updated 1/24/2014 10:14:30 AM ET 2014-01-24T15:14:30

ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
January 23, 2014

Guest: David Mello, Barbara Buono, Jason Cherkis, Jelani Cobb, Karen
Finney, Rebecca Traster, Betsy Woodruff

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.

And in the past 24 hours, we have learned federal authorities on two
different fronts have ratcheted up their inquiry into the administration of
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. Legal stakes climbing ever higher.

First, potential corroboration of the explosive charges for Mayor Dawn
Zimmer, that she was approached by two separate Christie officials saying
that Sandy money would not flow to Hoboken unless she expedited a private
development. Development for a developer who had hired the law firm of
Christie`s Port Authority appointee and close adviser, David Samson.

The latest reports potentially turning Zimmer`s accusations into something
more than a simple he said/she said standoff. We will be talking to one of
the people who has corroborated Zimmer`s account right here. We know the
Christie administration has strongly and consistently denied Mayor Zimmer`s
allegation.

But the FBI has begun questioning a bevy of officials and aides who will be
able to corroborate Mayor Zimmer`s claims. The two Zimmer aides are among
at least five witnesses who Zimmer told the FBI could confirm she had
previously told them about the conversation she says she had with
Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno last May.

Dan Brian, Zimmer`s chief of staff, is one of the aides in question, Juan
Mille, Zimmer`s communications director, is the other, according to NBC
News sources. Both Zimmer aides, like Mayor Zimmer herself, have declined
further public comment at the request of the U.S. attorney.

And a member of the Hoboken City Council, David Mellow, our next guest, has
told NBC News, the Zimmer relayed the Guadagno conversation last summer.
"I distinctly remember Zimmer saying the lieutenant governor said, if this
came out, she would deny it," he said.

Meanwhile, on the bridgegate scandal, in addition to the 20 subpoenas from
the New Jersey assembly, the feds are getting further involved. Today, we
learned that federal prosecutors in New Jersey have issued grand jury
subpoenas to Mr. Christie`s re-election campaign and to the state
Republican Party, a lawyer for the campaign and the party said today.

So, the heat is on. And amid all this new heightened scrutiny of the
Christie administration, there is this -- WMIC has learned the Christie
administration terminated its contract with its biggest contractor in
charge of helping Sandy victims resettle in their homes. The company won
its contract last May, shortly after its law firm made a $25,000 donation
to the Republican Governors Association, which is now headed by Christie,
and contributed $1.7 million to his re-election campaign.

Hammerman and Gainer, also known as HGI, was being paid $68 million in fees
to administer a $780 million program. "We have recently concluded our
relationship with HGI as New Jersey transitions to the next phase of
disaster recovery,` said Lisa M. Ryan, spokesman for the New Jersey
Department of Community Affairs.

DCA Commissioner Richard Constable fielded questions about that company at
a hearing before the New Jersey assembly as recently as January 8th. But
he did not mention the contract had been terminated.

Bear in mind, questions about HGI`s contract are not new as indicated by
this "Wall Street Journal" article from last September. HGI`s performance,
according to WNYC and others, has been widely criticized. Now, that
contractor is fired.

As for Governor Christie, he unveiled an after-school dinner program in
Camden today. While he didn`t take questions from reporters, it was open
mic for the kids.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STUDENT: Sometimes do you like being governor?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Sometimes do I like being governor?
Most of the time I like being governor.

STUDENT: What do you do every day?

CHRISTIE: What do I do every day? Well, it depends on the day.

STUDENT: What`s your favorite movie?

CHRISTIE: My favorite movie -- my favorite movie is a movie you can`t see
yet. You`re not old enough yet. But my favorite movie is "The Godfather."
It`s a little, are you a little too young to see that movie.

STUDENT: How do you keep anything, oh, wait. How do I keep everything
controlled?

CHRISTIE: How do I keep everything controlled? Not so well sometimes. It
depends on the day, man, it depends on the day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Meanwhile, in Virginia, Former Governor Bob McDonnell is preparing
for his arraignment. On Friday in federal court, McDonnell got his start
in politics which is also how the governor of New Jersey spent the early
part of his career as a federal prosecutor.

One thing both men might know is when a federal prosecutor is that when a
federal prosecutor wants to make a case, he can make that case, once those
subpoenas start flying.

Joining me now is as we mentioned, Hoboken City Councilman David Mello and
former New Jersey State Senator Barbara Buono, who ran against Christie for
governor of the Democratic ticket last year.

And, David, I will begin with you.

I understand you have been in contact with the U.S. attorney`s office.

DAVID MELLO, HOBOKEN CIYT COUNCILMAN: I have been in contact with the
corporation council of the city of Hoboken with the U.S. attorney`s office.
I will be meeting with them next week.

HAYES: And you have been instructed to not get into the details of what --
the conversation you had with Mayor Zimmer.

