updated 4/25/2014 10:07:13 AM ET 2014-04-25T14:07:13

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
April 24, 2014

Guests: Steven Horsford, Lynn Bartels


CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That all came together like a symphony.

HAYES: Thank you.

MADDOW: Thank you.

Thanks to you as well for joining us at this hour.

OK. This is a man named William Potter Gale, the man on the left
there. He was a self-styled preacher who held a very long grudge. By
which I mean he held a grudge that started half a century before he was
born.

William Potter Gale`s beef with the universe began in the late 1860s,
right after the Civil War. In the years after the Civil War, the Southern
states were still far from folded back into the Union. They were still
under the control of the federal troops. The Southern states were legally
part of the union again but only because they had lost the war.

And so, they were also kind of occupied territories. And they hated
it.

After years of the Reconstruction era of the Southern state capitals
being occupied by federal troops after the Civil War, white Southern
lawmakers used a series of political machinations that would make a senator
blush to wrangle through Congress at the time a law to basically get those
federal troops, those hated Yankee Union troops out of the South. Quote,
"From and after the passage of this act it shall not be lawful to employ
any part of the Army of the United States as a Posse Comitatus."

That last part is Latin. Posse Comitatus means power of the county.

And throughout history, going back to England, it refers to the county
government, specifically the county sheriff as the supreme law of the land.

Our Posse Comitatus Act in 1878 said federal forces could no longer
essentially supplant local authorities in the South. They could no longer
supplant local authorities in handling law enforcement and the protection
of the population.

And that act came out of a very specific time for a very specific
purpose. That act said Union troops, get out of the South. Our counties
are going to take it from here.

And so, roughly a dozen years after the end of the Civil War, the
federal government did pull the troops back from the Southern states. And
local white officials in the South were thereby essentially cleared to
reassert their authority over their own communities.

We know exactly what they decided to do with it, right? The end of
the Reconstruction era led to Jim Crow segregation and the lynchings and
the cross burnings and the organized terror campaigns against black
Americans that were used to enforce the Jim Crow rules.

The years after Reconstruction were so difficult for our country that
a lot of people still argue that the civil war hadn`t really ended in the
South.

And it went on that way decade after decade. Out of the 19th century
and into the 20th century.

In 1957, President Eisenhower sent federal troops back into the
American South. He sent them so they could stand guard over the
integration of Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. He sent
soldiers to make that happen.

The U.S. Supreme Court had made integration the law of the land, but
it took federal troops to make it the law of Arkansas.

By that time, old William Potter Gale, he was already preaching anti-
federal government, white supremacist claptrap which he put under the
banner of the Christian identity movement.

But that decision by President Eisenhower to send in those troops to
Arkansas in 1957, that so enraged William Potter Gale that he decided he
was going to start his own new branch of that movement and he was going to
give it a new name. A writer named Kevin Carey wrote a terrific act of
this a while back in the "Washington Monthly."

William Potter Gale called his new movement Posse Comitatus. He named
it after that 1878 law that had forced Union troops out of the
reconstruction South. As Mr. Gale explained his idea, quote, "County
sheriffs were the supreme legal law enforcement officers in the land. And
county residents had the right to form a posse to enforce the Constitution
however they as sovereign citizens chose to interpret it."

"Public officials who interfered," said Gale, "should be hung by the
neck at noon."

So, individuals are sovereign. Only the county sheriff is in charge.
The federal government has no authority, in this guy`s white supremacist
world. And yes, his operating theory sounds crazy and fringe -- and it was
crazy and fringe.

But if that was your particular flavor of extremism in, say, the early
1970s and you didn`t think the anti-civil rights, anti-fluoride, John Birch
Society was extreme enough for you, then you could join William Potter Gale
and his radical Posse Comitatus. All through the 1970s, Mr. Gale worked
the Farm Belt States specifically, planting chapters in clusters in places
like Kansas and Texas. His Texas chapter was founded by this guy, who`s
named Gordon Kahl.

Before the Posse Comitatus thing got going really, Gordon Kahl had
already announced that he would no longer pay income taxes because he said
he was sovereign as a man. He said the government was Satan. And for a
long time, it was one thing to be that one lone guy in Texas with that
crazy idea. But along comes this good organizer guy with the Posse
Comitatus idea and all of a sudden he`s the leading member of a movement.

You know, the sheriff is the only law. Way out there. Racist
Christian identity movement called the Posse Comitatus.

