'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, March 8th, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
March 8, 2014
Guest: Tom Bunn, Norm Ornstein, L. Joy Williams, Frank Houston, Stan
Greenberg, Jeff Smith, Kate Nocera, Phil Derner, Robert George, Coral
Davenport, Nina Khrushcheva, Miriam Elder
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Search continues for missing airplane
carrying 239 people.
KORNACKI: Good morning. We have two full hours of news and discussion to
bring to you this morning and we`re really excited about all that we have
planned. But first, we are breaking news to bring you up to speed about on
that missing Malaysia Airline 777 passenger jet, Malaysia flight MH 370
which lost contact overnight local Asia time with air traffic control
during its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Search and rescue crews from Malaysia and Vietnam are now conducting a
joint operation to find the plane. It`s last known location was about 120
miles southwest of the southernmost coast of Vietnam. "Associated Press"
is reporting minutes ago that the Vietnamese air force planes have spotted
two oil slicks suspected to be from the missing plane. This is a file
photo of a Boeing 777-200 ER that was carrying 239 people.
The CEO of Malaysia Airlines said at news conference that contact with the
plane was lost about two hours into the flight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our focus now is to work with emergency responders and
the authorities and mobilize its full support. And our thoughts and
prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The airline said that 80 percent of the families have been
contacted. So far, passengers on board were of 14 different nationalities,
the vast majority of them Chinese, among them were three Americans
including an infant.
Joining me here in studio right now is Phil Derner. Phil runs NYC
Aviation, an airspace and news and consulting firm. Phil, thanks for
taking a few minutes. So, you know, I guess there`s a certain expectation
when we have airplane crashes like this. And then, I guess, it`s a good
sign that they`re so rare these days that we don`t really have a standard
But I think -- there`s sort of a standard expectation when there`s news
like this that we had breaking last night here that by this time, I think
we`re now 12 or 14 hours after the plane lost contact with air traffic
control that it would be found and that we`d have some basic answers about
what had happened. Still, we have these reports right now coming in maybe
from the AP of oil slicks, maybe from this plane being found off the coast
But that`s the only hit we have right now of where this plane might have
ended up. How unusual is it -- how surprised are you that we don`t have
firmer answers at this point right now? It`s still a mystery.
PHIL DERNER, NYC AVIATION: Part of me is a little surprised. It did
happen, you know, out over the water, kind of nowhere. Radar coverage
doesn`t always cover out of the water. Radar is land-based, so we -- have
to control, you know, they`re looking at screenings. That radar is -- it`s
very limited and very finite.
So, once you go out anywhere from 75 to 200 miles, they may not be seeing
them on the screen and relying on reporting points along the way for a
plane to use high frequency radio to call in at a certain time, hey, I`m
more than this point at this time (ph).
And then, you know, they miss that point, they become overdue. So, the
questions start to be raised immediately. They start looking. Again, you
know, the water is very, very expansive. In that last point, when you`re
up at a cruising altitude, even if there`s some kind of a problem, if it`s
slower descend, they could be, you know, well over 100 miles away from that
point, you know, if they`re descending slow.
There is no contact. So, it seems, you know, we just have no information.
We have this point that the aircraft last reported. We know the weather
was severe clear, as we said. So, there`s no real threat. So, everything
is on the table right now.
KORNACKI: Everything is on the table and I think it`s safe to say most
people looking at this at this point are assuming the worst just based on
the time that`s gone by without any contact, without any sign of where this
plane might be. But you see room for other potential outcomes?
DERNER: I just think it`s a little too early to speculate. After all
these hours, I mean, we know that the aircraft did not have enough fuel to
still be aloft. If the aircraft landed safely on its wheels on the runway,
we would know this by now. This is the reality. It looks awfully, awfully
grim. But you know, you never know if the aircraft managed somehow to make
it back over land, land in a forest, these folks could be awaiting rescue
and need their injuries attended to.
I just think it`s too early for people to start comparing it to other
accidents which were all fatal and everyone thought -- I`d rather hear
people at this point still clinging to hope until we really know for sure
such as the U.S. Airways 1549 accident in the Hudson instead of comparing
it to Air France 447 or the Atlantic.
KORNACKI: Yes. And here, we`re talking about just, as you`re saying, is
such a vast stretch of ocean, I guess. I mean, the search and rescue
operation, really, I mean, it`s the cliche, about the needle in the hay
stack, right? But I mean, really, I mean to thoroughly comb those waters
would take a long time, wouldn`t it?
DERNER: It definitely does. And if something incredibly catastrophic
happened, you`re not talking about very massive pieces. There are some
parts of plane that, you know, that might not really break up, the tail
certain large parts (ph), but you know, like I said, I mean, you`re talking
about hundreds of square miles. And these folks have to go and comb those
waters and take their time. It`s not always that easy.
You know, reports are just coming in of an oil slick being found which very
well may be it, but you really never know. You`ve got to find some hard
evidence there. And, it can be very time-consuming. And you know, you
don`t want to speculate until you have certain proof.
KORNACKI: All right. OK. Well, I want to thank Phil Derner of NYC
Aviation for coming in this morning. Appreciate that.
Friends and relatives expecting to meet passengers from the flight have
been sent to a Beijing airport hotel as they await more information and
that is where CNBC`s Eunice Yoon is standing by. Eunice, thanks for
joining us. What is the latest from where you are? We`re just hearing
these reports from the AP about maybe oil slicks being found off the coast
of Vietnam maybe from this plane, maybe not, maybe it`s completely
unrelated. But what are you hearing over there right now?
EUNICE YOON, CNBC - BEIJING: Well, we`re hearing those same reports and
they are very conflicting reports. Nobody has been able to confirm them,
and it`s just that type of -- those conflicting reports that are really
weighing on the minds of the family and the friends here in Beijing.
People don`t really know what to make of them and that`s adding to the
anxiety of what we know, so far, is that hundreds of people have been
gathered at the hotel behind me.
They`re hoping for more information and that is clear information. Many of
them had actually gone to the airport earliest this morning in order to
pick up their relatives, but they were very surprised when they found out
that the plane hadn`t arrived. Already, we had seen that emotion and
distress spilling out. There was one woman who broke down. She became
very emotional because she was very worried about her sister.
There was one driver who said that he was there to pick up his boss`s wife,
but that wife never arrived, even though he had been there for five hours.
The passengers then were directed to come to this hotel. They were brought
behind closed doors away from the reporters. We did hear crying, sobbing,
one woman calling out for her son. This is a very distressing time.
One of the key points here has been that a lot of the passengers or the
relatives of the passengers have been angry with the airline saying that
they`re not doing enough and we have just been hearing that Malaysian
Airlines is sending 160-person team now led by a senior executive to China
to try to support the ground staff in order to try to make things easier
and get that information flowing out to the friends and families of those
passengers on MH 370 -- Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. Interesting report. Thank you for that CNBC`s
And now, we want to turn to Tom Costello in our Washington Bureau. He`s
been NBC`s lead aviation correspondent for nearly a decade. Tom, good
morning to you. An aircraft with a strong safety record apparently, these
Boeing 777s, clear weather, no distress signal. The plane really just
seems to have gone off the radar without any explanation. What do you make
TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS - WASHINGTON D.C.: Well, that is exactly what
everybody is talking about. The plane lost radar contact, radio contact
not only with controllers but also radio contact and with the home base.
So, this was really a mystery. You know, a very experienced pilot. The
777, by the way, it`s a very good plane, solid safety record. This was the
777-200 series which is an earlier model of the 777. This one was built
about 11 or 12 years ago with Rolls Royce engines.
The timeline, once again, leaving Kuala Lumpur 12:40 in the morning on a
red eye flight to Beijing, losing contact just two hours into flight. We
believe it was near Vietnamese airspace, supposed to arrive in Beijing at
6:30 a.m., never did. So, this morning, aviation experts are talking about
what could have happened. They point out that this plane operates in a
highly corrosive salt air ocean type of environment in Malaysia.
So, could we see some sort of a corrosive effect here? Could the plane
have broken up very quickly? If that happened, if there was a catastrophic
midair corrosive breakup of the plane, it would have lost air pressure very
quickly, and in eight to ten seconds, everybody on board, including the
crew would be unconscious and unable to, of course, operate. So, that is
one possibility, according to the experts.
You know, always terrorism is a concern, but there`s no suggestion that
that was a factor today. And I was also reminded this morning of a British
airways 777 that crashed landed in London several years ago. No one
injured. But they determined that ice had formed in the fuel lines at a
very high altitude that deprived the engine of jet fuel. Thankfully, the
crew was able to descend and put it down safely at Heathrow. That plane
also had Rolls Royce engines.
But this would be only the second fatal crash involving the 777. Now, you
recall that last July, we had that Asiana flight that crash landed in San
Francisco. Investigators believe pilot error was to blame on that crash.
Three people died. And of course, this flight eerily similar to the Air
France flight from Brazil to Paris that crashed into the ocean in 2009,
killing all 228 people on board.
