'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, September 6th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Past transcripts by month
UP with STEVE KORNACKI
September 6, 2014
Guest: Paul Butler, Brian Thompson, Zephyr Teachout, Karen Finney, Robert
George, Norm Ornstein, Nate Cohn, Michael Musto
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": Inside the Bob
McDonnell jury deliberation room.
And thanks for getting up with us on this, the first Saturday, in the month
of September. There`s a lot we want to talk about this morning. We have a
great panel here to talk about all of it with us, this week has produced a
couple of genuine political bombshells, one of them we`ll going to get a
little bit on the show. But we start this morning with the successful
federal prosecution of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Charged
with 11 counts of corruption and convicted on each and every one of them by
a jury of his peers on Thursday. McDonnell`s wife, Maureen, was also
convicted on eight corruption counts.
Another one for obstruction of justice. Bob McDonnell now becomes the
first governor or former governor in the history of Virginia to be
convicted of a crime and his wife becomes the first lady or former first
lady to suffer the same fate. Later this morning, we are going to talk
about whether the verdict could inspire similar prosecutions elsewhere.
And the name Chris Christie comes to mind hue (ph). We will get into that
a bit later with a former federal prosecutor who knows all about how that
But for now we`ll going to dig a little bit deeper into why and how the
jury reached the verdict that it reached. And last night, one of the
McDonnell jurors, Kathleen Carmody told Rachel Maddow what she thought
about the McDonnell`s defense, their defense that they couldn`t have
possibly conspire together because their marriage was in such bad shape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHLEEN CARMODY, BOB MCDONNELL TRIAL JUROR: I did not doubt that there
was strain in the marriage and stress. And that Mrs. McDonnell was having
a difficult time adjusting as first lady of Virginia. However, they
remained under the same roof during all this time up until the time of the
trial. They were under the same roof. They vacationed together. We saw
evidence of text messages, phone messages, it just -- I don`t doubt that
there was some strain. But it did not to me come across as being as broken
as it was portrayed.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And the importance of them communicating throughout
this time, and having contact, living under the same roof and everything,
is that it meant legally that they could have conspired or communicated
about these criminal acts?
CARMODY: Well, there certainly could have been opportunity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The McDonnell juror also said it wouldn`t have made a difference
to her if Maureen McDonnell had taken the stand to testify in her own
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARMODY: I don`t think it would have swayed me one way or the other.
Maybe it would have been certainly of interest to hear her perspective.
But it certainly for me would not have swayed me one way or the other.
There was sufficient testimony and evidence provided already.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right. And here to discuss this and all the other big
stories today, we have Norm Ornstein from the American Enterprise
Institute, Robert George from New York Post, and MSNBC political analyst
Karen Finney. Thanks everybody for being here.
So, this McDonnell verdict, let`s start with that. I wonder if anybody --
I mean, I was surprised by this. I mean, I thought the prosecution
established, I thought the news media for that matter established pretty
well the McDonnell were kind of greedy here. It took a lot of things. But
to make that connection, especially when you look at sort of what the
ethics laws are in Virginia, they really don`t have many ethics laws in
Virginia to make the connection and say that he took this, the watch or the
car or the cash or whatever and turned around and did x for Johnny Loomis,
for this businessman, I wasn`t quite sure they could make that case. I was
a little bit surprised by the verdict.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it seemed like they were
trying to be a little too cute by half, right. Like, you have this
rolodex, you have this fancy car. You just happen to have a check to help
out with your daughter`s wedding and oh, you just happen to have a
reception in your house, which happens to be the governor`s mansion in
support of a diet product that the main ingredient is tobacco. I mean --
KORNACKI: He said, the next is penicillin?
FINNEY: Yes, right. There`s something about that that just doesn`t -- I
think to be honest -- I mean, that to me smells just of something going on
FINNEY: And clearly they made the argument.
KORNACKI: I guess the thing that I saw those, in Virginia, it is legal to,
for a governor for an elected official, basically to take anything.
ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: Right.
KORNACKI: That`s the weird thing here. So you could take the Rolex. It
certainly smells bad, looks bad. Right? In Virginia, it is legal to
basically string along somebody like Johnny Williams. And maybe hint to
whatever they hey, you know, we`re going to make this the official state
nutritional supplement or whatever. So, that`s why I was a little bit
GEORGE: Well, I mean, I think we`ve all gotten kind of cynical about
politics. When we see these kind of things, we kind of think that they,
that they don`t quite pass the smell test. But it doesn`t really seem like
they, that they quite cross that line. And the prosecution actually said,
no, we, there really was a quid pro quo going on here. And I think that
should be the concern for other politicians, that if, if that precedent has
been set, that there might be some other cute kind of relationships that
other prosecutors in other states might start looking at.
NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Yes. It was a faulty
defense in a lot of ways. And you know, remember that at an early stage,
McDonnell was offered conviction on one felony count and his wife
exonerated. And turned it down. And I`m sure his defense lawyers told
him, we got this nailed. But what they did was to focus almost entirely on
the dysfunction in the family, they hung the wife out to dry and I think
the jury found that really distasteful.
KORNACKI: Yes. That seems a risky move when --
ORNSTEIN: Yes. And when you`re suggesting that the husband, the noble
husband who is doing his gubernatorial duties was clueless about all of
these things -- but you know, they`re in deep financial trouble and she
gives him a Rolex watch and he doesn`t say -- how the hell can we afford a
Rolex watch? Or he gets into the Ferrari and has the pictures smiling
driving it around, that`s really hard.
There`s an email to with him and Johnny Williams saying basically hey, we
need a loan for 10 grand or 20 grand, gets it right back, done.
FINNEY: Right. That`s right.
KORNACKI: They clearly expect something, you know.
FINNEY: I mean, it was like the new twinkie defense, right? There`s no
way we could conspire because we hate each other. We`re living in the same
house, so we hate each other. We don`t even talk to each other. I mean,
again, I`m sure as the juror pointed out, there was some strain in the
marriage, that`s probably realistic. But like you say, I mean, the fact
that that was the core basis for their case, that they couldn`t conspire
because they`re not getting along? I mean that`s a little --
GEORGE: But this is why they`re interesting, too, because you know, we now
are into like about two or three decades of marriages that are also
political partnerships. I mean, maybe, you know, Bill and Hillary Clinton
is probably the most obvious example. But when you have that kind of a
situation, you could have, there might be a lot of strain in the marriage.
There was a lot of strain in the Clinton marriage obviously when they were
in the White House. But that doesn`t mean that there can`t be still a
political relationship that they may be able to engage in and work in
KORNACKI: Not any more, though.
GEORGE: Yes, that`s exactly right.
KORNACKI: And that`s the other part of this too, is it`s so shocking, you
can just think that two years, three years ago, it was Bob McDonnell, the
short list of the vice presidential prospect, Bob McDonnell. This is, you
know, Virginia, the swing state, this is going to be a potential
presidential candidate some day and this is how it ends --
GEORGE: The Romney vetting team I think they need some retroactive
KORNACKI: Yes. Even if they didn`t mean it, they could claim credit for
ORNSTEIN: I`m wondering about the conjugal visits in prison.
KORNACKI: Oh, yes. We`re moving south to Texas into the race for governor
there. And this is going to be pretty big story this weekend. In an
excerpt of her memoir that is out on Tuesday, it`s now being reported that
Texas Democrat Wendy Davis reveals in the memoir that she`s terminated
pregnancy 18 years ago for medical reasons, it came two years after another
medically necessarily abortion that she previously disclosed. Davis shot
to national fame last year after her 13-hour filibuster in an effort to
defeat abortion restriction legislation.
In her new book, she writes she was already in her second trimester, she
and her then-husband had already named their expected daughter when they
learned the fetus had a serious brain abnormality. Doctors said that if
the fetus made it to term and survived delivery, her daughter could be in a
permanent vegetative state. The couple decided to end the pregnancy, Davis
writes quote, "An indescribable blackness followed. It was a deep, dark
despair and grief. A heavy wave that crushed me. It made me wonder if I
would ever surface. When I finally did come through it, I emerged a
different person, changed, forever changed."
So, yes, this will cause I think a pretty big stir this week. Obviously a
very, very personal revelation on her part. And, you know, Wendy Davis,
the politics of it, you know, abortion is sort of essential to the rise of
Wendy Davis in Texas.
FINNEY: That`s true. Although I think the way she talked about this, and
you know, I serve on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice America. And for women
who have to undergo this kind of procedure where as she described it, they
had named the child, right? And she thanks the child in the, you could say
fetus or child. But point being -- this was clearly a very hard decision.
And I think she goes to great lengths to describe how torturous a decision
that is and, you know, I think there`s two things.
Number one, I think that`s probably helpful for women who find themselves
in the same situation and the women`s vote in Texas is very important. But
also from a political standpoint, I think it`s wise, because she`s now
defined the nature of the story. And I think it makes it that much harder
for Greg Abbott or anyone else to try to, you know, cast her as some sort
of evil person for having done this.
KORNACKI: Well, that`s what I wonder, in a state like Texas. You know,
conservative state, Republican state, and there certainly are plenty of pro
choice people in Texas. But there is certainly a plenty of pro choice
people in Texas but there`s certainly a plenty of pro life people as well.
To tell a story like this, that is as Karen said, sort of a wrenching
personal story. This is not a casual abortion or anything like that. This
is somebody who is agonizing over it and yet felt the necessity to go
through with it. I wonder if in a state like Texas, there are people who
maybe consider themselves more on the pro life side and look at that and
maybe think about it a little differently.
GEORGE: You know, I mean, she may get a certain amount of sympathy in
terms of the dynamics of that decision. But politically I`m not really
sure if it changes things one way or the other. Because first of all, I
don`t think it`s not something that Greg Abbott is going to make a
political, you know, a political attack or even you know, even talk about.
He`ll say it`s a personal thing and kind of move on. Because I mean, I
think people who are supporting Wendy Davis because she`s pro choice,
obviously they`re going to stay with her. I don`t think, you know, people
who are pro life, they`ll sympathize with her. But I don`t think, it`s not
going to gain her extra votes.
