ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
October 31, 2013
Guest: Gerry Connolly, Josh Barro, Goldie Taylor, G.K. Butterfield, Hilary
Shelton, Willie Brown
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m
Chris Hayes. And I`m dressed this Halloween as Steve Kornacki.
We`ve got lots of politics tonight, starting at the White House, where
you might have noticed, it`s been something of a rough couple of weeks for
the president. With the rocky rollout of his signature health reform law
dominating the news, the political toll is real and it is getting worse.
And nowhere is the damage more apparent than in the latest polling
from NBC News, where President Obama`s approval rating has fallen to an
all-time low of 42 percent. That is a five-point drop from just earlier
this month. These numbers, as bad as they are, don`t necessarily exist in
a vacuum. There`s a lot more complexity to the current political
environment, which in many ways is the story of American politics in the
Tea Party era.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s talk about the president (INAUDIBLE) between
Syria, between the shutdown, between Obamacare, how are his approval
numbers stacking up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Record lows.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president`s approval rating dropped five
points over the last two weeks. That said, at an all-time low --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this more than just the second-term curse?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he goes below where he is right now, he`s going
to be in George Bush territory, and that`s very hard to come back from.
KORNACKI (voice-over): The latest NBC News poll does, indeed, find
that the president`s approval rating is at a five-year low, and it is true
that his popularity is hovering where George Bush`s was five years into his
But before we draw a comparison too closely, there`s an important
distinction to be about where their presidency and where their parties are
In November of 2005, with President Bush licking his wounds from the
spiral Iraq war, the devastation from Katrina war, the embarrassment of the
Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination, Bush saw Virginia as a place where
he could sweep in, score a victory, improve, but he could still bring home
a swing state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Virginia`s Republican candidate for governor,
Jerry Kilgore, is about to make last-minute gamble. At this campaign`s
final rally tonight, he`ll be joined by President Bush, on his way home
from South America. But it`s a high-risk strategy, because with the
president`s popularity at an all-time low, his appearance could have the
PROF. MARK ROZELL, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: I think if the Democrats
were to win in this Republican-leaning Southern state, that would indicate
that the difficulties of the Bush administration and of the Republican
Party are having real implications throughout the country.
KORNACKI: As "The Washington Post" wrote on Election Day 2005, the
president`s advisers last week opted to rearrange yesterday`s return, to
include a stop in the Virginia capital in the hope of helping Kilgore pull
out a victory. If the plan works and Kilgore wins, it would offer a well-
timed vindication of Bush`s clout. As one strategist put it, if Kilgore
wins, the president`s political heart keeps beating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United
States, George W. Bush.
GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-PRESIDENT: I appreciate you coming out here to
the airport. We were just flying in from Latin America. When you find a
man who`s got this kind of character, it makes sense to stop short of the
destination and come in and say to the people in this state, put him in
office and he`ll be proud of the job he`ll do for you.
KORNACKI: But in the end, Kilgore was trounced.
BILL RICHARDSON (D), FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: This showed that the
president`s policies in red states are drawing extreme concern.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans eyeing next year`s midterm elections
are nervous. Unlike 2002, when the president was a top draw for
congressional candidates now Mr. Bush`s troubles have left Republicans
looking for distance.
KORNACKI: And Republicans had reason to be nervous. In the next two
election cycles in 2006 and 2008, Democrats swept to power, first taking
the House and then the whole shebang. And eight years later, it is now
Obama who heads to Virginia with his lowest approval ratings yesterday,
campaigning for Terry McAuliffe, the race that the Republicans were
supposed to win. It`s an off year election, it`s in a state that has for
four decades voted against the party occupying the White House in
It`s a state where Terry McAuliffe was crushed in the Democratic
primary just four years ago. This year, barring a major upset, McAuliffe
is going to win. And the difference here is the Tea Party, which is now
faring far worse than President Obama. In that same poll that has Obama`s
numbers falling, the Tea Party`s favorable rating has crashed to 14
The reason a weak Democrat is winning in a premiere swing state in the
country is this guy --
KEN CUCCINELLI (R), VA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I was the first attorney
general in the country to sue to stop the implementation of the notorious
federal health care law.
KORNACKI: Ken Cuccinelli is the personification of the Tea Party.
The polls say he is going to lose. His demise in Virginia could be a sign
of things to come.
KORNACKI: All right, joining me now is Congressman Gerry Connolly.
He`s a Democrat from Virginia.
And, Congressman, thanks for taking some time tonight. I want to get
to that election in Virginia and what it says about where the country is
and where the country is going. It`s only five days away. So, I want to
get to that in a minute. But first I want to start at the basic issue of
the poll numbers for the president today, which made so much news today.
You heard that repetition in the package we just played there. George
Bush territory, the idea that here in his fifth year as president,
President Obama now falling to a level about where George W. Bush was at
this point in his fifth year. What do you make of the numbers you`re
seeing for the president right now, just as a Democrat, as a member of his
party, what do you attribute it to and are you worried about it?
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: You know, I think every president
has a rough patch. I`m old enough to remember Ronald Reagan, in the
toilet, several times during his presidency. Bill Clinton had his rough
patches, God knows.
