'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, July 27th, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
July 27, 2014
Guest: Evan McMorris-Santoro, Michael Steele, April Ryan, Marc Lombardo,
Daniel Scarpinato, Mo Cowan, Emily Bittner, Jess McIntosh, Meredith DeWitt,
Rachel Stassen-Berger, Julie Bacha, Jonathan Cohen
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Is there another cease-fire?
Some breaking news this morning on the broken cease-fire in Gaza where
intense fighting resumed overnight. Hamas spokesman has confirmed to NBC
News that they have agreed to another 24-hour cease-fire. There is no word
yet, though, on that from the Israeli government. Israel says that its
naval, air and ground assault resumed after Hamas fired seven rockets
overnight into Israeli territory, 25 in all since the fighting resumed.
Hamas militants have claimed responsibility for the rockets, according to
local news agency. The Israeli security cabinet is meeting again today to
discuss how much further it`s going to go in the 20 day operation. And the
death toll is now mounting with at least 1,000 Palestinians and 45 Israelis
killed. Palestinian health officials say they were able to pull more
bodies from the wreckage during yesterday`s lull in violence. For the very
latest on the ground, we`re going to turn now to NBC News`s Martin
Fletcher. He`s live for us in Tel Aviv. Martin, what`s the latest?
MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Steve. What is - the
equation of cease-fire is getting confusing. Yes, Hamas agreed to a cease-
fire, beginning at 2 p.m. local time, but it didn`t take effect because
there was more firing, both from Hamas and from Israel. What happened with
the sort of countdown to the cease-fire was a last night Israeli accepted a
24-hour cease-fire. Hamas rejected it. Then there was a question of
whether Israel was actually hoping they would continue with the cease-fire
anyway, but they didn`t. So Israel began bombing Gaza again and now Hamas
suddenly say, yes, they do accept the cease-fire after all. But now we`re
not sure what Israel is doing. So, they`re still fighting and we`re
waiting to see whether the cease-fire takes hold. But, of course, a cease-
fire is such an urgent condition for the people in Gaza, another 24-hour
humanitarian cease-fire giving the Palestinians more time to stock up on
food and water, more time to dig out the dead and wounded from the rubble.
You know, we this - we talk about more than 1,000 Palestinians dead. But
there`s about 6,000 Palestinians wounded. So, families in Gaza trying to
get to the hospital to see their loved ones, see how serious they are. And
in Israel what they`re demanding here, the government and the military, is
that, if there`s a cease-fire Israeli demands the right to continue looking
for those secret tunnels and destroying them. That`s Israeli`s condition
for a cease-fire, that they can continue finding those tunnels that
threaten Israeli civilians and soldiers from the (INAUDIBLE).
KORNACKI: And Martin, I just - is there potentially a calculation here? I
know we were talking about this on the show yesterday where when these
cease-fire offers come out, when the prospect of a cease-fire is in the
air, one of the sides whether maybe it`s in this case, another case is
Hamas, one of the sides intentionally prolongs the decision because they
want to get in a little bit more of their military activity before saying
yes to a cease-fire?
FLETCHER: Well, I think that that`s definitely seems to be part of it.
That`s the pattern. That`s what`s happening. You know, on the one hand
you think, well, Hamas really should be thinking of its own people, and the
longer humanitarian cease-fire lasts, lasts along, the better it is. But
for Israel there is this need to continue to destroy the tunnels according
to the Israeli spokesman. So, each side has its interest in continuing the
fighting and in pausing to the fighting. So, there`s a confusing
situation. Meanwhile, fighting going on right now waiting for the cease-
fire to take effect.
KORNACKI: All right, thanks to Martin Fletcher live for us in Tel Aviv.
We`re going to bring you all the breaking developments on this story this
morning including more live reports from Gaza and Israel. That`s
throughout the show, but turning now to the crisis on the U.S. border,
President Obama met with the presidents of Honduras, El Salvador and
Guatemala on Friday. It`s in effort to address the unprecedented flow of
undocumented children from those countries into the United States. The
administration said they discussed how to deter children from making the
dangerous journey north by themselves, how to improve coordinated law
enforcement and how to protect minors to return to their home countries.
Republicans in Congress meanwhile appear to be moving toward a plan that
would spend less than a billion dollars to address the border crisis. It`s
only about a quarter of the $3.7 billion the White House has said that it
wants. Congress is due to skip town for its vacation at the end of next
week. And on Friday President Obama urged them to take action before doing
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It is my hope
that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans will not leave town for the
month of August for their vacations without doing something to help solve
this problem. There have been a lot of press conferences about this. We
need action and less talk.
KORNACKI: Emerging plan from House Republicans would also amend the 2008
anti-trafficking law to make it easier to deport unaccompanied minors. The
Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate say that that`s a non-
starter for them, which raises the possibility that the Republican plan
will be dead on arrival. The Obama administration is also considering a
range of additional actions that it could take on its own including a draft
plan reported to be under review that would provide a refugee status for
hundreds of children who could apply directly from Honduras. The goal
would be to deter the minors from making that dangerous trek north on their
own while still providing them asylum. But with more than 16,000
undocumented minors traveling to the U.S. in the past nine months alone,
refugee proposal would only help a small sliver of those who are looking to
flee. And meanwhile, on top of all of this, Texas Governor Rick Perry has
put forward his own plan for dealing with the undocumented immigrant
crisis. He`s announced his intention to send 1,000 National Guard troops
from Texas to the Texas-Mexico border beginning next month. His aim, he
says, is to combat drug violence on the U.S. side of the border. Because
he`s deploying that himself and not through Washington, it appears that
Perry will have the power to order the troops to make arrests if he so
chooses. It`s unclear whether the government will exercise this
unprecedented action, but he has supported it in the past. Is it a
coincidence that the official launch of the 2016 presidential campaign
season is only months away from now? But Perry didn`t do all that well
last time around, despite expectations, he could be a strong contender.
One of his weaknesses in the Republican Party was his support for in-state
tuition for undocumented youth. When trying to get a hand on border
enforcement, the job of the president and Congress seems increasingly
likely, that Perry could be positioning himself for another run.
Could Rick Perry`s attempt to rebrand himself as a strong Texas
conservative really work in the context of all this? We`re here to discuss
that issue and everything else rounding around the border issue, right now
is MSNBC political analyst Michael Steele, former chairman of the
Republican National committee, April Ryan, she`s the White House
correspondent for American Urban Radio Network and Evan McMorris-Santoro,
he`s the White House reporter for BuzzFeed.Com. So, there`s a lot to get
to in there. Theirs is two pieces right now. We`re in Washington, so I
figure let`s start with the issue in Washington right now. And I guess
April, I`ll start with you, because we have this emerging plan in the House
right now. The House Republicans want to put together, they want to bring
that price tag down under a billion dollars. A billion seems like a very
important number that maybe it`s for symbolic reasons. They also want to
change that 2008 anti-trafficking law. And the question that raises is,
one could that get through Congress, but even if it gets through Congress,
would the White House sign off, potentially? Would they be willing to sign
off on any changes to that 2008 law?
APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Well, when you have the head of
Homeland Security who is saying he`s not wanting to really tamper too much
with that 2008 law, they`re going to go with him, and particularly at a
time when we`re talking military and things of that nature, this man, Jeh
Johnson, a head of Homeland Security, is someone who`s a military lawyer,
who understands the dynamics of the Rick Perry issue. The - the
immigration issue. So, they`re kind of taking their lead from their
national security folks, they are taking their lead from what`s happening
around the world with the leaders like the president just met with. And
they`re also listening to Jeh Johnson. So, really, if they do cut the
money, that`s one thing. But to delve into cutting that 2008 law is
something that they don`t want to deal with right now.
KORNACKI: And how does that play in Congress then? Because the two issues
here, there`s a band of Republicans I think who are pretty much going to
vote against anything here. So, Boehner to get this through the House is
going to need some Democratic votes. And obviously, to get anything
through the president - has got to go through the Democratic controlled
Senate. So, how does this emerging plan on the Republican side with the
idea of changes to the 2008 law, with the real sort of radical reduction to
the price tag, does that have a chance of actually getting through
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, BUZZFEED.COM: Well, the important thing - to start
out with is the context of the 2008 law we are talking about. What that
law actually requires is that if minors who come from these unconnected
countries show up on our border, that they are granted a chance to go
through a hearing process to find out if they deserve asylum or not. And
the White House has signaled -- I met with a senior administration
officials last week who said that they don`t want to see too many changes
to that law that could derail all Possibility of asylum hearings
completely. They like to speed that process along, make it easier to make
that happen. But they don`t want to get rid of it entirely. And there`s
been some conversations about kind of getting rid of most of that. So the
White House, I don`t think, is not going to sign off on that. They get
pressure from their own- from Democrats to not sign off on a thing that ..
KORNACKI: Yeah, they were sending - initially they were sending some
different signals, I think, but a part of it has been a reaction from
Democrats - meanwhile the clock is ticking. And now a week till - it`s
vacation time for these guys. But, Michael, I want to bring you on this,
on this question of - Rick Perry, yes, the all-important August vacation.
I want to bring you in on this Rick Perry thing. I want to set it up by -
we talked about what he`s doing with the National Guard. I think the most
important context for that, what he`s doing right now is this which
happened in September 2011 at a Republican debate. I want to play it and
talk to you about it.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R ) TEXAS: You say that we should not educate children
who have come into our state for no other reason than they`ve been brought
there by no fault of their own. I don`t think you have a heart.
KORNACKI: So, Rick Perry was going to be the conservative answer to Mitt
Romney for Republicans in 2012. And he started talking like that about
immigration and this great sort of conservative movement that was going to
coalesce around him, it didn`t happen. Is what we`re seeing from Rick
Perry now a response to what he thinks killed his presidential campaign?