MELLO: Yes, I have been instructed that it`s best at this time to no
longer rehash the details that I have already released to some members of
the press. But --

HAYES: But you are on record having broadly corroborated at least her
telling of a contemporaneous account of a meeting with Lieutenant Governor
Guadagno.

MELLO: I stand with what I said by the press thus far. I just don`t want
to rehash it at this point. I want to take the opportunity. I`m looking
forward to speak to the U.S. attorney`s office about it.

HAYES: The issue now, separating out what Mayor Zimmer has said on our air
and to others about retaliation and a kind of quid pro quo on Sandy, one of
the issues that`s happened now is the governor`s office is pushing back
saying Hoboken has got tons of help, $70 million in federal money. We
deconstructed that number yesterday, which is wildly misleading, because a
lot of that is federal flood insurance and things the governor can`t
control.

But what`s being debated now is, has Hoboken gotten the help it needs from
the state? What is your response to that?

MELLO: I would say it has -- that`s why it`s so important. That`s why I
wanted to continue to talk to press about this, because in the city of
Hoboken this evening, we are having a presentation by a Dutch firm that is
the rebuild by design money is being made available on the federal level by
HUD. We are in competition with about 10 other communities to receive some
of that funding.

And I want people to know that Hoboken has a dire need. We were hit
extremely hard by Hurricane Sandy.

HAYES: Fifty thousand people, if I`m not mistaken in Hoboken. It`s one
square mile. And, basically, the entirety of it was under water during
Sandy?

MELLO: I`ve heard numbers between 75 percent and 80 percent.

I live in the bottom of the bathtub, so to speak. So, it was tremendously
under water for many days.

HAYES: You do not feel then as distinct from the accusations that have
been leveled against the Christie administration, jut as a matter of
policy, do you feel the state has been helpful enough in helping Hoboken?

MELLO: No, I don`t think they have. And I was always concerned about that
from the get-go. Because I`m not sure if some of our state leaders fully
realize and appreciate how our urban areas were hit by this. I`ve spent
summers at the Jersey shore since the `70s.

And I think people understand how the shore can get hit by a hurricane and
it`s receiving the aid it well deserves. But I sometimes think our urban
areas. It`s not so sure how much it was hit.

HAYES: That`s interesting.

STATE SEN. BARBARA BUONO (D), NEW JERSEY: Can I say something?

HAYES: Please.

BUONO: In terms of whether or not there was political blackmail as is
alleged, it really is irrelevant how much aide the city of Hoboken received
if the lieutenant governor made the offer and conditioned the receipt of
federal Sandy funds on someone in the mayor`s position acting in a HUD
official capacity to help a private interest, that`s bribery. There is a
federal statute that`s right on point.

HAYES: You know, I`m glad you realize that. Today, we got an article and
some discussion about the legality of this. Let`s say, no, assuming that
it`s true, assuming this was done. Right? We don`t know if it does. It`s
been (INAUDIBLE) tonight.

But I assume for a moment, it is. Is it illegal? I want to read you what
one person had to say, just showing a developer had strong political
connections is not enough to prove a crime.

There is no proof, the project would improperly benefit Christie or his
administration, if Patrick Hanly, a defense attorney in California. It`s
ugly. It`s like you want Sandy money, I want to do this, I want to do a
deal. That`s politics.

You were a criminal defense lawyer.

BUONO: They are talking about two different statutes. There was a statute
that is on point, federal statute, Title 18, specifically says if you
offer, in this case, federal funds, in exchange for an official action on
the part of the mayor, to benefit private interest, it`s bribery 101.

HAYES: Let me also lay a little of the context here, right? There was a
mayor before Dawn Zimmer in Hoboken.

BUONO: And before that one.

HAYES: Right. And I think --

MELLO: For a very short period of time.

HAYES: For a very short period of time. For a matter of I believe a few
months, if I`m not mistaken?

What happened to that mayor?

MELLO: Well, it just goes to show how much the redevelopment issue is an
important one. I met Mayor Zimmer years before either of us have sought
private office when we were a part of an advocacy group of residents that
was fighting against a proposed redevelopment area in our part of town.
And we were concerned that the history of redevelopment in Hoboken where
it`s very beneficial to developers to redevelop there, that the needs of
the community weren`t being put first.

I think you can meet the needs of our community and still make a profitable
development.

HAYES: The mayor who proceeded Zimmer, of course, was indicted, and I
believe convicted, right, or pled out.

BUONO: Served time.

HAYES: Served time for essentially taking campaign donation in return for
a promise, someone wearing a wire for the feds to expedite development.
That was the crime.

MELLO: It was my honor, our very first meeting of the city council after I
took office and Mayor Zimmer at the time had narrowly lost to Peter
Camarata (ph). We made her the president of the city council and I was
able to sponsor a resolution which moved the zoning board appointment power
from the mayor`s office to the city council.

