'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, October 26th, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
October 26, 2014
Guest: Sarah Dollof, Evan McMorris-Santoro, Basil Smikle Jr., Kellyanne
Conway, Connie Schultz, Steve Moore, John Frank, Rosemary Goudreau, Bill
Nemitz, Garrett Haake, John Rolston, Judith Browne Dianis, Lawrence Lessig
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: The woman in quarantine speaks out.
KORNACKI: All right, good morning. Thanks for getting up with us this
morning. Only nine days before the mid-term election and plenty on that
including the release of six new polls from key battleground states, which
we will have live on this show for you in just a little bit.
There`s also major news this morning out of Afghanistan with where U.S.
Marines ended operations. More on that also ahead, but we want to begin
this hour with growing outcry this morning over the most dramatic step that
some government officials, not all, but some have taken in response to the
As we air this morning, Kaci Hickox, a nurse who had volunteered for
Doctors without Borders in West Africa before returning to the United
States on Friday, she remains in a mandatory quarantine in a New Jersey
But she is now speaking out through an essay that she managed to write
while in quarantine and it was published late yesterday in the "Dallas
She is speaking out against the treatment she received in New Jersey,
claiming that when she landed at Newark Liberty International Airport on
Friday, officials at the airport refused to give her information. She says
that they fed her only a granola bar and water, this after she had spent
two days traveling back from Africa.
She also says that when they discovered hours later that she might be
feverish she was then forcibly transported to the hospital in an eight-car
police caravan. Also she`s arguing that the slight fever that she briefly
registered, the one that sent her to the hospital, could have simply been
the result of the anger and stress she was feeling at her treatment, which
left her face flushed.
Quoting her from her essay, "I am scared about how health care workers will
be treated at airports when they declare they have been fighting Ebola in
"I wondered what I had done wrong. I tried to help when much of the world
has looked on and done nothing."
Hickox is the first person quarantined under the new dramatic policy
imposed on Friday by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York
Governor Andrew Cuomo. It`s a policy that requires that anyone who has had
any contact with Ebola patients in West Africa be subject to a mandatory
21-day quarantine upon returning to the United States.
Now, only minutes ago, Florida governor Rick Scott signed an executive
order in his state mandating twice daily 21-day health monitoring for
people, all people returning from the Ebola-affected areas of West Africa.
Not just health workers, everyone. Mandatory quarantine could follow for
anyone state officials deem to be at high risk.
And the governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, instituted a quarantine in his
state, a 21-day quarantine in his state on Saturday. But this morning, the
flip side of this. Officials in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland,
officials in all of those places are saying that they will not enact the
They will not be imposing mandatory quarantines on medical workers
returning from West Africa, presumably through Dulles International Airport
We also learned overnight that U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power has landed in
West Africa for a first-hand look at the situation on the ground there.
She arrived in Guinea overnight.
Meanwhile, health officials say the New York City Ebola patient Dr. Craig
Spencer, who also worked with Doctors without Borders, has entered a more
serious phase of the virus. This is as anticipated, we should stress, and
he is now undergoing treatment.
Dr. Spencer`s fiancee, who has not yet shown any symptoms of Ebola, was
released from the hospital yesterday to continue quarantine at home until
NBC News` Sarah Dallof is now live for us live outside the New York City
Hospital, Bellevue Hospital, where Dr. Spencer is being treated, also where
his fiancee was released yesterday.
Sarah, good morning to you. So we are hearing he is entering a more
What does that mean and what do they do for him in that phase?
SARAH DALLOF, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is correct, Steve. This
news is really mixed today. They say his illness is progressing and he is
entering this new stage, which includes gastrointestinal symptoms,
basically some stomach problems.
You remember some of the hallmarks of Ebola are these stomach problems. So,
this isn`t unexpected but it`s not great news.
However, Dr. Spencer is still awake and talking and we`re also learning a
little bit more about his treatment here inside the hospital. We learned
within hours of being admitted he was administered an antiviral therapy.
We`ve asked the hospital; they`ve declined to identify that therapy right
He also got a blood serum transfusion from surviving Ebola patient Nancy
Writebol. Now Writebol, who was successfully treated in Atlanta says she
was happy to give that blood donation and that she is praying for Dr.
You will recall that Dr. Kent Brantly, who was treated in Atlanta right
before Nancy Writebol, also gave blood to two Ebola patients, both of whom
Now, back here at the hospital, Dr. Spencer came into contact with three
people that officials have quarantined, including his fianc‚e, who has now
been released. She will wait out the rest of her quarantine period at her
home in a more comfortable environment for her to do so.
Of course, she hasn`t shown any signs or symptoms of the illness just yet.
KORNACKI: All right. Sarah Dallof, live outside Bellevue Hospital in
Manhattan, thanks for joining us this morning. Appreciate the update.
We`ll bring in the panel. We have BuzzFeed White House reporter Evan
McMorris-Santoro, Democratic strategist Basil Smikle Jr. and Republican
pollster Kellyanne Conway.
So, look, this, start actually, I think we`ll set this up by having a quote
here from Chris Christie. So Christie and Cuomo and then Pat Quinn out in
Illinois instituted these mandatory 21-day quarantines on Friday.
Now we have this patient speaking out and saying not only does she not like
her own treatment, she thinks this will discourage other aid workers from
going over to West Africa, where the virus is really out of control.
Christie`s response to this is -- this is from yesterday -- he said, "My
heart goes out to her, because she is someone who has been trying to help
others and is obviously ill."
