'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, May 31st, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
May 31, 2014
Guest: Sam Stein, Mike Pesca, L. Joy Williams, Kathie Obradovich, Tom
Colicchio, Dick Cavett, Bill Telepan
STEVE KORNACHI, FOX NEWS HOST: Eric Shinseki is gone. What took so long?
Thanks for getting up with us this Saturday morning, the last Saturday --
the last full day of May.
It`s been a busy 24 hours of news. We want to get to as much of it as we
can this morning. And we`re going to begin with the unscheduled appearance
that President Obama made yesterday around lunch time before the reporters
who cover his administration came right after had met with Eric Shinseki,
his embattled secretary of Veterans Affairs.
OBAMA: And a few minutes ago, Secretary Shinseki offered me his own
resignation. With considerable regret, I accepted it. He has worked hard
to investigate and identify the problems with access to care.
But as he told me this morning, the V.A. needs new leadership to address
them. He does not want to be a distraction because his priority is to fix
the problem and make sure our vets are getting the care that they need.
KORNACKI: Speculation on Thursday had been that Shinseki`s time was
running short at the V.A. At that day`s briefing, White House Press
Secretary Jay Carney deflected questions about whether Shinseki still had
the President`s support.
Now, one day earlier than that on Wednesday, preliminary report from the
VA`s own internal watchdog confirmed abuse is taking place in the V.A.
hospital in Phoenix where officials cooked the books to make it seem like
wait times for veterans to receive treatment were only about three weeks
instead of three months.
Report also said that investigators were seeing similar problems at other
V.A. hospitals all across the country. In a speech yesterday morning,
before a veteran`s group, Secretary Shinseki said he had -- he`d started
already the process of firing top managers at the V.A. hospital in Phoenix.
And he took responsibility. And he apologized to his fellow veterans for
the systemic problems of the agency. Within a few hours, he would be gone
from his job, which means it will now be up to someone else to keep trying
to try to fix the decades of mismanagement that had plagued veterans`
health care in this country, problems that the Bush administration wasn`t
able to fix, nor the Clinton administration before that nor in the first
President Bush nor Reagan nor Carter nor Ford.
You get the idea. This is a long-term problem. I want to welcome this
morning`s panel, MSNBC Contributor Sam Stein, Political Editor and White
House Correspondent with the Huffington Post, Mike Pesca, Sports
Contributor at NPR and host of the podcast "Hang Up and Listen" at Slate.
L. Joy Williams -- she is the -- a Political Strategist and President of
the Brooklyn NAACP Chapter in full disclosure. I just found before the
show that Sam is a former student of Mike`s.
This may or may not violate the rigorous ethics code.
SAM STEIN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, HUFFINGTON POST: I owe him
everything. You can have my pastry, Mike.
KORNACKI: He taught you radio.
STEIN: Which is why I`m not in radio, yes.
KORNACKI: Bringing (ph) endorsement, Professor Paska.
PERSCA: Mr. Chips (ph) situation.
KORNACKI: So -- so let`s -- let`s look at this V.A. situation to -- to
start. I know there`s a lot to talk about here.
I -- I guess I`m interested at first in sort of what does this -- we talk
about the politics of this. This was a political question for last week in
terms of Shinseki, you know, lots of calls from the go (ph), starting with
Then the red-state Democrats started peeling off and buying (ph) in. It
wasn`t even these red-state Democrats. And President Obama gave in.
There -- there`s -- there are reports out there that suggest surprise,
surprise, President Obama did not necessarily appreciate the pressure he
was feeling to do this. And this is not a decision that he wanted to make.
It reminds me a little bit of what we are having, you know, back in the
fall when the -- when the health care Web site came out and there were all
the calls to get rid of Kathleen Sebelius.
And he resisted back then. Did we learn something? Do this moment, this
week, this episode reveal anything about the President about his leadership
style, his strategy, the fact that he kind -- it did take a while to get to
And he seems to have gotten there begrudgingly. Did we learn something
about President Obama?
L. JOY WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT, BROOKLYN NAACP: I -- I think what we learned,
and in using the example as you said for the health care rollout is that he
has real confidence in the people that he picked. And he wants to stand by
He`s loyal to them and while there may be problems, mismanagement issues,
that he he`s a little hesitant to sort of just blame it all on them, you
know, because ultimately, he`s the person who picked them to lead. And so
it reveals a little bit about his loyalty to his team and allowing them to,
I guess, make huge mistakes, but also wanting to stand by them and sort of
not be pressured by public or what he thinks are political motives to have
someone fall (ph) on this.
STEIN: I mean, the White House, someone says like a -- you can see they
have a disdain for the cable news culture, the hair on fire, the, you know,
quick reactionary culture of Washington, D.C. And the way when you talk to
any of these aids on background, the way they describe it is that the
President wants to be thorough about this, that he wants to think it
through, that he doesn`t want to be reactionary, and that that is a better
way of handling the situation.
The problem with that is that you end up sort of allowing behavior to go
unpunished when it should be punished. And I think in this case, clearly,
there is a need for accountability, right?
When the president got up there at the briefing, he was talking about all
these incredible problems at the V.A. with the computer system after he
said Shinseki was resigning. The problems at his (ph) time, there was a
computer system well-known six years ago and the idea that this is a new,
you know, discovery is a -- a little bit alarming, though people think this
So clearly, the President should probably be more involved at that level.
And I think his cool detached demeanor maybe got him in trouble.
KORNACKI: Well, you know what, I was thinking about that this week, Mike,
because a lot of the coverage about this, obviously, I mean, there is the -
- the coverage was will Shinseki stay? Will Shinseki go?
KORNACKI: And then sort of a -- a subset of that was, well, does it even
make a difference? When you look at the problems, when you look at how
vast this is, does it really matter who`s running it, but at the same time,
there -- there is something to be said for, you know, when something like
this happens, people look to the President.
Whoever the President is, people look to the President to take action to do
something. And in some ways, that`s what these cabinets exist for, isn`t
KORNACKI: I mean, put them in your administration.
KORNACKI: Something big goes wrong. You make a statement by firing him.
PESCA: Yes, if you have an Executive Branch and if you`re going to
Affairs, it needs to be administered well. And that I think is the big
difference between health care and even something like the IRS scandal,
which he dismisses, right?
He, first of all, looks at health care. That`s part of his agenda. And
that`s something that defines him. And what`s going on with the Veterans
Affairs, I mean, that`s something that should be done as best as it can be
But it`s not a defining agenda item. And then he looks at other scandals
where he`s been criticized for, like the IRS. And he said, you know, who
were the victim there?
Some Republicans who claim that they weren`t given tax exempt status, he
really feels and I think all throughout Washington, they really feel a lot
of sympathy for the veterans. But you know, I did notice in your intro to
the --you used three proper names, right?
It was Carney, Shinseki and Obama. And today, there is one who`s still in
power. And that`s the point, right? But sometimes, people have to go
because the President needs to forge on with what he needs to do.
STEIN: And I think this is a managerial exercise. I -- I get where the
administration`s coming from. I don`t know what good it would have done if
on day three of the scandal (ph), he said yes, Shinseki`s gone, because you
still have to have to find a replacement.
You still have to have a plan to reform the V.A. because the truth be told,
if he`s gone, it doesn`t fix the problem. So I get why the administration
said, OK, slow down.
KORNACKI: Well, the -- the other question is -- is -- is.
WILLIAMS: But -- and then that`s.
KORNACKI: .is Shinseki, himself, with the administration also, I wondered
all week, was Obama
Sort of making it clear, Shinseki, hey, wouldn`t be the worst thing if he
came to me and said, I want to leave.
PESCA: Oh, I`m sure.
KORNACKI: Shinseki -- I`m looking at this Thursday, Friday morning. I`m
saying, how -- well, how does Shinseki think he is possibly going to
And the one thing that I -- that I kept coming back to is how Shinseki got
into the administration in the first place. If you remember, back in -- in,
you know, mid-oz (ph) -- is that what we call it, the mid-oil-zone (ph).
STEIN (ph): Yes.
KORNACKI: .oz (ph), sure, right? So you know, when Iraq has sort of -- is
-- is falling apart and people look back at Shinseki`s predictions about
the troop levels and said, wow, he was pressured (ph). The Bush -- Bush
administration didn`t, you know, didn`t listen to him.
They got rid of him. He became the sort of hero on the left, the anti-war
left. And it so became, like for President Obama, when he came into
office, you`ve got to find a place in the administration for him.
He`s a genuine hero. He`s very smart in Iraq. What they hadn`t do,
though, really didn`t have anything to do with military policymaking. What
they had him doing was administering a giant health care bureaucracy.
KORNACKI: He may not have been cut out for this from the beginning.
WILLIAMS: Right. And -- and truth be told, in -- in talking about
agencies and the policies we have across this country that have been broken
for a long time.
PESCA (ph): Right.
WILLIAMS: .and what -- what is required to fix them may not just be a
great manager. It`s a combination of things. It`s Congress doing what
they`re supposed to do, the administrating, highlighting the issue,
changing antiquated systems, like there are all of those things that need
to go into fixing a system like the V.A. system.
And what he didn`t -- what he neglected to do is sort of be that
spokesperson or at least the administration didn`t allow him to sort of
help be that spokesperson for that which would have continued the service
he had already given before in talking about that we weren`t ready and --
and sort of doing the warning.
PESCA (ph): But he (ph) didn`t (ph).
WILLIAMS: So if he would have been the administrator that also was
continuing to sound the alarm in the administration, letting him sort of
run with that, I think it would have been a little different story (ph).
PESCA: I think it`s very difficult. And when you listen to, say, former
Defense Secretary Gates, who will criticize the administration, he has done
so in the book. He has said, you know, he has complimented Shinseki.
And he has said he has spearheaded efforts. And it`s just such a hard
culture to get anything to change. And I think it`s just such this huge
irony that one of the reasons that he was dealing with this influx of
patients is because he wasn`t listened to.
PESCA: .for the Iraq war, you know.
PESCA: And I don`t think it was even just rewarding a hero. He was a very
competent person. And I think it is quite possible that even if he made
mistakes and certainly the optics, you`re right.
The P.R. aspect didn`t get that right. But it is quite possible that this
is way too big a left for even one heroic individual.
KORNACKI: Yes, and that`s the -- the question now is who comes in there
next to, who replaces him. And we`ll -- we`ll find out. We`ll follow it
But you alluded to this a second ago, Mike. After Shinseki, President
Obama was not done yesterday. A few hours later, he was back in the
briefing room and he made some more news.
OBAMA: You haven`t seen me enough today. One of Jay`s favorite lines is I
have no personnel announcements at this time. But I do. And it`s
It involves one of my closest friends here in Washington. In April, Jay
came to me in the oval office and said he was thinking about moving on and
I was not thrilled to say the least.
But Jay`s had to wrestle with this decision for quite some time.
KORNACKI: No words from Jay Carney and what he plans to do next. But he
used to be a Washington bureau chief at "Time Magazine." Deputy Press
Secretary Josh Ernest will take his place at the podium.
