'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, March 16th, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
March 16, 2014
Guests: Michael Schmidt, Bob Hager, Jim Manley, Brian Wice, Paul Butler,
Stephen Moore, Marc Caputo, Blake Zeff, Tom Brennan, Devon Harris, Bill
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: We come on the air this morning with
breaking news from Malaysia. The country`s transport minister relays words
from Malaysian Airlines the pilot and the copilot of Flight 370 did not ask
to fly together on the midnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Malaysian government officials also said in the press conference this
morning that police are examining an elaborate flight simulator that one of
the pilots of the missing airliner had set up in his home. Malaysia`s
transport ministry says that the Royal Malaysia police are also
investigating all crew members and passengers as well as any engineers who
may have had contact with the aircraft before takeoff. Malaysia`s police
chief is also saying this morning that members of the plane`s ground crew
are also being investigated and they are still waiting to receive
background checks on some of the passengers from all of their home
countries. This is now the ninth day that the jetliner which was carrying
239 passengers and crew members vanished from radar on its flight from
Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. While investigators in Malaysia said yesterday
that their probe has now entered a new phase, a criminal phase, we appear
no closer today to learning where that airliner actually ended up.
Yesterday as you might recall the prime minister of Malaysia said
investigators now believed the missing airline`s communications were
deliberately disabled and it veered off course as a result of action by
someone on board. This is why Malaysian officials now say they are
conducting a criminal investigation. Yesterday police in Kuala Lumpur went
to the homes of both pilots. They`ve left the copilot`s house after
spending two hours there, apparently taking two family members with them as
they left. As the search continues, lookouts aboard the guided missile
destroyer of the "USS Kidd" are scanning the ocean while searching for
debris associated with the missing aircraft. As you can see in this new
footage which comes from the U.S. Navy. Each piece of reported debris is
being inspected to see if it`s possibly related to Flight 370. They are
being aided in searching the massive potential crash site by two MH-60R
Seahawk helicopters. As of this broadcast, no associated debris has been
This is just one facet of a multinational search with several countries
contributing dozens of ships and aircraft. Malaysia`s transport minister
says the number of participating countries has grown from 14 to 25.
Authorities were hoping for more satellite data that would narrow the
search. Some countries put their operations on hold while waiting for
confirmation from Malaysia on where to look. Today, India becomes the
latest country to do so.
Meanwhile, the search is taking its toll on the families and friends of
many of the 239 people who were on board, people who have been waiting for
information in Beijing airport hotel for more than a week now. Several are
still holding out hope that the passengers may be alive somewhere. One man
tells "The New York Times" the families would stick together until they
find out for certain what happened. "We will march in the streets if we
have to." He said. Let`s hope they have some definitive answers soon.
Joining me now is a reporter who has been closely following this story,
Michael Schmidt with "the New York Times." Michael, I guess, first of all,
we have the new press conference, you know, this morning coming to us from
Malaysia. We have the Malaysian authorities saying they consider this a
criminal investigation, this was a flight that was deliberately, the
communications system were just deliberately disabled, it was deliberately
put off course. Is what we are hearing from the Malaysian officials, does
that match up from what U.S. officials believe happened here?
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, U.S. officials are largely in the
dark, sort of on the investigative side of what the Malaysians are doing.
The Malaysians have really kept them at a distance. They haven`t asked the
FBI for formal help looking into the leads that they`ve generated over
there and the only real information that the U.S. government has is the
data and some of the imagery and the satellite information and the pinging
that has come off of these planes. So that is the stuff that American
investigators have looked at, and sort of used to try and figure out what`s
going on. But on the investigative side they`ve been frustrated because
they don`t really know a lot and their expertise, which they`re very
confident in, hasn`t been, you know, pulled on.
KORNACKI: You know, what specifically is it that the U.S. believes it
could offer in this search that Malaysia has not asked for or hasn`t
allowed them to do?
SCHMIDT: Well, I mean it`s an interesting question because the FBI has
many different capabilities and they have a lot of agents and they have
folks that speak different languages and such and they could come over to
Malaysia and they could really help, you know, put some muscle behind what
they`re doing and help with interviews, but also help looking at, you know,
computer forensics, looking at this simulator and such, looking at other
electronics stuff, but it makes sense because the Malaysians say hey, we
got this. We can do this on our own and if you`re the prime minister of
Malaysia, you want to appear as though you are a strong authoritative
leader and you don`t want another country from the other side of the world
coming over to run your investigation because you want to show that you
guys can do it.
KORNACKI: Yeah, it`s kind of amazing that almost petty, you know, politics
would enter into this. I know somebody, I was reading a quote from
somebody overnight who described the Malaysian government`s attitude as
sort of a pre-9/11 attitude when countries were a lot less cooperative when
it came to these things. I guess it`s sort of surprising that we`re having
these issues in 2014.
SCHMIDT: Well, I guess it is, but it isn`t, because in Malaysia they want
to show that they can do this on their own and that they don`t need the
help of the Americans to do that, and I understand that. I think the FBI
understands that. The FBI realizes that if they came out publicly and they
said hey, we`re here to help, that probably wouldn`t change much either.
Maybe as the weeks go on, the Malaysians get more frustrated with how far
they`ve come on their own investigation, then they reach out for more help,
but at this point, there`s less than a handful of FBI agents on the ground
there, and there`s a few NTSB and FAA folks that are looking at this over
there, but besides that, the United States is sort of sitting back and
seeing if there`s a U.S. nexus to anything that has come out and so far,
there hasn`t been, but they stand sort of waiting for the next development.
KORNACKI: All right, Michael Schmidt with the "New York Times." Thanks
for joining us this morning, and now I want to bring in Bob Hager, who was
a correspondent with NBC News for 35 years, most notably for his aviation
coverage. He`s reported from the scene of virtually every major crash in
those years including the TWA explosion off Long Island and the downing of
Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Bob, welcome, thanks for joining us this morning.
BOB HAGER, FORMER NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Thanks for having me.
KORNACKI: I guess I`ll just start with the new information that we`re
getting from the Malaysian authorities this morning, you know, as I was
saying to Michael, they say yesterday deliberately, you know, veered off
course. They say now a criminal investigation and now they are looking at
the pilots, they`re looking at crew. In all of the new information that`s
come out from Malaysia in the last two days, does anything in particular
jump out at you, you find it the most fascinating, the most revealing, the
HAGER: I think I`ve got to go with them so far. The authorities. We are
working with not much evidence at all, but everything we see so far would
lead you to believe that yes, this was a deliberate human act. By whom, we
don`t know. I mean it could be one of the cockpit crew. The information
that the two pilots didn`t ask to work together, that`s interesting. That
means if one of them is the bad guy, they weren`t together on it, but
that`s easily explained, because one could take over from the other and
then disable the other one somehow and run the plane.
But the basic issue here is that we`re working with just little threads of
information, these pings that they say may have gone on for seven hours or
more. There`s so much more information that might be out there yet that we
don`t know about, and right now it`s really difficult to make speculation
so forth based on what we have so far.
KORNACKI: Well, so you`ve covered - you covered the number of these, some
domestic, some international. What we were just hearing from Michael about
sort of the lack of cooperation that exists right now between Malaysian
authorities and the U.S. authorities. And I also imagine, you know, China
is a big player in this. This was a plane that was destined for China, at
least half the passengers were Chinese nationals. Apparently the lack of
cooperation that also exists there, does that surprise you based on your
coverage of .
HAGER: No, that`s just sort of traditional, as Schmidt made the point that
the local government is going to feel proprietary about the information.
That`s normal. But the U.S. sends these people out there who are the real
experts, Boeing, National Transportation Safety Board, those kind of
people. They hear from their local counterparts and so forth so I think
information will begin to filter out that way. I`m wondering, too, I mean
much of this is military and the military is always very secretive about
things. The U.S. military and Malaysian military, all militaries are, and
they don`t want to reveal what they got because that might tell you
something about what sort of spy satellites they have, what kind of assets.
I wonder if there isn`t a lot more information out there. You`ve got - all
these spy satellites looking down and they can go through those tapes, and
then look for an image of the plane flying somewhere. Something is kind of
pushing people in the direction of deciding ultimately this plane went
south, so I wonder if somebody noticed something a little more than what
we, the press, know so far.
KORNACKI: Yeah, and that`s interesting. One of the reasons I guess I`ve
heard people say they suspect it went south rather than north would be the
lack of satellite coverage in the south. It just open deep Indian Ocean .
KORNACKI: Versus the north.
KORNACKI: But stand by, we`re going to bring you back in the next segment.
First, I do want to bring in NBC`s Kerry Sanders who has the latest on
where the search is headed. Kerry, what can you tell us investigators are
looking at now?
KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, they`ve actually expanded the
area, which is interesting. Because up until this point, as we take a look
at the map here, and I`m just going to bring it up on the Telestrator, this
is the area that they`ve been looking at, because they followed the plane`s
path and they felt, OK, it looks like it went this way here, so as they`re
following the plane`s path they`ve decided in their efforts to do the
search that they would do a good portion of the search down in this area
here in the Indian Ocean, also up in the Bay of Bengal, but as we go even
further north up into the landmass of like 11 countries, all the way up at
the very top, they`ve now expanded the search. This is easier and harder.
Now, the reason it would be easier is because they`re working in two
dimensions over land. You look down and you see what you see, unless you
know, you go with the theory that this is some sort of conspiracy and the
plane is being hidden and covered up.
