All In With Chris Hayes, Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
January 21, 2014
Guests: Julian Walker, Krystal Ball, Jess Mcintosh, Jim Moore
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
Well, it has been a rough, rough day for the two former futures of the
Four years ago, this week, Chris Christie in New Jersey and Bob
McDonnell of Virginia took the oaths of office to become the governors of
their respective states -- and in doing so, assumed the positions as the
best candidates to lead the Republican Party out of one of its darkest
It was just a year after President Obama had taken his oath of office,
President Barack Hussein Obama of Jeremiah Wright fame, of palling around
with terrorist fame, the first black, possibly Muslim, possibly socialist
president, who had kicked the Republican butts in 2009, left them wondering
why America had abandoned them and if they could ever win again.
So, here with these two men, different as could be, one from the
north, one from the south, one a real Christian conservative hard charger,
the other a classic Northeastern straight-talking moderate Republican.
Both rising stars in the party, one asked to deliver the Republican
response to the State of the Union a couple weeks later. The other,
already being talked about for a presidential run, asked to deliver the
keynote address at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Today, one of those governors has been indicted, while the other is
lawyering up in hopes to avoid a similar fate amidst a growing cloud of
It was Bob McDonnell, now the former governor of Virginia, indicted
today, along with his wife on corruption charges, by U.S. attorney of
Virginia. We will be getting into the absolutely incredible details of
that indictment shortly. They include two Oscar de la Renta dresses, an
engraved Rolex, a picture of the governor driving a rich dude`s Ferrari,
and the first lady of the state of Virginia allegedly discussing the
possibility of conducting tests of an experimental nutritional supplement
on state employees. All of that is ahead.
But first, and to the north, in snowy New Jersey, that other governor
in the class of 2010, went before the state to deliver his second inaugural
speech, and tried to focus on anything but the George Washington Bridge or
new allegations from the mayor of Hoboken.
HAYES (voice-over): The inauguration of the 55th governor of New
Jersey was supposed to be yet another opportunity for Chris Christie to
introduce himself to a national audience.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Governor.
HAYES: The undeclared launch of his 2016 presidential campaign.
Instead, Christie`s coming out party took place under a cloud of
scandal and suspicion. The big question, how was the Christie
administration going to handle it all?
Today, they tested out a new strategy. They simply ignored it. Yep,
that was Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, relatively obscure Jersey
politico, who isn`t so obscure anymore.
MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER (D), HOBOKEN, NJ: The fact is that the lieutenant
governor came to Hoboken, she pulled me aside in the parking lot, and she
said, "I know it`s not right, I know this thing should not be connected,
but they are, and if you tell anyone, I`ll deny it."
HAYES: Following in the footsteps of Guadagno, who has denied any
wrongdoing, Christie himself, who also denied any wrongdoing, also
pretended like nothing happened. Sticking the script of the Republican who
won in a blue state, he delivered a speech that could have been written on
election night, 77 days ago.
CHRISTIE: Each one of these challenges have been met by a new,
unified force in public life, a New Jersey setting tone for an entire
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: The mayor of Fort Lee, who you just saw
there, is not Serbian. He`s Croatian. But Chris Christie`s political
appointee at the Port Authority did refer to him as, quote, "this little
CHRISTIE: A New Jersey that has put aside political partisanship on
the important issues to our people.
MAYOR MARK SOKOLICH (D), FORT LEE, NJ: Who would close down lanes to
the busiest bridge in the world to get to me? I`m embarrassed for the
entire state of New Jersey, because it just sets is us back and we`re
guaranteed to be the brunt of the next 50 years of political jokes, and
quite frankly, after this behavior, we deserve it.
MADDOW: David Wildstein responds, quote, "They are the children of
Buono voters," meaning Barbara Buono.
HAYES: Of course, no Christie speech is complete without a good old
fashion appeal to getting stuff done.
CHRISTIE: There are times we need to get along and just get things
ZIMMER: I know that the Christie administration is connecting the
Sandy funds to this Rockefeller project.
The lieutenant governor came and very directly said to me that these
two things are connected.
She delivers a very clear message.
Don`t forget, when the lieutenant governor of the state of New Jersey
pulls you aside in a parking lot --
HAYES: And then there was Sandy.
CHRISTIE: We have survived the worst natural disaster in our state`s
history and we have worked together to restore, renew, and rebuild the
state that we love.
HAYES: But the storm that helped make Christie`s national profile --
CHRISTIE: I will govern with the spirit of Sandy.
HAYES: -- now threatens to bring him down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is black and white. And if it is found
that this happened, lights out.
HAYES: Today, Chris Christie gave a good, if not great, political
performance. But there`s now a U.S. attorney looking into possible
criminal behavior from the administration and 20 outstanding subpoenas from
the New Jersey assembly, targeting almost everyone in the governor`s inner
At this moment, politics is the least of Chris Christie`s worries.
