian with -- coming
from his father and that whole end of things. But we`ve seen him reach out
quite a bit to social conservatives.
Is that a split between him and libertarians? Do you see that is -- you
know, is that something that might harm his brand with that end of
HOROWITZ: Well, I think that he would argue that they`re not mutually
exclusive, right? That you can harbor these values and still be a
libertarian. And what he is very careful about doing is not, you know,
take religion, for example. He is very careful about not wearing it on his
So even as he reaches out with that sleeve to evangelicals, right, with his
wife at his side, which helps him. So, he`s -- it`s just to me another one
of these kinds of balancing act that he does, right? So, he`s a
libertarian, so he`s not going to tell you how to live your life. But if
you ask him about he lives his life, he will tell you he has the same
values as you do as a social conservative.
So, the interesting -- I mean, what`s remarkable about him almost
everything he is doing is a balancing act. He`s proven to be especially
agile thus far anyway. Does that mean he`s going to make it all the way
through? Who knows?
But I just feel like that`s another place, another source of tension that
he is actually negotiating and navigating quite well right now.
KORNACKI: All right. Jason Horowitz of "The Washington Post" and for now,
"Vogue" magazine -- this marks the beginning of a fruitful partnership
between "Vogue" and UP, I`m sure.
But, Jason, thanks for joining us this morning.
HOROWITZ: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Even if you seen it already. You probably want to see it again.
That congressional ad that went viral this week with the candidate coming
out to his Tea Party father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. CARL SCIORTINO, JR. (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I`m Carl Sciortino and
I`ll never forget that conversation with my dad.
CARL SCIORTINO, SR., SON RUNNING FOR CONGRESS: That`s me.
CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: Where I had to come out and tell him --
CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Wait for this.
CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: -- that I was a --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: We`ll play what comes next. And we will speak with the
candidate who has been introduced to a much larger audience when we come
KORNACKI: An era of the DVR, is not as much of a problem as it used to be,
but right around election time, I think you can get even your most DVR-
loving friends to agree that they hate the campaign ads the crowd
commercial breaks as Election Day approaches.
There used to be a time when you had to watch everything live, which made
campaign ads even more annoying.
But the good ones, the really good ones, they somehow manage to capture
your attention, to shake your indifference and to make you say, wow, I want
to vote for that candidate. It didn`t happen a lot. But a really good ad
could completely upend an election and it could completely change political
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL WELLSTONE: Unlike my opponent, I don`t have $6 million, so I`m going
to have to talk fast. This is my wife Sheila and our children. This is my
house in Northville where I lived for 21 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That`s a start of an ad for Paul Wellstone, if you didn`t
recognize him. And he was an unknown college professor when that ad aired
in 1990. But after it was finished on the air, he was a U.S. senator. And
two years later in Wisconsin, another no name candidate captured the same
little guy against the world magic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLI)
RUSS FEINGOLD: This first home belonged to millionaire Joe Lhofa (ph).
He`s one of my opponents. Let`s see if he`s around. Wow, look at these
The next home belongs to Congressman Jim Moody, my other opponent. This is
home in Washington, D.C. He`s lived there for years, but he does visit
I`m just the opposite. I visited Washington, D.C., but I live right near
in Milton, Wisconsin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And thus did State Senator Feingold become U.S. Senator Russ
More recently in New York, Democratic voters in the mayoral primary got to
know the eventual nominee not because of what he had to say, but because of
what his teenage son had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill de Blasio will be a mayor for every New Yorker, no
matter where they live or what look like, and I`d say that even if he
weren`t my dad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Which brings us to this week, in a special election to fill Ed
Markey`s old House seat in Massachusetts. The Democratic primary field is
crowded. The Boston airwaves are expensive. But one candidate, a
candidate who entered the race as a heavy underdog, managed to make a
national name for himself this week with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: I`m Carl Sciortino and I`ll never forget that
conversation with my dad.
CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: That`s me.
CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: Where I had to come out and tell him --
CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Wait for this.
CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: -- that I was a Massachusetts liberal.
CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: And he`s proud of it.
CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: Dad`s in the Tea Party.
CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Damn right.
He`s been like this for 35 years.
CARL SCIORTINO, JR.: It`s why I approve this message.
And I still love you, dad.
CARL SCIORTINO, SR.: Me too, son.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And now joining us from Newton, Massachusetts, is Carl
Sciortino. He is one of the Democratic candidates of the state`s fifth
And, Carl, thank you for joining us this morning.
So, you know, just to start out. There are four other opponents, you know,
in this race, in this Democratic primary race. And I should say, this is a
district that`s overwhelmingly Democratic. So, the winner of this primary
almost certainly is going to get a seat in Congress.
But let`s be honest, you came to this race, as we said, as the underdog.
Your opponents had more money. They had a bigger, sort of, graphic base on
this thing. We`ve all seen what the ad has captured this week.