STEELE: No. I don`t think so. I think actually one has very little to do
with the other. Because in that clip he`s talking about children already
in his state and what the state is going to provide for them since they`re
there. This situation is about children who are coming into the state
currently who are not in the system, who are not connected to the
infrastructure of the state through education, health care and all of that.
So, it`s a very - from his perspectives there, they`re two very separate
KORNACKI: And the idea of using the National Guard like this - which, I
mean, the justification ....
STEELE: You know what - I actually understand what the governor is doing.
You know, you have to understand, he`s the governor of a state. We have 50
independent states, 50 independent governors, they make decisions that
affect their state.
KORNACKI: But we are talking ...
STEELE: And with federal government ...
STEELE: ... involuntarily what fails to act, then the governor is going to
take whatever action the governor deems is necessary and appropriate to
provide for the common defense, if you will, in some sense, or to provide
for the citizens and their states. So, what the governors decide to do, is
since the federal government has not come in to try to control the flow,
that we`re going to take whatever actions are necessary to do that. Now,
you can put this in the political context and everybody in this town wants
to do that. That`s what I do.
STEELE: And project it to 2016. But you`ve got to step - as a former
lieutenant governor of a state who`ve dealt with homeland security issues,
working with our governor, there`s a different conversation for the
governor than just the politics of this.
RYAN: Yeah, but the devil is in the details. And you know as my former
lieutenant governor in the state of Maryland ...
RYAN: You know, there`s something called Posse Comitatus, correct?
RYAN: So, that`s one of the reasons why the federal government hasn`t
declared this a state of emergency for the National Guard to go in. And if
the National Guard were to go in, if President Obama wanted and declared it
an emergency, they would not be able to make arrests. So for Rick Perry to
do it himself would be better ...
STEELE: Because for the governor, it`s an emergency. And he can`t sit
back there - sit there and wait for the federal government to decide what
is and is not an emergency in his state.
KORNACKI: But the question - I think the reason why -- when I put the
political lens on, looking at it, the reason why I`m a little suspicious,
the political motive is, we`re talking about a situation where at its
heart, it`s kids who are coming across the border, and what`s the first
thing they`re doing, they are turning themselves in. So, is that a
situation that calls out for the National Guard versus from a political
context does it sound good to be saying to conservative base, I`m bringing
STEELE: That`s the problem. He wants to stop the flow in. It`s not the
idea when they get here they turn themselves in, it`s the fact that they`re
still coming in.
STEELE: And so that`s what the governor is trying to get ...
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: From a political perspective, it`s gets very clear what
Perry is projecting. If you look at the images that are coming out of the
Perry`s administration right now, it is Perry with Sean Hannity on a boat
leaning next to a big gun, they got a big machine gun, they got a military
RYAN: A winning picture.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: This is a militarization of this problem of this issue
that Perry is putting his name right on the front of. I mean it`s very
clear what part is he trying to project to his own base, but as you
mentioned from that debate, I mean I was at that debate, I covered that
debate for - when I was covering the election last time around. And it
really wasn`t about -- Perry was always sort of in good position about what
he does with the border. It was what - as Michael said, when they come
across the border, and they are already across the border, that was the
problem that Perry had. And I don`t see anything from this that suggested
STEELE: All these issues kind of together --
RYAN: What Perry is actually - Perry is actually going away from the
Republican Party if he`s doing this really because to a certain extent he
is actually going to ask the federal government for money for the National
Guard to supplement this request, and this is something that the Republican
Party doesn`t want to do. They don`t want to keep funding things and
projects. So, I mean ...
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Has looked into this, the National Guard down there,
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The White House has ...
KORNACKI: Well, and that`s also - that`s also part of ...
RYAN: They have looked into it, but they haven`t ...
KORNACKI: Emerging Republican ...
RYAN: They are not doing - they`re not going to federalize and make a
declaration, because if they do, it`s called Posse Comitatus, where the -
where you cannot unless let`s explain that definition, Posse Comitatus ...
STEELE: We`re not all Latin scholars.
RYAN: Yes, I`m sorry. I`m not a Latin scholar.
KORNACKI: I`ll - only get cup of coffee.
RYAN: But Posse Comitatus is when it`s believed that the U.S. Military is
not allowed to patrol within the United States its own borders. That`s
what Posse Comitatus is. So if indeed the federal government were to ...
STEELE: But that`s a federal question. This is not ...
RYAN: But that`s - no, no, no. Rick Perry originally asked President
Obama to do this. So that`s ...
STEELE: But the president said no.
STEELE: The governor - let`s be clear here. You can Posse Comitatus all
STEELE: At the end of the day, at the end of the day, the governor of the
state gets to decide how he`s going to protect his borders.
KORNACKI: OK, we`ve got to ....
RYAN: The devil is in the details.
KORNACKI: =That`s - It is an interesting point there, too, because that is
also part of what you say, part of this Republican proposal is about
federal action in terms of the National Guard. But also, I think more
importantly SAT scores among our audience just went up about 100 points.
KORNACKI: And thanks to panel. We`ll see you all later throughout the
show. Still ahead, though, the sharp divide over how to handle the border
crisis in one of the bluest states in the country. What`s happening here,
could surprise you. That`s next.
KORNACKI: With 57,000 undocumented children apprehended at the border in
the last nine months alone, the federal government is scrambling to find
places to house them while their cases are being decided. Yesterday
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said - he said he would provide shelter to an
additional 1,000 kids this year and also asked the local legal community to
provide them pro bono council. In neighboring Wisconsin, Milwaukee are
offering their own proposals to temporarily shelter children. Not that the
state`s governor, Scott Walker approves. He says, quote, "If we`re not
having a rapid process to get back to the country of origin they`re going
to basically blend into whatever community, and state and country they`re
in. That`s going to have costs and drain the entire system." And that
highlights the way this issue of unaccompanied minors at the border is now
dividing communities across the country. Nowhere is this debate more
heated right now than in Massachusetts, a state that is deeply blue in
presidential years, but much more complex when you look under the hood.
Democratic Governor Deval Patrick has offered to provide two locations that
would shelter 1,000 children, one on a military base on Cape Cod, the other
on a base in western Massachusetts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D ) MASSACHUSETTS: America and this commonwealth in
particular has given sanctuary to desperate children for centuries. We
have rescued Irish children from famine, Russian and Ukrainian children
from religious persecution, Cambodian children from genocide, Haitian
children from earthquakes, Sudanese children from civil war and children
from New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. Once in 1939 we turned our backs
on Jewish children fleeing the Nazis and it remains a blight on our
KORNACKI: In an interview with MSNBC`s Chris Hayes, Patrick emphasized the
federal government will cover the costs and the average stay would be just
PATRICK: We`re talking about a short-term duration, housing a limited
number of people in a secure facility, not integrating them in communities
because indeed they`re being processed through and under the immigration
laws, and it`s a way to relieve the suffering of children.
KORNACKI: But despite Patrick`s humanitarian message, his proposal has
stoked a heated backlash. A "Boston Globe" poll this week found the state
divided over the plan, 50 percent of residents supporting it, 43 percent
opposing it. Opponents also staged a rally at the statehouse in Boston
yesterday. And earlier this week in Bourne, a town on Cape Cod where one
of the bases that Patrick wants to house the children is located, local
elected officials and residents vented their anger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDA ZUCRIN, UF: It`s our town. And we don`t even know what`s going on,
we don`t know how many people are coming, we don`t know what they`re gang
members is or whatever. My feeling is that this whole invasion of our
country is against the constitution.
KORNACKI: How will the governor`s offer to house these children fare in
the face of local resistance? And what impact will that have on the Obama
administration`s plan to deal with them as well? But joining me from
Massachusetts, we have the former Democratic Senator Mo Cowan, he`s also
chief of staff to Governor Deval Patrick. He supports the proposal to
shelter the children, Republican State Representative Marc Lombardo who
opposes the governor`s plan.
So, Representative, I`ll start with you. We played that clip from Governor
Patrick`s press conference last week, a very moving press conference. You
heard him outline that history. This is a temporary proposal, this will be
paid for by the federal government, this is to house them while they`re
processed. Did that not move you to hear the governor put it in those
STATE REP. MARC LOMBARDO, (R ) MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I think what we heard
was also in our press conference, was the governor talking about his need
to act because he`s a humanitarian. And for 16 months here in
Massachusetts we watched how the governor treated Justina Pelletier. The
nation watched. And I can tell you that the governor is no humanitarian.
KORNACKI: But I mean - just, please speak to this issue. Because he`s
laid out some very specific perimeters here in terms of temporary housing,
up to 35 days, this is while they`re processed, this is not going to be in
the community zone, military bases, they are away from, you know, sort of
away from the general community, not going to be using local services, paid
for by the federal government. So, within those parameters, on the
specific issue, and in the face of the humanitarian history that he
outlined there, what`s your objection to this?
LOMBARDO: Well, when we look at whether Massachusetts can handle this, we
have to look at what the financial situation here in the Massachusetts. In
the last several years, we`ve had the sales tax raised $25 percent, we did
$500 million tax increase last year, in fact, the governor wanted $2
billion. And why is this important to realize? Because the governor
passed these tax increases on the basis that we didn`t have the revenue to
provide basic services that we needed for the residents of Massachusetts,
our streets, our bridges, our local aid to our cities and towns to fund
police, fire and teachers. We`ve cut that by $400 million annually, and it
would seem to me that before we open our pocketbooks to take care of those
who shouldn`t be in the country, we certainly should try to take care of
those who are here, of Massachusetts residents. And according to the
governor`s own arguments, we don`t have the revenue to do so.
KORNACKI: Well, Senator Cowen, I`m curious to get your response there.