HAYES: Because there`s -- I just want people to understand this, that land
in Hoboken is massively valuable. Massively valuable. You see this
incredibly densely packed. Basically, you could almost if you were a
Peyton Manning, almost chuck the football over to Manhattan, right?

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Yes. Right. Fair route.

You know, you are right on the edge of Manhattan, some of the most valuable
land in the metro area. So that land and how it`s controlled and who
unlocks the unbelievable wealth that it holds within it. That`s the
subject of a lot of power and has been the subject of real corruption in
the past in Hoboken.

BUONO: Right. The fact is, the lieutenant governor has been very fierce
in denying this. She said, I thought it was very interesting the wording
that she chose. She said it`s not only false, but it`s illogical.

But logic doesn`t enter into it. If she said what se did as an emissary to
the governor, then it is illegal.

HAYES: You had a comment the other night after Dawn Zimmer came forward,
you tweeted out something that I thought was interesting. If we can put it
up on the screen there. You basically said, good for Dawn Zimmer to come
forward. The question is, why did she wait until after she smelled blood
in the water? I looked at that and said, whoa.

BUONO: Well, you know, look, I`m human. I would love for this to come out
when it first, you know, transpired. But I understand the kind of pressure
people are under when you have these threats of intimidation.

I mean, the governor has this pattern of bullying. Now this comes out --
it`s, you know, influenced pedaling. It`s a shakedown. At least it`s
alleged and I imagine it must be very hard when you`re the only one out
there as the whistle blower.

HAYES: You were spending a lot of time on the campaign saying Democrats
were rolling over for Chris Christie. They are under his thumb. Does this
give you, do these allegations give you more context for what was
happening?

BUONO: More context, that`s an interesting phrase. Interesting choice of
words.

You know, I didn`t -- I knew that things were happening. I knew that there
was intimidation. Because, you know, I would call people up, and try and
raise money, they were very direct with me.

Look, I don`t want to be on that report. I can`t give you more than $300.
But in turn, honestly, this even surprised me with what happened with
respect to Mayor Zimmer.

HAYES: I want to reiterate, the governor`s office, lieutenant governor,
others have strongly denied these allegations. I just want to make sure we
are clear on that. This is yet to be established.

Let me ask what you is next for Hoboken and is there any worry that you
guys are in the crosshairs now if you weren`t before?

MELLO: It`s interesting, you bring that up. We do have a presentation by
a potential, a planner from the Netherlands that is, they`re putting forth
a very interesting plan that could potentially get us a large amount of HUD
money and my concern as a representative is that, that money, if we do, if
we are awarded with it, that it`s going to come directly to us and not have
to get through the state.

I think that`s appropriate. I would think that`s appropriate regardless --

HAYES: You are calling for that money to be directly given you (INAUDIBLE)
in light of what has -- what is, the cloud of suspicion that currently
hangs over.

MELLO: What I recall from the fact we were hit so hard by Sandy, I believe
global warming is a real thing that`s going to affect our community. We
need to prepare for it. I think we need that funding because we have a
good plan in place that needs to be more flushed out. We`re going to get
that plan funded.

HAYES: That`s Hoboken City Councilman David Mello, who has been on the
record, with corroborating a contemporaneous account of Dawn Zimmer,
relaying her conversation with Lieutenant Governor Guadagno, also former
New Jersey State Senator Barbara Buono. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

MELLO: Thank you.

HAYES: OK. This is going to be the cover of the "New York Times" magazine
this weekend. It is fantastically creepy, inspired in a weird way, and, of
course, became a meme in about five seconds.

Coming up, we`ll be talking about planet Hillary and how Republicans,
particularly some male Republicans, will undoubtedly react if she decides
to run for president. I think summed up nicely by this guy on Twitter.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Coming up, the Senator Mitch McConnell national audiences know, the
Mitch McConnell you haven`t seen will surprise you up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Coming up, the Senator Mitch McConnell that national political
audiences know, is very different than what Mitch McConnell shows Kentucky
voters. Mitch McConnell you haven`t seen will surprise you, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Do you ever look at my Mitch McConnell, watch him give a speech and
wonder how is it this guy is such a successful politician? He doesn`t have
a ton of charisma, or much in the way of rhetorical gist. He just doesn`t
seem like someone you would pick out and say that guy, that guy is a
natural. We only know the Republican Senate leader if you know a creature
of Washington, because a huge reason that Mitch McConnell has been so
successful is that he truly understands his home state of Kentucky.

And he knows what his state voters want to hear. Which is why a new ad
McConnell is running is to fight against his life against the Tea Party
primary challenger and a strong Democratic candidate is so interesting.

