'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, October 18th, 2014
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Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: October 18, 2014
Guest: Rosa Delauro, Rosemary Goudreau
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: All right. Good morning, and thanks for being
with us on another Saturday morning, a very eventful one overnight,
obviously. We had new developments in the Ferguson case. We have the
first public words at least coming from that officer`s camp about what
happened and we also had the Supreme Court unexpectedly weighing in on the
controversial voter I.D. law in the state of Texas. Their ruling and what
it means in just a bit. As I said, we`ll have the latest from Ferguson
when -- we`ll have the latest from Ferguson as soon as we get a reporter on
for that. We are still working on that as we speak. Sorry, there`s a lot
happening right now as you can tell.
But anyway, first, we want to begin this morning with the latest on the
Ebola crisis, more than 4400 deaths worldwide right now, three confirmed
cases in the United States. Two cases contracted in the United States in
an election just 17 days from now that all of this is somehow gotten tied
up in. The New York Times has a front page story this morning on President
Obama`s quote seething reaction to what he see as a bungled response to the
crisis by government officials. Frustration that according to "The Times"
boiled over when the President learned on Wednesday along with the rest of
us, that a second nurse had been infected and had traveled on a plane.
According to the paper, this is what led Obama to canceling his schedule on
Wednesday to convening a meeting with his top aides that day to review
their actions. Supposedly, he discovered medical officials providing
information that later turned out to be wrong and guidance to local health
teams that was not adequate.
The President according to "The Times" said it`s not tight. That`s
according to their report this morning. This led to the appointment Friday
of Democratic operative Ron Klain as the administration`s Ebola response
coordinator. Many are calling him the Ebola czar. Public and lawmakers
called to the appointment of somebody to the post but they are questioning
why the President appointed a political operative and not somebody with
medical credentials. The White House said that the crisis required, quote,
"an implementation expert."
And meanwhile, there are growing calls for a travel ban from West Africa
where the crisis originated and where it continues to spread. Those calls
are coming now not just from Republicans but also from a growing number of
Democrats were fighting to win in red states. You saw some of them on your
screen there. A recent poll found that 67 percent of those surveyed
support barring entry of the United States to people who have been in Ebola
stricken countries. Sixty seven percent of the Americans there. Officials
though from the CDC and NIH testified before Congress this week that a
travel ban would do more harm than good in trying to stop the crisis at its
source in West Africa. And this morning, according to the Associated
Press, public health officials are reiterating that experts, quote, "are
nearly unanimous in saying it`s a bad idea that could backfire." This is a
sentiment that President Obama echoed in this morning`s weekly address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Trying to seal off an entire
region of the world, if that were even possible, could actually make the
situation worse. It would make it harder to move health care workers and
supplies back and forth. Experience shows that it could also cause people
in the affected region to change their travel to evade screening and make
the disease even harder to track.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right. And here to discuss this and the other week`s big
stories, we have Richard Wolffe, the executive editor of MSNBC.com, MSNBC
political analyst and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael
Steele is here and MSNBC reporter Jane Timm in her UP debut. So, thanks
everybody for being here.
A little rough there at the beginning, sorry about that. But the politics
of Ebola, because unfortunately this is something that probably, you know,
shouldn`t be tied up in politics but it is happening as we say, 17 days
before an election. And so the most interesting thing to me that`s
happened in the last 24 hours is, it started out with these calls for
travel ban that were coming basically from Republicans and it seemed like
this was sort of the political line of attack they were going to use
against the administration and Democrats and now what we`re seeing is
Democrats are starting to go along with this too. We saw Kay Hagen in
North Carolina yesterday, Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Wendy Davis running for
governor in Texas. She`s coming out for this now. So, it seems like
again, we have that poll there, 67 percent, but it seems like there`s now
momentum politically in that direction.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think that there`s a lot
reasons for that, you know, just aside from the politics of it, which is a
whole other conversation, just people like on the Republican side you`ve
seen this as an opportunity one more time skew the President on something.
But beyond that, I think it`s basically a lot of people feel -- and I`ve
heard this over and over again, that the administration in large measure
was caught flat footed on this. And so, the concern is, you know, people
talking about oh, don`t panic, don`t panic, people aren`t panicking about
catching Ebola. OK. Let`s be clear about that. What concerns them is the
ability or inability of the administration to actually handle the one or
two cases that we know about so far. And so that is I think really the
impetus for a lot more people saying, you know what, until you guys get it
under control here, why don`t we keep it over there. And that means a
KORNACKI: Well, and you have this article in "The Times" this morning and
we`re quoting from it there Richard, where the President himself basically,
they are saying Wednesday is the key date this week. The President finds
out, we all find out that there`s this second infected nurse who flew on
this plane and alerted the government about this and it was allowed to fly
anyway and then he stepped back Wednesday and basically said, all right,
you know what, this response has been bungled so far by the government.
RICHARD WOLFFE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, MSNBC.COM: Right, I`ve been covering
various White Houses for many years and I personally have written many
stories of presidents seething, they don`t mean a whole lot. You know,
presidents get angry for all sorts of reason, this president doesn`t do
incandescent rage, he sort of quietly smolders which may be terrified and
I`ve seen it directed at me and it`s quite unsettling. You know,
presidents can`t control a whole lot. When you talk about the bungling
that went on in Texas, you`re talking about hospital administration that
failed, you are talking about the CDC that failed. CDC is not an agency
that is sits in the White House or old executive office building.
So there are multiple points of control, none of that meant as an excuse,
by the way, that is the administration, when you have a public health
crisis, CDC ought to know what the protocols are, they should be going and
saying this is what best practice is because actually the real challenge is
to health workers, whether it`s in West Africa or in the United States of
America. It`s not from people catching planes and we need to be really
clear even though it`s an election and people are playing politics, we need
to be really clear that the steps we take are designed to stop the transfer
of it especially to health officials. That`s the problem.
KORNACKI: Well, see. And that`s where this gets -- this intersection of
politics and this health crisis gets interesting to me, Jane, because we`re
hearing, we have this AP story this morning that saying the same thing, you
have public health officials who were saying, this idea of a travel ban,
this gaining some support politically, is actually -- it`s not just -- it`s
a counterproductive idea in terms of controlling the outbreak in West
Africa and keeping it eventually from spreading here among other places.
So, that`s what health experts are saying but there`s this political
momentum now that`s on side, you know, 67 percent of the country, Democrats
coming over now. I guess the question is, the President as he said this
week is not for this travel ban. Is he going to be able to hold back that
political pressure if he doesn`t believe this is a good idea?
JANE TIMM, MSNBC REPORTER: Yes. You know, I think you have to think that
when you imagine these pollsters calling people and saying, do you think
cutting off travel to the countries with us it`s coming from -- he goes,
yes, it sounds like a good idea. When you look at it, there are no direct
flights, 150 people a day coming from different places. But I think that
what they need to focus on is that what they`ve said, is the contact
tracing is the most important way to contain this disease. So, figuring
out where people come from. And the less restrictions and more screening
seems to be key. But whether or not he can actually make that stick --
KORNACKI: Do you think he can pull it off?
WOLFFE: No, I don`t. This is the flag pin thing.
WOLFFE: I mean, it`s so obvious, it`s so ludicrous and he`s going to have
to do it. People can travel. They will travel to other countries -- if
someone wants to go from Liberia to America and there are obviously lots of
historical ties between these two countries, they will find some other
place to go to. We build a fence on the southern border of that travel,
you know, 700 miles over the 3,000 miles distance. People get around it,
they will get around a travel ban. It`s nonsense, they called it the
politics are just too simple and too powerful.
KORNACKI: Yes, I did want to play. This was on this set yesterday,
"Morning Joe," I don`t know if you guys saw this. But one of the members
of Congress who has been pushing for the flight ban and actually has some
legislation to that effect, very interesting thing happened when he
appeared on "Morning Joe" yesterday. I want to play that and take a look
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman, just one quick question, just to clarify,
what flights are you talking about? Because there are not regularly
scheduled commercial flights from the affected countries to the United
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are none.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no direct flights from West Africa to the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we are talking about -- we`re talking about
travelers but we`re not talking about flights, because there aren`t any.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I believe there are some flights but be that as it
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no direct flights that comes to the United
States from West Africa. That is incorrect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then, we don`t have any problem, everybody is
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, no, they come through Europe, which is why --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are traveling. Exactly. Which is why members of
Congress who are advocating for a travel ban need to do a better job of
explaining why that would solve the problem outright when they come from
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will not solve the problem. It will not solve the
problem. I never said it would solve the problem. It is a step in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Says, Congressman Dennis Ross from Florida. And Michael, it
seems like that is that sort of the mixing of the emotion that`s involved
in this issue, which is like totally understandable and also the basic
facts of the matter which are you know, no direct flights from the United
States to these affected countries. It didn`t seem the Congressman
necessarily knew that.
