updated 2/18/2014 1:00:29 PM ET 2014-02-18T18:00:29

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
February 15, 2014

Guests: Katon Dawson, Kica Matos, Christina Greer, Sharda Sekaran, John
Nichols, Glenn Martin, Mark Caputo, Richard Barber, Andre Lambertson,
Wilbert Rawlins Jr., Marcia Anderson


JOY REID, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question. Is it too late to put
the marijuana genie back in the bottle? Plus, who is Senator Mitch
McConnell really running against? And the whole gritty city of New Orleans
like you`ve never seen it before. But first, the latest bogus line out of
Washington is just a matter of trust.

Good morning. I`m Joy Reid in today for Melissa Harris-Perry. This week
our representatives in Congress managed to pull off a feat that seemed
nearly impossible just a few months ago. They did their job and passed
actual legislation with no brinksmanship, no hostage taking and no shutdown
shenanigans. Both Houses of Congress voted to let the U.S. continue
borrowing money to pay the nation`s bills. And to free the American people
from having to hear the words "debt ceiling showdown" until at least March
of 2015. In fact, the clean debt ceiling bill was just the latest example
of how our lawmakers can play nicely with one another when they want to.
In December they came together on a bipartisan budget agreement and just
last month they compromised on a trillion dollar spending plan and the
passage finally of the farm bill.

But before you get all excited and think bipartisanship and functioning
government are breaking out all over, permit me to dim your optimism for
just a minute. Because our newly cooperative Congress just hit another
wall. Just a few weeks ago it seems like immigration reform would be the
next on the list of things Congress finds a way to compromise and get
something done on. House Republicans were suddenly striking a different
tone versus last year when they rejected a bipartisan Senate bill on
immigration and House Speaker John Boehner refused to even bring up the
bill in the House. So it was a sign of progress when just two weeks ago
House Republicans emerged from a policy retreat with their own blueprint
for immigration legislation, but then came this surprise announcement just
one week later from speaker Boehner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Listen. There`s widespread doubt
about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and
it`s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that
changes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: So, in just one week`s time, the GOP who seemingly - had seemingly
gone from let`s make a deal to deal`s off, and Republicans were giving one
explanation for their change of heart. Trust issues. More specifically
with President Obama who`s been locked out of the Republican circle of
trust. So now the new narrative for Republican resistance goes like this.
Republicans were willing to deal on the multi-trillion dollar budget and
the once talk of the debt ceiling, but because the GOP has trust issues
with the president, we can`t have nice things like immigration reform.
Others Republicans have joined Speaker Boehner in selling this idea about
why they can`t trust this president and it comes down to one word. The one
ring to rule them all in the 2014 elections. Obamacare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: There`s a real trust deficit right
now that the speaker is facing and it`s related to Obamacare and the
disastrous rollout. Because let`s think about it. Immigration means doing
a lot of complex things well and in addition to that the administration
keeps issuing executive orders to change the law very frequently. So, I
think there`s the trust deficit that`s related.

PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Here`s the issue that all Republicans agree on.
We don`t trust the president to enforce the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Meanwhile last month at a breakfast with reporters organized by "The
Wall Street Journal" Florida Senator Marco Rubio explained what he said
were the other reasons his fellow Republicans don`t trust the president.
They pointed to the IRS scandal, the Benghazi stuff and then the NSA
revelations and then the Obamacare decisions by this administration as
evidence of how the government and this administration unilaterally decides
which portions of the law to enforce and which ones not to enforce and that
further undermines. You see what Senator Rubio just did there? The same
menu of conspiracy theories and full Obama scandals that animate the far
right have become the excuse for not doing policy that`s in Republicans`
own long-term interest when it comes to immigration. And Republicans are
going to ride this trust narrative into the November elections, but there
are a couple of problems with this argument.

First, the GOP`s explanation that they can`t trust President Obama to
enforce the law simply isn`t supported by his record, because the fact is
no president has been tougher on enforcing immigration laws than this
president. Take a look at this chart. The rate of annual deportations was
higher under President Obama`s first term than it was during any year of
the entire George W. Bush administration. Today more than 1,100 immigrants
on average are deported daily under this administration. So at the current
rate the Obama administration is on track this year to surpass a total of 2
million deportations.

OK, problem number two is that Speaker Boehner and the Republicans are not
acting in a vacuum. In fact, immigration advocates are promising to make
sure that there`s no vacuum at all. In a conference call this week, the
spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement Kica Matos made this
promise to House Republicans saying, quote, "Let me just be clear about one
thing. From now on, any lawmaker who does not support comprehensive
immigration reform should expect relentless and constant confrontation that
will escalate until they agree to support immigration reform."

In other words, Republicans may not trust President Obama, but if they
refuse to act on immigration reform, they can trust that there will be
political pushback. And joining me now are Katon Dawson, a Republican
consultant and former chair of the South Carolina GOP Christina Greer,
assistance professor of political science at Fordham University. Kica
Matos, the aforementioned head of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.

And she`s also the director of the Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at
the campaign for community change and Ralph Reyes who`s an attorney, an
"USA Today" columnist and also my pal. Thanks everyone for being here. I
really appreciate it.

And Kica, I do want to start with you. Because you are the one who issued,
we could call that challenge, I guess you could say or maybe that threat to
Republicans that essentially you either do immigration reform or you`re
going to face the opposition. Tell me what that`s about and why you`re
also saying even people who are for immigration reform in the GOP maybe
targets.

KICA MATOS, CENTER FOR COMMUNITY CHANGE: Sure, look, you know. This is an
issue where you have a lot of bipartisan support unlike many other policy
issues that get debated in Congress. There is a sense on the part of both
of Democrats and Republicans that we have to move on reform. We have had
for nearly 30 years a broken immigration system. And last year the
advocates played nice. You know, we engaged with Republican legislators,
we did a lot of lobbying, we did a lot of education, we did a lot of in-
district work.

Yes, we had rallies. Yes, we had acts of civil disobedience, but for the
most part, our strategy was to really move both parties and to move
Congress so that we could finally get reform done and so people could stop
suffering and it felt like we made a lot of progress, right? We had a bill
pass the Senate and then the House has it bill that has 196 co-sponsors.
Speaker Boehner at the end of the year hired a very highly regarded policy
expert. They leased the principals, and then all of a sudden they throw
cold water, and we feel like we`ve had enough.

Our communities have suffered too much and now it`s time to engage in some
hardball, and we`re going to do hardball in two different ways. One is,
we`re going to really escalate our advocacy in Congress, but also we`re
going to really ramp up our civic engagement efforts and we`re going to
work to make sure that our communities go out to vote and that we register
people to vote.

REID: You know, Katon, I want to go to you. Because it did seem that for
a moment John Boehner was trying to move the caucus in the direction of
doing immigration reform, as Kica mentioned, he even hired a highly
regarded pro-immigration advocate and then he did suddenly - it was sort of
whiplash. He kind of snapped back in the other direction. Why do you
think that happened and do you think Republicans really can ride out 2014
without doing something on immigration?

KATON DAWSON, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I think they`re going to run
out in 2014 and focus back on the winning issues. I`m with you and
understand we`re now inside the window, and I think what people are missing
here in electoral politics is we now have filing in March.

REID: Right. Primaries.

DAWSON: So, and I never fault a politician on either side for wanting to
keep their job, I don`t. And so now we get inside the window of we`ve got
factions in the Republican Party. I mean that big tent`s got holes in it
right now. And so we`ve got elected officials sitting there, getting ready
to go file. I think you`ll watch after the filings in March -- and both
parties have. And that`s - it`s a hot issue both ways. It cuts both ways
in our party right now. So, let`s get March out of the way. I think
Speaker Boehner is doing a marvelous job. I do. A lot of people might not
like him. I like Speaker Boehner and I like Newt Gingrich.

(LAUGHTER)

DAWSON: Two remarkable speakers. And notable in the Republican Party.
So, I knew you all wouldn`t, but I`m OK with that. So, I do think - watch
after the march filings. Let`s get something situated. The Republicans
are not going to lose the House. That`s a pipe dream. And we`ve got 2014
issues, and that`s why talking about trust issues with the president is
good politics for our party.

REID: Right. And I mean, you probably - just to that point, to Katon`s
point. If you look at where Hispanic voters are concentrated, right? It
is most decidedly with the exception of Texas, not where Republicans are
now facing primaries. So I thought - we have a map that I can show you
that sort of gives you the cluster of sort of Hispanic concentration in
this congressional district. And so, to Katon Dawson`s point. If you`re
playing sort of smart primary politics, knowing people can file in March.
Republicans are doing that, right? They`re doing what`s right for them
politically in the primaries.

RAUL REYES, ATTORNEY: They`re doing what may be right for them in the
upcoming primaries, but that`s a very myopic way of looking at things.
Because the longer they put this off, the harder it`s going to be to do
immigration reform. And not just the fact that it`s a very contentious
issue on the right, but the longer that they wait to do immigration reform.
And not just the fact that it`s a very contentious issue on the right, but
the longer that they wait to do immigration reform, that is longer that the
Democrats can use this issue against them with Latinos and with other
American voters and the longer that it can cement Latino antipathy to the
GOP.

And, you know, you went through the list of these reasons why they - the
Republicans say we could not do immigration reform. That was only half the
list, Joy. Remember, we also couldn`t do immigration reform because of the
crisis in Syria. We also couldn`t do immigration reform because of the
sequester.

REID: Right.