It`s an ad you might imagine coming from a liberal Democrat, for a tone
that is miles away from a slash and burn Tea Party style of McConnell,
perhaps reluctantly rejects on the national stage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I work at a nuclear facility that has been vying for
national security. Like many, I was exposed to radiation. I got cancer.
But Mitch McConnell fought for us, creating cancer screening programs and
providing compensation for sick workers. Mitch McConnell is a caring and
powerful voice for Kentucky`s working families and having a strong voice
matters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: I don`t know about you, but the moment after I watched that ad was
the most I ever liked Mitch McConnell in my life. It`s an unbelievably
effective spot. In fact, McConnell campaign ran an ad on the same theme
his 2008 campaign. A big part of what makes his ad so effective is they
are about how Mitch McConnell used his powers as a member of Congress to
help out the little guy when help was desperately needed.

It turns out there`s a lot more in the story. It turns out workers in the
Paducah uranium enrichment plant were raising concerns about what it was
doing to her health as early as the 1970s. One worker, who would later die
of stomach cancer, describes sores that wouldn`t heal and fingernail-like
protrusions coming out of his body.

McConnell was elected to the Senate in 1984. But as detailed in exhaustive
"Huffington Post" story last year, his focus was on keeping the plan opened
not dealing with the impact on worker`s health. In 1998, the Department of
Energy began sealing off wells near the plant. McConnell did nothing. In
1994, the EPA declared the facility superfund site, and McConnell did
nothing.

It was only in 1999, after "The Washington Post" began bringing attention
to the public health disaster in his state, that McConnell called for
hearings and worked to pass laws to help plant workers.

Now, Mitch McConnell is trying to run for re-election by running ads that
portray him as a savior of those very works, whose plight is largely
ignored 15 years.

Joining me now is Jason Cherkis, political reporter for the "Huffington
Post", where he has been covering this story in depth. And I should say
that we reached to the McConnell to have the senator appear, or give us a
statement. "I`m sorry, the leader is unavailable. Frankly, I am surprised
at your take on this issue" is what we got in response.

Actually, if that sounds harsh, that was the second response we got. The
first was mistakenly forwarding to us an e-mail to the staff that was kind
of nasty. We won`t show that.

So, they say, Jason, you are out of line with your reporting. And, look,
the guy from the plant is in the ad, who should we listen to, Jason Cherkis
or that guy?

JASON CHERKIS, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, I think the ad is an effective
ad. And I think you can`t deny that McConnell, you know, in 1999 went to
bat for those workers. That`s what makes the ad so effective. That`s what
made it so difficult to run against in 2008 and that`s why he`s running the
ad again.

But what I think it`s hard to ignore and especially for people who live in
Paducah, who live around the plant, who work at the plant for years, who
saw their own co-workers and colleagues die of cancer, over the years and
be ignored.

Those who haven`t been heard from and I`m just glad that we`re getting a
chance to address this issue now. It never came up in the last election.

HAYES: Yes, you reported out in "The Huffington Post" story of people
writing letters, basically saying something is going on wrong here and
getting nothing from Mitch McConnell. But his portrayal in that ad, his
voters, particularly when he`s facing a Tea Party challenge, to me and to
somebody who hasn`t looked at the way he`s interacted with Kentucky voters,
it`s very surprising.

But in this incredibly exhausted piece you did with Zach Carter with
"Huffington Post", you show that actually his selling point to Kentucky is,
this is a poor state. People need help. I`m the guy who could deliver
basically the pork and the government spending that you need.

CHERKIS: Yes. No, it was very interesting that we were doing our
reporting last year. There was a lot of speculation. This is obviously
right around the time that he was thinking of running, speculation of how
McConnell was going to run this time, considering the Tea Party is so
against earmarks and appropriations, was he going to be able to run these
kinds of ads again, I think he is taking a risk, by saying it`s obviously a
powerful ad, I think he is hoping the power of the ad overcomes the fine
print that he had to get, you know, funding through the federal government
to pay for this program.

This program caused a lot of money. It was a lot of money for good,
providing health care for workers that needed it.

HAYES: There`s -- it`s also interesting to me he is doing this while
facing that Tea Party challenge. Basically he is running what is a general
election ad in which they talk about working families. It strikes me that
he`s much more worried about his Democratic challenger and the money she`s
raising and the state-wide recognition she had than his challenge from the
right.

CHERKIS: Most definitely. I don`t think he`s been particularly hurt in
anyway by what the Tea Party has done so far. They haven`t raised a ton of
money. From my interviews over if weekend with many of the Tea Party
members, they don`t expect to raise a lot of money. They don`t expect,
they`re hoping for essentially a word of mouth campaign or a campaign
staffed by volunteers.

It definitely seems pretty scatter shot at this point. I don`t know that
you can be someone who has won more political races, more political
campaigns than Kentucky than the history of Kentucky than Mitch McConnell
based on a haphazard campaign.

HAYES: Yes, word of mouth volunteer will not cut it for the most
successful politician from that state since Henry Clay.

Jason Cherkis from "Huffington Post" -- thank you.