FINNEY: But the difference is women. Moderate women voters, I mean, for a
lot of women. How she describes what happened, that`s how women think
about it. It`s not so cut-and-dry as I`m for it or against it. It`s more,
you know, a sense of, I don`t know if I should have been the person or the
government should be the person to tell Wendy Davis what to do in that
situation. So, it`s so complicated for women. And I do think given a lot
of the previous things that Greg Abbott has said and sort of his position,
I think from a political standpoint, it is something that I think will
resonate with moderate women, and again, there`s been so much anger among
women and I think we`ll see if it`s a motivating factor. You know, if all
of the, you know, hobby lobbies and all the things that have happened in
terms of taking away women`s rights, this is the kind of thing that
actually I think could make some women voters sort of think differently
KORNACKI: And this I mean, this is Texas, this is a state that Democrats
keep saying we`re going to win in 2024, 2028, something like that. How do
you look at Texas right now?
ORNSTEIN: It`s still a very uphill battle for Democrats. Some of the
polls show that Wendy Davis was not doing as well as she should be doing
with women and with younger voters. And I think this may be an attempt at
least to bring some of them back into the fold. That`s not going to be
enough for her, it`s going to take something more. And it appears at least
in this Texas, that Greg Abbott, who is a pretty extreme guy, and we have
all of these stories going back to Rick Perry`s wrongful deaths, you know,
people executed where we now know they were innocent. And not a second`s
thought by the governor, we look at the processes that they use to examine
cases of people on death row. And it was mostly come on, let`s just push
this through and make it happen. Something that in another state would be
KORNACKI: Remember not just -- when Rick Perry was running for president
in 2012, and when they asked him about do you have any doubt, no, and the
audience erupted in cheers at the Republican debate. So, that goes beyond
the borders. But anyway, there are reports this morning the comedienne
Joan Rivers, the person who among many other things pioneered red carpet
coverage of award shows will have an actual red carpet at her funeral in
New York City, it`s going to be held tomorrow. Not saying they are
credible reports, but it does seem fitting for the comedian who coined the
phrase "Who are you wearing?" And later this hour, we will be joined by
iconic New York columnist Michael Musto to talk about Joan Rivers that he
knew. We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: So we mentioned at the top of the show there are a couple of
political bombshells this week. This is the other one, a true political
bombshell, the biggest development all year in the battle for control of
the U.S. Senate, and it hit the state of Kansas this past Wednesday
afternoon, that`s when the Democratic nominee for Senate there, Chad
Taylor, submitted a letter to the secretary of state, withdrawing from the
race. And that left independent candidate Greg Orman as the only major
opponent against incumbent Republican Pat Roberts, thereby increasing the
chances that Roberts whose job approval number has hit poisonous debts
might actually lose in November, even though Kansas is a deeply red state.
Since then, Kansas` Republican secretary of state has ruled that Taylor`s
name must remain on the ballot. Even if he`s not actively campaigning this
fall, to decision that may have lead to litigation, but that seems
consistent with Kansas law. So, will the votes that the Democrat still
receives with his name still on the ballot, will those votes be enough to
affect the race between Roberts and Orman, that`s a key question here. A
poll last month showed that in a two-way race, Orman would actually lead
Roberts, 43-33 percent ahead of the Republican incumbent in Kansas.
Now obviously, we`re still waiting to see some new polling on this race
after what`s happened this week. This is pretty much an unprecedented
situation that we`re dealing with here. The bottom-line, is that the race
in Kansas, a state that hasn`t elected a non-Republican to the Senate in 82
years, is now a real race. It`s a key race for the battle to control of
the United States Senate. Democrats obviously are betting that if Orman
wins and they need his vote to keep control of the Senate that he will be
with them. But will he? After all, not a lot is known about Greg Orman.
And suddenly everyone is asking this and other questions about him. He
hasn`t said this much this week either.
But fortunately, we actually had him on our show two Sundays ago. And our
interview is so far the only national television interview with Greg Orman,
the man who could end up singlehandedly deciding which party controls the
U.S. Senate. And the first question I asked him when he was on this show
was about that scenario. If he gets elected and if it`s a deadlock in the
Senate, which party does he side with?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG ORMAN (I), SENATE CANDIDATE: Ultimately if I get elected, there`s a
reasonable chance that neither party will have a majority in Washington.
And if that`s the case, what I`ve said is I`m going to caucus with
whichever party is willing to actually go to Washington and start trying to
solve problems, as opposed to just pleasing the extremists in their own
KORNACKI: Looking at those two parties right now, do you have a sense
which one has done a better job of that?
ORMAN: Well, you know, frankly, I think both parties have been sending,
sending extremists to Washington. People are more interested in pleasing
the partisans in their own base, and really not solving problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And I asked him about the Affordable Care Act. Would he as a
senator vote to repeal it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ORMAN: As long as the president`s in the White House, I think it`s
impractical to say that the law is going to go off the books. So, I think
what we ultimately need to do is look at the things that are driving health
care costs in this country and try to, try to solve the problem in a real
rational, common-sense way, as opposed to positioning for political gain
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And then there`s the issue of Medicaid expansion under the
Affordable Care Act. The Republican Governor of Kansas Sam Brownback has
resisted that. Is Greg Orman for expanding Medicaid or against it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ORMAN: I think the message that Governor Brownback has sent to the working
poor in Kansas, if you have a health care crisis, your best solution is to
quit your job. And I think that`s a bad message to send. I think we have,
we have a real issue in Kansas with our critical access facilities. That
are now underfunded as a result of Governor Brownback`s decision. And so
ultimately I think he`s, he`s made a poor decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And what about immigration reform? Will he support the plan
that is now sitting in the house, a path to citizenship for the
undocumented with fines and penalties?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ORMAN: I think if you`re here on an undocumented basis, you should have to
register with I.C.E. You should have to pay a fine or perform some
community service, as an acknowledgement that the law has been broken. And
then I think if you obey our laws, you hold down a job, you pay taxes, you
should be able to stay here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And finally, I asked him about the governor`s race in Kansas.
Sam Brownback`s bid to win re-election. Who is he supporting in that race?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ORMAN: You know I`m not making that decision public. I think your voting
behavior is ultimately a private behavior. I`m looking for people who want
to go to Washington and in this case, go to Topeka and solve problems, work
in a bipartisan way. Understand that Kansas has a long tradition of
bipartisanship and that`s what I`m looking for in elected officials.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right. As I said, ours is the only national television
interview with Greg Orman so far, he`s the independent taking on Pat
Roberts in the Kansas Senate race, there`s still a lot we don`t know about
him, including whether he can win this race.
Back to discuss Greg Orman, the Kansas Senate race bombshell is with us, we
have New York Post Robert George, MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney.
I want to say first of all, when I asked him about, who are you voting for
for governor, Sam Brownback, Paul Davis the Democrat, he says, well, I
don`t believe in making a voting public. In the U.S. Senate, your job is
to vote. So, I hope he believes --
GEORGE: He maybe -- he`s an independent, but he`s already gotten you know,
figured out how to like duck the questions.
KORNACKI: He`s a politician.
GEORGE: He`s very, very good. I mean my -- if the Republicans like
clearly take the Senate, my sense is he would, he would --
KORNACKI: Yes. He said that on his website, he says one party has a clear
majority. The question here is if it`s 50-50, what does he do?
GEORGE: Yes. If it`s 50-50, my hunch would probably be just listening to
him, he sounded like he would tend to caucus with the caucus with the
Democrats. Because if it`s, if it`s a 50-50 Senate, Joe Biden is, is the
ranking vote, so that the Democrats --
KORNACKI: What I mean, what I mean by 50-50, if his vote is the deciding
vote. That`s the question, that`s what he won`t answer.
FINNEY: Don`t we think it`s whoever, between assuming Mitch McConnell is
re-elected and Harry Reid makes the better deal? Committee memberships
and, you know, I mean, because you know, they both have favors to give out.
KORNACKI: What we know about him too, is just to fill in the background
for some people, he went to Princeton, he was with the college Republicans
in Princeton. Fast forward about 2007, he started to run for the Senate
against Pat Roberts the last time around as a Democrat. And he gave money
to al Franken and Barack Obama that year. And then in 2012, he endorsed
KORNACKI: So that make sense of that.
FINNEY: You know, it`s interesting in terms of the dynamics of the
Republican Party in Kansas, which is, there`s a real split right. There`s
a faction of Republicans who are very dissatisfied with how conservative,
how outrageously conservative Brownback has gone. So in terms -- it makes
sense to me that he`s really trying to you know, split it down the middle.
Because even the Republican, he`s got to try to get Democrats, some
independents and some moderates and he`s got to try to pick off sort of
those, Republicans --
KORNACKI: He can`t say, he can`t pick them off by saying, I`m going to go
to Washington and vote for Harry Reid. The goal is not to say that in the
FINNEY: That`s right.
GEORGE: Yes. The language, though, he used, specifically in terms of
health care, sounds definitely more along the -- along the Democratic view
of looking at, at looking at health care in terms of Medicaid and, if
you`re Sam Brownback, if you`re poor, you would be better off not having
the job to get health care and he said that`s a bad message. So, to the
extent that health care and those kinds of issues still remain big issues,
it seems he`s more on the Democratic side.
FINNEY: But that was also one of the big fights, frankly, that the
Republicans in the legislature have had with Brownback.
FINNEY: They think that`s outrageous, right? They don`t agree in his
decision. So, again, I think the dynamics of the state right now in terms
of what`s happening with the party in terms of what voters you need to turn
out and where you need to turn them out, I think that`s factoring into his
GEORGE: I guess though, the big question ultimately is, you know, if
Taylor stays on the ballot, if he officially can completely endorses,
endorses Orman and then what does Pat Roberts do? Because a lot of this
has to do with his own popularity.
KORNACKI: Well, yes, and clearly the Republicans will then spend the rest
of this campaign trying to make Orman defacto a Democrat in trying to make
KORNACKI: Because in Kansas -- Republican and Democrat, Republicans win.
GEORGE: That`s right.
KORNACKI: But if it`s an independent, that could be a little different.