So you know, I mean, look, well, every time there`s a resignation in
Washington, the White House, we always look for the -- the dark story, you
know, in the corner. Oh, this is what really was. This seems pretty much
on the surface like it was time, you know, Jay Carney figured it was time
I always look at Jay Carney and I remember and I think of the McLaughlin
Group. I don`t know, you know, Jay Carney was one of the panelists on the
old, the John McLaughlin PBS Show.
PESCA (ph): Your hero.
KORNACKI: And I could never get -- I can never get my head around the idea
this guy was now, you know, giving official statements on behalf of
President (ph). It was a -- it was a strange thing.
And it (ph) brings (ph) me (ph) that (ph). The thing I saw, maybe we`ll --
we`ll put this out there, see if you have any thoughts on this, but Dave
Weigel Slate wrote this in response to yesterday`s news about Jay Carney
stepping down, White House Press Secretary.
He said, "Jay Carney is retiring. Let`s not replace him." And Dave --
Dave Weigel`s argument is basically either (ph) -- you know, the White
House press secretary is basically designed to -- to stand in front of a
room and not give you answers, you know, not give the press answers to the
questions they`re asking.
It`s to say, hey, call this department. Call that department. And -- and
I don`t know, these things have -- have sort of become shows. They
broadcast them live on -- on cable news everyday.
I -- I`ve never really heard anything that meaningful from Jay Carney,
maybe a (ph) missing (ph).
Sam, you`re down there.
STEIN: I`m down there.
KORNACKI: Is this a valuable job?
STEIN: So we have this debate probably every two months on whether or not
the -- the briefing itself is useful, because clearly, you need a press
secretary for your president. But is the briefing itself a useful
And you know, I mean, I`m a little bit torn here (ph) because it is a show
in some respects. And what you end up happening is the front row, which is
all the TV personalities, will go there.
And they will all ask the same question or variation of because they need
to feed the news of the day. And so you sit there and then (ph) becomes
repetitive. You get the same exact question, basically the same exact
answers with a lot of.
KORNACKI: And you`re looking for the quote -- 15-second quote.
STEIN: However, and this is for, you know, to reward the people in the
back of the room, which I am one of them, there are a lot of people who
have sort of off-kilter (ph) questions, who have -- who want to talk about
topics that aren`t the news of the day maybe and press the administration
on them. And that`s a valuable outlet to have for people who aren`t into
KORNACKI: Do they get valuable answers from him?
STEIN: Well, it doesn`t matter. You aren`t guaranteed the answers. And
it`s up to you to try to figure out how to get the best information you can
under Jay Carney.
I think we would be worse off if we didn`t at least have an hour a day --
the press, an least an hour a day to at least try. And I think it`s still
viable to have the briefing even though it`s become a bit of a circus.
PESCA: You see, I think that you could accomplish that and I agree with my
Slate colleague, Dave Weigel. I think you`re going to accomplish that
pride (ph). But we want (ph) one-on-one outside the television camera.
You could ask the guy and.
KORNACKI: That`s what they used to do, right? They used to be.
STEIN: It used to be done, but there wasn`t -- it wasn`t on TV. But the
problem with that is that they have an easier avenue for evasion in that
case, which is that they just don`t return your calls.
WILLIAMS: And then that.
PESCA: .and so what we`re seeing from him is not evasion.
STEIN (ph): It`s -- it`s totally evasion. But at least you have the
PESCA: Televise evasion.
STEIN: .televise evasion, yes.
PESCA: To (ph) more (ph) accountable (ph).
WILLIAMS: And that goes to accountability.
WILLIAMS: But wouldn`t that also sort of disenfranchise a number of
outlets and a number of sort of, like -- like you said, those folks in the
back of the room, those individuals that would not be able to build up that
PESCA: I think not. I think that everyone kowtows to the television,
asking the same question all the time. Look at -- Jay Carney`s a great
I think he only made two mistakes, taking the job and doing it well. What
this job is we, as taxpayers, pay a guy to not answer questions that we
need answered. I know -- I know the press isn`t elected.
But still, they serve a purpose to try to get answers. And we put this guy
out there. And Jay`s doing what he`s paid to do. And he`s not immoral or
But he`s just giving non-answers, evasions. In that Weigel column, you
know, he just quotes chapter and verse all the non-answers he gave on the
Shinseki thing, I mean, ridiculous non-answers.
That, I guess, everyone said, well, I guess you have to say that. And then
STEIN: Well, and not to get too (ph) mad (ph), though. I mean, in some
respects, the -- the non-answers and evasion of the Shinseki story became a
story in its own right. So for instance, when the President said that he
was sticking by Shinseki last week and then Jay came out to the briefing
room and he was pressed repeatedly on whether or not the President stood by
his words and Jay said, Jay could not answer that question in a weird way
That became a story. It showed that the administration had moved a little
bit on Shinseki. And it foretold the fact that Shinseki`s resignation was
In fact, it came the next day.
KORNACKI: I`ll -- I`ll you, I -- you know, in my brief stint in Washington
as a reporter, I did not play well with -- with press secretaries. So when
I see a story like this, I`m -- I`m sympathetic to him.
I remember, I had a call from one of them once, I wrote something. She
didn`t like -- her boss didn`t like it. They argued with me for 20
minutes. I wouldn`t give in.
They said, oh, well, that`s it. I want to talk to your editor. Give me
your editor`s number.
KORNACKI: So I -- well, I`ll give you my parent`s number, too. You can
call them. That didn`t -- that did not help.
PESCA: Well, it`s (ph) permanent (ph) record (ph), right?
KORNACKI: We`ve got a few more days to go over news of a -- news made
possible 2016 nominee. We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: Hillary Clinton just firing back at critics of how she handled
the attack in Benghazi, an elite (ph) chapter of the former Secretary of
State`s upcoming book. "Politico" received a copy of that chapter.
And NBC News has now verified its authenticity. Clinton writes, quote,
"Those who exploit this tragedy over and over as a political tool minimize
the sacrifice of those who served our country.
I will not be part of the political slug fest on the backs of dead
Americans." So her book may not be out until the week from Tuesday. But
it appears Hillary Clinton didn`t want to wait one day longer before
starting to answer her Republican critics on the matter of Benghazi.
So this generated a lot of attention. And also, we should say, NBC News
has confirmed also yesterday that as part of this -- the rollout of this
book and specifically this chapter in it, Democratics trying to just --
Kiki McLean has been tasked by team Clintons from NBC, team Clinton to help
deploy and prep TV surrogates, and according -- including former diplomats
to talk about this on Clinton`s behalf.
Also, I think Tommy Vietor, former national security spokesman of the White
House is apparently -- is apparently involved in this as well.
PESCA (ph): Wow.
KORNACKI: So this is a, you know.
PESCA (ph): Tommy (ph) Vietor.
KORNACKI: We talk about these -- these memoirs being, you know, it was the
mid-career memoir. We talked about this a little bit last week. They`re
not always as candid and frank.
And they`re a little bit more cautious.
STEIN (ph): Yes.
KORNACKI: This looks like, you know, boy, I mean, this is -- this is a
story they -- they, you know, they need to have down, they need to get --
it`s a very politically sensitive story.
STEIN: Yes, you (ph) sense something they`ve got something planned, right?
KORNACKI: And you`re getting a glimpse -- glimpse of here.
WILLIAMS: Yes, no matter if she runs or not, like this has continued to be
a part of her legacy, you know, whether it`s, you know, arguing over on
whether she did -- you know, did the best job to not, right? This is part
of her legacy.
And so to write this book, I mean, we would be talking about the omission
of it if there wasn`t, you know.
KORNACKI (ph): Yes (ph) but (ph) she has to mention Benghazi, yes.
WILLIAMS: Right. And we -- we would be -- and that would be the big
conspiracy and, you know, other networks would go on for years about the
PESCA: Karl rove would have his theories, yes.
WILLIAMS: And so what i like the most, and obviously, I`m biased and you
know, in terms of my support for her, is that there is a difference between
unanswered question and unlistened-to answers. And the fact that she --
there was a panel, we did an investigation, I adopted all the -- you know,
these reforms. And yet, this is not the story.
You know, this is not what we`re talking about. There`s still this
conspiracy theory, you know, in the air.
STEIN: Well, yes, and it`s funny because the Republicans on the select
committee are prone to be like, well, we have, you know, this many
unanswered questions. And then when they list the questions, you can go
back and you can actually find that the answers already exist.
Take (ph) for instance, for a while, he was saying, you know, the big
question I want to ask Secretary Clinton is why are we in Benghazi in the
first place. And we have (ph) happened (ph) to (ph) post (ph) just quickly
checked the transcript of Clinton`s testimony before one of the House
And they had asked the question. And she had answered it. Now.
PESCA: So (ph) you had Google.
STEIN: I know, yes, you`re right. Now, they might not have liked the
answer, obviously. But it`s there. And so that`s the question.
The other funny thing that I just want to throw in here is that there`s a
Fox News host the other day who was tweeting about the V.A. scandal and
being like this has been going on for six years. How come we, in the
media, missed this thing?
And it`s like, what, because you`ve been obsessing about Benghazi. And
that is the, you know, we -- we, in the media, choose what scandals we want
And you know, one could argue that the amount of time and oxygen spent on
Benghazi and the little amount of time spent on the V.A. scandal as it was
actually happening in real time is a real indictment of our priorities.
KORNACKI: Yes, no, existingly (ph), you mentioned, you know, Fox News
apparently according to Maggie Haberman story in Politico yesterday about
this. One the interviews Hillary Clinton is going to be giving is to Fox
And that`s -- that`s what -- I don`t mean to direct attention to another
network, but we`ve keep an eye on that. And I want to get one more thing
in here. It looks like Donald Sterling`s lawsuit against the NBA is not
going to get that far.
NBC News was the first report that the former owner of the L.A. Clippers
suing the NBA for a billion dollars. He filed a suit one day after
Microsoft CEO -- former Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer agreed to buy the team
for $2 billion in a deal negotiating with Sterling`s wife, Shelly.
The NBA gave her permission to sell the team after experts reportedly
declared Donald Sterling, quote, "mentally incapacitated." Shelly Sterling
has promised to indemnify the NBA against any lawsuit her husband filed,
which means any damages Donald
Sterling might win will be paid by the Sterling family trust, not the NBA.
Mike Pesca, maybe you can translate all the sports legalease (ph) here
because I was a little confused by this. What is happening here,
basically, Shelly Sterling got her husband declared mentally incompetent.
She negotiated a sale. And she told the NBA if he wins the lawsuit, I`m on
the hook for the -- the money. Does she have the money to survive? Does
PESCA: Well, she gets the $2 billion (ph).
STEIN: Exactly (ph), man (ph).
PESCA: So she can (ph) indemnify the NBA and from all the legal experts
I`ve been reading, he doesn`t seem to have a great case. But let`s just
take a step back and consider a couple of things that the reason that
they`re able to sell the team is he`s mentally incapacitated.