CHERKIS: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up on Monday, there was a word that was said more on TV in
one day than it had been in the past three years in response to a post-game
interview that Seattle Seahawks player Richard Sherman gave on Sunday
night. Guess what that word was, no Googling. Answer is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Thank you so much. Richard, let me ask you, the final play,
take me through it.

RICHARD SHERMAN, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: I`m the best corner in the game. When
you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that`s the result you`re
going to get. Don`t you ever talk about me.

REPORTER: Who was talking about you?

SHERMAN: Crabtree. Don`t you open your mouth about the best, or I`m going
to shut it for your real quick. LOB.

REPORTER: All right. Before and, Joe, back over to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: On Sunday, that was how most of America was introduced to Seattle
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. It was at that moment because of the
arrogance and brashness that set aside post-game decorum, Sherman became to
a lot of people a thug.

But you don`t have to take my word for it. On Monday, the word "thug" was
said 625 times on TV, which is more often than in the last three years.
This is according to IQ Media, a research company that tracks these things.
It wasn`t just on TV.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DENNIS: Stop me when I get to the part that refutes the part that he is a
thug.

CALLAHAN: Well, he`s not a thug.

DENNIS: What do you mean?

CALLAHAN: Why is he a thug?

DENNIS: What makes a thug? Isn`t it subjective? Couldn`t you say it`s a
thug?

CALLAHAN: OK. But why is he a thug? A thug?

DENNIS: Because -- yes, because of his behavior, yes because of the
behavior you saw Sunday.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HAYES: Of course, there was nothing particularly wrong with Sherman`s
behavior on Sunday, rather than being a tad unsportsmanlike in the moment,
which is why yesterday, he told reporters why it bothers him when some
people choose to call him a thug.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERMAN: The only reason it bothers me is because it seems like it`s the
accepted way of calling somebody the "N" word nowadays. You know, it`s
like everybody else said the N-word, and they say thug. And they`re like,
oh, that`s fine.

And that`s where it`s kind of -- you know, it kind of takes me aback. It`s
kind of disappointing because they know, what`s the definition of a thug,
really?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The question of -- a thug, according to Merriam-Webster`s
collegiate dictionary, is a violent criminal, or a brutal ruffian or
assassin, which is I would submit, a far cry from offending certain people
sensibilities with a little too much trash talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERMAN: Maybe I`m talking loudly, and doing something -- you know,
talking like I`m not supposed to. But I`m not -- you know, there was a
hockey game where they didn`t even play hockey. They just threw the puck
aside and started fighting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go. A brawl to start this game. So, we got
two fights going on. Kevin (INAUDIBLE) is now on the near boards,
Westbrook and Lane near the Vancouver (INAUDIBLE) go at it.

SHERMAN: I saw that, I said, oh, man, I`m the thug? What`s going on here?
Geez! So I really am disappointed in being called a thug.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Joining me now is Jelani Cobb, associate
professor of history and director of the Institute for African-American
Studies at the University of Connecticut. This is something -- that word
has just driven me crazy when directed at black men for a long time and I`m
really coming out saying what is true.

JELANI COBB, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT: It`s interesting because you
didn`t hear people call Richie Incognito a thug. If a behavior that was
much closer to that --

HAYES: Richie Incognito was an offensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins, a
big guy, accused of bullying another teammate.

COBB: So that behavior is much closer to the dictionary definition of a
thug than you would get a bit of rant trash talking after a game, a really
intensely fought game. So I think he was dead on when he said this is kind
of a word association. This is the coded way of saying the "n" word.
Unfortunately, many people who were running the old racism operating
system, they still went back to the old "n" word.

HAYES: People who were not clever enough to use the replacement word.

COBB: Right. I think he was absolutely right in pointing that out. So
when we look at even kind of other people made the comparison to, you had
Justin Bieber`s behavior today, him being arrested, how he was much more
thug-like than anything that we saw in the on the football game. I think
the fundamental issue is that we don`t find people who look like Justin
Bieber intimidating. You know, I`m a 6` 3" black man, people look at me,
they don`t think a college professor. That`s the dynamic we are talking
about here.

HAYES: I also think it`s interesting to watch Richard Sherman over the
course of this as a public figure and as an athlete kind of take back
control of being at the center of this insane kind of media circus he was
in the wake of that interview. We did a segment. It was on talk radio,
the local news, there is this guy, meet Richard Sherman, and he`s a black
man with dreads. He is yelling at you in the camera. This is how you
should think about him. He takes the mic right back. For the, no, no,
this is how you should talk about me.

COBB: I think it`s a delicious irony. He gets to the press conference.
He is incredibly articulate critiquing what is said about him and why. I
think it`s important to remember, it was not him simply being excited. It
was excited in such close proximity to Erin Andrews. He wasn`t yelling at
her. He was yelling about another player. Maybe this is the age old
Specter of a black man being threatening to a white woman.

