THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: October 30, 2013
Guest: Harry Reid
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for staying with
us for this hour. If things look slightly different around here, it`s
because I`m in Washington tonight. I`m here because I have the opportunity
today to sit down for an interview with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
So, on this show tonight, you`re going to hear Senator Harry Reid talk
about the government shutdown standoff that he won against the Republicans,
what he took away from that fight and what he thinks comes next. And
you`ll hear him talk about the landmark gay rights move that he`s about to
make in the Senate. And you will hear him explain why he wants Ted Cruz to
be the Republican nominee for president in 2016. He was quite adamant
about it. So, all that is coming up.
Also, I should tell you that Senator Rand Paul has finally responded
to our reporting over the last two nights that he has just been reading
whole sections ripped directly out of Wikipedia in some recent speeches.
Rand Paul has responded, not directly to us, but he has responded
publicly in a totally inexplicable way. So, that`s ahead.
But we begin tonight with news from Boston. This is Faneuil Hall in
Boston. It is, as you can see, a very fancy place. It`s named for this
handsome devil, Peter Faneuil, who paid to build it in the 1700s. This
hall has been used as a meeting place since 1742. Some of the planning for
the Revolutionary War happened at Faneuil Hall.
Faneuil Hall in Boston is a place you choose to make an announcement
if your announcement is big, historic, first time it`s happened in the
history of the nation kind of announcement. And it was in this room on
April 12th, 2006, that the then governor of Massachusetts, Willard Mitt
Romney sat down to sign his first in the nation health reform law that
brought universal health care in Massachusetts -- nothing like it existed
in the country back then.
But Republican Mitt Romney and the late Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy
and a bunch of other folks from the state worked very, very hard to craft a
law that made universal coverage possible in the great state of
Massachusetts. Governor Romney signed that law publicly with a big grin on
his face back in Faneuil Hall back in 2006.
Well, today, President Obama returned to that very room to talk about
his signature health care law, which is based on what Massachusetts did
that worked so well in that stat the president was introduced by Mitt
Romney`s successor in Massachusetts, Governor Duval Patrick, and both the
president and his friend, Governor Patrick, talked about what can go wrong,
what has gone wrong, when you try to start a big program like health care
for everybody in your state or in your country. They talked about what
goes wrong with the initial rollout, especially at the beginning, what goes
wrong and how that stuff can get fixed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: But our launch seven years ago
was not flawless. We asked an IT staffer who has been at our connecter
since the beginning, what the start-up was like, and this is what he said
and I`m quoting, "We didn`t have a complicated eligibility process back
then, but we did have outages caused by traffic piece. We experienced some
issues with data mapping, of planned detail that the carriers called us on.
Our provider searches were not good, and the Web site was a constant work
in progress over the first few years, but other than that it was smooth."
So, we started out with a Web site that needed work. We had a lot of
people with a lot of reasonable questions and not a good enough way to get
them the answers.
But people were patient. We had good leadership. And that same
coalition stuck with it and with us to work through the fixes, tech surge,
By every reasonable measure, it has been a success for us here in the
commonwealth of Massachusetts.
How do we know? How do we know? Virtually every resident in the
commonwealth is insured today.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, health care reform
in this state was a success. That doesn`t mean it was perfect right away.
There were early problems to solve. As Deval just said, enrollment was
extremely slow. Within a month, only about 100 people had signed up, 100.
But then 2000 had signed up, and then a few more thousand after that.
And by the end of the year, 36,000 people had signed up. And the community
all came together.
You even had the Red Sox helping people to get them covered. And
pretty soon, the number of young uninsured people had plummeted.
Unfortunately, there are others that are so locked in to the politics
of this thing that they won`t lift a finger to help their own people. And
that`s leaving millions of Americans uninsured unnecessarily. That`s a
Because if they put as much energy into making this law work, as they
do in attacking the law, Americans would be better off. Americans would be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What the president is talking about there when he says that
the Boston Red Sox helped to enlist people to get them to sign up for
health insurance is this ad campaign that you see part up here. This Red
Sox-focused ads aired in Massachusetts after Mitt Romney`s health reform
law went into effect.
The ads informed people about the law, touted its benefits encouraged
people to sign up for health insurance. In Massachusetts, everybody loves
the Red Sox, so if you have a big civic-minded thing that everybody needs
to know about, it`s a no-brainer to ask the Red Sox to help spread the
word. It worked in Massachusetts.
And therefore, it cannot be allowed to work for the country. When NFL
teams were maybe considering doing a similar civic-minded thing to spread
the word about national health reform after it passed at the national
level, Republican Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Cornyn of
Texas wrote a letter to the NFL threatening them that they better do no
such thing. And so, the NFL, tough guys that they are, backed out.