The reason that they are selling the team is he made some statements. So
the statements of a mentally incapacitated man have prompted the sale of
That`s just something to ponder. And the other thing is.
KORNACKI: Well, you know, from -- from a legal standpoint.
KORNACKI: .wouldn`t that be part of his lawsuit? If he`s saying, look,
these were illegally, well, he`s saying, illegally recorded conversation.
PESCA: Yes. That`s a (ph) criminal.
KORNACKI: .and you`re saying, this is a guy who may (ph) have (ph)
Alzheimer`s (ph) or something.
PESCA: In criminal court -- in criminal court, that would matter. In an
arbitration hearing, they`d still listen to the tapes. So that -- this is
What he`s doing is he`s going against a set of franchisees. And he signed
away so many rights that other Americans have to own this team, to get this
$16,000 percent profit on investment.
STEIN: Yes (ph).
PESCA: And I think the big message here -- a lot of messages, a good one
is that the NBA won`t stand for this. And the players won`t. Another
message, if you think about it, is, you know, if you say something deeply
racist, could you maybe get a $16,000 percent return in your investment?
Maybe if the head of Lehman Brothers had said that, the company would still
exist. I don`t know. You know.
PESCA: .it seems like a weird reward system. And maybe he`s being bad
(ph) rabbits (ph), saying, oh, no, oh, no, don`t sell the team. And all of
a sudden, he`s got more money than god, although his tax bill, if he didn`t
sell it, he could just pass it to his heirs.
He`s going to have to pay about half a billion dollars of the trust, well,
half a billion dollars in tax.
KORNACKI: Well, and -- and that`s the other interesting thing, too. It --
it sounds like there`s a difference, too, in -- in how this is ultimately
If this is something that happened under duress, apparently.
KORNACKI: .he would be exempt from the capital gains taxes, which will be
like $400 million.
KORNACKI: But still, a guy who in like 1981 bought this team for 12
million bucks -- $2 billion, with or without the capital gains, that`s just
an incredible return of investment. He wondered, does he really deserve
anything like that?
Anyway, I want to -- thanks to the panel on this as we`ve got other stuff
to get to here.
But L. Joy Williams, thank you. Sam Stein and Mike Pesca, we`re going to
see all three of you throughout the show. We`ve got lots more news ahead
this morning including Michelle Obama`s provocative new stand with
Congress, well, keeping school just healthy.
But first, how hog castration might cause the Republicans a chance to win
back the -- cause the Republicans a chance to win back the Senate. Stay
KORNACKI: There are many reasons why a state legislator and veteran named
Joni Ernst is way ahead three days before Tuesday`s Republican Senate
primary in Iowa. But in a media-driven age, this has to be by far the
ERNST: I`m Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So
when I get to Washington, I`ll know how to cut pork.
(UNKNOWN): Joni Ernst, mother, soldier, conservative.
KORNACKI: The latest poll shows Ernst at 34 percent, far ahead of her
opponents. But Ernst`s real opponent on Tuesday may be the number 35
because if the winner of that primary doesn`t hit that threshold, then the
race will be thrown to what could be a wild state convention or anything
The Iowa race has serious ramifications in this year`s battle for Senate
control. Seat has been held for the last 30 years by Democrat Tom Harkin,
retiring this year. So this is a wide open race, the first one like it in
Iowa in decades.
Now, state voted for President Obama twice, could also swung hard to the
GOP in the 2010 midterms when Republican Terry Branstad reclaims state
governorship. Iowa is still very much a swing state.
So Republicans believe they had a real chance of winning this Senate seat
in November. The magic number for Republicans is six nationally.
That is the number of Democratic seats they need to pick up to grab Senate
control. And if they can pick off this Iowa race, then their path is going
to become a lot easier.
But will nominating Joni Ernst make it harder for the GOP to do that?
Well, take a look at this.
(UNKNOWN): Joni Ernst will take aim at wasteful spending. And once she
sets her sights on Obamacare, Joni is going to unload.
JACOBSON: That follow-up ad to the hog castration ad is the kind of
message that the GOP`s tea party base eats up.
So it`s no wonder Ernst has rocketed to the top of the GOP field.
But Democrats who are poised to nominate Congressman Bruce Braley on
Tuesday believe that Ernst will come across to general election voters as
too extreme, sort of the way Sharon Engel and Ken Buck and Richard Murdoch
did when they lost Senate races that the Party probably should have won in
2012 and 2010. In fact, we`ve got a preview of what the fall race will
look like on Thursday night when the Republican candidates held their final
And Ernst had this to say, calls for her to take down that gun ad in the
wake of last week`s mass killing in Santa Barbara, California.
(UNKNOWN): You wouldn`t change the ad or the timing of it or anything?
ERNST: I would not, no. And this -- this unfortunate accident happened
after the ad. But it does highlight that I want to get rid of repeal and
(inaudible) Bruce Braley`s Obamacare.
And it also shows that I am a strong supporter of the second amendment.
KORNACKI: Democrats were quick to point out -- to pounce on that
characterization of the shooting as an accident, although it should also be
pointed out that Ernst characterized the shooting as a tragedy twice before
she said that. But still, that is a perfect demonstration, that back and
forth that erupted after that debate, of how Democrats hope to cast their
race against Ernst this fall.
Ernst also has some unlikely allies on the Republican side. Chamber of
Commerce is behind her. They usually don`t support the tea party
She has the backing of not just Sarah Palin but also Mitt Romney. Yes, we
were able to get an NBC news producer to ask Mitt Romney and on her behalf
why he thinks Joni Ernst has been able to get Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney the
tea party and Republican establishment all on the same side.
ROMNEY: We, Republicans, are all the challengers, if you will. And we
have different views about how to go after the -- the big palace in
Washington, if you will, the fortress in Washington.
Someone who goes to the front doors, someone who go over wall, someone who
goes through the windows, and so we have different approaches. But we`re
all battling against the establishment of the Barack Obama and the
Sarah Palin and I, I think, line up on most issues, if not all issues.
KORNACKI: So could this end up being that 2014 race that continues the
story line that we saw in 2010 and 2012, where the GOP ends up with a
candidate who is so far out that, that it costs them a golden opportunity
to take back the Senate. Here to help try to answer that question, we have
Kathie Obradovich. She`s a political columnist with the Des Moines
She joins us live this morning from Iowa.
Kathie, thanks for joining us. I don`t know about you, I`m having
flashbacks to an earlier time of my life seeing video of Mitt Romney in
Iowa. And suddenly, it`s 2007 again or 2011 or something like that.
But let me -- let me ask you this. Look, I`m -- I`m going to say something
here that I`m going to make any political media consultant watching happy
because we`re always hearing about, you know, media consultants in
campaigns. They do these sleek ads.
They`re cynical. They make a fortune off the percentages they take from
these things. And -- and then it`s always, you know, oh, you know, really
is the grass roots stuff that matters.
It`s the door-to-door. I look at this race from afar in Iowa and tell me
if I`m wrong here. But I look at this race in Iowa from afar and I see
Joni Ernst, who`s basically come out of nowhere and is now, as we say,
poised potentially to win this thing on Tuesday.
And I say, it`s the ads. It`s that hog ad. It`s that gun ad. These
things just -- just viscerally spoke to the -- to the -- the tea party
And without those ads, she could have door-to-door campaigned for five
years and she wouldn`t be winning this thing.
OBRADOVICH: Yes, you know, Steve, I don`t think it`s just the ads.
Really, when you look at this field of candidates, they`ve all come out of
There wasn`t a single person in the Republican race that any of us had --
well, I mean, I`d had heard of them, but most of the people in Iowa hadn`t
heard of these people a year ago. So that this kind of ad introduces Joni
Ernst in a way, as you say, that was really attractive to the tea party,
very attractive to the base of the Republican Party, which is really who
she needs to convince in this primary.
Joni Ernst stands to be the first woman that Iowa has ever sent to
Washington. If she e gets past, Bruce Braley in the fall. So you know, I
think that she really needed to define herself in a way, in particular, for
this Republican base that was -- would be seen as tough and especially
tough on conservative Republican issues.
And these ads really did that.
KORNACKI: So OK, so then the second part of the story is, you know, what
works in the Republican primaries. This is certainly what we`ve seen in
the last few years.
What works for the tea party audience in Republican primaries does not
necessarily translate into -- into working in the general election. So
when I see an ad like that, you know, with -- with the gun, with, you know,
the -- with the gun, her positions like, you know,
Iowa has gay marriage.
And then she`s -- you know, she says she`s for traditional marriage,
defunding Obamacare, you know, right down the line. I say is there a
possibility here that, you know, this is a candidate who, as we saw Ken
Buck in Colorado, Sharon Engel in Nevada.
You know the list as well as anybody. Is this a candidate who could fit
that mold, that in -- in October, we look up and Republicans are saying, we
can take back the Senate? We`re on the cusp in Iowa.
And then she says something that`s just so far out there. She does, I
mean, it`s so far out there that it cost them this race.
OBRADOVICH: Well, you know, I think that that is certainly the situation,
you know, in Iowa, we`ve had a Party that`s been splintered, the argument
going on in the primary. It was a -- the argument -- same argument we saw
in the Presidential primary in 2012.
We`re seeing that now in the Senate race. You know, what kind of candidate
has the best chance in the fall? You`ve got a section of the Party who
says, we need to have pro-life conservatives, people who are going to be
champions for conservative values.
And it`s that kind of candidate who actually will present the best contrast
with the Democrats. Others say no, we need somebody who`s focused on
fiscal policies, is focused on fixing the Washington, you know, the debt
Those are the problems. Well, and -- and so then they point back to Mitt
Romney who is just in the state and say, well, it didn`t work in 2012. But
we nominated a candidate like that.
So that argument is continuing to play out in Iowa. Now, Joni Ernst does
have legislative experience. She`s a state Senator. She`s the only
candidate in the race who does have that legislative experience.
So I think that she can draw on that in the general election. And she also
talks about herself as being a mother and a soldier. That`s been a
consistent refrain on the campaign trail.
I think she will spend a lot more time on those types of attributes when
she`s running against Bruce Braley. But those ads don`t go away. And
there are Republicans who have raised concerns about, well, you know, how
is she going to be able to transition to talk to suburban moms and -- and
other people who are maybe not going to be too impressed by the pistol-
packing, Harley-riding, hog-castrating Joni Ernst.
KORNACKI: So there`s -- there is the potential liability for Ernst. We`re
-- we`re short on time. But I want to ask you about her Democratic
opponent, too, because Republicans have touted what they call the -- the
Democratic equivalent of the 47 percent video.
I think (ph) you have Mitt Romney out there, 47 percent video. Well, Bruce
Braley, the Democrat who might be running into Jonie Ernst come next week,
was at a fundraiser with trial lawyers just a couple of months ago, I
guess, did not know he was being taped.
And he was basically mocking Chuck Grassley, the state`s Republican
Senator, who would take over the Judiciary Committee if Republicans take
back the Senate. And he says, then, this -- this group of trial lawyers,
you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never
practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
I know he`s taken a lot of heat for this because it`s Iowa. This is a farm
state. Is that something that is -- you think is that going to keep
haunting him in the fall?