HAYES: Is there something that the language shifts, I will play devil`s
advocate, white people, now I can`t use "thug?" What`s the next word you
are going to tell me I can`t use? It seems like a game of Calvin Ball in
which the PC brigades are picking out a word to use.

COBB: Of course, you can use the word thug. The question is why would you
use it in this particular circumstance? What is the association between
someone who is a talented football player who made an incredible play and
after the play went over to congratulate the other player, a rather
sportsman like, and shoved. He did not respond violently.

HAYES: That`s right.

COBB: So why does that equate with thug? I think that`s the bigger
question.

HAYES: Jelani Cobb from the University of Connecticut, it`s always a
pleasure. Thank you.

COBB: Good, thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, remember Mike Huckabee, here he is speaking at the RNC`s
meeting in Washington today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE, FMR. GOV. ARKANSAS: Women I know are smart, educated,
intelligent, and capable of doing anything anyone else can do. Our party
stands for the recognition of the quality of women and capacity of women.
It`s not a war on them. It`s a war for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The women he knows. At least the women Mike Huckabee knows,
ladies, in case you aren`t smart enough to do this, already, Republicans
are doing you a favor like trying to restrict your access to birth control
and abortion, got it. The Republican Party`s troubled with women is about
to get a whole lot worse coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Imagine you are taking part in a political demonstration whether
it`s the anti-abortion march for life or code pink, bring your vagina to
the RNC. You are doing some good old fashion protest and imagine that
during your protest march, you look down at your phone to find a text
message from the government that reads, quote, "You are a subscriber. You
are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance."

Creepy, also potentially a pretty effective tool in driving protesters away
from a demonstration and that happened. That is precisely what happened in
the Ukraine this week. A country in the midst of unrest, threatening a
spiral into violent revolution, initially sparked over Ukraine`s
relationships with Russia and the EU. Protesters are now demanding the
resignation of the current president over a wide array of complaints of
corruption, cronyism and state repression.

Local phone companies denied sending the messages and protesters are left
to presume the government one way or another is using its access to social
media and cellular data to try to locate exactly who its enemies are. Now,
we are a long way from something like that happening back here in the U.S.,
I think.

But we do know the government is collecting bulk data about who we call.
Today the government`s own oversight board released a 234-page report
saying that practice is illegal. Not only illegal, but also ineffective, a
program so often defended on the grounds it saves American lives and
presents terrorist attacks, according to today`s report, to not only do
those things.

Quote, "We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the
United States in which the program made a concrete deference in the outcome
of a counter terrorism investigation. Bulk data on the activities of
citizens is a very powerful thing. It can be used for good or it can be
used for ill.

It can theoretically it can be used to stop the Boston bombers or stop the
next anti-war march. But if we know increasingly from a variety of sources
and not just lefties like myself that it`s not effective in stopping the
next Boston bombers then why in the heck are we continuing to let the
government do it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Today at the RNC`s winter meeting in Washington, D.C., the graphic
is amazing. Take a moment. The calendar with a number of days since the
Republicans said something offensive about women was reset back to zero.
When the former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee stepping up to the
plate to remind everyone why the Republican Party has such a hard time with
the ladies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUCKABEE: Women I know are outraged that the Democrats think that women
are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in
life is to have the government provide for them birth control medication.
Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, and capable of doing
anything that anyone else can do.

HAYES (voice-over): You could say the Republican Party has a problem with
women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even when life begins in that horrible situation that
it is something that God intended to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it`s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to
try to shut that whole thing down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back in my days, they used aspirin for contraceptives.
The gals put it between their knees.

HAYES: And it`s not just rhetoric, in states and in courts across the
country, Republicans are pushing to criminalize abortion, restrict access
to birth control and limit women`s access to basic health care services.
All genuinely radical positions that have led to actual policies that have
made women`s lives worse, and all those positions and policies have
translated into a real problem at the polls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Women age 30-49, new moms, young mothers, you can`t
have a gender gap as Nora pointed out 19 percent and expect to be elected
to a national party.

HAYES: You will often hear from conservatives, there is no war on women.
Republicans need to learn how to talk to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans are being counseled to run against women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The GOP is teaching its male candidates messaging
against female opponents, not to use phrases like Todd Aiken did,
legitimate rape.

HAYES: Apparently, that lesson didn`t quite sink in. Just asked the guy
headlining today`s RNC winter meeting.

HUCKABEE: If Democrats want to insult the women of America making them
believe they are helpless by providing a prescription each month for birth
control because they cannot control their libido or reconstructive system
without the help of the government. So be it.

HAYES: That`s the latest example this week of the Republican play list for
the ladies. Meet Congressman Steve Pierce of New Mexico. He is offering
up marriage kits in his new book, the wife is to voluntarily submit as the
husband is to lovingly lead in sacrifice. The husband`s part is to show up
during times of deep stress, take the leadership role, be accountable for
the outcome, blaming no one else. Then there is former Governor Hayley
Barber. Here is how he described the mayor of Hoboken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a lady mayor who asked for 142, $127 million of
hazard mitigation money from the governor.