So that way of spreading the word, which worked when the Red Sox did
it in Massachusetts, was successfully kyboshed by Republicans for the
And that extends too, to the bipartisan support that Democrats offered
Republican Mitt Romney in Massachusetts when he started implementation of
health reform in his state. Whatever the opposite of bipartisan support
is, that`s what President Obama, of course, is getting from Republicans at
the national level. They want nothing to do with it.
For his part, Mitt Romney felt it was necessary to issue a statement
today on the occasion of the president`s speech saying for the record, that
he, Mitt Romney, never intended that the law in Massachusetts should be
used as a model for the nation. That was never what he wanted. He said in
his statement today, quote, "Nothing has changed my view that the plan
crafted to fit the needs of a single state should not be grafted onto the
Nothing can change that view for Mitt Romney. He says he has always
believed that Massachusetts should not be a model for the nation. He has
always believed that, Mitt Romney says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a model that
worked. One state in America, my state, was able to put in place a plan
that got everybody health insurance. The right way to proceed is to reform
health care, that we can do, as we did it in Massachusetts, we can do it
for the nation. We can get everybody insured. We can get the cost of
health care down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you insure the 45 or 50 million Americans
who are not on the books?
ROMNEY: Well, that`s what we did in Massachusetts. And that is we
put it together on the exchange, the president is copying the idea. I`m
glad to hear that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now, Mitt Romney insists he didn`t mean any of that. He
insists that he never said the Massachusetts plan should be copied at the
And that kind of insistence in spite of the fact is may be partly why
he is not president.
Shutting down the government to repeal Obamacare proved to be a real
debacle for the Republican Party. They got nothing out of it. They were
not able to repeal Obamacare or defund it or weaken it in anyway. Since
that shutdown debacle, Republicans have tried to change tactics by holding
hearings, demanding answers on why the law doesn`t work better for more
Which is a great question, why is the law not working better? Why are
lots of problems with the Web site? Why are people getting conflicting
information? All good questions.
But it is weird at a base level that those questions are being posed
by the same group of people who shut down the government trying to get rid
of the law altogether. If you hate it so much, why do you care whether or
not it works?
Today, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius
testified before a Republican House Committee on problems with the rollout
of the health care law. One Republican congressman told her that she was
not in Kansas anymore. Another told her, he thought he saw her riding her
bike in Kansas when she was a child. It was a weird hearing. At one
point, the secretary just said whatever in exasperation, in the middle of
an answer at a particularly badgering nonsense moment with a Republican
member of Congress.
The Republican plan on health care was to pretend like it was not the
law. Then it was to shut down the government to demand that it not be the
law. Now, the plan is maybe sort of trying to make it better, at least
demanding that it be better and demanding answers for why it isn`t better
When the problems with Obamacare start to be resolved as they were in
Massachusetts when that state`s law rolled into effect over a period of
months and years, when the problems with this law nationally start to
settle out and the thing starts to work, then what should we expect from
The success of the Massachusetts plan in his own state, totally
politically flummoxed, Mitt Romney, as governor of Massachusetts and as a
candidate for president. He never figured out what to say about it. He
never figured out how to deal with the success of that problem. He is
still therefore lying about it today in really embarrassing, easy to
If Obamacare, if the Affordable Care Act is similarly successful to
what happened in Massachusetts, how are Republicans nationally going to
deal with that? What on earth are they going to say?
MADDOW: Today, 27 Republican senators apologized for not wrecking the
world economy. They voted to say that they wish they had wrecked it.
These are the people that Harry Reid works with on a daily basis. My
exclusive interview with Harry Reid is coming up next.
Plus, I need to tell you that Senator Rand Paul has finally responded,
kind of, to our reporting from the last two nights on Senator Paul
plagiarizing some of his recent speeches. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: When Congress finally voted to reopen the government after a
16-day shutdown, that cost the economy in excess of $20 billion. But
Congress finally voted to reopen the government after 16 days, they voted
also not to hit the debt ceiling on the very last day that it was possible
to avoid hitting it.
And the official history of what happened in Washington that night
they took those votes is that the adults in the Republican Party finally
took over, right? The moderates -- can we call them moderates? -- the
Republicans who at least decided not to self-inflict a nationwide and
potentially a world-wide economic catastrophe were allowed to cast their
votes accordingly. And so, those votes were taken and we did not default
on our debt and the catastrophe was avoided.
We avoided that catastrophically destructive act because at least some
people in the Republican Party were sane enough to know that they had to
cast that vote.