Or is that an eruption that came up in the spring and -- and it`s done?
OBRADOVICH: No, it`s absolutely going to keep haunting Bruce Braley in the
fall. And he has apologized for that and -- and said that he and Chuck
Grassley have a great relationship.
And that he -- he really didn`t mean to disparage farmers. But there was
another problem with that whole image, which was that it sort of
highlighted his trial lawyer background and also showed him kind of
snickering to special interests behind the backs of Iowans who sent him to
So -- so he has -- he recognized that that was a really bad image for him.
And he has apologized for that. But that -- that is not going to stop the
Republican candidates and special interest group from bringing that back
over and over again.
And that is one of the reasons why Joni Ernst may appeal to Republicans.
She -- she does have a true farm background. Some of her more recent ads
past the hog castration has emphasized that she grew up walking beans,
which is something that even a city girl like me has done.
So it`s cutting weeds out of bean fields. So -- so those are the kinds of
things that -- that she`s going to maybe emphasize into the fall.
KORNACKI: Congratulations, we, by the way, just set the basic cable record
for references to hog castration in one segment. So congratulations. We
will share that honor, Kathie.
My thanks to you for joining us. Kathie Obradovich from the Des Moines
Register. We`ll be checking back in with you as the race unfolds here.
My interview with the Congressional candidate with more life experience
than any other. Let`s just say he`d qualify for a Willard Scott (ph)
But first, the other big primary in the calendar that`s coming Tuesday is
turning out to be the biggest scandal of the 2014 campaign season, the most
bizarre one definitely. That`s next.
KORNACKI: Almost two weeks after it was first reported that a conservative
blogger broke into a Mississippi nursing home to film and photograph
Senator Thad Cochran`s bedridden wife. Revelations keep coming with only
days to go to until the Republican primary that could end Cochran`s 42-year
On Tuesday night, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that even more people
knew beforehand about the images of Rose Cochran were taken on Easter
Sunday. The district attorney left open the possibility that more people
could be charged, people other than Clayton Kelly (ph).
He`s the blogger arrested for the break-in. He is a supporter of Cochran`s
tea party primary challenger. That`s state Senator Chris McDaniel.
It`s a fact that came to light almost as soon as he was arrested. And when
several other McDaniel supporters were also arrested and accused of
conspiracy, Cochran`s campaign sought to use the episode to tarnish
(UNKNOWN): It just gets worse. Now, Chris McDaniel`s radio co-host,
fundraiser and hometown friend, charged with felonies. The McDaniel
campaign scandal spreads. Had enough?
KORNACKI: McDaniel has repeatedly denied any role in or knowledge of any
of this and has pointed out that Cochran`s campaign knew about Kelly and
the photographs for two weeks before going to authorities. And this week,
McDaniel released a new ad firing back.
MCDANIEL: You`ve probably seen Thad Cochran`s negative attack ads.
Newspapers called them shameless. I called them outrageous. But nobody
said change in Washington, D.C. was going to be easy.
KORNACKI: Now, there is no doubt this has been a huge distraction for
McDaniel`s campaign. Senator Cochran`s team sees this as their ticket to
the victory on Tuesday.
But there is still a lot of suspense in this race. The tea party has swung
and missed a lot this primary season. And Cochran is the last big name
Republican incumbent they have a shot at knocking off.
Money has poured into the state from national tea party groups opposing
Cochran. In a new poll out just yesterday, shows him leading McDaniel by
only five points.
If McDaniel somehow pulls this off on Tuesday, it could cause headaches for
national Republicans, especially with the nursing home story still
unfolding. Already, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial
Committee -- it`s a group that bankrolls Republicans in key Senate races
has refused to say if that committee will back McDaniel as the Party`s
So does the tea party have one more final major upset up its sleeves this
spring? Here to talk about it, we have Dave Weigel, MSNBC Contributor and
Political Reporter for slate.com. He has been reporting on all of this
from Mississippi this week.
Don`t be fooled by the New Orleans Saints helmet behind him. He was in
Mississippi very recently. I think he`ll be back here.
Dave, let -- let me just start with this. When -- I know polling is not
always reliable in Mississippi. And the polling that`s out there for this
race is not always from the most reputable polling sources.
That said, there`s -- there are these numbers that came yesterday. And
we`ve seen other numbers similar to them over the last few weeks.
And they say, 45-40, Cochran over McDaniel, they say that 89 percent of
people have heard about this photo scandal. Only nine percent haven`t.
So basically, it`s out there. Everybody knows about this. And I`m looking
at this and I`m saying, wait, the Cochran people think this is the things
that`s going to cause the backlash that saves him? I look at that poll and
I say, I`m not sure the voters are buying this connection at all.
DAVE WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, it -- it might have broken a bit too
early for -- for it to swing the race. Now, definitely, it`s saturated.
And voters are aware of it.
But when I was talking to voters at campaign stops for both candidates and
voters at tea party meetings, et cetera, it`s -- it`s seen as sort of an
embarrassing side show, which it technically is, that`s not moving their
votes. It`s hard -- it was hard to find somebody who -- who really thought
Chris McDaniel was behind this.
If he has been on the air at least since October, his reputation was not
bad going into the scandal. And so even though it`s never a good situation
to be in when campaign ads can slap a big arrested sign on a photo of you
shaking somebody`s hand, I just didn`t find many people who said that was
going to factor into their -- into their vote.
KORNACKI: Well (ph), could (ph).
WEIGEL: And the fact that Cochran is talking about it so much for the
campaign is that reveals that they think they can lose.
KORNACKI: Dave, and what about the flip side of this? Because we`ve --
we`ve been trying to figure out -- and you`re right about it a little bit,
too. What exactly politically speaking would the motive have been for
going into a nursing home, getting the pictures, publishing them?
What were they trying to prove? What was the effect they were going for?
As best I can come up with, it seems it`s -- it`s sort of this theme of bad
Cochran, 42-year Washington veteran has abandoned Mississippi.
And he abandoned it so bad, he even abandoned his bedridden wife. And
there`s -- there`s hints about an aid and -- and all of these other things.
Is -- is -- just in talking to people down there, is that something people
are talking about? Is this -- is this actually resonating in a way?
WEIGEL: The -- the aspect of him being in Washington too long ironically
resonates more than anything, more salacious (ph) than that. What they
were trying to bring out, I think, and I`ve -- I`ve talked to Clayton
Kelly`s wife but not him, was a rumor that I think more passionate
activists wanted out there.
Cochran has -- his wife -- Rose Cochran has been in -- in the hospital for
more than a decade. He -- when he travels, he travels with an executive
And they -- they just -- there was an -- an effort to nudge that into the
conversation. What is this guy doing with an executive assistant, who I
should point is around his age.
I mean, it`s -- she`s welcomed it all along on the -- on the junk (ph) when
she goes with (ph) him. But there were conservative media outlets,
braveheart.com, a couple of others, were running with stories about how
Cochran uses an apartment that she owns in Washington when -- when he`s --
when he`s living there, that he might -- doesn`t spend enough time in
KORNACKI: You`re trying -- you`re trying to say he`s.
KORNACKI: .cheating on his -- his veteran wife? And they think that`s --
that`s, you know, violating the, you know, cultural values of voters. I
mean, well -- well, let me ask you about the -- the other -- the other sort
of approach from Cochran. I saw this in your article as well.
Look, this is a guy, obviously, 42 years in Washington, 36 in the Senate.
This is a guy with a lot of clout there who has delivered an awful lot of
money to the state of Mississippi.
And the state of Mississippi relies an awful lot on federal money. You`d
never necessarily know that from some of the rhetoric that Mississippi
politicians like to use.
I`m just wondering, you know, I`ve seen this before in so many -- so many
other states. I saw the Massachusetts when Ted Kennedy came back and had
the one real fight of his life.
It was all about the money he brought to Massachusetts. Does that mean
anything in a Mississippi Republican primary more, Thad Cochran coming back
and saying, hey, I got you this. I got you this project.
I got you this on the -- on the water. Does it mean anything?
WEIGEL: The -- the problem is who is the voter who`s passionate about
that, is a Republican primary voter? That`s not incredibly clear. Who is
the voter who associates Thad Cochran with a role in the Senate that can
move money back?
Somebody who remembers what he
did in 2005 and (ph) after hurricane Katrina certainly but somebody who
reasons that he might -- that Republicans might take the Senate. He might
get more power.
It just -- you`re -- you`re asking for a certain sort of transactional
knowledge of politics from a Republican primary voter. And there`s --
there is going to be some of that.
I don`t think he`s going to poll less than 40 percent. But how many of
these Republican voters who are in a place like Mississippi fairly new to
the Party, they may used to be Democrats. They were always conservative.
They`ve -- they`ve jumped in now. How many of them really care about that?
A lot. I mean, he`s - he`s in a better position than I think Richard Lugar
was, than -- than Mike Casill (ph) was.
But there are so many conservatives who just think because he`s been there
for this long and because the state hasn`t completely turned around, why
should they reward a guy who`s going to bring more money to the state?
What`s it done for them?
Why shouldn`t they replace him with somebody who is more combative, more
Ted-Cruz-like against Barack Obama? As long as they have a conservative
safe seat, why not give it to a fighter instead of somebody.
KORNACKI: Yes, right (ph).
WEIGEL: .who brings back money but doesn`t make their lives better that
they can see.
KORNACKI: I -- I feel -- I feel like I`ve seen these story lines so many
times before especially in the Republican side when they start running on
experience and they start running on the long race and they -- oh, but
that`s trouble. Watch out.
Dave, we`ve got to slip a break. And I want to bring you back after this
and get a prediction from you. This is coming to ahead on Tuesday.
We`re going to find out what you think. Also going to bring the panel back
right after this.
KORNACKI: There are more states voting in primaries this coming Tuesday
than during any other primary day this year. And we`ve talked about two
important ones already, Iowa and Mississippi.
Here to weigh in on all of that, we have "The Huffington Post" Political
Editor, Sam Stein. He is back joined by L. Joy Williams. Slate`s Dave
Weigel (ph) is still with us from Louisiana by way of Mississippi.
Joy, I`ll start with you because we`re talking about Mississippi.
KORNACKI: .in the last segment. And I mean, my hunch, I`m going to get
Dave`s predictions, I mean, my hunch is Cochran really might lose this
thing on Tuesday. Are you -- are you surprised?
The whole story of the season has been the tea party keeps losing. I think
they still might take out an incumbent.
WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, it`s a possibility. Certainly, the air is there.
And it`s a possibility if his campaign can`t continue to focus on their
base and make sure that they turn people out for a midterm election, all
So there is a strong possibility that he may lose. But then we still have
the general election. And you know, truth be told, I don`t really follow
Republican primaries so much.
STEIN: You should.
KORNACKI: But this is -- this is what -- this is what Democrats are
keeping a bit of an eye on because they -- they see a chance if McDaniel
wins this thing on Tuesday.
KORNACKI: .they got their own candidate, former Congressman Travis
Childers -- doesn`t have a lot of money right now.