So, you know, these things go up and down. The question is trend and
the question is whether it`s sustained.
I think that if the -- for example, the glitches in the Web site for
the Affordable Care Act can be ironed out, I think the president is going
to rebound. So, I don`t read too much into it just yet. These polls go up
KORNACKI: So we talked about Virginia a lot there. And just to
really set the stage for this, we are talking about a state here, as we
said in that package, you have to go all the way back to 1973, in your home
state of Virginia, to find an election where the party that controls the
White House actually won the governor`s race. It always takes place the
year after the presidential election. This is an off year election here in
Virginia. We`ve been talking for the last year about how the turnout
patterns favor Republicans in off year elections.
What do you think it says? If Terry McAuliffe, if the polls are right
and Terry McAuliffe wins this thing, what do you think that says about
national politics? What message can we take nationally from a Democrat
winning in Virginia under these circumstances?
CONNOLLY: I think it says a lot. Virginia, first of all, is a very
competitive state. We don`t like extremism, from the right or the left.
And we like our politics pretty much in the center.
The Republicans nominated one of the most extreme tickets in the
history of the commonwealth of Virginia. And, by way of contrast, the
Democrats have nominated three generally pragmatic people. And I think
added to that, there was so many issues, Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain
are identified with in terms of the war on women, the famous transvaginal
probe legislation, even opposing things like bipartisan transportation
legislation. They went into this fall with a deficit, and then occurred
And the shutdown has really turned off Virginia voters. They see that
as a dysfunctional Congress, they see it as an example of that extremism.
They don`t like it. Many of us were affected by it, because Virginia is
very much tied to the federal government in terms of investment defense
spending and technology investment. And I think the Republicans are going
to pay a very heavy price for that next Tuesday.
KORNACKI: You know, we have -- you talk about sort of the gender gap
there. You have the latest poll, "Washington Post"/ABC News has McAuliffe
winning by 24 points among women, up by 12 points overall. I think back to
four years ago when Terry McAuliffe, you know, his national reputation, he
was a bundler. He`s sort of a D.C. big money guy.
He ran four years ago in Virginia, got trounced in the Democratic
primary. You know, I hear there`s a writer, Jon Chait, for "New York"
magazine who said at the start of this campaign this year that Terry
McAuliffe is the Democrat that Democrats have been dreaming of voting
against. I just look at this race, Congressman, in all honesty, do you
think there`s anything Terry McAuliffe has done to win this thing other
than just not be Ken Cuccinelli?
CONNOLLY: I think Terry has run a very disciplined campaign. I think
he`s addressed issues in a very forthright way. You know, some of them
very progressive positions on gun issues, for example. Certainly on
women`s issues, he`s spoken very clearly and very explicitly about what he
won`t do when he`s governor of the commonwealth of Virginia.
So, I think Terry deserves a lot of credit for having run a very
disciplined campaign, both in message and in organization. I think he
learned from his misstep four years ago and that`s what you want to see in
a politician. You want to see the capacity to grow.
Terry has shown a lot of capacity to grow in these last four years.
KORNACKI: All right. Congressman Gerry Connolly from Virginia,
thanks for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.
CONNOLLY: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Joining me now is Josh Barro, who`s a politics editor at
And, Josh, I actually want to pick up a point that the congressman
just made there. Maybe I can set this up, by playing a bit of Terry
McAuliffe on the campaign trail this week. He`s talking about the message
discipline of Terry McAuliffe. How he`s run this campaign.
Let`s just take a listen. This was Terry McAuliffe talking about the
Tea Party and his opposition this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We are proud to be
MCAULIFFE: But we are also proud that we are in the mainstream of
Virginia. The Tea Party is going to spend their time trying to make this
election about personal attacks on me instead of policy differences. They
know that this election, if it is about the issues that matter to
Virginians, they can`t win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So what strikes me about that and what Gerry Connolly was
just saying last segment is traditionally you look at Virginia as a state
for Democrats to win in Virginia. The model we`re all sort of used to is,
you know, you`ve got to get the gun guys, got to be culturally
conservative, you know, you got to show them you`re tough on death penalty,
Tim Kaine went through this whole thing in 2005.
And McAuliffe campaign, the message of the McAuliffe campaign has
really been -- no, it`s Ken Cuccinelli who`s out of step. He`s the one
who`s too conservative, especially on these cultural issues, and it seems
to me that reflects sort of more of a national tipping the point on
JOSH BARRO, BUSINESS INSIDER: I think there`s that and I think
Virginia is an increasingly suburban state. And those rural areas are less
important than they used to be. And I think Ken Cuccinelli has read as so
culturally alien to those suburban areas in both high water Virginia and
around Washington, D.C., that all McAuliffe had to do was be a warm body
that those people didn`t hate and he could win the election.
And I think that`s especially interesting, because Cuccinelli isn`t
actually that much more conservative than Bob McDonnell, who won pretty
soundly four years ago. He`s become unpopular because of some influence
peddling scandals, but that`s not really related to his social
conservatism. But McDonnell kind of seems like this suburban, business-
oriented conservative when you see him on television and you`re another
moderate suburban voter, he doesn`t necessarily look to like somebody who
is a fire breather, where Cuccinelli really comes off as a Bible thumper,
and that has made him very unappealing.