Because again, I hear the governor saying, federal government is going to
pay for this. But I looked at that - I see 43 percent opposed to it. I
listened to Representative Lombardo. I`m just curious what is your
response to what you`re hearing from him and what you`re hearing from
opponents in general?
FMR. SEN. MO COWAN (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Well, first of all, I want to
applaud the governor for standing up and doing what Americans do when
there`s a need for Americans to step up. And he`s done that with his
remarks last week and with his indication that he`ll work with the federal
government if, if there`s a need to house migrant children here for a short
amount of time. There`s no doubt that the commonwealth, like every other
state, still faces a number of challenges. But we cannot use that as a
false excuse not to step up and aid in this humanitarian crisis. The
federal government has been clear that this would be a limited amount of
time and housing for a limited number of children. I think the polls
reflect that there`s a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding
about the current state of affairs. And there are those who use that
misinformation and misunderstanding to their benefit, to stoke the fires
against immigration, against immigrants and I think it`s shameful and it`s
un-American. The reality is this is what America does when there is a
humanitarian crisis. Americans step up. We aid. And there`s a federal
law on the books for those who claim that this is against the law. What is
happening now is in fidelity with the law for children who come from the
Central American countries, who come here as unaccompanied minors. We must
by law take them, process them, ensure that they are healthy and then
engage in our lawful immigration practices to determine what then shall
become of them. If we house the children here, that`s what will happen
here, that is the law, that is what Massachusetts does and that`s what we
KORNACKI: And Senator, just to follow up on that, one thing I wonder when
I look at that poll. We played the clip from Bourne the other night, a lot
of heated opposition, and there`ve been some other - some other incidents,
too. Do you think since this is just an offer from Governor Patrick right
now, we don`t know what the administration in Washington is going to
ultimately decide. Do you think the reaction in Massachusetts has made it
less likely that the Obama administration will say, OK, yes, we take you up
on this offer?
COWAN: I`m not certain about that. I haven`t spoken with the White House
or anyone in Congress on this issue, but I think what`s important for the
people here in Massachusetts to understand, and this is easy to understand
if you go to the statehouse website, the governor`s website or even look at
the Department of Homeland Security, before any side is selected in this
state or any other, there would need to be an evaluation by the federal
Department of Homeland Security and health and human services to determine
whether it`s suitable. Governor Patrick showed an act of leadership by
simply saying we have two sites, two military bases here that have the
capacity in a moment of need in a limited amount of time potentially to
house these children. He in no way said that it will happen. But he did
say and I`m proud of him when he said this as a friend and as someone who`s
worked alongside with him and as a citizen of this commonwealth, he did say
that if the need is there, if his country calls, then the people of
Massachusetts will answer.
KORNACKI: It`s an - It`s a really - it`s an interesting question, I think,
for people to be looking at from across the country. Because again, we
look at Massachusetts, I think, nationally and say this is just a blue
state and we just assume a proposal like this is going to go over well with
the public. But it`s a much more complicated question as I think you`re
seeing here. My thanks to former Massachusetts Senator Mo Cowan for
joining us this morning, State Representative Marc Lombardo. I appreciate
it, and up next, two of the most influential acronyms in Washington make
their case for what`s best in America. We`ll explain. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Usually you have to wait until the fall to see a good political
debate. But today you`re in look. Since we`re in Washington D.C. and
since control of the Congress is on the line just a few months from now, we
decided to stage our own debate between the two parties. To set the stage
for you briefly, you know that Republicans now control the House. To take
it back, Democrats need to gain 17 seats this November, something that`s
very hard for the party that controls the White House to do in a midterm
election. But if you were watching our show yesterday then you heard the
second ranking Democrat in the House, that`s Maryland Steny Hoyer tell us
the Democrats are going to hit back number of this fall and are going to
take back the house. So, who should control the House, who will control
the House after November? We`re here to hash it out. We have Emily
Bittner. She`s a national press-secretary for the Democratic Congressional
Campaign Committee, DCCC, you may know that is, representing the
Republicans as Daniel Scarpinato, the national press secretary for the
National Republican Congressional Committee. So, welcome to both of you.
Thanks for joining us. So, I think maybe to set the scene for this, just
for two sort of contrasting poll numbers up on the screen. This is the
overall Gallup took this poll about two months ago, the favorable -
unfavorable number for both parties, for your parties. Among Republicans,
it clocked in at 34 favorable, 59 unfavorable. Among Democrats, it clocked
in at 44 favorable, 50 unfavorable. And so, you know, Daniel, I look at
that and I say those are not great numbers for either party. But that`s a
ten-point gap right there. That`s - it`s ten percent who are the more of
the favor view of Democrats than Republicans. It seems like the brains
might be an issue here for Republicans.
DANIEL SCARPINATO, NRCC NATL. PRESS SECRETARY: You know, in congressional
races I really don`t think it is. I think people vote on the candidates
and the members of Congress themselves who are running. I think that`s the
approval, the individual person`s approval that matters. And then
separating themselves from the problems in Washington. The other thing
that is a real issue here is the president`s approval rating which is in
the tank --
KORNACKI: We have that up here, we can put that up on the screen,
actually. I think we have - this week`s Gallup poll is a 40 percent
approve and 53 percent disapprove.
SCARPINATO: And it`s even worse when you look at the races in the states
and the districts where these races are playing out. I haven`t seen one
poll, including in places where Obama won, the vote in 2012, where he is
not under water with voters. He`s very unpopular. And I don`t think the
Democrats would want to send him to any of these races in the country
because he`d actually hurt their candidates.
KORNACKI: So, Emily, maybe you can respond to that. He`s saying OK, that
national - for the party isn`t going to - in individual races, and the
president`s numbers are going to be a drag in Democrats. What do you say
EMILY BITTNER, DCCC MATL. PRESS SECY: Well, we can`t have it both ways, he
can`t have it be a race about the president and the race about individuals,
right? So, there`s some dissonance there. But they`re desperate to have
the 2014 elections be about anyone but House Republicans. I mean if you
look at House Republicans brand, it`s even worse than Republicans in
general. They are at historic low approval ratings, and that`s because
everything the American people want, they are blocking. So whether it`s
equal pay instead we`re getting shutdowns. Whether it`s raising the
minimum wage, they`re raising the specter of impeachment. And so, time and
time again when you see two-thirds of Americans in support of a common
sense idea, I`ll show you 234 Republicans who oppose it.
SCARPINATO: But it is - it is about the president, with all due respect,
because - and I challenge you to name me one congressional district where
you would want the president and Nancy Pelosi to go visit. And you
probably can`t name them, because he`s so unpopular, and the races in these
districts are about having a check and balance on the president. That`s
what voters want. And that`s why many of Emily`s own Democratic candidates
are throwing the president under the bus. They can`t get away from him
BITTNER: I think we`ve seen House Republicans in power now since 2010 when
the Tea Party was this new shiny object and the American people have seen
what it means to have the Tea Party in power. And they are rejecting House
Republicans and their agenda. We`ve had three elections about President
Obama. It`s time to have an election about House Republican ...
KORNACKI: Well, that`s - I don`t know if we put it on the screen here, but
that`s the other thing we have here, is the Tea Party`s favorable - so you
get the Republican number at 34/59. When you look at the Tea Party, 30 to
51. So, Daniel, are you saying just a minute ago, you challenged
Democrats, would you want President Obama campaign for you? Do you embrace
the label Tea Party? Or is that a liability for you, guys, this ...
SCARPINATO: You know, there`s different candidates are going to run
different campaigns in different districts. The greatest thing about our
candidates this cycle is they fit their districts. They have differences
on the issues. I mean we - our party does not speak with one voice. The
other part of this is this that this election in many ways is about
competence. And even liberal Democrats are not happy with the president
because they don`t think he`s confidently executed the programs they want.
If you wanted Obamacare and you supported Obamacare, you cannot be happy
with this administration because they have done such a bad job executing
that and so many other issues. And I think that`s a big part of the
BITTNER: Steve, you asked him such an interesting question about
surrogates. If you`re a Republican, the surrogates, you have our people
like Sarah Palin or Ted Cruz or Todd Akin. I mean we`re proud of the
surrogates that we have on the Democratic side of the aisle. And they`re
going to try to do everything they can to make this election about?
SCARPINATO: Well, then the president should go visit some of these
districts, because he has them. We`ll play - pay the plane ticket. I mean
he just goes to Hollywood, Manhattan, Chicago, and raises millions of
KORNACKI: Well ....
SCARPINATO: He doesn`t ...
KORNACKI: Let me - we are sure to have - I want to squeeze one of the
things here quickly, because we`ve been talking about immigration on this
show. If there`s nothing done on the border. If let alone comprehensive
immigration reform, and we`ve been talking about this since the end of the
2012 election, for your party, Daniel, if there`s no immigration reform
this fall, that is what the great promise what happened in 2012, wasn`t it?
We are going to turn around to do it.
SCARPINATO: I don`t think past saying a bill in the middle of the night
that no one has read that`s an Obamacare style bill is going to help
anyone. House Republicans have said we want to take a step by step
approach to this problem. But I think with the current crisis that`s
happening, we have got to take politics out and actually pass something and
come together and do what makes sense and border security has to be first.
KORNACKI: Emily, last word.
BITTNER: I mean my gosh. It was more than a year ago that the Senate in a
bipartisan way passed a comprehensive immigration bill that Barack Obama,
George Bush, the U.S. chamber, the faith community all support. They`re
just dragging their feet on solutions for the American people so that they
can sue the president. That`s what they did this week. They didn`t try to
hold hearings on the border, they held hearings on the lawsuit against the
president this week.
KORNACKI: All right, we are - that`s going to be last - about 100 days
from election. Last word right now, won`t be a last word to this campaign.