Question mark there, how ill she is, because she`s so far tested negative
But then Christie continues and says, "My first and foremost obligation is
to protect the public health and safety of the people of New Jersey. So
I`m sorry if in many ways she was inconvenienced.
"But inconvenience that could occur from having folks that are symptomatic
and ill out amongst the public is a much, much greater concern of mine."
KORNACKI: Just curious what you guys think of this.
Have governments that are doing this overreacted?
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, BUZZFEED: This isn`t going to work, what Chris
Christie just said. You can`t have people coming back and being treated
the way this woman said she was being treated and sent to the hospital the
way she was in armored cars and the caravan and only given a granola bar.
I mean, this is a point where we`re supposed to be seeing government doing
the right thing and having processes in place to deal with stuff like this
and this quarantine thing is not a confidence booster. They have no idea
what they`re doing.
I don`t think Chris Christie`s sort of standard, look, just deal with it.
It`s my thing, you have to deal with it. I think this is not going to work
here. It`s the same problem Obama had in the White House. The people want
to see the government acting well right now. And this is not a period of
the government acting well.
KORNACKI: Reasons to me, there`s a lot of questions. One is just
logistical. If this applies to New York, to New Jersey, applies to Chicago
and O`Hare, but it doesn`t apply to Dulles and some of the other airports,
then, you can fly back into New York and you could be subject to the
Or you can fly back into anywhere else in the country and then drive back
to New York and no one is ever going to check. It seems like it opens the
door to that.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: It has to start somewhere. These
governors, let`s remember the information in which they were dealing when
they enacted these quarantines, they being Governor Cuomo and Christie of
New York and New Jersey respectively.
It happened the day after this doctor was seen to have Ebola here in New
York. People did freak out. People are worried about that. Security mom
has returned, if in fact she ever receded. She`s getting concerned. She
doesn`t feel safe and, Steve, part of it is because people just don`t know.
They don`t know what they don`t know and they`re willing to admit that. So
they are looking for some government response.
To answer your question, has government overreacted and overreached? We
don`t know that yet.
I`m very grateful that it looks like Dr. Spencer will recover and very
grateful this nurse has tested negative. But I think you have to credit
these governors for operating on the information, receiving all these calls
from their constituents where people are generally nervous and at least
trying to be visible and vocal about it and do something.
Will it work ultimately? I`m not sure. But was it a reasonable response
based on the information they had at that time, meaning the day before?
KORNACKI: Basil, how do you think the public is receiving this? There is
the story of the Ebola patient in New York City and then there was, I could
see, some confusion there in terms of the messages people are getting.
On the one hand, they`re being told that he was being very responsible and
he was self-quarantining and all that but then on the other hand, oh, no,
wait, he was on the subway and he was at the bowling alley. You shouldn`t
worry about that, but we`re imposing a quarantine. So I don`t think people
quite know how to -- what do you think the public --
BASIL SMIKLE JR., DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that`s absolutely right.
Dr. Spencer actually lives within a short walking distance from where I
live. So his neighbors are my neighbors and we`re on camera reacting to
this and saying, how did he not self-quarantine?
He is a doctor, he should know better than to go out on the subway and to
restaurants and bowling alleys and I think a lot of New Yorkers that feel
exactly the same way.
KORNACKI: The reaction in your neighborhood is basically he acted
SMIKLE: He acted irresponsibly and if you think about New York, especially
being on the subway, it`s a very intimate experience.
I think when you`re looking at the number of people that live here and that
go through this city, I think there are a lot of folks that are very
nervous. I don`t know if the governors`, the joint governors` measure will
actually solve some of that problem and lessen the panic.
And what I find interesting is that, with the Cuomo-de Blasio response,
which was forthright, it looked like government was working and people were
being trained and it was somewhat measured that this response that the
mayor and the federal government did not seem to be privy to beforehand,
that it actually may do a lot more harm in terms of causing panic and
causing a little bit more hysteria than it was intended to.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: And it`s worth adding here, too, the real Ebola crisis
is in Africa and making it harder to get American medical expertise to
Africa to help with the Ebola crisis over there will keep Ebola going for
longer and more cases of it coming over here.
I think we`re seeing a lot of panic going on right now and when governors
start to do it, I think people should be worried about it.
CONWAY: On the positive side, we are deploying more resources and money
and personnel to West Africa to help. This has raised the profile of the
In any situation like this, Steve, the question is, what is the burden to
the individual versus the risk to others or to the larger population, which
that person is a member?
I think that`s what some of these governors are balancing, I would note,
because it`s curious to me, that it`s not a partisan issue at all. You`ve
got two Republican governors and two Democratic governors, three of whom
are up for re-election this year. But I would --
KORNACKI: Pat Quinn in one of the closest races in the country.
I want to talk about also the response from the Obama administration and
the national government.
The point you`re making, Kelly, I want to pick up on in the next block.
There was an interesting quote from David Axelrod about Barack Obama and
his leadership that I think relates to this crisis. I want to tell you
what that quote is and talk about a little bit when we come back.
KORNACKI: President Obama`s long-time adviser David Axelrod making some
very interesting comments about how the president manages crises, including
his response to Ebola. Basically according to Axelrod, the things have to
get really bad before the president consents to being forced into grand
Something with public confidence slipping that he took the step of
canceling a campaign trip to hold an emergency meeting on Ebola and
appointed a czar to coordinate the government`s response.
