'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, August 31st, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
August 31, 2014
Guest: Jack Jacobs, Marc Ginsberg, Ed Husain, Patrick Murphy, Wade Davis,
GabI Domenzain, Blake Zeff, David Heller, Bernie Sanders, Andy Kroll, Bill
Scher, Greisa Martinez, Erika Andiola, Juliet Eilprin, Bradley Horton
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning. I`m Jonathan Capehart
sitting in for Steve Kornacki. Thanks for getting up with us. Late word
from the Pentagon last night that the U.S. conducted airstrikes against
ISIS militants near the Iraqi city of Amerli. They say the airstrikes made
it possible to drop aid packages to the civilians in Amerli. That city has
been under siege for two months cutting of the city from food, water and
medical supplies. When relief helicopters have been able to land, they
have been besieged by people grasping for the aid packages. At the same
time, the campaign of terror by ISIS continues. Members of the group had
beheaded a Lebanese soldier taken this month when militants seized a
Lebanese border town near Syria. A video of the beheading was posted on
the Internet yesterday. President Obama took to the White House briefing
room ahead of this holiday weekend for an impromptu press conference about
the situation in Syria and Iraq. But he didn`t just want to talk to the
press. He wanted to slow them down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don`t want to
put the cart before the horse. We don`t have a strategy yet. I think what
I`ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a
little further ahead of where we`re at than we currently are. And I think
that`s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military as well.
We need to make sure that we have got clear plans, that we`re developing
them. At that point I will consult with Congress and make sure that their
voices are heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: We don`t have a strategy yet is a phrase that caught many by
surprise. While the president confirmed he had asked Secretary of Defense
Chuck Hagel to prepare a range of options to strike the terror group ISIS
within Syria, he said he has not seen those plans yet. At the same time he
said he was sending Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East to
build an international coalition. The same day Senator Rand Paul took to
the op-ed pages of the "Wall Street Journal" to remind those banging the
drums for war that the last time intervention in Syria was being considered
it was to take out Bashar al Assad`s regime, a move he said would have
aided a collection of Syrian rebel groups that includes ISIS. He writes,
quote, "Some said it would have - it would be catastrophic if we fail to
strike Syria. What they were advocating for them, striking down Assad`s
regime, would have made our current situation even worse as it would have
eliminated the only regional counter weight to the ISIS threat. Paul
concludes the Islamic state represents a threat that should be taken
seriously, that we should also recall how recent foreign policy decisions
have helped these extremists so that we don`t make the same mistake of
potentially aiding our enemies again. Everyone agrees that we must do
something to stop ISIS`s terrifying advance. But there are more than just
two possibilities, to launch air strikes or do nothing. There are other
choices other than military options. But what are the other policy options
on the table? If this is a political problem, as President Obama has said,
what`s the political solution?
Joining me now is Ed Hussein, senior fellow at the council on foreign
relations, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Mark Ginsburg, who was also a
White House Middle East policy adviser, former congressman Patrick Murphy,
who was the first Iraq war veteran to serve in Congress. And medal of
honor recipient and MSNBC News military analyst Colonel Jack Jacobs. Thank
you all for being here.
Ed, as we`ve learned from past involvement in the Middle East, there can be
unintended consequences of helping one group over another amid regional
conflict, consequences which can then come back to work against our
interests. What are possible unintended consequences of striking ISIS?
ED HUSAIN, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Thank you for your question,
Jonathan. I think the most important unintended consequence for striking
ISIS would be the narrative of ISIS that we would end up strengthening.
ISIS and al-Qaeda and a whole host of other ideologically similar groups -
and this is about ideology more than operations -- want nothing more to
draw in the United States and its allies, by allies I mean the Europeans in
particular to this context and to this conflict, allowing them to then say
the Islamic state was destroyed again by the West because they hark back to
1924, they hark back to previous Islamic states, 24 being the destruction
of the caliphate, the ultimate empire in Turkey. And allegedly that was
destroyed by the West. So, whether that`s true or not, it doesn`t matter.
But we don`t want to add to the narrative allowing them to then recruit
more extremists into the cause because the thing that we forget often I
think that killing or destroying ISIS is not the way forward. We killed
Osama bin Laden hoping that would eliminate terrorism. We have got a worse
problem now. With Hamas we killed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 2005, we have the
stronger Hamas now. So, the evidence doesn`t go in our favor of
destruction leading to the - the elimination, if you like, of this threat.
This is an ideological threat. These people are encouraged by a mindset
and narrative. And unless in the medium to long term we puncture that
philosophy, that outlook, that brand, that interpretation of history and
theology and politics -- which incidentally can be done because the vast
majority of Muslims who stand against them are still by and large in line
with what we consider to be universal values and want the goodness and the
prosperity and the wellness that Europe and America has offered in the
past. So, unless we get to that issue, I fear that just trying to attack
through airstrikes, ISIS will end up strengthening them and we will see a
monster that will be worse than what we`ve seen in the last several months.
CAPEHART: Colonel Jack, let me turn you to an op Ed in yesterday`s "New
York Times" by Secretary of State John Kerry. He writes, "In a polarized
region and a complicated world, the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria
presents a unifying threat to a broad array of countries including the
United States. What`s needed to confront its nihilistic vision and
genocidal agenda is a global coalition using political, humanitarian,
economic, law enforcement and intelligence tools to support military force.
Is that going to work?
COL. Jack JACOBS, MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT: It would work, and I`d like to
say we can accomplish that. But it doesn`t look like we can. Thinking
about what Ed just said, Ed folds into exactly what that op Ed says. But
you know, we`ve heard absolutely nothing from those who are even at greater
risk than we are, notably the Arab states. We`ve heard nothing about -
from them about all this, and they`re really at risk, and it`s interesting
to note that in the end we would wind up being, whatever we would do, we
would wind up being allies on the ground or in the air of Bashar al Assad
which is exactly the opposite of what we were thinking before. And it`s
also interesting to remember that airstrikes alone, tactically are not
going to do anything. At the end of the day, you really have to have, you
really do have to have a strategy. The military instrument of power is
only one of those things that can achieve it. And just bombing people
alone is not good enough. Even from a military standpoint on the ground,
just exploding projectiles doesn`t seize and hold terrain, and it`s all
about seizing and holding terrain for that. You need people on the ground,
not ours necessarily, but you do need people on the ground.
Ambassador Ginsberg, let me get your view on all this.
MARC GINSBERG, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR: Well, as I listen to Colonel Jack who
I totally agree with, the fact of the matter is that I ran an Arab language
television production company for 12 years after 9/11 to try to get to the
root cause of this theological jihadi support that was generated after 9/11
in the Arab world. And the fact of the matter is, is that here we are at
jihadi ideology 2.0 which is more virulent. Just think of - there is at
least by estimates, Jonathan, over 1,000 of Jihadis who`ve made their way
from Great Britain and as well as from the United States, 100 or so, and
which our own government claims to be in a search to be a direct threat to
the Homeland Security of the United States, and the fact of the matter is
that the major problem here is that there has been no ideological
reformation between Shiite and Sunni Islam, most of these people who are
responding, and I spent four hours watching ISIS`s websites the other day
as part of a field guide to ISIS that I wrote in the "Huffington Post".
And it`s quite clear that what drives these people to support them and what
is giving them money is this hatred that exists between Sunni and Shiite
that most Americans will never understand and never comprehend with good
reason. And so, let`s also understand that while Ed may be right about
ISIS and not attacking ISIS because it may inflame the situation further,
let`s also understand that these SOBs are engaged in genocide against
Christians and others right now. And we shouldn`t be sitting back and
looking at this as some theoretical challenge. And it`s not for us to put
boots on the ground, but maybe socks on the ground.
CAPEHART: Hey, Patrick, former Congressman Murphy, have you been able to
get a sense of how Iraq veterans community feels about taking on ISIS, the
possibility of another uncertain and maybe unlimited engagement?