Now, somebody is going to have to rewrite that official history,
because now all the Republican senators who voted not to crash the world
economy have disavowed their votes, all at once, all 27 Republicans who
voted with Democrats who say, we shouldn`t hit the debt ceiling and
default, all of 27 of them have now cast another vote saying they
disapprove of how they themselves voted on that earlier measure. They cast
a resolution of disapproval of what they themselves did. They`re against
that thing they voted for two weeks after the shutdown, two weeks after
that vote to not hit the debt ceiling, which Republicans apparently now
I asked Senator Harry Reid what happened during the shutdown, why he
decided not to give the Republicans an inch, and whether we are just going
to have another shutdown fight again, sometime soon. Watch this -- watch
what he says about these things, but also, watch who he nominates for
president here. Check it out.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: My disappointment in all of
this is not the 80 or 90 people that are -- who live in some other
political world that I don`t understand. But my disappointment is the so-
called "moderates" who went along with this, vote after vote after vote.
These people voted to terminate Obamacare 45 times.
And as Einstein said this, the pure definite of insanity is somebody
who does something over and over again and expects a different result. So,
that was my number one concern, is that these so-called moderate
Republicans went along with this crazy stuff.
MADDOW: I don`t know that any Republicans would allow themselves to
become moderate anymore, it`s become such --
REID: Sad but true.
MADDOW: So, what`s going to happen in January and February? Do you
think we`ll be back on the verge of a shutdown or a debt ceiling collapse
REID: The Republican Party is staggering right now. Any poll -- have
Rush Limbaugh run a poll. I didn`t know who did the poll. This has really
hurt Republicans what they`ve done. What they -- in the past, they have
offended African-Americans. Now, it`s Hispanics, it`s Asians, it`s women,
the LBG -- gay and lesbian community and others, in fairness. That wasn`t
good enough. And then, they took after the poor lately, and cutting food
stamps by $40 billion.
They`re going after everybody. The Republican Party is staggering. I
don`t know who they can expect to have a vote for them. I don`t see it.
MADDOW: Coming out of the shutdown --
REID: So, they`re not going to do it again is what I`m saying.
MADDOW: Out of the shutdown, obviously, Ted Cruz made a lot of money
in that process. Senator Cruz was able to lead in a way that attracted a
lot of attention to him, made him a household name and raised a lot of
money for his PAC and associated outside groups that he is with.
I don`t know that that increases his power within the Senate, but it
certainly, I think, brightened his political prospects. Other than that,
it seems like the only person who emerged from that whole crisis, having
accrued political capital, in part because you won, but in part because of
the strategy that you pursued -- is you. It seems like you have more
political capital now after that shutdown because of what you did.
Does it feel that way to you?
REID: Well, Ted Cruz, he`s someone else (IANUDIBLE) -- I`m not going
to say what that is because I really don`t know. But with Ted Cruz, I am
sure this will help him raise more money. If I didn`t care so much about
our country, I would hope he will get the Republican nomination for
president, because that would be the end of the Republican Party.
MADDOW: In what sense?
REID: He stands for everything America doesn`t.
MADDOW: I have to ask you about -- while we`re talking about senators
on the other side of the aisle, Tom Coburn, at a fundraiser in New York
this week, cursed your name. Called you an absolute thing I can`t say on
I`m -- I mean, you`re a guy who`s used un-politically correct language
before in sharp terms to criticize people you disagreed with before, but I
got to ask you, what`s going on with Tom Coburn?
REID: I don`t know. I`m sure he didn`t mean it.
He`d said that he wanted to meet with you, thereafter. Has that
REID: We had a meeting. It`s all over with.
MADDOW: Senator Harry Reid, speaking with me at the U.S. Capitol
Here is the thing about interviewing Harry Reid in person -- for being
the head of the Senate, he does not appear on TV all that often. I`m not
sure if he likes being on camera all that much. I didn`t ask him, but I
get that sense.
But when you are with him in person and he tells you, we have had a
meeting, it`s all over with. It`s different than it feels on camera. It
reminds you that however soft-spoken he seems on camera, in person, he kind
of seems like an ex-boxer from a Wild West town in Nevada. He seems like
the head of a former gaming commission who the mob tried to blow up with
the car bomb in the `70s.
"The New Yorker" profile of him from right before he became majority
leader kind of tried to warn about this side of him that might not be
immediately from people -- to people who know him from Washington. When
harry Reid took over the gaming commission in Nevada in 1977, quote,
"Organized crime was investing in Las Vegas, and for four years, Harry Reid
confronted guys like Tony the Ant Splietro, who had been sent to Vegas by a
Chicago branch of Las Cosa Nostra. Tony the Ant was known for killing
victims by squeezing their heads in a vise. In 1979, Harry Reid personally
banned Tony the Ant from all Vegas casinos."