But anyway, when we talk about looking at not just Kansas, but all of the
close races, that will decide control of the Senate, that is just 59 days
from now and that will be decided by the way, there was just one person I
want to talk to about that. I think he is the best out there at figuring
this stuff out. Looking at a numbers and stuff, so he is our number one
guy he want to talk to this morning. And that person will be coming up
next to help us break down what is going to happen, who is going to control
the Senate and how to make sense of Kansas, all these other states. Stay
KORNACKI: So that big shake-up in Kansas as we were just discussing has
huge national implications. It clearly helps the Democrats fight to save
their Senate majority. But how much? On Wednesday, just before all of
this week`s drama happened, the folks at 538.com gave the incumbent,
Senator Pat Roberts, an 80 percent chance of winning re-election this
November. But by Thursday, after the Democrat dropped out, they had to
clear the race, a toss-up.
Meanwhile, "The New York Times" own election forecasting system said that
Roberts` chances of winning re-election had fallen only four percentage
points from 66 percent to 62 percent. Put this in perspective, Republicans
now have 45 Senate seats, meaning they need a net gain of six this year if
they want to get the 51 seats they need to retake the chamber. Remember,
if they only get to 50, it won`t be enough.
Vice President Joe Biden would break the tie in favor of the Democrats.
Now, already Republicans have a near lock on three of the Democratic-held
seats they need in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. These are red
states where Democratic incumbents are retiring and where polls show the
Republicans far ahead. So if you pencil those three states in, then it
leaves Republicans needing a net pick-up of only three more if they want to
hit their magic number. Whether they will hit that magic number is going
to be decided in 11 battleground states. You see them there.
Most of these are currently held by Democrats, but a few of them are held
by endangered Republicans, it is these 11 states, this these 11 states,
that the fate of the Democratic Senate rests, and the fate will be decided
just 59 days from now on Election Day. So, will Democrats hang on and keep
the Senate for the rest of the Obama presidency? Will the GOP is going to
breakthrough this time?
To help us make sense of all this, I`m joined now by Nate Cohn, he covers
elections and polling for Upshot of "The New York Times," his first of what
we hope will be a regular visit here this fall to go through the numbers
and tell us where everything stands.
And Nate, let me just start with -- I want to go through the math. Just
start on Kansas because that`s the big, you know, cliche game-changer news
this week. We`re showing you guys moving slightly in the Democratic
direction. Still likely Republican, slightly a Democratic direction. Tell
us how you think of Kansas right now?
NATE COHN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": So, one quick point of clarification that
those numbers that you cited for us, where the United States as a whole.
We saw that the Republican chances of retaking the Senate declined from 66,
to 62, but in Kansas we thought the Democratic chances improved something
like one or two percent, to maybe 37 percent if my memory serves.
COHN: So, we saw a very substantial shift in Kansas` result of Orman in
the race. I think he`s a real chance, I think Pat Roberts is a very weak
incumbent who is stuck in the 30s, most of these polls, that the PPP poll
showed Orman with a ten-point lead or so. A survey USA poll showed that
the combination of Chad Taylor and Greg Orman had 52 percent of the vote.
So the pathway to victory is there. Whether Orman can hold on to that I
think is an interesting question. I think the biggest thing that he`s
helped here with those that he doesn`t have a record.
You know he doesn`t have any votes, he`s an independent. He has the
freedom to define himself however he wants to. He can avoid questions
however he wants to. He can just spend the whole campaign saying he`s a
centrist, a pragmatist. He wants to solve problems. And I think that`s
going to make it fairly challenging for Pat Roberts to attack him. And I`m
not that concerned about the possibility that Chad Taylor will draw that
many votes away from him, even if Mr. Taylor remains on the ballot.
I think that voters are, you know, I don`t want to give him too much credit
but they`re fairly smart. We have a long record of instances when the
voters are able to correctly identify when a partisan candidate is not one
of the viable -- that`s in the race. And this isn`t a presidential
election year where you have too many low-information voters turning out to
vote for the presidency, but haven`t even given thoughts to the Senate.
KORNACKI: OK. So now, let`s move on -- until we say this battleground of
11 states, let`s look at the Democratic-held seats, the seats that the
Democrats need to protect, we`re looking at about eight of them on the map
right there. And I want to go through some of these with you. Because
these are again, the Democrats have to protect as many of these as possible
if they`re going to keep the Senate. You say that the most vulnerable of
the ones that we`re looking at the screen right now for Democrats is,
Louisiana, is Mary Landrieu, there`s a little bit of news we have to share
this morning in Louisiana, there`s a judge yesterday throwing out a
residency challenge. You know, some revelations about Mary Landrieu
listing a D.C., address on some regulatory forms. Living with her parents
when she`s in New Orleans. So the judge basically saying he threw it out,
though he basically said this could be revisited after the election
potentially. But that`s where that stands right now, you list this as the
most vulnerable Democrat on the map.
COHN: I think that`s right. I think that Louisiana is a state where
there`s really no good news for Mary Landrieu. She`s behind in all the
polls, there`s actually no way to squint at them to come up with a more
optimistic read of the polls. Which is the case in Arkansas, it`s a state
where Mary Landrieu only won by six percentage points in 2008, despite a
very high African-American turn-out as a result of President Obama`s
historic candidacy black voters represented 29-and-a-half percent of the
vote in 2008. They`re not going to represent that again.
Declining black turnout alone can cover much of the distance between her
six point victory last time and defeat. This time, we also know that 2014
isn`t 2008, and so surely there are some number of voters who will be more
likely to support the Republicans this time around. And she`s also
battling a long-term secular trend in the state, where the state`s white
voters had steadily moved against the Democrats. That`s in part because
the Democrats have moved to the left and state has a very conservative set
of white voters, but it`s also because the old generation of southern new-
deal Democrats has literally left the electorate and they`re no longer
participating in these elections.
And as a result, the Democratic share of registered voters among whites has
declined substantially. The Republicans now have an advantage for the
first time in the state`s history. And I think it will be very difficult
to see how Mary Landrieu holds on to all the support that she had in 2008
which only barely got her over the top.
KORNACKI: All right. Another one of these Democratic races, North
Carolina, you have this one, a very, very competitive race. And there was
news again, North Carolina this week, the first debate between Kay Hagan,
the Democratic incumbent Thom Tillis, her challenger, just give you a taste
of what that look like this week, here`s a clip from that debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE: That`s reality, and
that`s math and that`s something that Kay needs to accept.
KAY HAGAN (D), NORTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE: I want to go back to
Speaker Tillis` earlier comment and this has to do with math. I`m actually
insulted by his comments, I was a vice president at a bank. I wrote
billion-dollar state budgets in the state of North Carolina. I understand
math. Even when I was a teenager, I worked at my dad`s tire store and did
lay-away for people buying tires. I understand math.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, a little interesting there, you know, Kay Hagan basically
saying, you know, Thom Tillis is condescending to me here and that was a
theme of what, sort of the Tillis` style there, you had a little taste of
it how do you look at this race in North Carolina right now?
COHN: I think there`s a fair case to be made that North Carolina is the
closest state in the country. The poll shows a tight race although they
are complicated a little bit by the presence of a libertarian candidate.
Shawn Haugh, who has basically no money, but is named on all these polls
and I think there`s evidence to suggest that the libertarian candidate is
drawing a disproportionate share of the Republican vote there. And I don`t
anticipate that those voters are actually going to vote Mr. Haugh on
Election Day. So, I think you can make an argument that the polls are
slightly tilted in the direction of Kay Hagan, compared to what we would
actually expect from her.
And that would leave you with a true dead heat. It`s a close state in the
presidential elections and the challenge for Kay Hagan is going to be that
North Carolina is a state where the Democrats are more dependent on young,
and nonwhite voters in any other states. Remember North Carolina is one of
those red-to-blue state where those young college students and rising black
turnout allowed Obama it make big gains, that`s not going to be there this
She`s going to have to win with an older electorate. And so I think the
real question is, does Kay Hagan have the ability to sort of broaden her
appeal beyond the appeal that she showed in 2008 or beyond the appeal that
President Obama even had in 2008 when he managed to win the state. It
sounds like her best ally in that effort will, will be her opponent, Mr.
Tillis. It seems that she`s going to be able to tie him a bit to a very
unpopular state legislature there. And that will make the race closer than
it would be if she were facing a somewhat more generic Republican
KORNACKI: All right. Very quick. I do want to get to one more on the
Republican side, the three vulnerable Republican seats we talked about,
Kansas a minute ago. There`s also Georgia on the map and Kentucky. And if
you quickly explain this one. I think it will surprise people, your model,
you`re saying Kentucky has almost a 90 percent chance of going for Mitch
McConnell. People look at Mitch McConnell. They look at some of the
polling there and they say, they would think it`s more competitive than
that. Can you quickly explain that?
COHN: The polls in Kentucky are extremely clear. Mitch McConnell has a
lead of four or five points, there`s basically no dissension on that point.
Kentucky is a very red state. It`s a state that voted overwhelmingly for
Mitt Romney. It`s a state where the Republicans have made very important
gains in the eastern part of the state in Coal Country. Where Democrats
historically ran big margins. And it`s a state where Democrats haven`t won
a federal contest since 1996. And so, all the fundamentals point to a
Mitch McConnell victory. There aren`t very many examples at all of
incumbent senators losing when the opposite party holds the presidency. In
a state that is that favorable to their party.
In fact there are no examples of it. So I think that when you look from a
historical perspective, you would surely expect Mitch McConnell to win
there, he`s definitely unpopular and the state has enough registered
Democratic voters to keep it close. But I think it`s really hard to see
how grimes gets 50 percent. Given how Republican state is and in
particular the damage that has been suffered to Democrats in the eastern
part of the state that traditionally Democrats need to win. It would be
like taking Northern Virginia out of Virginia and then telling Democrats to
try and win there. Or taking Philadelphia out of Pennsylvania and telling
them to try to win there. It`s a big blow to them that I don`t know how
she makes up.