KORNACKI: But he`s a -- well, if that money could.
WILLIAMS: But -- but in -- in terms of -- in terms of the Democrats being
able to support across the way, like he`s not sort of with the movement.
KORNACKI: Wait (ph) -- Democratic strategist.
WILLIAMS: .the Democratic movement.
KORNACKI: .Mississippi Democrats -- don`t get your hopes up.
STEIN: She`s right.
KORNACKI: We`re talking -- you know, do you look at her and you say, Ken
Buck sharing all these tea party candidates who`ve blown winnable races.
When you look at Joni Ernst, how do you size her up?
STEIN: Well, first things first. I mean, she shows the power of
advertisement because she had the two most iconic ads in I think all of the
primaries. One was the hog castration. The other one was shooting the
And they also showed the downside of this which is that -- and you played
it in your last segment, which is you go at your own peril shooting
legislation when there`s massive gun violence every week. And it causes
The one thing that makes me think that she might have a bit difficult time
was her debate performance. And we were talking about this. In this
debate that she was in, she said two contradictory things in the same sense
of just one, I believe the state should have the right to define marriage
as they want.
And two, I believe that the federal government should outlaw gay marriage,
which I don`t think make any sense. And I think it`s -- there`s a little
bit lack of polish there, that.
STEIN: .has sort of been obscured by the great ads. And I think Democrats
KORNACKI: States have the right to break federal -- before we run out of
time, Dave, I -- I want to get you back in, though.
Tuesday, look, I`ll go out on a limb. I say McDaniel wins on Tuesday.
What do you think?
WEIGEL: I think he can narrowly pull it off. The wild card that the
Cochran campaign, well, both are (ph) terrified (ph) of -- there are other
people in the race. You need to correct 50 percent.
There is a possibility that it`s a 49-49. And they go to a run-off, which
no one wants.
WILLIAMS: Right (ph).
WEIGEL: .but -- but ourselves.
KORNACKI: But McDaniel is (ph) strong (ph).
KORNACKI: Yes, OK. It`s amazing. I mean, we -- we saw the story break
two weeks ago and say, well, that`s it for McDaniel. And here we are. And
even the primary is saying, wow, this guy is still in it.
And this -- this -- the tea party could be causing some real havoc for a
couple of days (ph). Anyway, want to thank MSNBC Contributor and Slate
Reporter, Dave Weigel for joining us.
We will check in with the panel later. Lots more ahead this morning. We
will talk to a candidate running for Congress who worked on the rollout of
Social Security back in the Roosevelt administration.
He`s running this year. They say you`re only as young as you feel. Stay
KORNACKI: In the numbers game, it is politics should age ever be one of
them? That`s next.
Tuesday`s primary run-off in Texas toppled the first incumbent of 2014.
Former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe beat out 17-term Republican Congressman
And Hall wasn`t just any incumbent. At 91, he is the oldest sitting member
in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives, the fact that became a
major issue in the race.
TODD: Do you think age is a fair issue here?
RATCLIFFE: Sure it is. I think that that`s something that the voters are
concerned about. It`s certainly something that we haven`t focused on with
respect to our campaign.
I`ve talked about his tenure, the fact that I`ve been there, that I take
that he`s been there too long. But voters raise the issue of his age. And
I think that`s fair for them to consider.
KORNACKI: And it wasn`t just in that one race in Texas this week. Age was
also the subject of this pointed attack of former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton from Republican Strategist, Karl Rove, on Monday.
ROVE: We are, you know, 20 years past the point at which Bill Clinton was
elected president. In American politics, there`s a sense that you want to
be new, that you don`t want to be too familiar.
You want to be something fresh. You don`t want to be something that`s old
KORNACKI: Of course, with age comes experience. Hillary Clinton would be
the second oldest president ever inaugurated if she runs and wins in 2016.
But she`d also bring to the table tenure as first lady of Arkansas, two
terms in the White House, Senator from New York, Secretary of State, pretty
impressive resume. The halls of Congress longevity also had been -- has
ery tangible benefits -- seniority, committee chairmanships and increased
ability to stir federal dollars to your district.
Of course, Clinton made experience the centerpiece of her 2008 campaign and
ended up losing to a man who`d been a state legislator just a few years
earlier. In a poll released last month found that more than a third of
voters -- 36 percent of them say they`d be less likely to vote for a
candidate if that candidate is in their 70s.
In fact, Americans have only elected one president ever who was older than
70. That was in 1984 when Ronald Reagan sought a second term at the age of
And in that poll`s first presidential debate, Americans were alarmed when
Reagan seemed confused and lost for words. Suddenly, his age became the
issue in that race.
But when the subject was raised in the next debate, Reagan diffused those
fears with one of the sharpest lines in presidential debate history.
REAGAN: I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to
exploit for political purposes my opponent`s youth and inexperience.
KORNACKI: When even your opponent`s laughing, you know you`ve got a line
off. After that, Reagan had no problem coasting to a 49-state landslide.
But age continues to be a factor that candidates are forced to address.
When he jokes about their age, did 72-year-old John McCain and 73-year-old
Bob Dole in their -- when they ran for president.
Well, this year, there is one candidate for Congress who is embracing his
advanced age at a hundred and one years old. Joe Newman is making a run as
a write-in candidate to unseat Florida Republican Congressman Vern
His campaign Web site aptly named joenewman101.com asks, quote, "At what
age does a person no longer have a concern for society? At what age does a
person no longer have a responsibility to act when acting may help?"
He`s running as pro-government independent who wants to expand Medicare and
raise the minimum wage. As a young man, he got a job promoting a new
It was called Social Security. Joining us to discuss his program, whether
age should be a factor in politics, is Joe Newman. And here at the table
with us is Political Strategist, L. Joy Williams is back with us as is NPR
Contributor and Slate podcast host, Mike Pesca.
Joe, down in Florida, I will start with you. We introduce you by saying
you worked on the rollout of Social Security. And yet, here we are, you
know, 75, 80 years later and Social Security is still obviously a very, you
know, sort of sensitive political topic in this country.
I imagine you have more institutional experience with this issue. You --
you have a perspective on this issue that basically, nobody in -- in
American politics has.
JOE NEWMAN, CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, I wouldn`t say that I`m the
only one. But I -- I have been with them long enough to recognize the
importance of it and why it is necessary for us to think -- to think deeply
on ways and methods that we`re going to be able to prolong it and make it
available for the people who are much younger than I am, and that they are
not going to be concerned that there won`t be Social Security when we get
here, because it is an important factor.
KORNACKI: So let me -- let me just ask you the -- the simple question, I
mean, a hundred and one years old and you -- you seem in -- in great shape.
But why at a hundred one years old decide to run for Congress?
What`s -- what`s -- what`s behind the campaign?
NEWMAN: Well, you`re -- you`re disappointed with what`s going on and you
feel that if you can make a change, you should. And number one, they say
that name recognition is -- will bring a lot of attention.
And we thought that perhaps, the fact that 101 can still walk and chew gum
at the same time, that -- and have ideas and think -- think about solutions
that I might have something to offer. And the question is -- is not am I
the greatest person, but am I better -- do I think I am better than what is
Or am I -- can I offer better solutions?
KORNACKI: Let me -- let me.
NEWMAN: Or solutions that are not being offered.
KORNACKI: Let me -- let me ask you this. And it`s -- it`s -- it`s a
tricky question. And I -- you`re running for Congress. And I think this
would apply to any older candidate running for Congress where when you`re
in Congress, one of the most important things in terms of being effective
It`s -- it`s racking up time. It`s -- it`s climbing the ranks on the
committee, maybe eventually being able to chair a committee or get a real
position of influence. And it really only comes with time.
It`s just the way the system is structured. And -- and -- what would you
say to a voter who looks at not just you but any older Congressional
candidate, somebody in their, you know, 60s, 70s, 80s and says, you know, I
like that person.
I personally have no problem within -- with their age. That`s not an
issue. But I do worry that because of their -- their age is a little up
there, they`re not going to be able to get the seniority that -- that they
need to be good a this job.
NEWMAN: So I need to ask you the question, are you interested in
solutions? Are you interested in somebody who`s going to look at the
problem, think about it, talk with others and saying, what -- how do we get
to a solution?
And -- and if that older person is going to be able to contribute something
towards a solution to the problem, would you prefer that person or would
you discard them because he`s old and you feel he has nothing to add? And
-- and so this is -- this is what you have to determine as a voter.
Which person is going to help resolve the problem that our society is
KORNACKI: I -- I want to bring the panel in here a little bit, too and --
and just to talk about how we, in politics, talk and think about age when
it comes to candidates. And -- and I want to play this.
This was -- and this was in 2008. This is a Web video that a Democratic
strategist put together attacking John McCain, John McCain ran against
Obama that year.
This is how one Democrat thought to go after John McCain.
(UNKNOWN): John McCain is older than FM radio.
(UNKNOWN): John McCain is older than the Golden Gate Bridge.
(UNKNOWN): And the Lincoln tunnel, too.
(UNKNOWN): McCain is older than the periodic table of elements. All
right, not really. But he is older than plutonium.
KORNACKI: You -- you know, look, I`ve -- I`ve seen variations of this
about old celebrities and Bob Dole got his -- I remember Bob Dole,
Letterman used to drive him nuts in the `96 campaign with old-age jokes
about Letterman all the time. You know, is this fair?
I mean, it`s politics. Everything is fair in politics. But is this fair?
MIKE PESCA, CONTRIBUTOR, NPR: Well, I think, for instance, in the Texas
race, it wasn`t an age issue. It was a tea party issue. And you know,
that was also 19,000 to 21,000 was the vote.
It was such a hugely low turnout. So.
PESCA: .I mean, in each individual race was each individual story. I find
it rich that Karl Rove, Turd Blossom, called for someone who`s not failing
(ph) old in politics.
But you know, in general, I think if anything, average or median age in the
Senate is 60 and then the House is a little longer than 60. Our elected
officials are older than the public at large.
And we are an aging population. So when Reagan was elected and as a 73-
year-old in 1984, America is a lot older actually then in 1984. But still,
you`re talking about the school lunch program.
You know, how many Congressmen actually have school-age kids or public-
school-age kids? So I do think that we are, if anything, a little too old
when it comes to our Congress.
And we have age limits. But there are lower limits. You have to be at
least 25 and then 30 to be a Senator. We don`t have upper limits.
KORNACKI: OK, yes.
PESCA: .like we (ph) did (ph) before. So.
KORNACKI: Joy, let me ask you this. We have a couple of polling bits we
can show you here. Are you less -- the question from -- this is from Pew -
- are you less likely to support a candidate in their 70s?
Now, in 2007, Democrats, 60 percent, Republicans, 42, independents, 43.
Now, the -- the context there is does (ph) McCain look like he`s going to
be the Republican nominee.
So maybe it was a little higher than -- than for Democrats. They asked the
question, though, again, a few weeks ago -- Democrats, 44 percent,
Republicans, 32, independents, 34.