HAYES: Joining me now: MSNBC contributor Joy Reid, also managing
editor of thegrio.com, and Sam Stein, political editor for the "Huffington
Joy, if you are in the Christie circle right now --
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
HAYES: What -- how are you managing this? No, seriously. If you`re
working for Christie, you`ve been probably subpoenaed by the
supercommittee. You`ve got a job to do, which is had this guy run a state,
and you`re going around to try to raise money, if you`re part of his inner
circle with the RGA.
Like, how -- where are you prioritizing what should come first?
REID: I think, probably, first, you`re probably doing a lot of
rocking back and forth. A lot of turgid phone calls to Rudy Giuliani,
because he is, at this point, your only character reference --
HAYES: He is out there swinging the bat for you.
REID: A dubious character reference (ph), and at that, trying to get
Rick Scott to be seen with you.
HAYES: Well, in Rudy Giuliani`s defense, he was also a character
witness for Bernie Kerik. So --
REID: And they share a lawyer. They have the same attorney.
So, what the Christie team, more serious, is doing is they`re trying
to do optics. So they start off today, this morning, with a church visit
because what`s better than that for a politician, to ensconce yourself in a
rousing church ceremony. They go to New Hope Baptist Church in Newark,
which is where they funeralized Whitney Houston, for those who are
following trivia on it, and you get them surrounded by pastors, and a
Catholic priest, and a rabbi, and you have Pastor Ron Carter give a sermon
that was about the cameras working better in the dark, or something like
that. So that didn`t quite work, right?
REID: And then you try to go to the well. And that`s what you try to
do in the actual inauguration speech.
You go back to the well of bipartisanship and diversity, but the
problem is, the whole scandal is about the bipartisanship patina being
coerced -- being coerced by --
HAYES: Exactly, the bipartisanship that you had ran on wasn`t a
product of reaching across the aisle, it was a product of threat and
HAYES: And, Sam, the whole speech today, I watched today, it was like
a terrible family dinner in which some horrible event just happened in the
family`s life. Some messy divorce, allegations of infidelity, and it`s all
out in the open and someone just slams the door and says, I hate you and
I`m leaving, and then it`s like, OK, back to dinner. OK, kids, happy
HAYES: And that speech could have been knocked around by his brain
trust 100 days ago, when they`re thinking, how do we brand him as the
future of the Republican Party.
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: Oh, absolutely. It rang as it had
written two months ago and wanted to deliver it today. You know, I think
to what they`re trying to do here, they`re trying to act as if nothing has
happened, and leaving all of the bad stuff on the sidelines to be dealt
with by the lawyers.
And this whole theme of getting stuff done, there`s a by-product
benefit to it for Christie, which is that anything that distracts him from
getting stuff done could be dismissed as by partisanship. So, he can say
all these, the New Jersey assembly`s investigation into what I`m doing,
HUD`s investigation into the Sandy ads, the U.S. attorney`s investigation,
all of that is a distraction from getting stuff done, whatever ambiguous
stuff you`re talking about.
I also noticed that he was very -- he had some issues that he put out
there, the DREAM Act that he got down, he highlighted that.
STEIN: He talked about the war on drugs, which he`s done in the past,
but not in those terms before.
So, I think he`s trying to highlight those issues, not to distract
voters or turn the situation a bit away from this. But nothing`s going to
get done. No conversation will be turned until we get some very basic
HAYES: Well, there`s also the fact that the way the political capital
works is that you -- it ebbs and flows rather quickly. I think Barack
Obama has discovered that and other people have discovered that.
Here is Ken Cuccinelli, he of the recent loss to Terry McAuliffe in
Virginia, here he is earlier today, basically calling on Christie to step
down as head of the Republican Governors Association. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN JONES, CNN: You know the importance of the Republican Governors
Association. Chris Christie`s now in charge of that. Do you think it`s
fair for him to stay in that role, that key role for your party, while he`s
going through all of this?
KEN CUCCINELLI (R), FORMER VA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think, just from
the perspective of setting aside this as an issue in other races, it makes
sense for him to step aside in that role. He does not serve the goals of
that organization by staying as chairman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Does not serve the goals of the organization. I think it`s
hard to argue with that, right?
REID: It`s hard to argue with that, particularly this midterm. When
you have at least half a dozen governors, many of whom are in this class of
2010, who are already going to be embattled, big target on them by
Democrats in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in Maine. People who were
in some senses already controversial, Scott Walker, for instance, and
people who are going to need all the help they can get to raise lots of
money and to keep themselves apart from a Democratic onslaught this
election season, when Democrats really want those governorships back.
REID: How much good is a Chris Christie who`s this hobbled to them?
HAYES: And, of course, Sam, part of the argument for Chris Christie
occupying that position to begin with was the fact that he`s a good fund-
raiser and he`s close to a lot of big money folks, particularly in New
York, who have loved him from the beginning. He has been a favorite of a
certain kind of hedge fund New York finance donor since he first kind of
rose to national prominence.
And you have McKay Coppins in "BuzzFeed" saying, there are definitely
people jumping ship and donors are getting --
STEIN: Oh, yes.