KORNACKI: But how much of that is the difference in the climate
between four years ago versus today? Because I think four years ago, the
Democrats had just taken over the White House, big majorities in the
Senate, big majorities in the House, they sort of controlled everything.
And the Republican Party to voters back then existed only as a protest
vehicle. You didn`t like the economy, you didn`t like what the Democrats
are doing in health care. Whatever it was, you`re going to vote for the
Today, my read on this is, voters are sort of pausing and considering
-- well, maybe we don`t like the Democrats. Maybe we`re not nuts about
Obama right now, but we`ve seen three years of Republicans controlling the
House, the Tea Party controlling the Republican Party, and voters are maybe
looking at this as more of an equal choice between the two parties and
saying, all things being equal, we`re more uncomfortable with the Tea
BARRO: Yes, I think that`s right and I think it`s especially true in
Virginia, where you have so many federal workers. I think the shutdown did
terrible things to the Republican brand nationally. That same NBC poll
that has the president at 42 percent has positive views of the Republican
Party at 22 percent, which is also the lowest number in the history of that
But I think you`re going to see something on the order of a 25-point
swing, the election results four years ago in Virginia, where Bob McDonnell
won very soundly and where Ken Cuccinelli is going to win very soundly this
time. You can describe part of that to national trends and this being a
much better year for Democrats than 2009 was.
But part of it is this perfect storm where Cuccinelli has a social
issue problem, he has a scandal problem with the same businessman who was
giving gifts to the current governor, Bob McDonnell. And to him, he`s
alienated various northern Virginia businesspeople with his opposition to a
transportation bill and certain other things that make them see him as not
And then, finally, you have the problem with the government shutdown,
really focusing national issues in Virginia in a way that is favorable to
the Democratic Party. That perfect storm is the reason that Terry
McAuliffe is going to win this --
KORNACKI: But I do want to ask, in terms of lessons that the
Republican Party might take from this afterwards. I have talked to a
number of Virginia Republicans this year, and we forget, the other part of
this ticket is Ken Cuccinelli and this guy, E.W. Jackson, the lieutenant
governor candidate, who makes Cuccinelli look almost like a moderate. He`s
so far out there in the things he`s said.
But there were Republicans talking at that state convention this year
where they nominated Cuccinelli and Jackson, moderate Republicans who sort
of said, look, the Tea Party guys have just totally taken over this party.
We want to give them the most far-right field of candidates they can
possibly put out there, and we want to be able to come back to them after
November and say, you got what you wanted, you got the Tea Party dream
team, you lost, you never should have lost, see, I told you so, the party
needs to moderate, this is a lesson.
Do you think anybody in the Republican Party is going to get that
message out of this result?
BARRO: I think the Republican Party has been very good at resisting
those sorts of messages. Certainly, that is the message they should take
from this. And they should take for one thing that they shouldn`t nominate
candidates at conventions. Conventions are designed to produce extreme
candidates that are desirable to the sorts of extremists who attend party
But I think if you look at the results in the 2012 election, you had
conservatives ahead of it saying, oh, the polls are skewed, Mitt Romney`s
going to win. The results should have been a rude awakening, and they sort
of were for about two months, and then after that, the party just retreated
back into the same bubble that it was in before, where it rejects any news
it finds unfavorable.
So, I think, yes, Virginia Republicans should listen to people like
Tom Davis, who`s a moderate former congressman from the Washington, D.C.
area, who are telling them they have to change or die. But I think it will
probably take a few more really negative election cycles before they
actually do --
KORNACKI: If you want an excuse, you can always find an excuse. I
know that lesson from my own life actually.
But, anyway, Josh Barro from businessinsider.com, thanks for joining
And coming up --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s been perception that you`ve had trouble
mobilizing the troops behind you. Fifty elected Democratic officials
endorsing the governor. Can you tell some of the people out there who may
wonder if you can`t lead your own party, how will you lead this state?
STATE SEN. BARBARA BOUNO (D), NEW JERSEY: How long do I have?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a minute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie opponent,
Barbara Buono. Why the Democratic Party is on board with the Republican
governor. That`s ahead.
KORNACKI: The Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate in Georgia
are so far out there, that party loyalists are actually donating money to
the likely Democratic candidate. We`ll talk about that coming up.
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Here`s a scary story for Democrats on this Halloween night.
It`s the tale of how their own party created its own worst nightmare -- the
Republican who has the best chance, by far, of beating them in the 2016
presidential election. The most frightening part for Democrats is, they
can`t seem to stop helping him.
The Republican is, if you haven`t guessed by now, New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie, who is up for re-election this coming Tuesday. This is a
race you might expect the Democrats to at least fight for.
President Obama won New Jersey by 17 points last year. It is the
sixth straight presidential election that the state went blue. So, it`s a
very Democratic state. Unlike Virginia, where voters will also elect a
governor next week, you haven`t seen high-profile national Democrats
campaigning for the Democratic candidate in New Jersey.