When it`s over water it becomes a three-dimensional search because the P3
and the P8 military planes that are used in anti-submarine warfare they
electronically can see maybe something on the surface. But in the Indian
Ocean, for instance, it can be up to two and a half miles deep, and so it
would take a very small piece of finding something on the surface to then
lead to maybe looking much deeper to find the evidence. So the fact that
it`s expanded over land means that not only do they have the ability to
work in two dimensions but they also have the added ability as Bob just
mentioned to work with satellite photographs, and those satellite
photographs which are tasked to take pictures on a regular basis by all the
intelligence agencies can then be analyzed, not only by the human eye, but
KORNACKI: And it just, you`re talking about the difficulty there of
searching over the water versus searching over the land, I mean it occurs
to me that the Indian Ocean, to go south in the Indian Ocean, as you say,
you have depths of up to like, you know, 12,000 feet there. I mean, it`s
so vast. There`s so little around there. I mean if this plane did go down
and crashed deep in the Indian Ocean, I mean is there a possibility that
this is something that just, you know, maybe we wouldn`t be discovered for
years, if ever?
SANDERS: Yes, well, you have got to consider that we`re on day nine. If
this was day one or day two, sure we might see something. I mean when the
plane crashes and the debris hits the water there would be some stuff even
now nine days later. It might be some pieces floating, because remember,
some of these things like a door would have an automatic spring to set out
that chute which fills with air. And so, it might very well be floating.
But you have the wind, the currents, the sea state, which is up and down.
It will be very hard, even if something is found nine days later, to track
back where it went. The other thing that the authorities are working with,
and this is interesting is that the plane itself in the roof of it
basically, just on the top, it sends out a signal. It`s an automatic
signal, and as it`s sending out that automatic signal, it appears that it
was turned off by somebody, but what they didn`t realize is even though it
wasn`t sending out any data it was indeed sending out a signal and they`re
using that signal to try to track where the plane may have gone.
KORNACKI: OK, that`s interesting. Kerry Sanders from NBC, thank you for
that. Bob Hager is going to stay with us for a little bit more. Much more
on the disappearance of Flight 370 next, when we talk to a former top NTSB
investigator. Stick with us.
KORNACKI: We`re back discussing the disappearance of Flight 370. I want
to turn now to Greg Feith. Greg is a former NTSB senior air safety
investigator and NBC News aviation news expert. He joins us from Denver,
and Greg, thanks for taking the time this morning.
GREG FEITH, FORMER NTSB SENIOR SAFETY INSTRUCTOR: Good morning, Steve.
KORNACKI: I know we had you on yesterday. You said you tended to agree
with the assessment that this plane had been intentionally diverted from
its route by someone who knew what they were doing. We now have the
Malaysian authorities saying that they have been looking, visiting the
homes of the pilots, they took a flight simulator I think from the pilot`s
home. I just wonder from an investigative standpoint, OI know there`s all
sorts of possibilities here we`ve talked about, could this have been a
suicide thing, was there somebody - a pilot with a gun to his head, what
types of things are you hoping to learn from visiting the pilots` homes and
looking into them like this?
FEITH: Well I think now that the authorities have gone in and been able to
at least scour some of the personal records of both pilots and, of course,
they`re going to be looking at that simulator, they`re going to see if
there was any kind of dry run by the captain since he had the simulator, to
see what kind of flying he may have been doing. Some of that information
will be logged in a history file on the computer. So they may be trying to
actually see if this pilot had done anything that would be characteristic
or at least representative of the flight that actually we`re talking about
the last nine days. Of course they`re going to want to get into their
backgrounds, political affiliations, associations, things like that. When
the Silk Air accident occurred several years ago and we started to look
into the captain`s background, we found that there was a lot of life
changes that he was going through both personally as far as his personal
finances, his stature within the community and, of course, his airline. I
think that the criminal authorities will be doing the same thing, just to
see if there was a life change that may have been a motive for one or both
of these pilots to do something intentional with this airplane.
KORNACKI: The other thing I wanted to ask you at this press conference
this morning, Malaysian authorities were asked if we keep hearing about
these pings, right, that indicate that the plane apparently kept going for
up to seven hours after it lost contact, these pings have been used to sort
of establish broadly where it might be. They were asked if it`s possible
that the pings could have continued even if the plane was on the ground, as
long as its electrical system was still running and the authorities said
yes that`s possible. Do you see that at all as a possibility here that
somehow this is a bit of a red herring that it could have actually landed
well before that seven, eight hours and continued pinging?
FEITH: They`re being very careful as to what exact information they`re
getting from these specific pings. It`s apparent that they must believe
that each of these pings, once every hour, was in a different location, and
I would think that if there were multiple pings stacked at one place that
they would be focusing on that one particular area, but the search area has
expanded, has expanded to both land and, of course, sea. So it may be that
they believe that they may have narrowed down the geographic area, but
they`re just not sure, you know, I mean, with the fidelity of this data,
which isn`t much, it`s still that they may have an area to look at, but
they don`t have a specific point on the ground to look at.
KORNACKI: And Bob, just to pick up on something Greg was saying, he
brought up the Silk air crash from 1997. I think it was. And there`s
still dispute over whether that was suicide or whether that was, you know,
whether it was something else. I think you were also mentioning off the
air I think it was an Egypt air flight a few years earlier and some lessons
maybe we could draw from that.
HAGER: Yeah, I think Greg Feith was out there for that Silk air
investigation, actually, that was - that`s a Singapore airline that crashed
in late 1997, it was. But earlier an Egypt airplane had gone down in 1992
off Nantucket bound out of JFK. And in that case it took a couple of days
to find the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. And there
was conclusive evidence once they found those boxes that the co-pilot of
that plane while the pilot was out of the cockpit had brought the plane
down intentionally. You heard him say these prayers to Allah and it
coincided exactly from the flight data recorder with the information when
he turned the nose of the plane down and just dived into the ocean. And
they never were able to find anything in that guy`s background in Egypt
that would lead you to believe that he was suicidal, never. So that`s kind
KORNACKI: They took the black box, and that`s another thing I`ve learned
that I didn`t know, Greg, I heard you say it I think on the "Today" show
that the black box we always talk about only takes two - only runs for two
hours, and it just starts .
FEITH: That`s very disappointing. I mean it means ultimately it`s
possible that we may never know what happened, but this whole thing is just
unprecedented for a plane of this size with 239 passengers to go missing
and it`s been what, nine days now? Just unbelievable. Unprecedented.
KORNACKI: It is, what a mystery. I want to thank former NTSB investigator
Greg Feith and here in the studio Bob Hager for joining us.
Switching gears now away and turning away from the plane crash. Harry Reid
the top Democrat in the Senate can`t and won`t stop talking about the Koch
brothers. And he has a reason - we will tell you the story of his one man
effort to save the Democrats and majority and to save his own job after
KORNACKI: So here`s a question for you. Which national Democrat besides
Barack Obama elicits the most hostility from the right? You can make a
good case for Nancy Pelosi or maybe Joe Biden and maybe you can give it
another year or two, Bill and Hillary Clinton could top that list, too.
But for now I would have to give my vote to Harry Reid, the Senate majority
leader, the Harry Reid who tormented Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign
with loud, repeated and unsubstantiated claims that the Republican
presidential nominee hadn`t paid taxes for ten years, the Harry Reid who a
few months ago orchestrated a Senate rules change radically curtailing the
GOP`s filibuster power and the Harry Reid who most recently has been
accusing Republican senators of being "addicted to Koch" not the soft
drink, but the mega wealthy brothers whose group is unleashing a massive
over the air campaign aimed at unseating vulnerable Democratic senators.
Reid made that charge more than a week ago and the right, to put it mildly,
didn`t like it, which is apparently exactly what Reid wanted because this
past Thursday he went back to the Senate floor to make the charge again,
this time in even stronger and more emphatic terms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID, (D-NY) MAJORITY LEADER: When Senate - Republican senators
rushed to defend the Koch brothers, they`re also defending the Koch
brothers radical philosophy. And it`s radical. How do we know it`s
radical? Because they said it`s radical. They said so. I`m not making
those words up. They said - one of the brothers kept harping on the fact
that he has a radical philosophy and they do. So as my Republican
colleagues in the Senate, is even one of you - is even one of you willing
to stand up and disavow the Koch brothers` radical agenda?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And in response to Senator Reid`s floor speech Koch industries
released this statement, "like most Americans we believe Senator Reid`s
conduct is beneath his office and his statements about us are false. For
the sitting majority leader to go out on the floor of the Senate and single
out two individuals and try to demonize them because they`re exercising
their First Amendment rights we find that very troubling. Senator Reid
sounds desperate to keep his job." And Reid`s rhetoric often leaves all
kinds of conservatives fuming, calling them un-American, Orwellian, attacks
like these from the right on Reid have been part for the course for years
now. And Reid is attacking the Koch brothers now because the Koch funded
ads have the potential to help flip control of the Senate to the GOP, and
if that happens it would strip Reid of his title as majority leader.