STEELE: Well, no, I think that that`s also part of the problem. There`s a
lot of misinformation or lack of understanding of exactly what is the
situation with respect to how people get here. You`re absolutely right.
Rich people will go, they go from Africa to Europe to the U.S. or some
other route. So understanding all of that is part of it. But I can tell
you just straight up, that exchange, there were more people sitting and
standing with the Congressman in that exchange than not. And that`s where
we are right now. The administration has to deal with this new reality.
And remember, for a lot of people`s perspective, the President, I know
these weren`t the exact words, but this is how people took it, we wouldn`t
have to worry about this, it was highly unlikely that we would have an
incidence of Ebola or be concerned about Ebola here in the United States
and here we are. So, with that track record if you will on this and the
CDC really did break down in terms of drilling down to the hospitals and
making sure that they had the right protocols in place, not you know, when
someone calls, hey, I have 102 fever, it`s not that bad, can I fly and
check out my wedding plans? Yes. Go ahead and get on the plane. Those
types of things lend to the lack of confidence. So what the result? OK,
let`s just slow it down.
KORNACKI: So, I mean, this is the story to be watching I think the next
few days, if politically if the momentum is just too strong in terms of
this travel ban, is how to make that work as best you can with the needs to
get aid workers to get aid over there.
Anyway, we`ll be back with more on the morning`s top headlines including
how Willie Horton, remember him? Remember that ad? How that might be
making a comeback in the final stretch of this election. That`s next.
KORNACKI: All right. Moving back to the campaign trail this morning, now
only 17 days before the midterm election, Rand Paul is this week back on
the cover of "Time" magazine. And he`s continuing his public push to
broaden the Republican Party`s base, specifically with black voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: If Republicans have a clue and do this and
go out and ask every African-American for their vote, I think we can
transform an election in one cycle. But I think there`s fully a third of
the African-American vote that is open to much of the message because much
of what the Democrats have offered hasn`t worked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And the day after Rand Paul said that this week, though the
National Republican Congressional Committee, they raise money, they run
ads for Republican candidates around the country, they went into Nebraska,
where an incumbent Republican Congressman is facing a tough re-election
campaign and they put this on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four murders in 11 days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A judge decides Nikko Jenkins is responsible for all of
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nikko Jenkins was released from prison early after
serving only half his sentence. The head of the Omaha Police Union said
Jenkins is the poster child of why the Good Time Law is a farce. Brad
Ashford supported the Good Time Law and still defends it, allowing
criminals like Nikko Jenkins to be released early.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: It`s being called the new Willie Horton ad, a reference to the
notorious ads that Republicans used against Michael Dukakis all the way
back in 1988. So, we know that Rand Paul says, he wants to reach out to
black voters, does this ad tell us something about the rest of his party?
Michael Steele, what do you --
STEELE: Ad doesn`t tell you anything other than consultants are stupid
and, you know, that`s basically, you know, they play to the lowest common
denominator, you know, and that`s part of the problem. You have sort of a
forward thinking message from a potential presidential candidate, a sitting
United States senator, leader within the party, who`s over the last year
and a half really done some really extraordinary things to try to change
the dialogue and conversation. And yet at the base level where you
actually meet voters and hang out with them, you run this crap. And you
say to yourself, OK, so what is the point of this ad? I mean, you know, in
the context of the case or the situation, yes, OK, the member of the house
supported the law. But then to put it in this frame, says something very
racist in my view.
WOLFFE: Michael, this is the NRCC, the National Republican Committee
bought the ad.
STEELE: Yes. The Congressional Committee.
WOLFFE: That is not just a consultant or strategist. That was National
Republican money behind that. So, at least the Willie Horton ad was done
by a shadowy sort of supportive and it wasn`t done by the actual Bush
campaign, although they had their own version of it afterwards. But this
to me is -- I hear you on Rand Paul, I think what he`s doing on prison
reform is and the sentencing reform is actually really impressive, but
that`s sanctioned by the national party, it`s astonishing.
STEELE: Well, again, you know, stupid does stupid.
KORNACKI: So what is the -- in terms of -- Rand Paul, you know, looking
and running in 2016, Jane and the Republican Party, I went back and looked
at this. You have to go back to 1960 and the polls weren`t as precise back
then. If you go back to 1960 to find a race, a presidential race where
Republican candidate got more than 20 percent of the black vote. And Rand
Paul is saying in this interview, he says, we can turn this around in one
election if we do it right. How realistic is that?
TIMM: You know, I love the way Rand Paul talks because he talks about, you
know, the GOP needs someone and he describes himself. He`s the one in his
party who is pushing these values, but the rest of his party is not
sticking with it. So I mean, I don`t know how we`re going to see Rand Paul
pull this off. I mean, it sounds like he`s got great campaign talk but I
don`t know --
KORNACKI: So, what could he get? What percent do you think Rand Paul can
STEELE: I don`t know what percent he could get --
KORNACKI: Would it be a jump?
STEELE: Well, I think it would absolutely be a jump when you consider the
nine percent that Bush got in 2004, 2008. But -- I mean, 2004. But the
reality of it is, it`s not just about the percentage, it`s about the
movement that`s beginning to occur within the black community as a whole.
That there is sort of a stepping back and with their stories that are out
this week and last week talking about in various elections around the
country, Republican candidates, either for Congressional office, city
council, county executive, are picking up a larger share of the black vote
because a lot of those voters are now looking at their situation and
they`re assessing, OK, I`ve done this and that hasn`t worked. Maybe I`ll
try that and I`ll get a bigger bang for the buck or they are leveraging
their votes differently now. So, that`s part of a movement that`s
beginning to happen. The question is, how does the party tap into that and
engage the conversation. You still have the battle quite frankly, Steve,
on voting rights. Broader civil rights issues, certainly ads like this do
not help with the narrative that Rand Paul or John Thune or others are
trying to engage. So, yes, there`s still a whole lot of work.
KORNACKI: Speaking of voting rights, the perfect segue, because up next, a
rare election related before the sun rises Saturday morning ruling from
Supreme Court on that issue. We`ll tell you what they said and what it
means, that`s straight ahead.
KORNACKI: All right. Major new developments to tell you about this
morning in the fight over Texas` new voter I.D. law. While you were
probably sleeping this morning at about 5:15 in the morning East Coast
Time, the Supreme Court announced the Texas can go ahead and use its
controversial voter I.D. law in this year`s elections. Early voting is set
to begin in Texas on Monday, just two days from now. The law in Texas
requires voters to have certain forms, a photo I.D. in order to cast a
ballot. A federal judge had struck down that law last week, arguing that
it could disenfranchise as many as 600,000 voters who lack the proper
identification, most of them African-American or Latino but a federal
appeals court put that judge`s ruling on hold claiming it changed in rules
came too close to Election Day and could cause confusion. As we said,
early voting begins in Texas on Monday. And the Supreme Court is keeping
the voter I.D. law in Texas in place. When we come back, why one U.S.
senator is now being called "Mark Uterus" and what it means for his re-
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Udall your campaign has been so focused on women`s
issues that you`ve been dubbed "Mark Uterus," a neutral political observer
said any image of you as a bipartisan walk across the aisle guy has been
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was a question to Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall at
a recent debate asking him whether his campaign`s focus on exploiting the
gender gap is actually back firing on him. This is turning into what may
be the defining question in what is one of the most crucial races in the
battle for control of the Senate. Have Democrats bet too much on the war
on women? Udall is the running for a second term against Republican
Congressman Cory Gardner. In the Udall campaign decided early on that it
had a golden opportunity to turn women voters away from Gardner it`s
because Gardner had supported a personhood bill in Colorado, he since taken
his name off it and still has listed as sponsor of a personhood bill in
In many ways of the story of the 2012 campaign was about blow back against
the so-called Republican war on women with President Obama carrying women
by 12 points. Insensitive comments by several Republican candidates, most
notably Todd Akin with his legitimate rape remark in Missouri, also cost
Republicans very winnable Senate races in 2012. So, this year Udall`s
campaign has basically bet the farm on creating a similar backlash against
Gardner. Half of all of the ads Udall has run have been on women`s issues
like this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Colorado`s women and families.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congressman Gardner just doesn`t get it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For some, it`s Garner`s history supporting harsh
anti-abortion laws, even sponsoring a bill to make abortion a felony,
including cases of rape and incest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want my daughter to have the same choices I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But there are some scary signs for Democrats that it may not be
working this time around. Gardner is now ahead by an average of three
points in that race in the Colorado. And the polls have been trending in
his direction lately. And look at this, in the latest Quinnipiac poll,
Udall is ahead by nine points among women. That`s not bad but also not
quite the big margin his campaign is betting on. And among men, Gardner is
up by 19. That is much worse than Udall campaign was expecting there.