HAYES: So what good does he do if you`ve got this guy whose number
one selling point is raising money which is going to be much harder for him
to raise now?
STEIN: Well, that`s a huge problem, but I think the RGA post was even
bigger than that. This was supposed to be a broader party pivot. This
was, OK, we`ve had our time with the Tea Party, we have done that, we need
to go to more sensible, modern Republicanism, you can debate whether
Christie represents that.
But this was all supposed to cumulate in 2016 candidacy, and that`s
not muddled. And, you know, I will say this, I wouldn`t necessarily take
advice from Ken Cuccinelli, and I don`t think Chris Christie will --
HAYES: Fair point.
STEIN: -- because I think the most insane he will do right now is to
leave the RGA post. It will set another series of stories about how
embattled he is, how wounded he is, and he can`t afford that right now.
REID: I mean, think about really quick, the problem he created for
one particular governor, Rick Scott, who`s already got a lot of issues.
HAYES: Who he was down there visiting with this week in Florida.
REID: Right. And depending on who you asked, one or the other
decided not to be seen together. But the stories that were so obvious and
easy for op-ed writers to write about that, were to remind people of Rick
Scott`s old scandals. And say, here was a governor who came in on backs of
the huge Medicaid or fraud scandal.
HAYES: The largest in the history of the American republic --
REID: And that is -- you`re instantly reminded of that. It`s an easy
trope to go to for all of the editorial writers, as soon as Chris Christie
comes to town. So, rather than help Rick Scott by shoring up the things
about Republicans that people are supposed to like, the can-do spirit, the
getting things done, rejecting high-speed rail, something else they both
share, it just reminds people of the things they don`t like about Rick
Scott, and causes Rick Scott to run the other way, as if he is more of a
HAYES: The other thing about this, if you think this is ugly now,
there are 20 outstanding subpoenas. We`re getting a whole bunch of --
STEIN: Wait until discovery.
HAYES: Yes. Discovery -- there are going to be lawsuits, there`s the
HUD investigation, which is nothing compared to the U.S. attorney`s office,
which is talking to Dawn Zimmer on a Sunday holiday, for two hours.
Plus, listen to this, the other thing is that the entire underbelly of
New Jersey politics, which, the American median voter isn`t going to be so
excited to be exposed to, is going to be turned over to the whole national
press, because that is precisely what`s at issue, and you are going to have
a civil war in the Democratic Party, among Republicans, about who`s on
which side, who can cover themselves, who`s on what e-mail to whom as this
stuff comes up? I mean, this is the tip of the iceberg, just in terms of -
- and I`m not even saying there`s more there in any kind of definitive
I`m saying when documents start coming out, when e-mails start coming
out, as Jeff Smith said on this program last night, Sam, the U.S. attorney
can start investigating one thing and end up prosecuting something very,
very different, it would not be the first time.
STEIN: Oh, absolutely. And listen, part of what ends up happening,
usually, with these investigations, is that they get you on obstruction of
the investigation. So, people are going to be jumping ahead of the line,
as you know, to get in front of this. If you`re someone who can be
tangentially connected to any of these investigations, you have to make a
choice now. Do you want to be loyal to Chris Christie, do you want to be
forthcoming, maybe you don`t have anything to add.
But there will likely be other people who come out. I wouldn`t be
surprised if there were other mayors who follow what Dawn Zimmer did and
say, basically, yes, I had a similar exchange with the Christie
I think the problem for the Republican Party that was broader, the
governors were supposed to be the forefront, the bread and butter of the
Republican brand, and what you see now is essentially two shining examples
of the 2009 election and a bunch of the stars of 2010 elections are having
HAYES: And the great reminder here, Joy, about this document I was
holding in my hand, which was the best thing I`ve read in quite some time,
it was the indictment of McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.
STEIN: Oh my God.
HAYES: The reminder in this document, the first time they meet with
the big donor that they are alleged to have essentially exchanged gift for
favors, state favors for, is in December 2009, scandals take a long time to
play out, investigations can take a long time. This thing sort of
percolated as a sort of side show story for a while. It reached a
crescendo. We have an indictment not until four years after, more than
four years after the first content.
So, any donor that`s sitting there on the sideline, who thinks it`s
going to be decided one way or the other, anyone political consultant,
anyone betting on horses at this point, they have to be thinking, things
take a while.
REID: Things take a while. And not only that, but there are
tremendous incentives for Democrats, who really were perceived as laying
down for Chris Christie, to come out --
HAYES: Not perceived. They did lay down for Chris Christie.
REID: Right, who didn`t help Barbara Buono at all.
REID: But now you have people, maybe even people who are not elected,
people like your Carl Lewises of the world, who now come out and say, me,
REID: And so, you have this unfolding drama. And as Sam pointed out,
discovery is always the biggest enemy of scandal, because it brings out
more and more and more, and there are so many people with incentives to
come forward and really sort of finish Christie as a 2016 candidate, that
there`s nothing but incentive to continue --
HAYES: Yes. The other question, the other question, any other Dawn
Zimmers out there? That`s the next shoe to drop.