My thanks to Emily Bittner with the DCCC and Daniel Scarpinato of the NRCC.
I appreciate it. And coming up, the wage gap and the gender gap collide in
one of the week`s most controversial articles. With the - evidence we`ll
see what`s really there. That`s next.
KORNACKI: They are the heavy hitters of campaign fund-raising. The king
makers or queen makers whose checkbooks can influence an election. The
Koch Brothers come to mind here, as does billionaire casino magnets Sheldon
Adelson or the Democratic side, the mega-investor and philanthropist George
Soros. Who doesn`t come to mind necessarily when you think of big donors,
though, are women. Maybe it`s a reflection of the Forbes 500, there are
fewer women in this list of the world`s richest people than there are men,
especially at the very top. There`s only one woman in the top ten. Maybe
it`s also how parties and campaigns are soliciting big money.
Politico pointed out this week that for all the electoral gains women have
made in seeking office, the gender gap in how much money women give is much
different. The short version is, women aren`t giving as much. Top male
donors have given six times as much in this election cycle so far. Those
are the quick numbers. The more interesting question, of course, though,
is why. One theory is women expect candidates to spend more personal time
with them, talking about the issues, why they should give up their
checkbooks for a campaign. They also don`t seem fond of female-specific
events like spa days or women`s teas that campaigns sometimes sponsor.
Might also be practical. Even women in the top pool of earners tend to
devote more time to raising their children and running a household. Or is
it that women prefer to donate to causes that seem more immediate, like
cancer research, than to something like politics? Not to generalize on this
or any point, because many women also want to talk about things like the
economy and other issues.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand weighed in this week to say that,
quote, women often appreciate a relationship, they appreciate knowing where
their money is going and where it is going to be used so they can feel good
about their investment." She says she tries to engage with women on a more
personal level in the hope that they understand the decisions are made in
Washington every day, and if they aren`t a part of it, they may not like
Back here to discuss is MSNBC political analyst and former head of the RNC,
Michael Steele. Jess McIntosh is the communications director for Emily`s
List, that is a political action committee that works to get Democratic
female candidates elected to office. And Meredith DeWitt is a political
adviser and a Democratic donor. Meredith, thanks for being here, and I`ll
start with you, because you are who this article is sort of talking about.
So we ran through all of these theories, all these ideas out there about
why this imbalance exists. And I`m just curious what you think the reason
MEREDITH DEWITT, DEMOCRATIC FUNDRAISER: I think a lot of the reasons that
you mentioned are absolutely valid. But one thing that`s missing is really
I think the data is pretty hard to evaluate. When I looked at the study,
you look at donors that are making contributions to candidates and
committees are being attributed with that gift. When a couple makes a
contribution to a super PAC, the numbers get skewed. Those numbers tend to
be in six and seven-figure levels. So oftentimes the default is for the
male to, quote, get credit for that contribution. So I think the numbers
aren`t as bad.
Also I would say that women aren`t sitting out of this new game, this power
game in politics. Women are some of the most effective volunteer fund-
raisers or bundlers, as we call them in the country. If you look at the
last re-election of President Obama, they list their bundlers publicly,
what you may not know is the rankings. Of the top 11 people in the United
States that raised money for the president, five are women.
KORNACKI: So that`s as close to half as you can - five and six, one way or
the other. So let me ask me about the point that Senator Gillibrand,
Kirsten Gillibrand from New York was making in there. She was basically
saying, with female donors, she makes an extra effort to sort of have that
personal conversation with them. We`re talking about that, that being one
of the theories floated. Is there something to that when you`re soliciting
money from women, they want what she`s talking about there?
JESS MCINTOSH, EMILY`S LIST: If you think about it in context, men have
been organizing politically and figuring out how to use money for power and
access since the republic was founded. So they had a couple of hundred
years start on this. Women have been doing this for the last 30, 40 years,
really, in earnest. So it takes a little bit more to let women know that
they are incredibly powerful when it comes to political persuasion. I
think that Senator Gillibrand is absolutely right. My guess is, and I
haven`t looked through her reports, is that she has more women donors than
your average. I`m going to guess that Elizabeth Warren does, I`m going to
guess that Hillary Clinton in 2008 did. I`m going to guess Amy Klobuchar
does. So when we see more women in office, we`ll see more women donors.
Emily`s List is one of the oldest political organizations and one of the
KORNACKI: How many donors do you have?
MCINTOSH: We have a community of over 3 million.
KORNACKI: Are they - are they primarily--
MCINTOSH: Yes. More than 80 percent are women. We are one of the
oldest, most successful political organizations, and we`re funded heavily
by women. We`ve experienced a major explosion in terms of new membership
over the last couple of years, and those have actually been younger and
more male, which is nice to see men starting to around to the idea of
women`s leadership. So it`s definitely not an impossibility. We`ve been
doing it quite well for a while. You just have to have something to tell
KORNACKI: So, Michael Steele, I`m going to guess as chairman of the
Republican National Committee, you did a little fund-raising in your time.
So you had I guess (inaudible) we always talk about the gender gap. Here
is the vote from 2008 and 2012. In 2008, Obama won the women`s vote by 14
points, 57 to 43. He won it by 12 in 2012, 56 to 44. I guess when you`re
trying to cultivate female donors, you have the added challenge of the
gender gap we`re always talking about. How did you approach that?
STEELE: We had less of a gender gap in 2010. So it was a very different
environment. I was chairman at that time. We had a very different spike,
because we had a very different relationship.
What we did was, to your point, we really sort of looked at the Emily`s
List model of individual downstream donors. In other words, a small-dollar
donor, getting them introduced to the idea of contributing to a political
candidate or a political party.
What is the underlying story in all this is that, regardless of that 200-
year lead time that men have on giving, it is the women in the household
who told the guy he could give in the first place. So there was always
this power center in the family structure in which the women said, OK, you
can do that, you can sign off on that check and let it go in many cases.
In a lot of other instances, what we found was yes, the guy`s was out
front, but it was the woman`s money. In other words, it was her
inheritance, it was her family money, it was a whole lot behind that check
that the guy wrote. So it was a matter of peeling some of that back and
attacking it from a different perspective and allowing those women donors
to emerge more freely, if you will, through the process. A lot of it was
the small dollar stuff. But for Republicans, at least, it was some of the
first steps we were taking in this area.
STEELE: Democrats have had an advantage here for quite some time, to be
honest about it.
KORNACKI: That`s interesting. We`ve got to squeeze in a break here. And
I want to talk about what that advantage has meant in terms of politics and
policy in this country, in terms of how things are changing. And also, a
couple more of these theories I want to bat them around a little bit.
We`ll squeeze a break in. We`ll do that as soon as we come back.
KORNACKI: We`re back with the panel talking about the gender gap in fund-
raising. And Meredith, I want to pick up - we talk about - there`s two
issues here I guess when you talk about fund-raising. One is just that
women writing checks to campaigns. There`s that direct connection to a
campaign, but we sort of live in this era of it`s people who raise other -
sort of generate other fund-raisers, bundlers I guess we call them. We`re
going to bring 20 different donors in the campaign. The skill set that
goes into that. Are there differences there in terms of strengths that
women bring to that, that the campaigns are now just sort of realizing, in
terms of bundling, I guess, as the term goes?
DEWITT: Sure. At the risk of stereotyping, I think women are great
multitaskers, women are just as competitive as men in this space I`ve seen.
And women are also, when they are mentored by other women, I find them to
be most effective and most strategic. So if you look at some of the
presidential campaigns that had female finance chairs, that is the person
kind of responsible for rallying the troops, building a group of people
that will come and meet every single week, take time out of their busy
lives to make phone calls and host events. When that`s being led by a
woman, I`ve often seen that women tend to be more motivated, more willing
to raise their hand and lean in. And at the end of the day, women want to
win, they want to win just as badly as men. They want to support
candidates and causes that are being run effectively, that are -- funds are
being managed strategically. They want to see that person in elected
office be effective.
KORNACKI: And Jess, you were saying during the break something really
interesting, this position of a finance director on a campaign,
(inaudible), this is really interesting. You`re saying this is a job that
overwhelmingly, a very important fund-raising job in every campaign, is
overwhelmingly a job that is done by women.
MCINTOSH: Oh, yes. Ten years ago when I started working on campaigns,
very often that was the only position held by a woman on a campaign. It
was fairly universal, your finance director, and it seems to be we were
talking in the break, of either party, that job was the one that was -
MCINTOSH: I don`t know, and actually I`ve talked to a number of them about
it, and most of them said they were mentored by a woman to get into this
job. And I think Meredith made a really good point about women talking to
women. I think there`s a tendency to treat women like a special kind of
subspecies that needs to be spoken to softly and have their hair brushed as
you ask them for -- no, we`ve just people. And if you talk to us in a way
that you would talk to any political donor, you might have a good result.
And I think women are particularly good at understanding that other women
are just like them.
KORNACKI: We are short of time. But Meredith, I am required by law, since
you are a donor and we are a political show, since you are a bundler, to
ask you, in 2016, as a Democratic bundler, are you interested in seeing
Hillary Clinton run for president?
DEWITT: I would love to see Secretary Clinton run. I`ve helped her in the
past raise money. She`s an amazing person. I think that women are excited
about her candidacy, as they are many others. I think you`ll see - I think
these numbers will continue to change if she does decide.
STEELE: -- fund-raising on both sides.
KORNACKI: Here is the other side of it, too. We`ve certainly seen that in
the past. I want to thank Jess McIntosh with Emily`s List and political
adviser and fund-raiser Meredith DeWitt. Sounds like she`s ready for
Hillary. Still ahead, an update on the apparent increase in fighting in
Eastern Ukraine, plus Israel`s response to the proposal for another cease-
fire in Gaza. All the details. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Dutch police and other international officers have canceled
their visit to the crash site of the Malaysian airlines disaster, due to
reports of increased fighting in Eastern Ukraine. You will recall that
flight MH17 was shot down with a surface-to-air missile in pro-Russian
territory, most likely by mistake, according to U.S. officials. The
separatists have hampered the ability to investigate the crash ever since.