Again, this is a crucial race for Democrats if they want to keep control of
the Senate. The question is why, what works so well for them just two
years ago doesn`t seem to be working as well here. And if Udall can make
it work in these final two weeks.
Joining me now is MSNBC political reporter Benjy Sarlin. Benjy, you`ve
been everywhere as you cover Cory Gardner a little bit. Tell us what`s
going on there. Because this is a race I think that a lot of people look
at Colorado and say this is a state that changed significantly in the last
decade or two. And it had been a Republican state President Obama carried
in 2008, carried it in 2012, rising Latino population, you know, women and
backlash in 2012, certainly an issue there. And yet this is something
where Republicans are now feeling very bullish. What`s happened?
BENJY SARLIN, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, this is a state whereas you
mentioned, it doesn`t fit the profile of a lot of these other races where
Democrats are trailing where they`re kind of red states that have been
trending in that direction. This Colorado really is kind of a stand-in for
the nation, so there`s a reason Republicans are very excited if they can
win this. There`s a few things going on, the biggest is that Gardner is a
very strong candidate, when I was in Colorado a year ago, before Gardner
announced his run, it was basically assumed among all the Republicans I
talked to that they had no chance of winning the Senate seat unless they
could convince Cory Gardner to run.
KORNACKI: So, what it is that makes a strong candidate because the
Democrats looked at and they said on paper, it`s a personal in Colorado,
personal thing nationally, they can paint him as far right to the right on
abortion and there`s an opening there that hasn`t materialized?
SARLIN: Exactly. Now, you mentioned that gender gap there. Now, in 2010
Democrats managed to incredibly win the Senate seat, even then. Michael
Bennett won with I think it was 17-point gender gap. Sixteen or 17 points,
which as you can see is significantly greater. But then Ken Buck really
fit this kind of extreme profile --
KORNACKI: He`s the Republican candidate in 2010.
SARLIN: He`s the Republican candidate in 2010. He had made comments about
how during the primary you should vote for him because he doesn`t wear high
heels. He was compared homosexuality to alcoholism. And until Gardner got
in the race, he was the presumed Senate nominee, so it`s likely you
wouldn`t have had Colorado on the map if that happened. Gardner has very
similar views to Ken Buck. He`s not significantly more moderate as they`ve
mentioned. But he does not come across as an extremist. I was talking to
a Republican friend of Gardner`s just yesterday who mentioned he does a lot
of direct camera ads, he comes off as very sunny, very smiley. The way he
put it, it`s hard to caricature him as an ogre. The way it is to --
KORNACKI: I mean, so it sounds like the big difference you`re saying is,
he doesn`t, you know, put his foot in his mouth the way Todd Akin did, the
way Ken Buck did in 2010, he`s avoiding that kind of inflammatory
statement. So, it`s not so much the record, it`s the rhetoric.
SARLIN: Absolutely. He`s incredibly disciplined. I mean, he talks -- he
sounds like he`s talking very naturally but he just doesn`t make mistakes
very easily. He really knows when to pull back. But the other big thing
about this is that, on issues like immigration, for example, which is
another thing that really ended up destroying Ken Buck, he lost something
along lines of 80 percent of the Latino vote and they had higher turnout
than they expected. Partly because he was so inflamed by his rhetoric.
Gardner has not embraced immigration reform but he has said he supports
immigration reform generally. He`s for the general idea of let`s work
something out, even if he won`t exactly say what it is he supports and he`s
much more careful to meet with Latino groups in his area to talk about how
he`s an ally, even if those same Latino groups have decided that he`s not
supporting their position and they`re doing everything they can to get him
out of office right now.
KORNACKI: Also, it sounds like, I mean, we`re saying Colorado of all of
the states this year on the map, Colorado is the closest thing there is
really to an authentic swing state, it`s up this year, as you`re saying,
it`s a purple state. There`s stuff potentially here for Democrats to
consider, if Udall falls short in this in terms of, it seems to me there
has to be some reconsideration here about how to approach the issue of the
war on women, how to approach the gender gap. Because it`s something they
have -- it`s been a huge payoff for them politically but it may not be
quite as simple as producing as they thought. That seems to be the lesson
SARLIN: Absolutely. There`s going to be a lot of reevaluations on both
sides if Gardner wins this race. Democrats are going to have to wonder if
maybe there`s a different way to shift this focus to make this same point
without it becoming so easily to character, it`s just like, oh, this is the
one issue campaign, oh, he`s "Mark Uterus." Similarly on the Republican
side, you`ll going to see a lot of people trying to clone whatever Cory
Gardner did here. It`s possible it is just candidate specific and not
everyone can pull off this kind of upbeat, I`m, you know, your friendly
neighbor kind of image. But you will see a lot of people saying, OK, let`s
find a way like Gardner did to pick one issue to distance yourself from.
For example, Gardner repudiated his part support for a personhood amendment
in Colorado --
But he found ways to at least muddy the conversation, he ran ad saying
like, I`ll admit when I was wrong, you know? So give yourself a little
plausible distance without really changing your position on the major, you
know, life issues. And then just try to sound like a moderate basically.
I mean, this is something that I guarantee you if Gardner wins you`re going
to see candidates would trying to run the exact same play book.
KORNACKI: Yes. No, it`s going to pose a dilemma definitely for Democrats.
Again, it`s Udall running behind right now but still a close race and
Democrats say maybe the polls out there are under sampling Latino voters.
So, this is certainly scenarios we can still win. But this is not one
necessarily that people thought would be in this position right now to
Anyway, Benjy Sarlin from MSNBC.com. We really appreciate that.
And up next, what Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson is reportedly
saying happened in the moments before he shot Michael Brown. His version
of events, the first public version of them. We`ll have that for you,
KORNACKI: In the more than two months since the black teenager in
Ferguson, Missouri was shot and killed by a white police officer, prompting
massive demonstrations drawing unrest and have drawn national attention.
One perspective on what happened has been missing, that of the officer.
But we`re waking up this morning to the first public accounts from that
officer, Darren Wilson who according to "New York Times," according to a
news story the New York Times this morning told authorities he feared for
his life. Government officials familiar with the federal civil rights
investigation tell the paper that Officer Wilson informed investigators the
teenager, Michael Brown, punched and scratched him repeatedly. That`s what
he`s apparently claiming. Wilson said that he was pinned inside his
vehicle as the two of them struggle over his gun.
Forensics show that two shots were fired inside the car, one of which hit
Brown in the arm. Brown was shot six times in all, including twice in the
head. Officer Wilson`s account contradicts what some of the witnesses say
they saw. One witness said that she thought Brown was trying to flee but
she couldn`t see clearly. Another witness who said she was watching from a
close distance said it appeared Brown was trying to pull off or pull away
and Officer Wilson was trying to pull him back in. A third witness said
that while he couldn`t say for certain what happened, quote, "Something was
going on in that window, window of the police car and it didn`t look
Then there`s the account of the friend who was with Michael Brown when
Wilson stopped his vehicle, and ordered both of them down the sidewalk,
that young man says, the officer pulled Brown into the vehicle, drew his
weapon and threatened to shoot after the first shot was fired, that`s when
both of them took off running. Never says the friend did Brown reach for
the officer`s weapon. A lawyer for the Brown family dismissed Wilson`s
account saying, quote, "What the police say is not to be taken as gospel."
As we said, this is all according to "The New York Times," a new story this
morning which did not interview Officer Wilson himself. The grand jury is
been looking for evidence for more than a month now. There`s no indication
whether Wilson will be indicted.
Joining me now is MSNBC reporter Amanda Sakuma who was in Ferguson during
the protests after Michael Brown`s shooting. Amanda, thank you for being
So, it sounds like, again, this is based on sources of the "New York Times"
has, this is something that broke overnight basically, but it sounds like
there`s clear conflict here between what the officer is saying according to
the story and what some of these witnesses have stepped forward. There`s
some starkly different accounts here.