Her name is Barbara Buono. Indeed, you may not have even heard of
Buono, considering how little attention the Democratic Party has given to
this race. That may seem a little odd until you consider that it`s
actually the latest chapter in what amounts to a year`s long saga of
Democrats helping Chris Christie.
Go back to 2000. That`s when the former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine
spent $63 million in a successful effort to win a seat as a Democrat. Four
years later, Democratic Governor Jim McGreevey resigned amid revelations of
an affair, gruesome poll numbers, and the possibility of a federal
When a popular and effective Democrat Dick Cody assumed the
governorship when McGreevey resigned, but didn`t have Corzine`s deep
pockets. Instead of backing Cody for a full term in the governor`s office
in 2005, New Jersey`s Democrats pretty much let themselves get bought off
by Corzine. They gave him the nomination and he won the election, but
Corzine was a terrible match for the office and quickly grew unpopular with
the public, with the legislature, and even with his own party.
And by the time a little-known Republican named Chris Christie ran for
governor in 2009, the public was itching to vote out the incumbent and they
did. Democrats didn`t think they could lose in New Jersey back in those
days. They thought they could nominate anyone for any office for any
office and it wouldn`t matter. It was a blue state, after all. It was
going to vote Democratic.
But with Corzine, they got greedy and it pushed their luck and they
gave Christie the governorship. And with it, gave Christie the megaphone
that he`s used to build a national following.
In New Jersey, Democrats have done little to stop him since then. In
June, the Democratic-controlled state legislature essentially rubber-
stamped Christie`s budget. Buono objected to Christie`s handling of health
care and education. Many Democrats simply ignored her. And they haven`t
continued to ignore their gubernatorial nominee.
It`s true that Democrats were probably not ever going to win this
race. Christie is simply too popular, thanks in part to his deft handling
of Hurricane Sandy last year. Democrats could have prevented Christie from
the sort of massive victory that he could use as a springboard for a 2016
Christie`s campaign has not even tried to disguise that they want to
run up the margins in this race so they can tell every Republican who will
listen that the state who re-elected Barack Obama by 17 points turned
around the next year and backed Chris Christie by an even bigger margin.
Democrats could have denied him that. They could have worked to keep
Buono close, to keep Christie from gaining momentum, from a massive victory
in a blue state. Instead, Christie has built a 33-point lead without
putting up any real fight on the Democratic side. And that could come back
to haunt them once 2016 rolls around.
Joining me now is E.J. Dionne. He`s "Washington Post" columnist and
senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He`s also the author of "Our
Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of
E.J., thanks for joining us tonight. I appreciate it.
And I`m just sort of thinking back through history. You know, a
couple years out before a presidential election, I guess there`s sort of a
tradition of one party who can usually identify who they think the biggest
threat is on the other side. And I know the devious Nixon White House had
its list in the 1970 midterms.
I remember the late Lee Atwater in 1990, looking at the midterm
election in Arkansas and saying, we might want to do something about this
guy, Bill Clinton, because he could be a threat to the Republicans in 1992.
And, I mean, it is staring Democrats in the face. Chris Christie is a
threat in 2016, and it really is amazing, President Obama in Virginia, vice
president -- former President Clinton in Virginia, and just nothing in
Virginia to try to at least keep Christie`s margins down.
E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. The late Lee Atwater was a
very shrewd guy, because a lot of Republicans underestimated Bill Clinton,
including for a long time, President Bush. But I think the best metaphor
right now for what Christie is doing is George W. Bush, who ran up enormous
margins in the Texas governor`s race in 1998. He did particularly well
with Latinos and he got a lot of Republican votes and then turned around
and sold that to the party. He was the favorite going in, in a way that
Chris Christie is not.
But it was of enormous benefit to him in the year 2000. And it helped
him look more moderate than he actually was.
And I think Chris Christie can do exactly the same thing here. Chris,
he`s actually a very conservative guy. And I think you`re going to see
that much more after this election is over. When he is seeking the
Republican presidential nomination, assuming that he does, he`s going to
play out how conservative he is. He`s going to emphasize that side to him.
I think the problem the Democrats had is, he was really helpful to
Barack Obama in the last election. When he said those nice things about
President Obama`s handling of Hurricane Sandy, that was a boost to Obama at
the end of that campaign. And I think that kept some Democrats from really
coming in for Buono, who is actually not a bad candidate, and could have
done better than she`s going to do.
KORNACKI: Well, you know, I used to cover New Jersey, so when people
sort of ask me about, they look closely at Chris Christie and what he`s
accomplished as governor. He`s done this with a Democratic legislature,
and he`s pushed, in some cases, some very conservative legislation,
especially on pensions and public employees.
And I say, it is understandable when you look at New Jersey, because
there`s this split in the Democratic Party, there are old bosses in the
Republican Party and Christie has sort of cultivated them and won over
their supporters and the legislatures. I see what`s happened inside New
Jersey, but you talk about Sandy and how Democrats sort of appreciated
Christie`s standing with the president in the wake of that last year.