Quoting Axelrod, this is an interview he just gave to "Bloomberg
Businessweek," talking about the president`s leadership here, he said,
"There`s no doubt that there is a theatrical nature to the presidency that
"Sometimes he could be negligent in the symbolism."
You know, I was thinking about that as we think about what Cuomo and
Christie and Pat Quinn are doing in Illinois and we look at how campaign
season politics are tied up in that.
Seems to me what they`re all going for there, they`re not looking at public
health, but the mood of the public. There`s lot of concern and fear and
panic and they are saying there`s a theatricality to this job. We need to
be seen doing something dramatic and that people will say is protecting
them. So we`ll order this kind of quarantine.
What I`m hearing Axelrod saying basically, that is the opposite of
President Obama`s leadership style. His leadership style is a lot more
logical. It`s a lot more if the public health experts are telling me this,
I`m not going to do -- he`ll resist something like that as a gimmick.
Seems like we`re seeing a fundamental difference in leadership style.
SMIKLE: Yes, and there are a lot of people who criticize him for being too
cerebral and being the professor.
But there are times when he has shown that kind of empathy. He comes to
New Jersey after Sandy and hugs Chris Christie.
But on the other hand after the beheading, he goes and plays golf. so I
think that Axelrod is true in that regard, but I don`t know if the
president didn`t do what he was supposed to do in this instance, but I
definitely think that he withdraws from some of the theatrical.
KORNACKI: It`s one of the things that I think from everything I read, the
public health aspects of this and what happened at the federal level, even
what happened in New York and elsewhere, seems like it is pretty much by
the book. There is a lot of things we can take reassurance from.
But you can imagine a different politician. If Chris Christie were
president and the Ebola crisis were playing out, he would be looking for
that big, dramatic gesture he could take that could be totally symbolic.
Might also, by the way, be totally counterproductive.
CONWAY: -- when Bill Clinton was president. You could definitely see a
different reaction. Hillary Clinton would probably have a similar reaction
to Barack Obama.
But, look, people expect the president, whomever he is, to be a little bit
more emotionally invested when they feel like there are times of whether
it`s a crisis in somebody`s mind and not really a public health crisis. It
almost doesn`t matter when you`re the public. It`s what the public
believes and perceives.
To Basil`s very good point, when children are gunned down, there are adults
and children are gunned down in Arizona, the president is out there the
next day soothing the nation`s fears and Gabby Giffords hanging onto her
So he is capable of it. But what Axelrod is referring to is cool, way too
many Americans and way too many Democrats running for Senate now, Steve,
believe is really detachment and aloofness, and they don`t like it. They
expect their president to be a little more emotionally invested.
People are disappointed that he didn`t go to the border during the crisis.
People are disappointed maybe these governors are more local and visible in
Ebola than he is.
This whole notion that he`s not one for theatrics is just kind of silly
when you talk about anybody`s run for president. At some point, if they`re
successful, they`ve all been theatrical. As Jennifer Reuben points out in
"The Washington Post," this is a guy who accepted the nomination with
Grecian pillars. So he understands theatrics.
KORNACKI: So how do you read it, Evan?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I think this is another example -- what I told Chris
Christie earlier, this is not going to work either. People don`t want the
president to be -- they`re not looking for theatrics, necessarily.
I mean, he hugged the nurse, I guess, if that`s what you`re looking for.
They want the government acting in ways that are sort of logical and direct
and understandable and explainable. That`s what they want.
That`s what we`ve seen -- we didn`t see that early on, guy comes in, the
beginning of this whole thing, guy comes to Dallas, local hospital. We had
the nurse that couldn`t remove her garb correctly.
All these things seem very strange and it didn`t make any sense. What we
want to see is somebody coordinating this and running this operation well.
KORNACKI: See, I`m not so sure the public wants the logical response and
I`m not always necessarily sure about that. Here`s my example from this
The idea of the travel ban: all the public health experts, the NIH and CDC
all speaking out and saying this is not just something that we don`t need,
this is something that is counterproductive. That is what they`re out
When you polled it, though, it polled at 60 percent to 70 percent. People
out there liked, there was something intuitive and something gut level
about that idea, that response to what people were feeling at the time.
I`m not saying there`s a justification for travel ban. Just in terms of
when you think of how the decisions that leaders are making in moments like
this, it`s something you have to grapple with.
SMIKLE: There is a salesmanship to the presidency. I think sometimes our
president withdraws from that, because he doesn`t want to overpoliticize
something that, you know, could impact people`s lives in a certain way and
he seemed insensitive about that.
But going back to your point about the gut response. I remember George
Bush and 9/11 speaking out of that bull horn and say they`ll all hear us
soon and there was something about that moment that people latched onto,
even in that moment of crisis, that brought America to a point where we
would be coalesced around that moment, whatever we felt about George Bush
before or after.
KORNACKI: No, people said that after the 2000 election. That was the
moment he actually --
SMIKLE: And I think sometimes this president, I think he understands it,
going to the Grecian columns point. But I think he often also shies away
from it and sometimes because there`s no rhyme or reason to when that seems
to happen, it`s hard for voters to connect to.
CONWAY: -- look at the government and presidency differently -- I`m sorry
-- they look at the government and presidency differently. So they do want
the government to respond and look competent in this health matter and
But the president is seen as the president, whomever he is, whichever
party. He`s not necessarily seen as the government. So it`s part
individual and part management but it`s also leadership.