Another time, a guy tried to bribe Harry Reid to approve a new type of
gaming device, quote, "Reid reported the attempted bribe to the FBI and
arranged a meeting with the guy in his office. By agreement, the FBI
agents burst in to arrest the guy at the point where Harry Reid asked, is
this the money?
But although he was taking part in a sting, Harry Reid was unable to
control his temper. The videotape shows him getting up from his chair and
saying, you son of a beep, you tried to bribe me. And then Harry Reid, on
tape, with the FBI storming in, attempts to choke the guy. The startled
FBI agent pulled him off."
The guy got six months in prison. The guy then later married Latoya
Jackson, seriously. Not kidding. But Harry Reid went on to be majority
leader of the United States Senate.
We`ve got more of my interview with Harry Reid coming up today,
including what he thinks about Cory Booker, who is to be sworn in to the
U.S. Senate tomorrow.
But when you see Harry Reid talking about like, you know, Tom Coburn
cursing him out, there is something about the way he talks in person about
confrontation and intimidation that is different in person than it is on
camera. You have to trust me. It makes you remember where he comes from.
We`ve got more ahead.
TV ANCHOR: That must be music to the ears of Frank Sinatra who says
he may eventually open a hotel casino now in Las Vegas, now that he once
again has a Nevada gaming license. The license was granted at a state
hearing of the gaming commission.
Rick Davis has that story.
RICK DAVIS, REPORTER: After Frank Sinatra got the approval of the
board last week, few doubted he would get his gambling license. But the
gaming commission went through the motions, there were questions about a
statement by mafia hit man Jimmy Fratiano (ph). And a Sinatra aide asked
him to break the legs of one of the singer`s enemies. That aide, Jilly
Rizzo, told the commission it never happened.
Sinatra was asked about alleged connections with organized crime,
including reports that he carried $2 million to Lucky Luciano in 1947.
REID: Nothing more than what you told the board --
FRANK SINATRA: I never gave Mr. Luciano anything. I shook hands with
him in a dining room in a hotel in Nevada.
DAVIS: Commission Chairman Harry Reid said a few weeks ago he would
have voted against Sinatra, but has changed his mind.
REID: After having learned to know about you as a person, I`m now a
DAVIS: After that, the commission granted Sinatra a permanent
license. Agreeing with his lawyers that the stories about him were rumors
and innuendos spread by the news media.
Sinatra had few words for the media.
SINATRA: I`m not talking about it (ph), except I`m very happy it is
DAVIS: Rick Davis, NBC News.
MADDOW: Right now, federal law prohibits discrimination in employment
on the basis of race, color, sex, nationality, religion, disability or age.
To hire people at your business in the United States of America, you cannot
hang up a shingle that says, "old people need not apply" or "Jews may not
apply" or "Irish need not apply". You can`t do that.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act" would add sexual orientation
and sexual identity to that long list of categories on which you cannot
discriminate. Heading into this week, there were three Democrats out of
the 55 in the Senate who were not on board with that anti-discrimination
legislation. For whatever reason, as of the start of this week, Senators
Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Bill Nelson of
Florida have not said they supported this discrimination bill, all as of a
few days ago.
But then, once Senator Harry Reid said he would be putting that bill
up for a vote between now and Thanksgiving, all the three hold-out
Democratic senators decided they were going to get onboard. So, now, all
of the Democrats in the Senate support that non-discrimination bill. And
when new Senator-elect Cory Booker gets sworn in tomorrow morning, that
means there will be 55 Democrats who will all vote yes on that anti-
And 55 out of a hundred, do the math, is a clear majority. But
Republicans are going to filibuster this bill, make it take 60 votes
instead of 50. And so, even though the Democrats have 55, they need five
more votes. They need five Republicans to side with this them on this
thing if it`s going to pass.
Republican Senators Mark Kirk and Susan Collins co-sponsored the bill,
so they`re on board.
Lisa Murkowski and Orrin Hatch voted for it in committee. So, they
are also likely on board. That gets it to 59, but it`s got to be 60.
Are there any other Republicans who do not support discrimination
against gay people? Hard question to answer, it turns out.
Ohio Republican, Rob Portman, he came out in support of marriage
equality recently when he announced that his son is gay. But so far, Rob
Portman will not commit on the discrimination issue. He says he is
inclined to support the bill, but who knows?