NBC News personnel on the ground say that the fighting seems to be
increasing as Ukrainian tanks are apparently advancing further south.
Ukrainian officials are saying their troops are getting close to retake the
city of Donetsk, held for months by pro-Russian separatists. We`ll be back
with more on Ukraine and the latest from Gaza right after this.
KORNACKI: New developments this hour and the dire situation in Gaza.
According to Reuters, Israel is now considering a 24-hour cease-fire
agreement with Hamas. Israel says the fighting resumed this morning
because Hamas fired seven rockets into their territory overnight, 25 in all
since the violence started up. Again, local news agency says Hamas
confirms it fired the rockets. Israeli government says it has resumed its
naval, aerial and ground assault in response. The death toll is mounting
with 43 soldiers and three civilians killed on the Israeli side. In Gaza
the death toll climbed to over 1,000 yesterday. It`s because Palestinian
health officials say they had time to pull bodies from the rubble during
the 12-hour cease-fire. In just a little bit, we`re going to go to NBC`s
Richard Engel in Gaza. Nobody covers a war zone better than him. But
before that, we turn now to another section of the world, also - attention,
and, that, of course, is Ukraine. The Malaysian Airlines Flight 17
disaster has refocused international attention on the region. NBC News is
reporting this morning that fighting around the crash site is now
increasing. Government tanks are moving further south and people from
nearby villages are reportedly evacuating. In an interview on Thursday,
the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey
shared his fear that violent nationalism might spread even further.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: When Russia
has made a decision of that magnitude to change what has been the accepted
order, you know, the sanctity of sovereign nations, my fear is actually,
you know, if I have a fear about this, it`s that Putin may actually light a
fire that he loses control of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So who does the president lean on? Well, he leans on his number
two apparently, Joe Biden. Speaking by phone Friday to the Ukraine`s
president, Biden relayed the message that the U.S. will continue to press
sanctions against Russia for its, quote, "deeply destabilizing and
irresponsible actions in Ukraine." Expect the folksy caricature you
probably know of Uncle Joe, Biden is Obama`s go-to guy on foreign crises
and reaching out to Congress. As this week`s "New Yorker" magazine puts
it, "In contrast to Dick Cheney, Biden has made his remark by reinforcing
the president`s supremacy rather than maneuvering around it." And for that
the president trusts him. He has entrusted him with sensitive national
security missions in Iraq and Ukraine. Those who know him say that Biden
is so effective when it comes to forging personal connections because he
treats everyone he meets with humor and charm. "The New Yorker" reports
that Biden has a stable of go-to lines to disarm foreign leaders and that
one of his favorite openers is, "If I had hair like yours, I`d be
president." And also he doesn`t make the mistake of underestimating who
he`s talking to. "You`ve got to start off with the assumption the other
guy is not an idiot," Biden says, "It`s really very important." If you`re
able to communicate to the other guy that you understand his problem and
some of this diplomatic bull communicates we have no idea of your problem."
Another key passage, his exchange with Vladimir Putin, supposedly back when
Putin had the title of prime minister a few years ago, Biden saying, "I
said, Mr. Prime minister I`m looking into your eyes and I don`t think you
have a soul. " Did you really say that the reporter asked Biden who
replies, "Absolutely, positively. And he looked back at me and he smiled
and he said, we understand one another." Biden said this is who this guy
is. The story is a fascinating look at who Joe Biden is. And the role
he`s come to play as vice president. When you think of that Uncle Joe
caricature, it does raise the question, is he getting the respect he
deserves? Will he ever or is that just one of the indignities that comes
with being the VIP?
With me to talk about all this, at the table, we have MSNBC political
analyst Michael Steele, April Ryan with American Urban Radio Networks and
BuzzFeed`s Evan McMorris-Santoro. So, that - that contrast between Biden
and Dick Cheney, and I think, you could say they are both sort of - Dick
Cheney, obviously, is a very consequential vice president, no matter what
you think of what he did. Joe Biden I think clearly, a consequential vice
president, but that contrast in how they operate where Cheney sort of set
up his own corner in the White House, he had his own people. And a lot of
that Bush let him do that, frankly, at the beginning. And then sort of
realize what he did. But the Biden relationship just seems very different.
This is a much different model.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That`s true. I mean, and we`ve heard of some
disagreements between Biden and Obama, right? The one thing about
KORNACKI: Bin Laden, right? He wasn`t for the Bin Laden.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: But all those disagreements and all those things that
happen getting Putin into a package of the president listening to a bunch
of different ideas. And Biden sort of going and taking him whatever Obama
decides and running with it. It`s very different than with Cheney and
Bush, whenever they had any fracture at all. I`m thinking about like
Scooter Libby, for example. It was a huge deal, a huge rift in the White
House, which it`s not like these two guys have -- see down the middle on
every issue, which is like when they don`t, it doesn`t become a problem for
the White House.
KORNACKI: There`s a passage in here, too, there`s a passage where
apparently Biden and Obama, were I think, they were having lunch together
or something and they both sort of said to each other, Biden was sort of
like, I can`t believe we`re becoming friends. And Obama says me neither.
They seem to have developed a relationship that wasn`t there at the
RYAN: There was a relationship there, enough for the president to bring in
a team of rivals to say OK, yes, we`ve had this fracture or this problem
early on, you know, running for office together. But now let`s come
together, because you are this man who has all of this wealth of knowledge
on the Hill and you`ve been here for so long in Washington. And also, your
foreign policy on the Hill as well. But from the very beginning, this
White House has started off with Joe Biden as a partnership, he`s been
engaged for everything from day one, to include the Recovery Act. Most
recently he worked on the issue with the schools. The school study that
just came out. He worked on the budget. Yes, the president and the vice
president have lunch every week to talk over things and they talk all the
time. So what we`re saying is something that`s genuine. It`s not the
partnership that the - partnership that Cheney-Bush people had. But this
is a friendship. This is a partnership. They come together with families.
They come together on a host of issues. So, they are in conjunction in a
lot of ways.
KORNACKI: Well, in this article, they talked to Rahm Emanuel, Rahm Emanuel
who was the first chief of staff for President Obama, in Chicago,
obviously. Rahm Emanuel was asked, though, in the article, about this -
the relationship. He said the vice president asked for one thing, that he
could always comment, would never be shut down and he`d be the last guy in
the room to talk to him. And the president lived up to that commitment.
First of all, that sounds like three things to me, not one thing.
KORNACKI: But Rahm Emanuel says ....
KORNACKI: A tribute to Biden.
KORNACKI: It`s a tribute to Biden, so apparently he`s got the three things
that he asked for. But Michael, I`m curious because you`ve been, you know,
you`ve been a lieutenant governor, and these relationships between vice-
president, president, lieutenant governor and governor, so much of the - it
always has to do with like, what does the governor, what does the president
let you do? What he deputize you do?
STEELE: That`s the key thing. You`re only as effective as the governor of
the president allows you to be. So, to the extent that you`re able to go
out and carve out a space for yourself, Dick Cheney was able to do it
because the president allowed him to do it. Now ...
RYAN: Elder statesmen, too.
STEELE: Elder statesmen. Yes. Exactly. The same with Biden. When I was
lieutenant governor, I was able to do the things I did because Bob Ehrlich
said, OK, I trust you to do these things, keeping in mind that you`re doing
them for the governor or the president, you`re not doing them for yourself.
And that`s the big difference, I think, that you`ve seen in the modern
relationship between the vice president and the president, is that the vice
president really is not just a cheerleader for the chief executive, but
also an effective arbiter on issues, policies and the like. And it makes a
big difference in the relationship long-term.
KORNACKI: How much of it, I wonder, too. In terms of - there was the
assumption when Joe Biden was added to the ticket in 2008 when they got
elected, the assumption was this is sort of the old gray beard, he`s never
going to run for president on his own. He was 65 when he was elected in
2008. He`ll be too old, and so he gets to just focus on being vice
president. The fact that Joe Biden clearly, we can talk about whether it`s
a path for him at all, but the fact that he clearly is interested in
running in 2016, I think that surprised some people. And has that created
some tension within the White House at all?
RYAN: Why is everybody - everybody ...
KORNACKI: You`re the White House correspondent.
RYAN: Yes, I am. And I would take ...
KORNACKI: Can you feel the tension when you`re there?
RYAN: Well, let me say this. Well, I told Evan something off camera, I
can`t say it. But let me ....
KORNACKI: Oh, come on.
RYAN: I will say this. Some of the headliners that we think will be
headliners for office, when they`re around one another for the camera,
they`re OK. But when the cameras aren`t there, oh, whatever. You know,
you can feel the tension as it`s arising that there are possibilities that
we could be rivals against one another. But if you`re asking the people
who were in the White House right now, they try to laugh it off. And it`s
like, you know, I made a joke with someone yesterday. I said so what is
the president saying, my name is Barack Obama, my name is Bennett and I`m
not in it. A sudden laugh, because he really has a major issue. He said
this man, he considers a partner who was also there when they took down
Osama bin Laden, he`s also had - he has this woman who was his woman of
diplomacy who was there when he took down Osama bin Laden. He`s got to
make a big choice.
KORNACKI: The president was interviewed for this "New Yorker" article.
And he sort of side-stepped the question of Biden and Hillary by saying
they both have to decide whether they want to suffer the indignity of a
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Tension aside, many of Obama`s campaign architects have
lined up behind Hillary already, not to mention many of the senators and
other people --
KORNACKI: How has that gone over with Biden, do you think? Did he expect
it would be different? Did he expect?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I don`t know exactly -- I mean I don`t know. I mean I
don`t have a lot of keys on the inner workings of Joe Biden`s brain other
than when he ...