People expect a president to show both management and leadership. I think
here they want him to be, President Obama got elected twice in part because
people said, I like you, but they also said you`re like me. They felt that
connective tissue. They just want to feel that (INAUDIBLE) office also.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I just want to say very quickly that the theatrics of
this has been some of the worst parts of this Ebola response. We have got
candidates on the campaign trail talking about ISIS coming across the
border infected with Ebola. I think we should focus on getting the crisis
solved and getting the problem solved.
And we`ve seen plenty of theatrics. We really have. We were talking about
these governors signing these things and we don`t know if they`re good or
not. You can drive from Virginia to New Jersey in a couple hours and
you`re not going to get quarantined.
So, isn`t that just basically theatrics? I think a lot of the time that
we`re focusing on the idea that we should just do what looks great and what
they would have done in the movie "The Hot Zone" or something like that is
not the best way to do it.
KORNACKI: I think there`s something to the art of politics that mixes
smart application of science and empiricism and expert advice from public
health experts with, there`s sort of a populous side of it, too, where you
sell it to people at a gut level. I think the best politicians out there,
I think Bill Clinton was one of them, really good at mixing those two
Anyway, up next, the potential presidential candidate you may not have even
considered yet. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: For a Republican in a swing state, a swing state that might be
better described as the swing state for a Republican governor in Ohio is
cruising to an all-but-certain re-election victory. A Republican who`s
made that race such a fait accompli he`s prompting talk of a presidential
campaign for a guy who has all of that going for him right now, Ohio
Governor John Kasich really seemed to step in it a little bit this week.
That`s when he seemed to say that Obamacare repeal is off the table, even
if Republicans control both chambers of Congress.
Quote, "That`s not going to happen." There was news earlier in the week and
then Kasich immediately called the Associated Press to try to clarify those
remarks, he had given the remarks to them in an interview. He said in his
follow-up that he had been drawing a distinction between the main law
between the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare as a whole, which he says should
be repealed, and the Medicaid expansion component of the law, which he says
is here to stay.
This is a tough distinction to draw obviously since there would be no
Medicaid expansion without the Affordable Care Act, but that`s where Kasich
has landed this week. It`s a dramatic illustration of how Republicans are
trying to navigate the politics of Obamacare as it`s implemented.
Because it remains as a concept, poisonously unpopular with their base,
even as many people in that base begin to experience the benefits from
aspects of the law. Here also shows the fine line that Kasich is trying to
walk as he eyes a White House bid, trying to appeal to the middle of the
electorate without also alienating the Tea Party.
As Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz asked in "Politico"
magazine recently, "Could the Tea Party derail Ohio Governor John Kasich`s
potential bid for president in 2016?"
Here to discuss is Connie Schultz, columnist at Creators Syndicate (ph),
all-around Ohio politics expert, and Steven Moore from The Heritage
So Connie, I`ll start with you. We have been looking at, you know it is a
wide-open race on the Republican side when everyone is talking about Mitt
What that says to me, there is this opening for a safe establishment
candidate, it was supposed to be Christie. He has his issues now. Jeb
Bush, but do people want the Bush name, again? They`re talking about
Romney again because it seems to me there is nobody else. That`s why I
kept saying Kasich makes a lot of sense to me. He`s the governor of a big
swing state, Ohio. He`s coasting to reelection.
Tell us a little bit about what he`s done out there because a couple years
ago he seemed to be in grave danger, politically. I know his Democratic
opponent this year has self-destructed.
Is this just a story of Kasich getting lucky or has he done some more
things out there to put himself in a position where he is attractive
CONNIE SCHULTZ, "POLITICO": I think it`s a combination. I love the way
you said this is where he landed this week because the visual is for me is
him tumbling, falling down, standing back up and brushing himself off and
pretending he didn`t trip. I find it really interesting.
To me the telling detail in that whole trying to walk back what he had just
said was Trip Gabriel`s story in "The New York Times" with the walkoff
there, when asked what he would do in lieu of Obamacare, he had no answer.
He said "I`m not going to speak to that." That is a classic Kasich move.
I think that he meant what he said probably originally, because as you
said, you can`t have Medicaid expansion without Obamacare. Then he got
pushed back because he is trying to figure out how to appease the Right and
also look like a moderate.
After reporting the story for "Politico," I have to say the Tea Party, as
you know, is not a monolithic group. And the notion that any -- because
they`re not organized. You talked to 12 Tea Party people who identify as
Tea Party, they`ll give you 12 different reasons why they belong to the Tea
So I`m not sure they`re necessarily the threat. I think Kasich may be to
some extent because he does step in it a lot and he has no tolerance for
reporters. Last week, he said he was not going to talk. He said, I`ve
already talked to you kind of people for 10.5 hours. That is going to work
really well in the national arena.
And you`re right, two years ago he was roundly defeated on what was known
as SB-5, which was legislatively passed. He signed it to gut the
collective bargaining rights of union members in the public sector and it
was defeated by more than 60 percent of the vote. He really went down.
KORNACKI: Hating on the press, I guess, gives him something in common with
Chris Christie. We can say that.
So Steve Moore, you`re sort of our eyes and ears we like to think of it in
the conservative movement. I`m just curious as you guys are looking ahead
to 2016 and that sort of, the way I set it up there, that search for an
When you look at Kasich and what he is saying and this fine line he is
trying to walk on Obamacare, what do you guys think about it?
STEVE MOORE, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: You opened up the segment as talking
about John Kasich the candidate nobody is paying much attention to. They
should pay very close attention to him 10 days from how. He will win this
Ohio governor`s re-election race by 15 to 20 points. So it`s going to be
As you said, Steve, it`s Ohio for goodness sakes. Republicans have to win
Ohio if they`re going to win the White House. That`s the formula for
Republican victories going back to Reagan.