FMR. REP. PATRICK MURPHY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I think there`s a lot of
concern, Jonathan, on mission creep. But I will tell you I`m more hopeful
than the other panelists here. I mean what you saw within the last few
hours in Amerli is the fact that it was Iraqi troops on the ground retaking
the city that ISIS captured in mid-June. So, when you got rid of the prime
minister in Iraq now, he is out now, and you have Sunnis within Iraq saying
that they`re a part of the government there, that`s why they`re now picking
up rifles that they put down just months ago. And I will tell you this is
a jump ball. As the ambassador just said, as a jump ball, we`re talking
about 20 million Sunnis from Damascus to Baghdad that we want to make sure
not to go into the extreme ISIS organization. We want them to remain
moderate Sunnis that are going to work with the Shia and the Kurds in Iraq
and hopefully eventually in Syria although that`s a whole other can of
CAPEHART: Ed and then Marc. Colonel Jack said something that I think we
should talk a little bit more about. And that is, where are the Arab
states in all of this? I mean everyone is looking to the United States for
leadership. But this is happening in -- right in their backyard. Where
HUSAIN: Great question. Firstly, yesterday the GCC countries, the Gulf
Cooperation Countries met yesterday and issued a strong condemnation and
urged unity among themselves because there`s been disunity between Qatar on
the one hand and Saudi Arabia and these allies on the other. We`ve seen
that. We`ve seen the Egyptians grand mufti of al-Azhar come out and make a
statement against ISIS. We`ve seen the Moroccans do similar, we`ve seen
the Turks, another powerful broker in the region make similar noises. But
- and there`s a big but. There`s a culture of reliance on America across
the Middle East. And the West by and large has helped foster that culture
by a whole host of measures in the last kind of six decades where it`s been
expected that every time there`s a problem in the region, America would
come and bail out, in the language of the president in his interview to Tom
Friedman in "The New York Times" three weeks ago, and that culture of
expecting America to come and do the heavy lifting continues to reside in
the region. And therefore, there`s a laziness in trying to take action
themselves. Now that said, Ambassador Ginsberg makes an important issue
about the Sunni-Shia conflict within Islam and in particular the Middle
But again, we must be candid in our analysis and admit to the fact that
before the push by Saudi Arabia on the one hand and by Iran on the other
hand of different brands of Islam, for the last thousand years within the
Middle East there was relative peace under the Ottomans. And I think
therein lies the answer that a greater regional union is needed in order to
respond to these regional challenges. We are not going to beat al Qaeda or
ISIS by approaching this on a state-by-state basis. Almost every problem
in the Middle East is a regional problem, be it water shortage, refugee
crisis, terrorism. And unless we push for a European Union style model
across the Middle East, whether there`s a rotating presidency, whether
there`s a common security policy, we will continue to behind the headlines
and responding rather than setting the agenda and trying to eliminate the
threats, but also raise people up economically across the region.
CAPEHART: Marc, I want to get your remarks in. And Colonel Jack has a
question for Ed. But we have got to take a break. We`ll continue the
conversation on the other side.
CAPEHART: Welcome back to "UP with Steve Kornacki." We`ve been talking
about Iraq and ISIS. And before we went to break, Ed Husain was talking
about -- answering my question about where are the Arab states. Ambassador
Ginsberg, I also asked you the same question. I wanted you to give your
response. And then Colonel Jack has a question for Ed Husain. Go ahead.
GINSBERG: Let me put some facts on the ground. One of the major sources
of revenue right now for ISIS is the crude oil that it`s captured and which
it`s using and tankering across the border into Turkey. Turkey has
probably more influence than any so-called Middle East state, it`s not an
Arab state, to help suffocate some of the oxygen that ISIS has. First of
all, it`s stopping many of these Jihadis who were flying in to Ankara from
Europe to join the flight. They need to seal that border more effectively.
Number two, they need to stop that tanker traffic that`s giving them more
revenue. Number three, Qatar and Saudi clerics have been funding and
supporting ISIS. And let`s also understand ISIS was a creation, in part,
of the Assad regime as a way of defeating the more secular Syrians. Now,
ultimately it`s going to take a reconstituted Iraq army, Jonathan, as well
as Turkey to be able to challenge ISIS more effectively. It shouldn`t be
the United States putting boots on the ground. But in the end, as Ed and
others have suggested, in many respects it`s going to take American
leadership to try to galvanize these countries. They`ve been playing
footsie with ISIS too long, particularly the Saudis and the Qataris and the
Kuwaitis. And let`s not understand. On the one hand, we keep talking or
Kerry keeps talking about this grand coalition, but all of us know that in
many respects these very countries have been playing, in effect, funding
CAPEHART: Colonel Jack, I think your question is related to the .
JACOBS: Leave it to the ambassador to steal my question. And it revolves
around the Turks. And this was going to be for Ed who knows the region
better than most folks. Isn`t it true that we need to get the Turks, who
were - the 800-pound gorilla in the region to start doing something, to be
the center of the coalition? How can we get? I mean is that a fact? Are
they the guys to actually lead a regional coalition to get this done and
can we encourage -- how can we encourage them to get it done?
CAPEHART: That`s an excellent question. Excellent question, colonel.
There`s difficulty in the Middle East at the moment and that`s a lack of
leadership. The Turks, the Ottomans played that role for the last 700
years. For the last eight years they`ve been marginalized as a result of
the history, war and whatnot. Now the difficulty is that Saudi Arabia and
Turkey are at loggerheads because they`re both contesting for regional
influence over what kind of religion prevails in the Middle East. Now,
what we can see with Turkey, a NATO ally, country we support, and I think
we should continue to support more, is that it has a form of religion
that`s both secular and pious, both modern and traditional at the same
time. That`s the form of Islam that the Saudis seem to be a threat. We
should be supporting the Turks to try and export, if you like, that form of
Islam that isn`t necessarily sectarian. What we`ve seen from our Saudi
allies an attempt to block that by what`s going on inside Egypt and the
overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood. That politics, the difficulty in
Egypt has made this paralysis throughout the region where two of our
closest allies, i.e. Turkey and Saudi Arabia cannot cooperate to over throw
their common enemy, our common enemy al Qaeda and ISIS.
Now, unless the U.S. gets involved in terms of leadership, soft power,
strategic direction and where necessary some funding and providing lots of
face time - diplomatic face time, I`m afraid we cannot rely on Turkey and
Saudi Arabia to break the deadlock on their own. And that`s why the U.S.
role for leadership more than anything else is absolutely vital now. And
that leadership requires regional influence and not just country by
country, but thinking in terms of what we can do to bring the Arabs and
Turks closer together across the region by way of a greater regional union,
if you`d like, rather than trying to fight one battle at a time one day at
CAPEHART: Patrick, what about that, that this appetite here in the United
States for America getting involved in yet another conflict in the Middle
East? Is there any appetite at all, do you think, among your former
colleagues on Capitol Hill?
MURPHY: There`s not an appetite, Jonathan. And that`s why you`re going to
see a lot of the debate shift in Washington on the AUMF, the authorization
of use of military force. Because that needs to be looked at. Senator Tim
Kaine and my former colleague Adam Schiff out of California are really
leading the charge. And Congress can`t have it both ways. They can`t say,
hey, defend us, don`t let ISIS hurt us here in the homeland, but we don`t
want to do anything. Because frankly, come October 7TH, and that`s the
date, October 7, that the war powers resolution will expire and Congress
needs to step up and give the president the authority to act. Now, I will
say in the earlier conversations, I think it`s an important point,
Jonathan, yes, the Middle East countries, it is a moment of truth for them
to step up, to get rid of terrorist organization like we`ve seen no other
in ISIS. But it`s also important that this week NATO is meeting, they have
a summit in Wales where we need those European countries that are also at
threat. When you look at Great Britain right now, they are under high
security because they think that there`s a terrorist attack in their
country that`s going to be eminent.
Most Americans, though, don`t feel that ISIS is an ex-general threat here
in the homeland of the United States. Yes, they were a threat to our
assets in northern Iraq, in Erbil. Yes, and our - assets in Baghdad and
the State Department and in the airport. But we need to make sure they
don`t grow where they become a threat here to hurt our families. And
that`s why I would agree with the ambassador, we need American leadership
in the full spectrum of American power. And that doesn`t just mean
military power. That means economic and diplomatic power and leadership to
make sure this moment of truth goes our way and how it should be against
ISIS in the world community.
CAPEHART: This has been a great conversation. My thanks to Colonel Jack
Jacobs, Ed Husain of the Council on Foreign Relations and former ambassador
Marc Ginsberg, thank you all for joining me this morning.
GINSBERG: You are welcome.
CAPEHART: Coming up, Michael Sam makes history whether or not he makes the
team. That`s next.
CAPEHART: Michael Sam has already made the history books. That much is
guaranteed. In May he became the first openly gay player to be drafted by
the NFL. And yesterday he became the first openly gay player to be cut by
a team. Sam was a late round draft pick and at 4:00 yesterday afternoon,
he was released by the St. Louis Rams. The team`s head coach said the
decision had nothing to do with sexuality that it was entirely about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COACH JEFF FISHER, ST. LOUIS RAMS: It`s been all about football. You
know, I will tell you this, I was pulling for Mike, I really was. And I
don`t say that very often.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us what Mike`s reaction was?
FISHER: He said yes, sir, and he said I understand. He said thanks for
the opportunity. And I said Michael, I`m looking forward to visiting with
you tomorrow, because I am, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Some, if not many have questioned whether an openly gay player
would be welcome in the locker rooms of the NFL. And whether the media and
hype surrounding such a player would prove to be an unwelcome distraction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: There was no distraction. If someone perceived or thought there
may be a distraction, they weren`t in the building. And that`s the - and
I`ve been saying that all along. This was a football decision. Mike fit
in very, very well. He was fun to be around. He was a good teammate.