Do you think from the White House`s standpoint that that is what has
kept them from being more involved in this, gratitude over, a week from the
election last year, when we didn`t know what was going to happen, this guy
stood up for us and vouched for us in a big way.
DIONNE: No one has ever told me that, but I`m about 99.99 percent
sure that`s true. Because those were great pictures for President Obama at
the end of the campaign and they infuriated Republicans and Mitt Romney.
And I think that`s the one thing, sort of, that counters what we`ve been
saying, which is, Christie`s advantage in this election, given where the
Republican Party is, could be his big problem in the primaries, because
there`s nothing that hurts you more in the Republican Party these days than
embracing Barack Obama.
And so, that` still going to be held against Christie when he runs --
if he runs -- for the Republican nomination. So maybe they`re shrewder
than we know. But I think in conventional terms, they would have been
better off to try to hold his margin down.
KORNACKI: Yes, that bind there you talk about is kind of interesting,
because, sure, they want -- from the Christie standpoint, they want to get
the margin up as high as possible. But, hey, if Barack Obama happened to
come into the state and trash Chris Christie and say, vote for the
Democrat, that might help Chris Christie, as a national Republican. That`s
sort of the bind that Chris Christie is in right now.
Anyway, E.J. Dionne, I want to thank you for joining us. You`d
probably rather be talking about Boston and the Red Sox, just like me. But
I appreciate you playing along.
DIONNE: Well, we should welcome some viewers back to the show.
KORNACKI: A lot happy viewers in the base. Anyway, I want to thank
you, E.J. Dionne for joining us.
Why the red state of Georgia could help Democrats hold on to the
Senate in 2014. That is coming up.
KORNACKI: In the battle to hold on to their Senate majority next
year, salvation for Democrats might come from a very unlikely place, the
red state of Georgia.
To understand why -- let`s back up to 2008, which was, to put it
mildly, a very friendly election cycle for Democrats. Barack Obama was
elected with the largest share of the popular vote for any Democratic
candidates since LBJ in 1964. And that sweeping wind came with some
serious coattails, big gains for his party in Congress, 21 seats in the
House, eight in the Senate. 2008 was by any measure, a real wave election.
But in 2014, six years later, all of those Senate seats that were on
the ballot in 2008 will be up again. Because 2008 was such a good year for
Democrats, a year when the national tide carried a lot of Democrats running
in republican-friendly states. It means there will be a number of
vulnerable democratic seats up next year.
So, democrats will be on the defensive. Right now, they have a 55-45
majority in the senate, but seven democratic seats that will be up next
year are in states that Mitt Romney carried last fall. And, the more of
those they lose, the better the GOP`s chances of taking back the chamber.
There is a twist, though.
There are actually two states on the map where republicans are on the
defensive. Two republican seats, the democrats could pick up. They are
Kentucky and Georgia. When either of those and the math will change on the
spot. It would then be virtually impossible for republicans to take over
the senate next year.
And of those two states, Georgia, there`s an open race to replace
Saxby Chambliss, a republican who is retiring next year. Georgia is the
one where there is news today. With Bloomberg reporting that a number of
elite republican donors, the donors who poured tens of thousands of dollars
in the Mitt Romney`s campaign last year, are spurning the GOP and lining up
behind the democratic candidate.
This has to do with what`s happening on the republican side, where at
least half a dozen republicans are vying is for the GOP nomination,
including Congressman Paul brown and Congressman Phil Gingrey. Brown is
the quintessential Tea Party congressman and Gingrey tried to get to his
right by taking to the house floor a few months ago to talk about the need
to teach traditional gender roles in schools.
There are three republican congressmen in this race in total and each
one of them, all three of them, voted against reopening the government two
weeks ago. You just can`t be too conservative in a republican primary. It
could have serious general election implications here, serious national
implications, as we watch this case unfold in Georgia.
A strong democratic candidate pitted against a really far-right
republican candidate could make that seat a potential democratic pickup,
especially when you consider the steady shift we`ve seen right now as
Georgia becomes less old and less white. A democrat in the race is
Michelle Nunn. She is the daughter of four-termed democratic Senator Sam
He is one of those republican donors who is backing Nunn and told
Bloomberg, quote, "The vast majority of Americans say they don`t want the
government to shut down. They want middle ground." This is the dynamic
that could reshape democratic prospects in Georgia and provide democrats a
firewall as they tried to hold on to the senate.
Joining me now is Goldie Taylor, contributor to MSNBC and TheGrio.com.
Goldie, thanks for joining us tonight. And, you are a resident Georgia
expert tonight, coming to us from Georgia. And, I just wondered if you
could talk a little bit about what is going on in the state. We see this
story today about republican donors moving to the democratic candidate down
there. Where is this coming from? And, how serious is this republican
split that this is suggesting?
GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first, I`ll tell you where
it`s coming from. Michelle Nunn founded an organization called hands-on
Atlanta. Hands-on Atlanta was not just any old non-profit. It was built
on volunteerism and they did a lot of partnerships with CEOs around the
state of Georgia in terms of their community outreach and -- you know, sort
of investing in communities that they served.