You know, Steve, I think that`s going to be the strongest parallel here,
plane completely disappears in the middle of the air space, in the middle
of the ocean, and it took the French two years using submarines and highly
sophisticated equipment to find the wreckage of that Air France plane that
crashed in 2009 and then they spent a lot of to money to pull it from the
bottom of the ocean because they wanted to find out what happened.
In this case, you are dealing with governments that are second and third
world countries. They are not necessarily as sophisticated as you had with
the Air France plane, when France was going to put all of their resources
to bear on this thing, including deep submarines to find this plane, and
then the equipment to pull it to the top of the ocean, and then the
So, this is really a very big, as you might expect, a very big mystery this
morning and it`s in a part of the world that doesn`t necessarily have the
resources to be able to conduct a very quick and easy investigation.
KORNACKI: All right, tom. Some very sobering information from you there.
We really appreciate that. We should point out, you know, like Phil said
and as you said still, it is a mystery. And until we get some more firm
answers, I guess, there always is room for hope. Anyway, MSNBC will
continue to follow and report this story as it develops throughout the
Coming up next for us, one of the most scrutinized popularity contests in
the world, what it all means for 2016. That`s ahead.
KORNACKI: Less than one hour from now, CPAC, the Annual Conservative
Political Action Conference, will be gaveled to order for its third and
final day. Speeches from Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Sarah Palin
are on tap for today. And late this afternoon, results of a presidential
straw poll will be announced. All this coming after most of the Republican
Parties, likely 2016 presidential candidates already took their turns on
Now, it`s easy to overstate the significance of CPAC, but still, this is
the largest annual gathering of the conservative movement, the one that
attracts the biggest names on the right. It is the most public display of
the conservative bases attitude, which leaders bring conservatives to their
feet, which only elicit (ph) polite obligatory applause. It`s a barometer
of where the conservative movement and where the Republican Party is right
now for what issues animate (ph) the base, what policies conservative
activists want their elected leaders pursuing?
It is really a glimpse at a moment of a party struggling to figure itself
out, who its leaders are, what it stands for, what it wants each candidates
telling Americans on the campaign trail, what it would actually do if it
wins a national election and grabs more power in Washington?
So, the political world has watched closely this week as Chris Christie
stepped up to the CPAC stage. He wasn`t invited last year. Supposedly, it
was payback from the right for his public embrace of Obama at the height of
superstorm Sandy, which also happened to be the eve of the 2012
presidential election. But that supposed snub suited Christie just fine in
2013 when we was running for re-election in New Jersey.
By his own admission, trying to run up the score in a deeply blue state
that gave Obama a 17-point win in 2012. Christie, of course, got his
landslide win last November and immediately began talking like a national
candidate, challenging Republicans to focus on winning and not social set
away (ph) of making them focus on him in the margin he racked up in such a
Then came the George Washington Bridge scandal, the allegations from
Hoboken mayor, Dawn Zimmer, a plunging Christie`s poll numbers, widespread
skepticism about his basic viability as a national candidate. That was the
backdrop for Christie`s Thursday speech. How would the base treat him now?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: I`ll remind you just one simple truth
in this democracy. We don`t get to govern if we don`t win. So, please,
let us come out and resolved not only to stand for our principles, but
let`s come out of this conference resolved to win elections again. That`s
what I intend to do for the next year and I hope you`ll join me. Thank you
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KORNACKI: There`s a well-received speech, but it left the big questions
unanswered. Was the crowd just expressing its solidarity with Christie in
the face of what he`s described as an attack on him from the liberal media
or do they see more in him, not just a sympathetic figure under attack from
the enemy, but someone they might still turn to to lead hem.
Ted Cruz also spoke Thursday, making what his become as customary appeal to
the base, painting himself as the protector and chief of pure conservatism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: And I say if you stand for principle, you lose
elections. The way to do it, the smart way, the Washington way, is don`t
stand against Obamacare, don`t stand against the debt ceil, don`t stand
against nothing. I want to tell you something, that is a false dichotomy.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CRUZ: You want to lose elections, stand for nothing, and then of course,
all of us remember President Dole and President McCain and President
Romney. Look, those are good men, they`re decent men. But when you don`t
stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don`t stand for principle,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But the most interesting speaker all week may have been another
2016 prospect, Rand Paul. The Paul name has a tangled history with CPAC.
In his presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012, Rand`s father, Ron Paul,
would speak before deeply divided CPAC audiences, his diehard supporters,
and there were many of them, they would show up and they would cheer his
message of economic libertarianism and non-intervention overseas.
But from the rest of the room, that same foreign policy message would be
met with bitterness and open hostility. He created, perhaps, one of the
more memorable moments in CPAC`s straw poll history as the announcement of
Ron Paul`s victory in the 2010 straw poll.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The winner of this year`s CPAC straw poll -- now -- OK.
Well, the winner of this year`s CPAC straw poll is Texas congressman, Ron
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But now, Ron Paul has handed over the family business to the son
who won last year`s CPAC Straw poll and is favored to win it again today.
But it`s a different kind of success for Rand Paul, one that doesn`t
provoke the same instant polarization that his father`s successes did.
When Rand Paul spoke at CPAC yesterday, he did so not as an outsider
crashing the party, but as someone with some real standing within the
His speech played on the same basic theme of liberty that his father
stressed but not in a way that antagonized the crowd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: Don`t forget it. There is a great battle
going on. It`s for the heart and soul of America. The Fourth Amendment
equally is important as the Second Amendment and conservatives cannot
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Rand Paul attacking the NSA surveillance programs that
had been exposed in the last year. Rand Paul is showing himself to be a
far savvier politician than his father. He`s formed a strategic alliance
with his Kentucky Senate colleague, Mitch McConnell, standing with through
it, though a Tea Party candidate, Matt Bevin (ph) is challenging McConnell
in this year`s primary.
And Paul`s (INAUDIBLE) some bipartisan credentials as well, actually
working with the Obama administration and some liberals in Congress to
eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders. He`s
also supporting a bill in his home state to restore voting rights to
felons. When it comes to a presidential campaign, his ceiling may be much
higher than his father`s ever was.
"Washington Post" (INAUDIBLE) wrote that Rand Paul is winning the GOP`s
invisible primary, and our own Chris Matthews took out his crystal ball
right here on this network back in August.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: And so I predict, the hard right is going to
take over the Republican Party in 2016 and the nomination is going to Rand
Paul. You watch. This is what I do for a living.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Rand Paul has risen to prominence for his libertarian stances on
foreign policy, criminal justice reform, and government surveillance. At
the same time, he`s been aggressively trying to expand the Republican
coalition by courting minority voters. as the most wide open Republican
nomination half a century now gets underway, there are actually, by the
way, 26 names on today`s CPAC straw poll.
That`s how wide open it is. And in a race like that, a case could be made
that Rand Paul is closer to where the GOP base is than any other contender?
Is he the future the GOP wants? Does he represent where the party is
Talk about what we have learned from watching this year`s CPAC, I want to
bring in Norm Ornstein, he`s a contributing editor and columnist with
"National Journal," Kate Nocera, she`s a Capitol Hill reporter at
BuzzFeed.com, Jeff Smith, a professor of politics and advocacy at the new
school. He`s also a former Democratic State senator from Missouri, and
Robert George, editorial writer with the "New York Post."
So, I guess -- let`s start on Rand Paul, Rob. I`ve been struck not just
watching this week at CPAC but watching Rand Paul in general talked to
conservative audiences, talked to Republican audience. The reception he
gets is so much different than the reception his father got even though
they basically are cut from the same libertarian cloth. What`s the
difference? What is Rand Paul doing? Is the question of him doing
something different or has the party changed?
ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: Well, first of all, I`m glad to see that
Chris Matthews tingle up his leg is now on his right leg for Rand Paul --
GEORGE: Well, I mean, I think it`s a little bit of both. Rand Paul, I
think, is certainly, I think, more savvy than his father strategically in
terms of how he wants to frame the liberty argument. He doesn`t always get
into the Austrian economics and so forth. He gets -- you know, he focuses
on things like NSA, drones, things like that that have a sort of cross
ideological support in terms of uniting the left and right libertarians.
He also seems to be wanting to make some real overtures. We talked about
mandatory minimums drug policy and things like that. He`s really kind of
expanding. At the same time, even certain elements of the Republican base
have gotten tired of the Iraq war, obviously, the Afghanistan. And, so he
-- so that non-interventionist issue that Ron Paul hammered about for so
long, there`s a little bit -- there`s more room to talk about that within
the base of the party.
KORNACKI: You know, the skeptical take on Rand Paul`s future as a 2016
candidate nationally comes from Dave Weigel at "Slate" this week, and he
basically was making the case that when you look at his father, when you
look at Ron Paul, all these newsletters came out right before the 2012
primaries with just blatantly, you know, racist things in them and Ron Paul
gave some muddled answers, wouldn`t, you know, completely distance himself
Rand Paul had this adviser on his staff who used to go by -- co-wrote his
book, I guess, or goes through the book (ph) in 2010 that called himself
the southern avenger, had always, you know, sort of neo-confederacy
utterances (ph). Rand Paul wouldn`t exactly, you know, throw him under the
bus. He would, you know, talk about him sort of as a victim.