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: When he talks ...
KORNACKI: We all wish we did.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: When he talks it sort of all comes out. He`s a very
open talker, right?
RYAN: We love it.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: But I do think that, look, if you`re a guy like Joe
Biden who has been in Washington and in power for as long as he has, and
sort of steadily climbed up, I mean he`s not in charge of foreign policy
stuff because they want to just give him a shot at it. He was the head of
the foreign relations committee. He`s long, long experience with this kind
of thing. I think that probably there has to be - you know, what`s the
story, like everybody elected wants to run for president? I mean I think
it`s probably got to be tough to see people who helped you get into the
White House trying to help somebody else get into the White House the next
KORNACKI: How much is it loyal?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yeah, what do you mean?
STEELE: He`s been loyal. And I think it`s going to be very hard for the
president ultimately to do the Hillary dance and just kind of look over at
Biden standing by himself. I think the president probably will take the
smart tact and stay as far away as possible and hope that, you know,
surrogates and others will go to Biden and say don`t run.
RYAN: Whoever is the nominee is where he`ll jump in.
STEELE: Right, exactly. But I think at the end of the day, loyalty counts
for something, and Biden strikes me as someone who values that in many
respects because it is a difficult job to be the vice president to a
president like Barack Obama in the sense that he`s a bigger-than-life
figure. And, you know, you kind of wait and see what crumbs you get. This
vice president has been empowered in many ways and has on a number of
occasions saved the president`s, you know, petard (ph) a little bit, too,
on some issues.
STEELE: He`s gotten the heck of them, but even that orchestration worked
to the president`s benefit on gay marriage, for example. When Biden - I
still believe that there was more coordination to that than, you know, we
like to give credit.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I mean the White House--
STEELE: They may not have been happy about the timing and everything, but
Biden`s instincts serve the president best in that instance. And that`s
the thing that I think really defines the relationship, is that Biden`s
instincts have worked well for this president on a number of issues.
KORNACKI: So, we have got to squeeze a break in. We have a little bit
more on the side, I want to get to it when we come back, and they are just
looking at this from the standpoint of Joe Biden, a guy who`s clearly
interested in running for president on his own in 2016. Is there an
opening where Joe Biden could get that dream could come true for him or is
he completely shut out by Hillary? We`re going to pick that up when we
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Not a single thing he said is accurate.
PAUL RYAN, U.S. VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That`s a bizarre statement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s why we want to make sure.
BIDEN: I don`t know what world these guys are in. What are they talking
about? I wish they would just tell -- be a little more candid.
BIDEN: With all due respect, that`s a bunch of malarkey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: It`s courtesy of "The Daily Show." A look at Vice President
Biden`s folksy ways of calling Paul Ryan a liar in the last vice-
presidential debate, so Joe Biden clearly having fun there, clearly he`d
like to be reenacting that scene in 2016 against the Republican
presidential nominee. Maybe Paul Ryan, maybe somebody else. But let`s
just - the reality check on all of this is where we`ll put it up and you`ll
probably see - the numbers like this. National Democratic poll, who do you
want to be your party`s candidate in 2016? I mean look at that, Hillary
Clinton 58, Biden, sitting vice president, sitting, two-term vice
president, not even in second place. Biden was - the 49 points behind
Hillary Clinton. It really is unprecedented in the modern era to have a
vice president who is this interested in running. Who you see ....
STEELE: Oh, it`s clear that Democrats have a male problem. So, they`ve
got to work that out.
STEELE: So, they need to figure out how to work that male demographic. I
think that poll reflects a couple of things. One is, at least among
Democratic voters they have their sites set on Hillary. But more
importantly, they have their sites set on a woman for that role for that
position. And so, that`s what he`s going to be up against.
KORNACKI: So, the question is does he -- I mean I think the assumption a
lot of people have, is that he ultimately looks at that and says, if she
runs, I`m not going to run. If nothing else, because that could be really
RYAN: I wouldn`t say - I wouldn`t say interesting runs, I`m not going to
run. Look back how many years ago when we saw Barack Obama versus the
KORNACKI: It wasn`t that lopsided.
RYAN: It wasn`t` that - : It wasn`t that lopsided.
But we thought Rudy Giuliani would have been president - we thought Chris
Christie could have had a chance by now. So, you can`t - anything can
happen between now and then. But I`m going to say this. That 58 percent,
that is the Clinton machine. That is also going to your point. A female.
The possibility of another first. Once Barack Obama leaves the White House
as president of the United States, the balloon will lose a lot of air. The
reason why, because we have to love to love him or love to hate him and he
was a first. This nation is still on a high about rock star and the first.
KORNACKI: How about the first Delaware president?
RYAN: So, how many people are of Delaware.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Over the campaign trail - east Pennsylvanian, right,
that`s what they ....
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: People, I mean, I think also the polls are so early now,
people who are watching this stuff are really engaged in politics, I think
we are really paying attention to it. And, you know, Biden has run for
president twice and didn`t really do very well when he ran for president
the last two times. I think that, you know, once we get closer to the
campaign, once you get closer to the actual discussing of this stuff, I
think it`s easy to see those kind of numbers change around. Biden has - he
can own a lot of the Obama story more than other people can.
KORNACKI: Do you - he might actually run against her?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I don`t know if he`s going to do it. But I think that
he probably - I mean he definitely seems -- all interviews that he`s done,
he seems to think that he could do it.
KORNACKI: As a politician, you can maybe speak to this, I mean I just look
at it from the standpoint of somebody like Joe Biden has to factor in his
image, his legacy long term. If you`re the sitting vice president for two
terms, and you run for president and those numbers hold up and you go in,
you lose 20 primaries by 40 points, Secretary Clinton, you`ve got to -
isn`t it at some point a calculation got to kicks in there, I don`t want my
name attached to that.
STEELE: Yes. Very quick calculation kicks at that point. But I think you
have it right, April. That the bottom line is once we get past this
November 2014 cycle. So, December 1st, the presidential sweepstakes begin.
The poll numbers will be moving around and shifting. I think as you get
into 2015 and the numbers begin to settle a little bit. We`ll see Biden`s
people assess where he is relative to Hillary Clinton. Does that 58
percent peel back a little bit? You think - I think you`re right. There`s
a lot of the first and sort of the idea of sort of the rock star element of
having a female nominee. But these are sobering times for a lot of
Americans, the economy, war and peace questions, social issues and how I
think Biden assesses and does in dealing with those issues. And that`s why
what he`s doing right now in foreign policy matters. His voice in this
conversation matters. People take note of that. I think a broader beyond
Democrat poll would be interested looking at the - a national poll to see
where Biden sits in. And I think that`s what his people are waiting to
KORNACKI: Yeah, and this scenario that I`ve wondered about, too, is, you
know, what about -who says Hillary Clinton can`t say to Joe Biden a couple
of years from now, you know, you`ve done such a good job as vice president,
RYAN: Who want to stay in that same vein --
KORNACKI: Maybe that`s the graceful way out of it. I don`t know.
RYAN: You get a plane. I mean, you know.
STEELE: He has a nice house.
KORNACKI: It is a nice house. We drove past it this weekend.
KORNACKI: That`s why we come down to D.C., to see the vice president`s
house. My thanks to Michael Steele, April Ryan, Evan McMorris-Santoro.
Coming up, you`ll have a live report out of Gaza from our own Richard
Engel, plus why the American debate on what`s going on there may be a
little different than it`s even been before. That`s next.
KORNACKI: Just a few minutes ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu responded to the situation in Gaza this morning by telling
reporters that Hamas has violated its own ceasefire. As NBC`s Martin
Fletcher told us earlier in the show, there has been some confusion this
morning, and Israel has initially offered to extend yesterday`s 12-hour
ceasefire by another day. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israeli
territory overnight. Then after Israel resumed a full naval, aerial and
ground assault, Hamas said this morning that it was agreeing to a ceasefire
after all. So, for more on where things actually stand on the ground in
Gaza at this hour, we go now to NBC`s Richard Engel in Gaza. Richard, can
you clear up exactly what`s going on over there for us?
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you right now we`re not
hearing heavy bombardments. Today there`s been some military activity in
Gaza, but not nearly the level we`ve been seeing in other days in this
conflict. And it appears that the sides of this conflict are trying once
again to put a humanitarian pause in place. There has been several
attempts over the last 24 hours. There was a brief lull in the fighting
yesterday. But these humanitarian ceasefires haven`t been holding. First
Hamas rule will reject, then Israel will reject. And it appears just based
on what we`re seeing that perhaps over the course of the day there might be
another attempt to try and create a lull in the fighting. But all of these
are relatively small issues here. The larger issue of finding a permanent
ceasefire remains elusive. And I think it goes to the different
strategies. The Israeli plan seems to be to have multiple rolling short-
term humanitarian ceasefires and to calm the situation down. Have a 12-
hour window, a 24-hour window. Tomorrow is Eid, the - one of the most
important holidays on the Muslim calendar. Let the people here in Gaza
have a bit of a holiday, calm the situation down. Hamas, however, wants a
deal to come first. They don`t want to just stop fighting and then for all
the 1,000 or so people who have been killed in this fighting, to have been
killed for nothing. They want to stop fighting when a deal is in place,
not just to have rolling four-hour, 12-hour, 24-hour pauses in the
KORNACKI: And Richard, you`re on the ground there in Gaza. Maybe - can
you just give us an idea this most recent pause, what did that mean? What
did that do on the ground in Gaza to have that pause in violence? What did
that do to life there?