AMANDA SAKUMA, MSNBC REPORTER: Good morning. Yes, exactly. Yes, these
are anonymous sources, we don`t know where this is coming from. But this
is the most significant testimony that we`ve heard out of this grand jury
investigation into Brown`s death. And before this, we`ve had very
contrasting accounts of what exactly happened. And we still do not have a
very clear picture of exactly what happened after the incident at the
inside of the vehicle, the scuffle. They say that there is some type of
brawl exchanged inside the vehicle but it`s still unclear why exactly
Officer Wilson ended up shooting Brown six times.
KORNACKI: So we also have it in this area, they say that first of all,
Wilson testified for four hours before this grand jury. And they said, the
legal experts were surprised that he had done this, that he could have
simply invoked the right not to say anything, instead he chose to submit
himself for four hours to the questioning. What is the significance of
SAKUMA: You know, he wasn`t required to be there but I think there`s a
huge ground swell of calls especially in Ferguson and the St. Louis region
and even throughout the country that they want some type of action to be
taking place. And I think his side of the story wasn`t as clear before.
And even as the events unfurled inside of Ferguson, the police accounts
were very, very muddled in the first weeks. They did not handle the
situation very well. And so now the protests on the streets are calling
for Wilson`s arrest. And the ground swell is really rising now.
KORNACKI: There is -- so there are two tracks to this. There`s the
federal civil rights investigation, the Justice Department has launched
this and this article, again, I have no reporting here, maybe you do or
maybe you have some insight of this. But this article is suggesting that
their sources are telling them, that the Times sources are telling them,
that the Department of Justice in looking at this so far does not think
there`s a federal civil rights case here.
SAKUMA: You know, there`s a high bar in order to put a federal civil
rights case against him. He basically has to -- they have to prove that
Wilson in anyway violated Brown`s civil rights, which is a very high bar.
KORNACKI: What would that involve in something like this?
SAKUMA: It would mean that he actively was trying to shoot him, not -- it
was not in self-defense, that it was a very active, he was going after
Brown. And in order to make that case there, it`s very difficult.
KORNACKI: In the second piece of this then is the St. Louis County grand
jury and we`re expecting to hear in mid-November, they are saying, whether
they are going to indict the officer or not?
SAKUMA: We`re hearing that it could be mid-November but they have until
early January to decide. So, it could be any time between then and
meanwhile the protests on the streets continue to grow.
KORNACKI: OK, to be continued. My thanks to MSNBC`s Amanda Sakuma for
joining us, on very short notice this morning. I appreciate that.
And still ahead, one of the most amazing debate moments in history, it
happened this week. You probably heard about it. We`re going to play it
in full and show you some stuff you probably missed. That`s next.
KORNACKI: All right. So, you`ve probably seen bits and pieces of the
absurd opening of the Florida governor`s debate on Wednesday. One of the
more bizarre debate moments in American history. But we thought we were
going to do something a little different this morning. We are going to
show you the full complete unedited "Saturday Night Live" sequence of
events that played out on that stage on Wednesday night. So, grab some
popcorn, maybe grab a doughnut, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And good evening, everyone. We are live from Broward
College in Davie, Florida, broadcasting to 11 Florida television markets
from Bailey Hall. Where we are prepared to have the two major party
candidates for Florida governor square off for the next hour. We want to
take a shot of the stage here at Bailey Hall in Broward County. And as you
can see, the two candidates who were invited to take part in this debate
right now are not stepping up on the stage.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have an extremely peculiar situation right now.
We have Governor Charlie Crist!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Governor, Florida Governor Rick Scott, our incumbent governor and a
Republican candidate for governor is also in the building. Governor Rick
Scott, we have been told that Governor Scott will not be participating in
this debate. Now, let me explain what this is all about. Governor Crist
has asked to have a fan, a small fan placed underneath his podium. The
rules of the debate that I was shown by the Scott campaign say that there
should be no fan. Somehow there is a fan there and for that reason, ladies
and gentlemen, I am being told that Governor Scott -- will not join us for
Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, this is a debate, Rosemary
Goudreau, I don`t know, what can we say?
ROSEMARY GOUDREAU, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, SUN SENTINEL: Well --
GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: That`s the
ultimate pleading of the fifth that I have ever heard in my life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
CRIST: Yes, it is. I`m sad that people in Florida are going to get hear
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not asking you a question. We`re not asking a
question Governor Crist. I`m asking Rosemary about the situation that we
had find ourselves in.
GOUDREAU: Governor Crist, do the rules of the debate say that there should
be no fan?
CRIST: Not that I`m aware of.
GOUDREAU: So that the rules that the Scott campaign just showed us that
says that no electronics can be used --
CRIST: Are we really going to debate about a fan or are we going to talk
about education and the environment and the future of our state?
I mean, really. There are serious issues facing our state and it`s like
funding education appropriately, protecting our environment, making sure we
have ethical honest leadership.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Governor --
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
CRIST: If he`s going to give it to me, I`m going to take it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not -- this is not -- this is not a platform
for one candidate. We`re hoping that Governor Scott will join us on the
CRIST: That would be great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m told that Governor Scott will join us on the stage.
In all fairness to Governor Scott, I was shown a copy of the rules that
they showed me that said there would be no fans on the podium.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fan --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My understanding is that Governor Scott will be coming
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not in my life, unimaginable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frank, have you ever seen anything like this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I haven`t. This is -- remarkable over sort of a
trivial issue no matter which side you believe you`re on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were placed in the awkward situation of having to
decide this and -- I don`t think it`s our role to determine.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, what`s happened since that debate, asked to explain their
candidates` absence from the stage for those six-and-a-half minutes,
Scott`s campaign is blaming miscommunication and claiming Scott never
actually refused to participate, he thought the issue was being negotiated
while both candidates remained offstage. The official rules of that debate
do state clearly that candidates, quote, "may not bring electronic devices
including fans." But before signing and sending those rules back to
organizers, the Crist campaign apparently wrote in at the bottom, but it
was agreeing with understanding that the debate host will address any
temperature issues with the fan if necessary. After the debate organizer
seemed to side against Crist saying the temperature on the stage was in the
60s and that they, quote, "did not anticipate or plan for the possibility
that the candidate would not honor the debate rules. In retrospect, the
debate partners should have been better prepared for this possibility. In
addition, we regret that one candidate was allowed to take the stage and
allowed to talk before the fan issue was resolved."
This is a razor thin race. It is the closest race for governor in a big
state this year. So is this -- is a dispute over a candidate`s use of an
electric fan at a debate, is this actually going to decide who wins and who
loses this race?
Joining me now from Fort Lauderdale, she`s one of the panelists you saw on
that clip, Rosemary Goudreau, editorial page, editor of the Sun Sentinel in
Florida. Thank you very much Rosemary for joining us, I`m sure you did not
expect at the start of this week, you would be on national television
talking about fans at the end of the week. But here we are. I guess what
I`m most curious about is do we know, because I`ve heard the Rick Scott`s
campaigns version of events, that he didn`t intentionally stay off the
stage and didn`t realize that Charlie Crist was out there. But this went
on for several minutes. It seems to me it would only take you a flip on
the TV, you see it`s out there, you send them out here. This was an
extended absence, do we know exactly what was going on behind stage yet?
GOUDREAU: I don`t know exactly what was happening but I do know the
producer said we were going to go live at 7:00, we did go live at 7:00. We
did go live at 7:00. And as we were sitting there in the moments leading
up to that moment, you know, we didn`t know if we were going to have a
debate. So, I have new found respect for live TV.
KORNACKI: Well, one of my favorite moments of that and I have watched that
extended clip you just played, about 100 times since Wednesday. But one of
my favorite moments, is towards the end there, Charlie Crist walks away
before Governor Scott comes out. And Charlie Crist walks away from his
podium and sort of walks past you and you`re looking at him and you give
him this, I can`t even described, give him kind of a funny expression and
it looks like you guys made some kind of eye contact. What was he sort of
telling you with his body language at that moment?
GOUDREAU: Well, you know, Charlie is really good at working the room. He
is a natural politician, unlike Governor Scott, who`s very serious and
caring but Charlie is more, you know, he`s more personable. So, he was
coming overtaking a moment and filling the stage, coming over to the
moderators. I don`t recall what he was saying to me, but all I could
remember, thinking in that moment was, can you believe this? I just
couldn`t believe what was happening.
KORNACKI: And so what happened afterwards? Because the organizers put out
a statement in the Scott people are claiming vindication from this
statement. What was it like afterwards in dealing with these campaigns?
And I imagine the Scott campaign was clearly upset with how this went down.