There was just - it was no issue there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: In a series of tweets Michael Sam thanked the entire Rams
organization and the city of St. Louis for giving him this tremendous
opportunity and for allowing him to show he could play at the professional
level. He plans to build on the progress he made in training camp towards
a long and successful career. Quoting him further, "The most worthwhile
things in life rarely come easy. This is a lesson I`ve always known. The
journey continues. 24-year-old Michael Sam now has until this afternoon to
sign with another team. And if that doesn`t happen, there`s a chance he
could be on the Rams practice squad. The coach of the Rams says he
believes Sam will be successful no matter his next step.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: There will be no challenges, no challenges whatsoever. He`s not
about drawing attention to himself, you know, he just - he kept his head
down and he worked. And you can`t ask anything more out of any player for
that matter. But there`s no challenges with respect to Mike Sam and the
second opportunity that lies ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Wade Davis spent four years in the NFL, never advancing past the
practice squad and maybe, writes "the Washington Post," that was because
rather than focusing on improving, he saw only the things that might out
him. When his pro career ended due to an injury, Wade Davis came out to
his friends. He is now the executive director of the "You Can Play,"
project, a group that works to remove homophobia from sports. And for the
past year, he`s been working with the NFL and with Michael Sam himself to
prepare for the league`s first openly gay player. And he joins us live by
phone this morning. Wade Davis, thank you very much for making the time to
join us this morning. I want to begin by asking you -- you`ve had a chance
to speak with Michael Sam since yesterday`s announcement that he had been
cut. What counsel did you give him and what will you tell him when you do
get a chance to speak with him?
WADE DAVIS, FMR. NFL PLAYER & EXECUTIVE DIRECOT OF YOU CAN PLAY PROJECT:
Well, Jonathan, how are you doing this morning?
CAPEHART: Good, thanks.
DAVIS: As someone who has been cut, also, it would be completely
inappropriate for me to reach out to Mike right now. You know, when I was
cut by Coach Fisher and a couple of other teams wants, you know, I didn`t
want anyone to call me and ask me any questions. I`m going to leave
Michael alone for a while and just keep my fingers crossed that he`s either
going to be picked up by another team or that the Rams will put him on
their practice squad.
CAPEHART: Now, how much of this, the decision to cut Michael Sam had to do
with his performance? I remember doing the scouting combine he didn`t do
very well. From what I read in terms of the preseason, he had 11 tackles
and three sacks. In the last game of the preseason, here the team high of
six tackles in that last performance. I think we saw something in our
first clip from the coach that this was about football. Do you agree with
that? Was it about football, about his performance?
DAVIS: Yes. Actually on Monday I spent the entire day with the Rams and
their coaching staff, and I wrote an op-ed - because I really wanted to
kind of educate people on the process, you know, that when the Rams start
training camp, they have 90 guys. And out of those 90 only 53 can make the
active roster. But most teams were like the rams who are building, who
actually have a pretty set squad, only they already know the 45 players who
are going to actually probably make that actual roster. That leaves eight
spots for 45 guys. I mean and the percentages, they aren`t great. And
Michael Sam has played great. But there are good players who don`t
actually make active rosters just because it`s really a numbers game. And,
you know, from I know Coach Fisher well, I`m one of their other coaches,
was a college teammate of mine. And, you know, it was really a wonderful
opportunity to watch Michael work and practice, watch the camaraderie with
the guys that he had. And I truly believe that it was a football decision.
CAPEHART: So you agree, you believe Coach Fisher when he says that none of
this had to do with NFL culture or the locker room?
DAVIS: No, you know, it was really great just to be -- I spent two
separate times with the Rams. And the first time that I visited there I
was really to talk to the players about what`s it like to be a gay man.
And the first questions that they asked me after I got done speaking to the
team was, how do we make sure that Michael Sam fits in on this team as
comfortably as possible. So, the guys were really wanting to know, like,
hey, like how can I show up as a brother, as a family member for Michael
Sam. And I found that really refreshing. And then a couple of months
later when I visited it the second time, you could really see that they
were a team, AKA, a family.
CAPEHART: You know, wait, Michael Sam`s jerseys have been the second best-
selling among Rookies this season. Will that influence teams in deciding
whether to pick him up and should it?
DAVIS: I don`t think it should. You know, any athlete worth their weight
doesn`t want to be on a team just because they are for a sideshow, quote,
unquote. Michael Sam has proven that he can play in this league and I
believe that some team will give him a chance to prove that.
CAPEHART: So if another offer doesn`t come his way today, do you think
Michael Sam will sign with the Rams practice squad? And do you believe
that`s the right move for him?
DAVIS: I don`t believe that it`s the right move for him to not go on an
active roster. But I do believe also as coach Fisher said, that Mike needs
some more snaps. You know, having a chance to watch him to do all the four
preseason games, there`s still a lot that he and many other players have to
learn. You know, and I`m just really excited for the next, you know, I
would say three to four years of Mike`s career, as he goes from a guy who
was probably a practice squad guy to a 50, you know, to a guy at the bottom
of the roster, to a guy who`s playing every day on Sundays.
CAPEHART: You know, in all of the hype of Michael`s announcement and being
drafted and the Oprah show there for a while, did everyone lose sight of
the fact that he always had a difficult road ahead just making the team?
DAVIS: I really think so. You know, I would hope that this process has
really educated everyone on how hard it truly is to make an NFL team. You
know, Michael Sam is the one percent of the one percent. You know, and I
really think that really beauty of what Michael Sam has done, is like he`s
kind of disturbed our tightly held myths around what it means to be an NFL
player, what it means to be a man. And I would hope that people start to
reimagine who -- what the LGBT community brings and that athletes are
actually uniquely positioned to be able to accept someone who is, quote,
unquote, different. And I think that you find with Michael Sam and
Missouri and with the Rams that he handled this flawlessly but his - but
also that his teammates handled this flawlessly as well.
CAPEHART: Wade Davis, former NFL professional player and head of "You Can
Play," thank you so much for joining us this morning.
DAVIS: Thank you for having me, Jonathan.
CAPEHART: Still ahead, the shined reserved side of Vice President Joe
Biden. We`ll explain next.
CAPEHART: My pick for the most underestimated 2016 presidential candidate
is the one you see and hear about the least. And we learned this week
through some secretive fundraisers that it`s likely that`s intentional. A
report in Politico pulls back the curtain on the vice president`s outings
for Democratic candidates. Biden has done more than two dozen events for
Democrats around the country. They are never done through a Biden pack,
always through the campaigns he`s raising money for. Biden doesn`t even
send out invitations to photo lines which he usually does at appearances,
and he only makes brief remarks. These are the kinds of tips that build
good will with the Democratic Party faithful, the kind of good will that
can come in handy if you`re running for office. Here is something else
that might come in handy, Joe Biden`s ability to negotiate with his former
colleagues on Capitol Hill. There`s been lots of complaining recently
about President Obama`s relationship with Congress. But let`s remember
that he`s got a lot of significant and controversial pieces of legislation
through with a big assist from the number two whose cited Lyndon Johnson as
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He really knew how the
system worked. He was able to be a significant facilitator of the new
frontier, new policy. People in the Congress knew him, knew he knew a lot.
And so I hope one of my roles as vice president will be as the person
actually implementing Barack Obama`s policy. You`ve got to get the
Congress to go along with it. And I, presumptuous of me to say, but I know
it pretty well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: So, now it`s six years later, and our attention is turning to
the next presidential election. But does the vice president really want
that attention? Joining us once again is MSNBC contributor and former
Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy as well as Salon
politics editor and former aide to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama Blake
Zeff and Democratic strategist GabI Domenzain, former director of Hispanic
Press for Obama for America. So, my first questions to all of you is, and
this is serious questions. Do you think Joe Biden is running? Gabi?
GABI DOMENZAIN, OBAMA 2012 SPOKESPERSON: I mean I think that he`s always
expressed interest, obviously, right. We were talking backstage and
somebody was saying how he`s the guy on the waiting list for college,
right, and waiting to get in. I mean he has incredible, as you said,
congressional relationships, incredible foreign policy experience. It`s
more about is Hillary Clinton running than it is about is Joe Biden
BLAKE ZEFF, SALON: I mean look, if you were a senator from the time you
were 29 years old and you basically already had that, you know, credential
that you need to run for president and you clearly want to be president and
you`ve run in the `80s and you ran 20 years later after that, clearly the
guys wants to be president. He`s now the vice president of the United
States, he`s a step away from it. It`s clear that he wants to run. The
question I think as Gabi said is what will the other field look like? But
there`s no doubt that Joe Biden is trying to collect those little chits
that you need to curry favor with the party to prepare for the possibility
that he may be running.
CAPEHART: Patrick, what do you think?
MURPHY: Hell, yes, Jonathan. Let me tell you something.
MURPHY: Joe Biden understands that we`re 65 days today from the midterm
elections which controls Congress, which is a critical (ph) branch of our
government. And let me tell you something else, if you want to change
Washington, you have to change who you send to Washington. So, that`s why
Joe Biden is in Michigan helping people like Bobby McKenzie and in New
Jersey helping people like Aimee Belgard, and Box County, Pennsylvania,
helping people like Kevin Strouse, because he gets it. And then we tell
you something else. Where are the other presidential candidates in 2016?
There are viewers out there, these political junkies that we talk to need
to get their heads out of the fourth point of contact and understand we`re
65 days away, we should be asking why aren`t more folks helping out these
senators and these congressional candidates because these elections are
just as important as 2016.
