'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, September 7th, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
September 7, 2014
Guest: Christina Bellantoni, Jim McDermott, Shadi Hamid, Raul Reyes, David
Bernstein, Marc Caputo, Stephen Moore, Dave Helling, Tom Schaller, Steve
Jarding, Buddy Cianci
STEVE KORNACKI MSNBC ANCHOR: The new coalition of the willing.
And thanks forgetting up with us this first Sunday in the month of
September. It`s been a busy day already in Iraq where the U.S. military
has now launched airstrikes against ISIS fighters trying to gain control of
the Haditha Dam. Resting control of the massive dams that provide water
and electricity to the people of Iraq has been a major objective of ISIS,
as the group has marched eastward from Syria across Iraq in recent months.
Only four days ago, the U.S. launched airstrikes against ISIS militants
near the Mosul dam. That is the largest of Iraq`s dams, and it`s been
described as the most dangerous dam in the world. With the structure
that`s already unstable, it`s feared that ISIS could use the dam not only
to control access to electricity and water. A fundamental life-sustaining
resource, but there`s also the potential the terror group could unleash a
wall of water onto the Tigris River Valley below and that includes the city
of Baghdad. That`s the idea of water as a weapon of mass destruction.
ISIS took the dam at one point, but a sustained campaign of U.S. airstrikes
has helped to force the militants out. The Haditha Dam, which is the site
of today`s airstrikes, is Iraq`s second largest dam, it`s just as vital in
providing water and electricity to Iraqis in the western part of the
country. And so far ISIS has failed to capture that dam. On Friday at a
NATO summit in Wales, President Obama described the air strikes and other
means the U.S. and allies would be using - and would keep using to fight
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You initially
push them back. You systematically degrade their capabilities. You narrow
their scope of action. You slowly shrink the space, the territory that
they may control. You take out their leadership, and over time they are
not able to conduct the same kinds of terrorist attacks as they once could.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And in a move that has some echoes of the march to war in Iraq
by his predecessor more than ten years ago, the assembling of the coalition
of the willing, as he called it, President Obama has recruited nine allies
at the NATO summit to form a coalition to take on ISIS. So one week after
President Obama said he didn`t yet have a strategy to defeat ISIS, a plan
is beginning to take shape. The goal is to defeat a terror group that
emerged after the United States spent more than a decade and a lot of blood
and treasure trying to defeat a different terror group, one that has broken
ties with ISIS because they believe ISIS is too extreme. So, what will it
take to defeat the new terror threat? And can anything be done to keep
another one, a different one from emerging in the process? Well, joining
me now to discuss this is Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott from
Washington State and Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution who wrote the
new book "Temptations of Power: Islamists and Liberal Democracy in a New
Middle East." Thank you both for joining us this morning. I appreciate
And I want to get to this question of - you know, if the goal is to defeat
ISIS, how do you do it? How do these airstrikes - but I actually want to
start with a more fundamental question important to both of you, and it was
posed this week by Tom Friedman, "The New York Times", and Tom Friedman was
talking about ISIS, was talking about what goals the U.S. should have here.
And he wrote in his column, he said, "There are no words to describe the
vileness of the video of beheadings of two American journalists by ISIS,
but I have no doubt that they`re meant to get us to overreact, a-la 9/11,
rush off again without a strategy." "ISIS is awful," he writes, "but it is
not a threat to America`s homeland."
Congressman, let me start with you on that basic point he makes there at
the end, ISIS is awful, but not a threat to America`s homeland? Do you
agree with that?
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT, (D) WASHINGTON: I don`t often agree with Tom Friedman
totally, but on that one I do. I think that the problem we`ve had in the
past is being impulsive and what`s going on right now is that people are
upset because the president is thoughtful and careful and deliberative.
And that`s really a wonderful change from the last president who was
impulsive and jumped in and did stuff without really understanding what
he`s getting into. The president has an impossible situation here. But he
is handling it about as well as I think anybody could.
KORNACKI: What`s - Shadi, what`s your reaction to what Tom Friedman wrote,
not saying it doesn`t mean that ISIS doesn`t have to be dealt with, but
that in terms of being a threat to the homeland? Do you agree? He`s not a
threat to the U.S. homeland.
SHADI HAMID, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: ISIS is very much consumed in Iraq and
Syria right now, but they could and probably will be a threat to the
homeland at some later point. It`s hard to anticipate. But they`ve been
quite clear that they do have designs on attacking the U.S. and U.S.
KORNACKI: So what - what is the best strategy to deal with a group like
that, and Hamid, would you say? If you think there might be a threat
somewhere down the road, but there`s not an imminent threat right now, how
should this be dealt with? When we did - we have the sort of limited
airstrikes right now and the attempt to build - and to build up the Iraqi
military to get the Kurds in position, maybe to join some sort of a
coalition, trying to build a coalition here right now. Is that an
appropriate approach in your mind?
HAMID: Well, I agree with the congressman that being thoughtful is the way
to go. But the problem is we`ve known ISIS and other extremist groups have
been a threat for more than two years now. And this was precisely the
warning in regards to Syria, that if we don`t do more to intervene earlier
and support the so-called moderate rebels, groups like ISIS will rise to
prominence. So, it`s not as if this just started last week or even two
months ago. And the other thing I would just note, if we look at Obama`s
NATO summit remarks, there was a big red flag that came out for me when I
was reading that. He said we are going to degrade and ultimately defeat
ISIS, the way we went after al Qaeda. But ISIS is a fundamentally
different beast than al Qaeda is. Al Qaeda was a kind of old school
terrorist group that was trying to destroy and didn`t really have a vision
for building anything. ISIS, on the other hand, controls large swaths of
territory. It runs local administrations. It provides some degree of law
and order. It has real aspirations to govern. Obviously in its own
vicious way, but that`s a different kind of model.
KORNACKI: So based on what you`re describing, based on how you understand
ISIS and what you understand it to be, what are you saying - what are the
steps the United States should be taking to defeat that?
HAMID: Well, so if ISIS is a kind of proto state, than we can`t treat it
as we would a terrorist group. And that means that there has to be a
broader vision that looks at the root causes of ISIS` rise, which is a
failure of governance, which is the brutal policies of Bashar al Assad in
Syria. So a major component has to be boosting the mainstream rebel forces
in Syria. And there`s been some rhetoric about that from Obama and
Secretary Kerry, but no real new initiatives. There has to be a third
force in Syria that can encounter both ISIS and the Assad regime. But we
haven`t been serious about that.
KORNACKI: So, Congressman McDermott, what do you say to that? The idea of
creating a third force in Syria the United States can align with?
MCDERMOTT: I think the United States should be very careful about how far
they get in. We have overestimated our ability to use military power to
control the situation beginning with Rumsfeld saying we would be into Iraq
and out within 90 days. That was nonsense then. And this idea that we can
control the present situation with military power or by throwing arms
around -- we have made the mistake over and over again in this region of
the world, arming people and then turning out that the arms are used
against us. We armed the Iraq army and ISIS took the arms away from the
Iraq army that we put together, and that`s where they get these humvees and
much of the ammunition and so forth that they`re using. So you have -
that`s what makes it so difficult for the president. I think this is going
to have to be handled diplomatically, ultimately. We have to get an
elected official into Iraq who is willing to accept a government made up of
Shia, Sunni, Kurd, Christian, everybody. Turkmen, they all have to be in
KORNACKI: Do you think - do you think, Congressman, do you think that`s
possible in Iraq? I guess that`s the question that hangs overall this,
when you look at how the story of the creation of Iraq after World War I,
that it`s always been - you know, we give the name Iraq, we put borders on
the map. But these are three groups, have they ever been able to get along
and exist together?
MCDERMOTT: Well, they did under Saddam Hussein. Sure, there was a
dictator, there was a strongman. So you`re going to have -- you`re going
to wind up with a strongman of some sort. It will not be a thug like
Maliki who is perceived by many, many, many people in Iraq as being too
closely tied to Iran. So, it`s got to be this - We`ve got to give this new
man a chance to put a government together. I don`t think we have any
alternative but going through a period of a lot of concern, and a lot - but
which rebels are you going to arm in Syria? You just give me the names of
the organizations and where we should make the drops of arms. There is no
answer to that question. And that`s why the president is being so careful.
KORNACKI: Wait, and Shadi, just quickly, you are talking about being more
aggressive in Syria. Do you have an answer to that question?
HAMID: Yeah, there is actually a very clear answer. We do know who the
various rebel groups are and the ones that oppose ISIS. And most of them
do. We can talk about the Free Syrian Army, we can talk about non-
extremist Islamist rebel forces. We may not agree with them, we may not
elect their ideology, but they are very much against ISIS. So, there has
to be a broader coalition of rebel forces that agree on that common goal
and we do know them. There has been a lot of research and analysis about
who they are and which ones are better to support. And they have been
literally begging for more U.S. arms and assistance as recently as early
July when ISIS was moving into their resort, and they were saying, if we
don`t get more help, we`re going to be overrun. And they were overrun.
So, I mean we can see how our lack of action has really had a devastating
effect on the ground and demoralized those who look to the U.S. for moral
and political leadership.
KORNACKI: All right. We leave you there. My thanks to Congressman Jim
McDermott from Washington State. I appreciate it. You are going to have
extra - there, and the Brookings Institution`s Shadi Hamid also for getting
up this morning. I appreciate that. And still ahead ..
HAMID: Thank you.
KORNACKI: The domestic crisis that was waiting for President Obama when he
came home from that NATO summit. Will the president`s decision to do
nothing about immigration until after the midterm election have the kind of
political payoff the White House is looking for.