REYES: We also could not do immigration reform because of the Boston
bombing and the fact that some of those suspects were immigrants. We also
couldn`t do immigration reform because President Obama issued the deferred
action. These are just continual excuses. The bottom line is Speaker
Boehner cannot get his caucus together. And so this one is kind of a new
low, I would say, in terms of the legitimacy, because this has been
received so poorly.

REID: Right. And is that, you know, ultimately you`re going to get past
the primaries, you`re going to be in the general election contest. When
Republicans really - and I think most strategies understand, they`ve got to
try to broaden the map. The focus on the Affordable Care Act is kind of
interesting. Because if you look at -- I love maps, so we`ve got to have
another map. I really do love maps.

But no, if you look at where the Affordable Care Act, OK? Let`s look at
where people are actually signing up for it, OK? And these are in a lot of
red states where Republicans are saying it`s not in my interest to do it
because people don`t trust President Obama and President Obama is the
reason we can`t do it.

But if you look at states like Florida, even states like Alabama, you have
signs up that are already hitting 60 percent of the - you have people in
Kentucky, they`re actively signing up for it. So, the toxicity of the
Affordable Care Act, I`m wondering, if that`s going be enough to say you
know what? We hate the Affordable Care Act. We don`t like President
Obama, therefore do immigration reform. Does that make sense?

CHRISTINA GREER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right. And
well, the thing is - it`s - you know, to say that it`s just Obama is the
low hanging fruit issue, right? I mean a lot of Democrats and even
Republicans are recognizing that immigration reform is also now a pocket
book issue. So it goes part and parcel with the Affordable Care Act. So,
the longer the Republicans stay in this homogeneous party and ideas in sort
of their base. I mean, you know -- Katon says that they have factions.
They are in the civil war right now.

REID: But explain how is that pocket book issue. How would that be
explained to somebody who says I`m against opening the borders? How do you
explain to them, well, this is the pocket book issue. How?

GREER: Well, because with immigration reform we know that 20 percent of
immigrants are small business owners and entrepreneurs. We know that
immigrants support many Republican industries large and small, right? So
we can`t just look at it as - you know, when we think about immigration, we
also in our minds oftentimes just think about Mexico. There`s immigration
from all over the globe and people are contributing to so many different
factions in our economic society. There are also people who are native
born who have immigrant relatives who understand the financial constraints
of having family members in other countries. So, until the Republicans
actually have a much larger and broader conversation about the global
politics of immigration and how it affects .

REID: That strikes me as a general election question. I think what Katon
was saying in the primaries that`s really not as potent. We`re going to
talk more about this. When we come back, what immigration has in common
with the Super Bowl? Seriously. That`s next.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: So, America`s undocumented immigrants may be the ones most harmed by
Congress`s failure to pass immigration reform, but House Republicans who
are blocking reform could ultimately be the ones who pay the political
price. House Speaker John Boehner suddenly reversed on immigration reform
last week and it`s met with outrage from advocates of reform. And this
week on the floor of the House, Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez of
Illinois made clear the consequences of an action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Mr. Speaker, you can`t deport your way
out of this and you can`t ignore your way out of this. And you can`t blame
Obama your way out of this. You thought the Super Bowl was a blowout last
month? Wait until November 2016. If immigration reform is still hanging
out there undone. You can tell the babysitter you`ll be home by 10:30 on
election night. The contests will be over early. It`s Democrats and the
White House by a landslide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: So, Katon Dawson, isn`t that ultimately true? That demographically
by 2016, if Republicans don`t do immigration reform, they`re in serious
trouble in terms of the presidential race?

DAWSON: We have to expand our numbers, there`s no secret there. And our
numbers have to be expanded not only in the Republican, but it`s an
independent - independent vote is there. And it is not a monolithic vote.
It is a very independently minded vote that doesn`t come in like a lot of
strategies let you say there. Oh, they`re taking a look at the tone of the
debate, what it is, and the concerns, and it`s very personal. And I`ve
been with people -- so if the Republicans -- now, we said it earlier. If
the Republicans first don`t enact something, and I think that Speaker
Boehner will set up that in `15, and change our tone, we`re going to miss
our last big chance in a federal election.

REID: But the problem then, again, as you talk about the primaries, is
that the negative tone is what`s necessary to win a primary. So, how the
Republicans - that circle? Because the anti-immigrant rhetoric is what
they are doing to win Tea Party primary.

DAWSON: It`s a tough thing to do. I think that`s the tone. And the thing
that I hear from the Tea Party groups is the word amnesty as the one that`s
always thrown around. That`s the one - that`s the one that kicks the can
down the road. That`s the excuse they do to get nothing done on it. In my
polling I`m seeing, it`s very interesting, that people actually want things
done. They all hate Washington, but they sort of want things done.

On the hard side of our party, they just want to shut the door or lock it
down. On the left side of the party they just want more things as far as
the Democrat. But so, it`s convoluted. But if we don`t do something as a
party to expand our base in places like Colorado. Move on through that
section of the country that we`ve been losing. Losing Virginia. Florida`s
a tossup, then we`ve got problems in the national elections, not in the
regional elections, not in Congress, and not in governor`s races.

REID: But Kica, so, are you used to that argument? Because essentially
what your organization is saying is that we`re not listening to that. That
we want to see these Republican candidates support and vote for immigration
reform now despite the primary issues.

MATOS: Yes. Let me just say a couple of more things. We do want to make
sure that we have an impact in purple states, right, because there are an
increasing number of purple districts where Republicans actually do have to
pay attention to the Latino and Asian and immigrant votes, so that`s one
thing.

You know, the other thing is that as a nation, we`re also a country that is
moving its -- its demographics are changing and we have an increasing
number of young voters who are more progressive. We have the fastest
growing demographic which is Latinos. And even amongst white folks, right,
there`s increasing support for immigration reform.

So, it doesn`t matter which way you slice it and you look at it. I think
Republicans are in trouble and the message we`re sending is, you know, no
Republican is safe and no Democratic legislator either is safe if they
don`t get right on reform and I feel like if the Republicans don`t get
right on reform, I really truly believe that the party`s quickly on its way
to extinction.

MP: And Raul, you know, Kica mentioned people - Republicans that are in
trouble. I love to look at these things sort of in parallel, right? If
you look at who voted for the debt ceiling, the clean debt ceiling bill in
the House. Or you did have some House Republicans vote for it. Look at
where they are. Right there in Ohio, Virginia, California, Illinois,
Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, you see where I`m going
with it. Pennsylvania. It`s not as if that there are 100 Republicans who
could be in swing state trouble. But there are maybe 15.

REYES: Right. But look at that situation. You know, the debt ceiling
situation, John Boehner was in an untenable position and what he did was he
took the logical strategic steps, so he passed it with the majority of
Democratic support. So, you know, going forward that is what he absolutely
must do for immigration. And I think, you know, to your point I`m aware
that, of course, Republicans are aware that this is important issue among
the Latino community.

But Kica will -- we talked about it earlier. We`re at the point now where
immigration has become more than just an issue in our community. It has
really reached the point of being a true movement where people are
mobilized and energized like I have never seen. And going pack to some of
these Republican talking points and excuses that they use, they say that
President Obama hasn`t been willing to compromise and that he`s not been
willing to work with them.

That`s not true. He`s been willing to accept piecemeal legislation. He`s
been willing, he said, he is opened to accepting just possibly
legalization. Not citizenship. He`s resisted granting relief from
deportations and that has cost so much tremendous heartbreak and
devastation in our communities. All of those things he`s exercised
tremendous restraint. And even on that, the Republicans will not give him
credit or acknowledge it.

REID: Yeah, difficult issue. Well, first of all, we have to thank Kica
Matos. Thank you so much for being here.

MATOS: Thank you for having me.

REID: You appreciate it.

OK, and up next. - President Obama and the Democrats are upping the ante on
minimum wage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And so, we sign
the executive order, these folks are going to get a raise, and what I said
yesterday is that now it`s time for Congress to act because America
deserves a raise.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: This week President Obama earned the trust of some low wage workers
when he delivered on a pledge he made last month during his state of the
union address. The president promised in his speech to use the power of
the executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers.
And on Wednesday he did just that, signing an order raising the minimum
wage at companies that do businesses with the government from $7.25 to
$10.10 an hour. However, the president`s order will only raise the minimum
wage initially for at most a few thousand workers at some federal
buildings, and military bases. Like janitors and food service workers.
Since it applies only to new federal contracts.

For the millions of Americans who earn the minimum - the federal minimum
wage to get a pay raise, Congress would have to act and pass legislation.
And on Thursday, House Democrats announced their plan to force the issue
with a discharge position that would bring an increase in the federal
minimum wage to the floor for a vote. The petition would require the
support of a majority of House members including the unlikely prospect of
at least 18 Republicans going rogue against their leadership, but the move
would force Republicans before the midterm elections to go on record,
opposing an economic policy that`s popular not just nationally, but also in
their home districts. Take a look at this December local news report from
Cincinnati, which is part of a Republican district in Ohio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all about maximum exposure about minimum wage.
That`s why you have a little about - a little over 20 organizers out here
in Ridge (ph) and Highland and in scores of other cities taking on the fast
food industry over what they say are unfair low wages.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And joining the table now is John Nichols. Washington correspondent
for "The Nation" magazine. So, John, is this a potent political issue for
Democrats? Minimum wage in 2014?

JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: Without a doubt. In fact, it`s a potent
political issue for everybody. The reason that Democrats have started to
move on this - I wish I can tell you, some purely honorable instinct. But
it`s like everything you were talking about in the last segment. There is
a lot of politics in it. What happened was that even President Obama a
year ago was sort of cautiously dancing toward $9 an hour and everybody
said, oh, that`s so dangerous. That`s more than $1. Well, then they
started do some polling on it. And it`s amazing thing about polling. They
found out - Democrats are like about - you know, like it`s just through the
roof in favor of it. Independents are through the roof in favor of it.

REID: And we have some numbers .

NICHOLS: And majority of Republicans.

REID: Yeah. Are in favor of it. There a Quinnipiac poll that actually
shows sort of support for the minimum wage and that to your point, John.
Republicans, 52 percent for it. Democrats, 93 percent for it. No surprise
here. But Independents, the next what everybody really cares about it in
general - independents, 69 percent.

NICHOLS: That`s the big deal, and here`s where it gets really interesting.
Much of the polling - the Quinnipiac is good. There`s a lot of other
polling on this. It goes - it`s real in-depth. And what it finds is that
when you go up the numbers, that you go to nine, you go to ten, you go to
11, you go to 12, you go to 13, yes, it does start to slow down, but not
that much.

REID: Right.

NICHOLS: And so, what the Democrats have figured out and it`s very, very
important for this is. If you`re going to try and make this an issue, you
can`t make it an issue by talking about a quarter or 50 cents. You have to
talk about a real increase in the wage and you have to couple it with a
core reality that speaks to Republicans and that is people working 40 hours
a week shouldn`t end up living in poverty.

REID: Right. And look, the key point there, Christina, of course, is
people working, because a lot of the - the toxicity around issues that are
called entitlements are because they are not necessarily tied to work. Is
it sure about work? You talked about immigration in the previous segment
has become a bread and butter issue. Is this another one that is a potent
political issue because it`s about your pocket?

GREER: It is. And keep in mind, in 2014, all 435 members of the House are
up for re-election. So, they are all doing their internal - and they
understand that pocketbook issues actually matter especially for the core
base that`s going to come out, right? We call it an off year. I don`t
like to call it that. Because it implies that we should all take off.
It`s just a nonpresidential election year.

So it turned out as much lower, but Republicans understand. Like we`re in
a recession borderline depression for particular communities. So an
increase in the minimum wage makes sense, makes political sense, makes
economic sense. And if you want to keep your seat, the goal of all elected
officials is too get elected and to get re-elected. If you want to stay
employed, you have to respond to what your district wants and needs,
because we`re looking at Independents and Republicans over 50 percent who
want this, you have to come up with something.

REID: Right. And Katon, so I`m curious? What could be the counter-
argument? Because if you - I mean isn`t that sort of self-evident whether
you`re in Kentucky, or Ohio, or Arkansas? Everybody who`s working wants to
make a little more money. What possible messaging could there be against
the minimum wage?

DAWSON: It`s always easy politics to talk about giving a pay raise. The
hard part of politics will come from the Chamber of Commerce in this
issues.

REID: Right.

DAWSON: I was a small business owner for 37 years. I remember when they
tipped on me with the minimum wage and I had to sit down and say, I`m
sorry, I can`t use you and you. Because nothing in this creates more
revenue for me to be able to pay more money. This is a great Democratic
answer to the Affordable Care Act where people are talking about 29 hours a
week to avoid some of the benefits, people that are having their wages cut.
So, it`s a good counter argument what`s coming to use in the fall.

And it`s coming in the fall. The Affordable Care Act is not going to leave
electoral politics. There`s going to be real pain, especially among the
young people whose insurance has risen cost-wise, so it`s good politics,
but I`ll tell you as a guy who owned the business, I remember saying here
the government`s told me to wage raise it. I`ve got to let you two go.
I`ve got to cut this. And that`s where it comes to the heartland, which is
small businesses in America. And that`s the politics of it.

REID: I see what you did there. We`re out of time in the segment. But,
you know, do you - just smaller work hours. CBO number. That was people
who were able to not work those extra hours and not work triple overtime to
get health insurance. I see what you did there though. And I know you are
the strategist, but that really wasn`t about the employers cutting wages or
hours. But thank you very much. I really appreciate it. And stay with
us. When we come back, we will talk about the senator who`s actually
encouraging workers to vote against better working conditions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Last night workers in a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee,
made a decision that could be a major blow to the power of the American
labor movement. Employees at the plant voted 712 to 726 not to join the
United Autoworkers Labor Union and become the very first foreign autoworker
in the U.S. to be represented by the UAW. The workers made the decision
despite a level of support from Volkswagen that was unprecedented for a
company being unionized.

But the Volkswagen workers also heard from plenty of opponents of organized
labor like Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker who led the 2008 pitch
to convince Volkswagen to build the billion dollar plant in Chattanooga.
On Wednesday Corker made a surprise announcement on day one of the
Volkswagen workers, three day secret ballot, saying, quote, "I`ve had
conversations today.

Based on those, I`m assured that should the workers vote against the UAW,
Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its
new midsize SUV here in Chattanooga." Corker didn`t specify who he`d
spoken with in Volkswagen. And his claim runs counter to several
statements made by the company that the vote would have no effect on where
the new SUV would be made.

So here we have, John, a direct sort of appeal by Corker, essentially
saying, if you want those SUVs, you`re going to want to vote against that
union and apparently that another effort was successful.

NICHOLS: Yeah, this was the intense vote. And it was a big deal. The
important thing to understand is that there are often folks who say the UAW
and other old school unions are inflexible. In fact, here they had gone
maximum flexible. They had said we will work with Volkswagen to develop a
works council.

And union and non-union workers we`ll be at the table. We`re going to
really democratize this place. The German Volkswagen managers said we
really like that. We`re working with workers councils all over the world.
We`re going to bring you in to making decisions at the international level.
Finally, a globalization of the voice of workers.

Now, Bob Corker promised he was going to stand down. He wasn`t going to
mingle in. He was going to let the workers decide. He comes in full
force. Now, the play out of that statement. If you read that statement,
the fascinating thing, he says is, I have assurance that if the workers
vote no. Now, what he didn`t say is - he didn`t have assurance if the
workers vote yes, it would not count.

REID: Right. Right.

NICHOLS: And so, what he was really doing was playing a language game
here. The Volkswagen people were put into a bind. They came forward
quickly and said, no, we`re not judging on this vote. But I think when you
look at a defeat by really a small number of votes, it is very possible
that a United States senator intervening in an election about the future of
manufacturing in America and screwed it up.

REID: And Raul, what does it say sort of about the country and the state
of the economy that you essentially have Southern states luring companies
in by saying, listen, we promise we`ll have lower wages.

REYES: Right. Well, I`m not sure that in the long run that`s necessarily
good for the American worker, but what I find so fascinating about this
case, first of all, it`s unique. And that the company, Volkswagen, was not
fighting.

REID: They weren`t fighting.

REYES: On the forming of the union. It was these outside influence just
including the senator. And Volkswagen, in fact, has a pretty good record
with its labor relations. And what really struck me is that in a sense it
goes against conservative principles, which is let the free market work.
Let the market - keep the government out of business, stop the meddling.

And here government, it`s openly very, you know, meddling at the highest
level. And not only that, when they do that, I mean I think they have also
created a climate of fear, economic uncertainty, which is, again, something
that supposedly conservatives don`t like. That they want stability.
Because that increases economic growth and promotes business. So, just -
the construct in this case were very unique. So, and I think that maybe it
will come up for vote again, since it was close this time.

NICHOLS: And it`s one of the things, keeping the mix here, just very
quick. Senator Corker was actually one of the moderate players in this.

(LAUGHTER)

REYES: Right.

NICHOLS: There were Tennessee state legislators who came forward and said,
boy, if they vote for the union, we may have a hard time, you know,
continuing to get benefits to this plant and you`re thinking, wow, that`s -
- that`s getting to the level of saying you will use the power of the state
to prevent union -- people who want to join the union .

REYES: That`s oppressive.

REID: Katon, is there any discomfort with this idea - I mean you talk
earlier about, well, raise the minimum wage. And that`s going to hurt the
business guy. You know having a union, now, this argument, that, well, you
know, that may not be good for your future, we may not build that plant
here. It does feel like the entire message, the package, goes against the
average working stiff.

DAWSON: Well, let me give kudos to Bob Corker. He is a wildly popular
U.S. senator in Tennessee. And a little bit of a national figure. He
tried to save an auto plant that was going down. He ran his own business.
Actually started off towing a wagon, first with construction supplies, to
build (inaudible) and windows. But with Bob Corker, sure, what`s wrong
with exercising your right? The pro union side was piling money into
Tennessee. It was a huge .

REID: Back to my question. I mean very good answer and Bob Corker is very
thankful for that, but the package in this message is saying lower wages is
what you want. Because if you don`t give us the lower wages, we might just
take away the plant. That is - isn`t that an anti-working guy message?

DAWSON: The package in Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, the package
is more jobs.

REID: For less money.

(CROSSTALK)

DAWSON: Well, we also raced to the bottom in the textile industry and we
have got mills all through there. They are all closed, because they were
sent offshore. A whole another issue. But we`ve got to have jobs. And
that`s how we`ve done Boeing. BMW in South Carolina, it`s how Texas has
the historic gains. And so, we`re right to work states. We`re not pro
union states and we`re creating the jobs right now and we`re creating them
anywhere we can.

REID: And Christina, I mean is that argument problematic for you?