CAPEHART: Wow, Patrick!
CAPEHART: I believe Joe Biden is probably running. Now, why is the vice
president being so secretive about these fund-raisers he`s holding,
especially while others like Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley are making a
lot of noises about their efforts to help Democratic candidates?
ZEFF: There are a couple of theories about this. One theory is that, you
know, the reality is in certain districts and in certain states, right now
the Obama administration is not at its most popular. It`s not at its pick.
And so, for some candidates it`s just - it`s great to have the money that
you get from a fundraiser, a big ticket person like Joe Biden, but without
having a kind of heavy association. So, for example, if you have a picture
of the candidate with Biden that can potentially be used against them in a
swing district. For example, you may remember, Joe Lieberman had a picture
where he was like hugging and kissing George Bush years ago, and that was
used against him in a Democratic primary.
So, you know, people try to avoid these types of associations while getting
the benefit of it. The other thing is that, you know, there are a couple
of theories here. Another theory is that perhaps Joe Biden wants to kind
of stay low profile about it because he gets tons of requests and he can`t
do it for every candidate. But does it so if he kind of keeps quiet, when
he does it for others. It`s not hurting the feelings of others. There are
a couple of things going on here.
DOMENZAIN: I think you want to be the story. I think you want to be the
fundraiser, right? So, when candidates are in need, you come in. I mean
there`s some of it - the political story talked about him doing stuff in
airports and these clandestine locations, right, for what Blake was saying.
So I think it`s - it`s one of those - he`s an incredible foot soldier for
the president right now. If I were Joe Biden, I would be hoping that the
president`s full numbers goes up. Because if I want to run for president,
I`m going to have to distance myself from the man that I was very, very
loyal to for eight years, much later than everybody else, right? That`s
what the media is looking at right now. Is Hillary distancing herself from
the president on all these issues, et cetera, et cetera? So, I think
that`s the case right now.
CAPEHART: And Patrick, let`s talk about the, you know, a lot has been made
about the president`s rocky relationship with Congress, and we all know, as
I said in the intro, Vice President Biden has been instrumental in helping
the president get things passed. So, is Joe Biden the invisible hand of
slapping backs of folks in Congress?
MURPHY: Yeah, listen, he`s loved in the Senate, obviously, where he spent
decades serving and also in the house where he also served as well. So,
people love him. And I will tell you more importantly, people want them in
their districts, people want them to go to rallies. They don`t want them
just in the airports. They hope the vice president can come to places like
Bucks County, Pennsylvania and Michigan and New Jersey because most folks
see him for who he is. He`s a team player. He believes in a cause, he
believes in democratic values and is willing to fight for them. And that`s
the authenticity that people like. Does he have gaffs every once in a
while? Yes. But people say that happens, that happens. They know where
his heart is. And that`s what people are dying to see. And that`s why
most importantly these candidates want him now with 65 days to go until the
CAPEHART: Everybody loves Uncle Joe.
Still ahead, the end of summer can mean only one thing, the start of attack
ad season. We`ll tell you how to prepare for the incoming assault next.
CAPEHART: It`s almost Labor Day, what was once the traditional beginning
of campaign season in American politics, except things have changed.
Campaigns start earlier and earlier. But there`s one thing Labor Day still
brings, the beginning of attack ad season. As voters start paying
attention and campaigns get truly desperate, the airwaves after Labor Day
go right down the tubes. And you know what, this is a pretty long-standing
tradition. If you tuned in to NBC 50 years ago this Thursday, chances are
you were shocked, maybe even frightened by what you saw. It was a one-
minute ad from President Johnson`s re-election campaign. It aired once and
never again and has lived in infamy ever since.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Eight, nine. --
ANNOUNCER: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.
These are the stakes, to make a world in which all of God`s children can
ANNOUNCER: Vote for President Johnson on November 3. The stakes are too
high for you to stay home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: The 60 seconds of the daisy ad was the first modern attack ad.
And ever since ads have been crossing the line. Just this week Democratic
Senator Mark Pryor accused his opponent of leaving the United States
vulnerable to a pandemic like Ebola. And the Republican U.S. Senate
nominee in New Mexico is using an image from the James Foley video to
attack his opponent. It begins with the clip of the Democratic incumbent
Senator Tom Udall praising the administration`s foreign policy. As his
voice echoes, the screen shows the ISIS militant. Attack ads are serious
business. We know a lot is at stake, but does making shows the black
hooded knife wielding ISIS militant.
Attack ads are serious business, an ugly business. We know that a lot is
at stake at November`s elections, but does making one`s case always have to
be so icky? Here to discuss we have Salon - Salon politics editor Blake
Zeff. Usually I get the names messed up, not the title. And joining us
now Dave Heller, a Democratic political consultant and ad maker and, of
course, Democratic strategist Gabi Domenzain is still with us. I want to
start at the beginning with Dave and creating an ad, an attack ad. What do
you tell your clients about how they should go about them?
DAVID HELLER, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: The most important thing is that it be
believable. The second most important thing is that it be factually based,
and the third most important thing is that it resonates with the voters
that you`re trying to persuade. You want to focus not so much on who your
supporters are and who your opponent supporters are, but who are those
people right in the middle, the undecided in this slightly leanings both
directions, that you can either firm up and solidify or that you can pull
over to your side.
CAPEHART: And how do you prepare them for their risks?
HELLER: Well, there shouldn`t be very many risks if they`re done right.
You know, if you have something that`s totally factual, that`s grounded in
the record, that`s not personal, but it`s professional and it`s true,
there`s not very much risk.
CAPEHART: Have you ever had an attack ad where the reaction to it was not
what you were expecting, but you`ve got the facts on your side and you
prepare for whatever, but the reaction goes completely counter to what you
thought it would be negatively?
HELLER: No, fortunately, no. I`ve seen that, but, no, I`ve never had
CAPEHART: Well, you know, attack ads as we know, are about making
contrasts. And I often think about the 1980 Jesse Helms ad in the North
Carolina race against Harvey Gantt. I think we have that. Let`s take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: John Yarmuth, he plays golf with Saddam Hussein and snatches
toys away from little children. Ridiculous? No more so than Ann Northrop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Obviously that is not the Harvey Gantt crumpled paper ad. But
that was the one where the Jesse Helms` character says "You needed that
HELLER: That was an ad that I made, for John Yarmuth, the congressman from
CAPEHART: The one that was .
HELLER: That was - yeah. Northrop had come up with a 60-second hodgepodge
of all these negative attacks, many of them completely untrue, attacking
John Yarmuth and .
CAPEHART: There`s the ad that .
HELLER: And that was that we wanted to show before.
CAPEHART: But keep talking about the Yarmuth ad.
CAPEHART: So, that ad was one that we used to just utterly disgrace all of
her negative attacks and help John win a district that had been Democratic
- pardon me, had been Republican for the past ten years.
CAPEHART: So, as - did you want to jump in Gabi?
DOMENZAIN: Well, I was thinking about the backlash part.
DOMENZAIN: And when I think of that, I think of Sharron Angle against
Harry Reid in 2010 when she runs what was known as - called the most racist
ad in history, when she has, you know, scary looking Mexicans cutting a
fence and creeping at night into our country and what this forced Reid to
do, which he would have done anyway, because it`s on the right side of this
issue, is double down on the Dream Act, double down on comprehensive
DOMENZAIN: And mobilized all the dreamers that even though they couldn`t
vote, they could get people to vote and Latinos kept the Senate majority
for the Democrats. So, it could definitely, definitely, back - you know,
backlash on you.
CAPEHART: There was another ad that I know you wanted to talk about in
DOMENZAIN: The Alaska one. Again, where there`s, you know, the Republican
candidate has these faces of MS 13 gang members and saying, you know, the
Democrats want these people to vote.
DOMENZAIN: And Alaska is a tricky situation, right? Because even though
it`s - I think it`s really ripe for people understanding what comprehensive
immigration reform and - Latinos are - I mean seasonal workers in Alaska
are mostly Mexican. The people get our - and - and all that stuff, right?
So, it`s right. But that hasn`t been a community that has been developed,
which is obviously why he`s running those things, and obviously why they
don`t want the president visiting because he`s, you know, about to maybe
announce something on executive action. So, that`s more I think where
you`re going, is finding your audience, targeting them, pulling them,
testing the message and then going with them.
HELLER: Right. And clearly that`s something Sharron Angle never bothered
ZEFF: Yeah, I mean the other time you see negative ads and real attack ads
is when a candidate is truly desperate. And what you`ll probably remember,
that back in 2001 Mark Green against Bloomberg at the very end.
CAPEHART: Oh, yeah. Remember.
ZEFF: At the very end you could see the Bloomberg number, I was a junior
aide on Mark Green`s Maryland campaign. You could see the polling numbers
every day toward the end starting to get worse and worse and worse for
green. It was becoming clear it was about to squander a 20 or 30-point
lead. At the very end of the campaign ran an ad, you know, alleging that
Bloomberg when he was in his private business had forced a woman to have an
abortion, something like that. They used language from a deposition, that
was, you know, kill it, kill it was the language.