KORNACKI: Back in June at the start of the summer, President Obama seemed
to make a promise, if Congress continue to stonewall an immigration reform,
he would use his executive power to act on his own. And he put a specific
date on it, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I`ve also directed Secretary Johnson and Attorney General Holder to
identify additional actions my administration can take on our own within my
existing legal authorities to do what Congress refuses to do and fix as
much of our immigration system as we can. If Congress will not do their
job, at least we can do ours. I expect the recommendations before the end
of the summer and I intend to adopt those recommendations without further
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was June 30th, the president saying he would have a plan to
act on his own on immigration by the end of the summer and that he would
them implement that plan without further delay. That is a threat that
Republicans have been railing against all summer long, a key part of their
claim that the president is overreaching and abusing his executive
authority. And lately some of President Obama`s Democratic allies have
been voicing concerns, too. Most notably Democrats running in tight Senate
races in red states. Here is Mark Pryor, Democrat of Arkansas running in a
very close re-election race in Arkansas. "Obama, - he declared - doesn`t
have carte blanche authority to sidestep Congress when he doesn`t get his
way. In the face of this, even with the Republican-led House taking no
action all summer on comprehensive immigration reform, Obama began to hedge
when he took questions from journalists at the NATO summit late in the
week. He was asked whether he would wait until after November`s midterms
to take that executive action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We need immigration reform. That my overriding preference is to
see Congress act. We had bipartisan action in the Senate. The House
Republicans have sat on it for over a year. That has damaged the economy.
It has held America back. It is a mistake, and I`ll be making an
announcement soon. But I want to be very clear, my intention is in the
absence of action by Congress, I`m going to do what I can do within the
legal constraints of my office because it`s the right thing to do for the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Fewer than 24 hours later, we got the answer to just how soon
that announcement would come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Some breaking news just coming in during that break actually.
The Associated Press is reporting that White House officials say that
President Obama has decided to delay immigration action until after the
Quoting an aide who spoke anonymously to "The New York Times," because the
president wants to do this in a way that`s sustainable and that`s freer of
the political environment we are currently in, the president will make his
announcement before the end of the year. So that`s the non-move, the
nothing that the White House is doing or not doing to avoid endangering
Democrats in close races in red or purple states this fall. But as we`re
about to discuss, doing nothing comes with risks of its own, too. Joining
me now Attorney Raul Reyes, a "Roll Call`s" editor-in-chief Christina
Bellantoni and MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh who`s also editor-at-
large at Salon.com. So, Christina, start maybe if you could, by just
explaining, I mean the basic politics of this are, the Senate is up for
grabs, the battlegrounds in the red states. Democrats don`t want to lose
Pryor in Arkansas. Think they have a shot in Kentucky. States like this.
And they don`t want a backlash here. But I guess, you knew back in June
when he made this threat the Senate was competitive, too. So what
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, ROLL CALL: And in fact, we knew two years ago this
was going to be a difficult cycle, right? Democrats are the party that
holds the White House tend to lose seats when it is this time in the cycle.
So Mark Pryor has been vulnerable, in fact, he is the number two most
vulnerable senator on Roll Call`s list for the entire cycle. And President
Obama not only always knew that, but the numbers aren`t shifting a whole
lot. So, let`s say he did this, is Mark Pryor`s number really going to go
down? Because President Obama did something? He`s not voting for
something. He`s not - you know, he already did - I guess, was he a vote
against immigration reform? I can`t remember. I think he voted for it.
But either way his numbers are where they are. And so, people like Mark
Begich or Mary Landrieu or Kay Hagan, they`re already set. It`s going to
be close in a lot of these states already. And they`re states in most
cases that Mitt Romney won in 2012. So, how much does that really shift?
KORNACKI: Well, this is the - there`s an article today. This was in
Politico, the spokesman for the NRSC, National Republican Senate Campaign
Committee, Brad Dayspring. His reaction - he says the president instead of
Democrats are playing a cynical game hoping that Americans paying attention
now won`t be after the election, and it will backfire. But Joan, that`s, I
guess - to pick up on what Christina is saying, that confuses me a little
bit about the politics of this.
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
KORNACKI: If this is a political decision, you`re telegraphing that hey,
we`re still going to do this, the thing that Republicans have been scoring
points on with their base all summer .
KORNACKI: They can still score points with their base on. So, what are
you depriving them off?
WALSH: Oh, well, first of all, Brad Dayspring knows cynical. I mean the
Republican - they .
WALSH: I have to say, are incredibly cynical. John Boehner tweets or says
in a statement that, you know, he`s so concerned for the poor Hispanics
that he doesn`t care enough about two actually .
KORNACKI: But this is - I mean this is from the White House, the
standpoint, this is designed with Republican cynicism in mind.
WALSH: No, absolutely. No, and it seems badly designed. Maybe, you know,
again, maybe we`re in a level of 11th dimensional chess where I`m too
stupid to see why this is smart. But I am too stupid to see why this is
smart. Because it just looked like political malpractice to me. First of
all, to say you`re going to do it, give yourself a deadline at the end of
the summer, second of all, even to come out Friday night and suggest that
there`s going to be action rather than my decision will be announced and
it`s not action. And third, people were begging him to do this last
spring. And the idea -- this goes back to a consistent problem that some
people in the base have with the president who we admire is that he waits
and waits for Republicans to be reasonable and to do the thing that they -
it seems like they really ought to do out of either self-interest or, you
know, some kind of moral obligation. They don`t do it. They never do it.
KORNACKI: So, let me put it to you this way, Raul, then. If it can be
established - and this is hypothetical - but if it could be established,
that holding off right now and doing it this way. Let`s say it saves Mark
Pryor in Arkansas, saves Begich in Alaska, saves Kay Hagan in North
Carolina, saves these most vulnerable Democratic Senators, and saves the
Democratic Senate, is it worth that then, if it gives you an environment
after the election where your party still has the Senate?
RAUL REYES, ATTORNEY: The most that I would say is maybe. Because to a
certain extent I think that the political cost of inaction or delaying
executive action have been overstated. But I do know, you know, this is a
hypothetical. But this is the reality. If this summer while the president
delayed his executive action, while we awaited it, 97,000 people were
deported. Between now and when he`s likely to do it, by the end of the
year, that`s another 70,000. Now, we know these are undocumented people.
But just this week a study came up from the Pew Center that was looking at
who are the undocumented? 60 percent have been in this country ten years
or more. 40 percent have citizen children. So, this is why I cannot
overstate how angry, frustrated, disillusioned the immigrant rights groups
and Latino community feels right now because these are people, you know,
seeing their families torn apart, seeing their communities ruptured. And
OK, maybe it will do more good later. And we know that, you know, we got
here because of Republican action. That`s why we`re at this point. That`s
why the president has to take executive action. That`s true. But still,
it has been absolutely agonizing. It`s caused tremendous pain and anguish
for Latinos. And I think right after the election when they are going to
start thinking about 2016, they need to motivate Latino voters. And how
are you going to do an about face and say now we need you, now we love you?
KORNACKI: Also, and to give you a sense of what - the reaction you are
talking about here. This was in "The Washington Post" this morning, a
quote from this is Arturo Carmona, executive director of Presentaid.org.
"The announcement is pretty shameful and once again demonstrates that for
Obama politics come before Latino lives. So, the pickup on that point,
Christina, then I mean that was the story - and the sort of that Raul is
getting out of there coming out of the 2012 election, that it was this new
sort of ascending coalition that re-elected the president. That was the
key to the future for Democrats. Is there permanent damage to that
relationship by an announcement like this?
BELLANTONI: I think people are tired of being manipulated in this issue.
They`re told that it`s going to happen, they are told that they`re valuable
and then the status quo is the same. And meanwhile, the situation is still
bad. I mean it is a broken immigration system. Nobody is arguing with
that. And when you look at - and this is the political difference between
Democrats and Republicans. Republicans generally will take a vote that
will make their members help their base closer to an election. Democrats
have consistently put off votes like this or big actions. Think about the
tax cut vote that Nancy Pelosi never held in 2010 before they lost the
House, right? That was to say, we preserve tax cuts for the middle class
and we`re going to end them for the wealthy. They kept saying they would
do it, kept saying they would do it, and they never did because they were
worried about their vulnerable members. And there are always going to be
KORNACKI: That`s an interesting point. All right, because this is sort of
established by the 2012 election for the Democrats. This is your future.
KORNACKI: This is the constituency you, in part, should be serving, and
the decision ends up being, well, no, we`ve got to worry about this other
constituency that may not vote. We are going to pick this up after next
break, but what the president has to say about the delay on immigration
reform. That`s right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, NBC ANCHOR I mean it looks like election year politics.
OBAMA: Not only do I want to make sure that the t`s are crossed and the
i`s are dotted, but here is the other thing, and I`m being honest now about
the politics of it. This problem with unaccompanied children that we saw a
couple of weeks ago, where you had, from Central America, a surge of kids
who are showing up at the border, got a lot of attention and a lot of
Americans started thinking we`ve got this immigration crisis on our hands.
Now, the fact of the matter is that the number of people apprehended
crossing our borders has plummeted over the course of the decade. It`s far
lower than it was ten years ago. And in terms of these unaccompanied
children we`ve actually systematically worked through the problem so that
the surge in June dropped in July, dropped further in August. It`s now
below where it was last year. But that`s not the impression on people`s
minds. And what I want to do is when I take executive action, I want to
make sure that it`s sustainable. I want to make sure that .
TODD: But the public is not behind you, you`re not taking it? That sounds
a little bit - I know you are concerned the public wouldn`t support what
OBAMA: No, no. What I`m saying is I`m going to act because it`s the right
thing for the country. But it`s going to be more sustainable and more
effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what
we`ve done on unaccompanied children and why it`s necessary. And the truth
of the matter is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that
OBAMA: I want to spend some time even as we`re getting our ducks in a row
for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public
understands why we`re doing this and why it`s the right thing for the
American people and why it`s the right thing for the American economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That`s NBC`s Chuck Todd, the new moderator of "Meet the Press"
grilling the president about this decision not to pursue action on
immigration reform until after the election. The full exclusive interview
airs this morning and again here on MSNBC at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon.