GREER: It`s so - I mean the Republican Party reminds me of the New York
Knicks. There`s absolutely no long-term strategy. Right? So, it`s like
let`s just - let`s keep this plant, let`s keep our workers sort of
underpaid, under organized, and then it`s because they have jobs. Well,
what happens later on down the line? We have to have a sustainable
strategy.

And so, in these Southern states, there are these right to work states,
where, essentially they are union-busting, right? The Republican Party
wants to go back to these old values. We always here about the old -
Norman Rockwell days. Well, back in the old days, people actually had
unions and they could make a living wage. And had affordable - get
affordable - like they were able to afford things. They had jobs and they
could afford their homes. I mean this is the .

REID: And unfortunately then they have to .

Christina, I`ll give you the last word, and thank you so much, Christina
Greer. And you are, of course, the author of "Black Ethnics: Race,
Immigration and the Pursuit of the American Dream. So everybody could read
that. All right. Thanks, also, to Raul Reyes. Thanks for being here as
always. And up next, the thing about pregnant pigs and weed. That`s
right.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: It`s the unlikely connection and it could be the key to one state`s
political future.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: OK. Let`s talk about the Florida state constitution for a moment.
The Florida state constitution, as far as state constitutions go, is pretty
standard. With articles on state and local taxes, the public university
system and how to fill a vacancy in public office and then there`s article
10, section 21. "Limiting cruel and inhumane confinement of pigs during
pregnancy."

This section reads in part "It shall be unlawful for any person to confine
a pig during pregnancy in an enclosure or to tether a pig during pregnancy
on a farm in such a way that she`s prevented from turning around freely."
The pregnant pigs` amendment was added to the state constitution in 2002 by
ballot measure. 55 percent of Florida voters agreed that such close
quarters for pregnant pigs was cruel and inhumane treatment and it should
be outlawed in the state`s highest legal document.

The pregnant pigs` initiative appeared on the ballot after 500,000
signatures were collected. By state and national animal rights groups. By
the same process another much derided amendment was added to the
constitution in the year 2000. One that required a high-speed monorail
system be built in the state. That amendment was repealed in 2005. The
pigs amendment, however, well that one, still stands.

The term pregnant pigs, quickly became shorthand for how easy it was to
change the Florida state constitution by ballot. Then Governor Jeb Bush
went as far as to say in his 2003 state of the state address, quote, "The
bottom line is that pregnant pigs don`t belong in our state constitution
and I believe sensible reforms of the initiative process are long overdue."
Indeed the Republican controlled Florida legislature set about making it
harder to amend the state constitution. At the time when pregnant pig`s
amendment was passed, all that was needed was a simple majority of voters.
In 2006 the legislature placed a measure on the ballot that would require
60 percent of voters to approve a constitutional amendment in the future.
It passed by 58 percent.

This November Florida will vote on another proposed constitutional
amendment and it has already created sharp divisions between the two major
parties. Will the ballot measure increase Democratic turnout and help
Charlie Christ chances of taking back the Florida governor`s mansion? Or
is it true as one Republican fundraiser told "The Tampa Tribune" that
medical marijuana or pregnant pigs don`t decide who`s going to be governor
of Florida? More on that part of the story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: In Florida this November voters will have a chance to weigh in on
whether to allow the use of medical marijuana in their state. According to
a recent Quinnipiac poll, the legalization of medical marijuana is
overwhelmingly popular in the sunshine state. 82 percent of voters there
support it. And yet, just getting question on the ballot has been a
battle.

The Republican administration of Governor Rick Scott fought the ballot
initiative in court arguing that that the language will mislead voters.
Some Republican say the initiative is a ploy to get more young and likely
Democratic voters out to the polls for Republican turned independent turned
Democrat Charlie Christ in the gubernatorial race. And to reverse the turn
of older, more Republican electorate and low turnout in non-presidential
election years.

Some Democrats have accused the Scott administration of fighting the
medical marijuana initiative purely to prevent that from happening. So the
question is, can pot really get out the vote? With me at the table is
Katon Dawson, a Republican consultant and former chair of the South
Carolina GOP, Sharda Sekaran, the managing director of communications for
the Drug Policy Alliance. John Nichols, Washington correspondent at "The
Nation," Glenn Martin, president and founder of "Just Leadership, USA."
And from Miami, Florida, is Mark Caputo, political writer for "The Miami
Herald."

And Mark, I`m going to start with you. And let me ask you. As far as
whether the arguments over whether or not the legalized marijuana
initiative will get out more Democratic voters, what do you make of the
polls that show that it`s highly popular, but it`s potentially an
inspiration to voters to get out?

MARK CAPUTO, POLITICAL WRITER, THE MIAMI HERALD: I think it could be an
inspiration for voters to get out, but it`s really an open question about
whether this is going to put Charlie Christ over the top over Rick Scott.
Yes, Rick Scott opposes the medical marijuana ballot initiative, but he`s
rather - he`s been rather quiet about it.

Remember, there is also a libertarian that`s going to be in this race and
there are going to be folks, independent-minded voters who probably don`t
like either party who - if they are inclined to vote for medical marijuana
might just side with the independent. That`s Adrian Wyllie. So I think
it`s a bit up in the air.

But there`s certainly politics at play here. Both sides have, Republican
and Democratic donors and funders making a lot of noise, but I do agree
with what that Republican strategist Max Stipanovich said that people are
going to go out to vote for governor to vote for governor. And, you know,
some folks are going to cross over who are Republican and vote for medical
marijuana and vice versa. But I do see this passing right now according to
the polls. But right now it`s probably about 70 percent. Take 60 percent
to pass the constitutional amendment in Florida, but it`s really up in the
air.

REID: And Mark, I mean both you and I both know that the last sort of
experience with the big ballot initiative was in 2010 with the fair
districts amendment, which were also really contentious politically, but in
the end, I mean what impact did those have in 2010?

CAPUTO: Well, you raise a great point. The constitutional amendment to do
fair districting or no gerrymandering was a liberal sought constitutional
amendment and the Republicans destroyed Democrats at the polls. So you had
a liberal constitutional amendment and you had a Republican waive year.
2004, we had a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage, those
brought up in part like ACORN. Remember them?

REID: Yep.

CAPUTO: And that year George Bush won Florida and Senator Mel Martinez,
Republican senator. That was a Republican year. Then, 2008 we had -- gay
marriage was on the ballot. Voters voted for that - and voted for Barack
Obama. Or better said, we had a gay marriage ban on the ballot. Voters
voted to ban gay marriage in Florida and also voted for Barack Obama. So
we had - like coincidentally opposite effect, vote for liberal and the
constitutional amendment of the ballot. It seems like the Republican way
of winning and vice versa.

REID: Well, that`s bad news for Charlie Christ. OK, well, Sharda, I want
to talk to you about just in general, so this idea of putting drug
legalization on the ballot, is this sort of the way that we`re going to see
this happening that we`re going to see going through states really having
citizens go ahead and vote for this rather than a top down sort of change
in drug policy from Washington?

SHARDA SEKARAN, DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE: I think what you see with this issue
is that the American people are way ahead of the politicians on it. The
public opinion across the country, 58 percent in favor of full
legalization. In Florida, you have 82 percent in favor of medical
marijuana. Even in states like Texas and Louisiana, and West Virginia, you
have a majority of people supporting medical marijuana. Politicians are
still very tepid in some of their public statements about it, although you
have Bobby Jindal, a conservative in Louisiana come out and saying that
he`s OK with medical marijuana. Rick Perry was just in Davos saying that
he wouldn`t be opposed to states exerting their own rights to legalize. So
I think it`s something where the people have led and the politicians are
following, but initiatives are showing the will of the public, and I think
that legislation will follow.

REID: And yet the question now of whether or not a younger voter comes out
as the result of these kinds of initiatives. Nationwide, if you look at
from 2008 to 2012, right, you had sort of just one percent increase in the
overall youth turnout, but in states that actually had ballot initiatives
that had to do with legalizing marijuana, Washington, you had a 12 percent
increase, Colorado, you had a six percent increase. Oregon, you had a five
percent increase. So, there`s some anecdotal evidence that at least on the
state level, this increases youth turnout, but to Mark`s point it doesn`t
necessarily help Democrats specifically.

GLENN MARTIN, PRES. & FOUNDER, JUST LEADERSHIP USA: Right. So, I
wouldn`t be surprised if you have an increasing youth turnout for these
issues, especially as we move from medical marijuana to legalization of
marijuana in general. Because if you think of the criminal justice system
in the United States it`s going affect, that we`re spending $80 billion on
incarcerating people in jails and prisons, I think young people have the
most stake in moving away from that sort of criminal justice system that
not just criminalizes so many youth, but also attaches all these collateral
consequences that tend to follow them for the rest of their lives and
diminishes opportunities for employment, education, housing and so on.

REID: And yet there`s still a lot of resistance, John, to this.

NICHOLS: But it`s resistance in the political class. And so, I`m going to
- Let`s try to impact this in a way that doesn`t always get talked about.
I think what Mark is saying is right. You put - just put the issue on.
You don`t necessarily get the transference over. The candidate has to talk
about it and that`s a big deal. Democrats have got to start to wrestle
with this issue. If they are putting these things on to drive young people
out, they also have to affirmatively say, I`m in favor of .

REID: OK.

NICHOLS: And that`s a big deal. Because if they don`t, then I think you
do scatter it on. If they do, then I think you draw those voters up the
ballot.