I guess, the point that Dave Weigel was making is Rand Paul looks all well
and good right now, Norm, but when he faces the kind of scrutiny his father
did over the kind of associations like with the southern avenger, the kind
of association his father had, he`s not going to hold up very well.
NORM ORNSTEIN, NATIONAL JOURNAL: You know, we talk about these candidates
now before they`ve assembled organizations, had to go through a whole
strategic maelstrom. We don`t know how he`ll hold up. What I would say is
he is so much more savvy than his father and has an ability to calibrate,
to stay within bounds where conservatives are happy with him but not
necessarily get outside the bounds of what might work in an election.
So, we watch him now calibrate on foreign policy. He`s not his dad who was
George McGovern basically. The party is different, but he`s changed a
little bit. And then, when I watch him go one week from calling Bill
Clinton a sexual predator, to taking down and chastising Ted Nugent and
saying we can disagree without calling each other names, you know --
ORNSTEIN: You got to give this guy a little bit of credit. But, you know,
we didn`t pay much attention to Ron Paul`s rantings because he was never
going to win a nomination. We`ll pay a whole lot more attention to the
people that Rand Paul associates with and the things he said in the past if
he becomes serious.
KORNACKI: There`s going to be more scrutiny. The other thing is we played
that Ted Cruz line, Kate. You know, we played Ted Cruz, doing sort of, you
know, I remember President Dole, I remember President Romney, President
McCain. Somebody who has been in the hall for that told me it was one of
the best received lines of the first two days. It did prompt this response
from John McCain on Andrea Mitchell show yesterday. I want to play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I spoke to Ted Cruz. He and I have a
cordial relationship about this. And he can say what he wants to me about
me and he can say anything he wants to I think about Mitt. Mitt is capable
of taking it. But when he throws Bob Dole in there, I wonder if he thinks
that Bob Dole stood for principle on that hill top in Italy when he was so
gravely wounded and left part of his body there fighting for our country.
Bob Dole is such a man of honor and integrity and principle. I hope that
Ted Cruz will apologize to Bob Dole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Kate, I know I think Bob Dole even put out a statement
yesterday. Look, the Bob Dole war story, you know, from World War II, if
you don`t know, a truly is heroic, not just what he suffered on the
battlefield but this incredible recovery, three and a half year recovery
That being said, I wonder if Rand Paul -- excuse me, if Ted Cruz saying
that to that crowd and then provoking John McCain like that, if Ted Cruz
isn`t sitting just there. This isn`t exactly what he wanted in response to
KATE NOCERA, BUZZFEED: Yes. I mean, I think that part of what we saw at
CPAC was clear differences between Cruz and Paul, and clearly, they`re
trying to define each other separately. The difference between Cruz and
Paul on the Hill is that while Republicans might think that Paul`s ideas
are kind of out there, he doesn`t antagonize them in the way that Ted Cruz
does. He`s worked really hard to try and build friendships, but
relationships, and we can`t really underestimate his alliance with Mitch
One of his closest advisers is Mitch McConnell`s now campaign manager who
actually told the "Huffington Post" this week, you know, we expect Rand to
help us right now, and you know, take back the Senate so Mitch can be the
majority leader and then we expect Mitch will help Rand in the coming
However, you know, he may need it. So, Rand has been very smart about who
he needs in his corner and not really, you know (INAUDIBLE) off the John
McCain`s too much. John McCain may not like all of his ideas, but he`s not
going out of his way to sort of --
KORNACKI: Right. I want to pick up more on that dynamic between the
difference between, you know, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, Paulism and Cruzism,
because we tend to think of them both as these are the twos who are pure
hard right candidates, but there are differences between them and we`ll
talk a little bit about Christie and the response to him as well when we
KORNACKI: So, pick up talking about the differences between Rand Paul and
Ted Cruz. I wonder how you see it, Jeff, listening to that speech from Ted
Cruz yesterday where, you know, it`s just basically, it`s continuation of
what has been his game since 20123 when he`s sort of came on to the
national scene which is like I am the definition of purity and if you
disagree with me, you are not brave, you don`t stand on principle, you
can`t win elections. How far can that take him?
FMR. STATE SEN. JEFF SMITH, (D) MISSOURI: I don`t think the two should be
categorized in the same place at all. Cruz has consistently taken the
maximalist position on every issue. That`s sort of how he`s created a
national image by running to the base. Paul has taken a totally different
He`s picked off two or three issues and really tried to forge these far
left with far right coalitions that have actually turned out to be larger
than most people anticipated on drones or surveillance and hopefully on
mandatory minimums as well. So, I think the strategies have been totally
KORNACKI: Is there anything, Rob, that -- what does Ted Cruz really
believe in? You can look at Rand Paul, and as Jeff said, he can point to
some issues where he`s really devoted some time, devoted some energy tried
to build some coalitions. And you look at Ted Cruz, sometimes, and you get
the sense that it`s all just a game. It`s just a game that, you know, you
take any given issue and he looks for the way to set himself up as the
voice of purity who is just protecting the conservative base from everyone
who`s going to sell them out.
He just needs to exist in this world where everybody else in the party is a
sellout, and he`s -- what does he really believe in? DO we have any sense?
Does he believe in anything?
GEORGE: Well, I mean, I think he was still in a sense seeing that. But, I
mean, I think tactically, we can kind of disagree with it here or there,
but tactically, he was somewhat, rather smart, actually, in taking that
maximus position on Obamacare even though it kind of, you know, led to the
shutdown and so forth. I mean, at that time, it looked completely and
totally disastrous for the party and looked like it was going to have
repercussions come November.
But now, with all the problems of Obamacare, the rollout and the number of
waivers and postponements and so forth, that what looked like a complete,
you know, grand stand now looked like it was rather pressing. And it has
helped him create a rather strong resonance with the base that is going to
work with him going forward.
KORNACKI: But can you --
GEORGE: Assuming whether he runs for president or not, he may end up
wanting to become for want of a better phrase, sort of the Jesse Helms
portion of -- in terms of being the Mr. Conservative strong conservative on
all things. And the real fight, I think, between Paul and Cruz is going to
come down to foreign policy, because both of them have a lot of support
within the Tea Party. But even within the Tea Party, you`ve got the
isolationist versus interventionist or hawkish element, too. And that`s
where the fight is going to be.
KORNACKI: Right. And that Jesse Helms comparison is interesting, too,
because Ted Cruz, I think, has made it himself. And -- I wonder about Ted
Cruz running for president -- if it`s just the straight appeal to the base
and the base is sense of sort a resentment of the establishment, can you
win a nomination with like zero support from the establishment?
I guess if Ted Cruz runs, it`s almost what you`d be testing. We are out of
time here. I`m sorry. That`s the nature of this morning, but my thanks to
Norm Ornstein who we will see in the next hour as well as Jeff Smith.
Robert George, thank you for come in this morning.
Coming up next, what does fracking have to do with what`s happening in
KORNACKI: We continue to monitor that news breaking out of Asia this
morning with the U.S. navy is going to be joining in the search for
Malaysia Airlines flight MH-370 with 239 people on board. State department
has confirmed that three Americans are among the passengers.
The AP is reporting that Vietnamese Air Force planes have spotted two large
oil slicks that authorities suspect are from the missing aircraft which
lost contact with air traffic control during its flight from Kuala Lumpur
to Beijing. One slick was nine miles long, the other six. MSNBC will
bring you more on the missing plane as it becomes available. We`ll be
right back after this.
KORNACKI: It`s no secret that Congress doesn`t have great legislative
ambitions for 2014. You can blame partisan polarization, Republican
obstructionism, the fact that it`s an election year. Take your pick. But
this week was an exception. A week when there was rare bipartisan
agreement at something needed to be done about Ukraine. Republican-led
House moved swiftly and overwhelmingly on Thursday to approve a billion
dollars in loan guarantees for Ukraine, this, at the request of President
And we should point out, the Congress didn`t have to come up with new money
to pay for these loans. There was no need to demand offsets to find a way
to pay for them. Loan guarantee simply authorizes the state department to
use money that it already has to back loans for Ukraine.
But still, when the House votes 385 to 23 on anything these days,
especially when President Obama has asked them to do it and especially
after Republicans have been hammering Obama`s leadership in the Ukraine
crisis, it`s notable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) HOUSE SPEAKER: You`ve heard me call President
Putin a thug, it`s because he is. And he`s counting on the United States
to sit back and watch him do and take whatever he wants. We remain
committed to working with the administration to give President Obama as
many tools as needed to put President Putin in check and prevent Russia
from infringing on the sovereignty of any of its neighbors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, what are some of those tools? What can the Obama
administration do besides loan money to the new fledgling (ph) government
of Ukraine? On Thursday, the same day as the House vote, President Obama
announced the first sanctions against Russia since the start of the crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This morning, I signed an
executive order that authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities
responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of
Ukraine or for stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Vladimir Putin seems to be countering with a threat of his
own. The biggest Russian energy company is warning Ukraine to cut off gas
exports, and here`s why that`s important. Russia is the world`s number one
exporter of natural gas, most of it going to Ukraine and the rest of
Europe. Most of it actually going through Ukraine to the rest of Europe.