Senator John McCain has long been thought of as a maybe on the issue,
and maybe he still is a maybe. But John McCain tried to explain his
reservations on the bill to "The Huffington Post" yesterday, and I have to
think it may somehow have not come out right. When he was asked of what
lingering concerns he had about backing the non-discrimination bill, John
McCain replied, quote, "Whether it imposes quotas, whether it has reverse
discrimination, whether it has the kinds of provisions that real preserve
equal rights for all citizens, or like for example, bussing. Bussing was
done in the name of equality. Bussing was a failure. Quotas were a
John McCain continued, "Ask people in Boston if bussing turned out to
be a good idea."
Who does he think is going to be bussed for a gay rights bill? Does
he think straight people are going to be forcibly bussed into gay
neighborhoods? Or does the gay people get bussed to the straight places
and what would that do in terms of employment non-discriminate -- does he
know that everybody already lives everywhere, and this is just a "you can`t
I don`t know if this means that John McCain should be marked down as a
no on the discrimination bill, but it is probably to safe to mark him as
confused and upset about it.
Regardless of what future may be giving him his latest bought of
agita. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that he will bring this up
for a vote and soon. And I got a chance to ask him about his strategy on
MADDOW: You announced this week that you would, before the end of
this period, so before Thanksgiving, you`d bring the Employment
Nondiscrimination Act to the floor, which would be landmark gay
legislation, which has languished for more than a decade, I think.
REID: It was 1997.
MADDOW: And you were an early supporter of it in the `90s.
REID: Why in the world should someone in modern day America be
allowed to be fired, have their employment be discriminated in any way,
against, because of their sexual orientation. They shouldn`t be. We are
calling for fairness. And so, I hope we can get this passed. I feel
comfortable we can do that.
With Cory Booker who will be here tomorrow. We feel -- the 55
Democrats, every one of them, every one of my Democrats support this
legislation. Two that didn`t came out today and they supported it. I`m
proud of both of them.
And so, I think without question we`ll get at least five Republicans
to pass this, send it to the House. If the House again has any sense, and
I hope they do, that they will pick this up and pass it.
MADDOW: Your home state, Senator, on the Republican side, Dean
Heller, is one of those Republican senators that seems to be a maybe or at
least unknown on this issue. I wondered if you had any insight just in
terms of Nevada politics and Nevada feelings on this issue, if it would be
a very hard vote for him to take it at home.
REID: Rachel, I think we`re beyond hard votes. Easy votes. This is
I mean, look around you. I`m saying that re -- look around you. I`m
saying that to all of your viewers. Why wouldn`t we do this? Why wouldn`t
we do this?
So, it has noting to do with a hard vote. It`s just the right vote.
MADDOW: If Harry Reid is right and this landmark discrimination vote
is about to pass the Senate after decades of trying, then its next stop is
the House -- where cynics think John Boehner will never let it happen, but
where gay Republicans and their friends insist something surprising might
happen this year. Lay your bets now.
MADDOW: Cory Booker, as you mentioned, is going to be sworn in here
tomorrow. He`ll be the latest addition to your Democratic caucus. As you
mentioned, there have been a high number of Democrats who came to the
Senate in recent years, people who had national profiles before they got
here. Senator Clinton, Senator Franken, Senator Warren from Massachusetts
REID: Oh, yes, she is terrific.
MADDOW: And you`re part of recruiting her to run for that seat, I
Cory Booker is another one of those high profile Democrats. I wonder
if you feel there is sort of a model for Democrats coming to the Senate and
being successful when they bring all that star power with them.
REID: You know, it is interesting to note those that come with star
power, they`re independent. Frankly, they`re a little progressive and
And the people you mentioned -- think what Hillary Clinton did. Think
what this great woman did. She was first lady from Arkansas. She moved to
New York as elected senator from New York. I still remind her of how much
courage that took.
Elizabeth Warren -- she had a job that she created for herself in the
administration. The Republicans wouldn`t give that to her. I`ll bet today
they wish they had, because she fought back.
So I think that the profile of those two women and this good man, and
for your viewers that may not know this, he is an African-American, with
stunning credentials. Stamford, bachelor`s degree, master`s degree,
student body president, tight end on the football team.
MADDOW: And a good one, yes.
REID: Rhodes scholar. Yale Law School -- what a record.
And then as mayor, this man who came from an upper middle class family
has lived in a mobile home most of the time, in part of the slums of the
north, the city he runs. That`s the kind of people we need in the Senate.
MADDOW: Senator Harry Reid today expounding with evident joy over the
latest editions to his stable of Democrats in the Senate, expounding over
Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker.
Interesting, one of our producers who flew down here today for the
Harry Reid interview was on the same Newark to Washington flight that
Senator-elect Cory Booker was on this morning, and she said it was really
an emotional moment at the airport, as his team from Newark, where he has
been mayor for seven years was there with him at the airport today to see
him off as he flew down to Washington, to be sworn in as a senator which
will happen first thing tomorrow.