So, Reid settled on a strategy of making the Koch name as politically toxic
as possible and then hoping the taint rubs off on Republican candidates
this year. This is how Harry Reid plays politics, this is why the mere
mention of his name is liable to provoke reflexive sneering from
Republicans and actually it`s a little more than that. It`s not just the
way Reid plays politics that infuriates his opponents. It`s that even when
they think they`ve got him cornered, when it seems like his time is finally
up, when his bags of tricks is finally empty, he still always seems to find
a way to survive and end up back on top, at least that`s how it has worked
so far. I have looked like it was all over for Reid when he faced re-
election in 2010. It looked like he was a goner back then. The climate of
2010, if you remember, was very bad for his party, he was the legislative
face of the health care bill that was stirring a mighty backlash, and his
poll numbers in Nevada plunged to their lowest levels ever. Republican
money was flooding into the state. The voters were tired of him, he was
all out of luck, and then this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUE LOWDEN, (R-NV) UNSUCCESSFUL SENATE CANDIDATE: You know, before we all
started having health care in the olden days our grandparents, they would
bring a chicken to the doctor, they would say I`ll paint your house, they
would do, I mean that`s the old days of what people would do to get health
care with their doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I`m not
backing down from that system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So that was Sue Lowden, and she was originally supposed to be
Harry Reid`s toughest challenger in 2010, a former state senator and the
state Republican chairwoman. Someone with solid credentials, someone in
offensive, who could just scoop up all those voters from Nevada who were
ready to give Reid the boot. No one thought she would answer a question
about health care with bartering with doctors and chickens as a form of
payment, though. So Lowden compounded that mistake with others in the
campaign trail and Reid`s campaign did all it could to fan the flames and
before you knew it, voters in the Nevada Republican primary ended up
choosing a different candidate to run against Reid, they ended up choosing
the candidate Reid had wanted to face all along, the one Republican in
Nevada actually capable of losing to him in 2010.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE, (R-NV), UNSUCCESSFUL SENATE CANDIDATE: You know, if this
Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those
Second Amendment remedies, they`re saying, my goodness, what can we do to
turn this country around, and I`ll tell you, the first thing we need to do
is take Harry Reid out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And that is just a taste of the inflammatory far right rhetoric
that Sharron Angle spewed throughout that campaign. She claimed that
American city was being governed by Sharia law, she told members of the
Hispanic students group that "some of you look a little more Asian to me."
Major Republicans in the state avoided her. Some even endorsed Reid or at
least went out of their way to praise him publicly. Nationally, election
day 2010 proved to be every bit the blood bath for Democrats that it`s been
forecasted at the start of the year, but in Nevada in the face of that
fierce anti-Democratic tide and the worst poll numbers of his career, Harry
Reid survived, he beat Sharron Angle by five points. Voters had been ready
to throw him out but they ended up deciding the alternative was even worse.
And this wasn`t just the ultimate political survival act of 2010, this may
have been one of the ultimate political survival acts of all-time.
Only twice in the previous generation had a sitting senator trailed his
likely opponents by the margins/ Reid was trailing his likely opponents to
the start of an election year and managed to win, but Harry Reid did it, he
pulled it off and now those survival skills face two tests, the first is
this November, the climate as we say is again rough for Democrats,
something made clear by a special house selection in Florida earlier this
week, with the Republican candidate knocked off the Democrat in what is a
swing district, a district that actually voted for Barack Obama in 2012.
In the Senate map, it is not favorable to Democrats. They are defending
seven seats in states that Romney carried in 2012. The Koch brothers will
hardly be the only source of financial support for Republicans this fall.
So can Harry Reid hang onto his majority in November, can he hang onto his
job as majority leader? If Democrats lose their Senate majority, would he
face pressure to step aside to let someone else lead the Democratic caucus?
The second survival test that Harry Reid faces involves the most important
and most consequential election that you haven`t heard anything about this
year? It`s the race for lieutenant governor of Nevada. Because in Nevada
the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately. They don`t
have to be from the same party and with the current lieutenant governor, a
Republican, term limited out this year, the race for Nevada`s number two
job is wide open. Nevada`s current governor, Brian Sandoval, who is a
Republican, is expected to win re-election easily this November. He`s a
moderate pro-choice Latino Republican in a swing state that is growing
increasingly diverse. He`s popular, and he`s already the Republican
Party`s top choice to take on Harry Reid when Reid`s seat comes open in
So, now think of this, if Sandoval, the governor, runs for the Senate in
2016 and wins, then the new governor of Nevada will be whoever wins the
race for lieutenant governor this year, and if a Democrat wins the race for
lieutenant governor this year, then Sandoval, the Republican Party`s best
bet to beat Reid, will be a lot less likely to run for the Senate. This
explains why as Politico reported this week, Reid and his top political
aide "spent months interviewing potential candidates, they wanted someone
who could win in a political environment this year that favors Republicans
with no presidential election driving Democrats to the polls and Sandoval
cruising to re-election." And so this is who they came up with in that
race for Lieutenant Governor, meet Lucy Flores, a 34-year-old member of the
state assembly. She announced her candidacy a few weeks ago and she will
run with the full support of Reid and his formidable political operation.
With Reid leading the way, Democrats are quickly closing ranks behind her.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, it`s a little more complicated.
Sandoval has made his choice known, he`s endorsed the state senator named
Mark Hutcheson, but Hutcheson will first have to get through a June 10
primary against - wait for it, you know the name, Sue Lowden, the same Sue
Lowden who seemed poised to win the Republican Senate nomination four years
ago and to knock off Harry Reid until she started talking about chickens
and health care.
And now she`s running for lieutenant governor and this time you can bet
that Reid and his team are pulling for her to win. 2016 is a long way off,
obviously. We don`t know if Harry Reid will still be the majority leader
then. If he`s not, maybe he won`t even want to run for re-election. But
what he`s doing in the race for lieutenant governor in Nevada this year, is
designed to maximize his chances in 2016. This is the kind of
strategizing, the long-term planning, the cunning, whatever you want to
call it, this allowed him to survive for five terms in the Senate and for
ten years now as the Democratic leader. That is the man who took to the
Senate floor this week to rail against the Koch brothers. The man who
knows Republicans have a plan to end his reign, his majority leader this
fall and to finish him off for good in Nevada in 2016. And the man who`s
already come up with plans of his own to beat them and to survive. To talk
about this a little bit more, I want to bring in Jim Manley, he was the
spokesman and senior communications adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid for six years, before that he was press secretary for the late Ted
Kennedy for 12 years. He`s now the senior director of QGA public affairs.
Jim, thanks for joining us.
JIM MANLEY: My pleasure.
KORNACKI: So, I want to start with these - the Koch brother attacks, which
Harry Reid seems to be sort of taking point on this for Democrats.
KORNACKI: I guess if you go across the country and ask people who are the
Koch brothers, I think you`re going to get a lot of shrugs, I don`t know.
I`m wondering if the strategy from Reid`s standpoint is does he want to
raise public awareness of the Koch brothers and stir some kind of backlash
against them, or is this about energizing a Democratic base that as we saw
in this Florida special election this week, you know, wasn`t ready to turn
out in 2014.
JIM MANLEY, FMR. REID SPOKESMAN: Yeah. I think it`s a mixture of things,
first of all it certainly involves energizing the base. Number two, he`s
also smart enough to realize that you always need a contrast in politics,
you need to have an opponent, and the Koch brothers fit that bill
perfectly, and three, I think he`s personally offended at the idea that two
billionaires are trying to run and pay for elections not only in Congress,
but in states throughout the country. Only - not for some greater good but
to advance their own business interests, and he finds that morally
KORNACKI: And it`s the threat to his party and to his position as majority
leader is particularly acute this year. Because as we say, it`s a lot of
red states right now where Democrats hold Senate seats where control is
going to be decided. We`ve had this Koch funded group already spending
heavily in North Carolina, I think Alaska, too, vulnerable Democrats there.
The House race in Florida this week, the special election that Republicans
want, there was no Koch money, there was a lot of outside money, but no
Koch money. It led a congressman from Kentucky, John Yarmuth to tell the
"New York Times" that he wishes there was a Democratic super PAC to endorse
- support Democrat incumbents on the issue of the Affordable Care Act. He
said, "I`m not in this super PAC business, but we need somebody like a
Steyer, Tom Steyer, Democratic billionaire, to get in the fight on the
Affordable Care Act.
Democrats, he said, are getting beat to death. I wonder what the mood is
among Democrats in Washington in the wake of that election this week.
MANLEY: Well, a couple of different things. First of all, I would admit
that we`ve come a little bit late to the superPAC business, that was
something that the Republicans long the upper hand in, but we are moving
slowly and surely in that direction. I`m not really that comfortable with
it, but I`m never a big fan of unilateral disarmament. So I`m glad we`re
stepping into that business. Number two, there`s no denying that the
Senate math looks tough right now. One of the things that we have going
for us is such as someone like Sharron Angle and, you know, being repeated
around the country where, you know, these folks start popping off and they
start making the party, so instead, you know, radioactive that folks when
they go to the elections in November are going to say, do I really want to
trust, control the United States Senate to a bunch of radical Republicans?
So we`ll see.
KORNACKI: Yeah, there is the possibility of more of these sort of Tea
Party sharing types getting nominated this year. I wanted to just, you
know Reid really well obviously. When you think back to 2012 and he kept
making the claim about Mitt Romney and the taxes, now he seems to be doing
the same thing with the Koch brothers. Is there a reason why it`s Harry
Reid among Democratic leaders in Washington who takes on this task, is
there something about him that makes him the only one who can do it or
wants to do it?