More than half of the pipeline that goes to Europe cuts through Ukraine, as
you can see on the map on the screen.
Ukraine is a chokehold. So, when Russia most recently decided to cut off
supplies in January 2009 during the heart of winter when the supplies were
most in need, several countries saw their entire supply of natural gas stop
at once. Other countries that maybe didn`t lose all of it but still lost a
lot of it, they were crippled as well. Russia held all of cards in that
scenario, held all the leverage.
It was a show of force and it worked. So, what might happen if Russia
follows through on that threat again? Well, a lot has changed in the three
years since the last standoff mainly, the U.S. now has its own huge supply
of natural gas due to fracking. Russia may be the world`s biggest exporter
of natural gas, but the U.S., it is the world`s biggest producer of natural
gas now. And at this moment, the U.S. doesn`t export its natural gas but
it soon will.
Permits being issued by the energy department to start shipping it overseas
next year. When that happens, it could change everything. John Boehner
also said this week that the U.S. should look into speeding up the timeline
for those export permits. And Hillary Clinton said this week that Vladimir
Putin is using his country`s energy resources to intimidate his opponents.
She called the 2009 blockade a wakeup call for the west.
The process of fracking does to the environment is fiercely debated, but
there`s also the question of how central natural gas is to what`s playing
out in Ukraine right now and what role it will have and what happens next.
Joining me now to talk about this, we have Nina Khrushcheva. She is the
great granddaughter of the former Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev, and
author of soon-to-be released book, "The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey into
the Gulag of the Russian Mind." She`s also an associate professor of
internal affairs at the New School.
Still at the table with us, we have Kate Nocer of "BuzzFeed" who`s been
writing about what Congress will be doing on Ukraine, Miriam Elder, foreign
editor, also at "BuzzFeed, and Coral Davenport, an energy and environment
policy reporter for the "New York Times."
Coral, I want to start with you because it was sort of your reporting this
week that got us -- looking at to this particular angle about natural gas
in Ukraine. The idea here, I guess, is that right now, Putin has leverage
over not just Ukraine but Europe, because they`re so dependent on Russia
for this natural gas through this pipeline.
But the U.S. will eventually -- it`s not something that`s going to happen
overnight, but the U.S. eventually has a plan to counter that by exporting
its own natural gas that will take away leverage from Putin.
CORAL DAVENPORT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, already actually, Putin has a
little bit less leverage than he`s had in the past. The state department
two years ago, under Hillary Clinton, created this bureau of energy
resources which was aimed specifically at figuring out how to leverage this
huge boom in U.S. natural gas as a diplomatic weapon. And already, this
boom in U.S. natural gas, even though it`s not being exported to Europe,
has loosened up a lot of supply around the rest of the world.
Over the last couple of years, U.S. diplomats working on the ground in
Ukraine and Europe have lessened Ukraine`s dependence on Russia for its
natural gas from 90 percent to 60 percent. That`s so huge dependence, but
it`s a lot less than it was. And there`s -- and that`s in part because
Europe and Ukraine can get natural gas from Africa, from other parts of the
world because the U.S. supply has loosened up that other supply.
So, now, at the state department, there`s a concerted push to look to start
exporting U.S. natural gas in the coming years and further lessen that
chokehold. So, there`s definitely a strong diplomatic push to say, you
know, if we can get some of that U.S. natural gas over to Europe or out in
the global market, then in the coming years, we really could see Ukraine
and Europe loosening that decades long chokehold that Russia has had on its
KORNACKI: So, Nina, what would happen if what Coral is describing place
out over the next few years? How much would that change the dynamic
between Russia and Ukraine and really Russia and Europe?
NINA KHRUSHCHEVA, KHRUSHCHEV`S GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER: Well, I think it
depends on, first, how this crisis is being resolved, because in the next
few years, I mean, we hope that this crisis will resolve less in the next
few years because that`s very long time to have an occupation of Crimea and
there`s very uncertain political environment in Kiev. But it`s certainly
good progress because from 90 percent to 60 percent and then it`s going to
be 40 percent.
So, I think that is a bit of a threat to Vladimir Putin and his power. The
problem is that I`m not really sure that Vladimir Putin sees those threats
anymore because he`s so gung-ho on taking over Crimea as a jewel -- former
jewel and now the current jewel of Russia that he thinks that he`s going to
find other ways to circumvent it.
And by the time the United States may or may not export the gas, he already
will have all the pieces that he needs to continue to control Ukraine and
Europe for that matter.
KORNACKI: Right, because again, we are talking about a longer term thing.
I guess, Miriam, the question in the shorter term is -- and I was sitting
in for Rachel Maddow last night. We had Julia (INAUDIBLE) from "New
Republic" who`s been reporting on us and she just bluntly said when it
comes to Crimea, Crimea is lost right now. It is lost to Putin. I mean,
there are Russian troops there.
There`s this referendum coming up. There`s a government in place that
wants to be part of the Russian federation and there`s obviously no
willingness on the U.S. as part or anyone in the west to put troops on the
ground to stop this. Do you agree with this? Is this just now a fact that
Crimea is going to be part of Russia going forward?
MIRIAM ELDER, BUZZFEED: Yes. I absolutely agree. When you say that a
referendum is going to be held, that makes it sound like some sort of a
ELDER: But these are things that have been decided in Moscow, that have
been imposed upon Crimea, and we`re just watching events play out. You see
the reporting, every single day, we see reports about bases in Crimea,
these sort of fights between Ukrainians and Russians and started to follow
this kind of -- almost recipe of the way things are unfolding. Everything
ends up in the hands of the Russians and it`s just a matter of time.
KORNACKI: OK. We will pick it up a little bit more on this and what
Vladimir Putin`s end game is. He wants Crimea, what else does he want?
Where will it stop? We`ll talk about that after this.
KORNACKI: So, we talked about the loan guarantee that was passed by
Congress this week, the sanctions that President Obama announced. We also
seem to have agreement here that Crimea really probably is lost to the
Russian federation at this point. I guess, the question, Nina, is where
does Putin`s appetite stop? I mean, because there are the justification in
Crimea is Russian speaking population, a majority that speaks Russian or
maybe identifies with Russia.
And you think back to the sort of one of the legacies of the soviet era was
these Russians sort of moved all around this -- sort of all these
satellites. It seems to me there are a lot of other places where Vladimir
Putin could make that same argument. Is there anything going to stop him
from saying, hey, I want territory over here, I want territory over here?
KHRUSHCHEVA: Absolutely. He can make this argument. He can make the
argument about Eastern Ukraine that is North Crimea but other parts, the
industrial parts of Ukraine. He can make this argument about any place
because his argument on humanitarianism is there sort of -- there`s -- he
knows there`s no humanitarian crisis but a possibility of humanitarian
crisis that is always cited by the west, and Putin always, I mean, zero sum
(ph) has never gone away from his understanding.
The United States can do something, he can do the same thing and he feels
that Ukraine is much closer to Russian territory. So, he could not -- he
cannot stop. I don`t think he wants to invade more than just Crimea
because Crimea has a long history with the Russians. He feels that it just
got to Ukraine as a fluke in 1954 during the soviet era. So, now, he`s
righting the historical wrongs.
So, at this point that`s where he wants to stop. But if he`s pushed
further and he already indicated that many times that there would be
sanctions, it would be any misunderstanding, he`s going to take advantage
of it. And that`s where our job is to make sure that Ukrainian integrity,
independence continues to exist as Ukraine even if without Crimea.
KORNACKI: Well, Kate, just quickly, I wonder when it comes to Capitol
Hill, you know there was the vote this week on the loan guarantees. What
is the attitude, what is the mood on Capitol Hill? I mean, everybody wants
to sound tough. Everybody wants to condemn Vladimir Putin. Is there an
appetite to do anything else substantively on Capitol Hill?
NOCERA: Well, right, yes, I`ve never seen Capitol Hill move as quickly as
they did this week when the House voted on the loan guarantee. The Senate
will probably take it up very, very swiftly, but what we`re going to hear
from Republicans in particular is what John Boehner said, and we`re seeing
bills start to pop up which is to expedite the natural gas exports to
Ukraine and I imagine that there will be movement in the House.
There will be an appetite for that to move quickly. Again, in the
Democratic Senate it may, you know, be a little slower because they still
aren`t sold on entirely -- the entire caucus isn`t sold on the natural gas
and the fracking stuff. Still very concerned about it. But, I`ve actually
never seen Congress move as fast as they did this week.
KORNACKI: Record speed with this.
NOCERA: Yes. It was record-breaking.