I don`t know how what the Crist campaign felt? What were they both saying
GOUDREAU: Well, even before it started, just seconds before it started, a
very agitated adviser for the Scott campaign came up behind us at the panel
and said, are you going to enforce the rules or are you going to enforce
the rules? And we`re like, gee, the only rules we know, is one minute, one
minute, 30 seconds. And then we`re going live. So he lives. He`s over in
the wings and we`re waiting to see if the governor is going to come out.
I`m looking at the adviser and he`s going -- cut the show, cut the show.
But clearly the show is still going on. I do believe the debate organizers
deserve criticism here for taking their eye off the ball. When -- Charlie
Crist is famous for bringing a fan wherever he goes. He`s been here in
this studio where I`m in Fort Lauderdale right now and he wanted a fan with
him in order to appear here. He comes into the editorial board, he wants a
fan. He`s famous for it. And so when he turned in his document, he put
that little handwritten addendum saying, if it`s not comfortable, you know,
you`ll make it comfortable. And I guess, you know, one of the reactions
afterward is, you know, who`s to say what`s comfortable. I was comfortable
in the room. It was cool to me. But once people fill the room, you know,
what was the temperature at that point, I don`t know. But I do think that
the organizers deserve some blame for failing to tell the Scott campaign
about this little addendum that allowed Governor Crist to tell me in that
moment, not that I`m aware of.
KORNACKI: Right. Well, just one final question, I was just curious, if
Governor Scott had not come out on stage after six minutes, what were you
thinking there? You had an hour of TV to fill? What were you guys going to
GOUDREAU: You know, we had worked so hard on our questions, we debated our
questions, we had -- and to lose these minutes when there were so many
important issues, and I`m not a TV person, so the newscaster new found
respect, turns to me and is like, you know, can you fill? And all I could
think of was, what are we going to do for an hour? We were going statewide
in every market, 14 markets of Florida and we had to fill. And the
question came, have you ever seen anything like this? No, I`ve never seen
anything like this before.
KORNACKI: Yes. Well, important issues and important debate. I am curious
if that had gone on for 10 or 20 minutes, what you guys would have done.
But anyway, my thanks to Rosemary Goudreau of the Sun Sentinel for joining
us this morning. Been a busy week for you I`m sure. I really appreciate
GOUDREAU: Happy to be here, thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. Another full hour of UP is ahead. So, stay with us.
KORNACKI: The White House reworks its Ebola response.
All right, thanks for staying with us. We`re aiming high on this busy
Saturday morning. We have decided to tackle the question of how to fix
Congress. And one of the biggest stars from MSNBC has a background in this
area that you might not know about and is going to join us in a few minutes
to give us the answer to that question.
But we begin this hour with the fallout from the government`s problematic
response to the Ebola crisis. A doctor who has treated all three of
America`s Ebola patients is pointing his finger at the CDC saying the two
infected nurses were not properly outfitted when they treated Thomas Eric
Duncan for his part.
There is a report in this morning`s "The New York Times" that President
Obama is, quote, "seething about the government`s early response to the
crisis. This led to the appointment of Democratic strategist Ron Klain to
coordinate the government`s efforts to contain the virus, to be the new
Ebola czar in the hysteria.
For more on this, we go live to the White House lawn where NBC
correspondent, Kristen Welker, is standing by with the latest on the White
House`s response. Kristen, big news in "The New York Times" this morning.
It`s an interesting account there, what is the latest at the White House?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, see if I can tell you that based
on my conversations here, President Obama was incredibly upset,
particularly in that first meeting he had with his cabinet secretaries on
Wednesday. That`s when he canceled campaign trips to stay here at the
White House and deal with his response to Ebola.
He was particularly angered by the fact there had been so many missteps
and mistakes on the part of the CDC, that hospital down in Dallas. That
was one thing that was compelling him to appoint a person to deal with
But there were a number of factors pressuring him to appoint a so-called
Ebola czar. There has, as you know, Steve, really been widespread fear
throughout the country this past week with headlines emerging almost daily,
these negative headlines.
And there seem to be mixed messages coming out of the White House. There`s
also a lot of political pressure, Democratic sources telling me that they
were concerned that the criticism that the administration has been getting
for its response to Ebola would ultimately make it harder for them to hold
onto the Senate.
Of course, you know that they are locked in a tough battle to hold on to
Senate. The midterm is just a few weeks away now. One Democratic source
telling me they wouldn`t be able to survive if there was another week like
this past week that happened.
So I think those were among the factors that led President Obama to appoint
Ron Klain. He is being criticized by Republicans, who say, look, he
doesn`t have a background in health care. He doesn`t have a medical
The pushback on that from the White House is this is someone who is not
necessarily an expert in Ebola but rather an expert in implementation.
He`s someone who knows how the government works. He was chief of staff to
Vice President Biden, former Vice President Al Gore.
He helped roll out the recovery act. He also has a background in law and
business. He has a strong background in management, Steve. And the White
House is hoping that having a public face on this will help to not only
reassure the public, but also to quell that political firestorm that has
been brewing here.
KORNACKI: All right, my thanks to Kristen Welker at the White House this
morning, really appreciate that. Some Democrats on Congress are calling on
Republican committee chairman to hold hearings on the state of the public
health systems, specifically how the last few years of budget cuts and
austerity may have affected the public health infrastructure, the ability
to deal with something like Ebola.
One of those Democrats is Congresswoman Rosa Delauro of Connecticut who
joins us now from Washington. Congresswoman, thank you for joining us this
So it`s interesting as we say, there`s an intersection going on of the
campaign season and election is 17 days away and this public health crisis
and sort of inevitably these two things have merged together and we`ve seen
that a little bit this week.
I think you had the director of the NIH, Francis Collins, who has a - as
far as I can tell, a sterling reputation in both political parties, but he
makes a statement this week about funding levels and saying we might be a
lot closer to a vaccine or have a vaccine at this point of treatment if we
had more funding in the NIH.
And it immediately gets thrown into the political, well, you know,
Democrats are saying there`s a good point there and Republicans saying it`s
not a good point. What do you make of his message and did it get through
this week at all?
REP. ROSA DELAURO (D), CONNECTICUT: Let`s just start here. Let`s put
politics aside, Steve, this is not a political issue. We are looking at a
public health infrastructure crisis and what we have discovered when we
began to try to deal with it -- and you have to keep it in perspective, one
individual contracted the disease in Liberia.
Came here, there are two infected nurses who were dealing directly with the
patient and issues of body fluids and secretions and the community that
surrounded Mr. Duncan, they are, if you will, quarantine ends tomorrow. No
one there has been ill. We should not create panic.
Let me go back to this -- what we have done with looking at how we deal
with this public health crisis, is that the agencies who have the direct
responsibility for overseeing this effort, in one area of the National
Institutes of Health. What is their job, Steve?
They are research development, the cure, the vaccine, their budget has been
cut 10 percent over the last four years. Center for Disease Control, CDC,
their responsibility is to protect the public, to manage the disease and
work with state and local health departments in order to manage this
Their budget is -- in terms of preparedness, over the last four years have
been cut 16 percent. That includes working with those local health
departments and includes the laboratories that do the testing. And it
KORNACKI: Congresswoman, do you think if the levels had not been cut like
that, do you think there would be a vaccine right now?
DELAURO: Well, you know, Francis Collins, this is the individual who has
been responsible for the genome project. What he says they would be
further along. Let me give you an example from my own state of
Connecticut. We have a company, protein sciences, that several years ago,
was working on a on Ebola vaccine.
Funding from the National Institutes of Health, the NIH dried up,
fortunately they saved the genetic material and now when this crisis, they
have now begun their working with the NIH to move quickly to look at the
protein based vaccine.
So yes, when you cut short the research, the development, you cannot
discover a cure with a flat funded budget and in this case, you`re looking
at budgets that have been cut substantially. One piece that is very
Which I don`t believe the public knows today is that the hospital
preparedness fund, which comes from the Department of Health and Human
Services and works with State Department of Health, that budget has been
cut 44 percent in the last four years.
And when I spoke to my commissioner in Connecticut, what that does is
reflects a cut to Connecticut in hospital preparedness of about 37 percent.
I checked in on Ohio. That budget -- that funding was 29 percent cut. Is
it the total answer?
Should we have -- should there be protocols that are uniform and standards
that are uniform and look at where the soft spots are and glitches are?
Yes. But when you underfund the agencies that have the responsibility for
protecting human life, to the extent that they have been, that is a serious
KORNACKI: All right, Congresswoman Rosa Delauro, Democrat from
Connecticut, appreciate the time this morning. Thank you very much.
DELAURO: Thank you.