CAPEHART: Oh, yes, I definitely remember that.
ZEFF: And that was kill it - kill it - kill it.
CAPEHART: And that reminds me, also, of this ad against Udall here where
you see a candidate who`s down by 16 points in a blue state, Udall is not
in real trouble here, the candidate doing what you might call a Hail Mary,
this is the end we just showed with the James Foley killer shot. And when
you do things like that, it`s sort of a Hail Mary attempt to try to get --
DOMENZAIN: And not recognizing your audience either. I mean .
HELLER: Well, it is. I mean he was .
CAPEHART: I`m sorry, Dave, Gabi, Blake, we`ve got to go.
Thanks to political - Heller for joining me this morning.
Still ahead, speculation for 2016 is now centering on a brand new name, an
intriguing and progressive possibility for president. Who will join us to
talk about it straight ahead?
CAPEHART: Senator Bernie Sanders went to South Carolina this week, and why
he was there may take many people by surprise. He said it was part of
trying to ascertain the kind of support that exists for a presidential run.
Wow. So with all the names being bandied about for 2016, Hillary and Joe
and Rand and Rick, now it`s time to discuss the distinct possibility of
adding Bernie Sanders to that list. In fact, we`re going to talk about it
with Senator Sanders himself right on the other side of this break. Stay
with us. It`ll be great.
CAPEHART: Taking on Hillary Clinton.
Good morning again. Thanks for staying with us. Sometimes it bears
reminding that the race for president is actually empty right now, that no
one has declared his or her candidacy, at least not officially, at least
not yet, but the merchandise, the swag that`s already available for a low,
low price. Perhaps you`ve seen the T-shirts with Rick Perry`s mug shot on
them. Rick Perry`s PAC is selling those. There`s also an entire cottage
industry of things, that`s other people are selling. You want a 2016 water
bottle? How about Bobby Jindal or Jeb Bush? Maybe a t-shirt. This
Hillary shirt tries to sell Bill Clinton as first lady. There are also
iPhone cases for Chris Christie and Rand Paul, among others. And mugs, not
mug shots for senators like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. There`s also this
mug of Bernie Sanders and Barney Frank that says, "We can dream, can`t we?"
Well, if Senator Bernie Sanders has his way, this dream may come true on
Tuesday. "The Hill" reported that "The Vermont Independent" is weighing a
primary challenge, possibly as a Democrat to try to keep Hillary Clinton
from drifting too far to the center. More specifically, he wants to stop
her from cozying up to Wall Street. That same popular sentiment is behind
the progressive movement to draft Elizabeth Warren to run. But the
Massachusetts Senator has made it very clear she will not seek the
presidency in 2016. In fact, last week she even took the drastic step of
having her lawyer send the letter to the federal election commission
disavowing any involvement in the draft Elizabeth Warren effort. People,
she`s not running. And her lawyer has a document to prove it.
So that brings us back to Senator Sanders who will be heading to Iowa in
two weeks to hold a series of town hall meetings. Yesterday I had a chance
to speak with Senator Sanders who might launch a challenge to Hillary
Clinton from the left in 2016.
Senator, pulling Clinton away from the center is a Herculean task to
undertake alone. Other than Senator Warren of Massachusetts who has said
repeatedly that she`s not going to run, is there anyone rumored to be
seriously contemplating a run who could join you in that task, is that
Governor Martin O`Malley of Maryland, is it Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I) VERMONT: I`m not into names. What I am into is
talking about the issues that the American people feel most strongly about.
And what the American people here throughout the south and throughout this
country are telling me is they are very angry that the middle class of this
country is disappearing, that we have more people living in poverty than
any time in American history and yet the wealthiest people are doing
phenomenally well. The American people want bold changes in economic
policies so that the American middle class can thrive rather than just the
people on top.
Those are the issues that the American people are concerned about, jobs,
raising the minimum wage, changing out trade policy, dealing with Citizens
United, those are the issues that have to be discussed.
CAPEHART: So, on that, what concerns you the most about Hillary Clinton`s
policy positions? If you could move her to the left on only one issue,
what would it be?
SANDERS: Look, I`m not here to discuss Hillary Clinton. I`m here to
discuss the fact that, for example, right now as a result of Citizens
United, billionaires like the Koch brothers are buying American democracy.
They are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to elect candidates who
will make the wealthiest people in this country even richer. Those are the
issues that we have to focus on, real unemployment 12 percent. We need a
massive jobs program. I hope very much that Hillary Clinton and every
candidate who was thinking about running for president will focus on the
collapsing middle class and how we rebuild the lives of millions of people
who are hurting today.
CAPEHART: Now, John Edwards was able to influence a populist narrative in
2008 because there was the possibility he could win. Absent that threat,
how will you have any influence? What`s Hillary Clinton`s or anyone else`s
motivation for taking you seriously?
SANDERS: Well, I think when you get outside of the Beltway and you got
outside of political gossip and speculation, what you find is there is
massive frustration and anger at both the political and economic
establishment. Right now you have the top one percent owning 38 percent of
the wealth in America, the bottom 60 percent own 2.3 percent. You have
billionaires controlling the political process as a result of Citizens
United. You have kids who can`t afford to go to college. You have a
starvation minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. These are the issues that the
American people want government to begin to deal with. And those are the
issues that I will fight for.
CAPEHART: So then, Senator Sanders, what`s your three-point plan to solve
any one of those issues you just laid out?
SANDERS: OK. In terms of income and wealth inequality, when you have a
situation where one out of four major corporations in this country pays
zero in federal income taxes, we need - we need real tax reform which asks
the wealthy and large corporations to start paying their fair share.
Second of all, when real unemployment - there`s not 6.1 percent, it is 12
percent, you need a massive federal jobs program, rebuilding our crumbling
infrastructure, transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel,
putting millions and millions of people to work. Thirdly, you need to
change our trade policy and raise the minimum wage. In the last 15 or so
years, we have lost tens of thousands of factories, millions of good paying
jobs because companies are investing in China and not in the United States
of America. Trade policy has got to change.
CAPEHART: Senator, again, so these are all interesting ideas that you put
forth. But what about putting the same energy and resources into drafting
a progressive candidate with a desire to win and a real possibility of
winning who could push forward that agenda that you just laid out?
SANDERS: Well, you know, in all due respect, you know, I am a United
States senator, I did get 71 percent of the vote when I ran for reelection
in Vermont. We have a national constituency. I am giving thought to
running for president of the United States. I don`t know that I will. If
there are other people out there who are better than I that can make - take
that message, that`s fine, too. But I am right now in Mississippi. I was
in North Carolina and South Carolina the old days. We`re getting a pretty
CAPEHART: So, I feel that eight years ago at this time few people thought
Barack Obama had any shot at winning the nomination. Could you be the next
SANDERS: Look, all I know is the American people are hurting. All I know
is that the middle class and working class need people to defend their
interests against the billionaire class which has so much economic and
political power today. And that`s what I`ve been talking about for the
last many years. And that`s what I will continue to talk about.
CAPEHART: Senator, I want to turn to foreign policy for a moment. When
you hear someone like Senator Rand Paul characterize Secretary Clinton as a
war hawk, how do you think the progressive community responds to that sort
of criticism and what kind of dilemma does that pose for Democrats who
remember all too well her position on the Iraq war?
SANDERS: I have no idea how people respond to what Rand Paul says. All
that I know is I not only voted against the war in Iraq, I did everything
that I could to keep us out of that war. If I look back on my
congressional career, I would say that`s probably the best vote I`ve ever
cast. Everyone knows Saddam Hussein was a horrendous guy. But by getting
into Iraq we just opened up a can of worms and we`re seeing the results of
CAPEHART: Can I get your reaction to the president`s acknowledgment that,
quote, "We don`t have a strategy yet for dealing with ISIS?
SANDERS: I think that just what he meant by that is you`ve got a very
complicated issue out there, it is enormously complicated. You know,
you`ve got Assad in Syria. You`ve got ISIS in Syria. You`ve got, you
know, ISIS in Iraq. How do you effectively deal with that issue without
bringing -- and I certainly do not support ground troops there. How do you
work with the international community to stop ISIS without putting ground
troops on the ground? I think that`s what the president was talking about.
This is a very, very complicated issue. You know, way back when President
Bush and Dick Cheney, they had a program. They knew what to do.
Unfortunately, they were dead wrong. So, I would like to see some
thoughtful analysis of what`s going on, what is the best that we can do
working with the international community to deal with this horrendous
situation in Iraq and Syria.
CAPEHART: Now, you just said you don`t support ground troops at all. But
how involved do you believe the United States should get in the fight
against ISIS? If the Europeans and the Arab states refuse to take action,
should the United States take unilateral action?
SANDERS: I`m not a great fan of the United States taking unilateral
action. ISIS is a threat - look, the U.K. right now is putting up - you
know, very concerned about terrorism within their own country. ISIS is a
threat to the international community. The international community,
countries in that region have got to come together to figure out the best
way to address ISIS and that very complicated and difficult issue.