KORNACKI: All right. Nate Cohn from the Upshot of "The New York Times,"
we really appreciate the time this morning. We hope to visit with you a
lot between now and November and go through all these races and more
bombshells next week, maybe. We`ll see. But we hope to have you back.
Thanks for being on the show this morning.
COHN: Thanks for having me.
KORNACKI: And up next, the transformation of Al Franken from very funny
guy to very serious senator. Looking to win a second term. There were
some glimpses of Franken`s old humorous persona this week. We will talk
about it, when we come back.
KORNACKI: Dick Durbin is the Senate`s only Olympic gold-medal winning
fencer, he once released an album of jazz standards under the name Richie
Springfield and he can fit 11 marshmallows in his mouth. None of it is
actually true, that`s all pulled directly from a fundraising email that Al
Franken sent to his supporters this week. It`s a joke of course. The
funny side of Al Franken. The funny side we almost never see in public any
more. And when do get to see it. Well, it`s in a mass email like that Al
Franken is in the midst of the second biggest battle of his political life.
His quest to keep his Senate seat that he won six years ago by just 312
votes. This time it`s looking a little bit better for him. Real clear
politics shows him with a 10-point lead over his Republican challenger,
Mike McFadden. But has this advantage for Franken in this election come at
a price? Back in 2008, some comic essays that Franken had penned years
before surfaced, and created a huge stir in that race. His campaign was
caught flat-footed by the attacks on his comedic past. And after that, it
appears Al Franken decided that he could never, ever tell a joke again in
public. At least as long as he wanted to be in politics.
Earlier this week, Franken told the L.A. Times, quote, "I`m in a different
job, my old job was being funny basically, and this is not my new job."
Franken has repeatedly said he wants to be a work horse, not a show horse.
In the Senate, he secured funding for mental health screenings in school,
passed food and drug safety bills and tougher regulation for the credit
rating agencies. These type of victories don`t come every day, when you`re
part of the least productive Congress in modern history.
It seems like a steep price for a true comedic talent like Al Franken to
pay to give up a huge chunk of his identity, at least his public identity
to be one of 100 senators who don`t really get a chance to enact that many
laws any more. So, is this a trade-off that is satisfying for someone as
talented as Al Franken? And should we give our public servants more leeway
to be who they really are?
Well, back at the table with me is a long-time friend of Al Franken`s, Norm
Ornstein from the American Enterprise Institute.
And Norm, we dug up some 1992 footage of you with Al Franken when you co-
host together, Comedy Central`s election coverage. We actually have an
interview with George W. Bush your show broadcast from the Republican
convention floor, let`s just take a look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: People in Houston say that your father goes to the wrong
barbeque restaurant. Now --
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That`s mud-slinging. That`s mud-slinging.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s not mud-slinging.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This campaign has dropped to an all-time low.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He doesn`t know where to eat barbeque, where how is he
going to run the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let me just tell you this, gentleman, he`s shown
tremendous courage going to Otto`s.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Al, we had a real breakthrough here with George. People
have been wondering what`s the vision thing was, it`s ripped, Al.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I`m glad you`re asking the tough question.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s ribs, Al, it`s ribs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And there`s -- did you know that, did you think that George W.
Bush as a future president when you did the interview in 1980?
ORNSTEIN: Not in the slightest. What I can tell you if you had asked
George W. Bush at that point, do you think he`ll be a president in the
future, he would have laughed, cackled the way he did there, even louder.
KORNACKI: Yes. There was a lot of cackling. So, let me ask you about Al
Franken. Because you know him probably as well as anybody. The L.A. Times
story this week. Talking about the transformation, he had a quote in there
that jumped out at me. He said, I don`t think there`s any contradiction
between being funny and being serious. But hasn`t he sort of shown that he
thinks there is a contradiction between those two things, because he won`t
tell jokes anymore?
ORNSTEIN: Well, you know, I think the more telling quote, Steve, is I had
a job before, I have a new job now. My old job was I`m a satirist. And
that`s what I`m supposed to do. My new job is to represent the people of
Minnesota and their policy. And I can be funny doing that, but that`s not
the key element. And I think a lot of this has been consciously moving
away and letting people see him in that new role. When you watch him
around the Senate and you watch him with his colleagues and when I see him
in private, he`s very funny. He is funny in the way he used to be funny.
KORNACKI: Was he caught, were they surprised in 2008, we mentioned in the
intro, when these old essays come out in some of the old jokes come out.
KORNACKI: It became, I remember being, it lasted for few weeks, this
controversy, he has to apologize, was he surprised by the intensity of
ORNSTEIN: I think maybe surprised a little bit by the intensity. But he
knew that all the stuff that he done, some of which was cutting-edge, was
going to come back to haunt him. And some of it was going to come back
during the battle to win a nomination. Some of it, when he was in a
general election campaign. The goal I think was not, to deal with a series
of statements that in context were designed for political satire, it really
was to convince people that he wasn`t a frivolous person. And the fact is,
Al is -- a policy wonk.
And a lot of ways, Al is like you and me, he follows these things, he looks
at the nuances. And the most significant part of it is that he came in and
within weeks he had figured out how to be a senator and he got legislative
accomplishments, he got major things done. You know, the single most
significant thing that`s in the Affordable Care Act may well be the money
going back to people because insurance companies have to put 80 cents of
every dollar into patients. That`s Al`s plan. He managed to get --
KORNACKI: I believe it. I mean, I mean, to be, as smart and as sharp as
this stuff was on "Saturday Night Live," you have to have some serious
intellect to be able to do that.
KORNACKI: I wonder though, do you look at him and is it -- because he has
that instinct, the humorous instinct. In the Senate, in politics lends
itself to humor, into satire in so many ways, do you think there at times
when he`s sitting there, the joke is just there and he bites his tongue and
doesn`t tell it.
ORNSTEIN: Oh, no question, there are times when you have to say, is it
better to do the joke or better not to do the joke? But he does jokes.
Only he does them more now one-on-one with his other senators. Than he
does to play to the cameras.
ORNSTEIN: And we may see a change in the second term a little bit. But I
think what you`re going to see in the second term is an Al Franken who may
be more openly funny. But will be just as serious when it comes to the
KORNACKI: There`s a new term for politics -- openly funny. Openly funny
politician, we`ll see if he wins by more than 312 votes. Maybe it
liberates him more. Thank you Norm, we really appreciate that. Next, one
of Joan Rivers` friends will join us to share his memories of the comic
KORNACKI: One of the things we`ve learned since the death of legendary
comedienne Joan Rivers is how many people claimed her as a friend. Now, in
the instance here, Hollywood my good friend kind of way. But the many
lives and people she really did seem to touch. One of those people is
iconic New York columnist, Michael Musto, who writes an out magazine about
how he once tried to slip Joan Rivers a couple of bucks to cover the cost
of the car service they were using one night, quote, "She handed it right
back and said get your mother flowers with it. I`ve been bouquets ever
For more on the Joan Rivers that he knew, Joan Rivers that many people felt
like they knew or wanted to know, we`re joined now by Michael Musto.
Michael, I appreciate you taking a few minutes for us this morning.
MICHAEL MUSTO, COLUMNIST: Sure.
KORNACKI: So, I was, just to ask you, in the break there, you`d say, you`d
seen her very recently, she was always out on the town. And from afar,
that`s one thing that always struck me about her. When you saw that she
was 81, I look at the number and I -- I didn`t feel that way, right?
Because she was always -- she kept making herself very relevant to whatever
moment it was right up until the end.
MUSTO: She was extremely vital and really part of the fabric of New York
and the culture. And I don`t befriend celebrities a as journalist. I
don`t call Meryl Streep and say, let`s go bowling. But Joan Rivers is
somebody you wanted to be friends with. Because we were cut from the same
cloth. She hated downtime. She hated Joan this view of everything. And
the main thing you need to know about Joan Rivers and the reason everyone
saying were her friend is that she was a nice person. The reason she could
get away with that jaundiced bitchy humor is that she was a professional,
everybody was rooting for her, she never missed her march, she never
canceled an engagement or stood you up.
KORNACKI: And she, I mean, her jokes too. I mean, I saw there a clip that
somebody is watching before the show, I guess she was on CNN and she walked
off the set at one point because the reporter kept asking her. You know,
well, you`ve offended this person, you`ve offended that person. But her
whole thing was there`s really no such thing as being offended in comedy.
MUSTO: She believed in using dark humor as a way to get through bad
things. And she was a genius. The reason she walked off that show I`m
sure was to help her book. The reason she gave me back that money for the
transportation that night was because she knew I would be telling that
story forever and the cash in that envelope was not worth the pr genius
that she could get out of it for decades.
KORNACKI: There`s always that chef, to you know, Johnny Carson on the
"Tonight Show" was where she kind of built her fame. She had that, you
know, unfortunate falling out with Carson. It always shocks me, though,
she got her own late night show, that didn`t work. And because she seemed
like such a natural for it.
MUSTO: Well, she was sort of an acquired taste she became popular as a
guest host on Johnny Carson whenever he wasn`t available. When she became
her own host, and went head to head with him, of course he won against her
in that case and people found that maybe she was better as a guest star.
It`s now with the proliferation of cable, that she became bigger than ever.
And she was much more than an acquired taste. She dominated the world of
comedy. Every female with a microphone and a mouth owes everything to her.
When Joan started, she was one of three female comediennes out there,
Phyllis Diller and Totie Fields being the other.
KORNACKI: Yes. And if I asked you one thing about her that you knew her
personally, if there`s one thing about her that many people don`t know and
would you want them to know, what would it be?
MUSTO: If she looked at our calendar and saw our blank page, she went
crazy. She had to be busy at all times. That`s why she hosted my party
that night, she said yes to everything. And she loved the fact that she
was hot again. She had been through so much in the male-dominated comedy
world. Been knocked not just by Carlson. Her husband killed himself. She
was left with debts. She told me my husband committed suicide, I was
bankrupt, audiences have heckled me. What more can happen to me? I`m
loving what`s happening to me now and I can deal with everything.
KORNACKI: Yes. We`ve been in that deep valley. My thanks to Michael
Musto for joining us this morning. We really appreciate that.