KORNACKI: And right now, we`re going to shift gears a little bit. We are
going to get into something that actually may be just as a challenge as
trying to stop Ebola, Congressional dysfunction.
Some very smart people including one of the hosts right here at this
network have come together with a plan to fix it. You can see how
Americans feelings towards Congress have been plummeting after 9/11.
Now 13 years ago, 84 percent approve the work Congress was doing. But that
began to fade and then the bottom fell out and that`s where Congress`s
favorable score has been for years now.
It`s barely registers in a graph like that. It`s not like many people
expect the upcoming midterm election to change much, no matter what happens
on election night, we`re still going to have divided government and still
going to have some kind of gridlock.
What is the way out of this mess? Is there a way to actually get Congress
to start doing real things, to start doing big things again to make it so
the divided government, a Republican Congress, a Democratic president, to
make it so a divided government actually produces something meaningful and
not just paralysis.
These are the questions that "Esquire" magazine posed when it convened a
team of experts for its new issue, a group of former Congressional insiders
who are now free to talk and think a little bit more freely and openly
maybe, a little bit more candidly than they used to about what it would
really take to get Congress working again.
When it sat this group down, "Esquire" had only one rule, the panel, the
bipartisan panel had to reach a consensus and do what Washington has failed
to do for years now. Who was part of this group?
On the Republican side there was former senate Majority Leader Trent Lott,
former long-time Republican Congressman, almost speaker of the House, Bob
Livingston of Louisiana, for the Democrats, there was former Senate
Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Barney Frank, a 16-term Congressman from
Massachusetts, who retired last year.
And there was also a journalist in the group, a journalist and former aide
to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan, a former staff director for the Senate
Finance Committee and a journalist you probably know here as the 10:00 p.m.
host at MSNBC, "THE LAST WORDS," Lawrence O`Donnell.
Lawrence is standing by in Boston right now. When we come back, he`s going
to tell us what this conclave of Congressional cardinals came up with.
Lawrence O`Donnell joins us live next.
KORNACKI: We`re talking about how to fix Congress, the impossible task and
joining me now to discuss is the host of the MSNBC`s "THE LAST WORD,"
Lawrence O`Donnell, who is part of a panel of Capitol Hill experts that
"Esquire" magazine convened to come up with a solution.
The others as we mentioned, you can see them in this photo were, former
Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, former Republican Congressman
Bob Livingston, former Democratic Congressman Barney Frank and former
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
So Lawrence, thank you first for being on the show this morning. So I want
to get into these recommendations. But first, this is a really interesting
group that came together. Tell us a little bit about what this session was
like. Where were you guys and what was the conversation like? Were they
saying things that as politicians they couldn`t say in public?
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, "THE LAST WORD": Yes, they were, but they
were in effect saying them in public because "Esquire" had a couple of
reporters, they were writing down everything. A bunch of things ended up
being off the record, especially things that involved personal reminiscence
of particular complaints against particular members of the House or the
KORNACKI: The fun stuff, in other words.
O`DONNELL: Exactly. It was pretty great. But it was in a conference room
in Washington and Steve, it was exactly like my experience years ago
working in conference rooms in the Capitol. Actually they send to be
secret rooms in the Capitol where senators and Congressman used to meet
outside of the glare of reporters, even knowing they are meeting.
And having these kinds of discussions that were really honest and because,
you know, when they close the door, it used to be this way, when they would
close the door, you know, senators from different states, say, OK, look,
here`s my problem, when I was running, I had to say this.
They would have said to you, I had to say this, meaning my heart wasn`t in
it, but I had to take this position in order to win my state. And they
would be very open about why they were jammed and wouldn`t be able to vote
and stuff. This had that feeling to it.
It was really great. It was an old feeling that I used to have working in
this bipartisan way in the Senate with -- and also including House members
which, I used to do when on the Senate Finance Committee when we used to
have conference committees on final passage of legislation.
Something that doesn`t occur anymore one of the big complaints of these
former members is that they don`t do conference committees really anymore.
And that`s one of the things -- that`s one of the very strong
recommendations about what to restore to the process.
KORNACKI: You guys came up with again, these all had to be unanimous, that
consensus, 22 recommendations in here. Some of these are very, very wonky
about like, the motion to recommit and filibuster --
KORNACKI: And so when you look at that list right now and you look at
Congressional dysfunction, what are you most excited about? What do you
think the biggest recommendations in there are?
I`ve been asked this and it`s really tough. One of the things that`s in
there is a limitation on fundraising for members. It is saying they cannot
have their own leadership PACs anymore, that`s really important because a
lot of members of the House of Representatives, most of them are spending a
minimum of 40 hours a week.
Steve, just on fundraising and their party leaders are ordering them in
effect to do that. And so you know, to say -- so there`s that side of it,
which means you can never get to having real working members of Congress if
that`s what they are being ordered to do by their leaders.
On the other hand, procedurally, there are things that are much more
dramatic and important to me especially in the Senate. There was a lot of
focus on the filibuster because I think that`s the place where everyone the
public can see there`s something seriously wrong.
I have been very slow, like many institutionalists in the Senate, very slow
to come around to the idea that we really do have to reform the filibuster.
And I actually changed my mind about it during the discussions.
Barney Frank actually convinced me that we should get rid of it completely
and graduates of the Senate so to speak, one staff member, two senators two
leaders of the Senate were in there, very protective of the Senate`s rich
history on filibuster because we`ve always believed that it makes a Senate
That you can`t just rush things through the Senate, the way you could in
the House because of various procedural advantages that the majority has in
the House that they don`t have in the Senate.
But barney kept saying was that -- we would talk in all sorts of, you know,
Senate procedural terms about the value of the filibuster or some version
of the filibuster and Barney would simply say, yes, what I`m arguing for is
democracy, 51 votes, democracy.
And he really -- he wore me down. It didn`t just wore me down, a very
intellectually persuasive case he made. I`m now of the view there`s no
further justification in the modern United States Senate, which is let`s
remember, an anti-Democratic institution just by its very structure.
The very fact that South Dakota where Tom Daschle is from -- gets two
senators and California gets two senators means that the people of South
Dakota are wildly over represented in the Senate compared to the people of
You know, when you start the day that way in the Senate and say, by the
way, any one of these people can hold this place up in trying to move
Forward. It just becomes -- I get now completely why that is so outrageous
to the public.
KORNACKI: That`s an interesting dynamic. The House guy convincing the
Senate guy --
O`DONNELL: That`s what it took, Steve, not just a House guy, but the
smartest guy I`ve ever known in the House of Representatives to make me see
it through eyes other than the way you`re trained to look at these things
in the Senate.
KORNACKI: Are you -- you have these recommendations and you look at the
paralysis in Washington now, doesn`t seem likely this election is going to
shake that loose too much. Are you optimistic over the next -- I don`t
know, half a decade or so that something will change in Washington, whether
it`s adopting rules changes like this or something will change in the
culture of Washington that will actually allow government to function when
one party doesn`t have complete control?
O`DONNELL: You know, one of the reasons I`m not a politician -- there are
many reasons, but one is that I`m not an optimist. Any question you ask
me, Steve, that begins with, are you optimistic about -- I`m afraid --
KORNACKI: How pessimistic are you, that`s the question.
O`DONNELL: It isn`t the Boston Irish way, Steve. I`ll tell you who is,
Tom Daschle is optimistic how the future can turn in Congress and Trent
Lott is. Bob Livingston is. You know, I think Barney Frank is, we`ll have
to ask him and get him on and talk about it.
That`s what I always found in working up close with politicians, one of the
big differences is that they are -- they all tend to live on the optimistic
side of things.
And otherwise they really couldn`t hang in there and do it. It`s just too
difficult a line of work to go into without optimism to try to get you
through the day.
KORNACKI: All right, Lawrence O`Donnell, host --
O`DONNELL: Before you go, Rachel is in this magazine too. This is the
"Esquire" and she actually does a review of the entire magazine. Every
article in the magazine, including -- she also does a review of the article
about Penelope Cruz being the sexiest woman alive. That is a must read
item. Rachel`s take on Penelope Cruz being the sexiest woman alive.
KORNACKI: Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O`Donnell, both in "Esquire." I made
the "Groton Herald" in Massachusetts a few years ago. I got that one too.
Lawrence O`Donnell, really appreciate you taking a few minutes this
morning. Thanks for joining us.
Still ahead, what if they held an election and nobody came? It`s
hyperbole, but it does contain some truth. We are going to dig into that
KORNACKI: To the biggest poll of the week wasn`t about any particular
candidates or any particular key race on any ballot this year. It was
about you, it was about us, it was about the voters in this country who
have been watching this campaign all year or who haven`t been watching it.
It`s a new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal: poll out this week and it shows
something amazing, the closer we get to Election Day the fewer people seem
to care about this election at all. This is not how things normally work.
Fifty percent of voters say they have high interest in this year`s midterms
and there`s a big partisan gap there too, 59 percent of Republicans say
they have high interest, only 47 percent of Democrats do. A 12-point gap
and just 35 percent of independents say they have high interest in this
Now think about this. Think of how important and exciting and how big
every recent election has felt Obama-Romney in 2012, the Tea Party uprising
in 2010 and President Obama`s election in 2008, the backlash against George
W. Bush in 2006, on and on and on.
You have to go back well over a decade, maybe even a generation to find an
election like the one we`re in the middle of right now. Why does it feel
this way? What is it going to take to get Americans excited about
Our panel is back to answer this. We have Richard Wolfe, executive editor
at msnbc.com and MSNBC political analyst, former RNC Chairman Michael
Steele and MSNBC reporter, Jane Tim.
So Jane, I`m thinking about it and I`m trying to think of an election. I
mean, the stakes just seemed so high. In many ways, were so high and this
year we`re talking about not there`s no stakes, who controls the Senate is
significant, but we`re not talking about one particular party controlling
all of Washington, not talking about a presidential race.
That`s the best explanation I can come up with, but I`m definitely feeling
what the poll is showing, that people are not plugged in the way they were
two years ago?
TIMM: Even anecdotally people who were life long, very involved in
politics, I`m over it, I can`t -- exhausted by the back and forth
partisanship and shutdown and these things turned people away. I think
actually what makes it worse. The most partisan voters do go out and vote
and we see what we see in primaries, pulling people in opposite directions
because independents lower number on the poll don`t even go to the poll.
KORNACKI: That`s what the poll is telling me, at least right now in the
overall lack of interest, there is an advantage it seems for Republicans,
we`ve been hearing this all year, that the nightmare for Democrats, their
base doesn`t show up in a midterm year and you`re seeing a 12-point gap
with Republicans following it more than Democrats are.
WOLFFE: Yes, obviously Democrats have been preparing for this and there is
glimmers of hope I suspect it won`t be enough because the disillusionment
is even stronger among Democrats. This point in our politics has been
It was the strategy of the Republican leadership to put Washington in
gridlock. They have succeeded. That means people get disillusioned and
that serves incumbents and since they were the incumbents in the House and
reach over the edge in the Senate, it worked really well for them.
This isn`t by chance. This is intentional. What`s worrying for both
parties is seeing independents really fall away. That`s where the gettable
votes are and where you`re trying to increase your reach and we`re going
to go straight into another national election, 2016 race is right after
this one, December time we`ll see all of those candidates coming in.
Where`s the excitement going to come there? How have you changed the
direction of the country when you`ve been in intentional gridlock for so
KORNACKI: That`s what I wondered. What was one of the refrains of
President Obama of 2012, if you re-elect me, we`ll break the fever. We had
been in this paralysis in 2011 and 2012. We have a tie. In 2008, put the
Democrat in the White House and 2010 gave Republicans Congress and it seems
like people are looking up two years later and saying it didn`t change
STEELE: I don`t really care. I`m going to have a doughnut. I think
that`s kind of where America is at this point.
KORNACKI: You`re in the 59 percent, no?
STEELE: That`s unfortunate because that`s the attitude that is prevailing
right now. A lot of it -- I think you give Republicans way too much credit
on the planning part. I don`t think there`s that kind of level of
nefarious undertaking by the leadership.
I think they have stumbled and bumbled into some of this because in many
respects because when you look at those numbers and you break them down
from that poll, the one thing that I trigger on, there is no general
movement towards the GOP either.
And so while you do have this energy for the party with respect to
partisans in the party, you hit on it, the 35 percent independent vote is a
reflection of, you know what, I`m just going to sit this one out and 2016
maybe I`ll get back in the game.
And that largely is because the party has not laid out I think to the other
side of your point, what they would do if they get control of the Senate,
for example. And so without knowing how you`re going to govern, do we get
another two years of what the last six years have been like?
The people aren`t interested in that. So again, to your point, frustrated
and they step back.
KORNACKI: It feels --
STEELE: That`s important, you need to engage folks.
KORNACKI: It feels too, to shake up Washington a little bit, you need an
election result somewhere that genuinely surprises Washington, makes them
think all of our calculations and rules we need to rethink.
You know, 2008 in a way did that, but then there was a backlash, you think
back to Reagan in 1980, there was a period Democrats after Reagan got
elected got scared because they didn`t think he could ever win 44 of them
in 1980 and got some of his agenda through.
You look at 2016, can one of the parties, Democrats with Hillary Clinton,
can the Republicans find somebody or put together some kind of coalition in
2015 that scares Washington.
STEELE: Well, I think, you know, it`s interesting. I look to Europe
KORNACKI: A Republican looks to Europe.
STEELE: Well, I tell you what because it`s a leading trend indicator. The
Torres are going to have a real problem going into elections next May.
There is a real chance that the Cameron government falls and the question
for labor isn`t like guess what we`re now going to be in charge.
They are talking about potential coalition government in Great Britain next
year, why? Because the exact same thing we see down in the polls here in
the United States among partisans there`s energy but among the real voters
the folks who really make the difference as to who gets to govern the
country, there isn`t.
So you`re going to see it. It`s going to be interesting once we get
through this cycle and you`re right, we begin the 16th cycle on the
Wednesday after the November elections. How this plays out in places like
Europe, which can be a trend line for the U.S. --
KORNACKI: They are doing elections every five years and that`s too much
for them apparently. My thanks to former RNC Chair Michael Steele for
joining us this morning. Richard and Jane, we`ll see you in a few minutes
for Up Against the Clock.
It is also by the way Up Against The Clock, no longer the only game show on
Msnbc. We`ll welcome the new kid on the block and tell you about that
KORNACKI: Last night, we were excited to see a brand-new game show debuted
on this network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": I`m going to ask three
multiple choice questions, if you get two or more right, you win a piece of
swag, what is the swag?
NICK THUTS, MSNBC PRODUCER: The swag tonight is a mini Rachel Maddow
shaker for when you want to drink, kind of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right, congratulations to Rachel and Nick, our colleagues
who occupy this very studio, every night at 9 p.m. every week night. We`re
proud to welcome "Friday Night News Dump" to the MSNBC game show lineup.
I`d like to believe we`re now well on our way to approaching the 1970s and
1980s of hay day of game show dominance. No booze related merchandise this
morning, but there is street meat hanging in the balance, three new
contestants standing by.
I have a thick stack of challenging questions about the week in politics
and current events. Stay with us. It`s next.
ANNOUNCER: She inspired a children`s book about her childhood pony, please
welcome, Jane Timm.
He reports on politics and juggles with fire and knives, neither of which
we recommend you try at home, say hello to Benji Servan.
We hear he`s the best kid`s soccer coach on this side of the pond. It`s
And now, the host of "Up Against The Clock", Steve Kornacki!
KORNACKI: Thank you to everybody joining us -- yes, joining us at home,
welcome to another jam packed thrill packed edition of "Up Against The
Clock", the hit game show three brand-new contestants this week.
If you`ve been watching at home, you probably know how it works, but let me
take you the rules just in case. We play rounds, 100 seconds each, 200 in
the second and 300 in the third. They are going to get harder as we go
You can ring in at any time, but you will be penalized for any incorrect
answers. I have several bonus questions scattered in here and we`ll
explain them if and when we get to them. So each round 100 seconds long.
Contestants will be playing not just for victory but for a spot in the Up
Against The Clock tournament of champions.
I will remind you as always, please no outbursts contestants deserve and
demand absolute concentration. Contestants look ready to me. Hands on
buzzers, please, we`ll start the 100 points round with 100 seconds on the
And the game begins with this for 100 points, a mile wide comet is expected
to have an incredibly close encounter this week with this fourth planet
from the sun. Benjie.
KORNACKI: Mars is correct, 100 points for Benji. A botched plan to
provide every student with an iPad led to the resignation on Thursday of
the superintendent of the nation`s second largest school district located
in what west coast city?
We`ll call time and it`s Los Angeles. Los Angeles, California, 100 point
toss-up. In an editorial last Sunday, "New York Times" said it`s time to
restore diplomatic relations and end -- Richard.
KORNACKI: -- against Cuba. Richard is on the board, 100 points for
Richard. It was announced this week that next year a web only subscription
plan will be offered -- Jane.
KORNACKI: By HBO, the premium cable channel. Stop the clock. Jane, not
only did you get 100 points for answering that question correctly, but you
have triggered our quote of note video bonus question.
Here`s how it works. This is a risk free proposition, no penalty for
guessing, we have a special celebrity guest who will read a famous quote
and you need to tell us who said it for an extra 100 points. If you`ll
direct your attention to the video monitor, here`s the famous actor, Alan
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN CUMMING, ACTOR: This is the quote of note. What famous American
writer once said, suppose you already did and are a member of Congress, but
I repeat myself?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Jane, you have a look on your face -- no penalty for guessing
TIMM: Mark Twain.
KORNACKI: It was Mark Twain, 100 extra points. A 100 points for Jane and
we put the clock back in motion and we go with this, during a meeting with
black clergy in South Carolina on Tuesday -- Richard?
WOLFFE: Rand Paul.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. Vice President Joe Biden referred to himself as
quote the only white boy on the east side of this Delaware city.
KORNACKI: Wilmington, maybe the only Delaware city. Toss-up here,
President Obama is set to campaign with Anthony Brown, who is favored to
become the first African-American governor of this mid-Atlantic state.
KORNACKI: A 100 points for Benjie, promoting healthy eating, First Lady
Michelle Obama released a 6-second Vine video this week that spoofs --
TIMM: Turn down for what.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. Spoof the popular song turn down for what --
KORNACKI: A 100 points for Richard. Big swing there. Benjie has the lead
for 300 and Richard and Jane tied. We`ll raise the stakes, twice as
valuable, 200 points questions and you can tight for the lead with one
We put 100 seconds on the clock, we begin the 200-point round with this.
It was revealed this week that this national sandwich chain makes its
hourly workers sign non-compete agreements for two years upon employment.
We`ll call time, it`s Jimmy Johns. A 200 point toss-up, on Thursday the
U.S. Commission on Fine Arts approved Architect Frank Gearry`s design for a
memorial to honor this former U.S. president.
High stakes there, we`ll call time, it`s Dwight D. Eisenhower. A 200 point
toss-up, an Air Force Boeing 757 was grounded in Vienna for mechanical
problems temporarily stranding this number one American diplomat -- Benjie.
SARLAN: John Kerry.
KORNACKI: John Kerry, the secretary of state, 200 points for Benji.
A surprise witness this week at the trial of the friend of the accused
Boston marathon bomber was this former Massachusetts governor in 1988
presidential candidate -- Richard.
KORNACKI: That`s correct. Richard, not only do you get 200 points for
knowing that Michael Dukakis was the answer to that question, but you have
triggered the lose it or use it bonus question. To double what you just
won, I have here a question that is somehow related to the one you just
answered. If you want to use it, it`s 200 points if you get it correct.
200 points off if you get it wrong. I have it, do you want to use it or
WOLFFE: This could be devastating. I`m going to use it.
KORNACKI: He`s feeling lucky.
KORNACKI: For 200 additional points, Richard, when Dukakis declined to
seek a fourth term in 1980, he was succeeded by this moderate Republican.
WOLFFE: I know him, I can see him.
KORNACKI: We`ll need an answer, Richard.
WOLFFE: Don`t do it to me.
KORNACKI: It was William Weld. He took a chance. These are valuable
questions, 200 points here. Making the third appearance on the cover, Rand
Paul is featured -- Jane?
TIMM: "Time" magazine.
KORNACKI: "Time" magazine`s cover. She was paying attention earlier.
This top Virginia Democrat this week said he was, quote, "disappointed"
that Eric Cantor was defeated in a GOP primary earlier this year? Benji.
SARLAN: Was it Mark Warner?
KORNACKI: It was not Mark Werner. It was Terry Mcauliffe, the governor.
The "New York Times" reported the death of David Green Glass who testified
against his own sister in the death penalty espionage trial of this couple
SARLAN: The Rosenbergs.
KORNACKI: Correct, 200 points for Benji at the wire. Benji still in the
lead with 500. Jane right behind him at 300. Richard still very much in
it with 100 points. Anything can happen as we move to the 300 points
round. The PhD level, we dim the lights for dramatic effect.
This is where we will crown a champion, 100 seconds on the clock, 300 point
questions, the hardest ones we have. We start with this. Wisconsin
Governor Scott Walker came under attack this week after he told an
editorial board that he doesn`t think this longstanding labor statute,
quote, "serves a purpose." Richard?
WOLFFE: Minimum wage.
KORNACKI: Correct, 300 points. He is in second place. Reports filed with
the IRS by the Republican Governors Association earlier this week listed
among its biggest donations a $2.5 million contribution from the founder of
this drink commonly found at checkout counters and served in a miniature
SARLAN: The 5-hour Energy.
KORNACKI: The 5-hour Energy, 300 points for Benji. A story claiming that
Colorado Senate candidate, Cory Gardner lied about playing high school
football was debunked within minutes of being published by this --
SARLAN: Dead Spin.
KORNACKI: Correct, 300 point toss-up. John Warner cut a TV ad endorsing
Democratic Senator Mark Warner who challenged him for his seat in the same
year in this the same year that Clinton sought re-election as president?
WOLFFE: In `96.
KORNACKI: Correct. Mitt Romney calls this Democratic elected official a,
quote, "typical, corrupt New York politician" in a new fund raising letter
for his Republican opponent. Richard.
WOLFFE: Andrew Cuomo.
KORNACKI: Andrew Cuomo is correct. By sweeping the Baltimore Orioles, the
Kansas City Royals advance to the first series since 1985. Jane?
TIMM: Shoot, I70 series.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. Since 1985 when who was vice president? This is for
SARLAN: George H. W. Bush.
KORNACKI: George H. W. Bush is correct. Benjie holds on, wins it with
1,400 points at the wire, a nail biter at the end there. Congratulations
and Bill Wolf is going to tell you what you`ve won.
ANNOUNCER: As our champion, your name will be engraved using the finest
sharpie ink. You`ll also receive a DVD copy of the classic 1988 film
"Cocoon 2, The Return" personally autographed.
And you`ll get to play in our jack pot round for today`s grand prize, A $50
gift certificate to Quick Meal Foodcart, operated by a former chef of the
Russian tearoom. I had it for lunch today, delicious. Enjoy the meal and
congratulations. Back to you, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right, Benji, holding off Richard Wolf at the wire there.
Congratulations. There`s your cup. Don`t drink from it. It`s highly
toxic. Here`s your jack pot bonus question for the street meat gift
certificate. What everybody dreams of.
Before switching to the Democratic Party to run for governor of Florida
this year, Charlie Crist was previously defeated in two statewide elections
in Florida. In 2010 against Marco Rubio for the Senate and in 1998 against
this Democratic senator.
SARLAN: Was it Bill Nelson?
KORNACKI: Incorrect. It was Bob Graham. The street meat certificate is
safe for another week. Congratulations. You get the cup, maybe a chance
to play in the tournament of champions. You are eligible now. Richard and
Jane, thank you for playing. You both receive the home edition. A lot of
fun for everybody at home. Thank you for playing. We`ll be right back
with the rest of the show right after this.
KORNACKI: Back with a final few seconds of the show. Congratulations
again, Benji. That was one of the closest games that we`ve had. And
Richard, it was right there for you at the last question.
WOLFFE: Buzzers don`t work right.
KORNACKI: We`ve heard that before.
WOLFFE: We have a fan. There are all sorts of things wrong.
KORNACKI: A late arrival to the set. So I`m trying to think what to look
guard to in the week ahead here. We`ll still have the show tomorrow. One
thing interesting today is the idea of travel ban.
WOLFFE: I think it is inevitable right now. But Democrats and Republicans
have a clear difference. Republicans want to close the doors. They have
to invest in medical and infrastructure in parts of the world they think we
don`t care about. That`s where the Democrats have to take it.
KORNACKI: That`s what we`re looking for this week. I want to thank, Benji
Servan, the new Up Against The Clock champion and Richard Wolffe and Jane
Timm, appreciate you all getting up this morning. Thank you for joining us
for UP. Play the online edition.
Go to Facebook page and join us tomorrow morning at 8:00 when we will have
an exclusive interview with Gary Trudeau. You cannot only read his Sunday
script. You can hear his thoughts on the upcoming election as well as his
new life in Hollywood.
Also joining us, James Risen of "The New York Times" who is still fighting
the Obama administration`s efforts to send him to prison for not naming a
source. Coming up next, Melissa Harris-Perry. She is next. See you
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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