ENGEL: Well, there was a much longer pause yesterday, and during that
pause which was more or less official, people went out, being streamed to
their destroyed homes because about 200,000 people in Gaza have been
displaced by this fighting. And a lot of the fighting in this war, and
there`s been three over the last several years, a lot of the fighting has
been concentrated into specific neighborhoods in the south and the east.
In the neighborhood called Shajiya. So we saw thousands of refugees
rushing to their homes and sometimes there was so much devastation people
couldn`t even find where their homes had been. Entire blocks were
flattened. We saw people digging through the rubbles, digging for bodies,
more than 100 bodies were pulled out from under the debris. Today because
there`s so much confusion, people aren`t rushing to the dangerous
neighborhoods. Nobody trusts if these cease fires are real. They`ll last
for an hour, then there`ll be strikes, then there`ll be a lull. So, we`re
not seeing that kind of attempt to recover and salvage belongings.
KORNACKI: All right, Richard Engel, live for us in Gaza this morning.
Appreciate that. Please stay safe over there. Thanks for the time. And
we want to talk now about how the conflict between the Israelis and the
Palestinians. We know that it certainly can`t seem implacable, stuck in
the same place for ages, no matter what happens with a little changing
except the date on the wall. Escalating violence over the last two weeks
has returned images of carnage and stories of families completely
devastated by the bombings to the front pages. Palestinians have borne the
brunt of the fatalities, it`s over 1,000 dead and nearly 150 pulled out of
the rubble during yesterday`s ceasefire. But as "New York" magazine`s
Benjamin Wallace-Wells wrote this week, American audiences are beginning to
see this conflict as maybe they haven`t in the past, maybe a little bit
more through Palestinian eyes. Gallup conducted a poll this week asking
Americans whether they thought the actions by Israel and Hamas were "mostly
justified or mostly unjustified." Only 11 percent felt that Hamas`s
actions against Israel are justified. While 70 percent say they`re
unjustified. However, only 42 percent felt that Israel`s actions in return
were justified, just barely more than the 39 percent who said unjustified.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out in defense of his
country`s actions earlier this week, saying that Hamas "they want to pile
up as many civilian dead as they can. It`s gruesome. They use
telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause." In the United States
public sympathy is generally tilted more toward the Israeli side in this
long-standing conflict. But as this awful flare-up of violence unfolds,
our Americans may be looking at the fighting in a somewhat different way.
We have with us Julia Bacha, she`s a filmmaker, she`s the creative director
of "Just Vision," it`s an advocacy group for Palestinians and Israelis
working together. And so, Julia, you know, exactly I want to talk to you
this morning, because, you know, you have been trying to share the stories,
to share the sufferings, to share the sensitivities of both sides in this
long-standing conflict. And so, from that standpoint, I`m just curious to
ask you the question as you look at how this is presented in the United
States right now, if you feel that maybe more than in the past, a fuller
picture is getting out there.
JULIA BACHA, JUST VISION MEDIA: It`s grace to be here. For us at Just
Vision, this is actually a very painful time because our work has actually
focused on trying to bring the stories of leaders focusing on non-violence
to end the occupation and end the conflict and build a future of freedom,
security, and peace, and dignity for both societies. Unfortunately, we`re
seeing a repetition again that only when violence breaks out in the region
is the media present there and actually paying attention to what`s
happening. And that`s, I think, the underlying dynamic here. I think that
question of whether Israel is losing the media war or Palestinians are
winning the media war, there`s of sort of zero-sum game analysis of the
media war, it`s part of the challenge that we all face in trying to find a
movement towards an end to the occupation, an end to the siege in Gaza. I
think the question that we want to be asking is what`s the context in which
this is taking place? Once we remove ourselves a little bit from the day
today tragic images that are coming out of Gaza, we can begin to talk about
what needs to happen, right? If you were a Palestinian born in Gaza, you
actually need to go to the Israeli authorities to be registered as a
Palestinian. The 1,000 Palestinians that were killed, their families are
going to have to go back to the Israeli authorities that killed their
children to actually get death certificates. This is the reality of Gaza
under continued occupation. The occupation has not ended. So, I think
this context is a lot of what is still missing, although there`s no
question that we have seen an increase in Palestinian voices, I think
there`s been a growth in independent media coming from the ground, groups
like - +972, and Sikha Mekomit, local call, which is a Hebrew language
Website, also (INAUDIBLE) Palestinians and Israelis using social media to
both be direct eyewitnesses, but also hold mainstream media accountable to
what`s happening. So, there`s been shifts. I would like to point out,
though, that the Gallup poll that came out, it shows very clearly that
unfortunately the belief, the point of view of Americans has not actually
shifted in the last 12 years. The mixed reaction to Israeli attacks is
very similar to what we`ve seen actually in 2002. So 12 years ago and the
poll explains that very clearly, too.
KORNACKI: You know, I - the one thing I`m sort of curious about, though,
as you know, we hear and we`ve heard a lot through the years and not
certainly justifiably so, we`ve heard a lot about the horror of living with
the everyday fear for Israelis of rocket attacks. I mean which is, you
know, it`s an atrocity and the sort of - the actual death that`s come from
that is terrible and obviously psychologically what that can do to a
person, to a family, to a community. I wonder, you`re talking about the
reality of what the blockade of Gaza has done for every day Gazans. Is
that something that you think people are more aware of, though, now than
they were before?
BACHA: I think they`re more aware of the death that is happening right
now. I don`t think they`re aware of the context. I think there`s still a
lot of Palestinians who do not understand - that - sorry -- a lot of
Americans who do not understand that de-occupation forces still control the
population registry of Gaza, still control the borders, still control the
air, still control the territorial waters, fishermen do not have the
ability like fishermen around the world to actually go out to 200 miles to
fish. Palestinian fishermen are limited to six nautical miles to do all of
their fishing. So, I do think some of that is missing from the picture.
There`s no question that the reality that Israeli civilians are living
today under rocket fire, it`s horrible. And if I was living there with my
daughter, I would be very scared. But I think that the larger picture that
will allow for Israeli civilians and Palestinian civilians to ultimately
live in freedom, dignity and security for both societies will pass through
a larger understanding of the context that Palestinians have been living
under occupation for decades now.
KORNACKI: All right, my thanks to Julia Bacha. I appreciate the time for
coming out this morning. And still ahead, he`s the only U.S. Senator who`s
ever worked at "Saturday Night Live." What are Al Franken`s chances of
working in Washington for a second term? They might be a little dicier
than you think. We`ll explain next.
KORNACKI: You`ve heard plenty by now about how Democratic senators in
states like Arkansas and Louisiana are in trouble this election year.
Plenty from year - but one race you may not have been paying attention to
and maybe you should be is the Minnesota senate race. Democrat Al Franken,
you probably remember him, he is seeking re-election this year. This seat
that he won by only 312 votes after a highly contested and very long
recount in 2008 and 2009. He will likely face Republican Mike McFadden
this November. McFadden is heavily favored in next month`s Republican
primary. Now, we tend to think of Minnesota as a blue state, but
Republicans should be now to have come close to winning in the 2000 and
2004 presidential elections. They`ve also elected Norm Coleman to the
Senate in 2002 and Tim Pawlenty as governor twice. This is also, don`t
forget the state that produced Michele Bachmann. McFadden, Franken`s
likely opponent is not from the Bachmann wing of the Republican Party, he
supports immigration reform with a path to citizenship and he opposed last
year`s government shutdown. He`s even casting himself as a right-center
Amy Klobuchar, it`s a reference to Minnesota`s other Democratic senator.
It`s the profile, in other words, of the kind of Republican who has been
able to win in Minnesota before. President Obama isn`t that popular in the
state right now with "Minneapolis Star Tribune" poll in February, found at
40 percent of Minnesotans view the president unfavorably. 36 percent view
him favorably. So, we are just over three months now from election day,
and Franken remains the favorite in this race, but how seriously is
America`s favorite late night comedy writer turned politician in danger of
becoming a one-termer. Joining me now to shed some light on this from
Minneapolis, is Rachel Stassen-Berger, political reporter for "The Star
Tribune." So, Rachel, I think nationally, we obviously all remember Al
Franken the comedian, "Saturday Night Live," the radio show, all of that.
He got elected to the Senate, got that - candidate in the summer of 2009.
And for a lot of people nationally he kind of disappeared then. He stopped
doing any interviews with national media, print reporters, television all
that. He`s been very quiet, very diligent. I think he`s worked the
Minnesota press very aggressively. My question to you is, you know, five
years later, has that strategy worked for him in Minnesota?
RACHEL STASSEN-BERGER, THE STAR REPORTER: Well, look. Part of what
Franken struggled with the first time he was running is the old joke is, is
he serious, right? And so, he spent the last five years trying to prove
that he was serious, that he was bout Minnesota issues. And in fact, in a
rather aggressive ad campaign he`s been talking about sort of bipartisan
work, you know, not the liberal funny man, but things that everyone would
agree with. So, in Minnesota, you know, to some extent he did disappear,
he hasn`t been as wild and crazy, to use a "Saturday Night Live" phrase.
But he`s been trying to prove that he really does deserve to be senator.
KORNACKI: Do people -- is your sense in Minnesota that their perception of
Al Franken has changed in five years because of that strategy? Do they now
primarily think of him as serious lawmaker, legislator, bipartisan, those
sorts of words that he wants people to be identifying him with?
STASSEN-BERGER: Look, he hasn`t changed his haters. But one of the things
we`re already seeing in this campaign compared to the previous campaign,
that 2008 campaign that lasted well into 2009 with court cases and recounts
is that the Republicans are taking him very seriously. They are not
forgetting that he won by only 312 votes. They`re being very aggressive.
And to some extent, some say that the reason he won his first term is
because the Republicans thought basically he was not -- did not deserve to
be senator. And so, he`s trying to prove that he deserves to be senator.