REID: Right. And we`re going to get our Republican to talk about it in a
minute, but everybody stay right with me just a second. We do need to take
a quick break. And coming up next, has legalized marijuana reached the
tipping point? A surprising look at who is supporting it on both sides of
the aisle. Plus, New Orleans, as you`ve never seen it before. So,
there`ll be more Nerdland at the top of the hour. But first, breaking
Nerdland baby news. As you can see from this picture, the reason Melissa
Harris-Perry is off today is because she and her husband James are now the
proud parents of baby girl Perry born yesterday on Valentine`s Day. We
want to congratulate Melissa and her entire family on the wonderful news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Welcome back. I`m Joy Reid in for Melissa Harris-Perry. Supports
of the legalization of marijuana has grown steadily over the past two
decades. In 1996, California was the first state to legalize medical pot
use. In 2014, 20 states in the District of Columbia have medical marijuana
laws and in two states voters have agreed to legalize the recreational use
of pot. In 1959, just 12 percent of Americans supported legalizing
marijuana.

In the mid-1990s, that number grew to about a quarter of the country. In
October 2013 for the first time a majority supports legalization. Support
surged ten points in just the last year alone and now stands at 58 percent.
It`s a familiar path. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to
legalize same-sex marriage.

Now, 17 states in the District of Columbia recognize same sex marriage.
The Supreme Court has struck down the Defensive Marriage Act and the
federal government is offering federal benefits to same-sex couples. And
the trajectory of public support for marriage equality roughly mirrored the
trend for marijuana legalization.

In 1996 just 27 percent of people supported legal marriages for same-sex
couples. In July 2013 the number jumped to 54 percent. Still support for
marijuana legalization is outstripping support for same-sex marriage and
the support is not only growing, it`s broadening across the political
spectrum.

Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry said last month that he supports
decriminalizing marijuana and a lot of his states drug courts, which
offered drug treatment and other programs to help drug offenders avoid
prison. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a moderate Democrat who in the
past has opposed medical marijuana use announced in January that he`s using
his executive powers to allow 20 hospitals to dispense marijuana to
patients under the New York State Department of Health rules.

The president, whose law enforcement agencies have been tough on marijuana
cases in the past, is edging toward more relaxed policies and his attorney
general says he will allow Colorado and Washington businesses to sell
recreational pot at least for now.

There are efforts in Congress, often bipartisan to change the way the
federal government looks at the drug. Here to help us sort out how this
all happened and how decriminalization of pot became a potential political
winner, is national Republican consultant Katon Dawson, along with Sharda
Sekaran, who is - from the Drug Policy Alliance. John Nichols of "The
Nation" and Glenn Martin, founder of "Just Leadership USA". And back with
us from Miami is Mark Caputo, political writer for "The Miami Herald." So,
Katon, I do want to go to you first. Because this has become not just a
Democratic, not just a liberal issue. There are a fair number of
Republicans who are also getting on board. At least with legalization of
medical marijuana.

DAWSON: And there`s two issues. And once you talk about legalization of
marijuana by itself and recreational use, is a whole - (INAUDIBLE).
There`s not the tremendous lobbying effort against or for putting it on the
ballot, medical marijuana. Living proof is 13 states have it up there now
and Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Utah, and Ohio are not exactly liberal
states. Look at Utah, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Florida, Republicans
sponsored the legislation to put it on so that becomes a whole separate
issue. Legalization will bring it out the foes.

It will bring out the vans (ph), and it will be a whole another
conversation. This - I`ve never been in a conversation with an elected
official or somebody running for office where we`ve talked about the
politics of pot. It`s not one that moves a lot of voters either way, so
there`s not going to be a lot of capital. And nobody sat there, I think,
in the back room and said man, let`s go do this. Let`s go do this so we
can win at the ballot box. I think this is one where the people will be
heard.

NICHOLS: Or it`s not to move voters. That`s (inaudible) -- That`s exactly
right on this actual point. The point is to bring new voters out. And in
off your election cycle, this is what we know. In the presidential
election cycle, Democrats win. They do really well all over the place. In
an off year cycle where you - those young people do not show up with the
same numbers, you begin - you ship back. Issues like this that frankly can
bring a portion of younger voters out and take a look at those numbers you
head up on that chart. That was amazing. In Washington State, was it 12
percent? Up? When I write on that, I want to .

REID: 20. Between 2000 and 2012. Yeah.

NICHOLS: That wasn`t a battle ground state. Do you understand what I`m
saying? So, here`s some - you know, I can understand, a battle ground
state presidential, you get a bump. But here`s a non- battle ground state
and the numbers are going up.

REID: Right. And if you look at the - for support, overall nationally,
right? If you take a look at the latest Gallup polling, Republicans,
Democrats, Independents, all support legalizing marijuana, at least medical
marijuana. You have 35 percent Republican support it. It`s still not the
majority. 65 percent for Democrats. 62 percent for independents.

But when you look at the age break down, of should marijuana be made legal,
not just medical, but just - should it be legal, period. Young voters are
really at the top end. It`s 67 percent of voters, 18 to 29. Those crucial
voters to get out. 30 to 49, it goes down just a little bit, 62 percent.
By the time you get to those 65 and over, cataracts be damned. It`s 45
percent, right? Those very low (ph) older voters. But that`s exactly who
comes out, Glenn, in midterm elections. Is those older voters, they are
the most reliable.

GLENN MARTIN, JUSTLEADERSHIPUSA: I think the older voters are important
again, as we focus on the medical marijuana. But I`m going to keep pushing
the conversation. Because I really do think that for the longest, the
criminalization of marijuana has really been good politics and bad policy
and essentially one out of three people that arrested are young folks who,
again, are saddled with these criminal convictions for the rest of their
lives.

So, if we really want to - and I think this is a bipartisan conversation,
this idea of reducing our criminal justice system. I mean, our president
and people, Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, all saying, let`s get rid of
our mandatory minimums. If you think those shrinking government, and guess
what - in places like New York, this is the second biggest ticket item on
the budget. Health care, criminal justice. And so, I`m hopeful that as
we move the conversation forward, so maybe this is the first step, the low-
hanging fruit, medical marijuana, I`m actually shocked that we`re still
having this conversation, but I`m hoping that next step easily is the
legalization of marijuana across the board.

REID: And Mark, I do want to add, because John Nichols made a really good
point. That this in terms of whether it helps the party or candidate,
really depends on whether they talk about it. Are either Charlie Crist, --
is Charlie Crist, I guess, frankly, is he talking about it and has he come
down on one side or the other in terms of legalization?

CAPUTO: Crist hasn`t really come out in favor of legalization or not. But
as you know with Charlie, you`re being from Florida .

(LAUGHTER)

CAPUTO: Charlie loves him some populism. So if it polls well, he`s
generally in favor of it. And in this case in the medical marijuana ballot
amendment in Florida, the man who employs him. Orlando trial attorney,
John Morgan, is the main funder of the effort to get it on the ballot,
which is why Republicans are suspicious, but you can rest assured that if
there`s a popular, populous amendment .

(LAUGHTER)

CAPUTO: That`s polling well on the floor to ballot, Charlie Crist will be
for it. And interestingly with Rick Scott, as Rick Scott has made a niche
for himself standing up for what he believes in, when he tells us what he
believes in. Because, you know, when we ask him certain questions, he
doesn`t always answer us like - how do you fall in the minimum wage, et
cetera.

But Scott has been pretty silent about medical pot, but the kind of- when
pressed as people say no, he opposes it. But Scott is kind of - I wouldn`t
say running away from the issue, but he certainly doesn`t want to talk
about it. He`s made his career and his whole political agenda, creation of
jobs, jobs, jobs, that`s what he wants to talk about. He doesn`t want to
talk about medical pot, which certainly plays to Charlie`s strength.

REID: Right.

CAPUTO: And Crist is doing that --

REID: And Mark, but there`s one other thing that Rick Scott, the governor
of Florida has also sort of made his bones on which is drug testing. Drug
testing state workers, drug testing people who get welfare checks,
everything. And so, how us that sort of play into this question of
legalization?

CAPUTO: Well, you know, drug testing of welfare recipients polls well.
So, you know, speaking of things that politicians support that poll well,
that`s one of those issues. But, you know, Scott, Rich Scott has been
pretty anti-drug. He had a family member who had at least an alcohol
problem, and so he`s made that kind of a top concern and a top issue.

But, you know, Scott has really had bad luck when it comes to enforcing
some of the ideas of drug testing welfare recipients. As it really were,
courts have canceled it. The same with the drug testing of state workers.
And again, he`s probably focusing more on talking about jobs, the
unemployment rate is falling and the like. Medical marijuana does play to
Charlie`s strengths. And as I said, you`re going to hear more about it in
the coming days.

You know, to your other guest`s point, which I thought was interesting
about, whether legalization is going to happen outright. You know, Florida,
the last Quinnipiac poll showed that there is plurality support for
legalization. But behind fighting that issue and perhaps behind fighting
medical marijuana, you have the private prison industry. And possibly even
the pharmaceutical industry. Now, they haven`t come out and said it, but
there are suspicions, and I think there are well founded suspicions, that
some of these folks who make money off of incarcerating people aren`t going
to like the idea of laws that make it harder to incarcerate people.

REID: All right, Mark Caputo, excellent point coming out of Miami. And I
get the feeling you kind of thought that Charlie Crist might be a little
bit of an opportunist. I got that a little bit from your comments, but .

CAPUTO: All politicians are opportunists.

REID: And thank you very much, sir.

CAPUTO: And some of them are (inaudible) opportunists than others.