As soon as he is sworn in, though, the new senator is going to find
himself tied into the Gordian Knot in that part of Congress. Tomorrow, the
first of President Obama`s nominees to this federal appeals court in
Washington is due to come up for a vote. The Republicans say they will
filibuster that nomination, not because of anything they don`t like
anything about the nominee, but just because they don`t want the president
to appoint new judges to that court. This keeps happening.
Republicans have changed Washington since Harry Reid has been the
majority leader in the Senate. They have changed Washington to make the
U.S. Senate a place where a super majority is required to do anything at
all. Not just constitutional amendments or treaties, but everything.
I interviewed Senator Reid almost three years ago exactly about that
being a problem in the Senate back then. And at a time in 2010, he seemed
quite determined to do something about it.
MADDOW: Why is it that everything takes these votes now? I mean, it
used to be 60 votes was a headline. If somebody forced 60 votes, they were
filibustering. And that meant that they were taking an unusual strong
stand against something. Now, it`s 60 votes even for routine votes.
REID: Rachel, this has to change. It`s wrong what they`re doing
because it`s never happened before.
REID: It reminds kind of this spitball in baseball. That used to be
legal. They abused it. They got rid of it.
The Republicans just this time have abused the system and it`s going
to have to change. We`re going to have to look at ways to change it,
because there should not be 60 votes in the Senate.
MADDOW: So, would you -- you would support efforts to change the
rules around the filibuster so that there won`t be 60 votes threshold for
REID: Well, that`s right. Not for every vote. We`re going to have
to change some of the rules. I know how to do it and we`re going to take a
hard look at. They have abused this rule, just like the spitball.
You can`t have 60 votes being the vote of the day. It`s never been
that way before.
MADDOW: Well, today in Washington, all the hubbub was about the
health reform hearing that we talked about at the top of the show. But
honestly, there is no real drama there. There`s no real suspense.
Everybody knows how that turns out, right?
Health reform keeps plugging away, Republicans keep complaining about
it, eventually, more people have health insurance and that turns out to be
not such a terrible thing and then Republicans move on to something else
that lets them call the president a communist. We know how that one goes.
There`s no drama about health care, there`s no suspense, even with a big
noisy hearing today and I`m sure more to come.
The drama in Washington right now, the suspense is whether or not the
president is allowed to appoint federal judges anymore, judges to whom no
one has any substantive objection. And the reason there is drama and
suspense about that right now, is because despite what Senator Reid seemed
to be leaning towards three years ago, Republicans, still, in the Senate,
used something called the filibuster to rule from the minority in a
historically unprecedented way.
Here is what Senator Reid said that about that today, and watch his
last line here.
MADDOW: You and I spoke right before your re-election in 2010. We
spoke in Nevada about Republicans making filibuster a standard in doing
business in the Senate. And you said at a time that that -- that
filibuster rules had to be changed because the senators on the Republican
side were abusing it. Do you regret having not changed the rule yet?
REID: No, we have changed quite a bit. I commented on it on the
floor today. For example, when we at cloture on a non-cabinet spot or non-
circuit judge, they only have eight hours, four of which is ours that, we
get rid of four of them real quickly, and still have the 30 hours. We have
done a number of things to streamline things.
Now, have we done enough? Time will only tell. But we have made
MADDOW: Do you think that it is becoming -- because the standoff over
the nominations keep happening, do you feel like the threat over that the
filibuster could actually be done away with, has become kind of an empty
threat? Is it --
REID: Well, I don`t think so, because we got things done as a result
of that. And I would just indicate how things have changed. And we talked
about that. It failed last time, 49 to 50. Not 60 to 40.
We didn`t -- this is something the Republicans have invented. We
didn`t -- there was no filibuster of everything. So things have changed.
Lyndon Johnson, majority leader for six years. I have been the
majority leader now for six and a half years, or thereabouts. He had one
filibuster he had to overcome. I am now up to about 430 or 440.
MADDOW: Don`t you want to undo that? I mean, if there --
REID: We --
MADDOW: You`ve streamlined the process.
REID: Rachel, we`ve changed things. And time will only tell whether
there will be changes more.
REID: Stay tuned.
MADDOW: Stay tuned.
Senator Harry Reid today promising that taking away the filibuster in
the Senate is still on the table, which, of course, would change the
dynamics of power in Congress quite dramatically.
There`s more from my interview with Senator Reid at Maddowblog.com
tonight, including the senator`s take on whether or the NSA is essentially
an out-of-control agency that is not adequately overseen by Congress.