And still ahead, will the Bob McDonnell verdict make federal prosecutors
more likely to pursue similar cases against other public officials?
Exactly which public officials might I be talking about? We`ll talk about
it over with a former federal prosecutor straight ahead, so stay with us.
KORNACKI: The New York Democratic primary is only three days away. And
the candidate who is challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo in what was supposed
to be a sure thing. But hasn`t necessarily felt like one. Her name is
Zephyr Teachout, and she will be joining us in just a little bit. You`ll
want to stick around for that.
KORNACKI: The fallout from the Bob McDonnell verdict, who might be
Thanks for staying with us. Three of the jurors who rendered a guilty
verdict against Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell this week said they based
their decision not on anyone piece of evidence or testimony, but on the
accumulated weight of evidence presented by prosecutors. One juror telling
the "Washington Post" quote, "The evidence was overwhelming and staring us
in our face." They found Governor McDonnell guilty of 11 counts of
corruption, his wife, Maureen, eight counts of corruption and one count of
obstruction of justice. She was found guilty, too.
Based on that verdict, it would be easy to assume that the case against the
former Virginia governor was a slam-dunk all along. But it seems the
opposite was true. Prosecutors appeared so unsure of their ability to
convict McDonnell and his wife, that they offered him a deal to face only
one count of felony fraud that had nothing to do with corruption in office.
And they said they would drop all charges against Maureen McDonnell if he
went along with that. Mcdonnells in the plural were apparently so
confident that they could beat all 14 charges that they were facing though
if they rejected that plea deal.
Governor McDonnell appeared stunned as the jury`s verdict was read this
week, holding his head in his hands. One year ago this coming week on
September 9th, 2013, that chaos erupted near the George Washington Bridge.
That morning two of three access lanes to the bridge were closed off,
bringing the city of Fort Lee to a standstill. And four months later, it
was revealed that aides to Governor Chris Christie were deeply involved.
His deputy chief-of-staff Bridget Kelly have been written "Time for some
traffic problems in Fort Lee in an email.
Within days, Christie`s office announced that it hired a former federal
prosecutor to help it respond to ongoing investigations, including an
investigation being conducted by the U.S. attorney`s office in New Jersey.
The same office that Chris Christie himself once led. After we reported on
this program in January that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer claimed that New
Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno had threatened to withhold
Hurricane Sandy relief money if the mayor did not support a construction
project in Hoboken, McDonnell denied the allegation and the mayor turned
over her evidence to the federal prosecutors, to the U.S. attorney`s
And for months a federal grand jury in Newark has now been hearing evidence
as prosecutors gather it. Reportedly about both the bridge shutdown and
whether the administration threatened to withhold relief funds in Hoboken.
Just this week, we learned Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno has been
subpoenaed about so-called Hoboken issues. Bob McDonnell and Chris
Christie were both Atlantic coast governors with national ambitions. One
of them was convicted this week on a 11 federal counts of corruption. And
the other still all but campaigning for the White House as federal
prosecutors decide in coming weeks whether to bring charges against anyone
in his administration or in his political orbit.
Could federal prosecutors in New Jersey feel more emboldened to pursue
charges against members of the Christie administration in the wake of 11
guilty verdicts against Governor McDonnell? What impact would a McDonnell
acquittal have had? And what if anything might this mean for Governor
Christie`s designs on higher office.
Joining me now to put all these pieces together hopefully is former federal
prosecutor Paul Butler who is now a professor at Georgetown Law and here in
the studio is Brian Thompson, a New Jersey reporter at WNBC.
So, Paul let me start with you. Former federal prosecutor, this is what
I`m wondering and I know this only as an outsider, but the Justice
Department sort of rolled the dice here in Virginia, right? They brought
this case against McDonnell. A lot of people said I don`t know if you can
prove this and they went 11 for 11 against McDonnell. I mean, this is an
absolute grand slam home run for the Justice Department. Does that, the
psychologically, does that embolden them in a way that losing wouldn`t
have? Looking at a case like Christie`s?
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Of course, Steve. So if we think
about what government, government or McDonnell was accused of doing, he
accepted some gifts from a supporter. And in exchange, what he did was
help promote the business. A lot of people didn`t think that that was a
crime. They thought that that`s how politics works. You scratch my back,
I scratch yours. Twelve jurors, some of whom voted for this guy,
unanimously said that`s a crime. And they`re sending him up the river for
a long time. So if I was Governor Christie, would I be shaking in my boots
right now? You bet I would.
KORNACKI: And how does it work on the other end? If let`s say, let`s say
there had been an acquittal in this case, let`s say McDonnell and his wife
walked out of there, you know, free of everything, egg on the face of the
prosecutors, whether it`s New Jersey or somewhere else, are people in the
Justice Department responding to that and telling prosecutors hey, back off
here, we just took a loss, we don`t want to take another loss?
BUTLER: Yes. Because this was a creative theory of prosecution. There
wasn`t exactly a federal crime that matched up to what Governor McDonnell
was accused of doing. So they got a little interpretive. But you know
what, it worked. So again, if you`re Governor Christie, you`re thinking,
you`re looking at this case, you`re seeing that he got offered, McDonnell
got offered this kind of sweetheart deal, if he pled guilty, then he would
get much less time than if he went to trial. So you got to be thinking
about that. Again, we`re a long way away from a prosecution about
Bridgegate or Sandygate. But again, he`s got good lawyers who were looking
at this very carefully and they`re worried.
KORNACKI: Well, so how about that then, Brian Thompson? Where do we -- do
we know that we stand? I mean, in terms of I know the U.S. attorney`s
office in Newark right now, a lot more opaque than what is when Chris
Christie was the U.S. attorney. So, do we have a sense where they stand on
BRIAN THOMPSON, WNBC REPORTER, NEW JERSEY: I want you to think about a
bowl of spaghetti. That`s how many different noodles are floating around
right now in this big bowl. And you have the whole thing with Dawn Zimmer,
the mayor of Hoboken and whether or not there was some tit for tat for
Sandy money involved. You also have of course, the original Bridgegate
issues and who put the cones up. Now the news thread that was reported by
the record is that there was some sort of higher-level police, or mid-level
I should say police conspiracy in which they were telling cops who is were
saying, help, help, and saying shut up. OK?
You`ve got that going as part of the -- part of the Bridgegate situation.
And then you have what we believe is to be an investigation of Christie`s
good, good political friend, David Sampson, the former chairman of the Port
Authority, for his alleged influence-peddling and taking advantage of that
influence as he was chairman of this huge multibillion-dollar agency. So
all of these threads of spaghetti are swimming around in a bowl right now.
And what we don`t know is which ones the prosecutor is going to pick out.
And put the sauce on. And give to you know, to a public airing of
KORNACKI: And are there any indications coming out of the office? Any
hints or any smoke signals I guess that would --
THOMPSON: No, this is, and this particular prosecutor is not like former
U.S. attorneys. Who might let a cat out of a bag a little bit. He is
keeping this so close to the vest. So we don`t know.
THOMPSON: Chris Christie, however, also does not know. So even though
it`s frustrating for us as journalists to wonder geez, what is going on
back there? What do you think it`s like for him?
KORNACKI: And so, Paul, you talk about creative theories of prosecution.
We`ve seen this in a couple of instances. John Edwards was another one.
They went after him with a creative theory, it didn`t work. They went
after Bob McDonnell with a creative theory, it did work. I`ve been saying,
I say with Brian, let`s see what comes out of the U.S. attorney`s office.
But based on what I`ve seen publicly at least, where I read in the Matro`s
report in all these other things, I still see with Chris Christie himself,
taking apart everybody who is around him.
I see that Chris Christie himself, willful ignorance, a governor who didn`t
want to find out. Didn`t want to ask questions, was happy, you know, the
suspicions are floating in the air, and was happy to sort of not notice.
That`s what it seems like to me if that`s the level that the only level
this ever rises to, is there a creative theory of prosecution that might
still encompass that?
BUTLER: Yes. So again, that`s not really all that different from Governor
McDonnell`s defense. In some ways it`s not that different from Governor
Blagojevich`s defense in Illinois. And he`s also sitting in prison now.
So first jurors say, come on, you know, you knew, if this guy is giving you
all this stuff, you knew you had to do something in exchange. So sometimes
jurors just don`t believe. They think if you`re sticking your head under
the sand, you either didn`t want to know, but you really knew. Or they
think that it`s still you know, it`s still not inconsistent with integrity
to act like you didn`t know.
So you know the other thing here is, we thought that if there`s a
prosecution in Bridgegate or Sandygate, you know the witnesses will be
people who are snitches, who are like down and dirty with the governor.
And sometimes that turns jurors off. But once again, in Virginia, Johnny
Williams, the supporter, he was down and dirty. He was not somebody who
you want to, you know, sit next to at the four seasons. But the jurors
still believed everything he said. And that`s why they convicted the
governor of 11 counts.
KORNACKI: That`s right. That`s one of the most interesting anecdotes from
that trial. This reading about it, was the defense team let Johnny
Williams at one point just ramble for 45 minutes, in the courtroom,
thinking that the juror was say this guy is crazy. We`re not going to
listen, but they did listen to him. Well Brian, that`s sort of similar to
what we, again publicly we`ve seen the Christie people really trying to
impeach the integrity of some of the principles here. David Wildstein,
Bridget Kelly. So, with the Mastro report did the Bridget Kelly, and what
Christie himself has said publicly about Bridget Kelly, about David
Wildstein, some of this stuff going back to high school.
There was this press release attacking David Wildstein in high school. And
we look at this, two ways, one is sort of like, if they have information
right now, if any of them being attacked by the governor of information
that they could, you know, could damage them to make it more likely to
share with the U.S. attorney. But the other thing I will say is, if and
when this finally all gets settled, well, it all gets settled at one point.
KORNACKI: These are people who are going to probably going to want to come
out publicly and say something.
THOMPSON: You would think so. Although Bridget Kelly is, I don`t want to
use any of Randy Mastro`s adjectives, but she is not somebody who`s
normally in the public spotlight. The aide to Governor Christie. David
Wildstein is a whole different matter. You know, he is the one who is
pretty much setting out the cones for all intents and purposes, as the Port
Authority official. And yes, I have a hard time believing at some point he
won`t want to say something. But then again, he also --
KORNACKI: You got Baroni, too, you know?