And, so she has a lot of one-to-one relationships with the Georgia
chamber of commerce, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and some of the more
conservative, more establishment business leaders in the state. So, that`s
where the money is really coming from. But, you know, a candidate asked me
more than a decade ago who`s running for Georgia senate, can I win this
seat. He happened to be a democrat, and I said everything, everything has
to go your way.
And, of course, everything doesn`t and he lost that race. The same is
true for Michelle Nunn. A few things have to go her way and she got a few
in her favor. Number one, she has an unlimited supply of money coming her
way, both from democrats and from republicans. Harry Reid is focused on
this seat, you know, really like no other.
The second thing is, that grassroots organization that Barack Obama
built in 2008 and delivered on in 2010 -- 2012, they are moving through all
159 counties, building a statewide organization in her favor. So, that`s
happening at the grassroots. And, the last thing is, she is not exactly a
liberal. And, she is not exactly a conservative.
She truly is a centrist. While she is not her father`s brand of what
we call a Sam Nunn democrat down here, she is really her own woman and
really agrees with the president on many things and disagrees on some
others. But, she won`t be able to be tied to what we call the Yankee
liberal down here in Georgia. She is indeed, as I said, really her own
KORNACKI: Yes, and Sam Nunn, a conservative democrat, four terms in
the senate, we talked about. He was always rumored to run for president.
But, I was wondering if you could pick up that point a little bit, because
I imagine democrats thinking about this story, and part of them probably
says, this is great news.
Look at this, big split in the Republican Party, big money coming into
the democratic candidate, a race we didn`t necessarily think we could win a
few months ago, now maybe we can win it. But, at the same time, you know,
these democrats were in office from red states, sort of these blue dog type
democrats, from Joe Manchin in West Virginia, they drive democrats crazy.
You`re saying Michelle Nun seems to be somewhere in between, but what
kind of senator would she be? Would she drive democrats crazy and what
issues would she drive them crazy on?
TAYLOR: You know, all of her politics have yet to emerge, but she
seems to be more like a Sanford bishop brand of democrat who is really
holding his seat in strong favor down in South Georgia, and he is a blue
dog or Sam Nunn-type of democrat.
But, it is going to take that to win this state on a state-wide race.
The other point about this is that Georgia is becoming progressively brown.
That we are having African-American voters controlling much more of the
electorate here and we have a growing, growing Hispanic population that
always tend to vote democrat in this state, on immigration issues, and a
mound of others.
And, so while we have yet to see the real policy positions that will
become a very interesting point to me. But, what is happening on the other
side of the aisle is even more interesting. You have got Paul Brown who is
to the right, to the right, to the right of everybody else really in this
race, and you have got people trying to catch up with him on issues.
If Paul Brown faces a split primary with some very strong candidates
with national names like Tom Brown and Phil Gingrey, he could very well
come out of this primary the leader, a very bruising primary. And, I
believe that Michelle Nunn becomes an increasingly viable candidate in that
KORNACKI: Yes. Paul Brown, that is the dream democratic opponent
KORNACKI: That would be Sharron Angle of Georgia. Anyway, Goldie
Taylor, MSNBC Contributor, thanks for joining us tonight. Coming up.
Remember this guy, the mayor of Toronto Rob Ford. Well, there is a new
development in the whole alleged he smokes crack scandal that we just have
to tell you about coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROB FORD, TORONTO MAYOR: Get off my driveway, please?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: What can you tell us about --
MAYOR FORD: Get off my driveway.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: -- focus of a police --
MAYOR FORD: Guys can you get off my driveway, please?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: What can you tell --
MAYOR FORD: Can you get my driveway, please?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: But, can you tell me --
MAYOR FORD: Can you get off my property, please? Can you get off my
driveway, please?! Can you please -- can you get off my driveway? Can you
get off my property, please?! Get off my property!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: I`m leaving!
MAYOR FORD: Take it off my property!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: I`m leaving!
MAYOR FORD: OK! Thank you! Thank you very much! Get off my
property! Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: We are off your property, but can you
tell us about your --
MAYOR FORD: What don`t you understand? Get off the property,
partner! Get off -- thank you. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: -- Are you the focus of a police drug
investigation related to Sandro Lisi, Mr. Mayor?!
MAYOR FORD: Thank you. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: What would you tell us about --
MAYOR FORD: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (1): Don`t get run over, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (2): Watch out, guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford greeting
reporters outside his home this morning. The larger than life right wing
leader of Canada`s largest city is probably best known for being the
alleged star of alleged videotape that have allegedly shows him smoking
Allegedly being the keyword there, but now Toronto police say the
alleged crack tape is real and that they have possession of it. It is just
the latest jaw-dropping chapter in an unbelievable political scandal that
we on this show can`t resist telling you about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: There`s breaking news regarding Toronto`s
embattled mayor, Rob Ford. Hey, watch out for that camera.