KORNACKI: It`s part of the story. Well, I want to thank "BuzzFeed`s"
Miriam Elder, Coral Davenport of "New York Times," and Nina Khrushcheva
from the New School. Thank you all for coming in. Sorry this was so short
this morning. It`s just one of those breaking news Saturdays.
There are full hour of news and discussion ahead including an update on
Malaysia flight MH-370.
KORNACKI: We have breaking news to bring you up to speed on this morning
about that missing Malaysian Airlines passenger jet Flight MH-370, which
lost contact overnight local Asia time with traffic control during its
flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. International search and rescue crews
are now conducting a joint operation to find the plane. And U.S. Navy
helicopters and vessels are on their way to join the search as well.
"The A.P." has reported that Vietnamese air force planes have spotted two
large oil slicks, each miles long, that are consistent with a major jet
liner crash. Plane`s last known location was about 120 miles off the
southern coast of Vietnam.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are working with the authorities, we activated the
search and rescue team to locate the aircraft. Our team is currently
calling the family of the passengers and crews.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: U.S. State Department has confirmed that three Americans were
among the 239 on board that plane. For more now, we want to turn to Tom
Costello in our Washington bureau.
Tom, good morning.
Lots of news out of Washington since we spoke an hour ago. The State
Department confirming those three Americans were on board and that the U.S.
Navy is joining in the search.
What can you tell us right now?
TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS: Well, this is really a multinational effort.
You`ve got Malaysian authorities, Vietnamese authorities, we`re told now,
the Philippines, the U.S. and China all sending resources into that area to
look for this plane. This is really a mystery because this plane would
have been at altitude when this happened. What we believe was a
catastrophic break up or catastrophic failure of some sort that brought us
the plane down so quickly.
It would have been on auto pilot probably, presumably an hour or two into
the flight, at about 35,000 feet. The crew would have been monitoring
their systems, checking their charts. So what happened here is very much a
mystery, a very experienced pilot, 777-200, a very good plane with a solid
history there, 200 series is the earlier model of the 777, and this one
built 11 or 12 years ago.
If you`re just waking up, this was Flight 370, leaving Kuala Lumpur at
12:30 a.m. This was a red eye flight to Beijing. Just an hour our two
into the flight, air traffic controllers lost contact. We believe it was
near Vietnamese air space and it never arrived at Beijing. It`s supposed
to get there at 6:30, it never happened.
So, this morning, aviation experts are talking about what could have
happened. And there are so many hypotheses here. One of them is that this
plane does operate in a highly corrosive salt air environment. Did that
play any role at all? Was there some sort of a breakup in air?
Is terrorism is factor here? That`s always a concern. So far, we`ve
talked to experts who say we don`t have see any confirmation of that yet.
There`s a flight manifesto, list of countries where citizens were from.
And I was also reminded this morning that another British Airways 777 crash
landed in London several years ago. Nobody was injured. They determined
that ice had formed in the fuel lines at high altitude depriving the
engines of jet fuel.
Now, thankfully, that happened in the end of the flight. And the crew was
able to descend and put that plane down into Heathrow bit it also had Rolls
Royce engines. However, there was an A.D., air worthiness directed that
went out after that, and supposedly all airlines were supposed to have made
the fix to ensure that that didn`t happen again.
And we`re reminded, Steve, of course, of the 777 crash in San Francisco
last July. That was the first fatal crash involving a 777 in 18, 19 years.
That one they believe was the result of pilot error at San Francisco
Airport. A lot of questions this morning and without any debris so far,
not a lot of answers.
Back to you.
KORNACKI: All right. I want to thank you, NBC`s Tom Costello from
Now, I want to bring in Tom Bunn, former military and commercial pilot
whose flying resume includes Boeing planes.
Captain, thanks for joining us this morning. I wonder what you make of
what we just heard from Tom Costello.
CAPT. TOM BUNN, FORMER MILITARY & COMMERCIAL PILOT: He`s exactly right.
At this point, we really have nothing. And when speculation starts, what I
would suggest is that we really don`t go very far into it because sometimes
speculation builds on speculation and we get really greatly distorted media
stories such as happened with the Air France flight from Brazil to Paris
when they came up with all kinds of ideas of what happened. None of it was
KORNACKI: I wonder though, in terms of the fact that we`re sitting here, I
think it`s been 14, 15 hours now.
KORNACKI: Since this flight, you know, basically disappeared. The
expectations will be, again, we have these reports of -- a report of ail
slick off of the Vietnamese coast that may or may not be related to this.
But just the fact that it`s been this long, without any real clues
emerging, can you think of any precedent where this has happened like this
BUNN: No, I can`t really. One of the things I would wonder about, and I
haven`t seen any information about is how did it disappear from the radar.
The plane itself has a beacon that sends a signal. If that`s what stopped,
then that would indicate that the electricity to the beacon went away.
But if -- after the beacon went away, there was still a radar return from
the transmissions from the radar site back to the airplane, then it would
indicate that there were -- after the electrical failure there were some
pieces that reflected the radar energy. That would be interesting to know.
I haven`t heard anything about that.
The 777 has a great safety record. The crash in San Francisco really had
nothing to do with the plane.
When the plane was built there was a team of people who said, OK, what we
need to do is figure out everything that could go wrong with this plane and
we want to make sure that whatever happens, there`s a way to fix it so that
the plane gets back on the ground. And you can see for these 18 years,
we`ve been really good at it. Now, this is the first time that hasn`t
KORNACKI: Wow. So, yes, it will be very interesting to see, obviously,
it`s a tragic situation, but also given that history just what might have
been missed if there was some sort of error with the construction of this
plane or whatever.
But any way, Tom Bunn, Captain Tom Bunn, I want to thank you. Friends and
relatives who have been expecting to meet passengers from the flight have
been waiting for hours for information at a Beijing airport hotel.
We want to go back to the Beijing airport for the latest right now from
CNBC`s Eunice Yoon.
Eunice, I have to imagine those family members are getting impatient for
some news at this point.
EUNICE YOON, CNBC: They`re very impatient. It`s been an emotional roller
coaster ride for them today. Many of them are now waiting for any type of
information on the fate of their loved ones. Earlier today, several of
them had gone to the airport early in the morning in order to try to pick
up their relatives, only to find that the plane never arrived.
It was quite a distressing scene. There was one woman in particular who
was being very emotional having what appeared to be almost a breakdown
because she was so concerned about her sister. Now, since then, the
security has redirected those passengers to come to this hotel, which as
you had mentioned, is near the airport.
People were brought behind closed doors away from the reporters. The
reporters though including myself did hear quite a bit wailing and crying
behind those closed doors. There`s one woman who is sobbing for her son
because as you had been discussing for the past several minutes, there have
been so many conflicting reports and that is one of the reasons why they
have been on this emotional roller coaster ride today.
Now, one of the other points I`d like to make is that Malaysian Airlines
said they have decided to send 160-person team, which is supposed to be led
by a senior executive. They`re expected to come here in the next several
minutes, at any moment at this time in order to try to support the ground
staff here in China.
KORNACKI: All right. So you`ve got -- you`ve got that and you`ve got the
U.S. Navy involved and you`ve got massive, expanding I guess search
operation going on. Hopefully, there will be some answers coming for
I want to thank CNBC`s Eunice Yoon from Beijing.
MSNBC will continue to follow and report the story throughout the morning.
Straight ahead, though, for us, why the long term forecast for the
Democratic Party is looking a little rosier than the immediate one.
KORNACKI: Some new polling data out Friday has some good news for
Democrats. Millenials may like to think they are politically independent,
half of them identify themselves as independent. Instead of being
affiliated with either one of the political parties. But in reality,
polling shows that millennials tend to vote Democrat, a voting gap between
younger and older voters was big back in 1972 during the Nixon-McGovern
race when Vietnam was raging, when the voting age was first lowered to 18.
But then the gap was gone. Young voters and older voters voted pretty much
the same way for a quarter century until George W. Bush took office.
That`s when the gap started to grow again. While it wasn`t quite as big in
2012 as it was in 2008, Barack Obama still enjoyed a 26-point advantage
among younger voters. They are his constituency.
This is the big hope for Democrats right now. But in these demographics,
they are looking at their future, looking at their destiny, a generation
coming of age with some very different attitudes about government and
politics than their parents and grandparents.
Take a look at this, within the Pew survey, a clear majority, 53 percent of
millennials, that`s 18 to 33 years old, saying they would rather have a
bigger government with more services than a smaller government with fewer
services. Plus this, 54 percent of millennials believe it is the
government`s responsibility to provide health insurance for all.
There`s a particular reason for Democrats to be hopeful about their long
term future because their immediate future is shaping up to be pretty
tough. Control of the Senate is on the line this November. Democrats
control the chamber by a 55 to 45 margin, but they`re playing defense this
year, and a gain of six seats will put the GOP in charge, which means
they`d be in charge of both chambers of Congress.