THOMPSON: Baroni is a tougher one. He and Christie are like this.
KORNACKI: You think they still are though, after all this?
THOMPSON: Oh yes, oh yes, I have no doubt about that whatsoever. Baroni,
remember, he got a job in a law firm here in New Jersey. He`s being
protected, he`s being sheltered, when I suggested that he and Wildstein at
a news conference with the governor, that they were a couple of snake oil
salesmen, Christie just launched into me about being you know, just so
editorial-minded. But you can`t think of two better snake oil salesmen
than what these two guys did last November in trying to say, oh, this was a
traffic study. You know, I mean come on. You know, the credibility level
was zero after that.
KORNACKI: Well, so this, Tuesday, September 9th, if your calendars is
already marked, it is the one-year anniversary. That`s when the bridge
shutdown started --
THOMPSON: Candles go in the cones.
KORNACKI: Candles go in the cones. We`ll show you some pictures of that.
But that`s a year out, this is where we stand. Still a little undecided I
think. But we`ll have Brian back, I`m sure we`ll have you back, Paul. I
have a feeling there will be more to talk about this. I appreciate it
today. Brian Thompson, WNBC-TV. Georgetown University Law Professor Paul
Butler. I appreciate the time.
And up next, the final primary elections of 2014. Can you believe it?
They are here, they`re upon us, there are only three days away, the
Democrats making Andrew Cuomo`s life difficult, her name is Zephyr
Teachout, she will join us straight ahead.
KORNACKI: We are now three days away from the final primary election day
of the 2014 campaign. On Tuesday, voters in four states will go to the
polls to choose each party`s candidates for the general election. And once
they do that, that`s it. The fall campaign will officially be set. And
one of those states, the biggest of them that will be voting on Tuesday is
New York. Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, a man with one of the
biggest names in Democratic politics, has just gotten a public display of
support from someone who has an even bigger name in Democratic politics --
former New York senator, former first lady, former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton recorded a robo-call urging New Yorkers to get out and vote
and re-elect the Andrew Cuomo in that primary on Tuesday.
You might think that the son of liberal icon, Mario Cuomo, who is in charge
of one of the bluest states in the country, who might think that he
wouldn`t need Hillary Clinton`s help to make it through the Democratic
primary in New York. After all, Andrew Cuomo was elected in a landslide
back in 2010. He made headlines by pushing gay marriage through the New
York legislature in 2011. Should that be enough to rack up a lopsided
victory this fall? The kind of massive victory that might get national
attention, the kind of lopsided victory he is clearly hoping to win?
Many liberals don`t view Andrew Cuomo as the political reincarnation of his
father. The left doesn`t see him as quite the same hero. In fact, many
liberals believe he is their enemy and now they are fighting him. Cuomo
has governed New York from the middle. He`s taken actions, he`s made
gestures that are designed to appear bipartisan and to win over moderates
and Republicans. To help him rack up a big approval rating. A property
tax cap reduced tensions for public employees, cuts in the estate tax and
corporate taxes, installed action on campaign finance reform. Those are
some of the highlights of his first term.
Now think of where the energy in the Democratic grassroots is right now?
Whether it`s in New York or nationally. Increasingly, it`s with the
liberal and populist economic messages, the idea of fighting inequality.
Raising taxes on the wealthy. Standing up to Wall Street. Some liberals
in New York see Cuomo as a bit of a relic, a Wall Street-friendly Democrat.
A kind that was a lot more common before the 2008 meltdown. And before the
great recession. And then there`s this -- a report this week that Cuomo
was quote, "Deeply involved in convincing several key Democratic members of
the state Senate to defect two years ago, into form an alliance with
Republicans. Thereby denying the Democratic Party control of the state
Senate, and denying liberals a chance to push more progressive legislation
on to the governor`s desk."
There is also the blockbuster story this summer about an anti-corruption
commission that Cuomo established and then apparently shut down, as it
started to ask uncomfortable questions about him and some of his allies.
And that`s what brings us to Tuesday`s primary. Cuomo is being challenged
in it by a woman named Zephyr Teachout. She`s a professor at Fordham.
She`s the author of the book about political corruption, she`s a veteran of
Howard Dean`s 2004 presidential campaign. The expectation is that Cuomo
easily defeat her on Tuesday. But the question is whether Teachout will do
Remember, Cuomo`s goal has been to show strength in this re-election, to
rack up big numbers that will impress people nationally. So what happens
if there`s so much anger on the left that he gets held to an embarrassingly
low number in his own party`s primary? What does that say about him? What
does that say about his brand of politics, about the state of liberalism?
And who knows, just a few months ago, no one even suspected that Eric
Cantor was in any danger in his Republican primary in Virginia. Once in a
while, funny things do happen in politics. Zephyr Teachout, the candidate,
looking to unseat Andrew Cuomo as governor will be here at this desk on the
other side of the break.
KORNACKI: All right. Joining me now is New York gubernatorial candidate
and Fordham University Professor Zephyr Teachout. Challenging Andrew Cuomo
this Tuesday in the Democratic primary. Thanks for joining us.
ZEPHYR TEACHOUT (D), NY CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: Thanks so much for having
KORNACKI: So, the news yesterday, among other things, you have now got
former first lady, the overwhelming favorite to be the next Democratic
nominee for president, now weighing in on behalf of your opponent, doing
robo-calls. What is your reaction when you find out that Hillary Clinton
is trying to help out Andrew Cuomo to beat you?
TEACHOUT: I have to be honest with you, when I heard the news, I know this
sounds a little backwards, but I was really happy. You know, of course I
would have loved Hillary Clinton`s support, or not to have her be doing
robo-calls, but we haven`t done any internal polls and the press hasn`t any
polls, but we know Andrew Cuomo is polling. And it`s a big ask to ask
Hillary Clinton to do something. So, you know, we don`t know whether he
traded away his presidential bid for this robo-call. But we know that he`s
KORNACKI: That`s a sign --
TEACHOUT: It`s a real sign that he`s scared.
TEACHOUT: Because this is calling in every single heavyweight he can call
and I`m getting calls from politicians who are calling me to say, hey, I`m
so sorry I have to do this. I have to endorse Andrew, but he called me,
and you know, I need to do this or that, deal with him. So, he`s clearly
making the calls. Their numbers are showing something that we`ve been
feeling, which we have so much momentum on our side.
KORNACKI: So, where`s the energy, so we gave the clip notes on the first
term of Andrew Cuomo there. And you know, he would point to -- he would
say on guns, "I`ve had a great progressive record," he`s on gay marriage
"I`ve had a great progressive record." You know, "My overall approval
rating, very good." Where is the biggest single indictment of Andrew Cuomo
as governor, what would you say of this?
TEACHOUT: The biggest one that we see among Democrats broadly is they
think he`s out for himself. That he`s not serving the people of this
state. And people will forgive some small things, but if they feel like
he`s basically serving his donors, which is what they feel, there`s a lot
of anger around that. But the big problem around the state, the effect of
that is we are now the most unequal state with the most segregated schools
in the whole country. And he, you said earlier he was middle of the road,
he`s not middle of the road, he`s a Reagan trickle-down Republican.
KORNACKI: The son of Mario Cuomo you`re saying?
TEACHOUT: He is. If you look at what he has fought for, he`s taken
billions of dollars from public education, and instead, fought for tax
give-aways for big banks. Tax give-aways for millionaires, tax give-aways
for, you know, some companies and those companies tend to be his donors. I
mean, he`s really a trickle-down Republican. And there`s a few things he`s
done that are important, but that doesn`t make up for the fact that
overall, his economic policy does not match where New Yorkers are. New
York is a real Democratic state and I`m a real traditional Democrat.
KORNACKI: So, what is success? You have not done polling, there`s no
independent polling that I have seen in this race. I`m looking back at
past primaries here in New York where Hillary Clinton got challenged when
she ran for re-election in the Senate in 2006.
KORNACKI: Her challenger got 17 percent of the vote. What is it, at what
level are you making a statement with these results? Is it --
TEACHOUT: I`m not making a statement. I`m running to win. And just, you
know, if you look back at these past primaries, we`re expecting a miniscule
turnout. Half a million, a million. So we think we need 350,000 votes to
win and we can see it. Because there are people who are so angry and all
of these different areas, immigrant rights activists are really angry. I
mean, Andrew Cuomo failed to pass the dream act in New York State. He
failed to pass the women`s equality act.
KORNACKI: Now so much of this has to do, again, we put this in the opening
there. And this is a New York-specific thing. But for a national
audience, the Democrats won control of the state Senate in the elections in
New York. And it`s reported that Andrew Cuomo basically said he would
prefer to have Republicans control in the state Senate.
TEACHOUT: I mean, that`s absolutely right. It sort of proves what we`ve
already known. But it proves it. He prefers Republican control in New
York State. He`s not a Democrat. And that`s where we`re getting so much
momentum. Because, you know, as I said, it`s a Democratic state.
KORNACKI: So, what do you make of -- we say Hillary Clinton, another
prominent Democrat who has been out leading the charge for Andrew Cuomo is
Bill de Blasio.
KORNACKI: A lot of people in New York and nationally. Look at the name
Bill de Blasio and say they this is a sort of a model progressive leader.
Are you disappointed with Bill de Blasio?
TEACHOUT: On this, of course I am. I mean, his policies fit my policies,
not Andrew Cuomo`s, it doesn`t make any sense.
KORNACKI: So, why do you think he`s doing it?
TEACHOUT: Well, clearly Andrew Cuomo is, you know, calling in every single
favor he can. It`s not just Bill de Blasio.
KORNACKI: What do you think De Blasio would owe a guy like Cuomo?
TEACHOUT: Well, I can`t know. I would love to hear Bill de Blasio answer
that or Andrew Cuomo answer that. But Andrew Cuomo isn`t answering those
questions, because he`s refusing to debate which is really disrespectful.