Overall, that`s 36 percent of voters. I don`t know, when -- when you look
at voters expressing that, what do you suspect they`re -- they`re saying?
Is the concern about like the literal mental and physical faculties of
somebody in their 70s, somebody in advancing years? Or is it more, you
know, hey, that`s -- that`s somebody sort of had their turn.
You know, we don`t want somebody who`s entrenched, the -- the idea that
somebody`s been around that while, that long, you know, sort of like you`re
seeing of Thad Cochran in Mississippi right now.
L. JOY WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT, BROOKLYN NAACP: Yes.
KORNACKI: Forty-two years is long enough. Which -- which do you think is
WILLIAMS: You know, I -- I think we can`t look at these poll numbers in a
vacuum. You know, like you mentioned in -- in reviewing them, they are
connected to what was going on at the time.
So who were the candidates? What were the issues at that time? And so for
any campaign, if you`re going to use age, which, you know, most times, we
don`t advise to run -- we do because it can backfire.
But if you`re going to use age, you`re tying it to something, you`re tying
it as we see here is that, you know, it`s been -- you`ve been there too
long. And so we need new ideas instead of saying he`s just old, right?
So it`s great for comedy perspective to talk about John McCain, you know,
during the race that he, you know, that he was older than this or older
than dirt, right? It`s funny. But you still have to tie it to something.
And so it wasn`t just he`s old. It was he`s not only old, but he is stuck
in this old tradition of politics or old way of doing.
PESCA: And not (ph) -- and not (ph).
KORNACKI: I -- I just want -- I want to -- I just want to get Joe Newman
in quickly because I don`t want to lose the satellite.
But Joe, just final question to you. You`re out there -- are you enjoying
this? Are you having fun campaigning?
NEWMAN: Yes, I`m sorry, I didn`t get that question.
KORNACKI: Are you -- are you enjoying it? Are you -- do you like being a
candidate? You having fun?
NEWMAN: Yes, I`m having fun. And in response to what was just said,
that`s the truth. Are we -- I repeat, are we looking for solutions?
If we have an old person who`s thinking young, isn`t that better than a
young better who`s thinking old, who has old ideas?
NEWMAN: Look at new things.
KORNACKI: I`ve -- I`ve spent most of my life being called a young person
who thinks old. So I think I see you can sense. But no, I -- I get your
And it is a very good point. I appreciate you taking the time this
morning. My thanks to Florida Congressional candidate, Joe Newman.
Lots of news still ahead, including she`s done the 40-yard dash. She`s
hula-hooped. She`s planting a vegetable garden in the White House lawn,
all in an effort to get American kids to move more and eat healthier at
Up next, Michelle Obama`s toughest challenge yet. She`s taking on
Congress. Top chefs, Tom Colicchio (ph) will join us for that discussion.
That is live. That is next. Stay tuned.
KORNACKI: You might recall that during the Reagan administration, the USDA
classified the ketchup packets that came with school lunches as a
vegetable. It was only three years ago that Congress declared school lunch
a pizza to be a vegetable as well.
More precisely, they asked that the tomato paste on the pizza be considered
a vegetable, which is always how I used to make the argument to my mother
actually. I still make that argument with my mom.
Anyway, since in my book, diet coke counts as a vegetable. My entire diet
is probably due for an overhaul by First Lady Michelle Obama. She is why
Congress was trying to get that pizza provision passed in the first place.
Republicans in Congress were fighting back against an Obama administration
proposal to make school lunches healthier. It`s one of the signature
issues that the first lady has championed while in office.
It`s an effort that has shown signs of success. In February, the Center
for Disease Control released a study that showed obesity among two to five-
year-olds has made a sharp decline in the past decade, getting kids to eat
better and move more, seemingly innocuous cause that has brought her under
near constant attack from Republican critics in Congress who are once again
trying to roll back nutrition standards in schools.
Legislation that will allow more sodium in what`s served at 32 million
American kids everyday and fewer fruits and vegetables. That`s been passed
out of the committee.
And the full House plans to take up the bill in the next few weeks. But
Michelle Obama isn`t going to let them do that without a fight.
She wrote an op-ed in "The new York Times" on Thursday in which she said,
"You don`t have to be a nutritionist to know that counting pizza as a
vegetable doesn`t make sense."
She plans to aggressively campaign against the legislation as part of her
"Let`s Move" initiative. But it`s not just Congress. Some schools
involved in the program are pushing back, too.
They say students don`t want to eat the healthy food. All those fruits and
vegetables get -- just get tossed in the trash and say students are
rejecting healthier foods, and that fruits and vegetables only wind up
overflowing the trash bins.
Well, the first lady has been a force to advocate for her "Let`s Move"
campaign. Up until now, she has steered clear of direct political
confrontations with lawmakers.
So what will we see from the first lady in next -- in the coming weeks as
she fights back against Congress trying to gut the program she feels most
passionate about? Here to talk about it, we have chef food activist and
host of "Top Chef," Tom Colicchio, who`s traveled and worked with the first
lady as part of that "Let`s Move" campaign.
At the table, we have Bill Telepan. He`s -- he is the chef and owner of
restaurants Telepan and Telepan Local in New York. He`s also Executive
Chef for wellness in schools, was previously a Michelle Obama`s Chef`s Move
to School Taskforce.
L. Joy Williams is still with us.
And Tom, I`ll -- I`ll start up with you up -- up in Boston. A couple of
things I guess I kind of want to get the -- the expert chefs here to
So I`ll start with this. The -- the -- the sort of the arguments some of
these schools are making, which is, you know, hey, we have vegetables. We
have healthy foods.
We put them out there. And we put them on the trays. And kids just, you
know, they don`t eat it. They have the slice of pizza.
They throw the fruits. They throw the vegetables in the tray. How valid
is that argument in your case in -- in your mind?
TOM COLICCHIO, HOST, "TOP CHEF": Well, 90 percent of the schools actually
are doing well with this new -- the new standards -- new nutrition
standards. It`s just 10 percent of the schools that are having a hard
You know, plus they`ve also had four years to -- to actually look at the --
at the new bill and -- and start to implement some of these changes. You
know, I -- I find it somewhat of a funny argument.
I have children. And you know, they would happily play video games all day
and -- and not go to school at all. You know, we have to be the adults
And we have to tell our children what to eat and -- and teach them good
nutrition. You know, also, if -- if we start early, and we start, you
know, getting kids used to eating vegetables and healthier food at a very
early age, those habits will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
And so, you know, I -- I don`t think we should allow, you know, children to
make those kinds of decisions.
KORNACKI: The -- so Bill, what about the idea of -- of -- of parents
making the call? I guess one of the objections, too, might be, hey, I`m
the parent. I`m going to decide what my kid eats.
You know, I`m going to serve them at home what they want. I don`t need,
you know, the government saying, this is the -- this is the only meal you
Is there -- is there any -- is there anything to that argument?
BILL TELEPAN, OWNER, TELEPAN RESTAURANT: Well, then a lot of the -- the
kids in -- in America, you know, they -- they, you know, they rely on the
school lunch program. I mean, they rely -- for most of them, you know,
it`s the best meal of the day.
So why should we be throwing like the sort of fast food at them, you know?
Why not give them the opportunity to sort of get a healthy lunch and -- and
then, you know, it helps them, you know, during the rest of the day.
KORNACKI: What -- what do you think -- what do you think, in my
elementary, middle school, high school present-day (ph) experience of
eating is not -- it`s not very healthy. It`s not very nutritious.
I -- it`s -- I`m shameful. I admit that. But -- but what -- so what`s,
you know, average middle-school student, what -- what do you think they
should be presented with in their school lunch?
TELEPAN: Well, you know, at Wellness in the Schools, where we work in the
-- in the school cafeterias, so you know, they get a well-rounded lunch.
You know, you get -- you know, we want to present the healthy proteins to
them, with, you know, with a vegetable that`s cooked properly.
And then we offer salad bars, too. And I mean, that`s one key way that we
can get a lot of their vegetables and fruits.
KORNACKI: Here is -- here is what I meant. I -- I am -- I am an idiot
when it comes to -- I`m still -- so we have healthy proteins. Is that
chicken? Is that like.
TELEPAN: Well, it could be -- it could be chicken. It could be like a
vegetarian chili, you know, something like that, you know. But you know,
if we`re -- if we`re going to, you know, put out these sort of, you know,
just hamburgers that have a lot of fillers in it, you know, when you --
when I read the ingredients on some of the stuff that has been put into the
school cafeterias in the past, I mean, you`re -- you`re -- you can go to a
And -- and it`s very similar. And I think you know, you want to be able to
give the kids something that has, you know, just nutritious, like real food
and -- and -- and start cooking again.
KORNACKI: And is there -- Tom, is there -- is there a -- a role for a --
you know, kind of meet me in the middle thing here where -- where you can -
- you can have the slice of pizza but also the stewed peas? Is that, you
know, I don`t -- sorry, I -- help me here.
TELEPAN: Salad -- that`s a good one, salad.
COLICCHIO: We -- we could sit here all day and talk about what`s on the
menu. But -- but we`re -- we`re moving away from the sort of -- what`s
really at stake here.
You -- this is -- this is -- some members of Congress that want to reward
people who actually give them money. This is a big giveaway -- this is a
struggle to try to make sure that big food stays in the cafeteria.
That`s all this is.
TELEPAN (ph): Yes.
COLICCHIO: And -- and -- and if you look at -- at -- at what`s really
happening here, once this program gets fully implemented, it cannot be
rolled back anymore.
And so Representative Aderholt -- this is his way of starting to repeal
back at this program right now and completely gut it. This is a slippery
slope. When asked by the committee just this Thursday, as to whether or
not he wanted to repeal this entire program, Aderholt`s response was not
with this bill.
That`s very telling. That`s what`s going on here. This isn`t about.
COLICCHIO: .this isn`t about, you know, giving the kids whole grains or if
pizza is a vegetable.
TELEPAN: Yes, right, yes.
WILLIAMS: Yes, I completely agree. This has nothing to do what -- with
what is best for the students that we`re providing services for, which is
always the problem when we`re talking about education or education
resources in general, is that we`re not doing or making policy that was
what`s best for the child.
We`re doing it off for political gain. The bottom line is if government is
providing resources and money to be able to provide food for our children,
we need to make
sure collectively that it is wholesome and nutritious.
And that`s not to say that you can`t have pizza, that you can`t have these
things. it`s that if government is providing something for it (ph), we
need to make sure there is a baseline and that it is nutritious, and that
we are not just feeding our --continuing the problem of contributing to
obesity in children. That`s the bottom line.
KORNACKI: Well, they -- they -- they were saying pizza can still be there.
If I -- if I was growing up, the pizza, I`d always trade my ice cream for a
second slice of pizza.
It was the highlight of my school years. But I -- we`ve got to squeeze a
break here. I have a couple more -- I admit, they might be dumb questions.
But I`m trying to figure this out. And a -- a couple of questions about a
point that -- that Tom just raised. So stick around. Indulge me. And
we`ll get to it after this.