MSNBC contributor Joy Reid, Sam Stein from the "Huffington Post" --
thank you both.
REID: Thank you.
STEIN: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, as I announced before, the amazing list of charges
in the indictment of that other member of the class of 2010, former
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. You do not want to miss this. Stay with
HAYES: An incredible twist today in the story we`ve been following
closely here on ALL IN. The mysterious company responsible for leaking a
chemical that`s taken out a sixth of West Virginia`s water supply, Freedom
Industries, a company that existed in its current incarnation for only a
few weeks, and then filed for bankruptcy on Friday, in what appeared to be
a fairly transparent attempt by its current owner, a man by the name of
Cliff Forrest, to transfer the assets of Freedom Industries to a new
company that he had a hand in creating, while shedding the legal liability.
After our exclusive reporting on that, at least three different
parties have gone to court to say, not so fast, Freedom Industries, not so
fast. In a filing dated January 19th, the water company whose water was
tainted by that Freedom leak, the West Virginia American Water Company,
asked the judge to deny Freedom`s request, saying it, quote, "smells of
collusion", and quote, "is a loan to own scheme."
Earlier today, Twitter user (INAUDIBLE) posted another quote from a
filing opposed to the bankruptcy by employees who lost wages because their
employer was shut down due to the spill. Quote, "The debtor in this
proceeding has accomplished the seemingly impossible production of a
proposal with an odor worse than the water it has contaminated."
The federal bankruptcy judge assigned to determine whether freedom
industries can, actually, declare bankruptcy in this fashion said it`s,
quote, "one of the most unique Chapter 11 cases" he`s ever seen.
We will continue to follow this story and bring you updates.
HAYES: A bombshell out of Virginia today. Federal indictment of
former governor, Bob McDonnell, once a Romney vice presidential contender,
once considered a good candidate for president in 2016, the former head of
the Republican Governors Association now headed by Governor Chris Christie,
and the rising star governor who once gave the Republican response to
President Obama`s State of the Union Address.
That guy, Bob McDonnell, and his wife, Maureen, former first lady of
Virginia, have now been indicted on multiple counts. It`s a culmination of
a years-long investigation, centering on the relationship between the
McDonnells and this man, Johnny R. Williams Sr., who is the CEO of a
dietary supplement company called Star Scientific.
The basics of the allegations are this. That Williams gave the
governor and his wife more than $140,000 in gifts in exchange for concrete
actions by both the governor and his wife to promote Star Scientific. In
fact, the list of cash and gifts, as stated in today`s indictment, includes
$140,850 including multiple cash payments, the McDonnells claim were loans,
black Louis Vuitton shoes, white Louis Vuitton shoes, a silver Rolex watch
engraved with 71st governor of Virginia, good luck selling that, a blue
Armani jacket and two matching dresses, two gold Oscar de la Renta dresses,
one pair of Emilio Rose earrings, two sets of golf clubs and two iPhones.
As you can see by the graphic, I`m reading you only part of the long
list of gifts alleged in this complaint.
By the time the scandal had reached its apex in 2013, Governor
McDonnell issued a statement, apologizing, while contending that all the
gifts were legal, and he announced repayment of $252,178 for one loan, and
$783,000 for two additional loans.
That did not stop the work of federal prosecutors, who today in their
14-count indictment charged the McDonnells with such charges as conspiracy
to defraud the citizens of Virginia of their right to honest services by
use of interstate wires, and conspiracy to obtain property under color of
A little more than an hour ago, former Governor McDonnell responded to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: While I deeply regret
accepting these legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of these now
have been returned or repaid with interest. I have apologized for my poor
judgment and I accept full responsibility for accepting these illegal gifts
However, I repeat, again, emphatically, that I did nothing illegal for
Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal friendship
and his generosity. I never promised and Mr. Williams and his company
never received any government benefit of any kind for me or from my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Julian Walker, who covers state politics for
"The Virginian-Pilot". He`s been covering this story.
Julian, I`m a little curious as to what precisely the governor and his
wife`s contention is about the allegations here, because it seems that some
of the facts stipulated in the complaint are agreed to by both the U.S.
attorney`s office and the governor. I mean, the gifts, the gifts they
returned, the loans they took and repaid, and some to be contested.
Do you have a sense of what basically the governor and his wife admit
to and what they contest?
JULIAN WALKER, THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT: I think it`s two things. I
think, one, it`s referenced in the clip you just played, which is that the
governor maintains that he never took any official action to promote Star
Scientific, Johnny Williams, or the products, primarily, the health
supplement, that Star Scientific was promoting at the time.
So, they maintain, he never got any state benefits. So therefore,
there is no quid pro quo there.