And we`re also getting a lot of energy because people feel like he`s not
respecting the voters. But it`s not just Bill de Blasio. He has the head
of the assembly, the former governor, he`s calling everybody to come out
and attack me and support him. So, that`s the best evidence that we have
KORNACKI: And you had --
TEACHOUT: But I just wanted to say what I think, there`s a lot of
excitement. You know, It`s really too bad about Hillary Clinton. Because
there is a lot of excitement about having the first woman governor in New
York State, you know, there is a real sense that all the news, this old
boy`s club. I don`t know if you remember the sexual harassment scandals,
but it`s a very male, very secretive culture.
KORNACKI: Three men in a room. That`s the way people described --
TEACHOUT: And so, there`s a lot of real excitement about having a woman in
KORNACKI: The others are here, you, again this is a complicated New York
theme. But it`s fascinating. Because you have a lieutenant governor
candidate, his name is Tim Wu, who you`re running with. You`re not
together on the ballot though.
KORNACKI: The race for lieutenant governor is separate. And there is
definitely a lot of fear from the Cuomo people that his hand-picked
lieutenant governor, he`s a former congresswoman from upstate. Her name is
Kathy Hochul. That she might lose to your candidate for lieutenant
governor. Do you think Tim Wu is going to defeat Kathy Hochul?
TEACHOUT: Absolutely. He`s going to make a fantastic lieutenant governor,
also by the way a historic election, because he`ll be the first Asian-
American to win statewide. In fact, I think he`s the first Asian-American
to be running state wide on a constitutional level ticket. So, there`s a
lot of excitement around that. I mean, people see history in the making
right now. There`s a dynasty governor who hasn`t really served as a
Democrat. There`s a far right lieutenant governor, and then there`s Tim
and I, and Tim and I are both of us come, our internet natives, we really
represent a new kind of politics.
KORNACKI: So if Andrew Cuomo wins nomination. If he does defeat you on
Tuesday, will you support him in the general election?
TEACHOUT: I am running to win. I`m putting all my energies into winning.
KORNACKI: But no pledge here to support the Democratic, you are running
the Democratic primary, will you support the Democratic candidate?
TEACHOUT: I would love to hear Andrew Cuomo answer that question and I`d
love to hear him debate and be on the shows like this. Because, you know,
he`s really been in hiding himself, while putting out all of these
surrogates, I mean, he sort of locked a lot of guts in this whole primary,
lacked the guts to debate and lacked the guts to go on shows and defend his
record, instead, he keeps putting out surrogates.
KORNACKI: And you are running to win and but again, I ask you for a number
in part because there`s also the possibility here, the Cuomo calculation
seems to be that if he stays away from this, he thinks he will get a high-
enough margin that people will look at this race and say you know what,
that whole liberal uprising thing, it was just a bunch of people who knew
how to make noise, but didn`t really add up to anything. Is there a
concern on your part, you know, that what if you show up and, you know,
only get 15 percent?
TEACHOUT: Look, every step along the way, folks have underestimated us and
I think in so doing, they`ve really underestimated Democrats in New York
State. Thinking that you could just take the Democrats for granted. And
you can`t. I mean, look, I started with $8,000 when I started running just
three months ago. And now we have Andrew Cuomo running scared. Just three
more days and we`re going to have a moment.
KORNACKI: Do you think, final question, this issue with the Moreland
Commission, the anti-corruption commission, do you think Andrew Cuomo
committed any crimes?
TEACHOUT: Well, he`s under federal investigation. And there`s a serious
question about whether he committed the crime of criminal solicitation of
official misconduct. That`s under state law as well as the possible
federal crimes. I don`t know whether he did anything illegal. I know what
he did was wrong.
KORNACKI: All right. Zephyr Teachout, she is Andrew Cuomo`s Democratic
opponent in this Tuesday`s primary in New York, good luck on Tuesday, I
appreciate you joining us today. We welcome having Governor Cuomo on the
show any time that he wants. That is an open invitation, issue it now and
issue it going forward.
Also on Tuesday in Massachusetts, there`s going to be a primary for
governor where Martha Coakley, if you remember her, she is making something
of a comeback attempt for these four years after her shocking loss to Scott
Brown in the race for Ted Kennedy`s seat. We will be looking closely at
her story on tomorrow show. And there`s also Rhode Island where there is
an intense race for governor going on and also my favorite election
anywhere this year, the race for mayor of Providence.
That`s where Buddy Cianci, the former mayor, former federal inmate, also
the maker of a delicious pasta sauce is trying to reclaim his old job, he
is running as an independent this year. But the primary to pick his
opponent will be this Tuesday. And by the way, we will be talking to Buddy
Cianci on this show tomorrow and trust me, you will not want to miss that,
more ahead, right after this.
KORNACKI: Earlier on this show, we discuss the transformation of Al
Franken from comedian to U.S. senator. Back in 1997, when Franken appeared
on the power players edition of jeopardy in Washington, D.C., his comedic
sensibilities were in full effect as he tried to explain why he would
rather be taping in Los Angeles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I was hoping I would be on the Hollywood,
see when they first asked, do you want to be on "Celebrity Jeopardy," I
said sure. Because in Hollywood, they`re morons basically is what I`m
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Sometimes we kind of miss that Al Franken. On rare occasions
that Al Franken emerges when he draws a map of all 50 states from memory in
freehand. And a good memory is something our panelists here today are
going to need as they prepare for our weekly current events quiz show, "Up
Against the Clock" as we speak. The podiums are being set, the clock is
being wound, the quiz masters are putting their final touches on the
questions, they literally are this morning. So, stay tuned, because in
all-new "Up Against the Clock" is next.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
JIM CUTLER, ANNOUNCER: Live from Studio 3A in Rockefeller Center, USA,
it`s time for "Up Against the Clock." He is out two time finalist in a
funniest reporter in New York competition, who promised to take this show
extremely seriously. Say hello to Robert George.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Watch out, this walking deadpan will stop at nothing for a spot in this
year`s tournament of champions, please welcome Karen Finney!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
We just learned that he carry as 1965 world series ticket in his wallet,
hoping that someday Sandy Koufax will sign it, it`s Norm Ornstein. And
now, the host of "Up Against the Clock" Steve Kornacki!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
KORNACKI: Thank you, Jim Cutler! Thank you contestants, thank you to
everybody tuning in at home for another exciting edition of "Up Against the
Clock." Let me remind you how all this works, this is a fast-paced
political news and current events quiz, we will play three rounds, each of
them in 100 seconds long. Questions are worth 100 points in the first
round, 200 points in the second, 300 in the third. They get a little
harder as we go along. And contestants, you may ring in at any time. But
I caution you, you will be penalized for any incorrect answers.
Also, there are two special bonus questions scatter throughout the
questions here. We will explain them when they come up. This is a chance
for you to earn a little extra point value for yourselves. Our contestants
will be playing today not just for victory, but also for a chance to play
in our tournament of champions. To qualify, you will have to first win
today. And as always, I will implore our live studio audience -- please --
Contestants, ask if you`re ready? And if you are, to please put your hands
on your buzzers, you really don`t have a choice, ready or not, here comes
the 100-point round. We put 100 seconds on the clock. These are the
easiest questions we have. They start with this -- although federal
officials claim that no consumer data had been stolen, it was confirmed
this week that hackers breached to this already-troubled government
insurance enrollment website. Norm?
ORNSTEIN: The Affordable Care Act --
KORNACKI: We need a site name.
KORNACKI: Healthcare.gov is correct. Hundred points for Norm.
After his surprising defeat and resignation from Congress this year, it was
announced this week that this former house Republican leader will take a
Wall Street job. Norm?
ORNSTEIN: Eric Cantor.
KORNACKI: Eric Cantor took that job this week. That`s right, 100 points.
Hundred point question. Bill Clinton campaigned in Florida yesterday, for
this Republican -- Karen.
FINNEY: Charlie Crist.
KORNACKI: Charlie Crist is the Republican turned Democrat. He campaigned
for him. That`s correct. Hundred-point question here. The first openly
gay player drafted by an NFL team -- Robert.
GEORGE: Michael Sam.
KORNACKI: Incorrect, I`ll finish the question, was released by the team
that drafted him, the St. Louis Rams. Leaving Michael -- Karen.
KORNACKI: Dallas cowboys is correct. Stop the clock. Exciting news
Karen, not only do you get 100 points for correctly answering the Dallas
Cowboys signs Michael Sam, their practice squad. But that is the video
bonus trigger question. Because --
KORNACKI: Now you have a chance to add an extra 100 points to your score.
It`s very simple, we`ve asked a celebrity to read a famous political quote.
If you correctly identify who said the quote, you`ll get your 100 extra
points, no penalty for guessing wrong. So let`s take a look at the monitor
for this week`s video bonus question.
KALI GRAHAM, MISS TEEN USA: Hi, I`m Kali Graham, Miss Teen USA. And I
have this week`s "Up Against the Clock" quote of note. This president once
famously said, "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by
what is right with America." Good luck.
KORNACKI: Karen buzzed in. She`s still confident. Who is it?
FINNEY: It might be Bill Clinton.
KORNACKI: It is Bill Clinton. That`s 100 extra points for Karen Finney.
And she takes the early lead. We`ll put the clock back on. And we`re back
with this. Hundred-point toss-up question. This pharmacy mega chain
announced this week that -- Karen?
KORNACKI: CVS will no longer sell tobacco products. Hundred points for
Karen Finney. Hundred-points toss-up. The only scheduled debate was held
Thursday night, between the Republican Neel Kashkari in this Democrat --
ORNSTEIN: Jerry Brown.
KORNACKI: Jerry Brown seeking a fourth term as the governor of California,
100-points for Norm. Hundred-point toss-up. After a "Chicago Tribune"
investigation into campaign-related travel expenses, it was announced this
week that $14,000 was returned to city coffers by this --
ORNSTEIN: Rahm Emanuel.
KORNACKI: Correct, Norm. Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago. Hundred point
toss-up. While on the trip to a NATO Summit on Friday, President Obama
visited this -- Norm.
KORNACKI: He visited Stonehenge. Hundred points for Norm. We will not
get it in. That`s the end of the 100-point round. Very intense
competition between Norm and Karen, just a 100 point separating them.