Gordon Kahl, the guy from Texas, he ended up serving time in prison
for not paying his taxes because he didn`t believe he had to. Then he got
out on parole, and he violated his parole. And once he violated his
parole, federal marshals came to collect him, and it went horribly wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Police in the Northern Plains and Canada
tonight are hunting for at least two gunmen wanted for killing two U.S.
marshals in a blazing shootout last night. It happened in Medina, North
Dakota. And as Roger O`Neil reports, the men who got away are members of
Posse Comitatus, a militant anti-tax group.

ROGER O`NEIL, NBC NEWS: Police were trying to arrest 53-year-old
Gordon Kahl of Midland, Texas, for violating probation on an income tax
evasion conviction. Kahl is described as a fanatical opponent of taxes.
He was formerly a farmer in North Dakota and was attending an anti-tax
meeting of farmers at this clinic in Medina.

Kahl, a member of the radical anti-tax group Posse Comitatus, is known
to be armed and dangerous. Authorities said in the past, Kahl has said he
would not be taken alive.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW: Gordon Kahl ended up escaping to Arkansas, and he was killed
in a shootout in Arkansas. That was 1983.

A little less than a decade later, in 1992, it was a white supremacist
in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. He`d sold some sawed-off shotguns to somebody who
turned out to be an undercover ATF agent. He ended up going to jail,
getting released on bail, not turning up for his trial.

When federal marshals turned up at his place to say, hey, you`ve got
turn up for your trial, he ended up in a shootout with those federal
marshals. His wife and his teenage son and a marshal were all killed.
That was Ruby Ridge.

Randy Weaver was a member of the Aryan Nations. He`d also bounced
around this world of tax protesters and people who considered themselves to
be sovereign citizens. Direct inheritors of this idea that you are a
nation unto yourself, you are sovereign, and no one can tell you what to do
except for maybe the sheriff.

Today, the people who call themselves sovereign citizens are
definitely still around. Their numbers are increasing, according to the
people who track these things. One of the most visible signs about them is
they tend to make their own IDs if they carry them at all. They may not
put real license plates on their cars as well because to them, there is no
legitimate state or federal government.

And it`s silly stuff in a way, but over time, these self-proclaimed
sovereign citizens have become pretty violent and therefore pretty scary.

In 1993, a farmer named James Nichols contested a speeding ticket in
Michigan by claiming that he was a sovereign citizen and thus could not be
prosecuted. His brother tried to pull the same thing by paying a debt on a
bank that he -- on a bank that was an institution that he made up, did not
exist. His brother was Terry Nichols.

Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols both consider themselves to be
sovereign citizens. They ended up blowing the Alfred P. Murrah Federal
Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing more than 150 people.

When Timothy McVeigh got pulled over after the Oklahoma City bombing,
it was because he was driving a car without license plates because
sovereign citizens don`t believe in license plates.

Over the years, members of these groups spawned by the Posse Comitatus
movement, they`ve tried to separate themselves sometimes from the overt
racism and white supremacy that launched their movement in the first place.
But after a lot of new attention to these groups, after the bombing in
Oklahoma City, NBC`s "Nightly News" sent a hidden camera into a Missoula
gun show and the reporter for that segment, Fred Francis, he found all
those old threads still knotted together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED FRANCIS, NBC NEWS: In many cases the hate groups of the past
have reconstituted themselves into these militias. In isolated regions
like this, it`s easy to find people who worry about losing their weapons.

But once involved many find there is an ideology driving the militia
craze -- white supremacy, with the Christian identity movement deep in the
background.

Nearby, a branch of his militia was selling guerrilla manuals along
with blatantly anti-black, anti-Semitic literature. This comic book aimed
at school kids features the hero White Will and contains graphic images of
whites beating blacks.

And this book, "America: Free, White, and Christian," saying that the
United States was created as a white Christian nation, that freedom of
religion basically pertained only to Christians.

And with these weapons confiscated from Michigan militiamen last year
was this religious tract, warning Revelation is about to be fulfilled. It
forecasts death for anyone who`s not a Christian true believer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That report from NBC was in 1995. A quarter century after
the pseudo-minister with the grudge launched this whole idea of the white
Christian birthright, Christian identity. The white Christian birthright
in a world in which there is no real federal American government and the
county sheriff is the only law of the land, that a sovereign citizen man
should acknowledge.

Today, you can still find him, William Potter Gale. You can still
find him in places like this, memorialized by the Aryan Nations online.
But you can also found echoes of his ideas in place like this, the Oath
Keepers, Guardians of the Republic, and the ten orders that they will not
obey.