I wonder if sort of the weekend to what you can quantify for us what this
ad has meant to your campaign, what it`s meant a for contribution, what`s
it meant for YouTube hits, what it`s meant a for your ability to pay for
more ads on this expensive -- can you put some numbers on what this has
done for your campaign?
SCIORTINO: Sure. First, good morning to you, thanks for having me on.
It`s been a delight to do this with my dad, frankly. It has been a
wonderful experience. And it has taken off.
It`s helped our campaign immensely. We had a huge spike in people going to
the CarlforCongress.com Web site, and signing up to volunteer, and
donations have been flowing into the site. The YouTube count is 305,000
now watching it just on YouTube.
I actually went on to MSNBC a couple of nights ago with my dad, and he
hadn`t even seen it until right before the show. When I told him, it was
around 175,000 at that time. He said 175,000 people have seen this? Are
you kidding me?
It`s taken a off in a great way for us. Our campaign has got a lot of
energy, a lot of buzz. And, frankly, no one was talking about the race at
all in Massachusetts or anywhere until this TV ad hit, which is great.
KORNACKI: Yes. And so, talk about that for a minute. Why do you think
this thing -- you know, you put this up on a YouTube channel. I heard
about it a few days ago, somebody sent me a link. Next thing you know, it
has hundreds of hits.
What do you think? What cord has this, you know, sort of touched in
people? What nerve is this touched? Why is this resonating so powerfully?
SCIORTINO: Well, I think, you know, a lot of people live in families. We
know our country right now where everything feels very divided, very
polarized. You know, we have Republicans in Washington fighting against
food stamps, Democrats fighting to help people who are struggling with the
cost of higher education. You know, we have a polarized society.
And so, to see a family -- my father and I fight like that all the time.
That is how we talk. We bicker, we banter, we disagree, and we can still
get along. We still love each other. We still can find common ground. We
can see that we can get along even if we disagree. And I think we need
much more of that in our country right now.
It is important to fight for your values. I mean, clearly, in the ad, it
shows I`m a progressive, I`m a proud Massachusetts liberal. I`m not shy
about my values. You know, fighting for women`s equality, for LBGT
equality, for economic justice. Those are things I fight for everyday.
But I can still get along with people on the other side of the aisle, I can
still along with people who disagree with me. And I think that`s really
refreshing, frankly, from what you see in Washington right now.
KORNACKI: No, I think it -- I think it coincides with the moment where
sort of the fault lines in our politics are cultural in a lot of ways and
we`ve almost split into tribes, and the two tribes don`t talk to each
other, there is all this animosity.
I think you are totally honest here. But I wonder, too, maybe just tell us
a little bit about your dad, because I look at him and I say, he comes
across as sort of the endearingly gruff face of the Tea Party.
But who is this guy? Where is he from? What`s his story? Tell us about
SCIORTINO: You know, my dad has seen the world changed around him. He is
73-years-old. He served in Vietnam. He raised two boys -- my brother and
me as a single dad.
He worked really, really hard to take care of us. You know, I tell the
story a lot, when I was a teenager, the visual image I have of my childhood
is him keeping the refrigerator full to the top, obsessed with keeping the
refrigerator full because he would work long hours, that was his way of
knowing that we were taken care of.
But even with that, he would call us after he would leave work and say, do
you need anything from the store or anything I can pick up to fill the
fridge? And we made fun of him. But years later, we realize what he was
saying to my brother and me was, am I being a good dad? Do you have what
you need as my child?
It was really powerful to me to realize that as an adult, as I watched in
my own work fighting for economic justice or the current debate around food
stamps, and we have people right now like my dad looking at their kids and
saying, do they have enough food in the fridge? And are they taken care
of? And that`s really this craze right now and we need to get back to the
place where we take care of our families, we help lift them out of poverty.
My dad is -- he`s a hero to me. He worked so hard to make sure that we
were fed and clothed and had a good public education to go to. You could
see in the ad, even though we disagree, he loves me. And that`s important
in our family that we can get along and brush the politics aside and just
love each other.
BARRO: This is Josh Barro with "Business Insider". I was wondering, what
sort of -- we`ve seen all this natural reaction to the ad. What are you
hearing from people in the district? This district you are running to
represent contains a lot of different kinds of communities. There`s
Harvard University in the district. You have a lot of more working class
urban areas. You have affluent suburban communities.
Are different kinds of people in the district having different reactions to
SCIORTINO: Well, it`s been up for just about a week. And mostly online,
we did a small hit on TV that`s going to be much higher in the next three
weeks. We`ll be spending significant money on this ad in the next few
weeks. So, I think you are looking at a doper penetration in the next two
or three weeks as we get closer to the election.
But, frankly, what I`ve heard from people across the district is, first of
all, they love my dad. Many people tell me that they will vote for my dad
even if he`s Tea Party and we may end up with a Tea Party congressman if
we`re not careful. But also, the fact that it`s -- it reaches across
different ends of the spectrum, and it shows that I`m a progressive, but I
don`t demonize the enemy, because the enemy is frankly my father. He`s not
the enemy, right? And I think we need more of.