And given how many Democratic held seats are up this year in states that
Mitt Romney carried in 2012, that kind of Republican pickup is entirely
plausible. As I just mentioned, there`s also the House where Democrats
already face a 17-seat shortfall. No one right now is talking about them
winning back control of that this fall. But the challenge for the
Democrats there is to keep their House losses to a minimum or maybe pick up
a couple of seats so that they would be in position to make real gains in
Now, part of this is cyclical. Midterms have a tradition of going against
the party that occupies the White House, and it doesn`t help any that
midterm elections are when the younger voters who are most least likely to
support the president and his party are at least likely to turn out. That
has been the pattern lately.
And part of it is popularity as well. President Obama`s approval rating
right now, which hangs in the low to mid-40s, is going to be a factor this
fall. And yes, the voters who are most angry with the president are most
likely to turn out in the midterm election, which brings us to the one
group that for better or worse is looming large over the fate of final
years of Barack Obama`s presidency. It`s men. It`s not just any group of
men. It`s a very specific kind.
White working class men. Democratic presidential candidate has won a
majority of the white male vote in the half century. President Obama`s
share fell to just 35 percent in 2012. That was six points worse than he
faired with them when he was first elected in 2008.
It`s not just a problem that Obama faces. It`s something that the Democrat
party is grappling with. As "The New York Times" put it this weekend
story, even in places like Michigan where it has been decades since union
memberships ready predicted Democrat votes, many in the party pay so little
attention to white working class men, and it suggests they have effectively
given up on converting them.
This is a huge part of the of this year`s midterms. Michigan is home to a
key Senate race this year. Carl Levin, a long serving Democrat, is
retiring and polls show the race to replace him is surprisingly close.
This is a seat Democrats cannot afford to lose if they`re going to hang on
to the Senate.
But because this is a midterm election year, it means that what`s been
called the coalition of the ascendant, younger, non-white, more Democratic-
friendly voters, those millennials, they are not likely to turn out in the
numbers that they did in 2012. That at least has been the pattern over the
last decade, a younger and more diverse coalition shows up for presidential
elections, but when it comes to midterms, an older whiter one
disproportionately composed of those white guys who have turned hard
against the president is the electorate tends to show up.
And that puts Democrats at risk all over the map this year. In Michigan,
in West Virginia, in Arkansas, in Louisiana, in North Carolina, in a whole
host of House districts, places with midterm turn turnout problems coupled
with resistance, the Democratic Party among white men could make election
night in November a very long night for Democrats.
And while the long term future for Democrats shows a lot of promise among
younger voters, what is the party going to do right now in 2014? Will
stressing populist economic themes like raising the minimum wage be enough
to bring the white guys back into the fold? Or are there ways that
Democrats can excite the base that was there for Obama in 2012 to actually
show up in 2016? And how long will this pattern of two different
electorate, one boosting Democrats and presidential years, one helping
Republicans in midterm years, how long will that pattern persist?
To discuss all this, I want to welcome author and columnist, Norm Ornstein
back to the table. Joining him is L. Joy Williams, a political strategist,
also president of the Brooklyn Chapter of the NAACP. And Frank Houston who
knows a little bit about those problem areas Democrats are facing. He`s
chair of the Oakland County, Michigan, Democratic party.
And, Frank, I`ll start with you. You were quoted in this "New York Times"
story we talked about this week. Tell us just a little bit about your
experience in Michigan, site of a key Senate race this year. We talk about
these working class white male voters. We see the statistics where Obama`s
approval rating with them is almost off the charts low, his performance
with them in the election last year not good.
What do you think -- when you talk to them, what do they tell you? Where
is that resistance coming from?
FRANK HOUSTON, OAKLAND COUNTY, MI. DEM. PARTY: I think there`s a couple of
things. First of all, I think it`s a luxury that we can have this
conversation on the Democrat side and that`s because we have for
generations now really been committed to fighting discrimination based on
gender, race, sexual orientation and so on. So, I think it enables us to
take a step back now and make sure we`re not leaving anyone from the
equation, you know?
And I think we can learn a lot from folks like Franklin Roosevelt. When
FDR ran, beginning of the Great Depression, it was economic issues, much
like we`re facing today, a little bit, it`s obviously not a Great
Depression. And I think the lessons there are, you know, you had at that
time a man who in many ways would have been seen out of touch on the
surface level, privileged, wealthy at a time when we have unprecedented
employment, the working poor, et cetera, so people took a chance on him as
someone who would represent their interest, and what he with go out of that
-- Social Security, despite universal Republican opposition, a minimum
wage, despite the Chamber of Commerce and others opposing it.
So I think Democrats today can learn from those lessons and kind of throw
out assumptions that white men aren`t on our side, because on issues they
are. And I think it starts from that. And that`s when white men, when I
talk to them, they want the same thing any person or any woman wants, you
know, good schools, good jobs, you know, and knowing that for instance with
FDR as an example. And I think the president has actually modeled this
well, a promise made is a promise kept. And that`s something I think we
have to make sure we`re doing for all voters.
KORNACKI: The question I have there, I know there`s long term trend, and
we have a guest coming out in the next block to get in this a little bit,
but where does it come from in the first place, that resistance? You`re
talking about they`re with you on the issues, you should be able to win
them over. So, where does the resistance comes from in the first place?
HOUSTON: I mean, I think historically, we can argue that some of it was,
the other side of the aisle trying to exploiting differences, and trying to
use race, use gender, use these social issues as a wedge. But really when
you look at, when we get back to the issues and we put the time and energy
into talking to all voters, and that doesn`t just mean on 30-second spots,
that means the hard work on the door-to-door campaigns, we can contact with
them. But I think that`s part of it.
So, often we get in these things where it`s top down races, national money,
30-second spots and we forget that our local candidates, as well as our
statewide ones can be very effective messengers connecting.
MATHISEN: Well, and, L. Joy, we look at -- there`s sort of a dilemma I
guess here almost for Democrats, which is in this "New York Times" story
we`re talking about gets into it, which is, you know look at the numbers
like we have from this new survey of millennials and you say, wow, there is
a huge future here for Democrats, one of the biggest reasons why Democrats
seem to do so well among this new poll among millennials is they`re so much
more diverse than the older generations. I think in that poll in fact,
when you got to the what they call the silent generation, sort of people
born around World War II, people born in 1930s, there aren`t enough
nonwhite people to be surveying right now to be a representative sample and
now, you`re talking about 40 percent for the millennials.
But is there a way -- do you see a way, other than just waiting for those
voters to sort of reach critical mass in the e electorate where they`re
showing every election? Is there a way in the interim for the Democrats to
be winning over these sort of the old Reagan Democrats?
L. JOY WILLIAMS, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, we can`t just wait until the
population changes. In your setup you mentioned that while we may show up
and show out and out perform in the presidential elections as people of
color have done in the last election. We need to transition those voters
into every election voters. So, that work is not done three months before
election day in the 2016 or any other presidential election of that. That
work is done now.
So, how do we change that outperforming black vote, black women vote, into
making sure that they`re voting in every single election down the ticket?
And so, there`s work for the party to do in that aspect. Traditionally,
the party has been focusing their outreach on people of color the last
three or the last two months of the election, sort of the GOP operation.
Now that we`re out performing and showing that we show up and the reason
why Democrats get elected is because of that vote, then we need to spend
some investment and time in moving them into every election voters.
The other thing, just to your earlier point, I think that the Republicans
do well. We talk about all the time, is their messages is done very well.
The fact that you can take working class and middle class white men and
they will vote against their interest, right? They believe in the economic
advancements that a number of Democrats across the country and in state
legislatures are pushing but the Republican Party has been great at
messaging and saying you don`t feel you belong in the same party as people
of color as LGBT. So --
KORNACKI: It`s a message too about like redistribution as well, right?
Like it`s your money that`s being taken and being given to somebody else --
WILLIAMS: And to the point, it`s sort of feeding into that fear. You
know, white men TM, I should say, not individual but collective are sort of
moving into the minority. So, there is that fear that you know, as we move
into the minority, where is my money going. Where, you know, they have an
investment in this government, in this party and then I`m losing out.
And Republicans have been able to capitalize on that fear, you know to say
it`s more minority, the people of color sort of advance and sort of all of
this variation and population. I`m losing out. I`m different.
So, you have people which we really should be concerned about is that white
men cannot feel some sort of connection in the same party as people of
KORNACKI: It occurs to me no party can have it all. The whole point of
political parties is you represent different interests, different groups.
And so, is it a case maybe, Norm, where, you know, what we call the Reagan
Democrats, the white working class men, they`re just going to become part
of the Republican Party and something that the Democrats have to live with?
NORM ORNSTEIN, NATIONAL JOURNAL: I don`t think that`s entirely the case,
Steve. One thing we should point out is there`s a real gap here between
the South and the rest of the country. White working class men in the
South are dramatically more Republican. There are opportunities outside
I do think that the Democrats have not focused on a lot of the concerns
that we`ve been talking about. Paul London, an economist, has called this
recession a man-cession.
And if you look at where the jobs have been lost and where you could get
them back, a robust infrastructure program that could u bring back jobs to
electricians and plumbers and construction workers, that`s hitting where
the concern is. You`ve got a lot of people who are unemployed or under-
employed. Minimum wage is an issue that resonates. It`s not going to help
them get jobs.