Also these folks, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers
Association, led by Sheriff Richard Mack, foremost purveyor of the
sheriff`s in charge rule today. Sponsored by what I`m sure is some very
nice freeze dried apocalyptic food.

Sheriff Mack was the one who made headlines in the middle of the
Cliven Bundy FOX News-hyped Nevada ranch standoff recently when he said
that he and the militia members flocking to Nevada to fight the federal
government alongside that rancher, they might try to use their wives and
daughters as human shields once the shooting started.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD MACK, FORMER GRAHAM COUNTY, AZ SHERIFF: We were actually
strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they`re going to
start shooting, it`s going to be women that are going to be televised all
across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: You see what it says on his hat there? See? CSPOA. That`s
his group. The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. If
you go to their Web site, it tells you about power-hungry government
officials backed by people with hidden agendas have convinced us to
sacrifice our freedoms bit by bit.

And with every change, they gain a little more power, a little more
control. But what does this have to do with us, the Constitutional
Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association? Well, this -- the county sheriff,
he says, is the line in the sand. The county sheriff is the one who can
say to the feds beyond these bounds you shall not pass.

This is not only within the scope of the sheriff`s authority. It is
the sheriff`s sworn duty. It explained we already have hundreds of police,
sheriffs, and other officials who have expressed a desire to be part of
this holy cause of liberty. We`re going to train and vet them all state by
state. Then, these local governments will issue our new declaration to the
federal government regarding the abuses that we will no longer tolerate or
accept, said declaration will be enforced by our constitutional sheriffs
and peace officers. In short, the CSPOA will be an army to set our nation
free.

An army that will free us from the federal government because the
county sheriff is the highest law in the land. There is no federal
government. There`s only the sheriff. Posse Comitatus, the power of the
county.

This idea that the county sheriff is the highest law in the land and
the federal government has no authority, it is a weird idea. But it is an
old idea that is directly in a linear way, directly descendant in this
country from the people who came up with this cockamamie argument in the
first place in the 1800s, to argue that federal troops shouldn`t be allowed
into the South to protect black people.

When you hear people arguing this weird idea, that they don`t
acknowledge the authority of the federal government, that they only
acknowledge the sheriff, there is a really specific place where that idea
comes from.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: What is your response to Harry Reid?

CLIVEN BUNDY, NEVADA RANCHER: I don`t have a response for Harry Reid,
but I have a response for every sheriff across the United States. Every
county sheriff across the United States, disarm the federal bureaucrats.
Take the federal United States bureaucrats` guns away. That`s my message
today.

They wanted to show the American people and the world that they had
unlimited power, and they -- you know, they had taken over states`
sovereignty, our Nevada laws, our public lands. You know, listen --
listen. Do you think they really have taken it over?

I don`t think so. They might have took over our Clark County sheriff,
but they never took over we the people, the sovereign people of this
nation. We`re standing. And we`re going to stand until we take the guns
away from those bureaucracies.

HANNITY: What would happen if they came in the early morning hours
one day to your ranch?

BUNDY: Well, first they`ve got to say harry, get your army out of
Nevada. Get your army away from my ranch and Clark County public land, and
keep it out. And if they come, we`ll deal with them tonight. That`s what
we`ve got to do. We`ll just deal with you. When you`ve got guts enough to
do it, come on.

HANNITY: Well, he also said, Richard Mack is, I don`t think it would
be possible to launch a raid without violence. If they came to arrest you,
would you surrender?

BUNDY: I went to the proper authorities.

HANNITY: Meaning?

BUNDY: I don`t believe -- it would have to be Clark County sheriff.
If he came to arrest me, I would definitely let him arrest me.

HANNITY: All right. Let me go --

BUNDY: He`s the only man --

HANNITY: Go ahead.

BUNDY: He`s the only man with arresting power in Clark County,
Nevada.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Clark County sheriff is the highest legal authority in the
country if you live in Clark County, Nevada.

FOX News Channel, the conservative media broadly, I don`t think
there`s any reason to believe that they have spent all this time hyping and
glorifying and romanticizing this rancher in Nevada because he is a Posse
Comitatus guy, because he adheres to this long-standing bizarre
conspiratorial fringe belief that the sheriff is the highest legal
authority in the country and the federal government doesn`t exist.

I don`t think FOX News has been celebrating him for weeks now
specifically because of that. But somebody should have noticed that the
guy kept bringing this stuff up, right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUNDY: I don`t recognize the United States government as even
existing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Even in the really far right-wing reaches that have become
normal Republican and conservative politics in our country in the last few
years, it is not a typical thing to hear somebody say not that they don`t
like the federal government or that they wish the federal government was
smaller, but that they don`t believe the federal government exists. That`s
weird, right?