HAYES: On second thought.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was certainly no difference between a men mayor
except in this Christie story. The first person was a mayor who happened
to be a man. The second person was a mayor who happened to be a lady and
you don`t want to get them mixed up.

HAYES: Thankfully, another conservative looked past gender.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lieutenant governor seems a little bit more at home
with makeup than the mayor is there anything to learn from that? I`m just
asking.

HAYES: But, perhaps the most personal and nasty invective from the GOP
this week have been directed towards Wendy Davis, a Democrat from Texas who
is running for governor. For her 11-hour filibuster of an anti-abortion
bill that eventually passed, turned her into something of a feminist icon,
and target number one for conservatives nicknamed her Abortion Barbie.
When the "Dallas Morning News" published a profile this week revealing
that, gasp, her husband helped pay for her college the knives came out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This Wendy Davis out of Texas is a genuine head case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was neither supporting her family nor raising her
kids. She married a sugar daddy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the suggestion she pulled herself up by her
stilettos and made it through Harvard law school, it doesn`t jive with her
then husband paid for it all.

HAYES: The Republican`s biggest problem with female voters is that
Republicans keep haphazardly telling the truth about their world view. If
you think they have trouble controlling themselves now, just wait until
they`re running against Hillary Clinton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: Joining me now, Karen Finney, the host of "Disrupt," which airs on
MSNBC Weekends at 4:00 Eastern, also the former director of communications
from the DNC, Rebecca Traster, author of "Big Girls Don`t Cry," and Betsy
Woodruff, a reporter for the conservative "National Review."

Betsy, let me start with you. I am glad you are here because I do feel --
we should be clear, right. There are millions of Republicans in this
country and millions of them are women. Millions of them watch people like
me and think I`m terrible and it`s not like the gender divide that shows up
in exit polls does not mean there are no women in the Republican Party.
There are no women conservatives.

Of course they are. So given that, how do you feel about the Huckabee
comment? Are you always misinterpreted or are you like, Dude, don`t say
stuff like that?

BETSY WOODRUFF, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": I mean, I don`t think he`s American
psycho. Obviously, it was a poor choice of words. It was a very poor way
of articulating a complicated idea, certainly isn`t helpful especially not
when you are in a meeting. It`s about the way the GOP should be moving
forward. That`s said, I think it`s the kind of thing where it`s sort of a
slow news day. It`s easy to make a big Huckabee hullabaloo about something
that isn`t necessarily enormous news.

HAYES: How dare you accuse a cable news host of blowing a quote out of
proportion? That is really dishonorable. What do you think?

KAREN FINNEY, FORMER DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Let`s talk about the
politics of what he said. By their own admission, reaching out to women,
sensitivity training on how to talk to women has been an issue they`ve had
to work on. When you talk about those women in the middle, not those
Republican women that you were talking about, but the women that are in the
middle, those undecided voters, the ones up for grabs in every election,
when you say it`s about a woman`s libido, you might as well are calling her
a slut.

That`s essentially what you are saying. The other piece is, it`s offensive
to women. It isn`t just about birth control and illegal abortion. Also,
it`s about child paid leave and child care and minimum wage. It`s about
economic issues, too.

REBECCA TRASTER, JOURNALIST: Right, the ability to control one`s
reproduction is key to the ability for women to be able participate
economically, professionally, politically, equally in the world. To make
it about libido and sex drive as Karen says makes it about a different
responsibility.

FINNEY: What about the man`s responsibility? We are talking about women
should be worried about the birth control and the aspirin between the
knees, all of. I`m sorry, it takes two, two, the last time I checked for
that to happen.

HAYES: That`s true. Conservatives I know and respect and follow on this,
say the war on women has been a fabrication by the Democratic Party
successfully to kind of drive this wedge. B, it`s liberals who obsess over
the birth control issue and that Republicans don`t really want to talk
about it. But then I feel like they keep talking about it, right. It`s
like, yes, I don`t think the Republican Party wants to wage the battle on
birth control. That`s not the hill you want to die on politically. Yet,
that is the battle of their wage.

WOODRUFF: I think when it comes to reproductive issues. It`s so much the
Republicans talk about it as it is they talk about it in the wrong way. A
Quinnipiac poll from August shows that 60 percent of American women support
bans on abortion after 20 weeks. When Republicans talk about reproductive
issues often it`s sort of bumbling old guys who aren`t necessarily the most
articulate spokes people. As a result we talk about this in terms of vast
generalizations instead of in terms of just great policy issues.

HAYES: So I think the public opinion on the 20-week ban is interesting.
It`s contested in different polls say differ things. It depends on how
many exceptions you allow, which is often the case for all abortion
polling.