So, there is a great appeal to John Kasich, successful governor re-elected
by big, big margin.
Look, what has tripped him up? Why is there so much reservation about John
Kasich among the conservatives that I talked to, Steve? It is because of
what you were just discussing: Obamacare. He did take the Medicaid money.
That`s something that ruffles the feathers of a lot of conservatives.
But not only -- by the way, John Kasich is a friend of mine. I have known
him since he was the budget director. We forget, he was the budget
director in -- not the budget director, ran the House Budget Committee back
in the mid-1990s when we balanced the budget.
But not only did he take the Medicaid money, but he became very
sanctimonious about it. He said I took this money because I care about
poor people. That didn`t play too well with the conservatives that I
KORNACKI: Can he, Steve, can he or any Republican in 2016 appeal to the
Republican primary universe by making the distinction he`s making, by
trying to say, he had this thing called Obamacare and he wanted to repeal
it, but the Medicaid expansion, I like it and I want to stick with it.
Can you survive as a Republican and do that?
MOORE: Yes, I think a lot of Republicans are now pivoting a little bit on
Obamacare and a lot of people like Ted Cruz will continue to talk about
repeal but now Republicans are talking a little bit about more what I call
an off-ramp from Obamacare.
That is to say, OK, you can stay in Obamacare, if you want it, but we as
Republicans will offer you a bunch of alternatives that are more affordable
and provide you a better quality of care and that kind of choice option is
one direction Republicans are talking about.
The other quick thing, Steve, about John Kasich. I do believe he will run
as kind of the sort of establishment moderate and you`re going to, I think
you`re going to end up with three candidates standing.
You`re going to have some conservative like a Mike Pence or a Ted Cruz and
you`re going to have an establishment candidate like Chris Christie or John
Kasich and then the libertarian, Rand Paul. That is how this whole thing
is all going to sort out and you`re going to end up with three, I think.
KORNACKI: And, Connie, out there in Ohio, I`m just curious quickly, is the
expectation that as soon as Election Day ends, is the expectation that Ohio
that Kasich is pivoting and going to look national right after he gets re-
SCHULTZ: Well, there`s also the concern, is he going to push so-called
right to work. He won`t flat out say he won`t. He`s not really a moderate
when you look at what he`s done to women`s reproductive rights here in the
state of Ohio and what he did with voting rights here in the state of Ohio.
So I find it amusing that they`re using this attempt to cast him as a
moderate. As far as Obamacare goes, I think and I hope the national media
will be asking this a lot because I certainly expect that Ohio reporters
will, who will lose his or her health care now?
Who will you take it away from? An awful lot of people, including in the
state of Ohio are now benefiting from Obamacare, many for the first time in
their adult lives have having affordable care.
How are you going to fix it if you take it away from them?
Who loses that health care?
That is a very important question and I don`t think at this point John
Kasich, not only does he not have an answer, he doesn`t have the patience
for the question. And I do think temperament matters.
KORNACKI: I think that`s a question for, you know, going forward
nationally just in terms of looking at the Republican universe in 2016,
grappling with the Republican base doesn`t like the idea of Obamacare, but
it`s in place and there are people benefiting from it and you have to
grapple with that. And there are some tough choices there politically.
My thanks to columnist Connie Schultz and The Heritage Foundation`s Stephen
Moore for joining us this morning. Appreciate the time.
Major new milestone in Afghanistan this morning. We`ll tell you what it
KORNACKI: It`s a big morning of news in politics and not just here in the
United States but also for American Marines in Afghanistan.
These pictures that you`re seeing here are of the last U.S. Marines
officially ending their operations in Afghanistan. That massive U.S. base,
Camp Leatherneck, has been handed over to the Afghan military. U.S. troops
are now packing up to leave the country.
There will now be very little foreign military presence on the ground there
in Helmand province, this some 13years after the launch of what has long
since become America`s longest war.
An amazing development in Afghanistan this morning. Be right back with
more on what`s proving to be the swing state of all swing states this
election. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Even in this electronic age a lot of stuff still comes in the
mail, including in an increasing number of states, ballots. One of those
states is Colorado. Because the state mails ballots to all voters, it`s
raising questions about whether the polls in Colorado are underestimating
how many Democrats are actually going to vote on Election Day.
The argument boils down to this. We know that the Democratic base doesn`t
tend to turn out as much in mid-term elections like this year. But if all
they have to do is fill out a ballot that is sent to them, maybe more will
Which brings us to a survey conducted in Colorado this week by a Democratic
advocacy group that found that 82 percent of Democrats who voted in 2012 in
the presidential election that year, but not in 2010 in the mid-terms that
year, 82 percent of them have now received ballots and 61 percent of them
say they are planning to vote. The other 22 percent say they have already
This is key because the polls have been rough for Democrats in Colorado,
particularly for Senator Mark Udall, who`s been running about four points
behind Republican Cory Gardner in the average of all polls.
Democrats are scrambling to hang on to the Senate and losing Udall in
Colorado would be a very tough blow for them. The polls say he`s in deep
trouble. But are the polls missing something? Or is that just wishful
thinking by Democrats?
John Frank is a political reporter for "The Denver Post." He joins me now
John, thank you for taking a few minutes this morning. I know it`s very
early out there. So you`ve seen this memo we make reference to in there
and basically the argument is being made that in Colorado voters who are
not getting polled, pollsters assuming aren`t going to show up, like
everybody else in the state, they were mailed ballots and it`s a lot easier
to vote this way. This is the first time you`ve had basically an all mail-
in election. And they`re going to surprise people with their turnout.