I mean, when you`re talking with somebody about the actions of this
purported federal government and they respond that they don`t think it
exists, that they recognize no legal authority other than their county
sheriff, that is a weird enough assertion that it should prick up your
ears, right? It should make you Google or something. Shouldn`t it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUNDY: It would have to be Clark County sheriff. If he came to
arrest me, I would definitely let him arrest me.

HANNITY: All right. Let me go --

BUNDY: He`s the only man --

HANNITY: Go ahead.

BUNDY: He`s the only man with arresting power in Clark County,
Nevada.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: OK. Let`s move on. That was one of more than half a dozen
appearances that this sovereign citizen Nevada sheriff has made on the FOX
News Channel in the past couple of weeks.

They keep booking him over and over and over and over and over again
doing segment after segment all day long and all over their primetime line-
up, lionizing this guy, taking on his fight against the federal government
as if it is their own, celebrating when all the media coverage that they
themselves gave him caused enough men with guns to turn up and point their
guns at federal officials, that the federal officials left the scene
without enforcing the legal federal court order that they had to enforce.

And all the time, they kept booking him and putting him on TV and
putting him on talk radio. All the time they kept interviewing him he kept
insisting, bringing up on his own terms, he kept insisting how the federal
government doesn`t really exist, he doesn`t recognize the authority of the
federal government, he doesn`t open mail from the federal government. He
doesn`t think the United States government is a thing, and he keeps
advancing this bizarre theory that only county sheriffs have authority in
America.

And the conservative media booking him and the Republican politicians
siding with him, they all just ignore the fact that he is spouting weird
sovereign citizen Posse Comitatus conspiracy theory nonsense every time
they give him a microphone. And it`s nonsense of a very specific origin.
It`s nonsense that derives from the theory that the 14th Amendment
destroyed the last real American government and federal authorities
shouldn`t be allowed into the south to protect black people from racist
whites.

And that fringe and very specific American sickness has been preserved
and handed down in the centuries since they invented it in reconstruction,
it has been preserved and handed down in the centuries since by white
supremacists to the point where you can buy sovereign citizens, I don`t
recognize the federal government fake legal papers to try to use in court.
You can buy those fake legal papers out of the back pages of Aryan
Brotherhood newsletters that circulate in the prison system.

Whoever was asleep at the switch at the FOX News Channel and in the
offices of Senator Rand Paul and Senator Dean Heller and all of these other
people who embraced this Nevada guy and who never noticed all the
omnipotent sheriff stuff he kept saying, and so, they were shocked, shocked
when he came to this, for the people who were asleep at the switch, why
were you? Why didn`t you see this coming?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUNDY: I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro.
They didn`t have nothing to do. They didn`t have nothing for their kids to
do. They didn`t have nothing for their young girls to do.

And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do
they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in
jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton.

And I`ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves picking cotton
and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under
government subsidy?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was said on Saturday. The remarks were first reported
last night by the "New York Times." The rancher first asked that "The
Times" retract its story but then Media Matters got its hand on the tape of
him actually saying it. It turns out "The Times" quote was spot on.

Today, the rancher reiterated his remarks on a couple more radio
shows, explaining the same thing about how blacks were better off in
slavery, or at least we ought to ask about it.

Back again tonight at his ranch, he said it again with a lot of press
there. And the conservative media and the Republican politicians who have
glorified him and tried to turn him into a national hero, today they say
they are shocked, shocked that it turns out he thinks African-Americans
should be picking cotton as slaves because that would at least be good for
them.

And let us all pray that it is out of ignorance that the "National
Review" comparing him to Gandhi and the right-wing activists comparing him
to Rosa Parks and the FOX News channel booking him and his family over and
over and over and over and over again as heroes and the Republican senator
calling his armed supporters pointing guns at federal law enforcement
officers "patriots" -- let us pray that that was happening under a veil of
ignorance. Let us pray that they had no idea that there is a long-standing
fairly violent right-wing movement in this country that is born in the
defense of slavery and that causes people to say weird stuff about sheriffs
being the supreme authority and the federal government not existing.

Let us pray that the right and these Republican senators made a hero
out of this guy in bloody ignorance of where he was really coming from.

But it is a choice. As to whether or not you do your homework before
you try to mainstream a guy like this.

The turn today to "let me tell you another thing I know about the
Negro", that was telegraphed way, way, way in advance here. Anybody who
chose not to see it coming now has this mess all over themselves.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUNDY: I want to tell you one thing I know about the Negro. They
didn`t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn`t have nothing for
their young girls to do.