MAYOR FORD: Holy!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: At a news conference earlier, Toronto chief of police, Bill
Blair, says authorities have obtained a video consistent with details given
in previous media accounts, but would not confirm the video`s contents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BLAIR, TORONTO POLICE CHIEF: I can`t tell you that the digital
video file that we have recovered depicts images, which are consistent with
those that have previously been reported in the press. I think it is fair
to say that the mayor does appear in those -- in that video, but I`m not
going to get into the detail of what activities is depicted on that video.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And, Blair said the police have not interviewed the mayor,
but the video`s contents don`t support charges against him. The police
chief spoke following the release of court documents pertaining to a drug
trafficking investigation involving Ford`s friend and part-time driver,
Lisi is seen with Ford in these police surveillance photos.
Authorities searched Lisi`s possessions and recovered the video. Reporters
from the "Toronto Star" newspaper and the website Gawker says they were
shown the video earlier this year. Back in May, Ford denied the crack-
smoking allegations and the existence of the video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR FORD: There has been a serious accusation from the "Toronto
Star," that I used crack cocaine. I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an
addict of crack cocaine. As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that
I have never seen or does not exist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Gawker eventually raised funds to buy the video, but the
website says it was unable to reestablish contact with the seller. It
donated the money to charity inside. Today`s bombshell from Toronto police
is the first public confirmation that the video does, in fact, exist.
Meanwhile, over at Toronto City Hall, it was a festive day. Offices
were all decked out for Halloween and a gaggle of reporters were on hand,
waiting to hear from the mayor and he did not disappoint.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR FORD: I think everybody has seen the allegations against me
today. I wish I could come out and defend myself. Unfortunately, I can`t
because it`s before the courts and that`s all I can say right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Ford, who previously said he will run again when his term
expires next year vowed to stay in office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR FORD: I have no reason to resign. I am going to go back and
return my phone calls. I am going be out doing what the people elected me
to do, and that`s save taxpayers` money and run a great government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And, of course, you can rest assure that we here at "All
In" will continue to monitor this story, so that we can give you the latest
details, which gives us an excuse to keep showing our favorite Rob Ford
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: This has been a breaking news report,
featuring Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and a moose.
MAYOR FORD: That`s it. I don`t know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Take off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Do you solemnly swear that you will
support and defend the constitution of the United States against all
enemies, foreign and domestic? That you will bear truth faith and
allegiance to the same. That you take this obligation freely without any
mental reservation or purpose of evasion and that you will well and
faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to
enter, so help you God?
CORY BOOKER, (D) NEW JERSEY SENATOR: I do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Congratulation senator. Welcome to the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And, just like that. Today, Cory Booker was sworn in as
the first black person elected to the senate since this guy won his seat
back in 2004. The only black person in the senate back at that time.
Booker`s swearing in gives the country two African-Americans serving in the
senate right now. Republican Tim Scott from South Carolina is the other
Scott was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to fill Jim DeMint`s old
seat. By winning a special election earlier this month, Cory Booker became
just the fourth black person voters have elected to the senate since
reconstruction. Joining Edward Brooke from Massachusetts in 1996, Carol
Moseley Braun from Illinois in 1992 and Barack Obama from Illinois in 2004.
Before them, there was Hiram Revels, a Mississippi State senator who
was selected by state lawmakers in 1870 to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat.
"The New York Times" wrote about his swearing in this way. Quote, "His
demeanor was as dignified as could be expected under the circumstances.
The abuse which had been poured upon him and on his race during the last
two days might well have shaken the nerves of any one."
As you can imagine, 1870, much of that abuse was blatantly racist.
New York World, which oppose Revels wrote of a, quote, "Lineal descendant
of a orangutan in congress. They added that Revels had, quote, "hands
Since Revels was only elected to serve out partial term for a vacant
seat, he spent just one year in the senate. First African-American who
deserved a full senate term was also from Mississippi. His name was
Blanche Bruce. And, both of these men were elected before the passage of
the 17 amendment in 1913, when senators were chosen by state legislatures,
rather than by a popular vote.
Since then, there hasn`t been an abundance of African-Americans in the
senate to say the least. Cory Booker becomes just the ninth black senator
in all of U.S. history. This is a graphical representation of what that
looks like. The teeny, tiny orange slice that is every black person who
has ever served in the United States Senate ever.
So, in either races in which is obviously a part of the answer, why
aren`t there more black senators why haven`t there been more black
senators? When we come back, I will be joined by a few people who helped
me try to answer that question, just stay with us.
KORNACKI: We are back and joining me now is Willie Brown. He is the
former democratic mayor of San Francisco and Hilary Shelton, the Washington
Bureau Director and Senior Vice President for advocacy of policy for the
NAACP. And, Congressman G.K. Butterfield, he is the democrat from North
Carolina; the first vice chair of the congressional black caucus.
And, Mr. Mayor, I don`t know if we still call you Mr. Mayor after you
left office, but I`m going to call you Mr. Mayor. And, I wonder -- I look
at some of the statistics we just showed about the number of African-
American Senators in history. It strikes me in sort of disconnect here.
If you look at the house, you got like 45 African-American members of the
house right now, about 10% of the house, a little more than 10%.
In all of history, as we say, nine black senators. It seems to me
there`s a problem -- a pipeline problem here, with getting African-
Americans who are sort of in the political game and in position to move up
in the house, they`re not getting chances to run for the senate or even for
the governorship. What do you think that disconnect is all about?