MANLEY: Well, again, as his long time spokesman, I can attest to the fact
that unlike most politicians, he speaks what`s on his mind. He`s got a
reputation for candor and frankness that most politicians don`t have. And
when he sees a problem, he goes out and attacks it. In years past, he
called George Bush not only a loser, but a liar. He apologized for calling
him a loser, but he`s never going to apologize for calling him a liar,
because the president, the then president lied to him and his constituents
in Nevada over Yucca Mountain. He just calls them like he sees them.
KORNACKI: It`s really interesting, too, to have a leader of either party
who is that outspoken and comes from really a swing state. Because usually
when you come from the safe districts you can get away with a lot more.
KORNACKI: But that`s 2016 clearly already on Harry Reid`s mind as the 2014
as well. Jim Manley, a former spokesman for Harry Reid, I want to thank
you for stopping by this morning and we will be right back.
KORNACKI: Is the wait for new documents in the Chris Christie Bridgegate
scandal about to come to an end? That`s next.
KORNACKI: It was yet another eventful week in New Jersey for Governor
Chris Christie with key developments in the fight over the documents that
could be key to finding out why those lanes to the Georgia Washington
Bridge were shut down and whether Governor Christie himself may have been
involved. Lawyers for Bridget Kelly, Christie`s former deputy chief of
staff and Bill Stepian, his former campaign manager argued in New Jersey
state superior court on Tuesday that their clients have a Fifth Amendment
right not to comply with the committee subpoenas, that they do not have to
incriminate themselves potentially by turning over documents to the
investigative committee of the state legislature. The lawyer for the
legislative committee Reid Schar sees it differently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID SCHAR, COUNCIL TO NJ LEGISLATURE: This is not, has not been and the
subpoenas are not fishing expeditions of any sort. Quite the opposite we
have, in fact, presented to your honor communications in the form of
emails, both from Mr. Stepien and Miss Kelly or between them on this very
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But what Kelly and Stepien`s lawyers are arguing is that the
committee hasn`t demonstrated that their clients even possessed documents
that are relevant to the case. Bridget Kelly`s lawyer would not even
concede that his client wrote the now infamous August 13th "Time for some
traffic problems" email.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CRITCHLEY, ATTORNEY TO BRIDGET KELLY: I do not concede that my
client sent this. The government has to prove it. It has been provided to
us by a third party who`s on the email chain who could authenticate it. If
the standard is everyone can withhold everything until some third party has
come forward and provided an affidavit that says this is authentic, no
one`s going to be able to ever get anything in response to a subpoena.
KORNACKI: Now, Schar, the Legislative Committee`s Counsel, also suggested
that other documents the committee has received from other people it has
subpoenaed point to Kelly and Stepien as key players. The judge in the
case, Mary Jacobson requested further written legal argument from the two
sides in the next two weeks. At this point, Kelly and Stepien are the only
two people who are refusing to comply at all with the legislative committee
subpoenas. And the co-chair of the legislative committee, John Wisniewski
told "The New York Star Ledger" that the speed, at which everyone else has
complying has slowed the investigation`s pace. "It just seems like it`s
taking forever and that that certainly wasn`t the intention. There must be
a legal explanation for everything that is happening here. And for that,
we turn to our friends former federal prosecutor Paul Butler who at the
Department of Justice specialized in public corruption and while there was
part of the team indicted Senator David Durenberger in the 1990s. He`s now
a professor at Georgetown University and criminal defense attorney Brian
Wice who successfully worked to overturn the money laundering conviction of
former Republican House Majority leader Tom DeLay. Welcome back to both of
you. And Brian, I`ll start with you. The basic thing we know is that the
lawyers for Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien are asserting a Fifth Amendment
In laymen`s terms, can you explain exactly what it is that they are trying
to tell the judge in whether what they are trying to tell the judge is
likely to resonate with her?
BRIAN WICE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sure. Everybody who has ever taken
civics class or heard of the Magna Carta recognizes that no one in this
great country can be compelled to give testimony against themselves, and
whether that means having a confession beaten out of you in a precinct in
Queens or having to turn over documents that you believe may incriminate
you, certainly the Fifth Amendment and it`s made applicable through the
states through the 14th doesn`t compel you to ultimately make the state`s
case. But is Paul going to tell you the second - because I`ve gone to
school on what he said on this program, that privilege, that right doesn`t
necessarily apply when it comes to documents to do, I think, ultimately
that their Fifth Amendment claim will carry the day as regards to having to
turn over certain documents? Probably not, but it doesn`t mean that good
lawyers don`t make that claim.
KORNACKI: So, Paul, there is a distinction here then between if you
incriminate yourself in writing, you`re now protected by the Fifth
Amendment, but if you incriminate yourself orally, you are?
PAUL BUTLER, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, normally by the Fifth
Amendment doesn`t apply to documents like text messages or emails, but what
staff and attorneys are saying here is, we got this subpoena that says give
us all of your documents related to Bridgegate. If we have to go through
and say, this applies to Bridgegate and this doesn`t, that`s like testified
and therefore we have what`s called an act or production privilege. It`s
not a bad argument, but at the end of the day, they`re going to lose
because everybody knows these emails came from Bridget Kelly, the one that
says "Time for some traffic problems." They`ve got it from other people
saying with her name on it, so, you know, when the law gets this far
removed from common sense it`s the kind of thing that makes people not
respect the law.
KORNACKI: Well, now, and that`s the thing I think that people were most
confused about and Brian maybe as a defense lawyer you can explain this,
there was that part of the proceedings this week where Bridget Kelly`s
lawyer would not concede that the "time for some traffic problems" email
that everybody has seen her email address on, everybody has seen - came
from her on August 13th, he would not concede that that came from her.
What is the point of that and does that insult the judge`s intelligence in
WICE: Well, I don`t know if it insults the judge`s intelligence, Steve. I
think he`s doing his job. Look, what you need to understand is that in the
criminal justice system, there`s no shot clock, and defense attorneys will
do what they can. As they`re doing in this case, to go to the four corners
to try to run some time out on the clock to take some of the momentum away
from this legislative committee`s inquiry, and all that these lawyers are
doing are making arguments that they believe have some basis in fact, some
basis in law, is that the argument that carries the day? I don`t think so.
But he knows that if you were to concede anything in this business, a card
lays, a card play - and the minute that you start conceding that your
client had the proverbial smoking gun or the scandalous email, you`re going
to be working at Dave & Buster`s.
KORNACKI: OK. So, what you`re talking about, you know, adding time here,
running out the clock a little bit, that brings in the question of the U.S.
attorney and what role he may end up playing here. We will talk about that
right after this.
KORNACKI: We`re back with Paul Butler and Brian Wice. And one of the, I
guess, the conventional wisdom here has been whether it`s Bridget Kelly, or
Bill Stepien or David Wildstein, the other Christie appointee at the Port
Authority, they all would ultimately like to get some kind of a deal with
the federal prosecutor, with the U.S. attorney for New Jersey. I wonder
if, Paul, the fact that Bridget Kelly was in the courtroom this week, Bill
Stepien`s lawyer was there, but Bill Stepien wasn`t there. But Bridget
Kelly made a point of being there, do you read into that at all as having,
what is this - a strategic purpose to that?
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Absolutely, Steve. I think that
was an act of defiance. She was saying I`m here. I`m part of this case.
Now whether it was defiance at the governor or defiance at the
investigators remains to be seen, but her lawyer made this extraordinary
statement at a press conference, where he said look, my client is
unemployed now, thanks to Governor Christie who called her stupid and a
liar. She`s a single mom of four. Does anybody have a job for her? So,
it sounds like she`s mad and it sounds like she`s mad at the governor.
KORNACKI: And that sounds like somebody who would like to cut a deal to
talk a little bit and that gets me to the question for you, Brian. I mean
one thing I`ve been trying to figure out is are there potentially, is there
potentially a federal crime here and if it`s ultimately determined by the
U.S. attorney that it`s not a federal crime, maybe that it was a state
crime, but it`s not a federal crime, is there then no role for the U.S.
WICE: Well, look, Paul Fishman is as we say in TV, the show runner, the
executive producer. What`s going on down the highway in Trenton as I
understand it is just spring training? This case doesn`t begin in earnest
until Paul Fishman is in charge, and I would think that he`s not going to
invest the manpower and the energy and the aggravation of the U.S.
attorney`s office in Newark if he didn`t think there was more here than
meets the eye. The other thing that I think that bears comment is that
Bridget Anne Kelly`s lawyer has a reputation for being a deal maker, and
when it comes time as we say in west Texas to cut that deal, he`s going to
be the guy who seems to be in a position to do just that.
KORNACKI: All right, we will have you back, I`m sure as this unfolds over
the next few weeks, next few months, the story sort of really holding a
pattern until we maybe see some of these documents or maybe get a ruling
from the judge. Anyway, my thanks to former prosecutor Paul Butler and the
criminal defense attorney Brian Wice. What the scandal in New Jersey could
mean for someone named Bush, that`s next.
KORNACKI: We got the first results of the 2014 congressional election
season this week, in a hugely expensive and fiercely contested race,
Republican David Jolly narrowly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a special
election to represent the district near Tampa. More than $12 million were
poured into the battle for this swing district, it`s a district that
Republican congressman Bill Young represented for 42 years, but that Barack
Obama carried in 2008 and 2012. This election was significant not only for
who won, but for how they won. Jolly attacked Obama, Obamacare and the
Obama administration`s cuts to providers under Medicare Advantage. In
short, Jolly ran against Obama. His actual opponent, Alex Sink responded
with a strong keep and fix message defending the Affordable Care Act, but
she was hampered by low turnout.