And the Republicans are saying, look, we are going to treat him just as
aggressively, just as seriously as any other Democrat who won.
KORNACKI: So what`s - you know, we put the polling average up there. And
right now it`s a decent lead. Some of those polls are a little dated,
though. I mean the talk nationally is that Republicans have sort of gotten
their act together, they are in terms of coalescing behind McFadden sooner
than maybe people expected. Again, as we said, it`s a blue state, but it`s
voted Republican certainly plenty of times in the recent past. What do you
think is Franken`s level of vulnerability this fall seeking a second term?
STASSEN-BERGER: Look, I don`t think you can take this race for granted.
You know, and in fact, that`s part of Democrats` problem here, is that sort
of this sense of complacency. You mentioned the polls. He`s been ahead in
all the polls. But he is fund-raising very aggressively. And if Democrats
sort of say, hey, it`s a midterm election, we`ll do fine, we`re blue,
they`re going to have some serious problems. So, I do think you have to
treat him as somewhat vulnerable. You know, there are some other states,
which you mentioned, which were far more competitive than this one is so
far. But if this race doesn`t tighten up, most of us would be rather
surprised, because it is - has been a competitive state. On some of these
statewide elections, not on presidential elections, but statewide recently.
You know, not only did Franken face a recount, Governor Mark Dayton, a
Democrat who`s also running for re-election also faced a recount. So, it
really has been a split state statewide for a lot of these races, and so
that may tighten up. And we`re starting to see some of that interest both
nationally and locally on the Senate race.
KORNACKI: Yeah, and we were talking about this on the show yesterday about
that whole question of Republicans talking up. It`s going to be - they say
it`s going to be a wave election nationally, no evidence of the wave yet.
But this is one of those states, if that Republican wave that they`ve been
promising, they`ve been talking about, if that actually emerges, this is
one of the states you`re going to see. We`re not there yet, but we`ll keep
on that. Thanks to Rachel Stassen-Berger with the "Star Tribune." I
appreciate your time this morning.
And coming up, decisions on the Affordable Care Act this week. The
comments made by a key architect of the law affect what happens to those
KORNACKI: On Tuesday, as you may recall, two federal appeals courts issued
conflicting rulings on the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals
in D.C. said that the federal government cannot continue to pay tax
subsidies to states that haven`t set up their own exchanges. Tax credits
that help millions of Americans with the cost of buying health insurance.
And just a few hours after that, the fourth circuit in Virginia said that
denying the states those subsidies wouldn`t make sense. They agree that
the wording of the law was, quote, "ambiguous and subject to multiple
interpretations," but the justices decided the tax credits should proceed
anyway. That ambiguous wording is precisely how conservative opponents of
the Affordable Care Act hope to defeat it. They contend that part - that
part of the law that reads "exchange established by the state does not
include the federal exchange." Previous challenge contending to the law
was unconstitutional fail before the Supreme Court, and that famous 2012
split decision, but this time, the plaintiffs need to swing only one more
justice their way on a very specific point, in order to undermine a key
component of whether implementation can succeed. That is why so many
people found it significant this week when one of the architects of the law
was caught on video issuing this statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN GRUBER, MIT: What`s important to remember politically about this
is if you`re a state and you don`t set up an exchange that means your
citizens don`t get their tax credits. But your citizens still pay the
taxes that support this bill. So, you`re essentially saying your citizens,
you`re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the
country. I hope that that`s - a blatant of political reality the states
will get their acts together, and realize there are billions of dollars at
stake here, and set up these exchanges. And they will do it. But, you
know, once again, the politics can get ugly around this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was MIT professor Jonathan Gruber in a speech he gave back
in January of 2012. Now, "the New York Times" once dubbed Gruber Mr.
Mandate for helping to set up the law. And that guy, Mr. Mandate, said in
that video that citizens of only some states would have to pay all of the
taxes to support implementation, the very basis of the current lawsuits.
The video was posted to YouTube 2 1/2 years ago by the group that hosted
the speech called Noblesse. It was picked up this week by a conservative
think tank. On Friday Gruber said that he had misspoken. Quote, "I made a
mistake in some 2012 speeches in describing the tax credits," It`s
according to an e-mail Gruber sent to "The New York Times." "It is clear
from all my writings and modeling that I did over the same - a time period,
that tax credits are assumed to be available in all states. This is the
only sensible reading of the Affordable Care Act and is corroborated by
every single person who helped to craft the law." So, is this a mere
embarrassment for the administration that will soon blow over or is it
likely to have an impact on the legal challenges that conservative
challengers hope will eventually dismantle the law.
Jonathan Cohen, he`s a senior editor with "The New Republic", and he spoke
with mandate himself, Jonathan Gruber on the phone about that two-year-old
quote that`s getting all the attention. He spoke to Ms. Vic (ph).
Jonathan joins us this morning. So, Jonathan, let`s just start on that
point because in the immediate wake of the ruling this week about the state
exchanges, one of the - sort of the counter arguments that was made was,
hey, look, you know, in the years since this has been passed, nobody`s
talked about this issue of a state opting out and, therefore, you know, you
can`t pay federal subsidies to that state. Nobody`s mentioned that. Then
it turns out in this video that Jonathan Gruber, the architect of the law
in Massachusetts and sort of nationally, had talked in those terms. You`ve
spoken to him. Are you satisfied that this was just him misspeaking?
COHEN: Yeah, I mean, look, I don`t know what John Gruber was thinking at
the time. And I asked John Gruber and john Gruber said John Gruber doesn`t
know what John Gruber was thinking at the time. He obviously said it. He
said it more than once. So, you know, one possibility is that for, you
know, some period of time he was under that impression. It`s hard to
explain. I don`t know the answer. I don`t know what he was thinking. I
do believe he is being honest and he makes the point appropriately that at
the time he was doing projections of the impact of Obamacare. How many
people would get coverage? And this was a time when states - several
states had already made clear they were not going to build these exchanges
and his projections assumed that everybody would be getting the tax
credits. So, it doesn`t make a lot of sense. I don`t know why he said
that. He doesn`t know why he said that. But I do take him at his word
when he says, that this is what he thinks.
KORNACKI: So, the thing that is at the root of all this, everybody is
saying when this law was written and if we heard- man, if we can go back in
time to 2010 and remember, all the Republicans saying it is 2,800 pages and
remember, they had that health care summit at the White House and the
Republicans made the show of bringing all these thick books with them and
everything. So, somewhere in those thousands of pages there was, you know,
evidently, a mistake was essentially made that created the possibility for
a court to look at this and say, hey, if you`re a state and you don`t set
up your own exchange, therefore you can`t come at these federal subsidies
can`t come into this state. Do we have a sense how that mistake was made?
COHEN: You know, nobody does. And I think the easiest, simplest
explanation, most obvious explanation is that mistakes do get made when
writing legislation. It happens, it happens all the time. Usually what
happens is once the bill is passed they do a series of what it`s called
technical corrections. Because you know, when you`re writing a bill the
people, the members of Congress say we want to do X and it has to be
translated into legal language. There`s an office that does that. You
know, there is going to be mistakes made. Something is going to get
mistranslated and typically you go back afterwards and fix things. The
environment has become so polarized, it is so difficult to do anything in
Congress that there was never really a chance to do those technical
corrections. I think this was just a mistake, although, again, I think
it`s important to realize that if you read in the context of the law, you
read that passage properly, you read what people said at the time, I really
don`t think there is ambiguity of what the intent here was. I think it`s
very clear that the people in the room who corrected this law, the people
who voted for the law, and the people whose opinion counts wanted everybody
to get tax assistance, to get these tax credits to help them buy insurance
no matter what decision their state officials made.
KORNACKI: Yeah, no, I agree with you there. And again, just based on, you
know, what we heard for three years, really from everybody. I mean that
includes Republicans - I haven`t heard Republican opponents of the law
talking about this being an issue really, until this week. So, that`s why
that Gruber thing threw me, and I think threw a lot of people so much. But
so let me ask you, we have got these two conflicting rulings this week.
Where does that mean the law stands right now and what is next? Does this
mean that the Supreme Court is going to have to weigh in again on this?
And so, where does the law stand right now with these two conflicting
COHEN: So, the rulings were each by, you know, the way the circuit courts
work as they have a whole bunch of judges. And when you have a hearing
three judges are picked up to hear the case. You are allowed to then
appeal to the entire court. If you don`t like the ruling. The
administration has appealed the ruling that went against it to the full,
the full circuit court. Most legal experts seem to think the circuit court
will probably reverse the decision. So, it`s quite possible. Now, it will
take some time, it`s quite possible a year from now we`ll have a situation
where there have been two rulings at the circuit court level, both
basically upholding the law and rejecting this lawsuit. If that`s the
case, the Supreme Court may or may not take the case. We don`t know. It
says, you know, it`s one of the things we`re just going to have to wait and
KORNACKI: All right, we thought that court drama ended two years ago,
maybe not. Still, once again, it`s back in the court. But thanks to
Jonathan Cohen with "Then New Republic". I appreciate the time this
morning. We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: All right. This is the end of our "UP" in Washington, D.C.
weekend. It was a great weekend. Thank our special D.C. guests who joined
us. We have Chuck Todd, Lynn Sweet, Robert Costa, Nat (ph) Cohen, April
Ryan, Michael Steele, Evan McMorris-Santoro. Really appreciated them
coming here. Thank you for joining us this weekend, too. We`ll see you
back in New York next weekend. Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern
time. But up next is Melissa Harris-Perry. Today, on MHP, the pattern of
the police. The New York Surrounding Block fathers and Rand Paul speaking
to the National Urban League. Nerdland is jampacked today. So, get some
extra coffee and get comfortable because Melissa is next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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