WILLIE BROWN, (D) SAN FRANCISCO FMR. MAYOR: Well, that disconnect is
all about racism, basically, in America, plus the actions of opportunities
in various states where the population should be able to be supported. The
political parties and the resources have just not been there behind
KORNACKI: Well, Congressman Butterfield, I wondered if you can
elaborate on that a little bit, because I think you have been in the house
now for close to a decade. I wonder what your experience is, because you
represent -- and I`ve noticed this, too, just in covering politics -- it
tends to be sort of the donor class, when you talk to the donor class of
the Democratic Party, and looking at statewide openings, there are a lot of
times they look at candidates from districts like yours, which are the
voting right districts. Districts from heavily African-American
And, they do say, we don`t think candidates from these districts can
win statewide. They say the districts are too liberal. They say the
districts are not representative of statewide population. They say in many
cases the districts aren`t economically prosperous. The candidates don`t
have a lot of money. Is that something you found -- those attitudes --
have you come up against those attitudes in sort of the state political
establishment in North Carolina?
G.K. BUTTERFIELD, (D) NORTH CAROLINA REPRESENTATIVE: Thank you,
Steve. It is true that I represent a voting rights district in Eastern
North Carolina. The district was created as a result of litigation under
the voting rights act of 1965. And so we have African-American members of
congress from North Carolina, Congressman Mel Watt and myself.
But, let me thank you for recognizing Senator Cory Booker. I was on
the senate floor today when senator booker took the oath of office. It was
certainly an historic moment and congratulations. Go out to the people of
KORNACKI: And, Hillary, what would you say, if we`re looking at that
disconnect that we`re talking about, what is the key for, let`s say, an
African-American politician right now, maybe who is a member of congress,
maybe who is a state legislator, who is looking to make that jump to the
state-wide level to run for the senate or to run for governor, because we
say the track record for African-American at the gubernatorial level
really no different than the senatorial level.
What is the advice to a candidate? How do you sort of break through
and what needs to change to make those candidates more viable in the eyes
of sort of the political establishment?
HILARY SHELTON, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR ADVOCACY OF POLICY FOR THE
NAACP: Well, the opportunity to bring forth their ideas. One of the
biggest challenges in times gone by is that we didn`t have a lot of the new
media that we have now. Keep resignating your ideas. Bring them forward.
Recognize the obstacles that are still there and continue to work to make
sure they don`t prevent you from getting your message out, getting on to
the field and see what the role of government actually is.
One of the biggest challenges is we watch democrats versus republicans
and versus other, against what the role of government and what the American
people expect first of that role, and then secondly, of those that will
serve them in these elected offices across the country.
KORNACKI: You know, something else I wonder, if we`re sort of going
through and living through almost a turning point here. I can think of,
when the voting rights act was enacted and when the majority and minority
districts were created, there was sort of a proliferation of African-
American representation in the house.
I think there were a lot of the members who were elected back then,
you think of like Charlie Rangel from New York, who never thought of trying
to move up and never thought of trying to run Statewide. They thought,
instead, of making their life in the house. I`m going to be here for ten
terms, for 20 terms. I`m going to chair a major committee. I`m going to
build up a seniority.
You know, Mayor Brown, do you think the ambition now of the new
generation, sort of, of African-Americans in congress, do you think the
ambition now is less inside the institution and more about, "Hey, I want to
become a senator. I want to become a governor. I want to go national."
FMR. MAYOR BROWN: Absolutely. I think Cory Booker`s success
evidences that. There have been other occasions when persons have tried
it. Harold Ford tried it in Tennessee. He didn`t quite make it. And,
there will be others who will follow that lead, and they will be doing
something other than insider politics. The political parties, however,
must embrace the concept in order for that person to win.
KORNACKI: And, Congressman Butterfield, maybe you can elaborate on
that point. So, that the political parties must embrace the concept. How
far along do you think the Democratic Party is -- Republican for that
matter -- but how far along do you think the political parties are in
embracing that concept?
BUTTERFIELD: Well, certainly, the Democratic Party is the party of
choice for African-Americans. African-Americans are not blindly loyal to
the Democratic Party. We support the Democratic Party because the
Democratic Party has a progressive agenda.
But, talking about the 1965 voting rights act, that law was enacted,
first of all, because of the literacy test. And, once we got rid of the
literacy test, and African-Americans began to register to vote in large
numbers. But, because of racially depolarized voting, particularly all the
-- African-American candidates had difficulty getting elected. And, so,
the voting rights act was enforced, and all suits were filed all across the
south and because of that, we now have minority districts and now African-
Americans are serving in the congress.
KORNACKI: All right. I want to thank former mayor of San Francisco,
Willie Brown, Hilary Shelton from the NAACP, and Congressman G.K.
Butterfield of North Carolina. Thanks for joining us tonight. And, that
is "All In" for this evening. Chris will be back tomorrow. You can catch
my show, "Up With Steve Kornacki," weekends at 8:00 a.m. eastern time.
"Rachel Maddow" show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Steve. I love it every time
you host anybody`s show. It`s great to have you on at prime-time.
KORNACKI: Thank you. It is a nice thing to say.
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