What do you make of that?
JOHN FRANK, "THE DENVER POST": The polls are the big question in Colorado,
whether it`s a Senate race or the governor`s race. Like you said, are they
capturing the right universe of people?
The one number we do know outside of all polling is 22 percent of those who
voted in 2012, but not 2010, that`s how much they make up of the populace
now. That`s a decent number and Democrats will need that number to be a
little bigger if they`re going to win on Election Day and they`re certainly
trying to get out the vote and make that happen right now.
There are two groups that are missing in these polling, or at least that
would -- Democrats would tell you are missing in this polling, Latino
voters make up about 14 percent of the state`s electorate and they expect
to make up about 9 percent of this midterm and younger voters, which is the
survey you mentioned.
It`s capturing a lot of these people who don`t typically vote and
definitely didn`t vote in 2010 and they`re reachable by cell phone. They
don`t typically answer polls.
So, there is a question about whether they`re being left out of the broader
KORNACKI: So, what has your experience been like in Colorado?
I know this is the first time that you`ve had every voter being sent the
ballot in the mail and all of that, but I think a lot of states, like where
I`m from, it`s very old school. You have got to go to the polling place on
Election Day and pull the lever and all that stuff.
In a state like Colorado where it`s done by mail, what has the experience
Are more people in general participating because of that?
FRANK: The one interesting number that we`re paying attention to as we get
to Election Day, the campaign suggests less than 10 percent possibly of
voters will actually cast ballots on Election Day. That`s a huge number.
Colorado has had mail-in balloting since 1992. And back in 2012, about 70
percent of folks received mail ballots. This year, yes, that universe has
expanded and that again is another big question mark here that`s kind of
keeping Colorado a swing state because Republicans will tell you they`re up
3 to 4 points on average in the U.S. Senate race.
But Democrats will tell you the polls aren`t capturing everything and this
mail ballot is a wild card for both sides of the campaign.
KORNACKI: All right, John Frank from "The Denver Post," really appreciate
you getting up very early Mountain Time today. We appreciate that.
Coming up in just a few minutes, we will have brand-new NBC polling
information from Colorado on that Senate race. Brand-new poll coming out
in just minutes. We`re going to have it for you, polls from five other key
states, as well. All sorts of new numbers. We`ll hear about them here
first. So stay with us.
KORNACKI: So, we talk all the time about the great political environment
that Republicans find themselves in this year. They have a good shot at
taking back the Senate and they have an apparent lock on the House, at
least for now. There are paths to potential victory for Democrats in the
Senate, but those paths are narrow.
But, the political reality is very different when you go to the states.
When you look at the state level and you look at governors because you look
there and Democrats are playing offense and hoping to rack up some big
Pennsylvania`s Republican governor Tom Corbett already appears to be on his
way out. He`s down double digits and he has been down double digits the
whole way in that race.
In Wisconsin as we talked about on the show yesterday, Scott Walker is in
danger of being ousted by Democrat Mary Burke, a dead even race there.
So right now in this segment we wanted to focus on the Republicans, the
Republican governors in their races who are coming down to the wire a
little bit more in the week before the election right now.
We got three reporters from three of the most suspenseful races in the
country joining us now on the ground in their states, three very different
races here and I want to go through these one at a time.
Rosemary Goudreau, who is the editorial page editor for "Sun-Sentinel."
You may remember her from the famous fan debate of a few weeks ago. She
joins us from Ft. Lauderdale this morning.
Right now, Rosemary, we`ll start with you and I want to put on the screen,
this is the average of all the polls taken in Florida. Charlie Crist, the
former Republican governor, former independent running as a Democratic in
the average of all polls leading Rick Scott now 44 to 43. Excuse me, 42.8
to 41.8. A one-point lead in the average of all polls.
Now, I know a month or two ago if you looked at that, Scott was ahead.
So, what is happening in Florida?
Does it look like Crist has the momentum there, what is going on?
ROSEMARY GOUDREAU, "SUN-SENTINEL": It has been about a month since we saw
Scott ahead in the polls but these polls are still dead even. It`s within
the margin of error.
But there was one interesting fact in the Quinnipiac poll this week. Among
people who`ve already voted, even though more Republicans have turned in
their absentee ballots and early voted, among people who voted, this poll
showed that 42 to 38, more people were voting for Charlie Crist.
So, people are trying to read the tea leaves in this poll to see which way
the wind is blowing because it`s so close.
KORNACKI: Florida is one of those states where there`s a lot of early
voting going on and we always see these stats from different states, X
percent Republican, X percent Democratic.
Do we have enough data to know how to interpret that ahead of an election?
GOUDREAU: Well, there have been a million and a half people who have
already voted in Florida and that`s about 30 percent of the people who
voted in the last gubernatorial election. So much of the ground game here
is so in advance of Election Day. There will be so many votes that have
already been cast.
So, it`s interesting to see how the Republicans are getting their vote out.
And, obviously, the numbers show they`re doing a better job.
But the Democrats, especially in South Florida where so much of the
Democratic vote is in Florida, they are not going to endorse, especially in
black communities. They have got the football teams ready to go out on
Sunday to help bring people to the polls to early vote.
KORNACKI: All right, now, go up Atlantic Coast here to Maine. Bill Nemitz
from the "Portland Press Herald" and the "Maine Sunday Telegram." He joins
us live from Portland, Maine.