So, Joan, the situation is always interesting because A, president, no
president is ever going to say I`m doing this because of politics. So, one
of the explanations you hear the president offering there is saying, he
whole issue with kids at the border this summer, you know, clouded this
debate, it confused the debate a little bit. And he`s saying we basically
need some more time here so that I can explain exactly when it comes to
this specific issue of - but of executive action on immigration reform,
exactly what it is I`m doing, how it`s separate from that. Is there merit
to it on those grounds?
WALSH: Yes, there`s a little bit of merit. You know, let`s give the
president some credit for having had a very full plate this summer with
global crises one after another. But the crisis has subsided in the
border. They did some good things. They really - they made a difference.
He could have been telling us about that or have somebody telling us about
that all summer. There`s been time to say, look, we took a crisis, a
humanitarian crisis as well as political, we did these things. The border
-- it`s very different now. But to come out and use that as an excuse,
people aren`t even talking about that anymore. Maybe they are in these red
states. Maybe there`s still a lot of concern. But, you know, we were all
talking about it all the time for a couple of weeks. It`s kind of faded.
It just feels like an odd excuse to be using.
KORNACKI: So, Raul, from your standpoint, are you - how confident are you
when you hear the president say -- we heard what he said at the start of
the summer. What he`s saying now, he`s saying, OK, after the elections,
end of the year, how confident are you that we get to December, we get past
the elections and he does act then?
REYES: I am confident that he will act. And, you know, people are still
hopeful that he will. But he is - in a very unfortunate way he`s painting
himself into a corner because the longer that he has waited to take his
executive action, he`s raised the bar on himself. With all this waiting
now, people are expecting some - or going to be expecting something
tremendous or there will again be disillusionment and disappointment. And
it`s so frustrating to so many immigrant rights groups and Latino voters
when the president brings up something like the border crisis because,
honestly, there`s always something whether it`s Syria, the sequester, the
migrant children at the border, the Boston bombing. There`s always a
reason why we can`t do immigration right now. Any time you`re talking
about legalizing or granting a path to citizenship for all these
undocumented people, there`s never a good time. It`s always going to be
risky, so for the president to mention that as the reason why he had to
hang back, that is unbelievable frustrating, makes people so angry.
KORNACKI: And Christina?
BELLANTONI: Well, so, it`s - the politics of this, is the president is
under scrutiny from his own members of his party in Congress for not
consulting them on many, many things. And there are not a lot of reports
out there saying that Mark Begich picked up the phone and said don`t do
this. So, is that really the reason that they`re doing it or they are
attempting to sort of put something bigger together. That`s what a lot of
the advocates that I spoke to had hope of. But people just aren`t that
confident about it. And if they lose a bunch of seats and he comes out on
November 5th and says now I`m going to do this? Is that really a better
KORNACKI: If the election does not go well for Democrats, what is the
political climate like after?
REYES: How constrained he might be with Republicans controlling both
KORNACKI: And Republicans today you interpret an election - right. That`s
an interesting wildcard. What happens, the flip side is what if it`s a bad
day for Republicans? Then maybe here`s some more leeway but just two ways
to look at it. My thanks to attorney Raul Reyes for joining us this
morning. I appreciate that. And still ahead, the last primary election
day of the year is only two days away. And in Massachusetts Democrats are
hoping the governor`s race is not a repeat of the special election that
filled Ted Kennedy`s seat. We are going to explain - There`s a name you
probably remember there. We`ll explain when we come back.
KORNACKI: If you live almost anywhere in this country, the chances are
overwhelming that there`s one thing you think of when I say the name Martha
Coakley. January 2010, special senate election in Massachusetts for Ted
Kennedy`s seat against Scot Brown with the fate of the Affordable Care Act
seemingly on the line. And for Democrats, disaster?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats are in disbelief and Republicans suddenly
inspired by the words Senator Elect Scott Brown. He won by five points.
And that has both parties saying, if it can happen here, what`s next for
the president and the Democratic Party?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: If you`re a Democrat, you probably have some very dark memories
of that January night. And if you`re a Republican, well, you`re probably
still getting some kind of contact high just from thinking about it.
Martha Coakley lost what was supposed to be an unlosable race which
explains something funny that happened this past week. Because Coakley is
running now in a big election this year, she`s running for governor of
Massachusetts. The Democratic primary is in just two days. And she`s been
leading in that three-way race by a wide margin all year. And if she does
win the Democratic nomination this Tuesday, then she`ll face a Republican
name Charlie Baker this fall. Now, here is the interesting thing that just
happened. The last week "The Boston Globe" released a poll testing a
Coakley-Baker match-up. The globe has actually been doing this every week
all year. And every week Coakley has been leading, usually by about seven
or eight points, high single digits. But then suddenly, seemingly out of
nowhere, "The Globe" released its weekly poll last week. And what happened
to Martha Coakley`s lead? Look at that! It was gone! She was losing all
of a sudden by a point. National political observers thought, oh, boy,
here we go again, Martha Coakley blowing another race. But here is the
thing, in polling there`s something called an outlier, a random weird
result that shocks you at first before you realize that it doesn`t actually
mean anything at all. And it looks like that might be what happened here.
Because two more polls came out this week. In the first one Coakley led
Charlie Baker by nine points. In the next she still led by nine points.
And so, suddenly that poll that put her behind starts to look like an
outlier, a fluke, statistical noise.
It turned out that at least for now Martha Coakley is still doing pretty
well against the likely Republican candidate. But the whole thing just
shows how much that 2010 special election is hovering over this race right
now, hovering over everything that Martha Coakley does. Basically the
national political world is just expecting that she`s going to blow this
race, just waiting for the first sign that it`s happening all over again.
It`s been nearly five years since Martha Coakley lost that special election
to Scott Brown. She picked herself up after it, she ignored all the jokes,
all the taunts, she got back to work as attorney general, she got herself
re-elected. The question now, two days before the primary, are Democrats
ready to give Martha Coakley another chance?
Joining me now is the contributing editor of "Boston Magazine," David
Bernstein. David, thanks for taking a few minutes. So, that`s the million
dollar question with Martha Coakley. I guess there`s two questions,
though, one involves the primary, one involves the general election. Tell
us about the primary on Tuesday, she leads in the polls right now. Do you
think she`s going to win this primary on Tuesday?
DAVID BERNSTEIN, BOSTON MAGAZINE: Well, It certainly looks very good for
her. Thanks for having me on, Steve. It looks very good for her - you
know, I made the comment a year ago that the course of this election would
be does Martha Coakley blow it in the primary, does she blow it in the
general or does she not blow it and actually get elected governor. And
that`s sort of what everyone`s been watching to see. And she hasn`t
fumbled the ball yet. She`s been solid. And, you know, it`s an
interesting thing because she`s so well known in the commonwealth.
Something like 97 percent name recognition before this race even started
which is, you know, amazing for someone who is not in a major top office.
People have very strong opinions of her and a lot of those, especially
within the Democratic Party here and especially with women - and I mean
Democratic Party voters, not so much the establishment, but the voters,
very positive attitudes towards her. And if nothing changes, you know,
those kinds of voters are absolutely ready to vote for - to be the nominee.
KORNACKI: Is that because -- there was a couple of debates this past week.
And in one of them as I was watching one of her opponents, a Democrat named
Don Berwick turned to her and basically said, you know, Scott Brown didn`t
have to be a U.S. Senator, you didn`t have to lose that election. When you
talk about these Democratic voters who seem happy with her, are these
voters - who - look at her now. And assess her differently, they say wow,
this is not the same Martha Coakley or do they just not care about that at
all what happened back in 2010?
BERNSTEIN: You know, I think the general voter is not as obsessed about
that as the Democratic establishment, the insider activist folks who are
looking to someone like Don Berwick who has run as the most progressive
liberal in the race or the other candidate, very strong candidate Steve
Grossman who is the state treasurer and well known within the Democratic
Party, also. But, you know, there`s - it`s more than just that she lost
the seat. There was a sense at the time within the Democratic Party
establishment activist that she lost it by taking it for granted, by not
working hard, by, you know, sort of underestimating Scott Brown and by not
tapping into their help in doing the get-out-the-vote stuff in their
communities so far. Some of that has been revised, that thinking. You
know, people realize that it was the time, it was the Tea Party movement,
it was sort of general dissatisfaction with the economy and so forth. So
some of that has changed. But there`s a real difference between the
insider types who still think about that and the general population who,
you know, just sort of moved on. Oh, Scott Brown got elected. A lot of
them kind of like Scott Brownie anyway, whether they want him to be senator
So, they don`t obsess over that stuff, you know, and what could have been
if that 60th Democrat had been in the Senate at that time.
KORNACKI: You watch these things closely. Let`s say she`s successful on
Tuesday, she`s the Democratic nominee and you allude to some of those
mistakes or perceived mistakes in the 2010 campaign. And some people may
remember Curt Shilling, you know, shaking hands in the cold at Fenway Park,
all those sorts of things. Do you see a difference in how Martha Coakley
is as a candidate now that would make her stronger if she`s the general
election candidate for Democrats now than she was against Scott Brown?
BERNSTEIN: There`s a couple of sides to that. On one hand, she has been
going out of her way to show that she`s hard working, you know, that she`s
out there shaking hands. She had that famous quote of, well, why would I
want to be shaking people`s hands outside of Fenway Park in the cold, that
haunted her during that campaign. She`s showing that she`s out there doing
that sort of thing. But on the other hand, she also, by the way, in the
debate was the only one who was able to name the Patriots` backup
quarterback off the top of her head which is impressive. So, she`s sort of
put some of that to rest. But the other side of it, which is that she ran
this safe campaign, the sort of Rose Garden frontrunner campaign of trying
not to make mistakes, not taking strong stands on some issues, that does
seem to be repeating itself at least in this primary. We`ll see what
happens after Tuesday if she wins the primary. Does she become more
aggressive in running against Charlie Baker, the expected Republican
KORNACKI: Yeah, she got the Garoppolo (ph) question right today. Anyway,
I want to thank David Bernstein from "Boston" magazine. I appreciate your
taking your time this morning.
BERNSTEIN: Spoken like a Massachusetts.
KORNACKI: That`s right. Massachusetts, there you go. Still ahead,
Florida, Florida, Florida, it was true when Tim Russert wrote on his white
board bout the 2000 presidential election, it`s just as true today in the
governor`s race between Republican Rick Scott and former Republican
governor turned Democrat and now candidate for his old job Charlie Crist.
KORNACKI: On Friday President Clinton rallied voters in Miami on behalf of
former Florida Governor Charlie Crist. When he was last elected governor,
Charlie Crist was a Republican. But now he`s a Democrat trying to win back
that same job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON: When I was sitting in Harlem, New York, in my office, picked
up the paper one day and I read that the Republican governor of Florida had
actually signed a bill to restore voting rights to people who had been in
prison once they serve their term .
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: And we didn`t know each other. I sat down and wrote him a fan
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: If you have a long memory or if you just have access to YouTube,
the Clinton-Crist appearance was probably a bit awkward. Because back in
1998 when he was running for the Senate in Florida as a Republican, this is
what Charlie Crist had to say about then president Bill Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE CRIST: Regrettably I believe that the president has shattered the
confidence and trust of the American people, and I think he needs to be
accountable for that. That`s why I believe that the best thing he could do
for the country would be to resign the office of president.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But Crist hasn`t just changed his tune on President Clinton,
he`s remade himself politically, switching parties and embracing the agenda
of the Democrats left of center base. He`s campaigning on raising the
minimum wage, expanding Medicare, increasing health care enrollment and
battling climate change. Crist is running against Republican Rick Scott
who won a squeaker in the GOP wave year of 2010 and who`s been saddled with
dangerously low approval ratings for his whole term. But Scott has
launched a very expensive and aggressive television ad campaign. And three
new polls out this week show the race to be very competitive with the real
clear politics polling average showing a two-point difference, Scott ahead
there by two points on the average.
With Congress gridlocked and tilting towards Republicans in November -
governor`s races are one place where Democrats have a real chance to make -
to win back some of the state houses that Republicans swept in the 2010 GOP
wave. Florida is the biggest state in the mix and, of course, this has big
implications for 2016, too, since it`s one of the biggest swing states to
decide the presidency. Florida`s governor has sway over voting days and
hours. And as a secretary of state, too. Remember Katherine Harris, 2000
memories there. Well, here to discuss the state and the stakes of the race
is Marc Caputo, political writer for "The Miami Herald" and Perry Bacon
Jr., senior political reporter for NBC News.
So, Mark, let me start with you. And I`m just curious. We show that clip
of Charlie Crist in 1998 calling on Bill Clinton to resign as president,
and now just basking in Bill Clinton`s affection and warm words and
everything. It strikes me, though, that that is sort of -- right there is
one example of the awkwardness of somebody going from being in a Republican
to being a Democrat. And I wonder just in general has that transformation
been harder than he expected? Has that caused any issues for him in
winning over voters in this race?
MARC CAPUTO, "THE MIAMI HERALD": I think so. But, remember Crist has gone
through certainly in politics a slow motion evolution in that in 2010 is
when he left the GOP and became an independent and started to kind of tack
more and more politically left. I think what he did, really, expect is how
resilient Governor Rick Scott would be. In the effect that his ad campaign
would have him - has got to spent at least 24 to $26 million, much of it
since March and almost all of it has been negative, it`s been trained on
Crist. And it`s taking a toll. You know, we always talk about how bad
negative ads are. But the reason politicians use them is that they work.
And they`re certainly working for Rick Scott right now, which is why, as
you mentioned, the polling average is probably shown with an inside the
error margin lead of about two percentage points.
KORNACKI: And this - I mean - so tell me from afar, I`m not wrong to be
surprised by that. Because I`ve looked at Rick Scott`s approval numbers
and I`ve said this guy should be a goner.
CAPUTO: Indeed. You know. He barely squeaked into office in 2010. This
was - that was then a Tea Party Republican year. And he only won by about
61,000, less than 62,000 votes. But part of the story there is that of
South Florida, of the big urban counties of Miami-Dade, Broward in Palm
Beach had actually voted just at the state-wide averages and held the
margins as they were, versus the Democrat, that is the Democrat versus the
Republicans. Scott would have lost by 250,000 votes instead of winning by
61,000 votes. Now, the bottom line there is that South Florida, this big
Democratic area has a real problem with turnouts, certainly in midterm
election years and that, if Charlie Crist does not get a decent turnout,
not a great turnout, just a mediocre turnout, he`s going to lose.
KORNACKI: So, Perry, in terms of Bill Clinton`s role in this, it`s
interesting to me always to watch Bill Clinton -- a lot of people -- this
is not the first example of somebody who like - you could think back to
during impeachment who was saying things like that about - now doesn`t mind
being associated with him. But from Bill Clinton`s, we know what`s in it
for Charlie Crist. What`s in it for Bill Clinton? Is this - can you read
Bill Clinton going into a race like this as part of 2016 strategy, you
know, basically distributing chips that his wife can call in?
PERRY BACON JR., NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: I think it is useful. I
mean he`s also campaigned in Arkansas, he`s campaigning in Maine, he`s
campaigned in Kentucky, of course. I think it`s definitely is, he wants to
show that Clinton - that Bill Clinton are team players, they are invested
in the Democratic Party beyond just Hillary Clinton to be like a president,
but also to help build the party in other ways as well. I asked Crist
about the comments of `98. And Crist is, of course, the man who changes
political views pretty easily, and he went and just raved and raved and
raved about how great of a president Bill Clinton was which is so striking
KORNACKI: Yeah, it must have been the first six years that were so great.
Because those last two years he didn`t want him in office anymore.
So, Marc, what - in terms of the effect of Bill Clinton`s visit, you talked
about the voters that Charlie Crist needs to mobilize, I know that was a
big point of emphasis in the speech that Bill Clinton gave. Is mobilizing
these voters. Do you think it has that effect?
CAPUTO: I think it probably does to a degree. Albeit one thing you
shouldn`t do in Miami, which has atrocious traffic, is try to hold a rally
at 6:00 p.m. on a Friday.
CAPUTO: Usually 6:00 p.m. on a Friday so when you`re dumping bad news, not
advertising that Bill Clinton is coming for you, the newly minted
Democratic nominee for governor. That having been said, that makes a
difference. There is a bit of a debate in Democratic circles in Florida
about whether President Obama should come down because these poll numbers
are going from pretty poor to bad, perhaps abysmal. But nevertheless, a
big key to this is black voters. They`re a huge part of the Democratic
Party. They overperformed in 2012 and helped President Obama win re-
election. They underperformed in 2010 and by extension kind of helped Rick
Scott become governor. So, you`re going to need to turn on the black
voters. You`re going to need to get out there and cause some excitement.
And one fault of Charlie Crist that he did is that when he had a Democratic
primary opponent, he didn`t pay much of attention to her, he didn`t debate
her, there was no buzz over the campaign, and there`s not a lot of buzz
over his candidacy now. Again, in part because there`s been about 24, 25,
$26 million in negative ads spent up against him. And that`s certainly
tough to buzz your way out of.
KORNACKI: Probably the most competitive, you know, big state, giant state
governor`s race as you will be keeping a close eye, I`m sure, talking to
you as the year goes on. Mark, my thanks to you, Mark, for joining us in
"The Miami Herald" this morning, Perry Bacon, you`ll be sticking around. I
want to see you a bit later. My challenge coming up is to convince you of
this, that Mitt Romney really might be running for president again. And
it`s not such a crazy idea at least. I would try to accept that challenge
KORNACKI: We wanted to show you this tweet we saw this morning from Mitt
Romney`s son Matt to someone who wants him to run for president? His
response, must have me confused with someone else, can`t imagine who.
There`s been a lot of talk lately about "can`t imagine who" running for
president again. And if that sounds like crazy talk to you, I`m going to
try to convince you that it`s not right on the other side of this break.
KORNACKI: Why Mitt Romney for president again isn`t such a crazy idea.
Two years can be a lifetime in politics. It was in April of 2012 that the
aide deputized by Mitt Romney to lead his search for a running mate
reported back to him with a list of 11 names. And Paul Ryan was on that
list, and so was Chris Christie and Marco Rubio and a few other names and
also the Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell. And it made perfect sense
that McDonnell would be on that list. Virginia is a big state, it`s a
crucial swing state. McDonnell enjoyed an approval rating of well over 60
percent. He delivered a response to the State of the Union address. Of
course, Romney didn`t end up picking Bob McDonnell in 2012, he chose Paul
Ryan instead. But that only started a different kind of chatter about the
Virginia governor. What about the White House in 2016 if Romney loses in
2012? But then came the allegations that a shady Virginia businessman
applied McDonnell and his wife with tens of thousands of dollars in gifts
and cash. Then the federal investigation, the end of his term as governor,
months of legal limbo, then the trial. And now this week the emphatic
final chapter of the Bob McDonnell story. Guilty verdicts, 11 of them on
federal corruption charges.
There`s a lot to be said about Bob McDonnell. But from a political
standpoint, it`s actually very easy, it`s over. He has no political
future. And that reality is directly related to an argument I`m about to
make that I know will make a lot of people roll their eyes. But here it is
anyway. I think the talk about Mitt Romney running for president again in
2016 is kind of serious, actually. It makes a lot more sense than most
people instinctively think it does. I know, I know, he`s already lost,
he`s already lost twice, he had all those wealth gaffs, the 47 percent
tape, all of that stuff. Surely the Republican Party could do better than
Well, that`s the thing. I`m not so sure they can. And I`m not so sure
they think they can either. Bob McDonnell was part of the reason why. He
was a very logical 2016 candidate two years ago, now he`s a scratch. And
there`s Chris Christie, he was going to be the favorite. Now, he`s in
Bridgegate limbo. Marco Rubio was going to be a rising star, but he`s
taking a pummeling on the right for reading the immigration tea leaves the
wrong way. Are you seeing a pattern here? There are some Republicans who
are very eager to run in 2016. Rand Paul is out there, Ted Cruz, too, Mike
Huckabee is making noise, Rick Santorum as well. But they`re all
candidates of the base. What about the candidate of the establishment, the
one who all the elected officials and interest groups and money people
rally around and who ends up being just acceptable enough to the base.
Here is a recent poll of the prospective GOP candidates from New Hampshire,
the first in the nation primary state, no one`s running away with it, not
much excitement about any of these candidates individually. Now we have
Romney`s name. Look at that, it`s a blowout. And it`s not just New
Hampshire. Here`s Iowa without Romney. Now here it is with him. Again,
not even close. And look closely because both of those polls do include
Jeb Bush. His name is just as big as Romney`s and he`s going to send a
signal this week that he`s very interested in potentially playing that
establishment candidate roll in 2016. But Romney is crushing Bush in both
of these key early states.
Look, I`m not saying those numbers would necessarily hold if Romney gets in
or that he`ll beat Hillary Clinton in a general election. But these
numbers, I think, should make you pause for a minute. Because one knock on
the idea of Romney running is that he would just be another Michael Dukakis
or Walter Mondale or some other losing candidate running again. But
Dukakis and Mondale were blown out when they ran. Romney won 24 states,
and remember, losing candidates have gone on to win before. It took Nixon
two campaigns to get it right. It took Ronald Reagan three tries. Maybe
you like Mitt Romney, maybe you don`t like Mitt Romney. But when you hear
about him possibly running again in 2016, my advice would be to not dismiss
it quite so quickly.
Here to tell me if I`m right, wrong or crazy, or maybe some combination of
all of it - we have Stephen Moore from the Heritage Foundation, so as "Roll
Call" editor and chief Christina Bellantoni. And MSNBC political analyst
Joan Walsh is back at the table with us. Steve Moore, more than anybody at
this table, you live in the world I`m talking about. So, I`m going to
start with you. The case I just made. What`s your reaction to it?
STEPHEN MOORE, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Yeah, I think you nailed it, Steve,
actually. I think every argument you made for Mitt Romney is the argument
that establishment Republicans are making. And when I talk to a lot of the
people who are part of that establishment, they say like who else is there?
Now, I`ll tell you the one guy who would sort of stand in his way is Jeb
Bush. Everybody is kind of waiting for Jeb to see what decision that he
makes. And he would be, you know, a big challenger to Romney for that kind
of establishment, big money support. But a couple of reasons why what
you`re saying, Steve, is not crazy. One is when I talk to Republicans,
they`re looking at these polls you`ve seen that if the election were held
today, Mitt Romney would win over Barack Obama in a landslide. And that
has a lot of Republicans salivating. So there is a lot of support for him.
He can raise a lot of money right out of the gate. But I`d make the case
there are a lot of -- this is going to be a field probably of a dozen
Republicans, people like Rick Perry, people like Mike Pounds, people like
Rand Paul, and the only reason that Mitt Romney is way up in those polls is
because he`s the guy that people have heard of.
KORNACKI: I thought that. But they`ve heard of Jeb Bush, and there`s Jeb
Bush sitting at that poll .
MOORE: That`s true.
KORNACKI: At six percent and Mitt Romney is at 35. But Christina, have
you seen a situation like this? Because the people say, oh, you know, it
would be another Dukakis and Mondale. Dukakis and Mondale weren`t polling
at 35, 40 percent a couple years after they lost.
BELLANTONI: I actually compare this more to what happened with Al Gore,
right? You know, it was sort of this, oh, Al Gore was right. We didn`t
give Al Gore enough of a chance, this was the sentiment among Democrats,
you know, come 2002, 2003, 2004. And so that`s why he was atop all of
those polls, even with names like Hillary Clinton in the mix at the time
and, you know, obviously John Kerry ended up becoming the nominee. And
then think about - it`s not a lot different from Hillary Clinton now,
right? Democrats are strongly considering and strongly favoring going back
to the person who didn`t win a primary and who wouldn`t necessarily be like
the end-all, be-all, I mean win 80 percent of the presidential vote if I
run in the general election. And so, it`s not impossible with all the
infrastructures there. The other thing about Jeb Bush, we spend a lot of
time talking about him and following what he`s doing. But he`s not a
national figure anymore in the way that Mitt Romney was. He just ran for
KORNACKI: Yeah, it`s true. And the last time I think, Jeb Bush, actually
ran in an election would be 2002, so that`s, you know, 12 -13 - 12 years
ago. I can do math. It`s 12 years ago.
BELLANTONI: You can do it.
KORNACKI: But so, Joan, I mean looking at this from your perspective, I
guess -- I`m sure Democrats would love to run against Mitt Romney again.
WALSH: Yes, I mean I do. I have mocked it in the past. But I think that
the case that you laid out is very clear. He would be a strong candidate.
I don`t think anybody should take comfort in polls showing that voters
would elect him again if faced with Barack Obama, presidents had a tough
summer and he`s not on the ballot. So, you know, you have to be looking at
what he would do against Hillary Clinton. But you would have two
establishment figures. He wouldn`t be running against somebody brand new.
So they have to take it seriously. But it really is a sign of weakness in
the party, that they have not produced another establishment figure.
There`s a Rand Paul. There`s a Ted Cruz. They could be formidable with
the base. But this establishment is out of gas. I mean Christie is in
trouble. Scott Walker gets mentioned. He might not even get re-elected in
Wisconsin. So, there`s something really broken here if you`re going to go
back to a Mitt Romney for a third try.
MOORE: Yeah, that is true, you know, that there is no clear favorite.
This is the time - the first time in 50 years, Steve, that there`s no clear
favorite for the Republicans. I have never seen that in my lifetime. So,
but you know, look at the Democrats. I mean look at people like Bill
Clinton, look at people like Barack Obama. I mean nobody would have
predicted that they were going to merge on the big stage the way they did.
And so, you know, the fact that there`s no clear front-runner for the
Republican, I don`t think that`s a big, big problem. The worry about Mitt
Romney that I hear is that the voters have rejected him. That there`s this
kind of likability factor that he doesn`t face. And, you know, when you
talk about Romney being a Republican, potentially being the Republican
nominee in 2016, you know who I think of? Adlai Stevenson. It didn`t work
out too well for him.
KORNACKI: No. That`s not - that`s not a comparison. But let me ask you
this, is there an indication, I mean just in signals maybe Mitt Romney is
sending behind the scenes among conservatives, among Republicans, is there
an indication he`s interested in this at all?
MOORE: Oh, absolutely. Yes. I don`t think there`s any question he wants
to run. I think he would like to be drafted, you know, as the kind of, you
know, the guy who can beat Hillary. So, I don`t have - I think there`s any
question that Mitt Romney wants to be president.
KORNACKI: And that`s amazing, Christina.
BELLANTONI: Well, you know, you think if you want to be president once,
that doesn`t ever go away again. Hillary Clinton is my example.
BELLANTONI: And you see a lot of the - like political consultant or
operative that didn`t love him or maybe worked for another candidate in the
primaries increasingly saying, well, maybe he was right. You know, or
maybe there are things that his campaign that weren`t quite right for the
time. But now given the president being so unpopular, of course, he`s
going to top a reelection that will never happen or another vote that would
never happen. So, that is just another thing that when you think the guy
can raise the money, he`s already got a presence in a lot of these states.
His blessing -- I don`t think he`s going to run, but none of it is
impossible. His blessing is going to mean a lot when it comes to the
ultimate Republican governor.
KORNACKI: Well, that`s and Joan, you were getting to this a minute ago.
So, it`s further, it`s the psychology of the base of the party. The
psychology of the base of the Republican Party, if they`re sort of devoutly
anti-Obama and you see a poll like Steve is talking about. That says, hey,
Mitt Romney would win the rematch in it ..
KORNACKI: They don`t want to hear the qualifiers you`re saying. It`s just
- it`s vindication of their long-held belief.
WALSH: Yeah. And I also think we`re in a different place with the Tea
Party and with the very conservative wing of the base. It`s still strong.
We can`t write it out.
KORNACKI: That`s for sure.
WALSH: Right it off, but there`s a sense that there`s disarray over on
that side that there are several Tea Party folks who, you know, seem like
they`re going to run. They`ll split that vote. And I think that there`s -
I think - I mean again, I`m with Christina, if you ask me to bet on it, I
would bet not. But if he wants to do it, I think he also knows what he did
wrong last time, 47 percent. And coming off like the guy.
KORNACKI: Sweep the room, sweep the room for microphones and cameras.
KORNACKI: Before you speak.
WALSH: Maybe talk a little differently.
KORNACKI: See you more, before you guys, a quick answer, if you could put
a percent on it, what`s the chance that Mitt Romney runs?
MOORE: I think it`s a coin flip. And the issue if Romney wins, his
mandate and his attraction will be one word after this president.
Competency, that he is competent, that he can do the job. And people feel
like maybe the guy in the White House right now isn`t so competent.
KORNACKI: And again, that`s the question, how that resonates with the
Republican base after eight years of President Obama. My thanks to
Heritage Foundation Steve Moore for joining us this morning.
MOORE: Thank you.
KORNACKI: I appreciate that. Still ahead, a former six-term mayor who is
going to prison and is trying to win his old job back. As political
comebacks go, this one would be extraordinary, the most interesting mayoral
candidate in America joins us next.
There`s suddenly a lot of noise in politics coming not from Democrats or
Republicans, but from independents. In just a few minutes, we`re going to
look at the Kansas Senate Race where an independent has a chance to topple
Republican Senator Pat Roberts. In Alaska the Democrat in the governor`s
race just dropped out this week, agreeing to team up with the independent
candidate Bill Walker who now has a real chance to win that race. And then
there`s the city of Providence, Rhode Island where Democrats hold a primary
on Tuesday to pick a candidate to run against the candidate who has already
shaken up that race. That would be independent Vincent A. Cianci Junior.
You probably known him better as "Buddy." Buddy Cianci, whose name for
better or worse has been synonymous with that city where he previously
served as mayor for nearly 22 years. Cianci also served time in federal
prison which ended his second stint as mayor back in 2002. He was
convicted of one count of racketeering and acquitted on 16 other charges in
what was known as the operation Plunderdome investigation. He was then
released in 2007, began hosting a local radio show and gave that up back in
June to take another shot at his old job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VINCENT A. CIANCI JR.: Today with a sense of humility, contrition and
confidence, I announce to you my candidacy for mayor of Providence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And before all this Cianci also spent ten years as mayor from
1974 to 1984. He was elected as a reformer, then he was forced to resign
after pleading no contest to assaulting a man he believe was having an
affair with his wife.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CIANCI: I respectfully submit my resignation as mayor of the city of
Providence to become effective at 7:59 p.m. on April 25, 1984.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, if he wins this year, it will be Buddy Cianci`s second
successful comeback attempt. And now the biggest debate in Tuesday`s
Democratic primary in Providence is who can best stop Buddy. One
candidate, Jorge Elorza is calling his Democratic opponent a Buddy clone.
"They draw from the same well and they have very similar constituencies.
But Buddy Cianci is much more charismatic, he`s much more of a personality.
For his part, the opponent he`s talking about there, Michael Solomon says
"I`m more knowledgeable, I`ve accomplished more, and I`ve been cleaning up
Buddy Cianci`s mess." So, Buddy Cianci is about to find out who he`ll be
running against this November, but first, he joins us now from Providence,
the once and perhaps future mayor of the city, Buddy Cianci, thank you for
taking a few minutes this morning. I appreciate this.
I want to read you - there was a story about your race in "The New York
Times" this weekend. And a political scientist was quoted from Brown
University named Wendy Schiller. And she said of this race, she said,
quote, "There`s a sense of panic really growing among a lot of people in
Providence that Buddy Cianci could win. Where do you think that feeling
comes from, that sense of panic?
BUDDY CIANCI, FMR. PROVIDENCE MAYOR: Well, the fact is that when I was
mayor the city of Providence excelled. We came from a city that really -
and needed an awful lot of leadership. And I think I provided it and the
administration I had provided it. We went from a city that frankly was not
exactly something we could be proud of to a city where "Money" magazine
said it was the safest city in the country back then. "USA Today" called
it one of the five renaissance cities, we embraced historic preservation,
we created the first arts district in America, we recaptured retail in one
generation, moved three rivers to create a wonderful water place park, made
our zoo one of the best ten in the country. And frankly, all those things
that people remember.
KORNACKI: But are there people who are nervous, though, that -- when she
says a sense of panic. Are you finding there are some people in the city
who are nervous about having you back as mayor?
CIANCI: Yeah, my opponents. They`re the ones who are nervous. They`re
the ones who are making - Look, they`ve had many people who wanted to run
for mayor and they think that I can`t win a two-man race, so they`ve had
more dropouts in that race than they`ve had dropouts in the Providence
school system. They`re afraid of the candidacy because yes, we have had
progress. And, you know, they think that I have got baggage. And I
shouldn`t` be mayor. Well, the American way is if you make a mistake, you
do your time, whatever you have to do, pay the price. And I paid that
price. And then you go forward. And I`ve tried to rebuild my life. And
as I go around the city of Providence, people accept me and frankly it`s
been a really great experience. But as I think this city needs help. One
of the opponents said, I think you said, it clean up my mess. I haven`t
been in city hall for 12 years. He`s been head of the city council for
four and also been on the city council for eight. They created a $110
million deficit. When I left the office it was $7 million surplus. Crime
is up, taxes are high. The fourth highest commercial property tax in
America. The highest car tax in America just about. And you know what
we`ve lost? Self-esteem. And I can restore that and people who support me
think I can. And we`re ahead in the polls and that`s all that matters to
me. Because we can give the leadership that`s so lacking in the city.
KORNACKI: Let me run one specific criticism by you that I hear when I talk
to people up there, and it`s that one of the jobs of the mayor, Providence,
any mayor of any city in this country, obviously, is to bring jobs in,
bring business in, and to bring a property tax base into the city as well,
to bring businesses into the city. And one of the criticisms they say, you
were convicted of a racketeering count back in 2002, there was corruption
in your administration, it was revealed in that trial. Would businesses
feel comfortable coming into Providence and doing business with the city of
Providence with somebody with your background as mayor?
CIANCI: Well, let me tell you, when this alleged corruption was going on,
I was found not guilty, of you said, of 16 of 17 charges, whatever it was.
I was found guilty of a conspiracy to commit a crime I was found not guilty
of. But when I was mayor, we experienced the biggest economic boom and
businesses came in. I`ll just give you a couple of them, Nordstrom, is one
of them, Macy`s, JC Penney. In addition to that, we attracted - we built
Providence Place mall. Didn`t seem to bother them. That`s just a figment
of people`s imagination or that`s what people are saying.
Look, you think businesses are going to say, oh, I`m not going to go to
Providence because Buddy Cianci is mayor? I think that they`d want to come
to Providence because they understood what the situation was like when I
was mayor. We had the biggest economic boom. We created jobs. Look at it
today, you can take a bowling ball and run it down the streets and you
won`t hit anybody. Number one. And number two, we don`t have the
confidence that we should have in our future. And this is a great city. I
don`t want to badmouth my city. It`s a great city. We have great
universities, great health care, great historic preservation, we have a
great arts community. All those things need to be combined together to
once again recapture the greatness of this city. And the candidates who
are out there now don`t have that imagination. There`s no vision.
Sometimes there is vision. All the vision in the world without action is a
daydream. And all the action in the world without vision is a nightmare.
That`s what we`ve had in this city for the past 12 years, $110 million
deficits, crime up. People don`t feel safe. Education system faltering
We need adult supervision. We need leadership, not just rhetoric. I can
provide that leadership.
KORNACKI: Let me just ask you one more question here. It`s been a couple
of months since you came out of your political retirement. You ended your
radio show. You started running for mayor. It`s been a while before that
since you ran for office. Are you finding as a candidate now that politics
has changed at all since you last ran?
CIANCI: Absolutely. It`s changed in many ways, technology. But this is
the case in every election. I guess technology gets better and better.
One of the things in America is we`ve lost our privacy. You can hire and I
haven`t, but you can hire these companies and get into the consumer habits
of voters, the index, probabilities of voting for you, all those kinds of
things. And the city of Providence is a changed city because we`ve had a
change in demographic. But some of these opponents of mine say, oh, he
can`t get elected because it`s a changing city. You know, they think
because we`ve had an increase in Latinos. Let me tell you something. They
think these -- our Latino population got here three minutes ago. They`ve
been here for 40 years. I was mayor when they were here, and provided not
only leadership but also a lot of assistance. And that`s why my biggest
support group is in the Latino community and the African-American
community. Now, as far as I`m concerned, I can win this election because
of leadership and because we have proven that we could lead this city and
take it to great heights in the past.
KORNACKI: All right. I want to thank Buddy Cianci, Providence mayoral
candidate, once and as we said, once and maybe future mayor. We appreciate
you taking a few minutes this morning.
CIANCI: Thanks a lot, Steve.
KORNACKI: We love debates and we love rowdy debates. And we love it when
those rowdy debates cap off the biggest political bombshell of the week,
maybe one of the biggest ones of the year, in the most interesting Senate
race of the year. We`ll have all the highlights of that debate. That`s
KORNACKI: This week the political world was rocked by the news that in
Kansas, the Democrat was dropping out of the Senate race against endangered
Republican Pat Roberts. This was actually good news for Democrats or at
least it could be, because it consolidates opposition to Roberts behind
independent candidate, Greg Orman. If Greg Orman wins and he then chooses
to caucus with Democrats in the Senate, it could make the difference
between Democrats holding on to the Senate and losing it to Republicans.
Yesterday afternoon, Orman and Roberts met for their first debate, and it
was lively. The setting was the Kansas state fair, where a raucous
bipartisan crowd cheered and jeered the candidates as they went back and
forth with each other. Not surprisingly, the decision of the Democratic
candidate to drop out came up early.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG ORMAN, CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE: I`ve been asked by a lot of people
did you have anything to do with it? All I can say is I think our progress
in the polls was obviously something he had to take into consideration.
SEN. PAT ROBERTS, R-KAN.: When Claire McCaskill calls the Democrat
candidate and urges him to get off the ballot, you know something fishy is
ORMAN: This does sort of create a really unique situation. I think it`s
the first time that I have heard a Republican candidate complain about
disenfranchising Democratic voters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: You can hear the crowd there. We should add, this was all
broadcast on the radio. We were all listening on our computers yesterday.
Could not find a video feed of that. But we had the audio. And Roberts
used every opportunity to paint Orman as a liberal and tie him to
Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: My opponent has a record for voting for Barack Obama, running
against me as a Democrat, and donating to Harry Reid. If you want to make
change in Washington, get rid of Harry Reid, put him out to pasture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Orman presented himself as a man looking for solutions, not
a party label, but did stake out a clear stance when it came to the issue
of gun control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ORMAN: I don`t think that having a loophole that allows people who
couldn`t get guns at a legitimate gun dealer to get them otherwise is sound
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
ORMAN: And so I would be open to addressing the gun show loophole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Roberts also waited until the end of the hour-long debate to
push Orman on the million dollar question, which party will he caucus with
if he wins? Orman was saved by the bell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: I just want to know when you`re going to take a stand and tell us
what party you`re going to caucus with. Are you going to be a Republican
one day and a Democrat the next, and a Democrat one day and a Republican --
where are you going to be?
MODERATOR: Time, Senator. Time. We hate to end on that note, but we do
need to get to the closing statements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And joining me now is a "Kansas City Star" reporter who covered
the debate, is following all the twists and turns in this race, our
resident Kansas expert, Dave Helling, he joins us now. Dave, I appreciate
you taking a few minutes. So let`s start with that question, they didn`t -
- they started to get into it at the end there. Democrats nationally are
clearly betting that if it comes to it, if they need his vote to decide
control of the Senate, they`ll have Greg Orman. And Greg Orman, we had him
on the show a few weeks ago, he doesn`t seem very interested in answering
that question. Didn`t have to answer it yesterday. Can he get away with
not answering that for this entire campaign?
DAVE HELLING, KANSAS CITY STAR: He didn`t answer it after the debate
either. He met with reporters outside the arena at the state fair. We
asked him, come on, you`ve got to indicate which party you would prefer if
you go to Washington. What he has said and continues to say is he will
make that decision when he gets to Washington based on the party he thinks
is addressing the things he wants to see addressed. And I think he also
said, look, if it`s 50/50 or if it`s 50/49 or whatever, I could have
enormous influence on who the majority is and minority is in the Senate.
So I just want to sort of wait and see what happens.
Voters will have to decide for themselves. I do think Democrats, as you
suggest, are quite interested in electing Greg Orman in the state of
Kansas, because they do think at the end of the day, he`ll end up caucusing
with them in Washington.
KORNACKI: Dave, do we know anything more now about -- Chad Taylor was the
Democratic candidate in this race, and he didn`t seem to have that much
support from his own party, didn`t seem to have that much money. Do we
know anything more now about the circumstances that got him out of this
race? There`s been reports about Claire McCaskill, the senator from
Missouri, maybe playing a role. Certainly Pat Roberts and his campaign
have been pointing the finger at Harry Reid, like they do for everything, I
guess. But do we know more now about what exactly happened there?
HELLING: Clearly there was some involvement in terms of talking with Chad
Taylor from Washington. Claire McCaskill, you mentioned. Other senators,
other officials with the party may have called. He also got some advice,
we`re told, from Democrats in the state, not all of them, but some of them
saying, look, Chad, here is your problem. It`s almost certain that you
won`t win this race. You`ll spend a lot of time traveling the state.
You`ll spend a lot of money. But Democrats just don`t beat Republicans at
least in the Senate races in Kansas. The best chance we have to have any
chance of removing Pat Roberts is to get behind Greg Orman. So I think it
was an accumulation of advice. It wasn`t any one thing. I will tell you
on the way to the studio this morning, I drove in from Kansas, and there
are Chad Taylor billboards everywhere. So you do get the sense, too, that
it was a last-minute decision, that he was all in until maybe Tuesday of
this week, when he finally decided to get out.
KORNACKI: I can tell you we had contact with his campaign as of about
Tuesday, about coming on the show this week and he seemed open to it until
Let`s look at it from the other side, looking at Pat Roberts, then.
Because Pat Roberts has taken a lot of heat. There was the very
embarrassing story for him about his residency, and basically it`s a
recliner at a friend`s place. The idea, too, he`s not been very visible in
this state and there have been reports certainly from Washington
Republicans that they had been hoping he would retire, they could replace
him with a candidate who might not have some of those issues. The Pat
Roberts you saw yesterday at this debate, just listening over the radio, I
have to say, (inaudible), he was feistier than I expected. What was your
impression of him?
HELLING: He was feisty. But Pat Roberts, the problem for Pat Roberts is
this, Steve, he has not been pushed in a campaign literally in his entire
career. He was first elected to the House in 1980, he`s a Republican in
Kansas, first in the House, then the Senate. He really hasn`t had a strong
opponent. Democrats have usually put up bunching bags, and he`s cruised
with 55, 60, 65 percent of the vote. This time not only is he being
challenged, but he`s being challenged in two unique ways. First by a Tea
Party Republican in the primary. He certainly hasn`t ever been primaried
before, and now by an independent, not a Democrat, who can say like Greg
Orman did yesterday, hey, I want to reform food stamps, hey, I own guns,
all the things that sort of help an independent in Kansas that might not
help a Democrat. So Pat Roberts is responding to a campaign environment
that he is not used to, and I think yesterday you saw a bit of that
struggle. He was reading, if you didn`t see it, you wouldn`t have known
that he`s reading from notes, he had a notebook on the podium. So he had
to refer to sort of positions on some issues. Greg Orman, I must say, I
thought was very reserved, on point. Somebody after the debate said, boy,
he sure looked senatorial. That was important for Orman as well because a
lot of Kansans don`t know who he is, and this was his first chance to
introduce himself to the public.
KORNACKI: That`s really interesting about the notes. I heard it on the
radio, I heard it online, and I didn`t see Pat Roberts. That`s a very
interesting point there. Of course, there was a gubernatorial debate
before that, Sam Brownback and Paul Davis. That was fun to listen to. I
am very jealous of you being there, and I have to say, I think Kansas is
the funnest, most interesting political state to be in this year. I`m sure
we`ll talk to you more as the campaign goes on. But Dave Helling, from the
"Kansas City Star," appreciate it this morning.
HELLING: You bet.
KORNACKI: Still ahead, even within the blue Democratic Party, some voters
are redder than others. We`ll explain. That`s next.
KORNACKI: When bill Clinton campaigns in Kentucky with Senate candidate
Alison Grimes, he`s obviously there to support the candidacy of the
Democrat who is trying to unseat Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the
Senate. But there`s also a case to be made that he is there to support the
presidential ambitions of his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton. Because in some ways, the Bluegrass State might actually be bluer
than it first appears. Kentucky has a Democratic governor right now, Steve
Beshear. He`s a popular governor, too. The state exchange that Beshear
developed to implement the Affordable Care Act, a program called Kynect, is
not only an example of a state exchange done right, lots of people in
Kentucky also seem to like it, so long as you don`t actually call it
Obamacare, even though that`s what it is.
President Clinton won the state of Kentucky twice back in the 1990s. Then
Senator Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama in Kentucky in 2008, although we
should point out that at that time, the race was effectively decided for
Obama when that primary was held. In fact, Hillary Clinton didn`t just win
Kentucky in 2008; these are the county-by-county results of the 2008
Democratic primary, with shades of variation to reflect just how heavily a
candidate prevailed. John Edwards won the greener counties, Barack Obama
won the bluish-purple ones, and Hillary Clinton, she took the red counties.
Look at just how red the map appears in that stretch from Arkansas through
Kentucky up to West Virginia, all the way to parts of upstate New York.
That right there is Hillary Clinton country. That`s what we learned in the
2008 campaign. And it could explain why a political couple that left
Arkansas when they left the White House has been working so hard to
maintain their political network there. In fact, "The Washington Post"
reports that the Clintons` allies in Arkansas maintain that Hillary would
put the state in play in the 2016 general election, even though Arkansas
has become very Republican in the two decades since Bill Clinton won there
in the 1990s.
So is this map an accurate indicator of what may happen in 2016? Could
Hillary Clinton win a state like Arkansas, could she win Kentucky, could
she win everywhere else that is bright red on this map? Could she win a
general election there, or were there other factors at play in the 2008
primaries, things that would take that wide swath of voters and make them
more Republican no matter which Democrat is running? Here to discuss this,
we have with us political consultant Steve Jarding, who is also a lecturer
at the Harvard Kennedy School. NBC News senior political reporter Perry
Bacon Jr., back with us. University of Maryland Baltimore County political
science professor Thomas Schaller, he is also the author of the famous book
"Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." He`s with
us too. And MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh is back with us.
Tom Schaller, you literally wrote the book on a subject like this. Let me
start with you. The argument being made by people around the Clintons here
is Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri, these are states that
Barack Obama didn`t carry in 2008, did not carry in 2012, they`ve actually
become more Republican at the presidential level, in a lot of ways, but
that Bill Clinton carried back in the 1990s. They are saying these are
states that with Hillary Clinton, Democrats can get back. Do you think
that basic argument has merit?
TOM SCHALLER, AUTHOR: Not really. That strip along Appalachia where
Hillary Clinton did well in the Democratic primary, that`s just among
Democratic voters. That`s not independents and Republicans. That`s the
same strip that you saw on the famous map two days after the 2008 election,
when Barack Obama, despite a ten-point net shift - Bush wins by 2.5, and
then Obama wins by 7.5. So that`s a ten-point net shift between 2004 and
2008, and yet those counties went more Republican. And it`s hard not to--
KORNACKI: As the rest of the country was going to the Democrats in 2008,
they were actually retrenching.
SCHALLER: So the notion here now is that maybe Hillary Clinton, because
she`s a Clinton and her husband is from Arkansas, and I guess she`s from
Arkansas, our former first lady, and it`s white voters, she can bring some
of them back. And I think she will bring some of them back. But I think
the real problem, we can talk about this more, and maybe Joan has
something, is going to be the gender gap. The gender gap is essentially a
white voter phenomenon. It doesn`t exist among blacks. Black women and
black men vote the same way. Latino men and Latina women. It`s a white
voter phenomenon, and it`s a non-Southern white voter. If you look at the
swing states from the last election, last few elections, or the non-swing
states, Southern states have very little gender gap. It`s the non-Southern
states. The Wisconsins, the Iowas--
KORNACKI: Is there a reason for that?
SCHALLER: Well, white women vote the same way. They vote as Republican as
their husbands. In fact, there were elections in Obama`s election where
white women voted more Republican than men. The gender gap was inverted.
So Hillary Clinton, the first female major party nominee in presidential
history, is going to have a gender problem in the South, I would say.
KORNACKI: Steve Jarding, same question to you, then. When you look at that
map, what Tom is describing here, again, I guess you could say it`s a swath
of Appalachian territory, maybe going from eastern Oklahoma up to West
Virginia, maybe a little bit farther north. These are the areas that have
really been the most hostile to Barack Obama. But in a lot of those areas,
there`s an older Democratic tradition. Do you think as a Democrat, looking
at the national map, your party`s best days are sort of behind it there?
STEVE JARDING, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Well, it appears that it is. But I
think in part, and Tom and I have had this debate in the past, that part of
the problem for Democrats is that they effectively have written off the
South. John Kerry famously at the Democratic convention when he was
nominated, essentially announced he was not going to campaign in the South.
I don`t believe that in any political election, certainly presidential
election, you begin with subtracting voters. I understand the demographics
that you have to look at. But I think politics is the art of addition, not
subtraction. So having said that, if a Democratic candidate looks at the
South and says I need to spend some time there, I really think that in an
economic model, you could turn votes. I think--
KORNACKI: Steve, not all states are created equal when it comes to
politics. There`s a difference between maybe Democratic prospects in I`m
going to say Kentucky versus Mississippi. Where do you think the Democrats
-- what are their best chances for making back ground in the South?
JARDING: I think that`s right. You go further south and I suspect it`s a
little more difficult. Although with some of the changing demographics
with Latino voters, in a generation or so, we may see that changing. But I
think it`s more in those mid states, if you go from Arkansas, Missouri,
Kentucky, potentially go into the Carolinas, I think there`s hope there.
One of the reasons I think Democrats have to at some point figure this out,
is if you look at where voters are going to reside in this country in the
next generation, 10, 15 years from now, 40 percent of the population in the
United States is going to be in the South. And Democrats I think at some
point need to figure out that we can`t just keep writing it off. I
believe, and I`ve written about this, that I think if Democrats talk about
issues, economic issues, if they go in and if they get past the polarizing
single issues and make a case Democrats are trying to help the economic lot
of people that live in the South, still rather depressed area like much of
rural America has been for generations, that that`s our best argument. I`m
still waiting for the Democrat that will do that. I think if they spend
time there in the South and work the South, that they`ve got a chance to
win. It`s tough right now. I get that. But I do think the demographics
are changing, and I think the opportunities will change with them.
KORNACKI: What do you think of this, Joan?
WALSH: I think they change state by state. Now you have a situation in
Georgia for example, where people are looking at the black vote actually
and thinking Michelle Nunn has a chance because of the black vote, and if
you can do something in the midterm that you can do in presidential years,
that`s a real shot for her. To pick up on what Tom was saying, there are
variations. Kay Hagan in North Carolina, a purple state, she does have a
gender gap working for her. Alison Lundergan Grimes did. I don`t know
what the latest polls are telling us. So there is still a gender gap.
There also was actually a not ginormous but a gender gap between black men
and black women when it came to voting for the president. Black women were
Barack Obama`s strongest supporters. And I think you even saw it a little
bit in Virginia with Terry McAuliffe.
We risk being very stereotypical about the South. And I know you`re trying
to zero in on these particular states. I would like to see Hillary Clinton
contest for them. But I think it will be tough if she faces a Rand Paul,
for example, that would be an interesting race in Kentucky.
KORNACKI: That takes -- Perry Bacon, let me bring you in here, Perry Bacon
from Kentucky, when you look at the specific states we`re talking about
here, that the Clintons are talking about, do you think Hillary Clinton in
2016 could win back the states that Bill Clinton got in the `90s and have
been gone in the Obama era?
BACON: I think the key issue to talk about is coal. Particularly Kentucky
and West Virginia, those are the coal-producing states. Hillary Clinton is
going to be leading a party that`s increasingly one that`s focused on
climate change, limiting carbon emissions. That`s going to be really tough
for her. No matter what she says, she`s much closer to the environmental
position than who the Republican nominee will be.
Second question is, the second point is, the Democrats who are doing well
in the South, you look at Beebe in Arkansas, Beshear in Kentucky, Manchin
in West Virginia, they`re able to appeal. They sort of talk country, they
connect with rural people very well. Bill Clinton does that I think still
at this stage. I don`t feel like Hillary Clinton has that kind of
connection with those voters in the same way. And I think that`s going to
be hard to do. I feel like if Hillary Clinton can win Kentucky, she can
probably win Ohio by many more points, and probably should spend most of
her time there instead of trying to changing a state that`s not really
culturally with her.
KORNACKI: Well, Joan says she doesn`t know what the latest polls say. But
I do, hot off the presses. We have some new polling data, on some of the
biggest Senate races in the country, some surprising numbers. That`s my
tease. We`ll tell them to you as soon as we come back from this break.
KORNACKI: All right. I teased them, I`ll get right to them. We have
three new polls from three battleground Senate races. This is an NBC News-
Marist poll that`s just out this hour. I want to give them to you all now.
We`ll start in Arkansas, Mark Pryor, Democratic incumbent there, running
against Tom Cotton. This new NBC News Marist poll has him trailing, has
Mark Pryor trailing the Republican by five points. If you look inside
Arkansas, this gets to the discussion we`re having right now. President
Obama`s approval rating in Arkansas, 31 percent; Bill Clinton`s favorable
rating is 62 percent. Clinton expected to be campaigning there in the next
Move to Kentucky, Mitch McConnell in a tough race there, but look at this.
47-39. An eight-point lead in the new NBC News-Marist poll, the largest
gap I`ve seen in that race all year. Look closer, Obama`s approval rating
in Kentucky, 31 percent; Bill Clinton`s favorability rating, 61 percent.
And finally, in the state of Colorado, Mark Udall defending against
Republican Cory Gardner, he is up six in the new NBC News-Marist poll.
Again, Obama`s approval rating a little better there. 39 percent. Bill
Clinton`s favorable score a little not as good, 55 percent, but still good.
So those are the latest numbers.
Tom, you were saying in the break, though, when we talk about the South,
Arkansas, Kentucky, and the future for the Democratic Party there. Is
basically there`s two kind of Democrats in the South, there is a Clinton
Democrat and Obama Democrat.
SCHALLER: Yes, I mean, Clinton states are what, Louisiana, Arkansas,
Tennessee, Gore`s home state, Kentucky. Right? Obama`s states are new
South states, the states with the most nonnative Southerners -- Florida,
Virginia, North Carolina. So Democrats are going to win the South, they`re
not going to win the Bubba states. All due respect to Steve Jarding, and I
really respect him, he`s a really smart guy, but I think the Bubba
argument, where we convert Bubba, is over. And the notion that Democrats
are going to win with economic populism -- if they can`t win on economic
populism after the greatest financial crisis in 60 years, then when are
they going to win? When are white working class Southerners going to move
Democratic if not in 2007, 2008, 2009? It`s just not going to happen.
KORNACKI: Winning -- Democrats winning the South with non-Southern voters.
That`s an interesting point. I am really sorry, I have to apologize,
because I wanted this to go on so much longer. We just lost a little time
in some other segments and I have to cut it short here. My thanks to
political consultant Steve Jarding, NBC News senior political reporter,
Perry Bacon Jr. Appreciate you both joining us this morning. What should
we know for the week ahead? Our answers after this.
KORNACKI: All right. What should we know? Christina Bellantoni.
BELLANTONI: "Roll Call" is revealing its 50 richest member of Congress
list. This is going to come out on Twitter over the next few hours
@rollcall is our handle. I`m going to reveal number 50. This is Florida
Republican Tom Rooney. He is of the Rooney family of the Pittsburgh
Steelers fame, in fact. He is worth at least $7.47 million in net worth.
KORNACKI: That makes him number 50. @rollcall on Twitter. They`re
rolling it out this afternoon, check it out. Tom Schaller.
SCHALLER: My prediction is for this week and 10, 15 years from now. This
week will be remembered as the week that Latinos finally turned on Obama.
And 10 or 15 years from now, this will be the week that Obama looks back
and realizes this was his DOMA moment, and he regrets it.
WALSH: This is the week we`ll figure out how good the president is with
damage control with a critical part of his base. He`s going to be doing a
lot of work in the next few days.
KORNACKI: Yes, we`ll see what happens. Again, if we get to December and
he does it then, we`ll see how that works, the damage control. Also this
week the Patriots win their first game.
I want to thank MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh, "Roll Call`s" Christina
Bellantoni, University of Maryland Baltimore County`s Thomas Schaller for
getting up. Thank you for joining us. We`ll be back next weekend,
Saturday, Sunday, 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. Up next, "Melissa Harris-Perry."
We`ll see you next week here on UP.
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