Also, Senator Reid`s answer to this question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I wonder if you took that all personally, that they want to
bring the whole Republican Party sort of in your face in the middle of your
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The senator`s answer to the Republican Party wanting its next
presidential nominating convention in Las Vegas next time when he is
running for re-election, that answer and much more posted at Maddowblog.com
tonight. Check it out.
And in the meantime, Senator Rand Paul has finally responded to our
reporting that he has been plagiarizing his speeches off Wikipedia. In his
response, he calls me names, and does not seem to understand what the word
plagiarism means. But other than that, it`s pretty interesting. And
that`s straight ahead.
MADDOW: Six days until the off-off year elections around the country,
and the Republican nominee to be the next lieutenant governor of Virginia,
is this man -- the chaplain from Chesapeake, Bishop E.W. Jackson. He is
known for being a fiery anti-gay, anti-Muslim preacher, who says that
Democrats are anti-God.
In the latest "Washington Post" poll, Bishop Jackson is trailing his
Democratic opponent by 13 points, with less than a week ago before the
Here is what happened tonight when E.W. Jackson appeared on D.C.`s CBS
affiliate WUSA. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BISHOP E.W. JACKSON (R), VA LT. GOV. CANDIDATE: Probably most of what
they hear, the mainstream media, from my opponent, is not true.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Fine enough.
Let`s ask you -- did you say that gay people live a sick lifestyle,
that they`re sick people?
JACKSON: Never said that. What I`ve said is I think that the
movement, the effort to change the culture is an effort to pervert things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Never said that.
E.W. Jackson saying he never said that gay people are sick people
roughly a year ago. Here, in fact, is E.W. Jackson saying exactly that
roughly a year ago.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JACKSON: Their minds are perverted. They`re frankly very sick people
psychologically, and mentally and emotionally. And they see everything
through the lens of homosexually. When they talk about love, they`re not
talking about love. They`re talking about homosexual sex.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. So, E.W. Jackson did say that gay people were sick
thing, that he tonight denied saying.
Anything else we should clear up, sir?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me put this to you, Reverend. You said that
the U.S. Armed Forces are going to be punished by God because of the end of
`Don`t Ask --
JACKSON: Never said that. That`s absolutely, categorically not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Categorically on tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: How can we expect our military to be blessed by the hand of
Almighty God if we allow our military to become the equivalent of Sodom and
Gomorrah? I`ll tell you something -- God is not pleased.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Six days to go, and Virginia Republicans last minute plans
for this election appeared to try to convince that they have not said
things that they have said on tape.
I love this election. I have always loved this election more than all
the other elections. I will admit.
Virginia, I love you.
All right. Rand Paul response to our report of his plagiarized
speeches on tape, coming up next.
MADDOW: Rand Paul speaks.
Here`s the big headline tonight on "The New York Times" Web site.
This is just posted within the last hour.
"Senator Rand Paul is accused of plagiarizing his lines from
On Monday night, we reported on this show that a speech that Senator
Paul gave at Liberty University in Virginia appeared to have been partly
plagiarized. Senator Paul spoke at length in that speech about a movie
called "Gattaca". And his descriptions of the movie were lifted basically
verbatim from the Wikipedia entry about that movie.
The senator did not attribute his remarks to Wikipedia. He just
lifted whole passages from the Web site and said them out loud as if they
were his own words.
Rand Paul gave the "Gattaca" Wikipedia entry speech Monday. And we
reported that exclusively here on Monday night.
Then, on Tuesday, yesterday, "BuzzFeed" reported that Senator Paul did
the same thing with another movie. The movie called "Stand and Deliver."
He spoke about that movie in a speech earlier this year, and again, he just
plagiarized the Wikipedia entry about the movie. "BuzzFeed" found that bit
of plagiarism in the speech that Rand Paul gave in June of this year.
Last night, we reported that Senator Paul also plagiarized that same
"Stand and Deliver" Wikipedia entry in a speech that gave a few months
earlier, in March.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: The Wikipedia entry for "Stand and Deliver" describes the
main plot of the film this way. Quote, "In the area of East Los Angeles,
California, in 1982, in an environment that values a quick fix over
education and learning, Jaime Escalante is a new teacher at Garfield High
School." That`s Wikipedia.
Here is Rand Paul.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: In the area of East L.A., in 1982, in
an environment that values a quick fix on education over learning,
Escalante was a new math teacher at Garfield high school.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Two clear cases of plagiarism from a sitting U.S. senator in
two high profile speeches. Rand Paul is not just any U.S. senator though.