What this race means for other close races coming up this year in places
like Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina has been widely debated this
week. But there are other national implications to consider as well. And
to do so, we have to travel north to New Jersey because over the past few
weeks, as you know, Chris Christie has taken a political hit as
investigations continue into allegations of possible abuse of power by his
administration, the allegations including improper lane closures of the
Georgia Washington Bridge, inappropriate handling of Hurricane Sandy relief
money and Christie appointee David Sampson using his position, his chair of
the Port Authority to advance his own business interests. Christie`s
reputation has taken a hit and his favorability rating in New Jersey is now
for the first time under water.
More people in the state say they disapprove of the job the governor is
doing than approve. The new "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll out this
week shows that Christie`s national numbers have flipped, too. Positively
by 33 percent of the public and negatively by just 17 percent back in
October, his numbers are now almost the exact opposite. And this week, we
also learned that Christie is also losing crucial support from big
Republican donors. Bloomberg`s Max Abelson reported this week that Wall
Street Republicans have started shopping around for a new candidate now
that their one-time favorite Chris Christie is fighting off the scandal
broadly known as Bridgegate.
So where for these Republicans to turn? Wall Street donors are definitely
playing the field, meeting with a whole range of candidates, but there is
one potential nominee who seems to be standing out, that is former Florida
Governor Jeb Bush, in addition to being the son and the brother of U.S.
presidents, he`s a senior adviser at Barclay`s Capital, securities arm of
the London Bank. That leads people with close Wall Street ties to say
things like this, quote, "If Jeb says I`m in, I think all the Wall Street
money goes to him" That`s money from people like Hank Greenberg who ran AIG
for decades and said he likes Bush`s experience governing, and in the
private sector, he told Bloomberg News he`s looking for a candidate who can
guide the country, "away from the view that we should take from the rich
and give to the poor." Perhaps, that`s not the precise messaging Bush
would use, if he does decide to run, but Wall Street donors aren`t the only
ones touting Jeb Bush this week, which brings us back to that Florida
special election on Tuesday. In the aftermath of that, with all the sides
pushing their different spin, some Republican insiders were trying to
credit Jeb Bush for David Jolly`s win. "The Washington Post" Robert Costa
reported this, "A major factor in Jolly win per several Republican
insiders, Jeb`s support and the ad he cut."
Now whether that`s true, is quite debatable, but what`s significant here,
is that Republicans and insiders used this opportunity to promote Jeb Bush.
The ad that Bush cut for Jolly was one of the very few positive campaign
ads to run in the last few weeks down there. Florida voters were
reintroduced to a man who hasn`t run for office in their state since 2002.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With all the dysfunction in Washington, your next
congressman needs to know how to get things done. That`s Dave Jolly. He
knows Pinellas County well, and he`ll always stand up for you and for
Florida. Dave is the best candidate to go to Congress. He`ll fight
wasteful spending and help create good jobs. If you want a strong voice
for Pinellas County in Washington, send Dave Jolly to Congress. I support
him, and I hope you will, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is responsible for the
content of this advertising.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: A smiling, positive Jeb Bush talking straight to the camera for
30 seconds, brought the Florida voters by none other than the chamber of
Commerce, so the political arm of big business interests, a brand
synonymous with the Republican establishment. And CBS News/"New York
Times" poll from last month found that more Republicans wanted Bush to run
than any other candidate. Although, that hasn`t necessarily put him at the
top of trial heats, when the prospective 2016 candidates are matched
against each other. So, as the invisible primary plays out as possible
candidates are vetted by donors and political insiders woo party activists,
is Chris Christie`s falling star an opening for another Bush to seek the
presidency? Here to discuss this, we have Stephen Moore, he`s the chief
economist at the Heritage Foundation as well as the contributor to the
"Wall Street Journal" and Marc Caputo, he`s the political reporter at "the
Miami Herald." And so, Steve, I`ll start with you, this idea that sort of
the Republican establishment, the traditional Wall Street Republican
establishment is reevaluating Chris Christie and starting to look toward
Jeb Bush, is that something you are picking up on and why?
STEPHEN MOORE, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Absolutely, Steve. I think your
report was spot on, and, you know, one of the things I`ve always said about
Republicans over the last 50 years they have always done something
unfailingly. They always pick the nominee for president who is next in
line, whether it was Nixon or Reagan or Dole or Bush or McCain or Mitt
Romney and it was as of three months ago, the person was next in line with
Chris Christie. But you`re right here, as faltered. I don`t think his
faltering is necessarily critical, but there are a lot of especially the
kind of establishment Republicans are looking around to see who might take
his place. So, there`s a little mini boomer right now for Jeb Bush. And
wouldn`t it be interesting, Steve, if we had a 2016 election, I`m not
necessarily endorsing this, another Bush versus another Clinton?
KORNACKI: Yeah, I know this. That`s really interesting. One of those
names, I think, right now polls a little better than the other, at least
when it comes to last name, but Mark, I mean my view on Jeb Bush being a
presidential candidate for a while has been sort of dismissive. He hasn`t
been on a ballot anywhere since 2002. I haven`t really been taking the
prospect that seriously until really this week but Mark, I know, you`re
still very skeptical on the idea that Jeb Bush would want to do this, give
us your reasons why.
MARC CAPUTO, MIAMI HERALD: Well knowing what I know of the former governor
is the last time he ran was 2002 and he loves governing and he doesn`t like
the pettiness and silliness of campaigning and since 2002 the pettiness and
silliness of campaigning has increased exponentially with the rise of
Twitter and blogs and all that. The other thing is, I`m not sure the
establishment candidate this time makes it around. You know, he - if you
didn`t like Marco Rubio`s immigration reform possession, you`re not going
to like Jeb Bush`s. And you don`t like the common core educational
standards, which are a bugaboo among many on the right, many conservatives,
well, that`s one of Jeb Bush`s primary things that he`s pushing, is the
common core educational standards initiative. So, put those things
together and then just look at this personality. He doesn`t seem to really
want to do it. He`s not showing signs that he`s interested. Yes, he`s
saying look, I`ll make the decision later, but unlike say Marco Rubio, who
has a political committee that`s expanding its donor base, getting donors
in every state and looks like he`s positioning himself to run for
president, Jeb Bush doesn`t and by the way, a few weeks ago on Long Island
at a speech when Jeb Bush was asked about his last name he said yeah, it
might be an issue. He said Clinton`s name might be an issue as well. So,
I put all those things together as personality, the changing in
campaigning, the changing of the Republican Party when it comes to
nominating someone and I just don`t see it right now. Maybe it will
change, maybe I`ll be wrong, one thing when he was governor and I covered
him, he loved showing the press corps, me and the others that we`re wrong,
so perhaps he`ll do it again.
KORNACKI: Well, also, Steve, let me - I just want to fit one thing in here
quickly, because, you know, Marc mentions the common corps. And this is -
I thought this was very interesting and maybe revealing moment. It
happened this past week. Jeb Bush was in Tallahassee for a private event,
and he met with a couple of protesters who don`t like the common core. One
of them then wrote him a letter, scathing letter saying "your collateral
damage will soon include the politicians who have supported your flawed
initiative." Governor Rick Scott has received a recent notice from the
Republican Party base, the RPOF, Republican Party of Florida demanding the
removal of common core in no uncertain terms." To Marc`s point of how much
the Republican Party has changed since Jeb Bush ran, what is Jeb Bush`s
constituency in the Republican Party right now if he were to run?
MOORE: Well, I think that you guys are right, that I think his endorsement
of common core is going to be a negative for him especially in the
aftermath of Obamacare, the conservative voters don`t want to federalize
anything, least of all education. I`ve known Jeb Bush for 25 years. I
like him a lot. I`m not endorsing anybody right now. I think there are a
lot of really attractive candidates like Rand Paul. But let me just make
the case for why Jeb Bush might make a really good Republican candidate.
You know, nominee. Number one, he is from Florida and as you guys, now,
Republicans cannot win the White House if they don`t win Florida and they
haven`t been doing that lately. Number two, he speaks Spanish, he does
very, very well with Latino voters, that`s something extremely attractive
to Republicans. They`ve got to do better with Latinos, and number three,
and Marc knows this, if you look at his record as governor, I would say and
I do a lot of work on state policy, there has been no governor in America
over the last 20 years who has a more superior record in terms of creating
jobs, economic growth than Jeb Bush.
KORNACKI: And I guess the interesting question, again, and Marc talks
about the changing Republican Party, the thing we have to find out is, you
know, that interest that he`s generating from Wall Street , the work that
he`s done sort of in private finance, if that is now more of a liability
with the Republican Party base than it was in 1998 and 2002 when he was
winning elections, how he manages that background if he tries to run in a
national campaign in the Republican Party. And my thanks to Stephen Moore
of the Heritage Foundation and Marc Caputo from the Miami Herald. And
we`ll be back with another reporter who`s been here in the Jeb Bush this
week, that`s after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Would you like to see your son, Jeb run?
BARBARA BUSH: He`s by far the best qualified man, but no. I really don`t.