And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do
they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in
jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton.

And I`ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Are they better off as slaves? That is what`s causing lots
of conservative media outlets and Republican politicians into a fire sale
of their Cliven Bundy American hero stock today. It maybe should have been
a tipoff that this is where he was coming from when Mr. Bundy said he only
recognizes the authority of the county sheriff and that in his mind, the
federal government does not exist.

If Mr. Bundy did recognize the federal government as existing, he
would need to know that this is his congressman, Nevada Congressman Steven
Horsford, represents the district where Mr. Bundy`s ranch is located in
Nevada.

Congressman Horsford, I know this is a trying time for you. Thanks
very much for being with us tonight.

REP. STEVEN HORSFORD (D), NEVADA: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: So, this obviously has become a national story -- a very
hyped national story. What are the most pressing concerns for your
constituents regarding this situation?

HORSFORD: Well, thank you for asking me that question and having me
on. Actually, I spent the day in Mesquite, meeting with residents who
actually live in Bunkerville, who are neighbors of Cliven Bundy, who live
in the Moapa Valley community.

And they, like myself, are extremely frustrated by the fact that we
have these armed militia in our community, the fact that children in
Bunkerville, which is a community of only about 1,200, 1,300 people cannot
walk around the corner to their school without armed militia on the hills
of our community, that they can`t go to church on Sunday without armed
militia being in or around the church because Cliven Bundy is there and the
armed militia are there.

And his comments today do not reflect our community. They don`t
reflect the majority views of Nevadans or the Western way of life and the
way that most of us feel.

They are racist. His comments were racist. They are infused with
bigotry and hatred. And they belong in the dustbin of history.

He profiled the African-American community, and it`s so ironic and
hypocritical because he says that people don`t understand his way of life,
but yet he would profile and make judgments about another community`s way
of life.

He`s wrong. He`s racist. And we need to have the armed militia leave
our communities.

MADDOW: Because there has been such widespread attention to these
remarks that he made over the weekend and that he reiterated today after
the publicity, my sense is that the conservative media and a lot of the
Republican politicians who have really front-paged his story, who have made
him a national history, I have a sense that that will wane now, that that
will die down some because they`re embarrassed to be associated with these
racist comments.

Do you -- locally, though, in terms of your district and Mesquite and
Bunkerville and these communities, do you have a sense that this is going
to calm down, that this is going to become a safer and less stressful
situation?

HORSFORD: Well, that`s what we want. That`s what the residents of
Bunkerville and Mesquite and Moapa Valley want. The conservative media and
the Republican elected officials who spoke out calling Cliven Bundy a hero
when in fact his comments are anything but.

And we want the armed militia to know that we want you to leave.
That`s what the residents told me today. The neighbors of Cliven Bundy
told me that they want their community back, that they want it to be back
to normal, and that this doesn`t reflect our community.

And these people are not here to solve local land use problems. They
have come with an agenda. And that agenda doesn`t belong in Mesquite, in
Bunkerville, in Moapa, or any place in Nevada.

MADDOW: When you are talking to your constituents and when you`re
traveling to the different in your geographically very, very large district
-- when you talk to other people in the line of work, same line of work as
Mr. Bundy, when you talk to other people who are using big tracts of land,
whether they`re ranchers or farmers or any other kind of large land use
employed in that way, are you hearing sympathy on the issues for him,
whether or not there is sympathy for him personally?

HORSFORD: In fact, some of the ranchers that I met with today and
that I`ve met with previously feel like he is breaking the law, that he`s
getting special treatment, because we have a lot of responsible ranchers
who have paid their grazing fees, who have cooperated to move their cattle
to other areas, and were compensated fairly for doing so, but because
Cliven Bundy doesn`t want to follow the law he is trying to hold himself
out as some type of victim here, and it`s not reflective of other
responsible ranchers who have done the right thing, who have paid their
fees, and who recognize the rule of law.

MADDOW: Congressman Steven Horsford, dealing with an unusual and I`m
sure very stressful situation in your home district with one of your
constituents -- thank you for being with us, sir. Good luck to you.

HORSFORD: Thank you, Rachel. Good to be on your show.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead. Big show tonight.
Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Thought experiment -- you are running for office statewide in
a very purple state. You are already under political assault by your
opponent for your supercalifrastigically (ph) super-conservative social
policies.