FINNEY: As a board member of (inaudible), I would not be doing my job if I
remind seven out of ten Americans support Roe V. Wade.

HAYES: But hold that thought because I want to talk about how all of this
is going to change if and when a certain candidate enters the race. I
think it`s like adding explosiveness to an already explosive situation
right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Marcus has been saying it for months. Men
won`t vote for Hillary Clinton because she reminds them of their nagging
wives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Later, she morphed into a scolding mother, waving her
finger saying shame on you, Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama speaks, men hear, take off for the future.
When Hillary Clinton speaks, pen hear, take out the garbage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: We are back. I`m here with Karen Finney, Rebecca Traster, Betsy
Woodruff. That is a little taste. "New York Time`s" magazine, cover story
getting everybody today all riled up. This is the magazine cover, can we
please show it? It is pretty inspired and they have an article about
Priorities USA, a super pac, which is basically laying the ground for an
independent infrastructure for Hillary Clinton. What happens when you add
Hillary Clinton to what we have if terms of the rhetoric with woman?

TRASTER: I think what we already have is a big piece regarding women in
power. Betsy said I think is interesting, a lot of people making these
misstatements are, I think she used the term bumbling old guys, right?
There is something generational and historic happening on many levels. If
you listen to the way Mike Huckabee women unable to control their libido,
it reminded me of how Rush Limbaugh when he talked about Sandra Flock,
talked about unlimited sex, no limits on the amount of sex she could have,
as many partners as she wanted.

There is an obvious anxiety about a loss of control and limits on something
having to do with women. It used to be, especially in generations that
featured more of who we know bumbling old guys, there were limits on
women`s power, sexually, politically, professionally, economically. After
generations of shift and struggle, we are now seeing women come into power
as a candidate.

FINNEY: I do think they have to be careful when it comes to Hillary. It`s
the tone and the tenor of a lot of the language that makes I think women
feel we are under siege in terms of a war. You sort of feel like, wait a
minute, I thought we decided that. I thought birth control was done. I
thought we already decided we were equal in the work place, why can`t we
make the same as men?

So I think for a lot of women, it`s like God we`re still fighting these
battles. I think when you have a woman in the race, people think they can
say things like we just saw and it won`t make people kind of take a step
back and say that`s not appropriate.

HAYES: Here`s a question for you. This relates to Hillary again, do you
think of modern conservatism or the center right coalition of the
Republican Party as standing for traditional gender roles? Is that
something you think of as part of what the movement is about?

WOODRUFF: No, I wouldn`t say that`s why people get involved in activism.
If anything, one of the most energizing parts of the conservative movement
over the last couple years, take it for what it`s worth is the Tea Party,
which has been unrelated to certainly issues, throughout the issues it`s
focused on.

HAYES: I think in its branding. It has more in actuality. I think it is
true. I have interviewed people that are Christian conservatives and also
the polling bears us out. Self-identified people are the most anti-
abortion voters in America.

TRASTER: When they got to Congress, that`s the legislation over and over
again, not jobs, not money.

HAYES: More abortion restrictions enacted from 2011 to 2013 than in the
previous entire decade. Basically, that it was Tea Party wave of
legislators put into power at that time.

FINNEY: Look, part of the reason I think you will see at the RNC on
Friday, this resolution being put forward is they believe that is a winning
strategy for 2014. We believe it`s a foolish strategy for 2014 but, I
think they believe in their districts, going after their voters, which are
a wedge issue they can win on.

HAYES: In terms of Hillary and in terms of the sort of sexism that would
be direct at her abortion to run. Let me say this, this is a point,
conservative women get it worse than conservative men, too, like there is
no question, when Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, yes, like, I know
conservative women who write about politics on the internet. We will talk
about this later at some point, sort of women on the internet, amazing
stuff hang around that. It`s shocking to me they get the things that
people say to them. So there is no sort of monopoly on the society
directed towards public women figures.

TRASTER: Right. This is what I`m saying. Women aren`t exhibiting more
power in more ways. Not just as gubernatorial candidates or presidential
candidates but at the ballot box, at the polls, women are exerting power
him people are freaking out. When you see them talking about libidos and
sluts, all this stuff.

FINNEY: Remember, when we saw the report earlier this year that talked
about women as head of households the key bread winner, the Fox News clan
talked about how women are destroying America. Actually, sometimes it was
the women`s salary.

HAYES: That gets to this question, the deep question that I was asking
Betsy before, right, which is before, is it the case? Does the modern
conservative movement want to say that traditional gender role is part of
what it`s pushing, selling America, or are they saying, we are all equal,
that`s where we will start?

I think there is real internal dissent. It comes out in the kind of stuff
we see. You can catch Karen Finney and journalist, Rebecca Traster, and
Betsy Woodruff of "The National Review," thank you all. That is ALL IN for
this evening. The "RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening,
Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW: Good evening, Uncle Sugar.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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