HAYES: Let me just -- let me just be clear. The argument, legally,
is that there was the quid and not the quo. That basically, they`re not
contesting that all sorts of gifts that Johnny Williams paid for part of
their daughter`s wedding and all kinds of other material benefits they got
as people. They`re not contesting the quid. They`re contesting the quo,
WALKER: Well, the governor has never come out and given a full
accounting of everything that he accepted. But as you pointed out, he has
apologized for accepting the gifts and the loans and said he`s returned or
repaid those items.
But, yes, to your point, they are saying, we never gave them anything
back. So, that`s part of it.
The other part of it is that under Virginia law, and as you point out,
this is a federal indictment, under Virginia law, gifts from personal
friends, which he has characterized Mr. Williams as, are exempt from
disclosure, exempt from reporting by state standards and state reporting
So, that`s another part of their defense, that, one, we didn`t give
him anything of value or any kind of official benefit from the state, and
two, these things that we didn`t report, we weren`t required to report as
Virginia law is written now.
HAYES: So, in terms of what Johnny Williams got in response to him
being so generous, and the generosity here is remarkable, as alleged in the
complaint, this is a complaint filed, the attorney`s office, including a
shopping trip to New York City for Maureen McDonald, in which $15,000 worth
of clothing was purchased, a Rolex, the use of his vacation home where they
drove his Ferrari around, multiple trips to his exclusive golf club, where
he took -- he paid the tab for all of that.
That in exchange, what comes out in this complaint is a set of
allegations in which the governor and his wife essentially put state policy
makers in the same room with this guy, who`s trying to sell his nutritional
supplement, and most importantly, trying to get state universities to
commission research to verify some kind of scientific claims that he could
then use, go out to sell it. And it looks like they got relatively far
along in that process, according to the complaint.
WALKER: Well, right. Access is what they got. They got access to
the governor, they got access to the first family, and they got access, as
you point out, to state officials -- state decision makers. Whether or not
that access paid dividends, I think, is debatable.
At this point, as you point out in the indictment, while they -- Mr.
Williams was presented with an opportunity to interact with state
officials, who could make decisions and he was promoted in front of
university researchers, and they were encouraged to refer this to doctors,
so that doctors could, in turn, recommend this supplement to their
patients, there was some resistance along the way. So, again, that goes
back, from state officials, who were put in the room with Mr. Williams, or
who were part of these discussions.
And so, again, that goes back to the defense that the McDonald family
is offering, which is, yes, perhaps access was granted, but what was the
end result of this? Did he actually get anything out of this? And, again,
that`s their defense.
HAYES: You know, it was striking to me, listening to Bob McDonnell,
that his argument today was analogous to the argument that Rod Blagojevich
had, which was, essentially, that the entire business of politics is
trading things of value for favors, and that they could never show that
he`d actually done anything, that he was just conducting the normal kind of
I think if folks read the complaint by the U.S. Attorneys Office, it`s
hard to see this as run-of-the-mill.
Julian Walker from the "Virginian-Pilot," thanks for your time
WALKER: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. Did the president really say that everyone who
opposes him is racist? No. We will tell you what he actually said, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS "HANNITY": Welcome to HANNITY. Tonight,
the president is blaming his low approval rating in opposition to his
radical agenda on the color of his skin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: The latest right-wing racial freak-out
centers on a quote in a new, very long article in "The New Yorker," in
which editor, David Remnick, got to spend a few days traveling with
President Obama. At one point, in a wide-ranging set of interviews and
discussions, the topic turns to race, with Remnick writing that opposition
to the president, quote, "comes largely from older whites, who feel
threatened, underemployed, overlooked, and disdained in a globalized
economy and in an increasingly diverse country."
The president then said the following to David Remnick. "There`s no
doubt there`s some folks who just really dislike me because they don`t like
the idea of a black president." Now, I have lost count, truly, of the
number of moments of nasty and/or weird right-wing racialized panics in the
Obama era. But this little episode just may be the most perfect, succinct,
microcosm of our entire politics for the first five years of the first
Because here is the other part of the Obama quote about the effect of
race. Quote, "Now the flip side of it is, there are some black folks and
maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the
doubt, precisely because I`m a black president." So, the president says,
there are some people who don`t like me because they don`t like the idea of
a black president, which is undoubtedly true.
There are 300 million people in America. Some of them are straight up
racist and some don`t like having a black president. But then, Barack
Obama, make sure to also say that on the other hand, his race helps him
with some subset of voters who, quote, "give me the benefit of the doubt,
precisely because I`m a black president." That`s probably true as well,
though I`d argue in a far, far less consequential way.
But what the entire quote amounts to is treating the president`s
status as the first black president as basically a small, trivial concern
that helps with some voters and hurts with others and it all comes out in
the wash. It`s like the way a southern politician might answer a question
about his accent. No big deal, not much to see here.
That`s what the president said and yet, somehow, that utterly banal,
even-handed treatment of the single most explosive issue in American life
gets turned into this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Provocative comment`s from President Obama.
HANNITY: Instead of taking responsibility for his failures, the
president blames everybody else. And this week, he`s now taken this to an
all-time new low.