REID: Excellent. Thanks so much, Mark Caputo coming out of Miami. And
coming up next, the changing attitudes towards pot are also changing law
enforcement.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Some of the change on marijuana policy is happening at the very
local level spurned by law enforcement. Ken Thompson, the newly elected
district attorney in Brooklyn, New York says he will not prosecute low
level marijuana offenses, especially by young people, saying the cases
needlessly clog the city`s criminal justice system and that having a
criminal record makes it harder for former offenders to lead productive
lives and contribute to society.

In Washington, D.C., the city council is moving towards decriminalizing
marijuana possession dramatically, dropping the penalty from up to six
months in jail and $1,000 fine to just a $25 fine. But for the most part
law enforcement constitutes the greatest resistance to decriminalizing
marijuana. Major organizations like the National Sheriff`s Association and
the International Association of Chiefs of Police, staunchly oppose
legalization. Even the head of the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration
has criticized President Obama`s comment on smoking pot. When he said that
"I view it as a bad habit and a vise, but not very different than the
cigarettes that I smoked. I don`t think it`s more dangerous than alcohol."

So, Sharda, there`s sort of this sort of push- pull, right? When you do
have sort of a going political consensus that maybe going after medical
marijuana really isn`t sort of a good use of resources, but you do still
have some entrenched law enforcement opposition.

SEKARAN: You do. And I think people have gotten used to the status quo.
Marijuana prohibition has propped up lots of bad practices. It`s bad law,
bad policy. It`s out of step with where the American people are with
majority of people who experienced marijuana in some way. And there are -
president even being very frank about it. Lots of people. There`s a big
disconnect.

Now, you see the guys who are propping up marijuana prohibition, looking
increasingly out of step and out of touch with the rest of the public.
It`s a bad use of law enforcement resources. We`ve got three times as many
marijuana arrests than we have for all violent crimes combined. So it has
this putting scarce resource into something that I think the American
public now realizes is not logical. It just doesn`t make any sense.

MARTIN: You know, I think focusing on Ken Thompson is really interesting
because that`s the state where Governor Cuomo essentially said just last
year, that he was interested in this idea of legalizing small amounts of
marijuana because of the disproportionate amount of arrests of young people
of color then pulled back, and now he`s embracing this medical marijuana
piece. But essentially, hearing that law enforcement is opposed - I mean
if you are hammer, everything looks like a nail, right?

REID: Right.

MARTIN: And so, law enforcement - I have a brother who`s a federal
marshal, right? So, that`s what you do, that`s how you respond over the
last few decades, then that just is your natural response. But
essentially, what Kenneth saying is, we can increase public safety in Kings
County and at the same time, ensure that the future of our youth is
protected. And so, I think it`s pretty courageous for him to do that in
the state where the governor has essentially .

SEKARAN: I`d like to point out to this, you do have law enforcement coming
out in favor of ending prohibition organizations like law enforcement
against --

MARTIN: Absolutely.

NICHOLS: Exactly.

SEKARAN: You see where this is actually degraded their ability to be
effective as people who are in charge with protecting public safety.

NICHOLS: Well, let me take it a step deeper here. Ken Thompson ran on
that issue.

MARTIN: He did. Exactly.

NICHOLS: He didn`t get elected on say, oh, I`m going to do this.

REID: That`s right.

NICHOLS: And what I`ve seen around the country is, we talk about law
enforcement and we screw that conversation up a lot, because we just talk
about the cop on the beep. Law enforcement, and I happen to think about
the cops on the beep would like to see this change too. But law
enforcement is a broad zone with prosecutors and others and what I am
increasingly seeing is when I talk to working police officers, sheriff`s
deputies and - they say, yeah, there are drug problems. There are real
issues to deal with. It`s not marijuana.

REID: Right. And now, if you look on just sort of the date on it, it`s
sort of staggering, right? The number of arrests and sort of the volume of
services that are being - I mean policing that`s being directed toward it.
In this war on drugs almost 750,000 arrests for marijuana offenses in 2012
alone. 31 percent of those were black. The arrests, $50 billion spent
every year on the war on drugs and if you look at the people who are
actually imprisoned - in federal prisons you have 51 percent of the prison
population is in for drug offenses and in state prisons it`s 18 percent.

So, Katon that sort of leads me to wonder if maybe that`s the reason. That
it does seem like a really tremendous amount of resources going towards a
problem. Most people - some people see as no worse that alcohol.

DAWSON: Let me jump back to slide with Rick Perry. The governor of Texas,
beloved governor of Texas saying you saw what he said. And go back in to
the war on drugs. This is a person who spent $400 million trying to secure
the border, and has been fighting the drug cartels. It`s why when you
travel with him, he has a large detail contingent. And listen to what
Perry has to say about it because it`s coming from a whole another angle of
what it cost us.

REID: Right.

DAWSON: To keep them out. Now there`s - and he`s one that`s been
criticized for it. But you`ve got to pay attention to our guy that`s been
reelected every time. 25 million people who`s talking about this issue
from the other side and the other side of the board.

REID: Well, not just him. I mean, Rand Paul. Right? No liberal Rand
Paul.

DAWSON: Sure. Sure.

REID: I want to play what Rand Paul has actually had to say and his
comments actually could fit right around this table. Let`s listen to what
Rand Paul .

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R) KENTUCKY: The war on drugs has disproportionately
affected young black males. The ACLU reports the blacks are four to five
times more likely to be convicted for drug possession, although surveys
indicate that blacks and whites use drugs at about the same similar rate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: I mean, Glenn, when you have that kind of consensus across the
aisle, I mean it seems like this - so I wonder why there isn`t even a
larger rush to do legalization, when you do seem to have at least some
bipartisan consensus.

MARTIN: Well, I think part of it is the privatization of prisons. But not
just the privatization of prisons. The whole body of essentially, players
who benefit from our existing criminal justice system. So now you have
this natural lobby that you didn`t have just a few decades ago, essentially
pushing to keep the existing laws in place. But I think the momentum from
the public is going to suddenly outweigh that. Eventually, our
policymakers are going to have to catch up with the general public at 58
percent. It`s only a matter of time before elected officials stand up and
say I believe in this. I believe in legalization.

SEKARAN: Two states have already passed - the citizens of Washington and
Colorado elected to legalize marijuana, and the sky hasn`t fallen in
Colorado.

REID: Right.

SEKARAN: And so, it`s hard to justify it when you`re one state over and
when you`re, say, in Texas and you`re right next to Colorado and see where
a state has done this and actually the worst-case scenarios, the things
that people were worried about, haven`t happened. It`s turned into a
sensible situation of tax and regulation.

REID: But at the end of the day, John, you`re going to have need federal
policy. You just can`t have a patchwork of 50 policies .

NICHOLS: It`s interesting. It`s happening. You know, the states are
doing it. Now, they are saying, well, yeah, you can`t - there`s sort of
loose sitting out a little on the banking issues. Here`s the one thing
I`ll tell you, we`re sort of dancing around reality here. This year, it`s
going to have a whole bunch of referendums and legalization. Not just
medical marijuana. And it is going, to in my opinion, get legalized in
Alaska in August, I believe. Arizona may well be voting on it. Others -
so this thing -- so the fact of this matter is when you`ve got not just two
states, but six, seven, eight states, you`re going to start to see the
federal government saying we`ve got to rationalize it.

REID: We just wonder if the analogy to gay marriage is so - Thank you so
much to Katon Dawson, Sharda Sekaran, John Nichols as well as Glenn Martin.
And up next the Kentucky sinkhole story you may not know about.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: OK. Did you hear the big news out of Kentucky this week? Eight
corvettes were swallowed up by a massive sinkhole that opened under the
National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. It was an amazing site. And
while the museum remains open, as structural engineers assess the damage,
the Corvette Museum isn`t the only thing in the bluegrass state that`s in
danger of sinking. That`s why this week`s letter goes to the Kentucky
politician whose career may be sunk by his own D.C. colleagues.

Dear Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, it`s me, Joy. I know it`s
been a rough week for you, Senator. I mean if you can`t trust the people
in your own party, who can you trust? Republican Senator Ted Cruz really
corked things up for the Republican leadership this week. No, he didn`t
take to the floor and start reading "Dr. Seuss" again.

This time, instead of allowing the Senate to quietly pass the House bill
for a clean debt ceiling increase with a simple majority, your friend Ted
objected, which meant the bill needed 60 votes to advance. Meaning at
least five Republicans needed to vote with Democrats to meet the 60 vote
threshold.

So you and Senator Cornyn of Texas who like you is facing a primary
challenge plus ten of your GOP colleagues had to join the Senate Democrats
and advance the bill with the 67 to 31 vote to stop a filibuster. All 12
of you opposed final passage, but the damage was already done. You voted
to raise the debt ceiling before you voted against it.

Your Tea Party endorsed primary challenger, Matt Bevin, jumped on your vote
immediately releasing a statement that said, "I wish I could say I`m
surprised that Mitch McConnell voted to hand President Obama another blank
check. Sadly I am not. Because this is more of the same from a career
politician who`s voted for bigger government, multiple bailouts and now, 11
debt ceiling increases. Unfortunately for you, Senator McConnell, that
wasn`t all. There was also this ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His ideology is power. It`s why McConnell has voted to
raise the debt limit ten times, and why he worked with Joe Biden to pass a
$600 billion fiscal cliff tax hike. McConnell even joined Harry Reid in
opposing Ted Cruz`s effort to defund Obamacare. Send a message to Mitch
McConnell today. If he wants to vote like a Democrat, he can become a
Democrat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Yikes! Ted Cruz may tell you - He was just standing up for his
conservative principle by insisting on a 60 vote threshold, but he also
ripped the curtain off the continued drift inside the Grand Old Party,
which had kind of been rowing together lately and he put you and other
Republicans who are facing tough primaries at risk. So much for the olive
branch that the Texas senator extended to it and sent the colleagues back
in October, when he pledged not to get involved with Tea Party primary
fights to defeat Republican incumbents.