I think it`s a great country. There are a lot of great families, and it`s
not just four families or whatever. There are just - there are other
people out there that are very qualified and we`ve had enough Bushes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Enough Bushes, as Barbara Bush saying almost a year ago that she
did not want to see her son, Jeb, run for president. But last week she
tried to walk back her statement that the presidency isn`t just for a few
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA BUSH: In this country, which is such a great country that there
are more than three families, but then I read "The Bully Pulpit," I think
by Doris Kearns-Goodwin, and she points out that in 1700, there were only
three families. So maybe it`s OK. It just seemed to me ridiculous in a
country this size that we didn`t have other families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: If it worked in 1700, so I guess maybe it is OK if there`s
another Bush in the White House. Joining me at the table now to talk about
this is Blake Zeff, he`s the politic center and the columnist with
Salon.com and Kasie Hunt, political reporter and producer here at NBC News.
And Kasie, we got into this a little bit in the segment before, but I think
one of the questions here, obviously, is if you`re a Republican and you`re
the Christie thing, it looks shaky now and you`re saying maybe giving Jeb
Bush a second look, you have to look at that possibility of a Bush/Clinton
matchup in 2016 where the country is sort of weighing those two names. The
Clinton name right now just gentlemen me generically does a lot better than
the Bush name does. And it`s got to factor into Republican thinking here a
KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS: Well, a question, that`s been the hesitation about a
Jeb Bush candidacy all the way along, it`s a big part of why, you know,
there is some little bit of well maybe Jeb should have run in 2012 kind of
attitude, but if anything, the hesitancy regarding his name was more
intense in 2012 than it is now. And it`s going to remain a problem for
him. And, you know, to have this sort of matchup of two dynasties would be
pretty unbelievable. But you`re right, that Republicans are now sort of
casting around for who is going to be their sort of establishment favorite
and there`s a lot of sort of longing for Jeb Bush, if you will. You know,
people who are now trying to get him to reconsider, and it`s interesting.
I mean he played actually pretty heavily in the Florida `13 congressional
race. And I sort of took that as a sign, I think a lot of Republicans that
I talked to took that as a sign that maybe he was willing to jump in a
little further than they initially thought.
KORNACKI: And it seems like the timing isn`t a coincidence. He sees this
thing happening to Christie and he sees maybe an opening to get his name
back in the news. But what does it say, too, Blake, about the Republican
Party right now? Christie, I understood until all of this as a logical
candidate for the establishment to try to get the party to rally around,
but now you`re talking about somebody we can talk about the Bush baggage
just the name itself. It`s also somebody who has been out of politics for
a long time. I was trying to go back in my mind and think of somebody,
2016 will be 14 years since the name Jeb Bush was last on the ballot. I`m
trying to think of a president who was elected with that kind of a gap. I
can think of one candidate who ran, Paul Tsongas in 1992.
But I mean that - you really - you really have to kind of go - I mean does
that say to me about the Republican Party when Jeb Bush, maybe, is the
number two choice?
BLAKE ZEFF, SALON: I think it does. I mean first, now that Doris Kearns-
Goodwin has given the OK for him to run. I mean that does change the whole
thing. No, I think that what you`re seeing is that Wall Street does not
want to sit an election out, they had their money on Chris Christie, as
Kasie said, Chris Christie, and you said, you know, made a lot of sense for
them, he`s fallen under hard times. I actually do - I`m one of these
people who thinks it`s going to be very, very hard for Chris Christie to
run a competent presidential campaign while he as all his legal proceedings
hanging over him. So, they`re smartly looking around, and Wall Street
doesn`t love the populism that you see on the right any more than they love
the populism that you see on the left. So you have people, you know, Tea
Party oriented candidates like a Rand Paul or Ted Cruz who are sort of
disposed to use that kind of rhetoric. That`s not something that Wall
Street loves either, and so they`re casting about trying to find someone
who I think they feel comfortable with and Jeb Bush, you know, does sort of
fit that criteria. Scott Walker would be another one.
KORNACKI: Yeah, I mean that`s- the magic, the sort of magical candidate
here, I think for that Wall Street Republican establishment is in this like
post meltdown America where there`s this sort of resentment towards the top
one percent, that even you see in Republican conservative populism, they
want somebody who will pitch a top one percent message, but has like 99
percent appeal. Chris Christie clearly fit that. I don`t know if Bush
does, but yeah, I can`t see who else.
HUNT: And Wall Street is fundamentally risk-averse, right? I mean they
don`t want a candidate like a Rand Paul or a Ted Cruz who is going to sort
of throw these bombs and do from their point of view unpredictable things.
But if you look at the influence that not just Wall Street, but the
business community at large has had on Capitol Hill over the course of the
last two years, frankly, it`s been very much diminished from what it has
been historically, and you`re seeing them now, the business community,
trying to play in some of these Republican primaries that are happening in
the midterms and they`re not really making much of a difference at this
point either. They`re not used to being very, very aggressive in this sort
of electoral settings. So, you know, whether they can settle on a
candidate that even if they decide that, you know, Jeb Bush is their guy
and they`re going to throw everything behind him and whether that`s going
to be successful is I think an open question.
KORNACKI: Yeah, I know, I wouldn`t necessarily bet on that. The other
issue, too, is with Jeb is Marco Rubio, Marco Rubio wants to run. This is
supposed to be his prot‚g‚. Is one deferred to the other?
ZEFF: Yeah, I mean, look - it`s - I`ll give an example, Hillary Clinton is
probably going to run or maybe going to run in New York. Andrew Cuomo
would love to be president, Kirsten Gillibrand would love to be president,
but they are the good sense to see that they are donors and they are
institutional supporters are probably not going to be with them if Hillary
Clinton runs, so they`re going to sit it out. What`s going to happen in
Florida, if you have two people who are prominent, and both want to run,
and they are both Republicans, they probably share - we know they share
similar donors and similar institutional supporters. It looks really hard
to see how both of them can fit into there, and so it`s going to be
interesting to see, you know, Marco Rubio is the talk of the town a couple
of years ago, then he fell on harder times when he had the audacity to try
to, you know, support immigration reform. Now it looks like he may be on
the upswing again. It`s hard to see how Bush could proceed with this
without looking very carefully at what Marco Rubio .
KORNACKI: Well, and that - and we were talking about this in the last
segment, too. I mean it was what happened to Marco Rubio? Was his fall
from grace on the right was immigration, and that`s the same, you know,
Achilles Heel, at least within the Republican universe that Jeb Bush would
presumably have. Anyway, I want to thank Salon`s Blake Zeff for coming in
this morning, a quick segment, appreciate it. Also updating you on the
search for Malaysia Airlines 370. Right now government officials say that
police are examining an elaborate flight simulator that one of the pilots
of the missing airliner had set up in his home and we have just learned in
the last 15 minutes that the French investigators from the Air France Crash
have now joined the investigation. We will have continuous coverage at
MSNBC as the story develops, all day here.
KORNACKI: If you`re like me you have been counting down today for a long
time now. Because today is Selection Sunday, it`s the day that the 68-team
field for the NCAA basketball tournament is unveiled, who is in, who is
out? We`ll find out everything about nine hours from now and in a few
weeks from now we`ll all tear up our basted brackets and curse our
coworker, you know, the one who has never watched a second of college
basketball, but who wins the office pool, because he picked some no name
school, because his wife`s mother went there, and that no name school gets
- and he takes all our money. That`s how it seems to work every year, but
we love that anyway. So, what does Selection Sunday have to do with
politics? Well, we know that President Obama makes a show of filling out
his bracket ever year, and plenty of politicians are happy to brag about
their home state schools during March madness. This year, the tournament
is also a proxy battle between two politically active billionaires. This
is the home of the Wichita State Shockers, I love that nickname, the
Shockers. They are undefeated. They are the first team to reach the
tournament without a loss in 23 years and they will be one of the top
seeded teams when the bracket is announced today. This is a very unlikely
story, this is an underdog story because Wichita State plays in a small
conference that doesn`t get much attention, the school is hardly a
traditional powerhouse in college basketball.
But in the last few years they`ve become a beast, and one of the reasons
for their rise is Charles Koch, yep, that Charles Koch, one of the Koch
brothers. He`s a Wichita native and the decade ago he gave $6 million to
the school`s aging arena for a radical makeover, and what had been known as
Leavitt Arena became Charles Koch arena, and the new design helped it
quickly become one of the most intimidating atmospheres for a visiting team
to play in. And Wichita State`s coach Greg Marshall was asked by ESPN last
week what living person he most admires, he told them, it`s Charles Koch.
"An incredibly brilliant man," Marshall said, who has made his fortune with
great integrity and commitment to the community."
The Wichita State is not the only underdog with a politically vocal
billionaire backer. This was the scene in Omaha, Nebraska, a week ago
Saturday as the hometown Creighton Bluejays won their regular season
conference championship and just like the Shockers, the Bluejays aren`t
exactly a college basketball blue blood, but they do have some blue chip
support. That`s right, that is Warren Buffett right there, one of the
richest man in America, and an Omaha native sporting not one, not two, not
three, not four but five Creighton tattoos on his face for that big game
last week. There were a couple of angles to that picture. We canned it
up, there were definitely five tattoos there. I think they`re the peel-off
kind, too, but still, that is the sign of a serious fan. So there you go,
we have found a way to mix college basketball with political plutocrats.
But whatever you think of those two men, these plutocrats are not backing
the big and powerful teams in college basketball. They`re actually like
most Americans here, they like the underdog. It`s true in sport, it`s true
in politics, there is nothing more American than a Cinderella story. The
enduring appeal of the underdog, that`s what we`ll talk about after this.