CAPEHART: Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you so much for your time this
morning. We really appreciate it.
SANDERS: Well, thank you very much.
There is so much we talked about there that still needs talking about. Our
Bernie Sanders for president conversation kicks off right on the other side
of this break.
CAPEHART: Welcome back. We just heard Bernie Sanders say he`s thinking of
running for president. So, here to discuss with the Senator - discuss
everything about the senator, former congressman Patrick Murphy. Salon
politics editor and former aide to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Blake
Zeff. And Democratic strategist Gabi Domenzain, former director of
Hispanic Press for Obama for America. So, I want to start with all of you
here at the table. Blake. I`m going to start with you. You think Bernie
Sanders is running for president?
ZEFF: It sounds like he`s looking pretty seriously at it. I mean what I
would say is if you`re Hillary Clinton and you know that there`s going to
be a threat to your left in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders is a
pretty good option for you, if you think about it. Because he is someone
who is - we just saw in that interview that you just did, he would not
attack Hillary Clinton. And when you talked about some of the criticism of
Barack Obama, he defended Barack Obama. Bernie Sanders is not - he has his
reputation of being a fire thrower, perhaps, but he`s really nice. He`s
very polite guy. He was not throwing criticisms. I think if you went to
the left he might articulate some principles about the economy, but I don`t
think he`ll be attacking her very much. And the one other thing I
mentioned about this, is on foreign policy, yes, he voted against the war
in Iraq, which is to his great credit. But if you look at other issues,
Gaza and other things, he`s not way out of the mainstream on the Democratic
Party on that. You are not going to be seeing a huge push on foreign
policy to the left, if Bernie Sanders is in.
CAPEHART: Patrick? What do you think, Congressman?
MURPHY: I actually - I agree with Blake. I mean Bernie Sanders is very
well respected. His work on global warming with Senator Barbara Boxer, his
work as chairman at Veterans Affairs committee in the Senate. He just got
done doing the McCain-Sanders bill, which really helps our veterans who -
on the wait list, et cetera. But I - question, I mean if he runs for
president, frankly, Jonathan, I think he runs as independent. Remember,
he`s one of only two independent senators. I understand he caucuses with
the Democrats. But he`s the longest serving independent in congressional
history. If he runs, it`s probably as an independent.
CAPEHART: Gabi, what do you think?
DOMENZAIN: I mean I think it`s interesting. It`s music to my ears that
anybody wants to move the field to the left. Because I`m way over there,
right? So, I think it`s - it`s interesting that he`s doing. And I agree,
it could be kind of complementary for those of us who want to hear these
issues being spoken of. What I thought was interesting that he said,
though, was these economic issues that are, you know, the reason why we
vote. And I was just telling Blake, I was reading a Gallup Poll where the
moral compass of the nation and social issues are starting to become much
more important for voters and for the first time in a long time were the
most important. So, it`s almost kind of like a ripe election for somebody
like him from the left to come in so that these candidates start
addressing, you know, these issues that we`re not talking about.
CAPEHART: All right, so we are talking about Bernie Sanders possibly
running for president and he wants to try to keep Hillary Clinton from
moving too far to the center. But come on, let`s be real. Is he a
formidable candidate? Is he the person to do that? Could he actually win?
ZEFF: Well, he`s what I would say to Patrick`s point and related to this
question, if he ran as an independent instead of a Democrat, that could be
perhaps more meaningful. Because I think the odds are that he will - I`m
not saying he should or shouldn`t run. But if he ran in the Democratic
primary he`s probably not going to win. Right? But if he runs in a
general election, you have three way, where it`s, let`s say, Hillary
Clinton versus Bernie Sanders and then someone on the right. All of a
sudden, he could be splitting votes in a general election context, he could
become a very important player in that.
MURPHY: I think if he runs and he runs as independent, Jonathan, although
I think his heart is in the right place, I think he frankly hurts the
Democratic nominee for president. Because he will get the votes from the
left that we need to win in 2016.
DOMENZAIN: I`m sorry - I think, again, to be honest, I don`t know how
feasible a candidate he really, really is, but it serves a - it serves a
larger purpose for the debate -- I`m not supposed to talk with my mouthful.
CAPEHART: Go on.
DOMENZAIN: You took me right at the moment.
CAPEHART: Have you finished that thought? Because .
DOMENZAIN: Go ahead.
CAPEHART: Go ahead, Blake, and then we`re going to take a break.
ZEFF: Why not - I`m just going to say, look, I encourage, the more people
who want to run, they should. That`s democracy, that`s what this is all
about for - us to tell people whether they should run, whether they have a
chance or not, but I think it`s quite clear that what Patrick just said is
correct. That if he ran in a general election, he could potentially split
votes with the Democratic Party representative, which, you know, I`m not
saying he shouldn`t do. But that is what the practical effect may well be.
CAPEHART: The lengths we go to turn people into pastry.
CAPEHART: I hope you retake that pastry plate. My thanks to Blake Zeff of
Salon and former congressman Patrick Murphy for getting up early with us
this morning. Still ahead, where did you go on your summer vacation, who
did you go with? Those are two questions a handful of Republican Senate
candidates do not want to answer for an important reason. And we`ll tell
you why next.
CAPEHART: It`s the first rule of third party groups in politics, no
coordination with candidates. When Citizens United opened the flood gates
of outside spending on politics with no restrictions, the only restriction
was these groups have to act on their own, they cannot coordinate or
strategize with the campaigns they give money to. That`s the law, or the
spirit of the law anyway. As the nation first reported when it happened
back in June, Freedom Partners, the Koch`s financing arm bought out the
entire St. Regis resort in Dana Point, California, for three straight days
for a private enclosed conference. And Tom Cotton of Arkansas now running
against incumbents Democratic Senator Mark Pryor and Colorado Congressman
Cory Gardner who`s trying to unseat Democratic Senator Mark Udall both
attended. Sam Stein of the "Huffington Post" reported just this week that
Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst was also there. The event
didn`t get much press coverage because well, there weren`t any reporters on
site. But Sam Stein did managed to obtain some audio recordings from the
conference, recordings that showed the power and financial reach of the
Koch political network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONI ERNST: As Tom mentioned earlier, the first time I was introduced to
this group was a year ago, August, in New Mexico and I was not known at
that time. A little known state senator from a very rural part of Iowa
known through my National Guard service and some circles in Iowa. But the
exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so
many of you, that really started my trajectory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Cotton even went farther at describing the influence of the Koch
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM COTTON, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, ARKANSAS: Americans for Prosperity in
Arkansas has played a critical role in turning our state from a one-party
Democratic state (INAUDIBLE) building the kind of constant engagement to
get people in the state involved in their communities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Sam Stein points out that, quote, "Cory Gardner told attendees
that his race would likely be decided by the presence of third party money,
an obvious pitch for generosity from the well-heeled crowd." The Citizens
United decision held that outside spending doesn`t create the appearance of
corruption, because coordination between donors of the money and the
campaigns who benefit from that money simply does not exist, that it`s a
non-issue. But do we believe that`s really the case? Here to discuss the
influence of the Koch brothers heading into critically important midterm
elections we have Bill Scher, senior writer at Campaign for America`s
Future and Andy Kroll, senior reporter from Mother Jones. And we do want
to mention that we did reach out to the Koch`s representative. We were
unable to reach them for comment. Bill, I want to start with you. As we
mentioned, according to the "Huffington Post," Cory Gardner said third
party money would probably decide his Senate race. Is a candidate
attending a conference like this, and openly discussing his race within the
law, is it in violation of the Citizens United?
BILL SCHER, CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA`S FUTURE: Well, it`s probably vague
enough, what amounts to coordination. That you`re not going to go to jail
over something like that. It`s not a literal passing of money. It`s
getting very close to the line. But it doesn`t necessarily quite cross it.
What`s more interesting to me is the fact that the Kochs have achieved this
level of stature in the Republican Party that these candidates are going to
kiss their ring now. They weren`t like that, you know, ten years ago. And
it really speaks to another front in the internal Republican Party civil
war. Karl Rove is not happy that the Kochs have this level of influence,
the RNC is not necessarily happy that the Kochs have this level of
influence. Because they are not - and just to win, they have an
ideological mission that`s not always about winning the election right in
front of you and the Karl Rove types have a different view.
CAPEHART: Let me - because I want to know, is there a process for filing a
complaint by an opponent saying, hey, look, they are coordinating. This is
violating the spirit of the law here?
SCHER: I would imagine that there is, but there might very well be things
on the Democratic side that come close to the line, too. So, you have got
to be careful you`re not throwing heavy stones in a glass house.
CAPEHART: Hey, Andy, and so, why does Freedom Partners fund events like
this? What`s their motivation?
ANDY KROLL, MOTHER JONES: Their goal is to bring together some of the
biggest donors that are conservative and libertarian leaning and martial
their money and pour it into select elections, different causes, think
tanks, a whole constellation of organizations that are pushing an agenda
that comes from a conservative and a libertarian world view. You know,
less environmental regulations, you know, lower minimum wage, last - just
general economic laws and rules of the road out there. And by bringing all
these people together, not only do you get everyone on the same page, but
you can pitch them on your causes and your beliefs and try to get more bang
for your hundreds of millions of dollars.