We`ve got some news courtesy of your newspaper, Bill, this morning, from
Maine. This is what we`re going to show. This has been the average of all
the polls in this wild governor`s race up there. Everybody knows Paul
LePage, very controversial Republican governor, got elected in that three-
way race in 2010 hoping to benefit from a three-way race again this year.
You see in the average of all polls he is trailing barely Mike Michaud
there, very close race; Eliot Cutler that independent, running again
farther back, but Bill, your poll today -- your newspaper has a new poll
out that has raised a lot of eyebrows and it puts Paul LePage ahead by 10
points, 45 for LePage -- I don`t know if we have the graphic here -- 45 for
LePage, 35 for Michaud and 16 for Eliot Cutler.
Bill, I`ve talked to Democrats who want me to say this is an outlier.
There`s no way LePage has pulled ahead.
What is your interpretation of what`s going on up there?
BILL NEMITZ, PORTLAND PRESS COLUMNIST: Well, Steve, it really caught
everybody by surprise, us included. As you said, a month ago, this was
essentially a dead heat and now LePage has taken off to a big lead. We
fully expect the response to be different, depending on whom you are
The Democrats see it as an outlier. LePage supporters, on the other hand,
see it as vindication for their candidate, particularly after Maine`s
televised debates which had not taken place prior to the earlier poll.
So, what it is is basically a shockwave that has gone through the Maine
electorate. The 2010 race that we had, which again, as you mentioned, was
a three-way race.
In these final days going up to the election, Maine`s electorate was
extremely volatile. There was a lot of movement in that case away from the
Democrat and toward Cutler.
Right now the movement seems to be to LePage and the question remains what
is the independent going to do and how many people who now support the
independent are going to vote strategically for Michaud? There`s a big
anyone but LePage cohort out there. And the real question now is how
that`s going to coalesce.
KORNACKI: We had Eliot Cutler, the independent, on the show at the start
of the summer I think, and he told us, basically, because we were asking
about the scenario. What if you get LePage re-elected?
He said, look, at the end of October, I`m going to look up and I`m going to
reassess. He left open, it seemed, the possibility of saying at that
point, hey, I can`t win, I want LePage out. Go ahead, go vote for Michaud.
Is anything like that happening?
NEMITZ: No. And the Cutler campaign has based its whole strategy on that
happening and our poll today, as you said, has him at 16 percent, which is
where he`s been pretty much throughout the summer and into the fall.
So, yes, it is kind of the moment of truth for Eliot Cutler. There`s very
few people if any people out there right now who are looking at this, even
given today`s numbers and thinking that he could win. So he`s either going
to have to double down and look for a real miracle or reassess his
viability as a candidate.
Whether he does that or not, I think a lot of his supporters are watching
all of these developments very closely and based on what I`ve heard from
some of them, they`re not going to need Eliot Cutler`s permission if they
feel like voting for him is going to ensure the re-election of LePage.
So it`s very much in the hearts and minds of the individual voter right
now, although we`re still waiting to hear what Eliot Cutler is going to do.
KORNACKI: Yes, I noted this seems to be the most volatile of all the
governors` races, just because of that three-way element.
So, Garrett Haake, reporter for KSHB out in Kansas City joins us now.
Garrett, one of my favorite races, the race for Kansas governor, it`s just
amazing that it is even competitive. You see the polling average there,
Sam Brownback, the Republican incumbent, the former senator, a lot of
people think he wants to run for president in 2016. He`s had his eye on
He is trailing in the average of polls out there by a little less than a
point. So Paul Davis the Democrat is still leading slightly out there.
Tell us about that race, Garrett. Democrats have had their eye on this
one. You want to tell us it is a bad year for us in Washington, well, if
we beat Sam Brownback and for that matter Pat Roberts in the Senate race,
we have something to brag about, too.
What`s going on?
GARRETT HAAKE, KSHB-TV: About two months ago when Paul Davis announced his
candidacy and first started to gain some traction, you were seeing some of
these polls that had him up eight, nine, 10 points.
Governor Brownback has managed to close the gap significantly there over
the last couple months. Davis benefited from being not Sam Brownback, who
the thought was had overreached on a couple of policies, specifically on
tax cuts and cuts to education.
But Brownback has been able to move the needle a little bit back closer,
but you look at sort of the last three or four public polls have all had
Paul Davis right around that magical 50 percent mark and Brownback hasn`t
been able to move north of about 44 percent, which is bad news for him.
But they`re still outspending Davis pretty significantly and they managed
to do, the Republicans have, some decent work in defining Paul Davis, who
hasn`t really stepped up to offer much more of himself rather than not
being Sam Brownback, which has been sort of the defining narrative this
KORNACKI: Is there a difference, we look at the Senate race out there,
Orman versus Roberts and Brownback and Davis, is the expectation that
they`re going to track identically?
If you`re voting for Brownback you`re voting for Roberts or if you`re
voting for Orman, you`re voting for Davis, are these two different groups
of voters we`re talking about?
HAAKE: It`s the same group of voters and that might end up being a problem
for Paul Davis, depending on how you look at it. There`s a little bit of
voter psychology here. So Kansas voters, the majority overwhelmingly are
Republican. Have to go into the voting booth on Election Day and do they
pull the lever twice for candidates who are not Republicans?
It`s sort of a big ask to say we`re going to throw out what was formally a
very popular governor, a long-time Kansas politician who we`ve known.