And I think the failure to push hard by the president, by Democrats for an
infrastructure program hurts them with this group of voters. They`re not
going to get a majority anymore. I don`t think that`s going to happen. I
think for all the reasons we`ve been talking about, the demographic changes
have created unsettlement. There are issues other than this straight bread
and butter ones that matter for people. But you can compete outside the
South, in states like Michigan get pretty close to a majority of those
votes if you can resonate with them in different ways.
KORNACKI: OK. Well, we`ll be joined by one of the legendary Democratic
strategist who has documented the struggles of the party ahead in reaching
the white working class. That is next.
KORNACKI: The year was 1984, the massive landslide reelection of Ronald
Reagan. Thanks to a landmark study by a Democrat strategist after that
election, one place became the poster child for blue collar voters slipping
away from the Democrat majority. It was Macomb County, Michigan, which
Reagan swept by a two-to-one margin over Walter Mondale that year.
And there was a term that Stanley Greenberg, that strategist, and many
others used for these voters. The term became Reagan Democrat, white
working close people who became to feel alienated from the party during the
social upheaval of the 1960s and the 1970s. While landscape has changed,
here we are all these years later still talking about the Democrat struggle
with white working class voters.
And Stan Greenberg, a Democratic pollster who has advised Democrats,
including Bill Clinton and Al Gore, and who authored that landmark study,
joins us now from Stanford, Connecticut.
Stan, thanks for joining us this morning.
STAN GREENBERG, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Good morning.
KORNACKI: I just wonder, you sort of turned the political world on to the
idea of Reagan Democrats all those years ago. When you look at the story
in "The New York Times" this week, when you look at the polling numbers
that we --
GREENBERG: Not again. Not again.
GREENBERG: Aren`t we done with this problem?
KORNACKI: Has anything changed? I mean --
GREENBERG: No, a lot. Look, a lot has changed. In fact, I wrote after
Barack Obama won his victory, I said, you know what? It was amazing that
he won Macomb County, 60,000 votes. But it was Oakland County where he had
the really big majority.
And Oakland County, more upscale richest county in the state, a lot of
immigrants, diverse, that`s the future. It`s the future in Michigan. It`s
the future in metropolitan areas around the country. It`s the future of
So, there are big changes. The working class voters matter a lot and are
an important part of the strategy. But Reagan Democrats weren`t just men.
They were women too. They`re a big part of the target audience for the
Democrats coming forward.
KORNACKI: Can you -- just to take us -- give us a little bit of the
historical context as well. I mean, when you talk about the struggle in
1984, I think it was sort of a revelation to a lot of Democrats. What were
the factors, what was the history, what were the circumstances that created
that break of the working class from the Democratic Party?
GREENBERG: We went through a big racial upheaval which through the Baptist
South and the Catholic North out of the Democratic Party and it was a big
struggle that Bill Clinton started to bring them back. But it was -- you
were not allowed to speak about it, you know, because race was such a
And the study was -- I mean, it was obviously anybody trying to study why
Democrats were losing working class and union voters. But what this study
said unapologetically is that race is at the heart of the problem unless
you begin to deal with that. Now, it didn`t propose that testimonies cater
to those views. It suggested we have a much broader agenda for speaking to
them. You know, that is probably the strategy right now as well.
KORNACKI: Well, I wonder, you know, on the ground in Michigan, I mean, how
much do you see race being a factor in, you know, how much do you see in
GREENBERG: I don`t know about Michigan because, you know, Norm Ornstein
was right about this, Obama is getting 25 percent of the vote amongst
working class whites in the South. If you go to Ohio and Michigan, places
in the Midwest, you`re getting more into the mid 40s.
And let`s keep in mind here, working class non-college white women were
breaking even with Obama and Romney. And they are very much -- non-college
unmarried women, white women are very much available to Democrats as an
agenda that will engage them and draw them in and make them play a big part
in this election.
So, you know, there is -- you have to -- you know, you have to get in the
new real economy. If you look at the Reagan Democrats, they were part of
old politics that`s nearly gone, but they were also part of a post-
industrial period in which we were trying to come to terms with the changes
taking place in the country.
We have a new economy in which jobs don`t pay enough to live on and people
are looking for where`s future with jobs that pay. And you know, there`s
an agenda with wages and trade.
KORNACKI: I did want to get Frank to your experience sort of on the
ground. You know, we`ve talked about -- it`s the first African American
president. Has that fact --
KORNACKI: -- complicated the relationship between --
KORNACKI: I`m trying to get Frank in here.
GREENBERG: Well, what I was --
KORNACKI: Stan, one second. We have the county chair here. I want to
make sure to get him in before we --
HOUSTON: I think Stan is saying say lot of things that are true. But, you
know, I make it personal. I look at my grandfather, a lifelong Republican.
He voted for Barack Obama the first time.
So, I think, you know, there is an ability for white men to cross over.
But what Democrats have to do is make sure we`re focusing on the issues
that really can -- we can talk to everyone about. So, for instance, when
we talk about earned paid sick days or making sure tipped employees for
instance make the full minimum wage -- and these are predominantly women.
Those are issues that white men overwhelmingly support.
So, there`s a whole set of issues that really get us out of what the
Republicans do, which is campaigning like mad men in a modern family world.
We need to make sure we don`t make those mistakes and that we talk to
issues that relate to everyone.
KORNACKI: All right. I want to thank pollster Stan Greenberg for joining
us this morning, really appreciate that.
GREENBERG: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Here in the studio, Frank Houston from Oakland County, Michigan,
Democratic Party, thank you.
We have new actual score boards here at UP world headquarters and it
couldn`t be a better day to break them in. That`s coming up.
KORNACKI: More details are coming in this morning on the Malaysian
jetliner that`s gone missing off the south coast of Vietnam. U.S. Navy
helicopters and vessels are on their way to join the search for the
jetliner. State Department confirming this morning that three Americans
were among the 239 people who were on board. "The A.P." is reporting that
Vietnamese air force planes have spotted two large oil slicks in the area
where the Boeing 777 fell off radar screens about an hour after it took off
from Kuala Lumpur, headed for Beijing yesterday afternoon, Eastern Standard
Malaysia Airlines says there was no indication of the pilot sending a
Updates will continue here on MSNBC as they become available.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Studio 3A in Rockefeller Center, USA, it`s time for a
special tournament of champions edition of "Up Against the Clock."
She`s half Canadian, but she was born deep in the heart of Texas, please
welcome back, the formidable Kate Nocera.
He went to high school in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada, with rock legend Neil
Young, where he may have inspired the hit, "Rock in the Free World", watch
out, it`s Norm Ornstein.
And his record-breaking 1,900 performance earned him not only the top seed
in this group, but the number one overall seed in the tournament, it`s the
indomitable, Jeff Smith.
Right now, the host of "Up Against the Clock", Steve Kornacki.
KORNACKI: Thank you, Bill Wolff. Thank you, studio audience. Thank you
to everyone tuning in at home.
This is the moment our contestants have been playing for all year, the "Up
Against the Clock" tournament of champions. Our answer to March Madness.
And today is the start of our three first round matchups. The winner this
morning is going to advance to the prestigious Tournament of Champions
Final which will be held on April 5th.
The three people standing on contestants row right now were handpicked by
our own selection committee. Jeff Smith is the number one seed, not only
in this group today but for the entire tournament.
Norm Ornstein is today`s number two seed and Kate Nocera is the number
three seed. She won the final victory of the regular season to qualify for
Now, the rules for the first round matchup remain the same. We`ll have
three rounds of play. One hundred seconds in each questions, will get
harder as we go along. You can ring in anytime. But as you know, you will
be penalized for wrong answers. And, of course, there are instant bonuses
scattered throughout the game.
As always, I would like to remind our live studio audience to please remain
absolutely silent. No outbursts while the panel is in play.
And with that, I will ask you, contestants, are you ready to begin the
tournament of champions?
KATE NOCERA, BUZZFEED: Absolutely.
KORNACKI: Yes. They are ready.
We will put 100 seconds on the clock. It`s not going to be on the screen
but they`re going to ring the buzzer and tell me when it`s over.
Off to a great start. All right, 100 point round begins with this. In a
ceremony this week in honoring women in music at the White House, President
Obama misspelled this word when introducing -- Kate.
KORNACKI: Respect, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, 100 points for Kate.
On Tuesday, Steve Stockman failed in his bid to unseat this -- Jeff.
JEFF SMITH, CONTESTANT: John Cornyn.
KORNACKI: Steve Stockman failed his bid to unseat John Cornyn in a
Republican primary. That is correct, 100 points for Jeff.
A hundred point question, the Russian rebroadcast of Sunday`s Oscars was
cut down to 90 minutes omitting a speech by this actor who referred to the
NOCERA: Jared Leto?
KORNACKI: Jared Leto is correct. He referred to the Ukraine crisis after
winning his Oscar.