But that is exactly what he has done, intentionally or not, and it could
affect GOP chances of grabbing the majority in the Senate. Not only do
Republicans need to keep this in the seeds (ph) they already have, they
have to gain an additional six seats for the balance of power to change.

And Senator, in your race, you are not exactly sitting in the catbird`s
seat. Right now your likely Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes,
is beating you in the polls. And that for it - before you`re against it,
that vote, courtesy of Sen. Cruz, has given some life to your primary
challengers` campaign to make sure you don`t even make it to the general
election. Ted Cruz may not be the only supposed friend who`s looking more
like a frenemy.

When asked by Glenn Back last week, why he`s supporting you, Rand Paul,
your fellow Kentucky senator said, "Because he asked me. He asked me when
there was nobody else in the race and I said yes." Wow, Rand, your passion
is really touching. Don`t go getting all teary-eyed on this. Senator
McConnell, from here on out you might want to watch your back. Because
right now it looks like, it`s every politician for himself. And if you
don`t watch out, your political career could wind up joining those
corvettes in that Kentucky sinkhole. Sincerely, Joy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Today marks the start of the 2014 Mardi Gras season in New Orleans.
The decadent celebration is known around the world for its rich upbeat
music, colorful parades, outrageous costumes and fabulous floats. However,
for thousands of kids in New Orleans, it`s much more. It`s truly an escape
in a much needed lifeline. Today - tonight CBS is airing "The Whole Gritty
City." A special documentary hosted by legendary jazz musician Wynton
Marsalis. It highlights the harsh reality that so many children in New
Orleans are facing on a daily basis, and the amazing impact and influence
that music has on their lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WYNTON MARSALIS: New Orleans buries too many of its young. Our city has
one of the highest murder rates in the country and almost half of our kids
live in poverty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the neighborhood I don`t like because they have
guns.

MARSALIS: For so many kids in New Orleans, this is their refuge, the band
room. It`s their save haven from the lures and dangers of the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here. Keep control.

TONIE JACKSON, BAND DIRECTOR: You never know what a kid is going through.
You know, you have kids that don`t have stable homes. A kid needs to be
spoken to daily, well, how was your day? You know, just to feel like
they`re alive, they mean something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am .

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Somebody!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are .

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Somebody!

(INAUDIBLE)

MARSALIS: What brings them here is a chance to be center stage at Mardi
Gras.

LAWRENCE RAWLINS, BAND DIRECTOR: You`re getting a bunch of kids that have
never played in band before, never marched before, never played an
instrument before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And everybody marching so far. This - we`re putting -
- his feet up. Here. Anybody have a problem with this young man leading
you down the street? Anybody have a problem with this young man here?
Why? What`s the problem?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: You can`t see her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re not going to be able to see her.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: (inaudible)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible)

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Band!

UNIDENTIFIED BOYS: Hey!

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Band!

UNIDENTIFIED BOYS: Hey! One, two, three, four!

MARSALIS: For the kids in marching bands, it`s a test of skill, talent,
discipline and endurance.

UNIDENTIFIED BOYS: (INAUIDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Can you march for three or four hours?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I can march longer than you.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I can march for 16 hours, my brother.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: How long can you march?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: 29,000 hours. That`s preposterous.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: And how do you go more than 29,000 hours?

MARSALIS: This hard-won badge of honor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right!

MARSALIS: That earns them the stand.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I feel like I own the best thing in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Now, in full disclosure, the host of this show Melissa Harris-Perry
donated money to the kick starter campaign that helped fund this
documentary. Melissa has no ongoing monetary stake in the film. And with
me now in studio is the director and producer and editor of "The Whole
Gritty City" Richard Barber and the film`s co-producer and the director of
photography, Andre Lambertson and joining us from New Orleans is a standout
band director from Landry Walker High School who`s featured in the film
Wilbert Rawlins Jr. Thank you all for being here. And Richard, I want to
start with you and just ask you sort of what inspired you to make this
film?

RICHARD BARBER, "THE WHOLE GRITTY CITY": Well, I had been working on a
broadcast at "48 Hours" about some post Katrina murders that catalyzed a
march on city hall to protest the criminal justice system. And one of- and
I looked at footage about -- there was a murder of a young musician
(inaudible). And he had started a marching band at one of the first public
high schools that opened up after the storm. And I saw interviews with the
kids, the high school kids who were in his band, and they talked so
movingly about what their struggles - and how much it meant to them to have
this guy come in and give them this band and give them the attention and
give them a purpose. So.

REID: And one of the - like, the young people who talked arguably, I think
the star of the film, this young man named Bear. Who tells his story and
he really shows you sort of the two New Orleans, sort of the hope and
really - what a lot of people don`t understand that sort of that struggles
that young people have. I want to play a little clip of Bear and then,
Andre, I want to get you to respond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEAR: My brother was in the gang. He got out. He got out again. Because
you were going - when he came downhill, he was in his car. So, I came up
to him and they shot him. They go to my brother. He never had a fight in
his life. He never had a gun. He was intelligent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: So, Andre, what was this like? To spend - this was a couple of
years watching this young man and watching the other young people in this
film go through what they do in their lives?

ANDRE LAMBERTSON, "THE WHOLE GRITTY CITY": We spent three years doing the
film, but we didn`t spend that time constantly with some of the characters.
But Bear who you saw is like a genius. So to spend time with him was
really a lot of fun. Like we gave the kids cameras. Part of the beauty of
the film is we do it from unique perspective. You get to see Bear. And
some of the things he would do and some of the things he talked about, I
wouldn`t expect. So, I think part of the beauty in the film is, you see
strength in unexpected places. Like even though bear had lost, you know, a
brother, he was one of the most positive and funny, you know, kids that I
ever met.

REID: Yeah. He absolutely really is interesting because you`re sort of
walking through his world with him. And I want to bring you in because you
actually are working with these kids on a daily basis. What, you know,
talk a little bit about the challenge? You talk in the film about how when
they`re in that band room they`re yours, and you can really mold and shape
them, but they may have got to go back out there into the world.

WILBERT RAWLINS, BAND DIRECTOR: Right. Right. What happens is, I mean -
and I call it getting hood again. You know, when you go into certain areas
and neighborhoods in society you have to - you know, you have to, I guess,
put on this front so that you can be accepted in these areas.

But when you`re in a band, an environment that`s wholesome and rich and you
can actually be yourself, you know, once you strip away all of the layers
of a child, all of the bad behaviors that have been learned over the years
because of gang -- like I said it`s an act. You know, it`s something that
you have to do in order to fit into that society.

And also, but once you get in a band, well, we don`t have any of that.
It`s all about you learning to play the instrument, you know, you have
goals set in life. You move on. You try to matriculate to college, you
know, try to expose them to many different areas, and atmospheres, so that
they can understand that little small part of the world is just what it is.
It`s just a little small part of the world, you know.

REID: Yeah, absolutely. And when we come back, we want to talk with -
more to you about the experience that you`ve had changing the lives of
these young at risk people -- at risk young people, I should say. But
first here`s another scene from "The Whole Gritty City."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the neighborhood I don`t like. These are
streets I don`t like because they have guns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have friends. (inaudible) I`m not going - I`m the
only one of my friends I grew up with still living. It was eight of us,
man. Four of them got killed, man, at different times. Three of them
overdosed on heroin. I`m the last one living.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, babe! The relentless pursuit of perfection!
Five, six, five, six, seven, go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: That was a clip from the amazing documentary "The Whole Gritty City"
featuring one of my guests Wilbert Rawlins. So, Wilbert, does the fact
that you went through a lot of the same issues that are out there in the
street that you talk about with the young people that you mentor, does that
help them to relate to you better?

RAWLINS: Yes, it does. It helps them to relate to me and it also helps me
to relate to them. Again, knowing some of the struggles that we face here
now in society, in our communities. It`s sort of easy for me to help the
kid not to go down some of the same roads that I traveled. You know, I was
probably, I guess, you can say one of the most fathered and mothered
children in America coming up. You know, my father - on a scene, he`s a
professional drummer.

He played with Ronald Thomas and Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles. So, I came up
from a musical background. My mother, is the math teacher, - for all of
this, and she, you know, she kept us -- she tried to keep us out of the
environment as much as she could, but they both had to go to work. And my
brother and I, you know, Lawrence Rawlins, who`s also featured in the
documentary, we both had to leave our home and go to school. Go into the
environment. So, I mean, yes, it`s - our past, our upbringing sort of
prepared us for what we`re now doing. Both of us are band directors, you
know.

And I find it funny that at an early age I knew what I wanted to do in
life. You know, I kind of -- I kind of took on the role of my band
director, you know, Herman Jones and Walter Harris. These guys were larger
than life to me, than later on I met Isaac Graves. I found out the band
director had more power than any other person in my life other than my
parents, so, you know, I think it`s my past and, you know, what I`ve gone
through in life directly relates to how I can affect children nowadays.