MEGYN KELLY, HOST, FOX NEWS "THE KELLY FILE": How do you attribute
falling poll numbers while you are president to your race?
LARS LARSON, HOST OF "THE LARS LARSON SHOW": Anything that he does
wrong that republicans call him on and say he`s no doing a good job, the
president says, they must not like me because of my race. I think its pure
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the entire Obama presidency
in a nutshell. Here is someone who announced himself to the nation in 2004
with a message, all about inclusion, cooperation, and transcending the
nasty divides of American partisan life. Here is someone`s signature
rhetorical approach in speech after speech after speech is to reject
anything remotely polarizing, to never show the smallest amount of anger,
to couch nearly every single argument he makes in public life as a moderate
path in between dueling extremes.
This is someone who goes out of his way to argue the other side so
much he sometimes descend into self-parity as when he gave a speech talking
about the necessity and importance of war at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony
and that man who has done everything within his considerable communicative
power to ratchet down the power of racial discourse has been met with this
kind of reception from the right-wing media industrial complex.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE STEVE KING (R), IOWA (via telephone): The President
has demonstrated that he`s got a default mechanism in him that breaks down
on the side of race that favors the black person.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama has offered to pay out of his
own pocket for the museum of Muslim culture.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This president, I think, has exposed himself as a
guy over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white
people or the white culture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And the lesson that Barack Obama has learned that truly
everyone in America is watching has learned is an old one. You cannot
dissipate conflict through a sheer act of will. No matter how rare and
historic a political talent you are. History has a saying. The other side
has a saying. The roiling, simmering id of American political
consciousness will not quiet just because you speak in low term.
Blue states, red states, liberal media and conservative media, these
may be, indeed, constructs of pundits that obscure the real human
connections and affinities that us citizens have for each other. The
right-wing uncle, the lesbian cousin we adore. But it is also equally true
we are fighting with each other in this country because you disagree about
what our past means and about what our future should mean.
And there`s nothing wrong with recognizing that and joining the
battle. Because if there`s one thing we`ve seen in the Obama era, it`s
that even if you`re not interested in fighting, the fight is interested in
HAYES: Four years ago today, the second most important moment in
American politics, this century, next to Barack Obama being elected
president, took place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. Supreme Court today overturned laws on
the books for nearly a century and ruled that corporations can spend freely
now on political campaigns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Citizens United decision eviscerated campaign finance reform
law, and opened the floodgates to a murky, bizarre world of big money in
politics that even most people who cover it don`t fully understand. A
world that`s changing all the time and that we continue to paw our way
through. We spent four years running a massive social experiment, in which
we give corporations and the 1 percent more power to directly impact
American electoral outcomes at a time when inequality is at the highest
it`s been since the eve of the great depression.
And one of the ways that corporate interests exert that power is
through a group, called the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC.
Now, ALEC existed long before Citizens United, but in the era of citizens
united, as dark money groups have been able to take over, Alec has become
one of the most important organizations in the entire country because what
ALEC does is produce legislation and policy ideas, that have taken hold in
states like North Carolina, Wisconsin, that has become laboratories for
These are not remote think tank ideas that never become policy. These
are pieces of model legislation, drafted and ready to go on everything from
tort reform to unions to the environment. That a conservative legislator
can just click and download as an e-mail attachment and introduce the next
Today, Americans across the country participated in a day of action
against ALEC, and tomorrow, we are going to bring you an ALL IN exclusive.
We have obtained a whole bunch of Alec documents that illustrate just
exactly how this very secretive group wields its power and impacts your
life. You`re not going to want to miss it
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My dad, as you know, born
in Mexico, poor, didn`t get a college degree, became head of a car company.
I went off on my own. I didn`t inherent money from my parents. What I
have, I earned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s sometimes easy, sometimes easy to forget how
special America really is. But I was raised by exiles, by people who know
what it is like to lose their country?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those were exciting days. We lived in little
shotgun house, one room for the three of us. In time, we had six children,
moved from the shotgun to a duplex apartment to a house and lived the
dream. High school football on Friday night`s, little league, neighborhood
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: A candidate`s biography is a strange genre. It`s not fiction,
but it`s not quite nonfiction either. Lives, any life, have made up of
thousands of experiences and a bio only has a room for a few. And a
candidate`s biography is made up of the stuff that voters are most likely
to like. For instance, when we take a look at Wendy Davis` biography, we
get stuff like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WENDY DAVIS: By the time I was 19, I also was already married and
divorced and raising a young daughter myself, living in poverty and facing
the same challenges and hardships that I`d seen my mother face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: She went from being raised by a mother with a sixth grade
education, who supported her four kids, to living in a trailer park with
her own child, to graduating the first in her class, to going on to Harvard
law school, to becoming a Texas state senator in 2008. These up by the
bootstraps biography details of Wendy Davis` are familiar, and when she
became a rock star last June, for that 11-hour filibuster to kill a Texas
abortion bill, it was those details that not only helped to endear her to
the people of Texas, but helped make her a national star, including right
here on this network.