CAPEHART: So, social issues don`t play a role in any of this. Because
everything you just mentioned is economic.
KROLL: It is. And, you know, David Koch himself has said that he supports
same-sex marriage. And that social issues are not his bread and butter.
They are about economics, they are about the environment and, you know,
basically, funding organizations that cast doubt on climate science.
Social issues are not their thing.
CAPEHART: Secrecy is a big part of these organizations. But I have to
wonder, if there`s nothing to hide, why hide? Why would the Kochs hide the
fact that they bought out the entire St. Regis in Dana Point, California,
to have this three-day conference?
SCHER: Well, this is a fair question to ask the candidates that were
there. Look, there`s money in politics. There`s wealthy liberals .
CAPEHART: And now, there`s a whole lot of money in politics.
SCHER: Right. That`s right. You know, and it`s - their own sites, and it
- always been. With Mark Cannon, 1896, campaign manager for William
McKinley said there`s two things important in politics, one is money and I
can`t think of what the other thing is. So, it`s not that this is all new.
But if you`re going to play, if you`re going to be a figure trying to
influence public elections and you`re not going to be public what your
agenda is, it`s a fair question for me to ask you, Mr. and Ms. candidate,
why are you there? What is that donor saying to you? What is he or she
asking of you? Because you`re not telling me what`s going on behind those
closed doors. That`s a relevant question for these campaigns.
CAPEHART: Is there a progressive left Democratic Party leaning version of
the Koch brothers?
KROLL: Yeah, there`s an organization called the Democracy Alliance. It`s
similar in that it brings together a lot of wealthy, progressive folks,
Democratic folks. It brings in candidates, it brings in party bigwigs like
David Axelrod or Jim Messina, Obama`s campaign manager in 2012. The
difference as far as I can tell in my reporting, is that the Koch network
really is driven by this family, specifically these two brothers, Charles
and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists. There is no singular
finger on the left that has been pushing the agenda. And frankly, the
folks on the left have been trying to play catchup to what the Kochs have
done for the last 30 years.
CAPEHART: Is it going to take another court case -- I would say a law, but
there are no laws being passed, but is it going to take another court case
to undo the damage caused by the Citizens United?
SCHER: Let`s go to, you know, Supreme Court nomination, replacing a
current member of the 5-4 Citizens United majority. You can`t really do
very much on this subject so long as Citizens United is the law of the
land. And going back to the fact that money in politics is not new,
there`s been organized money for a long time in American politics. All
over the world. People should think about what is the best way to combat
that? Is it trying to litigate it through the courts, or is it organized
better, build up your small donor network, build up your get-out-the-vote
operations. There are ways to be organized - money with better
organization that`s been done in the past.
CAPEHART: I was going to ask, so, how do you do that? I mean .
SCHER: Let`s remember, we won in 2012. Democrats won in 2012, despite all
the Karl Rove money and Koch money that was out there. Obamacare passed,
Dodd-Frank passed. You know, things have happened despite the fact there`s
money in politics because people got their act together and figured out
where the needle was to thread.
CAPEHART: One of the concerns is that folks -- 2012 was the presidential
election year. 2014 is not. Are they going to get their act together,
this go-round to push back against the influence of Koch money, you think?
KROLL: Well, right now the odds are in favor of Republicans just by a
little bit taking back the Senate and, you know, getting the influence of
the Koch network. Joni Ernst - Iowa State Senator running for U.S. Senate,
she said you helped put me on this trajectory. That race could decide the
United States Senate and look how influential that Koch network has been.
SCHER: Well, let`s also remember that - I`m sorry. Go on. We`ve got to
CAPEHART: Still ahead, trying to get things done when Congress doesn`t.
How is the president prepared to act? There are different answers to that
question depending on the issue. We`ll break it all down next.
CAPEHART: There are two issues right now where it appears the Obama
administration will take markedly different approaches on when, where and
how to act unilaterally to effect change. We`ll start with one where
President Obama is seemingly prepared to go it alone, climate change.
Maybe you`ve come to expect this kind of discouraging news, but when a
draft of an upcoming report on climate change from the United Nations was
leaked to the press earlier this week, it was still alarming to see that if
reforms aren`t made and soon, severe and abrupt changes to our environment
will result. The word also used was irreversible. Quoting from the
report, continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming
and long lasting changes in all components of the climate system,
increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for
people and eco systems. And it may even be too late. The report says that
even if greenhouse gas emissions were slashed to nothing tomorrow, we may
still feel the effect of climate change for years and years to come. So,
where is that change on our side going to come from? We can`t expect it
from a gridlocked Congress where many members don`t even believe climate
change is an actual problem.
That`s where Obama taking unilateral action comes in. A report in "The New
York Times" on Tuesday revealed that the Obama administration is planning
to sidestep Congress in drafting a treaty for countries to sign at the
United Nations climate change conference in Paris next year. But instead
of a new treaty which would require congressional approval, negotiators are
working on a, quote, hybrid agreement. They basically rework a 1992 treaty
to avoid having to consult Congress at all.
This isn`t the first time President Obama has attempted to act unilaterally
on climate change issues, but it`s the first time with such global
ambitions. Can this plan work? Can it work in a meaningful timeline to
prevent irreversible changes? For that to discuss, we`re joined by Juliet
Eilperin my colleague from "The Washington Post," and Bradley Horton, a
climate scientist from the Columbia University Earth Institute.
Bradley, I`m going to start with you. This report that was leaked will be
culminating one in a series that the U.N. has put out over the past year.
Is there anything out of what you`ve seen that struck you the most?
BRADLEY HORTON, COLUMBIA UNIV. EARTH INSTI.: Yeah, I think as we look at
the developments since Obama became president, you see sea level rise
projections being revised upwards as we learn more about some of this ice
melt that you alluded to earlier. We`re learning, also, that small amounts
of increase in temperature, one or two degrees that we`ve observed so far,
already leading to twice as many extreme heat events as extreme cold events
over the U.S. So, small changes are already leading to big climate
changes. And we`ve also learned that we`re more vulnerable, we are
learning that our crops are vulnerable to small increases in temperature.
We`re learning that our cities as we see coastal flooding are going to see
large increases in flooding. Coral reefs, arctic regions, highly sensitive
to even small changes in temperature.
CAPEHART: Juliet, the obvious thing President Obama is trying to do here
is avoid another Kyoto Treaty where a deal falls dead at the U.S. Senate.
But doesn`t the president`s plan here just opened him up to claims of an
JULIET EILPERIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, certainly, I mean you`ve seen
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said this. Even some Democrats,
Mary Landrieu from Louisiana, who`s in a tough reelection site - joined
with her Republican colleague David Vitter to question the strategy.
Although it`s worth noting that in fact the Obama administration has been
pursuing the strategy since 2009, since they realized that there was no way
they were going to pass a treaty. And so, you`ve seen in a series of
international U.N. meetings, whether it started in Copenhagen in 2009 and
then was codified in Cancun in 2010, they`ve said all along, this is what
we`re going to do, we`re going to try to get different countries, but some
of the big emerging countries like China and India as well as all the
traditional industrialized countries to pledge what they`re going to do and
hold them accountable just kind of publicly and that they realize that`s
the way they`re going to have to go. But it`s absolutely launched a whole
set of new attacks on the administration.
CAPEHART: You know, no international agreement, whether it`s hybrid or
full on formal is going to work unless it involves China and India. Could
you explain why, Bradley, why China and India are so important to a climate
HORTON: Absolutely. The bottom line is that greenhouse gas emissions are
not only going up, they`re accelerating. And these greenhouse gases last
in the atmosphere in many cases for over 100 years. As we see the new coal
plants, for example, coming online around the world, these have a lifetime
of perhaps four decades. So, the decisions we`re making right now are
locking us into more emissions. The longer we wait in terms of reducing
emissions globally, and these are global gases, the longer we wait, it
becomes that much more challenging to keep emissions -- concentrations of
greenhouse gases from reaching levels that could lead to extreme climate
change and large vulnerability.
CAPEHART: Juliet, in 2008 there was barely any daylight between Barack
Obama and John McCain when it came to climate change and especially, cap
and trade. But the Republican Party today wouldn`t even come close to
that. Can the Republican Party go back to where John McCain was in 2008?
EILPERIN: It`s an interesting question. I think over time you certainly
could see that, although it`s unclear whether that would happen in, say,
the 2016 election. It`s interesting that, for example, Hillary Clinton has
already indicated that one of the reasons she would consider a presidential
run is because she sees climate change as such a pivotal issue and that it
matters to young voters. And so, part of the question is, is a Republican
presidential candidate going to see this as something they need to win over
and erode the Democratic advantage within voters, or really would it take a
few more years, which, again, as every year counts in this debate, it`s
unclear how quickly they would move on it.
CAPEHART: Juliet Eilperin of "The Washington Post" and Bradley Horton,
from the Columbia University Earth Institute, thanks very much for joining
EILPERIN: Thanks so much, Jon.