You`ve tried walking them back. You`ve tried apologizing for bills
you`ve sponsored in the past. You`re going to have to figure out some way
to convince your purple state that you do not actually want to ban
contraception. If that is your particular political challenge right now,
who`s the last guy on Earth you want to see right now?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: One of the things I will
talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers
of contraception in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: No! Rick Santorum, not now! A very important senate
candidacy just got Rick Santorum all over it. And yes, it is a huge mess.
And that story`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN BUCK: Why should you vote for me? Because I do not wear high
heels.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCK: My boots may have real (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

I am pro-life. And I`ll answer the next question. I don`t believe in
the exceptions of rape or incest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That man is not a United States senator from Colorado,
although he tried really hard to be.

The last midterm elections in 2010, that of course was a really,
really good year for Republicans. And in the great purple state of
Colorado that year not many people thought that in that 2010 election,
Democratic Senator Michael Bennet had a very good chance of holding on to
his seat. Michael Bennet had been appointed to the senate in 2009 when
Senator Ken Salazar got named to President Obama`s cabinet.

By the following year, by 2010, it was sort of looking like it might
be the end of the road for appointed Senator Michael Bennet.

Midterm elections are always hard for the president`s party, and he
was a Democrat. The first two years of the Obama presidency had Obamacare
and all the rest of it. It was clear that it was going to be a really big
Republican year. Colorado was a really ripe potential pickup.

Michael Bennet had never had to run statewide, the first time around
to get the seat. He was appointed to it. He was kind of a low profile guy
even before he was appointed. Once he got to Washington, he stayed kind of
low profile.

So, a lot of people thought Michael Bennet was going to lose that U.S.
Senate seat to the Republicans in 2010.

But then the Republicans nominated this guy. They nominated Ken Buck
to be Michael Bennet`s Republican opponent. And it turned out that was a
terrible idea for the Republicans even in a blood red year like 2010.

In 2008 and again in 2010, Colorado anti-abortion activists had
succeeded in getting onto the ballot a really radical anti-abortion ballot
measure. It would make all abortion criminal at any stage in pregnancy and
for any reason.

And because its means of banning all abortion was to define a
fertilized egg as a fully grown human person, those ballot measures
arguably would have also made it illegal to use the most popular forms of
birth control in this country, including the pill.

Ken Buck supported that in Colorado. He supported that specifically
in the year he was running for senate in 2010. And Colorado voters really
did not agree with him on that. They really strongly did not agree.

These were the results of that personhood ballot measure in Colorado
in 2008 and 2010. And even though Colorado voters hated it by margins that
huge, Ken Buck was all for it and Michael Bennet made him pay for that in
that Senate race over and over and over again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D), COLORADO: I am pro-choice. As the father of
three little girls, I don`t think the government has any business telling
them how to make these incredibly painful decisions that ought to be made
by a woman with her family and with her clergy and with her doctor.

I find it amazing that people who are always talking about getting
government out of our hair want them -- want it making the most intimate
decisions that could possibly be made. And I certainly wouldn`t support
any legislation that restricted abortion in cases of rape or incest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was in 2010.

And Michael Bennet beat Ken Buck to hold on to his United States
Senate seat.

His overall margin of victory in Colorado that year was one point.
But his margin of victory among women was 17 points. Ah. Lesson learned.
Maybe.

This year, the other U.S. senate seat from Colorado is up. Not the
one held by Michael Bennet but the one held by Mark Udall. And again it`s
another midterm election year and mid-terms are always tough for the
president`s party and Mark Udall is a Democrat.

Mark Udall is a widely respected senator. He`s taken very seriously
in Washington. But like Michael Bennet, honestly, he`s not a hugely high-
profile guy. And Colorado is basically still seen as a purple state.

So, a lot of the same dynamics apply as applied in 2010 in terms of
the Democrats worrying about holding on to this seat. But great news for
the Democrats, the Republicans decided that their candidate for the U.S.
Senate again is going to be Ken Buck. Ha! Ken Buck already lost to
Michael Bennet. Now he can lose to Mark Udall on the same grounds.

That was the initial Republican plan for the Senate seat in Colorado
this year. For a long time, they were planning to run Ken Buck against
Mark Udall so he could lose twice. The Republicans, though, then later
came to their senses and realized they were about to drive into the same
brick wall twice.

And so, after putting Ken Buck up as their candidate earlier this
spring they decided to make a weird switcheroo. It was a very strange
thing. It had been that Ken Buck was going to be running statewide against
Mark Udall for Senate. Second-term Congressman Cory Gardner, the guy who
represents this district in Colorado, was going to run for re-election in
his super safe, super overwhelmingly Republican district.