All of it has helped Davis raise $12 billion in her bid to become the
first Democratic governor of Texas in 20 years. But that`s not the whole
story about Wendy Davis, because it`s never the whole story about any
candidate. Reporter Wayne Slater has a new piece in "The Dallas Morning
News" that`s making quite a stir in the Davis campaign, in which Davis
herself admits she`s been, quote, "using broader, looser language, needs to
be more focused on the details of her biography."
She was never technically a single teen mother, because Davis was 21,
not 19, when she was divorced. She only lived in that trailer for a few
months while separated from her husband. She did go to Harvard law school.
It turns out that her second husband at the time cashed in his 401(k)
account and took out a loan to help pay for her final year there.
On a scale of 1 to 10 when it comes to fudging and lying, 10 being
outright fabrication and deceit, one being essentially this is closer to a
1, I think. But as a democratic politician running for statewide office in
Texas, Wendy Davis has to realize that for the right-wing, this is not
about the slipperiness of candidate bios, this is about a dam of vitriol
that has been building and building and now the dam has burst.
Wendy Davis is probably the single biggest conservative target in this
election cycle, and you can see it in the way the right has run with this
story. From Drudge, Texas abortion heroine lined about being a single teen
mom. "Red State`s" Erick Erickson, I await Wendy Davis` lawsuit against
the "Dallas Morning News" claiming it harmed her mental health by revealing
And Breitbart`s John Noulte tweets, "Interesting, as mainstream media
destroys Christie, new media is taking down Wendy Davis over fake bio, a
story mainstream media is ignoring. Joining me now, Krystal Ball, co-host
of MSNBC`s "The Cycle," which airs weekday`s at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. She was
the Democratic nominee for Congress in Virginia`s first Congressional
district in the 2010 election.
Jim Moore, a communications expert at Big Bend Strategies, former
director of the Pac progress Texas, and co-author of "Bush`s Brain: How
Karl Rove Made George W. Bush President," co-authored that with Wayne
Slater and Jess Mcintosh, the communications director PAC, Emily List.
All right, Jim, let me start with you. What is the fall out in Texas
around this story from Wayne Slater?
JIM MOORE, BIG BEND STRATEGIES: I don`t think there`s been big
fallout yet, Chris. But, remember, we`re talking, if you`re a woman in
this state and you`ve watched Wendy`s assent politically, what you`re
talking about is somebody who did from the trailer park, whether if the CSI
forensic guys are saying, excuse me, ma`am, was it two months or two years.
She came from the trailer park, she went to Harvard, her husband, who
Wayne interviewed extensively, as you noted, was very fond of her. She
gets out of Harvard. She becomes a state senator in this state, where it`s
very difficult for a woman to succeed politically. What I`d suggest is
that if this were a man in Texas who had made this same assent and had this
same narrative to share, everybody would be going, my God, look at the
sacrifices he made for his family to succeed and achieve and look at what
Instead, Greg Abbott`s campaign, and the right, is trying to portray
this as a woman who put ambition above her family. Not the case, she
raised her children. She and her husband had an amicable divorce. She is
a successful woman, and this is a nonstory.
HAYES: Jess, I suspect you feel the same way. Allow me to play
quickly devil`s advocate. Candidate bios come under scrutiny all the time.
Marco Rubio had a whole thing basically he said his family had fled
Castro`s Cuba. It turned out they`ve left Cuba before Castro took over.
It seemed to me like maybe not the most important detail in the world, but
that was weeks of stories, right? This does happen. This is part of being
in the big leagues, right?
JESS MCINTOSH, EMILY`S LIST: Yes, absolutely. But I think, let`s
take a look at what the actual discrepancies are there. She said she got
divorced when she was 19. Turns out she was separated at 19. The divorce
became official at 21. Now, I`ve been telling everybody my entire life
that my parents got divorced when I was 4. But I just texted my mom from
the green room, and it turns out that wasn`t official until I was 5. I
think anybody who has a divorce in their life knows the date that matters.
HAYES: That`s right! That`s a good point.
MCINTOSH: As for the trailer park, if Greg Abbott is really going to
base his campaign around attacking her for not living as a single mother
with her young daughter in a mobile home for long enough, that`s going to
be really tough to win over voters.
KRYSTAL BALL, HOST, "THE CYCLE": I suggest that she go that route. I
think that would be.
HAYES: Agreed! Jess makes a good point, that basically, the argument
now is that Wendy Davis was not pan impoverished single mother in a trailer
home for sufficiently long to be able to put it on her resume?
BALL: Right. It`s that and the other piece of it that Jess and Jim
are both pointing to, is this idea that she was overambitious and she was a
negligent mother, you know, a critique that would never be leveled at a
man. So there is a much gendered nature of this. And I think, also, the
right wing has been dying to expose the quote/unquote, "real Wendy Davis,"
ever since she rose to national prominence.