Robert, with that early wrong answer, early buzz in, minus 100. But
Robert, good news, can you make up lots of ground very quickly because we
are now moving to the 200-point round. A little harder.
GEORGE: That buzzer thing is tough.
KORNACKI: And much, much more fun. Here we go. Two hundred-point
questions. We put the 100 seconds on the clock and we start with this.
Politico reported on Thursday that this former White House chief of staff
under Bill Clinton is -- Karen?
FINNEY: Tom Podesta.
KORNACKI: Podesta is likely to play a high role in Hillary Clinton`s
campaign. Two hundred points for Karen. As part of their ongoing divorce
proceedings, the ex-wife of this congressman who famously left her for a
South American woman -- Robert.
GEORGE: Mark Sanford.
KORNACKI: Sanford is correct. Stop the clock. Two hundred points puts
you in positive territory. And Robert, some exciting news for you, that
was our use it or lose it bonus question. It means you have a chance to
double what you just won to scoop up an extra 200 points. But this one is
not risk-free. I have here a follow-up question. The one you just
answered, it is somehow related. It is worth 200 extra points if you
answer it correctly, but if you`re wrong, you will lose the 200 points you
just won or you can pass, no points won, no points lost. Would you get too
much closer? So, Robert, will you use it or lose it.
GEORGE: I`m going to use it.
KORNACKI: He`s going to use it. Here`s your somehow related 200-point
bonus question. Speaking of South America, the skeleton of a giant
dinosaur thought to be among the largest land animals ever to live was
discovered this week in this country, the same country that Mark Sanford`s
fiancee is from.
KORNACKI: Argentina is correct. Two hundred points, he used it, he gets
it. A much closer game. We put the clock back and roll it. We go with
this 200 points toss-up. This famous glossy women`s magazine, which was
originally founded in 1886 as a literary journal announced this week that
it will be making candidate endorsements during the mid-term elections.
KORNACKI: "Cosmopolitan." She said with confidence. Two hundred points
for Karen. After officially retiring from the Senate at the end of this
year, he will pursue a national convention to amend the constitution. This
Oklahoma Republican -- Norm?
ORNSTEIN: Tom Coburn.
KORNACKI: Tom Coburn said that this week, 200 points for Norm. Two
hundred points toss-up. If Greg Orman wins the Kansas Senate race, he will
become the first independent candidate to win a senate election since whom?
ORNSTEIN: Angus King.
KORNACKI: Angus King of Maine in 2012. Two hundred points for Norm. Back
into the lead there, 200 point question. Beating out neighboring western
states, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval announced on Thursday that his state
has won the right -- Karen?
KORNACKI: Tesla. Five billion dollar factory for Tesla. Two hundred for
Karen, she`s back in the lead. Nip and tuck 200 points. In its first ad
campaign against a corporate gun policy, the gun safety group moms demand
action is targeting the open carry policy of this largest grocery chain in
KORNACKI: Wal-Mart is incorrect. Norm or Robert, you want to take a
guess? We`ll call time. It`s Kroger. Kroger is the chain. Two hundred-
point question. We will not get it in. End of round, Karen slips from the
lead with the incorrect answer, but it`s a close one, 900 to 800. Robert
sitting there off the pack with 300. But very much in contention. Because
this is the round of champions. The 300-point round. Questions a little
harder, but a lot more valuable. We dim the lights for dramatic effect and
we`re going to crown the champion. In this round, 100 seconds on the
clock. Let us decide who wins this game. Three hundred-point questions
begin now. A federal appeals court in Chicago on Thursday ruled the gay
marriage bans in these two states -- Robert?
GEORGE: Indiana and Wisconsin.
KORNACKI: Indiana, Wisconsin is correct. Double his score, please. Three
hundred-point question. After his official twitter handle sent out a
suggestive picture of a model on Wednesday, this Delaware governor
apologized -- Norm?
ORNSTEIN: Jack Markell.
KORNACKI: Jack Markell sent that out accidentally, yes, that`s correct.
Three hundred-point question. Five of the seven living ex-secretaries of
state attended the groundbreaking of the U.S. Diplomacy Center Museum in
Washington on Wednesday. Not attending with this Reagan secretary of state
FINNEY: I`m sure this is wrong -- Kissinger?
KORNACKI: Kissinger is incorrect. Robert?
GEORGE: George Schultz.
KORNACKI: George Schultz is correct. Robert in the second place now.
Three hundred-point question. It was reported this week that the grandson
of the longest-serving senator in Rhode Island history, who is now a
candidate for governor of that state -- Norm?
KORNACKI: Claiborne Pell is correct. Three hundred point question. USA
Today reported this week that Michelle Obama`s brother, Craig Robinson,
would be hired by ESPN as an analyst after he was fired as the head coach
of basketball team -- Norm?
ORNSTEIN: Oregon State.
KORNACKI: At Oregon State, the Beavers, that`s correct. Three hundred
points for Norm. While joining with striking fast-food workers on
Thursday, Congresswoman Gwen Moore was arrested. What state does she
represent? Time, she`s from Wisconsin. Three hundred-point question.
Despite the creation of fewer overall jobs than expected, the Labor
Department`s newly released jobs report in the month of August actually
dipped to this percent? Karen?
KORNACKI: 6.1 is correct, 300 for Karen. Three hundred-point question.
Although now, professing to be open to raising the minimum wage, he once
favored eliminating it. Bruce Rauner, the Republican nominee for governor
of this Midwest state is now -- Norm?
KORNACKI: Illinois is correct. Three hundred for Norm. Norm Ornstein,
you won last year, you won again this year, and you`ve won this one and
Bill Wolff is going to tell you what that`s what.
BILL WOLFF, STAFF ANNOUNCER: As our champion, your name will be engraved
using the finest sharpie ink on the all-new stain-resistant "Up Against the
Clock" gold cup. You`ll also receive a DVD copy of the classic 1988 film
"Cocoon 2: The Return," personally autographed by Wilford Brimley. And
you`ll get to play in our jackpot round for today`s grand prize, a $50 gift
certificate to quick meal food cart, Big Town Manhattan, the only street
meat vendor in the greater 45th St. area operated by a former chef of the
Russian tearoom. I had it for lunch today. Delicious. Enjoy the meal and
congratulations. Back to you, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. Congratulations, Norm. That is quite a prize
package and to win that street vendor meat, we have your jackpot bonus
question. I have a feeling you know this one. But let`s run it by you.
Here it is. For all the marbles. Pat Roberts, who is now in danger of
being the first Republican to lose a Kansas Senate election in 82 years,
first won his Senate seat in 1996 when he succeed this daughter of a former
Republican presidential candidate.
ORNSTEIN: And that was Nancy Landon Kassebaum.
KORNACKI: Nancy Landon Kassebaum, the daughter Alf Landon, correct. Norm,
you have won the street meat. Congratulations. Look at this. A check for
you. You`ve won everything. You`ve cleaned us out today.
Karen and Robert, it was a gallant effort from both of you. A very
competitive game. A lot of trading in place there. You both win the home
edition though. Thank you for that. Congratulations, Norm. You may be in
our tournament of champions at the end of the year. We`ll be back right
KORNACKI: All right. Some breaking news just coming in during that break
actually. The Associated Press is reporting that White House officials
say, President Obama has decided to delay immigration action until after
the November elections. Find out what our guests think about that. So,
Karen, the talk had been that there might be some executive action this
summer. We gave up on Congress doing it. Now the campaign will go forward
without that happening.
FINNEY: Yes. I think they were getting a lot of pressure from some
members, Democratic members, who did not want this to come before the
election and now I think just making a decision is the most important thing
because now they can actually talk to the groups and make sure everybody is
on the same page.
KORNACKI: Norm, do you look at this as he`s going to still have to do
executive action after the election or is there going to be an opening
again after the election for Republicans maybe if they don`t do that?
ORNSTEIN: I think it will be extremely unlikely, there will be an opening
for a bill and we`ll see that executive action after the election. It was
a no-brainer for him. It was pretty clear that if he had done something
sweeping now it would have a negative effect in a number of those Senate
states, the red states where this is a big issue. So, he just wasn`t going
to jeopardize the Senate over this now.
KORNACKI: Yes. I noticed that in that debate in North Carolina this week
we played some clips earlier, Kay Hagen was saying no, he shouldn`t be
doing that. Does this take the issue away from the Republicans a little
bit from the fall?
GEORGE: I don`t think it really takes it away. In fact, I see some of the
Republican Senate candidates actually kind of doubling down on it saying,
look, he`s going to do this after the -- he`s going to try and to do this
after the election. You know, we need a stronger Republican Senate there
to be a check on an executive who is overreaching his bounds. I think it`s
still going to be in play for Republicans.
FINNEY: He does it after the election and, you know, I would say I dare
Republicans to try to take it away. Right, 2016.
KORNACKI: Part of the story here too is the 2014 election is being fought
on Republican turf.
FINNEY: That`s right.
KORNACKI: I mean, these are red states Democrats are trying to move into
2016 and you start talking about Colorado.
ORNSTEIN: Georgia as well.
KORNACKI: Right, right. Anyway, I want to thank MSNBC political analyst
Karen Finney, Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, also the
new holder of the "Up Against the Clock" gold cup. Congratulations on
that. Don`t drink out of it. It might poison yourself.
And "The New York Post" Robert George, we really that. Thank you for
getting up this morning. And thank you at home for joining us today. Join
us tomorrow, Sunday morning, 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time. I will sit down with
former Providence Mayor Vincent A. `Buddy` Cianci, Jr. I`ve been looking
forward to this one all week. Talking about his bid to win back his old
job in Providence, maybe also his pasta sauce.
And coming up next is Melissa Harris-Perry MHP. ISIS in the Obama
doctrine. Why the president may be facing the toughest challenge of his
administration? That`s Melissa Harris-Perry. She`s coming up, next.
We`ll see you right here tomorrow morning 8:00 a.m. Have a great day.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2014 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
MORE FROM RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Add Rachel Maddow Show headlines to your news reader: