'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, October 12th, 2014
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Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: October 12, 2014
Guest: Stephen Moore, Michael Tomasky, Tom Davis, Ezra Klein, Connie
Schultz, Rick Weiland, Larry Pressler, Marsha Blackburn
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: A new case of Ebola in Dallas.
Good morning. Thanks for joining us. It`s the second Sunday in October,
the 2014 elections are now just 23 days away. And in just a little bit,
we`re going to be speaking with two of the candidates in the three-way
Senate race that exploded onto the national radar this week and that could
decide control of the chamber in next November`s - in this November`s
election. But first, we have some breaking news out of Dallas, Texas, this
morning where a hospital worker has now tested positive for Ebola. It
happened at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The statement from the
hospital says it`s a health care worker who provided care for Thomas Eric
Duncan. He`s the Ebola patient who was hospitalized there and who died on
Wednesday. The first, and so far only Ebola death in the United States. A
preliminary test at the state public health laboratory in Austin shows the
worker is positive for Ebola. That is a preliminary test. More testing
will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in
Atlanta. For now, NBC`s Sarah Dallof is standing by live in Dallas here.
What can you tell us?
SARAH DALLOF, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning. This test came
back late last night. Although this health worker began experiencing a
fever on Friday. They immediately went in for that test, which went down
to the lab in Austin and that result coming in back late last -- or last
night, rather. We don`t know the identity of this person or their specific
job function. We do know that this is a health care worker who helped
treat Thomas Eric Duncan and who was, you know, or being, had this fever
develop on Friday. Now, health officials say they are now working to
identify any contacts this person may have had, anyone who may have been
exposed to the Ebola while they do the finalizing of the confirmation
testing at the CDC in Atlanta.
Now, according to state health officials, that they knew that this was a
possibility, that this second case could happen and that they have been
preparing for it and they are now expanding their team here in Dallas to
ensure this illness doesn`t spread any further. We`re expecting a press
conference in about a half an hour here, including a hospital
representative, the Mayor of Dallas and Judge Jenkins are all expected to
speak here. We are hoping to learn a few more details about this person.
We don`t know if this is one of the people who initially treated Thomas
Eric Duncan when he came to the hospital on September 26 and was then sent
home with antibiotics or we don`t know if this is somebody who treated him
when he came back via ambulance and to stay at the hospital where he
eventually passed away. So, a lot of unknowns right now. But what we do
know is this was a health care worker who treated Duncan who tested
positive for Ebola in a preliminarily test on in Austin.
We are now going to wait for the - for the results of the finalization test
back, confirmation test from the CDC in Atlanta. And we are waiting for
this press conference coming up in about 30 minutes. For some more details
on this person, and on their condition and who they may have had contact
with - is very key in this - in the case that Thomas Eric Duncan, to locate
anyone who may have been exposed to this illness and have them monitoring
their conditions so they can catch any of the signs and symptoms of Ebola
right away and begin treatment. Back to you.
KORNACKI: Sarah Dallof in Dallas, thanks for that report. Actually, you
said, there`s a press conference coming up within the hour. We`ll be
covering that for you live when it happens. National Security Advisor
Susan Rice is urging other countries to do more to stop the spread Ebola.
Rice is on "Meet the Press" this morning. She told Chuck Todd that other
countries have not done enough to contain the epidemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: No, they have not done enough. And
we are pushing very hard for everybody to do more. This is going to take
all hands on deck because the goal has to be to contain this epidemic in
the three countries that we`ve seen in West Africa, to try to prevent its
spread and to provide the appropriate care to those that need it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Susan Rice have a point? If so, what countries is she pointing
her finger at? To talk about this, and joining now, we have Michael
Tomasky here, former Congressman Tom Davis, Suzy Khimm. Thank you all for
being here. So, obviously, this is something we - that is a developing
story overnight. I mean I guess - I guess looking at it from the American
perspective or else we are worried about, is this going to grow into
something more than we`ve seen already? I think - I don`t want to say the
good news here, because this is - it`s obviously a tragic situation for
this individual, but this is something that health experts have been saying
is possible. In terms of you have patients in these hospitals, you have
care workers who are in close proximity to them. It`s certainly is within
the realms of possibility that those care workers are going to, you know,
one or two of them, are going to come down with this. So, in terms of the
spreading wider into the community, that`s not necessarily what this means
this morning, as concerning as this is.
MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Yeah. I think the three main questions,
I think that most people are going to want to know is how exactly did this
person contract the disease from the patient and what steps is the hospital
taking to make sure that that doesn`t happen again? And then finally, the
third thing, what are this person`s chances of survival because supposedly
this is not a death sentence here in the United States. It`s treatable.
And let`s hope so in this case. And I think people will want to know the
answers to those three questions.
SUZY KHIMM, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I think to Susan Rice`s point, though, that
in terms of other countries doing more - what we do have here in the U.S.
is a really strong health infrastructure and we have a coordinated
government response to this. Obviously, a bunch of things slipped through
the cracks in terms of this first case and that was very unfortunate with
really tragic ends. But now that everyone is engaged, we can have this
coordinated, extremely well-funded response and that`s something that we
haven`t been able to see in a number of countries in Africa where they were
behind the ball, but that`s also partly because they don`t have the
existing infrastructure and resources to be able to approach this in sort
of aggressive manner.
KORNACKI: What do you make of what Susan Rice is saying?
FMR. REP. TOM DAVIS (R) VIRGINIA: This is - this is done now in the last
month of a political campaign. So, it just doesn`t take much time to get
this into political sphere, have this demagogue, use all Mark Pryor -
questions about the response to Ebola last week in Arkansas. We`ve had
other members, when they came to Nebraska, putting out any press release
against bringing a victim there for treatment. I suspect this heightens
that and, you know, in a political season I think this raises the scare
KORNACKI: Yeah, I know.
KHIMM: Yeah, but just to that, I`m not sure that raising the question of
other countries responding to this, I mean I think, you know, the question
would be, well, what would be the response they should take? Is there
anything that we could do, the World Health Organization can do to help
that response? I mean one thing that really struck me was the fact that
the World Health Organization has been suffering from budget cuts, that
they had been hollowed in their own ability to respond and also in contrast
to something like SARS, there aren`t, you know, there was reporting done by
"The New York Times" showing that there were wealthy individuals as well as
corporations, businesses who are really throwing money at the World Health
Organization to help that response. And that`s just, again, in terms of
resources not what we`ve seen and, you know, happening in Africa in the
same sort of way.
KORNACKI: Yeah, just to the point that Congressman Davis is making, it`s
true, just - to bring the political season into any kind of, you know,
fear-based, you know, phenomenon and it`s a bad combination. We have been
seeing some of that this week, but we will keep an eye on this. As we say,
there`s going to be a press conference within the hour. We`ll take you to
that press conference when it happens.
For now, though, we want to turn for the week`s other political story, and
the question for the culture wars, the question about the culture wars, how
long will gay marriage continue to be a political issue in this country?
When it denied appeals from five states this week, the Supreme Court
essentially made same-sex marriage the law of the land in more than half
the country, including some very red states. Some Republicans like Mike
Huckabee denounced the decision and threatened to leave the party, if it
retreats on gay marriage, but more and more these days, when asked about
gay marriage, Republicans are giving responses like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe in old-fashion traditional marriage. But I
don`t really think the government needs to be too involved with this and I
think that the Republican Party can have people on both sides of the issue.
KORNACKI: And you could rethink it at some point, too?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Ever since Joe Biden and Barack Obama endorsed gay marriage in
2012, virtually every major Democratic leader in the country has followed
and supported it, too. And now, it`s essentially non-issue on the
Democratic side, but what about the Republican side? A lot of the
Republican establishment looks ready to move on, but will their base let
them move on? When will we see a Republican do what President Obama did in
2012? Run for the White House while saying that they are okay with same-
We`ll turn back to the panel now. And now on - that`s a question. I`ve
sort of - I`ve been asking this because I - we saw John Boehner was doing
an event for a gay congressional candidate yesterday. It seems like the
establishment kind of wants to get there, but is the base -- when you
listen to somebody like Mike Huckabee this week saying, hey, I`m out of
this party. You know, Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucus when he ran for
president. So, not a marginal figure in the party. There`s an issue
there. Isn`t that .
DAVIS: Well, actually, religious conservatives are a strong part of that
base, and certainly in Iowa and in some other nomination states, and I
think will still play for a while. But I`ve never seen public opinion move
as quickly on an issue as this has in the last four years, from the
president who has flipped his position, led by the vice president, I might
add. And it`s coming .
KORNACKI: So when do you think -- we`re approaching 2016. Do you think
there will be a Republican candidate, a serious Republican candidate who
runs in 2016 and says, yeah, I`m OK with gay marriage?
DAVIS: Well, I think this. I think it`s getting out of the political
sphere and into the judicial sphere very, very quickly. And takes it away
from politics, and what happens at that point is I think that country
becomes acculturated to it. And the party just kind of moves on to the
next set of issues.
KHIMM: Yeah, I think - I think that sort of shrugged at the end. And kind
of sums it up. I was just in South Dakota, I was talking to Gordon Howie.
Who is the candidate? You haven`t heard that much about .
KORNACKI: This is the fourth candidate ..
KHIMM: Yes, this is fourth candidate, and in South Dakota - So he is
running as a religious conservative. He says he`s a staunch social
conservative. He doesn`t believe there should be a separation between
church and state, but when asked about gay marriage, his response is very
interesting. He doesn`t believe that gay marriage is in the Bible, he
doesn`t believe it`s sanctioned by God, he doesn`t approve of it, but at
the same time he doesn`t believe in stripping rights away from people who,
you know, that they already have them and he doesn`t believe that the
government should get involved in that kind of manner. And, so, you know,
it`s not the most important issue for him. You know, it`s not something
that he is kind of, that`s driving his campaign. He`s much more focused on
abortion. I think again, I agree with the congressman here that there`s
going to be this kind of retreat away from .
KORNACKI: Well, yes, so there`s this idea of the some - a softer treat
with - the courts get involved and then, you know, Republicans who once
opposed it or anybody who once opposed it can sort of say, can shrug their
hands and say, the court have spoken. Nothing I can do about it, but I
wonder, Michael, it seems like - I think there are probably a lot of gay
marriage supporters out there who think specifically the Republican Party
and, remember, you know, ten years is a long time, ten years is not a long
time. Remember, in 2004, George W. Bush`s strategy to get re-elected, it
revolved around, get this gay marriage ballot question on it - across the
country, openly campaign for the constitutional amendment to ban gay
marriage. And I think there`s a lot of people out there saying, shouldn`t
it be more than just shrug, OK, shouldn`t there be a reckoning with hey,
this is what we were saying and we were wrong on this?
TOMASKY: Oh, I can guarantee you, there are a lot of people who think that
yes, and - the party will not do those kind of ballot initiatives anymore
going forward in most states because in most states, particularly in swing
states, that they are really - a hundred win, those kind of ballot
initiatives are not going to play for them anymore the way they played for
them in 2004. However, to say that, it`s not the same thing saying that
the Republican Party is going to even winkingly (ph) embrace gay marriage.
If you ask me to name a year that they will take opposition to same sex
marriage out of their platform, I`d say certainly no earlier than 2024 and
maybe even later than that. And, you know, public opinion in a lot of
these states is still going to be really, really strongly against same-sex
marriage. Virginia is one thing. Congressman and I were talking in the
green room. Virginia is probably going to go along. In a certain way like
Iowa has. But even if you look at the polls in Iowa today, it`s basically
TOMASKY: And that`s the difficulty.
KORNACKI: Especially in the Deep South.
KORNACKI: So, do you agree with that, what he`s saying? Let`s say the
Supreme Court - because they are sort of in limbo right now. Let`s say the
Supreme Court ends up weighing in with a national ruling and the gay
marriage becomes the law in 50 states. Is Republican Party, do you think,
still the platform who continues to say we oppose this?
DAVIS: I think it will just graduate, move out of the platform. I don`t
think they will support it. I think they just talk about other things.
KORNACKI: Talk about other things. Yeah.
KORNACKI: That`s agreeing climate.
KORNACKI: That does seem to be where we`re heading. It`s amazing. Only
ten years ago at this time, George W. Bush was running around winning the
election on anti-gay marriage. Anyway, we`re still awaiting that press
conference on the second Ebola patient in Dallas. We`ll keep an eye on
that. We`ll be right back with more with the panel.
KORNACKI: All right. If you`re just joining us, we`re following some
breaking news this morning. Overnight we learned that another person in
the Dallas area has now tested positive for Ebola. The health care worker
who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, he`s the Ebola patient who died last
week. NBC News is reporting that this is the first person-to-person
transmission of Ebola in the United States. And NBC`s Kristen Welker is
reporting that President Obama has been apprised of the situation. We are
also awaiting a press conference with the Dallas County Judge that is said
to begin just minutes from now. We will carry it as soon as it starts.
Until then, moving on to some political news in the state of Texas,
something that made a lot of waves this week. A new ad out from Democratic
candidate for Governor Wendy Davis in Texas, is grabbing attention
nationwide. This is how she attacks a real chair bound, Attorney General
Greg Abbott, a Republican opponent. He was paralyzed in an accident 30
years ago. This is her new ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A tree fell on Greg Abbott. He sued and got millions.
Since then, he`s spent his career working against other victims. Abbott
argued a woman`s whose leg was amputated was not disabled because she had
an artificial limb.
He ruled against the rape victim who sued a corporation for failing to do a
background check on a sexual predator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, Abbott responded to the ad saying, "It`s her choice if she
wants to attack a guy in a wheelchair. I don`t think it`s going to sell
too well." So, look, I mean first - we can stipulate. Wendy Davis has
been running behind in this race all year. And this is the textbook
definition of a Hail Mary political ad. They are trying to get all sorts
of free attention, stir up controversy. They feel they have nothing to
lose. But this obviously has generated a lot of conversation. Anybody
here think -- want to make the case this was a good ad?
DAVIS: You know what, it does show the contrast. She`s trying to reach
her base on this kind of issue and there are no rules anymore. The public
will ultimately judge. But there are no rules anymore. If you look at the
political ads, if you look at what the newspapers uncover, there`s no right
to anything anymore in terms of the victims and we`ll see how it plays.
KHIMM: But I`m just, I`m trying to figure out how this is appealing to her
base. Even if you`re talking about her base. I mean, I guess there`s the
bottom line issue which she`s trying in her way to illustrate which is I
guess this hypocrisy that she believes - that her opponent has limited the
ability of victims like himself to sue. But the way in which -- the ad was
portrayed - I mean with the image of the wheelchair just to start out with,
that, I mean, even if you agree with her in principle, it just - it can`t
help but make it seem like .
KORNACKI: That seems like - that seems like the problem is - you could
make a hypocrisy argument.
KORNACKI: But you don`t need a denying .
KHIMM: You don`t need .
TOMASKY: If she stood up, if she stood up in a debate and gingerly tried
to lay all of this out just with words, she could get away with that. But
it`s this image of the wheelchair and that music. And I do think you make
a good point about -- I don`t see how this even helps with the base.
KHIMM: I don`t think at all.
TOMASKY: Just makes a little - squirm in there.
KHIMM: No, I mean that is going to .
TOMASKY: And she was, you know, she should have given more thought, I
think, to the reputation she had, even if she was going to lose by 18
points or whatever it is. That event that she had when she did that
filibuster, she has so galvanized liberals cross the country and had such
respect and affection from liberals that she jeopardizes, probably, to some
extent, by doing this.
KHIMM: Yeah, I mean this is just - if she wants to run for office again .
KHIMM: . this is definitely going to follow her and it`s not - you know,
it`s the kind of Hail Mary pass that not only might not work, but could
have consequences for her own future political career.
KORNACKI: Well, see, and that was it. She was going to be and she started
out sort of as the Democratic star of 2014. And it was, as you say, she
didn`t have to win this year. She can maybe run in 2018, there might be
another office there.
And yes, it`s obviously the campaign, if you look at the poll, she`s down
ten-12 points. Something like that. It does raise the question, I`m
wondering who are the Democratic stars? Who`ve been - every election ends
up producing one. I`m wondering if you guys are seeing anybody out there,
you know, the name I was hearing, Cory Booker in New Jersey, he`s going to
win reelection this year, so the U.S. Senate, are there other stars you are
seeing out there who have sort of emerged in the campaign this year?
DAVIS: This is a tough year.
DAVIS: Yeah, I think that it`s a tough year. But let`s wait and see.
Let`s wait and see. Something that happens in Kansas. You know, warm and
KORNACKI: Well, here`s what - here`s what I`m thinking of, I`ll give you
that. I find fascinating, and we`ve talked about this race in the show
Illinois, the race for governor of Illinois, because the Governor of
Illinois Pat Quinn, a Democrat barely got reelected in 2010, barely
survived the Democratic primary, barely won in the fall and then instituted
a 67 percent tax increase. He basically said, we`re facing the same kind
of pension shortfalls these other states are facing, but you know what, we
are not going to, we are not going to cut them, we are going to ask people
to pay more in taxes, and it was politically reckless, politically
suicidal. His polls numbers fell even further. He`s now running ahead.
He`s running. He may lose. I mean he still - doesn`t have great poll
numbers, but he may pull that off, he may pull that off in Illinois. I
think that`s something that Democrats ..
TOMASKY: I`ll also give you Mary Burke in Wisconsin, if she beats Scott
Walker in the gubernatorial race, because of the way Democrats feel about
Scott Walker, if she wins, I think she probably qualifies as an emerging
Democratic star. And maybe the guy who might beat Sam Brownback, whose
name I am ashamed to say.
DAVIS: I say if you look at Georgia and you have a tight governors` race
DAVIS: If Carter`s grandson wins the governorship there, I think that`s
instant national stage. And that`s - that`s a close race. It`s a - ahead,
but it`s a competitive race at this point.
KHIMM: Yeah, actually, I was down in Georgia earlier this year when I
spoke with Michelle Nunn, I know she hasn`t quite stirred the passions of
the base - I mean her message is one of moderation, of that sort of thing.
If she pulls that off and that race is definitely closer to governorship, I
think it could definitely prove a role model for how Democrat could win in
the state that people now consider a red states.
KORNACKI: Well, that - he told me, it`s a Republican playing field this
year. Obviously, these red states are the heart of the battleground this
year. But the flipside of that for Democrats is you win in one of those
red states, in an environment like this, you`ve made a pretty big statement
about what you can do politically. Anyway, my thanks to former Congressman
Tom Davis, Suzy Khimm. Michael Tomasky. We are still awaiting that press
conference on the second confirmed case now in Dallas of Ebola.
Plus, more from the world of politics. All that ahead. So, please stay
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICAA: Over the past 55
months, we`ve added about 10.3 million new jobs across America and what
we`ve seen is the longest uninterrupted stretch of private sector job
growth in our history. All told, over these last six years, the United
States has put more people back to work than Japan, Europe, and every
advanced economy combined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was President Obama touting the improving economy on
Thursday. With three weeks to go until the midterm elections, he`s
reminding voters just have far we have come from the depths of the great
recession. But the economy remains far in the waiver orders top concern
heading into the midterms. And when you look at the economic statistics,
there are a lot of good signs out there about how the economy is doing and
where it is going. It`s been a volatile week for the stock market with
fears that economic growth in Europe could be slowing, but longer term U.S.
trends are looking good. As recline in work (ph) this week describes an
economy that is speeding up with more jobs created on average each month
this year than in any year since the end of the recession. But improving
statistics are one thing, the question is, what about - what people are
actually feeling? Do Americans feel like the economy has turned around?
Is it really moving in the right direction and are they ready to reward the
party in the White House for it? Well, the answer looks like, no, a poll
this week shows that voters by a margin of 11 points say that Republicans
will do a better job handling the economy. Here`s how Bill Clinton tried
to explain it this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON: Yeah, the economy is coming back, but nobody believes it.
Because you don`t feel it. It`s the middle class income has not risen, the
average family`s making less adjusted for inflation, than they were the day
I left office. But I`m telling you the truth, we are coming back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, what is it going to take for the statistics about the
economy to match what people are really feeling about the economy? When
will Americans believe that we really finally actually escaped from the
great recession? Here to help answer that question, we have MSNBC policy
analyst and editor-in-chief of Vox.com, Ezra Klein. And Steve Moore, chief
economist for the Heritage Foundation. So, Ezra, we called at you there,
I`ll start with you. What Bill Clinton is saying in that speech right
there, he`s saying we are getting better, believe me, we are. I know you
don`t feel it yet. But when will people feel it?
EZRA KLEIN, VOX.COM: They`ll feel when wages go up. We are getting
better. The economy has been improving or having faster job growth this
year than it did last year, faster last year than it did the year before
that. Faster the year before that than the year before that. So, there is
an improving pace. The problem is, you can talk as much as you want about
accelerating growth, but if you don`t get to the point where you need to
be, that people are going to be happy, and we have not recovered fully from
great recession. We are not all that close to recovering fully from the
great recession. We`ve had a very sharp fall in the unemployment rate, we
are under six percent now, but part of that is to discourage workers who
have not returned to the labor force. And then the big thing, that keeps
being a problem, and the economy - it probably was a problem prior to the
great recession, too, as some of it getting covered up by a credit bubble,
is that even right now in this economy when we do have strong growth, a lot
of this it`s not put into middle class paychecks. So, you have this kind
of wedge in between the growth the market is looking for and some of these
macro indicators we talked about, like GDP and the actual everyday lived
experiences of the American people.
KORNACKI: And what do you - what do you think - so you`ve diagnosed what
the problem is there. What do you think the solution to that is?
KLEIN: I don`t think - I mean it`s an extended period of faster growth.
So, we`re currently in an expansion that is longer than the average post-
war expansion. So, already, if you`re just looking at the numbers, you
begin to think, huh, if we`re going by history, this might turn around
soon. If it doesn`t, if it continues, then eventually we are going to get
to a point where unemployment gets low enough that workers - that employers
have to be in competing for workers. And it`s that fundamental process
that we raise wages, right? And economists call it full employment. If we
can get there, people begin feeling that we are actually getting races.
They began feeling that workers - that employees were having to compete for
them. That would be a very different feeling economy but we`re not there
KORNACKI: So, Stephen Moore, what do you say to that? What do you say to
that question of when people are going to feel like we`ve recovered?
STEVEN MOORE, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well, I think the really damning
statistic right now is that if you ask Americans, do you still think we`re
in a recession, Steve, about half of Americans for the last six months have
been saying yes to that question. And I think that gets to Ezra`s point.
That what America - yeah, the jobs were coming back, no question. And I`m
somewhat bullish about the economy going forward. I think we are seeing a
pick-up, but, you know, Americans are not seeing a pay raise. And as Bill
Clinton said, they have not seen a pay raise now in seven or eight years.
And by the way, Hillary Clinton has been making the same case about this
kind of squeeze on the middle class.
KORNACKI: Why do you think that`s not happening? The wages are not
growing and why do you think that is?
MOORE: I think part of it is businesses, you know, you look at the stock
market. I mean the stock market has been on a terror for the last five
years. But what - the big problem with the American economy right now as I
see it, is businesses are profitable, they are making money, they are
incredibly efficient. The best-run companies in the world today are
American companies. What they are not doing, Steve, is they are not
reinvesting those profits back into the economy, building plants,
equipment, hiring more workers. And I think that`s a big problem. The
other kind of interesting aspect about the economy that people have to
understand, if you - this is an incredible irony. But if you take out the
oil and gas industry, because we`re in the midst of the biggest oil and gas
boom in the country of this country, if you take out that sector of the
economy, there`s virtually been no recovery at all and that`s ironic, of
course, because this president hates the oil and gas industry.
KORNACKI: The point you raised here, though, about they are not
reinvesting the money. Why do you think that is?
MOORE: I think it`s fear. I think it`s - I mean Look at what businesses
have encountered over the last four years. Obamacare is obviously a big
negative for businesses. We had the big tax increase on investment back in
2000 - what was that - 2012, 2013, I think that slowed investment. When I
talk to business men and women, they say I`m worried about what is the next
shoe that`s going to drop from Washington. Steve, when is the last time
that President Obama said anything good about business or profits? This is
a president who is regarded by the leaders of American companies as anti-
KORNACKI: So, Ezra, that point - and I hear that point certainly from the
right side a lot, this idea of uncertainty, the idea of, you know, that the
president has created uncertainty about regulation, about tax levels, about
those sorts of things. Do you buy that? Do you buy what Steve Moore is
saying there about the effect that`s having on business investment?
KLEIN: No, I don`t buy that at all. I do want to say that I agree with
the fundamental point of the mechanism Steve is pointing out here. So, you
have businesses that are putting all of their money into basically -
stockholders, right, shares and dividends and so forth and not into
actually reinvesting. The fundamental link between corporate profits and
average workers seeing their lives improved is broken at the moment. But
as for why? So, fundamentally, they are not seeing investments that they
think are profitable for them. I think it`s a much simply story than the
one Steve is telling here. It`s not Obamacare and it`s not a reasonably
small tax hike from the couple of years ago. If these companies felt that
there were investments out there on the horizon they can make - It would
bring them a profit, they would make them, but we are in an economy where
you do not have people spending all that much money. Where you do not have
This is one place it should be said where there is a very strong link
between corporate futures and the rest of the economy. If they do not see
growing markets, if they don`t see consumers who want to invest, if they do
not see folks who want to buy their things, then why would you dramatically
increase capacity and that`s particularly true in an -- a lot of the
increases in the past that can be done through automation and be part of
sort of large upfront capital investments. So, I think we are dealing with
businesses who, one, are scared of the really, really rough turbulences
over the last couple of years but you just don`t see the markets that they
need to make those investments.
KORNACKI: All right. MSNBC policy analyst Ezra Klein, thanks for joining
us this morning, and Steve Moore, we`ll see you again in a few minutes.
But we`ve got to go live right now to Texas, Presbyterian Hospital in
Dallas. Officials are giving the update on the second Ebola case in
Dallas. Let`s go there live.
CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY JUDGE: It`s a heroic person, who provided care
to Mr. Duncan. I met with that health care worker`s parents and the health
care worker and her parents have asked that their privacy be respected and
their name not be released at this time. I expect with the activities that
happen today, information will come to light. But let`s remember, as we do
our work, that this - this is a real person who is going through a great
ordeal and so is that person`s family. And let`s be as respectful as we
can possibly be. We expected that something -- that it was possible that a
second person could contract the virus. Contingency plans were put into
place and the hospital will discuss the way that the health care worker
followed those contingency plans which will make our jobs in monitoring and
containment much easier in this case than in the last one.
I want to stress before we bring up a doctor a very important fact. You
cannot contract Ebola other than from the bodily fluids of a symptomatic
Ebola victim. You cannot contract Ebola by walking by people in the street
or by being around contacts who are not symptomatic. There`s nothing about
this case that changes that basic premise of science, and so it`s important
that while this is obviously bad news, is not news that should bring about
panic. We have a strategy to monitor. I will go over that strategy and
the mayor will go over the strategy to keep the community safe and secure.
The dwelling and belongings of this patient but, first, the Dr. Varga with
Presbyterian, will give us pertinent information pursuant to HIPAA and
pursuant to the wishes of this family, as much pertinent information as he
can share in order to give the public the information. Dr. Varga?
DR. VARGA: Thank you, judge. Late last Saturday evening, a preliminary
blood test on a caregiver at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Dallas,
proved positive for Ebola. This health care worker had been under the
self-monitoring regiment prescribed by the CDC. And based on involvement
in caring for the patient, Thomas Eric Duncan during his care that started
on September 28th. Now, individuals who are being monitored are required
to take their temperatures twice daily and as a result of that process, the
caregiver notified the hospital of imminent arrival and was immediately
admitted to the hospital`s isolation room. The entire process, from the
patient`s self-monitoring to the admission into isolation took less than 90
minutes. The patient`s condition is stable. A close contact has also been
proactively placed in isolation. The caregiver and the family, as already
stated, have requested total privacy. So we can`t discuss any further
details of this situation. The judge mentioned, we`ve known that further
cases of Ebola are a possibility among those who are in contact with Mr.
Duncan before he passed away last week.
The system of monitoring quarantine and isolation was established to
protect those who carried for Mr. Duncan as well as the community at large
by identifying any potential Ebola cases as early as possible and getting
those individuals into treatment immediately. Finally, we have put the
emergency department at Presbyterian on diversion until further notice
because of limitations in staffed capacity. That means, ambulances are not
currently bringing patients to our emergency department. While we are on
emergency department diversion, however, we continue to fully care for all
of our patients and we are also using this time to further expand the
margin of safety by triple-checking our full compliance with the updated
CDC guidelines. We`re also continuing to monitor all staff who had some
relation to Mr. Duncan`s care, even if they are not assumed to be at
significant risk of infection. All of these steps are being taken so the
public and our own employees can have complete confidence in the safety and
integrity of our facilities and the care we provide. Thank you.
JENKINS: As an added step, in consultation with the CDC, the CDC will be
working with Presbyterian to monitor all of the people that were in the
self-monitor pool as we are monitoring the 48 people in the monitor pool
and so the people that are -- that were self-monitoring, all of whom are
health care professionals will now be monitored twice daily by
epidemiologists and interviewed today by CDC epidemiologists. We are --
because that is an increase in the workload for the CDC DSHS and Dallas
County epidemiology team that currently has 19 people -- 19 epidemiologists
and disease detectives on the ground requested additional Epi and -- epi
team and disease detective resources at midnight last night and they, I
believe, have arrived and are meeting with Dr. Kuhar (ph) in another room.
The CDC is not here today as the -- they are busy working and we are about
to leave to get back to the EOC, the PCR test has not been confirmed by the
CDC and their lab as a double test, but we are confident that --
unfortunately, we`re confident that it will be. And that`s what
necessitated the state`s release. The state is also not with us this
morning, but they are actively working. There is much to do right now and
they are working to keep you safe. So the monitoring will continue. The
48 that we`ve been monitoring remain asymptomatic and without fever. And
we will be working with health and human services, the CDC and our state
partners and Presbyterian today to make sure all necessary protocols are
put into place. And here`s Mayor Mike Rawlings.
REALTOR MIKE RAWLINGS, DALLAS, TEXAS: Good morning. We heard about this
around midnight and have been working throughout the morning to make sure
the citizens of Dallas are safe when they wake up. I believe I can say
they are. Let me tell you what we have done, what protective measures we
have taken to ensure that safety. The Dallas Fire and Rescue Hazmat team
had - has cleaned up the common areas and decontaminated any of the open
areas of apartment complex in the 3700 block of Markeda. They sprayed a
decontamination -- a clean-up agent and right now the police are standing
by to make sure no one enters that apartment complex. Furthermore, we have
knocked on every door in that block and talked to every single person that
came to the door, explained what has happened and what we have done so they
will not be afraid of the hazmat unit. The police officer ensuring that no
one will enter that apartment. Later this morning, we will also go back
and knock on every door of that neighborhood to make sure there are any
questions and we catch everybody. At 7:15, a reverse 911 call was sent out
to the four blocks around the apartment complex and we left printed
material at each door so there are any questions folks should call 311 and
obviously if anyone feels sick or needs paramedics, they should call 911.
We also have a report that there may be a pet inside the apartment. And we
have a plan in place to take care of the pet and we do not believe that pet
has any signs and we`ll move accordingly later today. At the same time, we
have moved our Dallas fire and rescue hazmat unit over here to the
Presbyterian hospital where we decontaminated the car that the patient
drove in and secured it so nobody could come in contact with the car. We
decontaminated hand railings, everything in the parking lot so everybody
can feel comfortable that the exterior was taken care of. We have a plan
in place to send hazmat units into the apartment and clean up the interior
later today. I want to say, once again, that we had this plan in place
last week so when we got this phone call, which we thought we might get, we
put in an action team in place and they have been working all this evening
so as people are waking up, they know that they are safe. There is much
work to be done, yet but we wanted to make sure that you knew instant
information from us as soon as you woke up and, as you know, we`re going to
be staying in constant contact with you, but we`re going to let CDC test
this specimen and let them make some comments and then we`ll be getting
back to you. Until then, Judge Jenkins and I have a lot of work to do.
And we`ll leave you with a good doctor. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two or three questions for Dr. Varga. Doctor, does
this worker -- is this health care worker (no sound) specifically in
Presbyterian hospital, did this person come into contact .
KORNACKI: All right. You`ve been listening to the press conference from
the Presbyterian hospital in Dallas. The second confirmed Ebola case in
the United States. This is the first one, the first Ebola case in the
United States with the transmission that apparently occurred in the United
States, as you heard there. This is a health care worker who had access
over the last few weeks to Thomas Clark Duncan two the first victim of
Ebola here in the United States. We have the panel here, which we`ll talk
a little bit more about what we just heard as you see the press conference
still wrapping up right now. We`ll take a break. Much more to tell you
about what was said there and some reaction to that as soon as when we come
KORNACKI: All right. So we`re back. A very busy morning, a lot breaking
this morning. We just were playing the press conference down at the Texas
Health Presbyterian Hospital where this second Ebola case has now been
diagnosed. Apparently, a few things to remind people of, from that press -
conference we were just listening to, one is that the County Executive
Judge Clay Jenkins, one of the man you heard speaking there, he said, "That
we expected that this was possible, we expected it was possible, that one
of the health care workers working with Thomas Clark Duncan the first, now
diseased, Ebola patient, might contract something. Also stressing at this
press conference that what we know about the transmission of Ebola that has
to be somebody who is symptomatic, somebody who has Ebola and has to be
some kind of exchange of body fluids that that still stands, saying here,
quote, that nothing about this case changes the science that we already
know. So, it`s important to point that out. As for this patient who has
now been diagnosed, this second patient we know is a health care worker
from this hospital who had contact with Thomas Clark Duncan. This patient
is apparently in stable condition. This patient, we were told had been
following the CDC`s protocol of - if you had contact with somebody, you
take your temperature twice a day and if you ever - if you reach a certain
threshold, I think it`s 101.5, you then go straight to the hospital and you
are placed into an isolation area. That`s apparently exactly what
happened, they said, all of that took 90 minutes to play out. This patient
now in isolation, in stable condition and apparently the 48 other
individuals from this hospital who had some contact with Thomas Clark
Duncan continue to be monitored and we are told that of those 48, the other
48, that they all remain asymptomatic. So, this is the only person who has
been taking this, who`s been doing this regimen, the self-checked regiment
and has now been diagnosed with Ebola. So that is what we know right now.
What did you guys think listening to this?
KHIMM: I guess the first question that I had was exactly how did this
health care worker, how were they treating the original patient? Did he or
she know that that patient at that point had Ebola? I think -- I believe I
remember hearing from the press conference that the health care worker had
treated the first patient on September 28th. So I believe that`s the day
that he came back to the hospital having been turned away the first time.
KORNACKI: Right. He was turned away on the 25th.
KHIMM: Yes. So he had come back at that point. So, what were the
protocols and were they followed correctly? When this health care worker
was treating the first patient, whether or not he or she knew that that
first patient had Ebola?
DAVIS: The question is, how did they contact? The man in the (INAUDIBLE).
He comes in and readmits himself.
KORNACKI: His first visit, he`s not diagnosed and he`s sent home. It`s
not until second time that somebody known he has Ebola.
DAVIS: And they didn`t know at first. So it could have been the people he
came in contact that were diagnosing in this thing and maybe the guards
weren`t up at that point and that was the vulnerability.
DAVIS: More to come, obviously.
TOMASKY: Yes. And they said it was in the interest of privacy, and we
should respect that, I suppose, but I would have, if I were one of those
officials, been trying to push the family a little bit to say a little bit
more because that`s obviously the big unanswered question out of this.
More broadly, though, I do think that the mayor and the judge spoke pretty
persuasively to me about the steps that have been taken, the steps that are
being taken, you know, clearing the health care worker`s apartment building
and informing people and everything. If I were a resident of Dallas, I
would feel reasonably reassured by some of these .
KORNACKI: Yeah. And the mayor of Dallas saying there that their priority
have been since to make sure that the citizens of Dallas are safe. And he
says I believe that they are safe based on the actions. Taken a Pulitzer
Prize winning columnist Connie Schultz who actually had been scheduled to
be on the show for something else, but because of the breaking news, but
she`s - she`s been listening in with the rest of us to this (INAUDIBLE).
Now, you have some thoughts on the press conference?
CONNIE SCHULTZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I did. And I go also to the
question of exactly what the job was of this person? In part, because I
come from home of health care workers and nursing - nurses aides in my
family, my mother was a nurse`s aide, my sister was before she became a
nurse. And I`m concerned about the vulnerability of those population of
workers as well because they are often - we know so little right now. I
understand the privacy issue of keeping the patient`s name out of the
public, but I think the patient`s job is relevant and I think we need to
know sooner than later because this question looms large and it can create
a sense of panic in people if they don`t know exactly what we`re talking
about. And it is a balancing act. As I said, I appreciate that. But I`m
also - I`m just thinking of the kind of work my mom did, in particular, how
much hands on work that can involve. Sooner than later, I hope, you know.
KORNACKI: And I wondered, you talk about having your mother and you`re
talking about people in your family, home health care workers.
KORNACKI: I wonder if you`ve had conversations with them about Ebola and
what kind of things they are saying about what they are reading in the news
happening in Dallas.
SCHULTZ: Well, my mother died in her 60s and my sister right now is not
having contact with those. Well, how do we know? Let`s be clear, this is
not a nationwide threat and we have a responsibility not to fuel unfounded
fears here. We have some reasonable questions to be asking of authorities
right now in Dallas. I probably would have rethought the notion of saying,
well, CDC`s not here right now. The state`s not here right now, but we`re
all working. I think sometimes you don`t need to be saying things that are
not helpful and those probably weren`t, but I think it`s so important that
we not feel the panic right now. I know enough a lot of health care
workers, in part because of the work - I do writing about a lot of health
care issues and I have not heard a general sense of panic from them and I
think they know better than we do the precautions that need to be taken,
but we also all know those stories long before Ebola was in our
conversation, about hospitals that need to take more precautions and, you
know, simple hand washing, for example that we are hearing is so important
with Ebola and really long washing, singing a song while you`re doing it,
getting through the lyrics to make you`re staying clean.
KORNACKI: Yeah, you know, it seems to me I would just - my reaction to
that press conference just - I would be certainly reassured if I were down
in Dallas. I`m reassured sitting here. Again, obviously, it`s a terrible
situation, but the big concern that everybody has had in this country,
obviously, has been that if this spreads beyond the hospital. And it seems
like, again, this is something that could have happened, that certainly
they were on guard for and the protocol that Dr. Daniel Varga was outlining
here, the protocol that this person and this patient now followed, this
KHIMM: Yeah. And I think - I think this is the issue. I mean we - it
isn`t a mystery as to how you can - what steps you need to take to do to
prevent transmission and I think those protocol are pretty established and
at this point I do feel assured that they are being followed. I do think,
though, that there is the need to put this in context and I do think
there`s a sense -- I mean, just when I was out in South Dakota this week,
just talking to someone who lives on Native American reservation in the
northeast corner of Montana, he`s afraid of Ebola. I mean it`s something
that`s out there that`s in the news that I think we do need to do a little
bit of a reality check of where we are in this country in terms of our
health care system and how seriously officials are taking this.
KORNACKI: OK. Thank you for that. And thank you for the panel for
sticking around for this. Suzy Khimm, Congressman Tom Davis, Michael
Tomasky, Connie Schultz also joining us from Cleveland this morning. I
appreciate that, and we`ll be back next hour. Obviously, more on this and
we have - as we`ve been saying all morning, we will have two of the three
candidates in now basically one of the most explosive senate races in the
country. South Dakota. Two of the three candidates joining us live on the
show. That`s also next hour.
KORNACKI: More on the new Ebola case. Thanks for staying with us this
Sunday morning. We have got another busy hour straight ahead here. In
just a few minutes, we will speak with two candidates in a Senate race that
no one was talking about a week ago, but that now may be the most traumatic
and unpredictable in the country. And to add to the drama, we are going to
have a good old fashion coin toss here to decide who goes first.
But first, we start with the big news overnight and this morning. Now, the
second confirmed case of Ebola in the United States in Dallas, Texas. A
press conference was held just moments ago. And NBC Sarah Dallof is live
in Dallas. So, Sarah, we were listening here, but what are your big
takeaways from what you just heard?
DALLOF: Well, the big takeaways we have was that this health care worker
had been under a self-monitoring procedure and when they discovered that
this person had a temperature, they immediately called. And in this
procedure that they`ve had in place, just in case there was a second case,
just in case this had spread, immediately started working, and this person
went from calling to report this fever to being checked into the hospital
within 90 minutes. Right now, this person`s condition is stable and a
close contact of theirs is also in isolation. Their apartment has been
decontaminated. And neighbors were notified overnight and are being
notified this morning, as to what has gone on. The main focus of officials
here, they don`t want people to panic when they wake up. We`re also
learning more details about the treatment, about how this person came into
contact with Duncan. We`re told this was during his second visit. This
was during Duncan`s second visit on September 28th. That course of
treatment is when this person came into contact. Now, here is what is a
little unclear right now. This person was not considered part of the high-
risk pool and they were wearing protective gear when around Duncan. So, a
lot of very important questions that are going to be - needed to be
answered here as to how exactly they contracted it. That happened on -
they first began feeling the symptoms on Friday, this low-grade fever. The
test was rushed to Austin where it did come back positive late last night
and officials have been working through the night to notify neighbors to
identify possible contacts. They say because of the procedures they have
in place, it`s going to be a lot easier, perhaps indicating that this
person had been keeping track previously of who they had come into contact
Now, right now we don`t believe this is one of the 48 people that the CDC
was monitoring, that was having twice daily temperature checks done. We`re
told those 48 people remain asymptomatic. Meanwhile, the emergency room
here at the hospital is closed. They are not accepting new patients via
ambulances while they work through - work through this situation, trying to
get this patient the care they need and trying to figure it out. Back to
KORNACKI: My thanks to NBC News Sarah Dallof live in Dallas. I appreciate
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee was oversight of the CDC
is holding a hearing this coming Thursday and joining me now from Nashville
is Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Republican in Tennessee who sits on that
committee and who recently visited the CDC. So, Congresswoman, thank you
for taking a few minutes this morning. And let me just start by asking
your reaction to the news overnight and to what you heard at that press
conference just a few minutes ago.
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN, (R) TENNESSEE: Well, it`s so disappointing to know
that there is another infection and, of course, we`re all concerned about
the victims and those that are infected by this virus. You know, Steve,
we`ve had 8,000 individuals infected, there`ve been 4,000 deaths. And the
projections by the CDC are a cause of concern, but we do know that the
protocols are now in place and they will be tracking this very closely, as
you`ve just heard.
KORNACKI: Yeah, I mean that was - I was saying to our panel here just a
KORNACKI: It seemed reassuring to me listening to the description of how
this patient ended up in isolation. He or she had been taking their
temperature twice a day the minute it reached that threshold, went straight
to the hospital, was brought right into the isolation area. They said the
whole thing took about 90 minutes. So, I know there`ve been a lot of
questions about this particular hospital .
KORNACKI: And the handling of the first patient. But it certainly seems
like maybe they have gotten their act together.
BLACKBURN: Well, and when I was touring the BSL-4 lab, which is where they
do the research on the pathogens and on Ebola and then my subsequent
conversation with Dr. Frieden and Dr. Martin (ph) this week, I said, tell
me how we`re handling all of these fluids from the patient in Dallas
because they do not have that BSL-4 level lab and have the credentialing
around that lab. So I think what you`re going to see are some additional
protocols as there are different hospitals around the country that will
have patients present who are concerned that they have Ebola. I also know
that there`s another aid worker, we are hearing another aid worker in
Liberia that has an infection and that they are quarantining or surveilling
about 20 military and 41 other aid workers as they work through this
situation. Their goal is to reduce the spread of infection and, of course,
we forgot to take every step necessary whether it is in the affected
regions or here to make certain that there is a containment and that you do
not see us hitting a million cases as has been the projection if it stays
on this trajectory and whether it`s a travel band, or whether it`s
expanding, some of the surveillance, the quarantining before people are
allowed to come into this country, we need all of those options on the
table right now.
KORNACKI: So, let me ask you about the travel ban. I know there was a
poll this week, NBC News poll that showed there was strong support for this
idea of travel ban.
KORNACKI: I think it came in at about 58 percent. And I know you visited
with the CDC, but the head of the CDC himself has said two things. He said
not only is the idea of the travel ban not necessary. He said -- this is
the head of the CDC - it would actually be counterproductive. He said, and
his argument is basically, look, right now, this is something there are now
two cases in the United States, but this is something it`s exploding in
West Africa. We have a chance, he says, with aid workers, with scientists,
with medical personnel to go in and contain it in West Africa to make sure
it doesn`t spread anywhere else out of there. We have the chance to do
that and the travel ban would interfere with that. Does that not persuade
you when the head of the CDC says that?
BLACKBURN: No, it does not. And here is why. Number one, they are
counting on people to self-report and be truthful before they get on those
planes. Now, this is one of the things that happened in the Duncan case.
He was not truthful in his self-reporting. So if you were to establish a
quarantine there in this affected region and have people quarantined for a
period of days before they could activate their visa to come and then a
monitoring as they come into the country, I do think that would be helpful.
These are options we need to be discussing and looking at this right now.
Having that quarantine before they get on that airplane, if we`re not going
to stop those.
KORNACKI: All right, my thanks to Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn,
Republican of Tennessee, I appreciate the time this morning.
BLACKBURN: Good to be with you. Thank you.
KORNACKI: Sure. And as we say, it`s obviously been a very busy morning,
and we will keep you updated on the latest on this Ebola story as it
develops. But right now we`re going to pivot back to the midterm election.
Because we have something very exciting, that`s about to happen on this
show. The election, as we`ve told you, is now 24 days away and the biggest
drama is suddenly about a state that no one was paying attention to until
this week. All year long, it`s South Dakota. All year long, the entire
political world has penciled this race in in South Dakota as an automatic
Republican win. It`s an open seat. South Dakota is a very red state. It
voted for Mitt Romney by 18 points in 2012. So, everyone has just assumed
that the Republican candidate in South Dakota, former governor Mike Rounds
is going to win this race and then this week came out this poll. Rounds
with just 35 percent of the vote, Independent Larry Pressler with 32
percent, Democrat Rick Weiland, with 28 percent. And that poll caught
everyone`s attention, and now everyone is watching this race. It turns out
that Rounds, the Republican, has actually been taking on water all year
because of an ongoing investigation into something called the EB-5 program,
that`s a state-run program that allows wealthy foreigners to get green
cards by investing in American businesses. Rounds has not been directly
implicated in the mess, but members of his administration have been, and
there are a lot of outstanding questions, and it`s all taking a big toll on
his standing, something you can see in that poll we showed you. It also
means that there`s a chance for the other two candidates.
Larry Pressler, he was the Republican senator from 1978 to 1996, but now he
says the Republican Party has moved too far to the right, and so he`s
running as an independent and then the Democratic candidate, Rick Weiland,
he used to be an aide to former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. He
was also a regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
FEMA and now here`s the thing. In that same poll that came out this past
week, they tested how each of these two candidates would do if they got
one-on-one races with Rounds. Rounds, and Rounds, you can see there, there
tied at 47 percent head to head, and if it were Pressler, the Independent
against Rounds, the Republican, Pressler would be up by 15 points, a 15-
point lead you can see right there. So, you can see that they both have a
chance of winning this race. And Rounds` best chance of winning on his own
is for both of them to stay in the race and to split up the anti-Rounds`
vote. And by the way, Democrats nationally they are betting that they will
win with either Weiland or Pressler. That Pressler, if he wins this race,
will turn around in caucus with them as a Senator, helping them to hold on
to the Senate.
That is why when national Democrats decided to pour $1 million into the
race this week, the money was designated to attack Mike Rounds, not just to
support the Democratic candidate. So, this is a crazy race with all sorts
of different variables, all sorts of different permutations, a ton of
uncertainty and a lot to ask all of these candidates. And fortunately, two
of the candidates have agreed to join us this morning. Both Larry Pressler
and Rick Weiland are standing by live in Rapid City. And we are going to
interview them back to back, since they both told us said they want to go
second, we`re going to do a coin flip right here on this show to decide the
order. So, I have a South Dakota, this is one of official South Dakota
quarters. I`m going to flip it right now. We`ve decided that heads will
be Larry Pressler, tails will be Rick Weiland. The winner of this gets to
go second. They both want to go second. So, I`ll flip the coin. Drop it.
I`ll take the second South Dakota coin. Let`s see if this works any
better. Here we go. Heads it is. That means Larry Pressler goes second.
And that means when we come back, the Democratic candidate in what is now
the hottest Senate races in the country, Rick Weiland, the Democratic
nominee in South Dakota will join us live from Rapid City, next.
KORNACKI: All right. Joining me now is the Democratic candidate for
Senate in South Dakota, Rick Weiland. We should point out, he`s in Sioux
Falls, he`s not in Rapid City. I`m not sure why I was saying that. He`s
in Sioux Falls and he joins us now.
Thank you very much, Rick, for taking a few minutes this morning.
So let me just start in with this. We -- we showed that the Democrat --
the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a national Democratic group,
had put in a million dollars into this race this week. But they are
putting in a million dollars in a very specific way. It`s not necessarily
to promote you, their party`s candidate, it`s to take down Mike Rounds.
And they are basically putting the word out that they think either way,
with Pressler or with Rounds, they are going to have somebody who will vote
for -- vote with them in the Senate.
Does it bother you that your own party`s leadership in Washington isn`t
making a more fulsome investment in you as a candidate?
RICK WEILAND (D-SD), CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: Well, no, it doesn`t, because
this whole campaign, I`ve been waging for now a year and a half hasn`t been
about national parties or, you know, special interests, it`s been about the
special interests I think that have taken over our government and -- and
it`s no longer working for everyday folks out here in South Dakota.
You know, people are struggling. Middle wage -- or middle income families
aren`t getting ahead. And that`s what I`ve been talking about. In these
500 and some towns I`ve visited, the 250 some public meetings I`ve held.
So, you know, this like -- this -- this election is going to be decided by
the voters here in South Dakota, not by the national parties and the super
PACs. It`s going to be by the people, which is the way it should be.
KORNACKI: But has there -- have you heard from any Democrats who look at
what we`ve seen has happened in the state of Kansas, where the Republican
incumbent now is in serious danger of losing because the Democrat dropped
out and the Independent is now ahead there. And we put that poll up. It
shows Larry Pressler, the Independent, running 15 points ahead of Mike
Rounds in this race if it`s a one-on-one.
Have any Democrats talked to you about doing the same in South Dakota, so
that this seat does not go Republican?
WEILAND: Absolutely not. No. I -- I mean you`re talking about one poll.
Our internal polls are very strong. We are in this race and we`re in this
race until -- until the end. And I really think we`re going to pull it
off. And because of what I`ve done for the last year and a half, and
that`s just talking to the people, just straight talk about what`s wrong
with the country, how we can take it back from big money special interests.
So I -- I -- no one has approached me about dropping out of this race. I`m
not going to drop out, I`m going to win.
KORNACKI: So I want to ask you about some of these issues, then. You
talked about -- you`ve criticized The Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, more
from the left. And you had a quote about it. You said, "I want to open up
Medicare to everyone. Let them have the choice. Bringing in a lot of
people will make the program stronger."
Can you clarify what you`re calling for there? Are you calling for a
single payer system to replace The Affordable Care Act?
WEILAND: No. I mean we have 140,000 people in South Dakota that are on
Medicare and they like it. I think most people in South Dakota would
prefer an option between big insurance policies that we`re being forced to
buy through the Affordable Care Act or a Medicare option. That`s all I`m
Give people a choice between Medicare, which works for 140,000 South
Dakotans and over 50 million Americans, or big insurance. They can choose.
They can choose with their wallets.
My guess is, is that if Medicare is part of Obamacare, people are going to
choose Medicare over private health insurance, because it`s going to be
more affordable. And it may drive down the cost of private health
insurance, so if they want to go with big insurance companies, they`ll be
able to do that, too, because they`re going to be able to afford it. And
it will strengthen Medicare, because you`re going to be bringing a lot of
people into Medicare that aren`t going to necessarily need to access health
care, but they`re going to be paying a premium.
KORNACKI: The Supreme Court, earlier this week, decided not to hear a
number of appeals on same-sex marriage cases, essentially making same-sex
marriage legal in a number of new states. There is a case in your state,
in South Dakota. There is a case that`s now sort of working its way
through the courts.
Do you want to see legalized same-sex marriage in South Dakota?
WEILAND: Absolutely. I -- I don`t believe in discrimination of any kind
and I think people should be able to marry the person they love.
KORNACKI: And what about, as a senator, you would be voting on Supreme
Court nominations, confirmations of Supreme Court justices.
Would it be an absolute must for you that a Supreme Court nominee affirm
"Roe v. Wade?"
Would you - could you vote for a Supreme Court nominee who does not promise
to uphold "Roe?"
WEILAND: Well, you know, I know that both Mike Rounds, my Republican
opponent, and Larry Pressler, are both in favor of overturning "Roe v.
Wade." I don`t support that. I -- I think that, you know, it`s important
to decide that decision and, you know, we need to keep, you know, abortion
safe and -- and legal and, hopefully, rare.
KORNACKI: And what about the -- the issue of immigration? This is
something -- there was a -- a comprehensive bill that made its way through
the Senate last year. It sort of stalled in the House. But it provided
for a path to citizenship for the undocumented who are here, sort of a
multi-step process, but ultimately, it could produce citizenship.
Do you favor the concept of a path to citizenship for the undocumented who
are here now?
WEILAND: Yes, absolutely. That was a compromise, one of the few
compromises the U.S. Senate was able to make last year. And they did pass
that bill. And it gave the Republicans what they wanted, which was more
money for border security. And it also gave the Democrats what they
wanted, which was a path to citizenship for their 12 million some
undocumented workers that are here.
And John Boehner needs to bring that bill to the floor and pass it. If he
did, it would pass. I know there are the votes to do that. They`ve been
KORNACKI: There was a -- there was a story earlier this week that -- that
got a lot of attention nationally. Another Democratic candidate for Senate
running in a red state, Alison Grimes, in Kentucky, was asked if she voted
for President Obama. And she was asked basically three times, wouldn`t
give an answer for 40 seconds.
You`re a Democrat running in a red state. I`ll ask you the same question,
did you vote for President Obama?
WEILAND: Yes, of course I did. I don`t agree with the president on
everything he`s done, but -- and I`ll -- and I`ll point that out and I have
throughout this whole campaign, whether it`s a Democrat or a Republican in
the White House, I`m going to do what I think is best for my state of South
I -- as I said, I`ve been out there talking to the voters. You know, a lot
of folks nationally, you know, the -- the punditry and the -- the national
press like to focus in on these things.
This election is really about are we going to move this country forward?
Are we going to give middle class families an opportunity to get ahead?
Or are we just going to be out there beholden to the big money?
And we`ve got a tax code that`s riddled with special interest tax breaks
for big oil companies, for big corporations who park their profits overseas
to avoid paying taxes at the expense of good programs like Head Start and
Pell grants. Look at that Ryan budget. You know, you want to talk about,
you know, a difference in -- in the approach in this race.
And Rounds opposed the Ryan budget and wants to give $6 trillion in more
tax cuts to billionaires and big corporations. And they`re going to pay
for it by going after the middle class. I just don`t -- I just don`t
And, frankly, Steve, I don`t think that`s liberal or conservative. I think
that`s good old South Dakota common sense.
KORNACKI: As you mentioned that you -- you voted for President Obama and
you had some differences with him. What -- what is your biggest
disappointment with the Obama presidency? What has he gotten wrong?
WEILAND: Well, you know, he should -- well, I think the first bill he
should have introduced when he got elected president in 2008 would have
been campaign finance reform. I mean Bill Clinton did it in 1992, when he
took office. Unfortunately, even the Democrats who are in control of the
Congress told him to take a hike.
You know, we have got to get big money out of our politics so we can get
good public policy again.
People out here want a government that works for them, not for the
billionaires and big corporations. And I don`t think that`s too liberal.
I don`t think that`s too left. I just think that`s straight up common
sense and that`s why I`m going to win.
KORNACKI: And we are about to hear -- in the next segment, we are about to
hear from Larry Pressler. So for voters in South Dakota -- and if these
polls are right, there are a lot of them -- voters in South Dakota who may
not want to vote for Governor Rounds, but aren`t sure, between Rick Weiland
and Larry Pressler, to those voters, what would you say is the biggest
difference between you and Larry Pressler?
WEILAND: Well, I want to strengthen Social Security and Medicare. I think
when you open Medicare up to let people buy in to buy their insurance, it
strengthens the program. And I`m going to support that. That`s one of the
first bills I`ll introduce.
I also don`t think we should be pushing up the retirement age or cutting
back on the benefits for Social Security. We should be raising the cap so
that people, you know, they`re making a million dollars, would pay more in
payroll taxes. And that just does not happen right now.
They stop paying at -- at $117,000. So I`m for protecting those programs
and expanding them and making them work for middle class families.
KORNACKI: All right, Rick Weiland, the Democratic candidate for Senate in
South Dakota, suddenly a red hot race. We`re all watching it nationally.
Appreciate the time, joining us from Sioux Falls this morning.
And as soon as we come back, Independent candidate Larry Pressler. He will
join us from the same studio, right after this.
KORNACKI: All right. And now it`s time for the Independent candidate for
Senate in South Dakota.
He is Larry Pressler, former U.S. senator, former three term Republican
U.S. senator, now running as an Independent.
Senator Pressler, thank you for joining us this morning.
I appreciate it/
I want to start with -- with something that`s in the news. It just came
out on Friday, actually. Politico reported this about your residency. And
Politico reported on Friday that you and your wife own a 2,200 square foot,
two bedroom condo in Washington, DC, also that you apparently own an
apartment on East 57th Street in Manhattan.
Is that correct, do you have -- you -- you own homes in both New York City
and Washington, DC right now?
LARRY PRESSLER (I-SD), CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: Yes, that is correct. I`ve
never made any secret about that. I also have an interest in a farm at
Humboldt, South Dakota, where we usually stay. We have rented an apartment
in Sioux Falls for -- to be -- for convenience for the campaign. I also
have farmland in Gregory, South Dakota.
So -- but the -- the New York apartment, I got it when I was teaching at
Baruch College. And I`ve been a professor, mostly. And I`ve been around
the world. I`ve been a Fulbright professor overseas. I haven`t -- I
haven`t spent that much time in Washington, DC. I`ve spent most of it
either in South Dakota or overseas as a Fulbright professor.
KORNACKI: Well, you had...
PRESSLER: My wife...
KORNACKI: -- You said you have ...
PRESSLER: -- who has her own...
KORNACKI: -- you say you have an apartment that you rented for the campaign
in South Dakota. Before this campaign started, how much time were you
spending in South Dakota?
PRESSLER: I was spending about half my time in South Dakota. I`ve been on
the board of directors of the Farmers Union in South Dakota. I`ve taught
at four universities in South Dakota. And I am, as one newsman said here
the other day, I`ve been seen at the YMCA and around sporting things here
I lived in South -- we had a home here for many years and it was -- and we
just -- we sold it. And we`ve been looking for another house in Sioux
Falls. But I`m putting so much of my own money into the campaign that we -
- I put my campaign, I`ve only raised about $100,000 and I have a bank loan
for $100,000. So I`m -- I have only about 1 percent as much money as my
But I rented the apartment in Sioux Falls in order to be -- for
convenience, because to drive out to a farm in Humboldt, South Dakota and
back every day takes up about an hour each way.
So there`s nothing new here that I haven`t disclosed. I`ve been very open.
I`ve been out of the state a lot. But I haven`t been in Washington, DC as
much. I -- I`ve been overseas teaching as a Fulbright professor in China
and in Europe and other points and also at various colleges, such as West
Point. I taught there. I`ve taught at about 12 colleges and universities.
I`ve been a contract by the semester professor. And so I`ve been all over.
My wife has spent the most of her time in the Washington, DC apartment.
She has a business there that she had before we were married.
So this is nothing new to the people of South Dakota. I`m very open about
it. When I had my press conference, I -- I said I`ve been spending about
half my time in South Dakota. But the other half not in Washington, but in
teaching at different universities...
PRESSLER: -- in the United States and -- and I`m very proud of that.
KORNACKI: OK, now, let me move on, then, because I want to ask you about
this, one of the reasons this race is so unusual in South Dakota is you`re
a former Republican senator, you`re running as an Independent and Democrats
made clear this week that they are betting on you. When they put in a
million dollars nationally into this race, it was money not designed
necessarily to help their candidate, it was money that was designed to take
down the Republican, making the calculation, making the bet, basically,
that hey, if Weiland, the Democrat, wins, we get a vote. But if Pressler,
the Independent, wins, this is what they`re betting, he`s going to caucus
with us. He`s going to caucus with the Democrats. Are they making a good
PRESSLER: I`m running as an Independent for the United States Senate
because I want to end the poisonous disputes between Republicans and
Democrats. I have not made a decision who to caucus with and I -- I`m not
into all this bets and polls.
I only have about $100,000 in a campaign where each side has $10 million.
So I have less than one percent of the amount of money. And there`s no PAC
helping me. This is the amazing thing that I am leading in the polls with
an expenditure of probably -- a total expenditure of about $150,000.
KORNACKI: Do you .
PRESSLER: -- (INAUDIBLE)...
KORNACKI: Do you have any sense, though, do you have any sense of which
party you`d be more likely to caucus with? I mean you`ve been a
Republican. You voted for President Obama. You have a sense, a very good
sense of where these two parties are nationally right now.
Do you have a sense of which one you are closer to?
PRESSLER: Well, I also gave money and hosted a fundraiser for Mitt Romney.
So I`ve been a mixture of the two. I don`t vote a straight ticket. I`m an
Independent at heart. And as such, I will talk to members of both parties.
I would like to be friends with President Obama in the Senate, I have said.
And that is, a friend to talk to. President Obama needs somebody there
that he can talk to.
But that doesn`t mean I agree with him. I disagree with most of President
Obama`s policies. I`ve been disappointed in him -- him as president.
But that doesn`t mean that I`m for impeaching him, as the South Dakota
Republican Party has passed a resolution. So these things that I`ve said
about being friends with Obama, that would be -- the fact that he`s going
to be our president for two more years. And I want to work with him the
way a United States senator is supposed to. There are things, you know,
and the EPA, that I disagree with him on. I disagree with him on parts of
the pipeline issue out here.
But that doesn`t mean that you can`t be friends. Barry Goldwater and John
F. Kennedy were going to campaign together as friends, but they had
So -- and out here, everybody said, oh, Pressler voted for Obama. He`s
dead. That is a fact.
Well, I also gave a fundraiser for Mitt Romney. And I have supported
Republican and Democrats with a -- with my modest amount of money I can
give. I`ve given to over 10 Republicans, United States senators...
PRESSLER: And some Democrats.
KORNACKI: Well ..
PRESSLER: So -- so - so, I`m a mixture of the two.
KORNACKI: Well, one of the things, when I talk to people who remember you
from your days in Washington, DC that surprises them -- and you`ve said a
little bit of this on the show today. You talked about how little campaign
money you have relative to your opponents. You`ve talked about the idea of
just serving one term, not wanting to have to raise campaign money.
When you were in the Senate the last time -- and I want to put this up.
This is from "The Washington Post" on September 21, 1996. This was a front
page story. And it was senator -- the headline was "Senator Pressler`s
Rise to Power is Marked by PAC Generosity." And they make a -- they make a
case in there that basically when the Republicans took over the Senate, you
became the chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over the
telecommunications industry and you basically pushed through the
Telecommunications Reform Act, but in the process, you raised lots and lots
of money, hundreds of thousands of dollars, from telecommunications
They said in this story, no one used the system better than Pressler.
When you look at the campaign you`re running now and when you look at your
last stint of service in the United States Senate, do you look back and
say, I was part of the problem?
PRESSLER: Yes, I would say I was part of the problem. And I`ve been out
of the Senate for 18 years and a lot of things have happened. We`ve had
the Supreme Court decision on -- on higher campaign limits. I`ve taught
all over the world in different universities and I`ve also served on some
boards of small companies.
So I`ve had a lot of life experiences. And I`ve come to the conclusion
that the -- that this system of money is -- is fatal to -- to our system.
So I`m Larry Pressler running today. Now, what`s happening out here is
they`re going back into my old House records from the 1970s and saying I
voted against Social Security. That`s not true. That was a tabling motion
that Senator McGovern was trying to move something forward.
KORNACKI: Well, OK, but let`s -- let`s pick this point up, because that`s
when I asked Rick Weiland, at the end of the last segment, what was it that
-- the biggest difference he wants people to know between him and Larry
Pressler was he went right to Social Security and he cited two things. And
let me ask you about them.
When you look at Social Security right now, are you open to the idea of
raising the retirement age and are you open to the idea of private
PRESSLER: No and no. I`m not open to raising the -- the age and I`m not
open to private accounts. I`ve been a champion of Social Security. I`ve
been a champion of the elderly. In fact, part of my campaign is for a
larger COLA for our senior citizens because the COLA that they receive is
not based on the cost of food and -- and the things that they really have
to buy. S0o I`m increasing -- I`m in favor of increasing the COLA and on
Social Security, even Rick Weiland is not for increasing the COLA. I`ve
been -- I`ve been a champion of that.
And by the way, let me correct one thing very quickly. I am not for
overturning Roe versus Wade. That was quoted one day in the newspapers.
I`m for keeping Roe versus Wade. I support the South Dakota abortion
KORNACKI: If a...
PRESSLER: -- and what Rick Weiland said here...
KORNACKI: -- if a Supreme Court -- if a Supreme Court justice -- if you, as
a United States senator, had to vote on a Supreme Court justice who you
believed would overturn Roe versus Wade, would you vote against that
PRESSLER: That is an improper question for -- to -- to ask a nominee to
the Supreme Court. I would not vote for or against any nominee on -- on the
basis of one thing.
KORNACKI: But that`s -- but that`s...
PRESSLER: But I am for keeping...
KORNACKI: -- the only way that...
PRESSLER: -- "Roe v....
KORNACKI: Senator, that`s the ...
PRESSLER: I`m keeping...
KORNACKI: -- only way "Roe" is going to be overturned, is through the
Supreme Court. So the only say you could have over whether "Roe" is
overturned or not is the nominees to the Supreme Court. That`s your only
chance to have say on that.
PRESSLER: And -- and one would have no idea of -- if you could -- the way
it works, you cannot ask a question on Roe versus Wade, but my position, if
I were nominated to the Supreme Court, which I would not be, I would be for
keeping Roe versus Wade.
KORNACKI: OK. And one final question, then, and I asked this to Larry Wei
-- to Rick Weiland, as well, excuse me, was that it -- right -- this week -
- excuse me -- the Supreme Court basically sent a bunch of gay marriage
cases back to the states, essentially legalized it. And in South Dakota,
there is a case that`s now making its way through the courts. This issue
was coming to a head, clearly, in South Dakota.
Do you want same-sex marriage to be legal in South Dakota?
PRESSLER: I am a -- an amicus in the South Dakota case on the side of
making gay marriage legal. I was an amicus signing the first thing in the
Supreme Court for gay marriage. My position on that is well known. Not
only have I been for it, I`ve been actively for it. And I`ve signed an
amicus back five years ago, when it was going before the Supreme Court for
gay marriage. And I have signed a -- the South Dakota amicus. So I`ve
actually -- I`m the only candidate who`s actually done something about it.
KORNACKI: All right, Independent candidate for U.S. Senate, Larry
Pressler, out in South Dakota. Really appreciate the time.
You guys are in the most closely watched race in the country this week,
Thank you very much for the time this morning.
And we have been in contact, we should say, with the campaign for the
Republican candidate out there, Mike Rounds. We are hoping that he will
join us soon. We`ll be right back with more right after this.
KORNACKI: Breaking news this morning, a second confirmed case of Ebola in
Dallas, Texas. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins held the press conference
at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital this morning to calm the city`s fears
and to praise the unnamed hospital employee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENKINS: That health care worker is a heroic person who provided care to
Mr. Duncan. I met with that health care worker`s parents and the health
care worker and the parents have asked that their privacy be respected and
their name not be released at this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The hospital worker is in stable condition. Stay with MSNBC as
this story develops. We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: We just heard a couple minutes ago from Larry Pressler, the
Independent who is running for the Senate in South Dakota and who has a
real chance of winning that race. And if he does win that race, it will
make history because it will increase the number of independents serving in
the U.S. Senate to three. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Angus King of Maine
are already there right now and that`s already a record. Two is the most
independents who`ve ever served in the Senate at the same time and with
Pressler there would be three or maybe there would be four. Because
another independent, Greg Orman is now leading the race for Senate in
Kansas. Four independents at the Senate - in the Senate at once. We have
never seen anything like that before. That would give them some power.
Each party would desperately want them, would need them to caucus with them
to give those senators leverage. As you`ve just heard, Pressler won`t say
which party he`d caucus with. We asked Orman the same question when he was
on our show a few weeks ago, and here`s what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG ORMAN: Ultimately, if I get elected, there`s a reasonable chance that
neither party will have a majority in Washington and if that`s the case,
what I`ve said is, I`m going to caucus with whichever party is willing to
actually go to Washington and start trying to solve problems as opposed to
just pleasing the extremists and their own base.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And there`s one of the independents who is already there, Angus
King from Maine. He caucuses with the Democrats right now, but he`s also
made it clear that he could change his mind and switch sides after this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it`s better for Maine, if the Republicans happen to
win control in November, would you caucus with Republicans?
ANGUS KING: I`ll make that decision at the time based upon what I think is
in the best interest of Maine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you`re leaving the door open for that possibility?
KING: Well, I think that`s accurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: In fact, Angus King has actually spoken with Greg Orman recently
about teaming up potentially to shake up the Senate. This is what Greg
Orman said. He said - he said of King. He said very specifically that he
would be excited about a time when he and I were in a position where
neither party has a majority. That ultimately, he thinks that`s one of the
ways to break the gridlock in Washington. The U.S. Senate, American
politics in general, they may be on the verge of dealing with something
they have never dealt with before. Not just one independent in the Senate,
but a group of independents in the Senate banding together with each party
desperate to make a deal with them. 2015 could be a wild year in
Washington. To tell us what might happen, we`re going to ask someone who
knows the Senate better than anyone, Bob Kerry, former Senator from
Nebraska, former presidential candidate. He will join us here live, next.
KORNACKI: All right, we`re back to talk about something we`ve never seen
before in the U.S. Senate that we might see next year, an independent
block. What that could mean for American politics next year. Here to talk
about is former Senator and presidential candidate Bob Kerry from Nebraska.
Senator, thanks for joining us this morning.
FMR. SEN. BOB KERRY (D) NEBRASKA: You`re welcome.
KORNACKI: So, what do you think - what do you make of this? I mean it
looks like Orman is likely to win in Kansas. It could be - it looks like
he`s likely to win. You already have Angus King there, you already have
Bernie Sanders and maybe he`s a little different, because he`s now flirting
with running as a Democrat. But then if you got like Pressler from South
Dakota there, you would have three- no, four independents, totally, you`d
have three who are kind of similar ideologically. What would that do -
you`ve been at the Senate, what would that do to have three just sort of
genuine independents like that?
KERRY: Probably not much. I mean .
KERRY: I mean the fact is that you can hear it in your own language.
Republicans, the Democrats could be desperate to cut a deal with them.
Well, they`ll cut a deal with them. One way or the other to get them to
caucus with them.
KORNACKI: But is it the kind of deal that could change the Senate?
KERRY: I don`t think so. I think the only thing that changes the Senate
is if the independents in America which is the fastest growing group of
Americans that orient politically. If the independents begin to
understand, and unless until you change article - the Constitution to
change the way we organize the Senate - I mean the Republicans and
Democratic Party have a lock on the presidential process, have a lock on
the way that Congress is organized. In spite of the fact that the fastest
growing party in America are Independents. So, it`s certainly a moment
where we can examine, but if all we do is get our hopes up that somehow
these four individuals, let`s say that they`re caucusing together, we`re
going to - we`re going to get a crash on the rocks of disappointment as
they cut a deal in order to get on a committee .
KORNACKI: Explain this - because you`ve been there and you know. How does
it work? If you`re an Independent Senator .
KERRY: Let`s say you`re the Independent senator and I`m Harry Reid or
Mitch McConnell and I`m trying to remain majority leader, or I`m trying to
remain chairman of the committee. And I`ll say to you, Steve, what do you
want and you`re not going to say I want campaign finance reform. No, no,
what committees do you want. Would you like a chairmanship? What would
you like? Tell me what you like, it`s a deal. And you tell me what you
want and I`ll give you what you want and you`ll caucus with us. And the
people who are thinking, gosh, the Independents are going to change the
world, and all of a sudden, my views are going to get represented, I`m
going to get disappointed .
KORNACKI: And is it also - do they have to - so, I mean you technically
don`t have to caucus with either party.
KORNACKI: You are not getting on a committee, right?
KERRY: Well, technically - technically under the terms and conditions of
the article one of the Constitution, Congress gets the freedom to organize
itself any way it wants. And what`s happened is today there`s only two
choices. You either caucus with the Republicans, you either caucus with
for the Democrats. Likewise at the presidential level. You have two
choices. Because the parties control the process. And unless until the
growing number of Americans who are independent recognize that, it`s not
likely any real solution is going to be implemented.
KORNACKI: But I guess that`s the next question is. I wonder, because I
think this has been a revelation to some people who watch politics. What`s
happened in the last month? Kansas, nobody thought Kansas was a race this
year, and all of a sudden, because of an Independent it is. South Dakota,
while in the Democrat could win, but certainly, press review - Independent
could win as well. And nobody thought this was a race, but the Independent
is sitting there at 32 percent. Is this maybe a model that you look to
2016 we`re suddenly going to start seeing - we see it in two states this
year, and maybe we`ll see it in six states and seven states, maybe we`re
talking about, you know, six, seven or eight independent senators coming
out of that. Does it reach a point of critical mass?
KERRY: If you saw states do what California has done we`d say the top two
candidates in the primary go on and run off in a general election, yes,
then, and a portion of seats based upon the number of votes in the
campaign. Yes, you could see a substantial change nationwide, but you have
to change the fundamental rules of way our legislative races are run and
the way we organize after the races are fought and that`s not happening.
In none of these four states, do you have these individuals saying the
Senate`s organizing improperly, I want to change the way it`s organized, so
the growing number of independents can actually have their views expressed
when the Senate organized itself. Instead what we have, well, I`m not
certain who I`m going to caucus with, I`m going to caucus with whoever
gives me the best deal, whoever says you`re going to be chairman of a
committee. I don`t know, who`s going to be best for Maine or Kansas or
South Dakota. It`s what`s going to be best in order for me to get more
power. That`s what`s going to match and I saw - it`s not independent views
being expressed in the way the Senate is organized. It`s independent views
being expressed to determine who`s going to be in the majority.
KORNACKI: Well, it`s interesting, because I mean your background obviously
in the Democratic Party, the U.S. Senator, governor, presidential
candidate, but listening to you sounds like you`re sort of down on both
parties right now.
KERRY: I`m actually not necessarily down on both parties. I`m still a
Democrat. But my problem is that I don`t think it`s healthy for the
country to have a growing number of Americans who say I`m not a Republican,
I`m not a Democrat. I`m an independent. And those views don`t get
expressed. That will get expressed in the presidential campaign, the
commissioner determines the debates set rules and make it impossible for an
independent to have a chance.
KORNACKI: What are the - what are the issues .
KERRY: of having a chance of that.
KORNACKI: So, as the Democrat who sees this, what are the issues, who are
the voters, what are the specific issues the Democratic Party nationally
needs to be talking about that it isn`t talking about?
KERRY: It is not what the Democratic Party needs to talk about, it`s the
Democratic and the Republican Party need to allow the views of a growing
number of Americans who say we don`t like either party. We want to
organize as independents, whatever - however you want to organize yourself,
and we make it exceptionally difficult for that to happen.
The rules of the Congress makes it difficult because you`re boiled down to
two choices. I mean it`s going to caucus with the Republicans or caucus
for the Democrats. I don`t know why James Madison trusted - and allowed
the Congress to set its own rules. Somebody smarter than I can answer that
question. But unless and until we say, no, it isn`t working -- that`s what
California did and as a consequence .
KORNACKI: Right. - was non-partisan.
KERRY: You don`t have gerrymandering in California. You don`t have - you
have a change in California that says, if you`re an independent you have a
chance of making it to the general election. That`s not the case in all of
the states. But more importantly when it comes to the Congress, the
Congress needs to organize itself so that independents can actually have
their views expressed if they get elected. And right now they are not,
which you have as a choice, you either go R or go D.
KORNACKI: Right. And as a choice, the several independents may have to
make in a few months.
KORNACKI: Bob Kerry is telling us, maybe not as big of a moment as we`re
thinking it might be, but it certainly will be a dramatic moment. So we`ll
be watching it - and we`ll see how - former senator Bob Kerry from
Nebraska, really appreciate you taking a time this morning. Thank you very
much. Thank you for joining us this morning. Also, we will be back next
weekend, Saturday, Sunday, 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. And coming up next is
Melissa Harris-Perry. We will see you next week here on "UP."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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