REID: Yeah, absolutely. And I want to show one more moment where you see
just how much time you spend perfecting these young kids` craft.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAWLINS: You`ve got to teach him. You can`t let him do that. Teach him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Five, six, seven .

RAWLINS: Eight!

How are you going?

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Five, six, seven .

RAWLINS: Eight!
Seven, eight. Let`s do that again. Ready? Seven, seven, eight. Now let`s
try it fast. Ready? Ready? Go! Seven eight. Now, go get back in line.
I want you to do it.

There you go, baby. That`s what I`m talking about. You did a good job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And while I could - I do want to come out and ask the filmmakers one
more question, but, Wilbert, when you looked at that clip of you talking to
those kids, you`re almost sort of a father to them in a lot of ways or sort
of almost a member of their family. Is that how you feel about them as
well?

RAWLINS: Yeah, I do. I feel as though all those kids are my children.
And I don`t have any biological children, so, I mean it`s much easier for
me to, you know, to grab a child like that. And I know what I had as a
child coming up, as he pertains to love and people caring about my feelings
and my emotions, you know. And it`s giving me affection, you know. I try
to hug my kids every day, you know, male and female.

Because man and, you know, males, we need hugs also, and a lot of these
children, they don`t get those very essential elements in life. You need
someone to tell you, I care for you, I love you, you know. You`re great,
you`re wonderful, you know, you deserve the best in life. You can be
whatever you want to be. And if no one tells them that, then they`ll never
know that. So, again -- and I had it. I had it, so I mean it`s kind of
easy for me to give up.

You know, I`m an affectionate person. This is great. It was wonderful
watching the clip and that young man by the name of Tray James is the guy
who you saw on there. And I remember he couldn`t get just a simple whip
turn and now he`s up in college. He`s at Texas southern college and he`s
one of the sectional leaders and he`s doing well. He`s on a full pay
scholarship .

REID: Right.

RAWLINS: And life is just good for him.

REID: Yes.

RAWLINS: And I remember him when I first met him. He had sort of like a
little anger management problems and .

REID: Right.

RAWLINS: You work through those .

REID: And you were able to help him.

RAWLINS: I hugged him every day.

REID: Absolutely.

RAWLINS: You hug them every day.

REID: Absolutely.

RAWLINS: And let him know you love him - be careful.

REID: yes.

RAWLINS: And they turn and blossom into beautiful people.

REID: Indeed. Indeed. And Richard, you know, you used the Mardi Gras
framing for this film. But that really is the story, right? This is a
really a story about mentorship and really love. It`s a story about people
who just care about kids in their neighborhoods and want to help them.

BARBER: Definitely. I mean Mardi Gras is sort of the focus for - it`s the
raise on - bands. That`s what they prepared for, and that`s how the world
sees them every year in the Mardi Gras parades. But it really is - just
amazing way that - and it really is a life line for thousands of kids in
New Orleans to get laid down a positive path, and instead of hearing the
voices that say, you know, you`re going to die. You`re not going to be
anything in life. It gives them a whole world of opportunity.

REID: And yet, Andre, it`s because people know New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
This really is a different New Orleans. It`s something that people are not
used to seeing.

LAMBERTSON: Yeah. And my whole thing I talk about this all the time.
What I try to is - You`re used to seeing a lot of negativity in certain
neighborhoods. So, you assume it`s because there`s violence or drugs or
poverty, there`s not a lot of love or hope or inspiration there. So I
think, you know, certain places - or certain kids or communities are
demonized and marginalized. And part of what we were lucky enough to, you
know, to meet people like Wilbert with the show. How much inspiration and
hope is really there.

REID: Yeah, absolutely. Because there`s a character in the film that`s
named Kirk who says, you know, people think that, you know, if you`re from
this area, these are the worse - or these are actually some of the best
people that come from here. And I think the film really does show that.
Really excellent job. Really terrific film and hopefully people will all
tune in to watch that. So, thank you Richard Barber, Andre Lambertson and,
of course, Wilbert Rawlins in New Orleans. Once again "The Whole Gritty
City" airs tonight on CBS.

And up next, a two-foot soldier will make the two -star general making
military history, and helping other women march in her footsteps.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Of the 167,000 women enlisted in the United States military, nearly
one-third are black women. In fact, as of 2011, black women were enlisting
at rates higher than either black men or white women. When this week`s
foot soldier joined the Army after college, she did not know she would be
making history. As the highest-ranking black woman in the Army or Army
Reserve in 2011, after 32 years of service, Major General Marcia Anderson
became the first African American female two-star general in the history of
the United States Army.

While Major General Anderson works as assistant chief at the Army Reserve,
she is paving the way for other young women who hope to one day serve their
country. As military officers, by providing them with a career road map
that she did not have when she began as a second lieutenant. And joining
me now from D.C. is Major General Marcia Anderson, acting assistant chief
of the U.S. Army Reserve. Thank you so much for being here.

MAJOR GENERAL MARCIA ANDERSON, ASSISTANT CHIEF, ARMY RESERVE: It`s my
pleasure.

REID: So you joined the Army late. You weren`t in high school ROTC. You
actually joined after high school. So, what made you want to join the
United States Army?

ANDERSON: Well, I actually joined while I was in college. And it`s a
really quick story. I needed a science credit as I was registering for
classes. And military science fit the bill. It also looked a lot like
physical education, so I just decided to give it a shot. And as it turns
out, that was the best decision, truly, I could have made for either my
civilian or my military career. Because it taught me a lot about
leadership, and it challenged me, and it`s been the best thing I ever did
with my life.

REID: So talk about what it means to you to be the first black woman to
really achieve this great feat, the rank of two-star general.

ANDERSON: Well, the day I was promoted in 2011, I spoke a little bit about
the Tuskegee airmen and how they had influenced me. But to be truthful, it
was not just the Tuskegee airmen influenced me, it was many thousands of
African-American women who have volunteered starting in the civil war and
were finally accorded the opportunity to fully join the military during
World War II. They were an inspiration. And I think often of the
challenges that they overcame to allow me to sit here today and talk to
you.

REID: Right. And so while 31 percent of military women are black, black
women are still a minority in the Armed Forces. So, can you talk about
kind of your experience at the intersection of race and gender that you`ve
experienced in the Army?

ANDERSON: Well, I am a member of the Army Reserve. We`re about 200,000
citizen soldiers, and of that, about 45,000 are women from all ethnicities.
It`s an opportunity to serve my country. But it`s also an opportunity to
explore and challenge myself. We have over 300 unique career fields that
you can take part in if you`re in the Army Reserve. Because we tend to
lean more towards STEM, which is, of course, as you know, science,
technology, engineering and math. So that affords a lot more opportunities
for women. And I see it every day that I serve.

REID: And so I do want to talk about, because there has been a lot of
controversy around the issue of military sexual assault. And so while
encouraging young women to join the military and talking about all of the
opportunities, as you just did, you know, how can we ensure that young
women who are seeking careers in the military do so in safety?

ANDERSON: Well, I think first it`s been good that we have had this debate,
because it`s forced us as an institution, as it will any institution, when
you talk about challenges, to look at ways to improve reporting, to reduce
the stigma for women and men, incidentally. And also to provide adequate
legal counsel for both the accused and the victim. I think in terms of
women joining the military, I think we need to look at it as not just being
about diversity, it`s about being inclusive. And every organization is
going to benefit if you fully include, promote, train and nurture your
workforce. Because human capital is one way we as a country, not just a
military, but as a country, can be more globally competitive.

REID: And you spend a lot of time talking to young people, to young women.
What do you tell them about the most important things about your job or the
thing you like best about your job and the biggest challenges that you
face?

ANDERSON: The thing I like best about my job is it`s never the same every
day. And I started out as a very shy young woman. So joining ROTC was the
best thing I could have done. Because it forced me to learn how to be a
leader, it made me stretch and extend myself. But one thing you have to
understand about the military is, we will tell you how to do something, we
expect you to try to do it. And then we give you positive feedback after
you have completed that task. And that`s the only way I think you actually
grow.

REID: OK. And the biggest challenge?

ANDERSON: The biggest challenge is not being so hard on myself. Giving
myself the space sometimes to make mistakes, to learn from those mistakes,
pick myself up and start all over again.

REID: All right. Well, thank you so much to Major General Marcia Anderson
in Washington, D.C. You indeed are our foot soldier of the day.

ANDERSON: Thank you very much.

REID: OK. That is our show for today. Thank you at home for watching. I
will see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. And we`ll get into
the president`s new plan for young men of color. And the takeaway from
Michael Sam`s history-making announcement. Also tomorrow, we have a
special announcement you will not want to miss. We have got something
brand-new in the works for Nerdland, and we`re inviting everyone to
participate. Now it is time for a preview of "Weekends with Alex Witt."
Alex?

ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR: Wait, what is it? I want to know.

(LAUGHTER)

WITT: What? I have to tune in tomorrow? Nice tease there, Joy, and I
love that. All right, everyone. Thanks so much. Wardrobe malfunction for
Team USA. New questions about what those high-tech new speed skating
suites had to do with the American showing so far. And then side look at
how Hillary Clinton reinvented herself from the defeat of 2008 to the
Democrat era parent in 2016. Controversy over a restaurant whose official
T-shirts are drawing criticism for attacking minorities. And Barbie in a
special "Sports Illustrated" spread. Why some are up in arms. Don`t go
anywhere. I`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WITT: Controversy at the games. Could one article of clothing be costing
the U.S. Olympic gold? We`re going to hear from one of the skaters
involved.

It`s still here.


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

Copyright 2014 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>