That had been the original plan. But Colorado Republicans decided to
switch them. So they`re having Ken Buck run for Cory Gardner`s super safe,
super safe congressional seat and they`re going to have Congressman Cory
Gardner not run for re-election there and instead try to get into the
senate. A switcheroo like that is rare and strange. But at least it did
relieve Colorado Republicans of the burden of having ken buck as their
statewide candidate again.

The problem for Colorado Republicans is that Cory Gardner has all of
the same problems that Ken Buck did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Gardner?

REP. CORY GARDNER (R), COLORADO: Thank you. I have signed the
personhood petition. I have taken the petitions to my church and
circulated them in my church, and have a legislative record that backs up
my support for life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Cory Gardner like Ken Buck was a strong supporter of those
two Colorado personhood ban birth control measures that crashed and burned
in the state by more than 40 points.

When he was a state lawmaker he`d also co-sponsored an outright
abortion ban for Colorado with no exception for women who were pregnant
because they`d been raped or were the victims of incest. It would have put
doctors who did abortions in prison for up to 12 years. That was his
legislation at the state level. That was the year before the first
personhood ballot measure, which again, he supported in 2008 and he then
supported again when it was on the ballot again in 2010.

When Cory Gardner got to Congress, he became a co-sponsor for a
personhood bill for the whole country, a total outlaw of abortion under all
circumstances at all times and arguably outlawing the birth control pill
federally. He co-sponsored that in 2012. He co-sponsored that again last
year in 2013.

But now, now, all of a sudden after the switcheroo, he`s a statewide
candidate in purple state Colorado. He`s not just running in his super
conservative district anymore. And so, now, he has decided -- oh, you know
what, that was a really big mistake.

He did not actually take his name off the federal personhood bill
officially. But he now says it was all a big misunderstanding, he didn`t
really get that he was supporting it before and what it meant and he`s
sorry he did that. He`s sorry he did it over and over again for all those
years and all those different venues. He just didn`t understand it.

He said he doesn`t understand his own legislation. And the "I don`t
understand my own legislation" defense is a weak place from which to start.
But that is where the Cory Gardner versus Mark Udall Senate campaign in
Colorado has started. And you can tell that from the fact that this is
Mark Udall`s very first official campaign ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AD NARRATOR: It comes down to respect for women and our lives. So,
Congressman Cory Gardner`s history promoting harsh anti-abortion laws is
disturbing. Gardner sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony, including
cases of rape and insist.

Gardner even championed an eight-year crusade to outlaw birth control
here in Colorado. But Mark Udall protects our right to choose, our access
to birth control. Mark Udall. In a word, respect.

SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: I`m Mark Udall, and I approve this
message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Again, that is the first official campaign ad being run by
Senator Mark Udall in his re-election campaign against Republican
Congressman Cory Gardner.

The Republicans have already switched out one candidate in this race.
I think it is unlikely they will be able to do so again. But so far, the
response by Cory Gardner to this line of attack is not a strong response.

The Gardner campaign`s response to the Udall ad, and I`m going to
quote here, and I do not mean to cast aspersions. I`m going to quote their
official statement. "At the time, Cory was not aware that the amendment,
if adopted, had the potential to ban some forms of birth control."

I didn`t understand what I`m doing. I didn`t mean it. Oops. I only
understood once I wanted to run for higher office when it was inconvenient
to hold that old stance.

This is not a strong response for somebody who wants to be a United
States senator. So, the Cory Gardner campaign is in a bit of a mess. And
in the middle of this mess, you want to know what happened to them this
week? Worst possible thing with worst possible timing.

On Tuesday of this week, you want to know who just decided to endorse
Cory Gardner for Senate in Colorado? I mean, if this is your campaign
problem, I swear I`m not against contraception anymore, if this is your
campaign problem, who do you least want giving you a hug this week in front
of everybody in Colorado?

Oh, God. Not Rick Santorum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: One of the things I will talk about that no president has
talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this
country, the whole sexual liberty that many in the Christian faith have
said, well, it`s OK, contraception`s OK. It`s not OK. It`s a license to
do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to
be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: When Rick Santorum endorsed Republican Congressman Cory
Gardner in the Colorado Senate race this week, it was not Cory Gardner who
put out a press release about it. It was his opponent, Mark Udall, who put
out the press release, saying, hey, look who just endorsed this guy.