We`ve got a very strong reaction. I had a forum a couple nights ago in
Cambridge and I had an event a couple of nights ago in Sunbury, different
communities, but universally, people reacted very, very strongly to this
ad. The question for people that has come to me is OK, this is a cute ad.
It shows you are a progressive fighter. It shows you can get along with
Are you a serious candidate? Are you viable? Can you win this?
The answer is yes. I have been in the legislature for nine years. I have
taken up some of the toughest fights in the legislature, working very hard
to get things done like increase the minimum wage and first bill I passed
was the buffer zone bill, which protects women access to reproductive
health care clinic, that bill is actually now headed to the U.S. Supreme
Court this fall.
So, you know, people look at people look at the ad, they like it, they
think it`s cute, and they want to know what`s the substance behind this
candidate that`s in this ad. I have a lot to offer. I think we`ll show
that in the next three weeks.
KORNACKI: Well, you know, we can`t do a segment on race in Massachusetts
without me finding a way to slip in some Massachusetts political history.
And, Carl, .I think you will appreciate this one, because I just remembered
this last night, somebody reminded me of it. But there is an interesting
parallel here because the seat you`re running for, running for the seat
that Ed Markey held 36 years going back to 1976, and the story of how Ed
Markey got his seat in 1976 is he was in a crowded Democratic primary field
as a little-known state representative and he had been -- his desk, he sort
of caused a lot of ruckus in the statehouse as a state rep. His desk had
been moved into the office.
So, he and the camera crew snuck into the statehouse at night, they filmed
the desk in the hallway and he walked out. He said, "The bosses can tell
me where to sit but they`ll never tell me where to stand." And it was
magic. It catapulted him to victory. And I think we`re going to find out
if on the strength of an ad, you can one-up them 36, 37.
So, Carl Sciortino, thank you for joining us. Appreciate having you on the
SCIORTINO: Thank you, Steve.
KORNACKI: And what do we know now that we didn`t know last week? My
answers are after this.
KORNACKI: OK. It is that time of the show where we find out what our
guests know now that they didn`t know when the week begun.
And our defending champion, with the gold mug, Krystal Ball, the floor is
BALL: Terrifyingly, Eric Schlosser filed a Freedom of Information Act
request and found out that in 1961, the U.S. Air Force came very close to
accidentally detonating an atomic bomb 260 times more powerful than
Hiroshima over North Carolina. It dropped down on the plane accidentally.
Three out of the four fail-safe mechanisms failed and it hit the ground and
one last fuse held and we didn`t have massive explosion on the East Coast.
KORNACKI: That is an insane story.
KORNACKI: That makes me think about moving to Greenland someday.
BALL: Not safe anywhere, Steve.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: First of all, I learned I`m on the job market because my
bureau chief, John Stanton, told me I had to win the quiz.
KORNACKI: Oh, no.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Anybody who wants to hire a kind of --
KORNACKI: Well, stand on the show, see if he can do it.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: But, you know, going off on the question, the quiz, it
turns out, my colleague, Ruby Kramer (ph), had this great story about
Martin O`Malley and how he is sort of quietly the most active Democratic
surrogate out there right now. You know, we hear a lot about Hillary
Clinton. We hear about a lot about mostly Hillary Clinton on the campaign
BALL: Joe Biden.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yes. On the trail, but O`Malley is really on the ground
doing stuff. He`s everywhere all the time, in places that you don`t see a
lot and don`t hear about a lot.
KORNACKI: As we learned in our quiz this morning.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That`s right.
BARRO: Well, now, we know exactly how Republican members of Congress feel
about each other. We talked earlier on the show about Representative Peter
King saying that Ted Cruz was a fraud. My favorite quotes this week have
come from Sean Duffy, who`s a Republican Congressman from Wisconsin, who
said they`re all upset because Ted Cruz has been abusing House Republicans
for so long.
Sean Duffy was actually on "The Real World" on MTV in an earlier life
before he was in Congress. So he knows something about when people stop
being polite and start being real. That`s what happened in Congress this
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Confessionals in Congress. Confession rooms.
KORNACKI: And I have to sneak one in here. I know now that there`s a huge
game in Austin, Texas, tonight, Kansas State and Texas. Kansas State can
maybe finish off Mack Brown. They need to win. I`ll be watching that
tonight. That`s what I know.
My thanks to MSNBC`s Krystal Ball, Evan McMorris-Santoro of BuzzFeed.com,
and Josh Barro of BusinessInsider.com. Thanks for getting UP and thank you
for joining us today for UP.
On tomorrow`s show, singer and songwriter Carole King joins us. I`m really
excited about that.
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". On today`s MHP, Massachusetts
Governor Deval Patrick and his daughter`s Kathryn decision to come out and
how it affected their relationship. Plus, latest jaw-dropping headlines
made by Pope Francis. Stick around and head to Nerdland. That`s next.
And we`ll see you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>