Instant bonus here, Kate, extra 100 points if you can answer this, Leto`s
band will be traveling to Ukraine to perform. What is the name of that
NOCERA: Ninety seconds to Mars.
KORNACKI: I`m sorry it`s 30 Seconds to Mars. So close, but no 100 points
We continue, 100-point question here. City lawmakers in the District of
Columbia voted on Tuesday to decriminalize --
KORNACKI: To decriminalize marijuana. Norm is on the board.
Thirty-five seconds left in this round. A hundred point question, the
college board announced sweeping report -- Norm.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. I will finish the question, announcing sweeping
reform to the SATs this week, saying that among other changes, a perfect
score on the test -- Jeff.
SMITH: Sixteen hundred.
KORNACKI: Would return to 1,600 points.
A hundred points for Jeff Smith.
A hundred point question. On Wednesday, it was reported that Oprah Winfrey
is teaming up with "The Wire" creator David Simon to make an HBO mini-
series about what civil rights leader?
I call time. It was Martin Luther King, Jr. It is Martin Luther King, Jr.
Over a 100-point question -- I`m sorry, that brings us to the end of round
one. The score boards are working. Kate has 200 points, Jeff has 200,
Norm at zero.
But this is the 200-point round that we are now going into. So, Norm, you
can tie this up with one question.
Again, 100-second round here. I will give you updates on the time as they
give them to me. Two hundred-point round, though.
It begins with this. This coming Tuesday marks a special election for a
House seat in Florida pitting Republican David Jolly and Democrat Alex Sink
against each other whose seat --
ORNSTEIN: Bill Young.
KORNACKI: They`re vying to fill Bill Young`s seat. That`s correct, 200
points for Norm.
Two hundred-point question, e-cigarettes promoted as a safer alternative to
tobacco cigarettes were banded in public spaces by this major U.S. city
We`ll call time on that. It`s Los Angeles. Los Angeles banned them in
public places this week.
Two hundred-point question. First Lady Michelle Obama will be making her
third solo trip outside the U.S. as first lady, when she visits what
country later this month? Kate.
KORNACKI: China is correct.
Two hundred points for Kate, under a minute left in this round.
Two hundred-point question. To the delight of hypochondriac, President
Obama will field questions from users for this medical site -- Kate.
KORNACKI: WebMD. He will field questions about the health care law next
week, 200 more points for Kate.
Sorry -- after the state`s -- 200 point question here, after the state`s
Supreme Court ruled that this was actually -- that this activity was
actually legal, Massachusetts lawmakers quickly passed legislation on
Thursday to outlaw it. What is this activity?
NOCERA: Taking a photo up someone`s skirt.
KORNACKI: Taking a upskirt photos is correct, 200 points for Kate.
Another 200-point question here -- this family friendly media conglomerate
announced this week that it would cut all funding to the Boy Scouts of
America next year due to their policy of banning gay scout leaders -- Jeff.
KORNACKI: It is Disney -- 200 points for Jeff right at the wire. Ends the
Brings Jeff to 400, Kate at 800, Norm at 200.
Ladies and gentlemen, this brings us to the third and final round of this
opening round tournament contest, the 300-point round. We`ll go 100
seconds. I`ll try to keep you updated.
Part -- a spot in the championship game on the line and we begin now.
This Democrat senator told "The Nation" magazine this week that he or she -
ORNSTEIN: Bernie Sanders.
KORNACKI: Bernie Sanders is prepared to run for president in 2016.
Instant bonus, Norm. Sanders on Wednesday received a letter critical of
his performance in the Senate from what longtime progressive activist and
five-time presidential candidate.
ORNSTEIN: Ralph Nader.
KORNACKI: Ralph Nader is correct, 300 more for Norm.
Three hundred-point question, when Kirsten Gillibrand`s military sex
assault bill narrowly failed on Thursday, 17 of the Senate`s 20 women voted
for it. Name one of the three female senators -- Jeff.
SMITH: Claire McCaskill.
KORNACKI: Yes, Claire McCaskill is one of the three female senators to
vote against it. Deb Fischer and Kelly Ayotte the other two.
Three hundred point question. This governor skipped CPAC this week but his
first 2014 ad in his reelection -- Kate.
NOCERA: Scott Walker.
KORNACKI: Scott Walker hits air waves in Wisconsin this week. Three
hundred points for Kate.
Three hundred-point question. This long time Clinton family pal and a
chief strategist in Hillary Clinton`s failed 2008 presidential bid -- Jeff.
SMITH: Mark Penn.
KORNACKI: Mark Penn is correct. He will join Microsoft this week as chief
Adding to the Bush family political dynasty, George -- Jeff.
SMITH: Land commissioner?
KORNACKI: That`s correct. George P. Bush won a primary to the Office of
Texas Land Commissioner on Tuesday.
Three hundred-point question. In a moment that his conservative primary
challenger likened to Michael Dukakis` wildly ridiculed 1988 ride in a
tank, Mitch McConnell -- Jeff.
SMITH: Matt Bevin?
KORNACKI: Incorrect. You lose 300 points. I`ll finish the question.
Mitch McConnell brought a rifle on stage at CPAC on Thursday and presented
it to whom?
NOCERA: Tom Coburn.
KORNACKI: Tom Coburn is correct. Three hundred points for Kate.
That changed the outcome of the game and Kate wins it with 1,400 points.
Jeff Smith, the number one overall seed goes down in a close game with
1,000 and Norm at 800. This was a very close game.
And that means, Kate, that you are one step closer to becoming the first
ever "Up Against the Clock" national champion. You have advanced in this
bracket. Next week, as you can see, Isaac Chotiner, Alex Seitz-Wald and
Susan Page will be competing against each other for a spot in that
championship match against Kate and one other contestant April 5th. That
is the date of the finals where we will crown a champion.
And Bill Wolff is back now to tell you what you are going to be playing for
in that April 5th championship game.
ANNOUNCER: Congratulations. As today`s winner, you`ve earned a spot in
the "Up Against the Finals" spot next month where you`ll face off for the
Tournament of Champion grand prize, not one but two amazing dinners for two
at New York City`s renowned restaurant Craft and Colicchio & Sons founded
by chef Tom Colicchio. And to compliment your fine dining experience,
we`ll throw in a bottle of wine.
Back to you, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. I want to congratulate you again, Kate, on that.
NOCERA: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Norm and Jeff, you were excellent competitors. Thank you for
playing the tournament. Congratulations on a fine regular season.
We will be back right after this.
KORNACKI: All right. It`s time to find out what our guests know now that
they didn`t know when the week began.
And, Jeff Smith, we will start with you.
SMITH: We found out that (AUDIO GAP) for 40 years now, the Republican
primary electorate has been changing. It`s become an electorate that used
to be up-scale and internationalist. It`s now become a lot more down
scale, a lot more populist and a lot more isolationist. So, that trend
continues to play in his hands. And we saw at CPAC this week that I think
we`ll be seeing over the next year, it`s very real.
KORNACKI: That Chris Matthews clip from last summer --
SMITH: Could be very fresh.
KORNACKI: Starting to look fresh.
WILLIAMS: Well, what I know but what your viewers should know is in the
New York state legislature, actually, we have 11 vacancies across the state
in the state assembly and the state senate. This week, it made it 12
because there was another indictment and conviction of another assembly
member, but more interesting is that six of the districts are
majority/minority districts and I have five in Brooklyn alone where they
have no representation through a state legislative budget cycle and
legislation where people don`t have any representation on the state level.
The governor has to call a special election. So far, he has not done so,
particularly troubling since we`ve known these vacancies existed since the
November 2013 elections.
KORNACKI: That is amazing.
ORNSTEIN: Well, a week from yesterday, on March 14th, the breakthrough
movie of the year, a dramatic change in how we finance movies, "Veronica
Mars" opens nationwide. Everybody, every viewer should go. One of the
executive producers is named Daniel Ornstein.
KORNACKI: I was waiting for that.
Kate Nocera, you are the winner of today`s tournament match-up. Do you
have any final thoughts?
NOCERA: Yes. I learned this week that Harry Reid at least believes his
wife Landra came up with a new Democratic slogan which is that the GOP is
addicted to Koch as in Koch brothers. That`s where he got the inspiration
to go with that line.
KORNACKI: Harry Reid, he knows how to stir it up.
I want to thank Jeff Smith, L. Joy Williams, Norm Ornstein, and
"BuzzFeed`s" Kate Nocera for getting up this morning.
And thank you at home for joining us as well.
Tune in tomorrow, Sunday morning at 8:00. We will have an exclusive behind
the scenes look at CPAC. What you haven`t been seeing and hearing from the
conservative movement`s big gathering this week.
Plus, Miss Kentucky, a pageant winner from the Blue Grass State comes out.
We`ll talk to her about the battle brewing in her state about gay marriage.
But coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". On today`s "MHP" with guest
host Ari Melber, how Republicans are going after President Obama on the
situation in Ukraine. He`ll also be talking about the decimation of access
to reproductive rights here at home. With special guest Sally Field. It`s
a jam-packed show. Nerdland is next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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