KORNACKI: So before we get to politics and the NCAA and underdogs, we
first want to bring you up to speed on the latest in that investigation
into the missing Malaysian jetliner. New information we just learned in
the last couple hours, Malaysian transport minister now says the
investigation into the missing jetliner has entered a "new phase."
Refocusing the passengers and the pilots on board flight MH-370.
Authorities say even the ground crew who handled the plane is now in
question. Malaysian police searched the homes of both the pilot and the
copilot this weekend and authorities are now examining data from a flight
simulator found at the pilot`s home. Meanwhile, the new search area has
expanded over large stretches of land. The number of nations involved has
nearly doubled. Malaysian authorities are asking countries with
surveillance and satellite assets for help in scouring this amplified
search zone. According to the airline, the pilots did not request to fly
together the day the plan have vanished and the Boeing 777 was not carrying
any additional fuel. We`ll keep you up to date on the very latest into the
investigation all day long here on MSNBC.
Now we will transition a little awkwardly to the topic we were, we brought
some guests in here, but it`s underdogs and of all of the major sports,
college basketball is my favorite because it is the most democratic with a
small "d." There are over 350 schools that compete at the division one
level, from the blue bloods like Duke in North Carolina to the ones that
only the junkies know like the Wafford Terriers or the South Dakota State
Jackrabbits. And every single one of them begins the year with the same
opportunity, you win your conference and you make the NCAA tournament. If
you win the NCAA tournament then the national title is yours. As we said
earlier, today is Selection Sunday, day when the 68-team tournament bracket
is unveiled and March Madness begins. And granted the big teams, the big
named teams usually do end up dominating the tournament, but you never
really know what`s going to happen and when one of those tiny schools
knocks off a goliath, it`s pure magic. It reminds even the most cynical
among us that anything is possible. It`s good for our souls. Take what
happened in 2005, little Vermont against the mighty Syracuse, the underdog
catamounts and somehow battled their way into overtime. They are clinging
to a one-point lead, the crowd is rallying behind them, wanting to believe
it could really happen and then this guy, T.J. Sorentine takes a shot
you`re never supposed to take from about 30 feet out and it goes in. Look
at their coach. Look at the sideline, look at the crowd. It should give
In 2010 when that Vermont coach Tom Brennan was asked about the final
minutes of that game he said "The kids came over to the bench and I started
yelling, we`ve got them right where we want them. We have got a chance to
beat Syracuse in overtime. It`s the NCAA tournament. Where else would you
want to be?" He continued "I just lied my butt off, I wasn`t thinking we
had them where we wanted them, I just lied, but the kids were different,
they believed." They did believe, and that night they did beat the odds
and they did take down Syracuse. And that shot is now immortalized in NCAA
tournament lore, one of the all-time great underdog moments in a tournament
that derived so much of its appeal from the romance of the underdog. And
that romance, that notion that no matter how steep the odds you do have the
power to wheel your way to victory is deeply embedded in American culture.
We love a good underdog story and it`s as true in politics as it is in
In June of 2006 almost as far out from the 2008 presidential elections we
now are from 2016, Gallup polled a list of hopefuls from the 2008
Democratic nomination. Then Senator Barack Obama didn`t even make it onto
that list. That`s how far from the radar he was back then, but he went on
to defeat Hillary Clinton for the nomination and John McCain for the
presidency. The story of Barack Obama`s ascendancy from state senator in
Illinois to president of the United States in four short years is the
quintessential underdog tale. He bet against the odds and he won. He won
big. Of course, just like in the NCAA tournament the underdogs usually
don`t end up winning the big prize in politics. George McGovern in 1972,
Gary Hart in 1984, Paul Tsongas in 1982. John McCain in 2000, Howard Dean
in 2004. We remember them because at least for a brief moment they defied
political gravity and captured our imaginations, only to be done in by cold
Politicians actively seek the underdog mantle, they want to be seen as
fighters struggling to overcome the insurmountable, they want to be
underestimated. In a 2009 marketing study researchers at Harvard gave this
phenomenon a name, "the underdog brand biography," they called it. "An
emerging trend in branding, in which firms offer a historical account of
their humble origins, lack of resources and determined struggle against the
odds." It`s trendy. American politics would not be what it is without
these kinds of candidates, without the people willing to fight the good
fight even if the chances of winning are slim. And it`s the same in
sports. The NCAA tournament needs its powerhouse teams, but it also needs
its Vermonts. We`re drawn to underdog stories, that`s why people remember
the titans, why they run up the stairs like Rocky, why we root again and
again for the team from Hoosiers, that`s why the people believe in hope and
change, that`s why they`re standing with Wendy in Texas. It`s why all
those Ron Paul supporters no matter what you think of their ideology were
so relentless in 2012 even as the odds of winning grew longer and longer.
Why are we so drawn to these stories and just who are the most compelling
underdogs in politics and in sport right now? Joining me to answer these
questions, we still have with us NBC News Kasie Hunt and we have Devin
Harris a three-time winter Olympian and a member of the original Jamaican
bobsled team and they were immortalized in the 1993 movie "Cool Runnings,"
one of my favorite movies. Bill Hillsman, the creative brain behind a
famous underdog political campaign that actually won, the late Paul
Wellstone`s shocking 1990 Senate victory in Minnesota and Tom Brennan who
was the coach of that 2005 University of Vermont basketball team. We were
just celebrating on the air. Welcome to all of you. Thanks for joining
And Tom I`ll start with you, because we showed your game - I mean that is,
to me what the underdog story in sports is all about. I remember watching
that game, it is a game I`ll never forget watching, I was off my chair
cheering for Vermont in that game, it`s why I love the tournament because
something like that can happen there and it`s just - you watch it and it
kind of gives you hope I think.
TOM BRENNAN, FMR. COACH, BASKETBALL: Absolutely, and we did it without the
Koch brothers or Warren Buffett .
BRENNAN: So that made it even more impressive, but yes, it`s the whole
idea, Steve, of you really believing, you know, you really - the first way
for it to happen is that you really have to believe that it can happen. I
think that`s the number one thing and then, of course, you need a little
help. You have to play your best and the other guy has to drop off a
little bit and that`s what happened with us in Syracuse.
KORNACKI: And I have got to ask you, I mean we showed the shot, what were
you thinking when T.J. Sorrentine pulled up from about 30 feet out?
BRENNAN: Well, it was interesting because I said to him, you know, he had
held the ball and I said run red. We had set up this little play that we
thought might work. And I said run red. And he just put his hand out and
went "I got it, I got it." And then he turned and shot it. I thought, you
BRENNAN: That`s one of the worst shots in NCAA college basketball but it
went in and it was all good after that.
KORNACKI: It`s almost like a movie, speaking of movies - I mean the story,
the Jamaican bobsled team did not win the gold medal at the 1980s Olympics.
But it`s one of those where showing up and where actually qualifying was in
itself a victory. For people who don`t know the story, tell us about it.
How did you get the idea to field a bobsled team from Jamaica and then how
did you guys get to Calgary?
DEVON HARRIS, ORIGINAL MEMBER, JAMAICAN BOBSLED TEAM: Two Americans who
lived in Jamaica saw push cars, these cars that guys race down a windy
mountain road and thought it looked like bobsledding except for the ice.
KORNACKI: It is a big difference.
HARRIS: It`s a small difference. It`s all in the details.
HARRIS: But then discovered that you need sprinters for the start and
guess where we have lots of those. But the guys in the summer team didn`t
want to do it. So, they came to the Army, I was a young lieutenant at the
time, and my colonel - and the other guy called Alando (ph) says, hey, I
think you should go for the bobsled team trials. But it became an
opportunity for me to live a dream I had of competing in the Olympic Games
and yes, it was a steep climb. It was - we were the quintessential
underdogs and I think it`s difficult, Tom, when you`re training and the
world expects you not to win, but you have to believe as Tom says in
yourself, and so we worked hard and next thing I know we`re in the
KORNACKI: And your experience as the underdog is a little different.
Because his team got the actual victory moment where they beat the mighty
team. You know, you guys didn`t win the medal, but I think just being
there you won the respect of that of the crowd.
HARRIS: Completely. And I think that`s the thing that resonates with the
world, with our team and I think generally people have this, I think,
natural impulse to root for the underdog. Why? Because at some stage in
our lives we`ve all been an underdog, we`ve all had this thing that we
wanted that we had to work hard for and the obstacles were against us. And
so when they see the team like Jamaica coming from the tropics and
competing in a winter sport, it reminds them of the times when they had
dreams that they didn`t pursue because it seemed so difficult or impossible
or people cheered or jeered and to see us, you know, take on the challenge
and yeah, we`ll won some hearts, no medals.
HARRIS: But .
KORNACKI: I still think of it. Well, Bill in politics, what Devon is
describing, is that - is there something to that in, we talked about that
Harvard marketing study from 2009. But that seems to be in a powerful
message for a politician to be delivering to, that to be running as the
underdog and to be sort of standing there channeling this hope - that hope
the people feel that, you know, I can overcome the odds for politicians to
sort of capture that. How does a politician capture that?
BILL HILLSMAN, NORTH WOODS ADVERTISING: In advertising we call them
challenger brands, but you`re right, it`s really the underdog situation and
in a race like Paul Wellstone`s, in a race like Jesse Ventura, Tom`s right,
the people have to believe that this can happen, but that belief is inbred
in us. We started out as an underdog country and the notion of democracy
is that you can run for office. Your neighbor can run for office, and
probably do a better job than people who are in there right now, but that`s
the notion of democracy and we love it, when that actually happens.