CAPEHART: Still ahead, what`s happening to those 60,000 undocumented
children who are being held here in the U.S.? We`ll answer that and look
at what the president is planning to do about it next.
CAPEHART: Here we are at the end of August, the dog days of summer. And
with the increasing heat the crisis in the Southwest border appears to be
subsiding, at least for now. The number of unaccompanied minors
apprehended at the border dramatically dropped last month. Just over 5,000
children, down from more than 10,000 in June. The number of adults
crossing illegally with their children also fell by more than half. It`s
not clear what will happen to them or the 60,000 more who have made their
way to the U.S. since October. It was during the peak of the border crisis
that President Obama promised to act on immigration reform on his own by
the end of summer if Congress didn`t. And now with Labor Day weekend upon
us, it seemed the president should be taking action any day now. At his
press conference on Thursday, he reaffirmed his commitment to act on his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: My preference
continues to be that Congress act. I don`t think anybody thinks that
Congress is going to act in the short term, but hope springs eternal that
after the midterm elections they may act. But have no doubt in the absence
of Congressional action, I`m going to do what I can to make sure the system
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: But by the next day there were reports that President Obama is
thinking about delaying taking action, perhaps until after the November
election to protect Democrats in tight Senate races. President Obama is
not only considering expanding the deferred action program that currently
delays deportations for those brought to the U.S. as children. He may also
dramatically increase illegal immigration for high-tech workers and
relatives of those living in the U.S. A complete end run around the
Congress. "The Washington Post" reports, quote, "What was conceived as a
targeted executive action has morphed into a full-scale deliberation of one
of the most sprawling and intractable public policy issues facing the
nation. Immigration reform advocates have stepped up their efforts over
summer recess encouraging the president to go big on his promise for
executive action. 145 protesters calling for a halt to deportations were
arrested outside the White House on Thursday.
Earlier in the week a group of dreamers confronted Senator Marco Rubio, an
architect of the Senate`s bipartisan immigration reform bill, who was -
who`s recently changed his tune.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Jose. And we are dreamers from the state of
Florida. And our senator wants to deport us. Senator Rubio, don`t
(INAUDIBLE) Latinos. Latinos (INAUDIBLE) Dreamers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Rubio, stop flip-flopping with our community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are hear Senator Rubio, came all the way from
Florida because you want to deport us and our families.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Because you don`t have a right to illegally immigrate to
the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: A day after dressing down the Dreamers, Senator Rubio sent a
letter to President Obama warning him that if he moves forward with a
sweeping executive action, it will close the door to immigration reform for
the foreseeable future." And if that trap weren`t enough, later that day
Senator Rubio suggested that Republicans could vote against immigration
funding in annual budget that must be passed before the end of next month.
This, of course, raises the prospect of another government shutdown.
Republican Congressman Steve King joined in saying that if the president
wheels his pen and commits the unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I
think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear that changes
the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that."
So here we are. The president expected to take action any day now in the
wake of Congress`s impasse on immigration reform and Republicans are
raising the specter of yet another impasse on funding the government for
another year to stop him from acting.
Joining me now is Greisa Martinez, the immigration reform activist who
confronted Congressman Paul Ryan at one of his book tour events. Erika
Andiola, a Dreamer and immigration activist and Gabriella Domenzain who was
an Obama administration spokesperson on - for Latino issues. I`ve got to -
When I was talking in the intro I could feel the anger about this
possibility that President Obama could delay action until after the
November elections. Why did I feel that? Why are you angry? I want to
start with you, Gabi.
DOMENZAIN: You know, I hate to say it. But as I was watching the press
conference, I felt like there was a tone deafness to it. You know, hope
springs eternal? You`re speaking to 12 million people who have no rights.
Right? Saying that I`m going to postpone this until after the elections,
that`s over 60,000 more people that are going to be deported, not lucky
ones, in quotes like Erika who has DACA. And so, I`m still confused as to
why we`re working under the same paradigm. The Republicans blocked
immigration reform. It`s not passing in a legislative way. And now the
only thing that you have is this promise from the president to act before
the end of the summer. And again, like it`s known in Spanish, "le permesa
(INAUDIBLE)," might evaporate. It`s very, very disheartening.
ERIKA ANDIOLA, IMMIGRATION ACTIVIST: I mean to me, where is his courage?
I mean President Obama has been telling us, you know, that he`s going to do
something. He has deported more than 2 million people. Right now I live
in Arizona. We have tons of people that are right now waiting for that to
happen. People who are in the detention centers, people like my mom who
are in deportation proceedings, who - we have one man that`s actually going
to go into a church right now to seek sanctuary because, you know, his
immigration case hasn`t been resolved. And so, to us it`s not a matter of
politics anymore. It`s a matter of urgency. And we hope that the
president really takes courage. And to me, after the November elections,
you know, we are going to have tons of deportations that have happened
already. And Dreamers have been able to have the courage to do that, like
what you just saw, to Rubio, you know, with Steve King, with everything
that we`ve done, I don`t understand why the president doesn`t have the
courage to really face Republicans and what they`re saying.
CAPEHART: Greisa, I want to come to you. I want to ask you about your
run-in with Congressman Ryan. But what was your reaction to President
Obama`s -- the rumor, the idea that the president will delay action until
after the November elections?
GREISA MARTINEZ, IMMIGRATION REFORM ACTIVIST: I think it was
disappointing. I had a conversation with my mother who is still
undocumented that same day. And I had to tell her that the president needs
to find some courage wherever he can find it. He said that he probably
should talk to his mom. Unfortunately she doesn`t have one like I do. But
I think it`s time for him to act. It`s 2 million too many, 1100 people
will be deported today, and like Gabriella said, 69,000 people could be
deported from now until after November and that is unacceptable to us.
CAPEHART: We were just showing as you were speaking some of the video of
your encounter with Congressman Ryan. I wanted to show that, again, so we
can hear the sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTINEZ: I am undocumented, but I a dreamer.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R): Right.
MARTINEZ: And I`m wondering why you want to deport me and my mother?
RYAN: Yeah. It`s in the books.
MARTINEZ: Are you pushing me?
RYAN: Yeah, I`m not doing questions but you can read the book and you can
MARTINEZ: Right. Why do you want to deport me and my mother!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: Greisa, tell us what happened there.
MARTINEZ: So, we were going to meet Representative Ryan. He is promoting
his book called "The Way Forward," which is in itself it`s laughable. He
and the Republican Party have done nothing but take steps backwards when it
comes to immigration reform. They`ve decided to stall it in Congress and
now they`ve gone a step forward and decided that they wanted to put people
like myself - DACA and people like my mother. And so, we went to ask him a
clear question. Why do you want to do that, why do you and Steve King
saying that this is the rational solution to a moral crisis in our
community? Unfortunately, he didn`t have an answer just like he didn`t
have an answer in Florida when dreamers asked him. Just like Rubio did
nothing, but - you all said dress down dreamers in those places. It`s
really disappointing that Representative Ryan has followed Steve King into
the abyss of immigration reform that says nothing but go back and get the
hell out, to people like myself and my mother.
DOMENZAIN: I mean that Steve King is even, you know, taking credit for
stuff that Republicans are doing right now. Writing their immigration
policy. I don`t` know - are you as stunned as I am that this is happening?
ANDIOLA: You know, to me, it`s just - I`ve seen Republicans do this over
and over again. I`m not as surprised to see Republicans do this. I mean,
I worked in Congress for a year and not only just working there for a year
I realized how this party just keeps going right and right and right and
following Steve King, following, you know, those steps, but to me, again,
it`s really - when we see that we have allies, right, like President Obama
saying that he is our ally. That`s where I don`t understand, where is he
at in all of this?
CAPEHART: As you said in your response to the first question, where is his
courage? I want to thank immigration reform activist, Greisa Martinez,
thank you for coming on. And Erika Andiola for joining me this morning.
ANDIOLA: Thank you.
CAPEHART: So, what should we know for the week ahead? Our answers after
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPEHART: I want to find out what my guests think we should know. Let`s
start with Bill.
SCHER: Wednesday, Senate debate in North Carolina. Democrat Kay Hagan
versus Republican Tom Tillis. A nice edge Senate race, when the entire
Senate control is on a nice edge.
CAPEHART: Oh, that`s no pressure. Gabi?
DOMENZAIN: I want people to know that putting a Latina woman no matter how
beautiful she is on stage at a national event and twirling her around is
offensive and objectifies Latino women.
KROLL: Following up on our corruption conversation from earlier, Bob
McDonnell, former governor of Virginia, jury begins deliberations this
week, it could be the decision of the year.
CAPEHART: And I think you should know I`m freezing.
CAPEHART: So cold - My fingernails are purple. I want to thank political
strategist Gabi Domenzain, Andy Kroll from Mother Jones and Bill Scher from
Campaign for America`s Future. Thanks for getting up. And thank you for
joining us. We`ll be back next weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Actually,
Steve Kornacki will be back next weekend, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 p.m.
Eastern time. Melissa Harris-Perry is up next and we`ll see you here next
week here on "UP."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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