KORNACKI: All right, my -- my parade of food ignorance continues. And I`m
trying to learn. And I`ve got the right people here to help me.
So Bill, let me -- let me -- because Tom was making this point in the last
-- in the last segment about sort of the -- the financial interests that
these -- these big, you know, food manufacturers and makers of these big
unhealthy, you know, processed foods or whatever, the financial interest
they have in schools selling their products. So when we talk about the
healthy stuff, the -- the, you know, with the whole grains or carrots or
whatever, where -- obviously, farmers (ph), I mean, where does this --
where -- if schools are going to rely on that, where is it coming from?
TELEPAN: Well, I mean, there -- there`s a lot of the like the meat comes
from U.S. commodities, you know. So there`s money into -- schools are
given to, you know, use to buy commodities.
One of the things they could probably do is give more money to the
commodities so they can get better protein. Sorry about that, Steve.
KORNACKI: I`m learning.
TELEPAN: What they have to with that, that -- those commodities then send
it to a processor to -- to cheapen the food and we`re back to that again.
So I think a lot of that -- that food is coming from some of the -- the big
But I think what`s happening now is they want to bring back vending
machines into the schools, which have been taken out, which provides soda
and -- and junk food and chips and things. And so in a lot of schools, I -
- that I`ve seen where, you know, they`re all -- the kids will be getting a
free lunch, there`ll be like a -- a fast food chain inside the school that
cost $3 or $4. I mean, kids are going to that.
So it`s, you know, and that money is going to school. So why can`t, you
know, they`re saying that the -- the government is -- or the schools are
getting money from these vending machines.
And how can we take away that money for the schools? Why can`t the
government put -- invest in the schools? And we`re talking about investing
in the schools.
And we`re talking about getting rid of the -- it`s an obesity epidemic that
we have. And I think as I was telling you before, you know, like since the
`80s when they started taking money away from the schools for food and
education, you know, our obesity levels went up. And then but our -- our
rank has declined in math, in science and reading worldwide.
KORNACKI (ph): Right.
TELEPAN: I mean, we`re really -- we`re below standard.
KORNACKI: Well, and -- and we were in -- in in the break there, I was --
helpfully explain to me the difference between a stove and an oven. And I
was trying to explain it.
It`s hard to make fish by owning (ph) a (ph) stove (ph). Yet they
explained it to me, but that brought up a point in the break that, hey, you
know, I -- I probably would have benefitted from, I don`t know, some sort
of a remedial class or some rudimentary class in school.
KORNACKI: .in school that would teach me the basics of cooking.
And -- and Tom, is that, you know, in terms of like, just teaching people
how to cook their own food, how to prepare their own food, how to
understand food, what`s the state right now in public education in -- in
giving kids those skills going forward?
COLICCHIO: Yes, there isn`t. Home -- home ec is gone. There`s -- there`s
no -- we`re not teaching kids how to cook. There`s some programs that are
done privately to -- to address that.
But -- but Steve, you know, you have to understand the link between good
nutrition and education. I think good nutrition in the schools, breakfast
programs, lunch programs, after-school programs, they`re as important as
desks and pencils and -- and -- and school books and teachers.
Without preparing a kid to learn through good nutrition, you`re not going
to prepare the brains to actually get it right to learn. And so we have to
understand, as we know, there`s just so much more information about brain
science and about those synapses that are created at a very young age
through good nutrition.
And if it doesn`t happen in -- in early development, it will not happen and
at a certain point, it closes off. And so this -- this idea of nutrition
is -- is so important.
And you know, obesity and -- and diseases associated with obesity and poor
diet is costing our country about a hundred and $90 billion a year. So
again, I`m -- I`m not sure why we`re shortchanging school lunch program.
And if you go back to what happened in 2010, the President asked for -- for
an additional $10 billion to fund school lunch program. It got watered
down to four and a half billion dollars.
Two and a half came out of the SNAP program. And so this was already, you
know, slashed. We already sort of -- the -- the -- the President
accommodated some people, you know, the conservatives and -- and watered
down the program to begin with.
And so they just want to go -- go back and -- and water it down some more.
Again, this is -- if you look at what they`re trying to do with the
Affordable Care Act, they knew that if ever it was implemented, there was
no way of rolling it back.
The same thing is happening here.
KORNACKI: All right, Tom Colicchio, host of "Top Chef," really interesting
stuff here. We really appreciate you taking the time here this morning
from Boston. Bill Telepan, also a chef here in New York City.
And L. Joy Williams, thank you very much. Still ahead this morning, he`s
interviewed among many others, Katharine Hepburn, Marlon Brando, Norman
Mailer, central (ph) page and a 29-year-old Vietnam veteran named John
But this morning, this celebrity icon is here to answer my questions about
the weekend news.
KORNACKI: On that day back in 1985, that lucky $25,000 pyramid contestant
made it all the way to the top of the pyramid. And she did it in a
shocking 43 seconds.
And the celebrity who helped get her there was none other than the
legendary talk show host, Mr. Dick Cavett. And he`s right here now,
standing by and warming up.
We have got a special celebrity spot on contestants row with his name on it
for the second season kick-off of "Up Against the Clock," where I believe
among his challengers is a former "Jeopardy" contestant. The scoreboards
The jacket is back. We have some new rules and features to make the quiz
even more exciting than ever. The season two premier of "Up Against the
Clock" is next, stay with us.
(UNKNOWN): Live from studio 3A in Rockefeller Center USA where it`s time
for the second season premier of the pre-show extravaganza, "Up Against the
Our contestants, he started working at the age of 10 when he hosted (ph) a
New York radio show. Say hello to Mike Pesca.
(UNKNOWN): (Inaudible) With his charming demeanor, he plays a mean game of
pickup basketball. This is Sam Stein.
He used to appear on Dick Clark`s $25,000 pyramid. This is his first time
in the hot seat on weekend morning cable. Apology for Sam and Mike but
this is a big deal. Please welcome, Dick Cavett.
Right now, the host of "Up Against the Clock," Steve Kornacki.
KORNACKI: Thanks, Bill Walsh (ph) and to everyone out there at home.
Thank you for tuning in and welcome back. It`s been a long off season.
But finally, we are ready to launch the second season of "Up Against the
And today, we do so with a special celebrity guest, Dick Cavett. Thank you
for joining us. We just watched your moment of glory on the $25,000
I have to ask you, how does the experience of being on "Up Against the
Clock" compare to the $25,000 pyramid?
CAVETT: It`s a little duller. But it`s a live (ph) -- I stopped them,
what (ph), they -- they screwed the contestant when I -- when they included
me, wouldn`t (ph) take (ph). And -- but they had me -- I loved doing that
It was great fun. I have no business being here.
KORNACKI: You absolutely do. You.
KORNACKI: As a veteran of the TV era when they used microphones like this,
we said we have to have Dick Cavett today.
CAVETT: I famously said once (ph) in Chicago, seven on one of my shows,
who said, you should do nothing but politics. And I said, politics bores
my ass off.
And ABC left it in because it was against the left-winger. But really, it
does (ph) -- I`ve been in a play. I`ve been writing a book that I haven`t
read a paper in three months.
So if you ask anything harder than name a recent president, I`m screwed.
KORNACKI: Oh, not sure we could use those (ph) words on TV (ph). This is
live (ph). OK, if you saw any of the action last season, then you know how
But let me take you through the basics. We do have a few new and important
twists to tell you about. This is a fast-paced politic news and current
We will play for three rounds, each of them a 100-seconds long. Questions
are worth a hundred points in the first round, 200 in the second and 300 in
And contestants, take notice, you can ring in at any time. But you will be
penalized for wrong answers. Also, here is where those new twists come in.
There are two special bonus questions scattered in the questions that I
have. First will come in round one. It is a video bonus question that will
be asked by a special celebrity guest -- another celebrity guest.
KORNACKI: .is a chance for you to add an extra hundred points to your
score without risking anything. The other bonus question will be in the
We are calling this the use it or lose it bonus. More on that when we come
to it in a few minutes. Our contestants will be playing not just for
victory today but also for a chance to play in our tournament of champions.
But contestants, to have any chance of qualifying for that, you`ll have to
first win today. As always, I will implore our live studio audience.
Please no outbursts.
Contestants, I will now ask you to put your hands on your buzzers. We will
put a hundred seconds on the clock. And we will start the first round of
the new season of "Up Against the Clock" with this.
After his much-publicized interview with NBC`s Brian Williams.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. I`ll complete the question. Edward Snowden was told
by whom on Wednesday to, quote, "Man up and come back to the United
STEIN: Secretary John Kerry.
KORNACKI: John Kerry said that on Wednesday. That`s correct. A hundred
points. Sam Stein the first on the board this year.
In the wake of the California shooting this past week, a proposal to
videotape gun sales was introduced by what major Midwest City mayor.
PESCA: Rahm Emanuel.
KORNACKI: Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, a hundred points for Pesca.
CAVETT: Am I dominating things here?
KORNACKI: President Obama announced Tuesday that he plans to withdraw
American troops from Afghanistan by when?
STEIN: Twenty sixteen.
KORNACKI: Twenty sixteen is correct. Hundred points for Sam.
CAVETT: I knew that.
KORNACKI: Hundred-point question. On Wednesday, Paul Ryan told a
gathering of Republicans that a group of flight attendants once mistook him
for what infamous.
STEIN: Anthony Weiner.
KORNACKI: They mistook him for Anthony Weiner. That`s correct. And stop
the clock. Sam, that is the video bonus trigger. I`ve got some exciting
news for you because you answered that question right, you will now have a
chance to add an extra -- a hundred points to your score.
It`s very simple. We`ve asked a celebrity to read a famous political
quote. All you have to do is correctly identify who said it. And you will
receive an extra hundred points.
There is no penalty for guessing on this. So please take a look at the
monitor for our first ever video bonus question.
MATTHEWS: Hi, Chris Matthews here with this week`s "Up Against the Clock"
quote of note (ph). Who ended his presidential campaign at the 1980
Democratic National Convention with these words, "For all those whose cares
have been our concern, the work goes on. The cause endures. The hope
And the dream shall never die."
KORNACKI: Sam, you have five seconds.
STEIN: That`ll be the late great Senator Ted Kennedy.
KORNACKI: Ted Kennedy is correct. A hundred extra points for Sam.
KORNACKI: First ever video bonus. We restart the clock and we`ll come
back with this. The prospects for immigration reform passing seemed to dim
this week when the reelection campaign of this top Congressional Republican
claimed the bipartisan.
STEIN: Eric Cantor.
KORNACKI: Eric Cantor`s campaign claimed the bipartisan Senate bill, gives
illegal aliens a free ride. That`s correct, hundred pints. When the
Script`s National Spelling Bee ended in a tie Thursday night, it was the
STEIN: Nineteen sixty-two.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. I will complete the question. It was the first time
co-winners were named since 1962. Who was vice president in 1962?
CAVETT: Dick Cheney.
KORNACKI: I`m sorry, the late Dick Cheney, incorrect. Too bad.
KORNACKI: LBJ was vice president, hundred points for Pesca.