He is a senator who wants to be president. Plagiarism scandals have dogged
presidential candidates before. Notably, Joe Biden in 1988, and it took
him a decade or more to recover. This sort thing has happened before in
recent American history, and it has real consequences for years and years
when they do stuff like this.
For two days now, Senator Paul and his office responded to this
evidence of plagiarism by basically not responding at all. The senator
would not talk to us. He would not talk to his hometown paper. He would
not talk to various news outlets that tried to get a comment from him on
this, some sort of explanation. He just didn`t want to talk about it.
But tonight, Jorge Ramos has arrived. Jorge Ramos comes to the
rescue. Senator Paul sat down for an interview today with Jorge Ramos of
Fusion TV. Mr. Ramos in the interview, he asked about the instances of
plagiarism. He put the charges to him.
Now, I`m going to show you the entire exchange here in just a second.
But before I do, I have to say it seems to me what`s going on in the
exchange is that Rand Paul maybe does not understand what plagiarism is,
and that is an unexpected thing, but judge for yourself.
Here is Senator Paul`s response in its entirety.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORGE RAMOS, FUSION TV: As a journalist, I have to ask you this
question. MSNBC accused you of plagiarism on one day. They accused you of
stealing four lines from Wikipedia for your speech at Liberty University.
So, is this true? I mean, they`re saying that you, borrow lines from
Wikipedia entry about the movie "Gattaca". So what happened?
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Yes, we did.
RAMOS: You did?
PAUL: Well, we, we borrowed the plot lines from "Gattaca". It`s a
movie. And I gave credit to the people who wrote the movie.
I also borrowed lines from Ray Bradbury and gave him credit as well.
I think they`re arguing about whether things are properly footnoted.
And there are technicalities to this, but nothing I said was not given
attribution to where it came from.
I talked about a movie, "Gattaca". It is a copyrighted movie by the
screenwriters. I gave every bit of credit to where that plot line came
The rest of it is making a mountain out of a mole hill from people, I
think basically who are political enemies and have an ax to grind.
RAMOS: Well, because it seems that it is not the first time. The Web
site "BuzzFeed", they said that you borrowed several lines from Wikipedia
for a speech in June to a Latino organization --
PAUL: I think once again. I think once again.
RAMOS: The movie "Stand and Deliver".
PAUL: And once again, it`s a disagreement on how you footnote things.
I think people footnote things different in an academic paper than they do
in a public speech. But if we were to present any speeches for publication
that have footnotes. But a lot of times the speech, people don`t take the
time to footnote things.
But I think it was very clear that the plot line was not something I
created. I didn`t claim that I created the movie "Gattaca". That`s what`s
absurd about this. The plot line from "Gattaca" belongs to one person, the
guy, the screenwriter. I gave him credit for that.
So, it`s kind of ridiculous to sort of say, you know, you didn`t do
proper footnotes. It`s making a mountain out of a mole hill.
RAMOS: Do you write your own speeches, Senator? Or is someone else
help you with that?
PAUL: A lot of people participate in writing the speeches. So,
they`re not really attributable to one person. But the thing is, is that
if you look at any of my speeches, there`s never been any indication that
I`m trying to take credit for some one else`s work. So, really this is --
really about information and attacks coming from haters.
The person who is leading this attack, she`s been spreading hate on me
for about three years now. I don`t intend for it to go away, but also I
don`t see her as an objective news source.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator, you can call me whatever names you want to. Trust
me, I have been called worse.
This is not a personal thing for me at all. I feel no emotion abut
this. And I do not hate you, nor have I ever tried to spread hate on you.
And I`m sorry you feel that way.
But also, you didn`t borrow plot lines from these movies. You read
the Wikipedia page out loud.
The point is that you seem to have a frequent habit of plagiarizing
part of your speeches. And perhaps that is explained by the fact that you
do not understand what plagiarism means. I mean, nobody is accusing you of
pretending that you wrote "Gattaca" or that you wrote "Stand and Deliver".
That is not what this is about.
This is not about you explaining a plot line. This is about you
lifting other people`s words verbatim and pretending that they are your
own. This is about you lifting entire sections of a Web site, inserting
them in your speeches and passing them off as your own original thoughts.
This is something that high school students know not to do. And you
are presenting yourself as potential candidate for president. It has
nothing to do with me.
You heard Senator Paul there say, quote, "Nothing I said was not given
attribution to where it came from." That is absolute and provably not
Senator, somebody else`s published word ended up in your speech
without attribution. How did that happen? Do you understand that that is
I`m grateful for Jorge Ramos at the Fusion that Senator Rand Paul has
finally been forced to respond to this plagiarism tonight given his
absolute incoherence in his explanation. I have a feeling this may not be
the end of it, though.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Have a great night.
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