I don`t know if you remember this, was after she waged her epic
filibuster, there was this blog post going around with photos of her from
20 years ago and photos of her now, how can she possibly look this good?
She must not be real. There must be something going on here. They are
just dying to expose something that is nefarious about Wendy Davis.
HAYES: I want to talk about the candidate Bio more broadly. You`re
someone who had to write a candidate bio, and what you put in and what you
take out, right after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did President Bush choose to move here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what`s the million-dollar question? I
have no idea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was about to run for the presidency, and he
was going to have to be from somewhere more than just the governor`s
mansion, I think.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple bales of hay and a broke-down shed in the
background. That`s all they really see, so that`s all they really know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s from the incredible film "Crawford," which is about the
invented past of George w. Bush, the ranch he bought in Crawford. We`re
back on here with Krystal Ball, Jim Moore and Jess Mcintosh. So Krystal,
you had to do this. And it occurred to me as we were talking today, I
could write a bio about myself, I could write three different ones that are
completely different images of me, all of which are true, and all that
would make the subject seem completely deferent. What is that process
BALL: It is interesting because suddenly you`re looking at your life
as a story, right? What is the story that I want to tell about myself, and
then you kind of fit in the pieces, so that they work. And when I was
running for Congress, I could even say, I started running when I was 27,
when the election actually came, I was 28. Which facts of those would I
say? Was I running when I was 27 or 28?
But they put up this web site called the real Krystal ball, the local
Republican Party; it was supposed to expose who I really was. Now, I had
done a lot of different things, even though I was only 27, 28 years old. I
was a CPA, had designed software, implemented software across the country
and had all these things in my bio. And they basically wanted to make the
point that I hadn`t done any of them long enough to count.
That the only qualification`s that I really had was as a mother. So
they put all these things on the web site, economist, CPA, et cetera, et
cetera, and they were all crossed out, and it just said mother. As if,
number one, that`s a bad thing, but number two, that I was nothing more
than a mom.
And with Wendy Davis, it`s funny, because they`re doing the exact
opposite. They`re saying you aren`t a good enough mom to be a quality
candidate. And that`s a problem for women, who have to hit this Goldilocks
zone of the perfect story.
HAYES: Yes, Jess, it is the opposite here, right? Because there`s
one story which is about these inconsistencies or the looseness of her
language about how long she lived in a trailer park. Then there`s this
broader idea that somehow she was really nasty stuff coming from the right,
that she was a bad mom, that she was a gold digger in some weird way.
That`s sort of being implied between the lines. All these really gendered
things, in which she`s this sort of untrustworthy, ambitious woman, who
will use whoever`s in her way.
MCINTOSH: So the thing about candidate bios is that they are powerful
because voters identify with them.
HAYES: More than anything.
MCINTOSH: And Wendy Davis has quite possibly the most powerful
personal story that we have heard and millions of Texans identify with it.
The reason why we are hearing these attacks now is because last week, Wendy
Davis had the best week of her campaign. She shocked everybody by
outraising Greg Abbott. She unveiled an education platform that got great
press coverage all over Texas.
Now we are seeing these sorts of tried and true attacks that are,
frankly, going to alienate the people that are identifying with that story.
I think unless you can say to an audience, the way she can, that you have
cut up a Totinos pizza to make it last four meals so that your kid could
have the real food, you should probably just lead this story to the
candidate who can tell it. This is going to turn off women, especially,
that might have voted for Greg Abbott.
HAYES: But, Jim, here`s what I`ve heard. And I know a number of
people in Texas politics have been talking to you. I have not heard
excellent things about the Davis campaign from just a sort of functional,
blocking and tackling standpoint. They are now in the big leagues.
They`re raising big league money. They`re trying to do something that no
democrat has done in 20 years. Is this campaign; is the operation on the
ground there, up to the task?
MOORE: I would say at the moment, they aren`t doing as well as they
should. Obviously, they mishandled this. They had Wendy come out and talk
about using tighter language, and the usage of a term like that suggests
that they`re trying to manage or control a story or it`s implied that
there`s something that doesn`t need to be revealed. They need more
transparency. They need to be more aggressive and more out front.
She has, as everybody knows, an amazing story, which appeals broadly
to all of the suburban women in this state. And by Greg Abbott attacking
that story, what he`s doing is he`s suggesting to every woman in Texas, who
is struggling, whether it`s with their family, their husband, or whether
it`s independently, that whatever it is Wendy did, it wasn`t enough.
And these are women who are comparing themselves to her and are
saying, my god, if she`s not doing enough, what about me? It`s going to
hurt his campaign. The more he attacks her this way then he`s going to run
BALL: I completely agree. I think especially going after the
education piece, you know, she put herself through community college and
graduated ahead of Texas Christian with the aid of scholarships. You know,
by the time she was married, by the time she went to Harvard and had a
husband who was willing to help.
HAYES: That`s Jess (INAUDIBLE), Jim Moore from Big Bend Strategies,
and Krystal Ball, who can you can catch here on "THE CYCLE," weekdays at
3:00 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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