CAVETT: We knew that.
KORNACKI: Takes us to the end of round one. You hear that loud horn? Sam
Stein has pulled (ph) into the lead with 400, Pesca on the board with 100.
Dick, negative 100.
But good news for you, 200-point round coming up. You can make it up in a
CAVETT: Good. I`m in a hell of (inaudible).
KORNACKI: All right, let`s put a hundred seconds on the clock.
CAVETT: There are only three of us. Can -- can I get a phone book to.
KORNACKI: Let`s keep this game going, 200-point round begins. Our buzzer
begins with this. A complaint about lack of transparency was filed by the
White House press pool this week after a secret launch that President
STEIN: Secretary Clinton -- former Secretary Clinton.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. I`ll complete the question.
During the secret launch, President Obama and Hillary Clinton shared was
revealed by this magazine.
sam cannot ring in again.
PESCA: Maybe he could lose another 200.
STEIN: I know the magazine. "The Week."
KORNACKI: "The Week" is incorrect.
CAVETT (ph): I don`t care.
KORNACKI: We`ll call time. It was "People Magazine." "People Magazine,"
what we`re looking for there. Back with this, Joe Biden headlined the
Democratic National Committee fundraiser Wednesday at the home of this
prominent billionaire and founder of the next gen climate action Superpac.
STEIN: Tom Stier.
KORNACKI: Tom Stier is right. Two hundred points for Sam. Two hundred
points, awesome (ph) question here. A restrictive medical marijuana
program was signed into law in Minnesota this week by this Democratic
CAVETT: Not Dick Cheney?
KORNACKI: Mark Dayton`s correct. Two hundred points.
CAVETT: Were you popular in high school?
KORNACKI: Question, if the purported agreement to have Steve Balmer buy
the Los Angeles clippers goes through, he would join Paul Allen in becoming
the second former Microsoft executive to own a professional sports team.
Name one of the two teams that Allen currently owns?
PESCA: Portland Trail Blazers.
KORNACKI: Trail Blazers. We also would have accepted the Seahawks,
correct. Two hundred-point question on (ph) Lexington (ph), Wednesday
excoriated Senator Mitch McConnell for suggesting that there is no
connection between Obamacare and this -- the name of his state`s health
KORNACKI: Connect is correct. Stop the clock because that is our use it
or lose it bonus, Sam.
STEIN: That`s awesome.
KORNACKI: It -- it means that you have a chance to double what you just
won to scoop up an extra 200 points. But this one is not risk-free. Here
is the deal.
I have here a follow-up question to the one you just answered. It is
related in some way. And it`s worth 200 extra points if you can answer it
But if you`re wrong, you will lose the 200 points you just won or you can
pass. You won`t lose any points. You also won`t be gaining any. So it is
I have the bonus question here. Will you use it or lose it?
STEIN: I`ll use it.
KORNACKI: He`ll use it for 200 extra points.
CAVETT: Is it a follow-up question?
KORNACKI: It is a follow-up question. Here it is, Connect was implemented
in Kentucky over the objections of the Republican state legislature under
this Democratic Governor?
STEIN: Steve Beshear -- Beshear.
KORNACKI: We`ll accept that. Two hundred bonus points.
STEIN: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Hey, we`re seven seconds when the clock runs. One final
question. The scandal surrounding the V.A. made its way into a TV ad from
Color World`s (ph) Crossroads (ph) GPS this week, targeting this Senator
who, in 2008, became the first.
STEIN: Ron Walden (ph).
KORNACKI: Incorrect -- who in 2008, became the first Democrat to win a
Senate seat in his state since the 1970s.
PESCA: Oh, I know it. Can do it.
PESCA (ph): Disregard.
KORNACKI: If we call time, it was Senator Mark Begich -- Mark Begich of
Alaska, targeted (ph) by Crossroads. End of round two. Sam Stein, 800.
Mike Pesca, 300, Dich Cavett at -300.
But these questions, this is the Phd level. They`re worth 300 points each.
Empires are built on rounds like this. We`ll put a hundred seconds on the
We`re going to decide the game right here. Lights will dim.
CAVETT: Can I stay?
KORNACKI: You`re welcome to stay, sir. And you`re welcome to compete with
this question. In an election in the Ukraine last Sunday, former
heavyweight boxing champion, Vitale Klitzgow (ph) was elected as the mayor
of what major Ukrainian City?
CAVETT (ph): Not Omaha?
KORNACKI: Kiev is correct. Three hundred points for Mike. Legislation
currently pending in this southern state is signed into law, the state will
become the last in the nation to repeal bans on liquor sales in election
PESCA: South Carolina.
KORNACKI: South Carolina, it`s pending there. That`s correct, 300 points.
Mike on a roll here. On Wednesday, this Pennsylvanian became the sixth
Republican member of Congress to voice his support for gay marriage.
STEIN: Charlie Dent.
KORNACKI: Charlie Dent did that on Wednesday. Correct. Three-hundred
point question. In a press conference Thursday morning, House Speaker John
Boehner aroused controversy when he said that he is, quote, "not qualified"
to address what topic?
STEIN: Climate change.
KORNACKI: Climate change is correct. Three hundred points here. The
House voted last Thursday night to spend an additional $19.5 million to
bolster a national database used to block gun sales by certain criminals
and maintain by what agency?
PESCA: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
STEIN: The FBI?
KORNACKI: FBI is correct -- a huge swing there. Three-hundred-point
CAVETT: Thank you.
KORNACKI: In a Twitter campaign, the Washington Redskins asked their fans
on Thursday to tweet at this Democratic Senator.
STEIN: Harry Reid.
KORNACKI: They asked him to tweet Harry Reid. It backfired. Correct, 30-
point question. Attendees at the annual Republican leadership conference
currently being held in New Orleans heard a speech Thursday night from this
duck dynasty star.
STEIN: Phil Robertson.
KORNACKI: Phil Robertson. Sam setting a record here -- 300 points. When
its Republican governor signed it into law Tuesday, the minimum wage was
raised to $9.25.
KORNACKI: In Michigan. Time to push (ph) the wire (ph) for Mike but it is
not enough. And Sam Stein.
CAVETT: Oh, no.
KORNACKI: .with a record shattering 2,300 points. 1,900 was the previous
record. He`s the first win on the second season of "Up Against the Clock."
Bill Walsh, tell him what he`s won.
CAVETT: I -- I never liked him.
WALSH: As our champion, your name will be engraved using the finest
sharpie ink on the all-new stain-resistant "Up Against the Clock" gold cup.
You`ll also receive a DVD copy
of the classic 1988 film "Cocoon 2: The Return," personally autographed by
Wilford Brimley. And you`ll get to play in our jackpot round for today`s
grand prize, a $50 gift certificate to quick meal food cart, Big Town
Manhattan, the only street meat vendor in the greater 45th St. area
operated by a former chef of the Russian tearoom.
I had it for lunch today. Delicious. Enjoy the meal and congratulations.
Back to you, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right, OK, Steve, you and I have some unfinished business
here. Here, I have in my hand.
STEIN: Oh, my god.
KORNACKI: .the instant bonus question to win that quick meal cart meal,
the possibly forced "Cocoon 2" DVD Wilford Brimley autograph. So it`s one
KORNACKI: Do or die. Make or break. And here it is, Sam. The Department
of Veteran Affairs, which Eric Shinseki -- Eric Shinseki stepped down from
yesterday, became a cabinet-level department during whose presidency?
STEIN: Gee, Eisenhower?
KORNACKI: I`m sorry, it was George H.W. Bush.
CAVETT: Oh, no.
STEIN: Wow, I was.
KORNACKI: You do not win the "Cocoon 2" DVD or the meal voucher. But with
a score like that, you are going to be in prime contention for the
tournament of champions.
I can already tell. Congratulations to you on that. And also, Mike and
Dick, we want to say, thank you for playing. I`m sorry it didn`t work out.
CAVETT: Well, you know what, people my age need three minutes to access
the answer. You know they do (ph).
KORNACKI: The good news for you, because we`re giving you the home edition
so you can play at home whenever you want. Fun for kids, for adults, for
people of all ages.
KORNACKI: It is also now available on CD-ROM. Anyway, thanks for playing.
We`ll come back next week. What do we know now that we didn`t know last
Our answers right after this.
KORNACKI: All right, final thought. We had a very exciting record-setting
season for "Up Against the Clock."
And Dick, have to -- have to ask you, you`ve done the "25,000 pyramid."
Now, you`ve done "Up Against the Clock."
KORNACKI: How -- how did I compare against Dick Clark?
STEIN: That`s what I was going to ask.
CAVETT: Your hair is better. You`re very articulate. And he endured
things with me like, say, his next guest came all the way from Florida.
And I said, Dick, she wouldn`t be here if she hadn`t come all the way,
And I think you could stand that. But next time, how about some questions
about show business and a boy in Nebraska.
KORNACKI: All right, next time, Nebraska theme. We`ll have Dick Cavett.
But thank you for being a good sport. I really appreciate that.
CAVETT: I love.
KORNACKI: .the champion. You (ph) have (ph) 2,300 points. That is the
STEIN: Thank you. I -- I learned how kind Dick is for letting me win on
CAVETT: Tell him the ones that I whispered you the answer to.
STEIN: Oh, yes, about half of them. He was passing me notes, then (ph) I
(ph) get (ph) this, you know, I was just hitting the buzzer.
KORNACKI: And I -- and I -- and I have to say we gave -- Mike Pesca was on
KORNACKI: .I think in 2006, 2007. And we had a whole elaborate trick. If
you -- if you won the game, your bonus question was going to be the final
jeopardy question that had tripped you up. What was the question?
PESCA: That is seared into my soul now. It was named two people who have
won an Oscar for acting and had a number one pop single. That`s sort of
KORNACKI: And you -- you know, you got one of them, right, Sinatra.
PESCA: I wrote Sinatra and I also wrote Streisand, then like I don`t think
it`s Streisand, crossed her out. Time`s running out. You can`t erase it.
It was Streisand also.
KORNACKI: You crossed out..
PESCA: .yes -- also Bing Crosby and Jamie Foxx -- we`ve all been on the
CAVETT: The way I`m going, I would have said Hubert Humphrey and his wife.
KORNACKI: Well, I`m sorry to add to your -- I`m sorry to add to your game
show Saturday (ph). Again, thanks to all of you for playing. That is the
season premiere of "Up Against the Clock."
You know, back next week, I want to thank Dick Cavett, MSNBC Contributor
Sam Stein and Slate`s Mike Pesca, the host of the podcast, "The Gist."
Thanks everyone for getting up this morning.
And thank you for joining us today.
CAVETT: You`re amazing.
KORNACKI: Join us tomorrow, Sunday morning at 8:00 where we will meet the
woman trying to turn Texas blue. But first, coming up next is Melissa
Today on MHP, the legislative effort in the state-after-state, misplacing
the Constitutional rights of millions of Americans at risk. That is next
on MHP. And we will see you right here tomorrow morning at 8:00. Thanks
for getting up.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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