We have seen how this dynamic plays out in Colorado Senate races
before. Even in years that are super inhospitable to Democrats. Is this a
dynamic that is only like this in Colorado or is this going to happen all
over the place this year? Hold that thought.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AD NARRATOR: Congressman Gardner`s history promoting harsh anti-
abortion laws is disturbing. Gardner sponsored a bill to make abortion a
felony, including cases of rape and incest. Gardner even championed a
crusade to outlaw birth control here in Colorado.

But Mark Udall protects our right to choose and access to birth
control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was Colorado Senator Mark Udall`s first campaign ad in
his reelection bid against Republican Congressman Cory Gardner in Colorado.

Mr. Gardner`s official response to that ad is basically that he didn`t
understand the legislation that he sponsored. He didn`t understand his own
legislation, any of the times he sponsored it, year after year after year.
But now, he its running for U.S. Senate, he has decided he is against what
he was previously for. He said explanation for his previous record is that
he just didn`t know what he was doing.

Joining us now is Lynn Bartels. She`s political reporter for "The
Denver Post".

Ms. Bartels, thanks very much for being with us. I really appreciate
your time.

LYNN BARTELS, THE DENVER POST: Sure. Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: Thank you.

From what you know of Cory Gardner, is it conceivable that he
misunderstood the personhood that he was sponsoring?

BARTELS: Critics will tell you no, because they said that was the
argument over and over again, saying people if you the support this you
will outlaw certain forms of birth control, fertility treatments, et
cetera. But the flip side of this is Colorado is one of those states that
allows people to put issues on the ballot and time and time again, when
something has passed, the voters are like, I had no idea when I voted for
this. It would do this.

So, there is a history here of ballot measures. Like I said, the
people who are against personhood from the start said, you know, this is
crap. I mean, we said this would do this.

MADDOW: The -- it does raise -- it does raise an issue in terms of
legislative skill. It wasn`t just the ballot measure he supported also
state level legislation, and being a co-sponsor of the federal legislation
which would do the same thing.

So, I feel like -- it is, I don`t know what I would do if I was in his
situation and I wanted to disavow my previous response, but saying, promote
me as a legislator. I don`t understand how legislation works. I don`t
read my own stuff. It seems to me like it is -- I don`t know what other
options he had. It seems to me it can`t possibly play well in the state?

BARTELS: Mark Udall`s statement is Cory Gardner`s positions haven`t
changed just his ambition has. He maintains Cory still believes all of
this. But now, he wants to be a U.S. senator. So, he has to disavow that.

MADDOW: I know you covered Senator Bennet`s defeat of his Republican
opponent Ken Buck in 2010. Some of these issues were definitely litigated
in that race as well.

Does looking back at that contest give us any hints about how this is
going to play out in Colorado?

BARTELS: What`s fascinating is this ad that Mark Udall debuted his
first campaign ad doesn`t show him climbing mountains with the great
muscular legs of his. This is the ad that Michael Bennet ran in October,
saying, you know, I just can`t do it. I just scant vote for Ken Buck. I
mean, that is what its so shocking to me is how quickly -- we have gone
through the speed of light here like, we are starting out from the
beginning. We are going to hammer you because this is what worked for us
in 2010.

MADDOW: Lynn Bartels, I want to ask you one other thing here, which
is the Rick Santorum endorsement. As far as we can tell, Rick Santorum`s
super PAC endorsed a handful of people, three or four people nationwide.
Cory Gardner is now one of them do. You know, has there been reporting
abut whether or not the Gardner campaign sat this nomination or if anybody
saw this coming?

BARTELS: The Gardner campaign did not seek this. I am wondering if
what happened is Rick Santorum did really well in Colorado when he ran for
president. And I`m wondering if people here who weren`t involved in that
campaign didn`t call him up and say, hey -- you should think of endorsing
Cory because he is so fabulous.

You know, it is strange. There were only four endorsements, three
Congress people running for the Senate. But secretary of state in
Michigan? You`re like, what is going on here?

Yes, I`m certain, just one of the things you go, oh, my God. Now
what?

MADDOW: Lynn Bartels, political reporter for "The Denver Post" --
thanks for helping us understand this. I really appreciate your time.

BARTELS: You bet.

MADDOW: Thank you.

All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: We have covered a lot of oil spills on the show. Oil spills
from pipelines. Oil spills from trains. Oil spills from ships and trucks,
and rigs and blowout preventers and everything else.

One thing we have never covered on the show is an oil spill that was
done on purpose. That was planned in advance. But that bizarre story, we
have got for you on tomorrow night`s show. And I hope you will join us for
that.

That does it for us tonight. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD."

Thanks for being with us.

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

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