KORNACKI: Well, Kasie, in politics to be an underdog do you have to be the
challenger? You can`t be - I guess Harry Truman as the president in `48
kind of pulled it off, but you got to be the challenger, is that right?
HUNT: I mean that`s how I see it. Mitt Romney tried to sort of present
himself as an underdog in 2012 and while he may actually have been the
underdog when compared to President Obama, nobody perceived him to be the
underdog. Everybody saw him as sort of the wealthy plutocrat. And that
doesn`t like sort of lend itself to those narrative that we`re talking
about. And, you know, in American politics that is really built in, people
want to be able to see that someone is working really hard and getting
where they want to go. Right? That`s something that they feel like they
can apply to their own lives and I will say also, though, there is a fine
line between an underdog and a loser. And, you know, if you get too far on
the other side of that line in politics it can very quickly go south.
KORNACKI: Yeah, I know you could be just seen as fringe or something like
KORNACKI: We`ll pick this up. We have more time - we`ll pick it up on the
other side. We`ll also have an update from NBC`s Kerry Sanders on the
latest on that missing Malaysia airliner. Keep it with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL WELLSTONE: Hi, I`m Paul Wellstone, and I`m running for the United
States Senate from Minnesota. Unlike my opponent, I don`t have $6 million,
so I`m going to have to talk fast. This is my wife Shil (ph) and our
children, this is my house in Northeo (ph) where I lived for 21 years. My
son David, farms, and I`ve worked with Minnesota farmers for years. We
must stop the poisoning of the air, and the land and the water. I`ll lead
the fight for national health care. I`ve been a teacher for 24 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Wellstone won`t slow down after he`s elected.
Vote for Paul Wellstone on November 6th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was the famous fast Paul ad that ran in Paul Wellstone
Senate campaign in 1990. Wellstone in particular used campaign ads to
underscore his underdog image. We are lucky to have the mastermind behind
those ads with us here at the table. So, Bill, take us back to that
campaign, because I think that`s one, you know, the late Paul Wellstone is
somebody who had a lot of admirers in a grassroots, the Democratic Party of
what he did in office, but really the origin story was so inspiring, and
you thought that was bus at the end there, taking that rickety bus around
Minnesota, having no budget, taking on - some Senator race, nobody thought
he was going to win. Take us back to that campaign and what that was like.
HILLSMAN: Well, I was in advertising at the time and like most people in
the United States, we in advertising were wondering why were political ads
so bad. So, I knew Paul from college and he asked me to do his campaign
because he said I understand you need advertising if you`re going to run
for the United States Senate. I said that`s probably a good idea, because
nobody in this state knows who you are. And Paul decided to hire us on.
We did that for a spot, when we showed it to the campaign, they thought it
was a joke. They wouldn`t run it. And then Paul was in danger of losing
the primary to some guy who hadn`t even campaigned. So, they finally put
the ad up on the air in the last week of the primary and it went off like a
rocket. Everybody loved it.
KORNACKI: And I can only imagine, you know, 24 or 25 years later in the
viral age, the YouTube age to have something like that would just take off.
Now, I know you kind of made a career there of being the consultant for
underdogs, Jesse Ventura getting elected sort of against the odds in
Minnesota and Tom - it makes me wonder, as a coach, I mean your career you
were at Vermont for a long time. You retired actually that season, that
same season we showed that clip from. There are such a big difference in
the college basketball between coaching in the school like Vermont and
coaching like North Carolina or Duke. Did you ever want to move to the
bigger school with the bigger budget or did you like being the coach of the
BRENNAN: I did like it very much and I fell in love with Vermont, one of
the most beautiful states in the country, and they took me in. I mean my
first two years I was 8 and 50, I was going to be selling insurance by the
BRENNAN: This came around. And then all of a sudden they kept with me and
kept with me and we got better and better, and then it became something
very special. Because I knew people would say I was there in the
beginning. I`d say no, no, no, I know who was there in the beginning
because I was there in the beginning. And so - but we`ve got - it was just
a love affair with the state and it just made everybody so proud and that
made me proud and it was something that we shared with everybody in the
state and people just took it and ran with it. And it was just a
delightful time in my life.
KORNACKI: And Devon, I wonder - sort of the similar question, I mean
Jamaica does have athletes who can excel at the summer games, but the fact
that you guys went to the winter games, you went to Calgary, when you came
back home, did that give you a sort of special stature in Jamaica, so
totally different athletically?
HARRIS: You know, we are not describing that way. I was in the army at
the time, actually, so my job was surrounded with bobsledding and army.
So, I`d take my bobsledding uniform off, put my army uniform back on and
went back to work. The challenge in Jamaica, with bobsledding, is that
people experience it just from news on TV as opposed to track or soccer, so
but that is changing and people are getting a lot more behind the team.
KORNACKI: All right. We are going to be back with this panel in a minute
to get some of their favorite underdogs. But first, we do want to bring
you the latest in the search for that missing Malaysian jetliner, Malaysian
transport minister says 25 nations are now taking part in the search for
that Malaysia Airlines flight. 11 more countries joined the search after
it was determined that the missing plane may have gone as far north as
Central Asia. Let`s go now to NBC`s Kerry Sanders with more on the day`s
developments. And Kerry, we know there are a lot of theories out there.
But what is it - what do we know as hard facts at this moment?
KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: You know, it`s a great question, because
there are so few of them. Let`s take you first of all with the telestrator
to the map and as we take a look at this, this is a hard fact because what
they do know is they know this route, they know where the plane was lost
contact, and they know the areas out to the west and the Malacca Strait
where they began searching. But as we move forward now and we take a look
at the region, we know that this concentrated effort has been looking along
the edge here along the water`s edge for some type of wreckage. Then they
opened it up to the Sea of Bengal here, and down here to the Indian Ocean.
Now, remember, when we consider the size of the Indian Ocean just alone,
that`s more than twice the size of the continental United States. So,
we`re talking about the huge area.
And now adding in here up in Central Asia that landmass. So when you start
looking at the amount of area that they`re looking at, you can see that
it`s really a challenge. Even with additional countries getting involved -
- for instance, the United States Navy has P3 and P8 aircraft that are
airborne. Now, those aircrafts are primarily designed for anti-submarine
warfare. But they can see day or night with their electronics along the
top of the water. So, if there`s something floating there, and it could be
something small. It can actually be like just the door of the plane.
They`ll pick it up and zero in on it. But even if they`re able to find
that, what they really need is they need the black boxes, as they`re
called. The flight data recorder. And so, to get down and find that could
be extremely difficult because it would have sunk down in the water and
gone down perhaps quite a difference from where they actually find this
floating piece of debris on the surface. And now, let`s add one more
wrinkle to this. Because this plane was airborne for more than seven
hours, those flight data recorders, there`s more than one in there, one of
the things they do is they record the voice of the pilot and the co-pilot.
And a lot of people are asking questions about the pilot and co-pilot. But
it only records two hours. So this initiated an hour into flight. The
flight was airborne for more than seven hours. So, the initial
conversations we will never hear them.
KORNACKI: Yeah. I never realized that about the black box until now.
NBC`s Kerry Sanders with some good information there in D.C. Appreciate
that. And MSNBC will have continuing coverage of the missing Malaysia
plane all day. And we`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: All right. We have got a few quick seconds left with our guests
here. And we`ve been talking about underdogs in sports and politics. I
thought we`d just go around and ask right now at this moment, we have got
the NCAA basketball tournament. We have got a lot going on in politics.
Do you have a favorite political or NCAA tournament underdog right now?
Bill, we`ll just start with you.
HILLSMAN: Well, the conditions that need to be there for a big upset would
be progressive voters, independent voters. When they come out, then it
throws everything into (INAUDIBLE). So, my message would be, if you want
to see these types of upsets, progressives and independents are the key to
it. In terms of races, we all know what`s going on with the Tea Party and
the Republican. Progressives have a lot of power in Democratic primaries.
And one race I`ve been looking at is John Tierney`s race up in
Massachusetts. There`s a good progressive women name Marisa DeFranco.
KORNACKI: She`s challenging in the primary.
HILLSMAN: Right. So that`s a race to watch.
KORNACKI: Tom, who`s your underdog?
BRENNAN: Speaking of Massachusetts, Harvard.
KORNACKI: Harvard is underdog? Come on.
BRENNAN: They`ll be a 12 seat. And I`ll give you a real long shot.
Steven F. Austin from Texas who`s won 23 games in a row. Keen an eye on
KORNACKI: I like that one better. Kasie?
HUNT: Basketball, George Washington University is my alma mater, try to
term into shares for underdog. And politically speaking, I think Rand Paul
is the underdog to watch. I think he`s got some of the underdog qualities
that his father had, but he`s making some moves at courting the
establishment and big donors that could actually put him in a position to
KORNACKI: All right, Devon?
HARRIS: I don`t have a current underdog. Historically, though, I would
say, the 1980 hockey team. Randy Gardner and Zola Budd.
KORNACKI: Those are some great choices. There we go. I want to thank
Bill Hillsman, Tom Brennan, NBC`s Kasie Hunt and Devon Harris. Thanks for
getting up. And thank you for joining us. Up next, on Melissa Harris-
Perry with our friend Jonathan Capehart. What happens when President Obama
finds himself sitting between a firm and a hard place? And the very latest
on the mysterious missing Malaysian airlines plane. That`s next. Stay
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