Brownback was the senator here before and Pat Roberts. Do you vote both of
them out or is there a mental calculus that happens when you go into the
voting booth? You say, well, on the one hand, I can vote for an
independent and at least he`s not a Democrat or Kansas has this pretty
strong history of sending Democratic governors to the governor`s mansion,
Kathleen Sebelius just recently.
So there`s going to be some of that horse trading among -- in their own
minds when they`re in the voting booths here next week. It could be really
KORNACKI: It already has been. Rosemary Goudreau in Florida, Bill Nemitz
in Maine, Garrett Haake in Kansas City, appreciate all of you joining us
and getting up early for that today. Really appreciate it, thank you.
Nine days until the election, as we said. Six key states, six brand-new
polls from those states about to be released. We are going to show you
who`s winning, who`s losing and there`s at least one big surprise in there.
All the new numbers. We`ll have them for you first, next.
KORNACKI: All right. Thanks for staying with us this hour. With only
nine days to go until the election, we have brand-new newly released polls
this minute. They are coming out as we speak, to discuss from the pivotal
battleground states in the fight for control of the Senate. A couple
governorships to six states and a bunch of races surprising results and
you`re about to hear it all here first.
But before that, we want to start by discussing a very powerful story on
the front page of this morning`s "New York Times," concerns the final days,
weeks and months, in life of American journalist, James Foley, who was held
hostage before being beheaded by ISIS earlier this year, compelling account
of what Foley went through during captivity based on interviews with other
former hostages, who were released or escaped.
The paper reports that he was beaten and starved repeatedly waterboarded.
He also underwent mock executions many times before the real thing. Foley
watched as his fellow hostages were released and their countries in many
cases paying millions in ransom, but all were tortured.
The Americans and Brits, from those countries -- the countries that would
not negotiate fared even worse. His fellow hostages say that Foley
believed the U.S. would negotiate for his release, too.
In a new interview with the "Daily Beast," Foley`s parents appear angry
that that didn`t happen asking why the U.S. bargained for the release for
Bo Bergdahl and not for the release of their son.
They describe the phone call President Obama made to them after their son
was executed in which they say the president told them about the
government`s attempt to rescue Foley.
Quote, "I told Obama that Jim worked hard to get him elected. He believed
until the end his country would come and get him." Foley`s family was
unconvinced by the president`s sympathy call.
Quoting again here, "In between golf games, mind you," his mother said, "He
did not stop to call us in the middle of his vacation, in the United
Kingdom, the prime minister came home from his vacation."
Joining me now is NBC News foreign correspondent, Ayman Mohyeldin, who`s
reported extensively from Syria. So Ayman, thanks for joining us this
morning. Reading this account, I encourage everybody. This is an
exhaustively important to "New York Times."
It is drenching to read it and James Foley say anything else, he`s a great
American. That is what comes through in this story. It raises the
question of ransom, too, because all these European countries and these
prisoners are basically grouped according to what country they`re from.
The hostage takers know which countries are paying the ransoms and which
aren`t and a bunch of them get out, they go home and their governments pay
Here, in our case, apparently, not only does the United States have the
policy of not ever paying ransoms, but apparently Foley`s family was trying
to start a collection to get him out and they were told by the government,
no, you`d be breaking the law. You can`t do that.
They are just left in this desperate situation. I`m just curious of what
your take is on the whole question about ransoms?
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, that is a
very difficult question for me personally to answer. I`m not a parent. I
think if you`re a parent and you see your son in a situation like that,
you`ll move heaven and earth to do what you can to try and free and rescue
At the same time, I can understand what the U.S. government`s position is
based on. There are hundreds, if not, you know, dozens at least
journalists and other Americans that are working in these dangerous types
If in fact there is a pattern of willingness to pay ransoms, then I think
you can see a spike at least in trying to go after Americans. I think you
really have to look at the data and see if the data substantiate the
If there is a willingness by the government to pay ransoms that you see an
uptick in them going after your nationalities, I don`t necessarily know
that there is enough data on that to make a fact-based decision.
From an emotional decision, I think parents will always do whatever they
can to bring back their loved ones no matter what the government does or
tells them is legal or not legal.
KORNACKI: We have Diane Foley again, the mother of James Foley, this is
from this article. She says the enemy is ISIS not our government. All we
are saying is that our government can do better for our citizens.
So this is not over yet. There are still Americans over there. There are
still Brits over there facing the same -- it seems to be the same basic
dynamic. They`re being held there and the ransom is being demanded.
The American government, the British government, isn`t going to pay it. Do
you see since all these beheadings have started, are there any other
avenues that you are aware of to potentially get these people out?
MOHYELDIN: Well, you know, and this is a very important point to make.
The U.S. government did say it launched a special operations forces
mission, if you will, to try and go after James Foley. That is certainly a
lot more than some of the European countries, who have had their nationals
So it`s not to say that the U.S. is not making every effort. They are
definitely making every effort. As a matter of policy, that is one issue.
But there is no doubt that according to the U.S. government.
The fact that they launched the special operations mission over the summer
that unfortunately was not successful in rescuing James Foley, it`s a sign
that the U.S. is very aggressive in trying to bring back any of its
citizens that have been kidnapped.
We have seen several U.S. missions that have been successful in the past in
bringing back whether its soldiers or citizens off of, you know, various
places like the coast of Somalia that have been kidnapped and elsewhere.
So, that`s certainly a lot more than European countries. I can`t recall
the Spanish government or the French government ever attempting a rescue
operation to get their nationals. That is why they have taken that
approach of let`s just pay the ransom or allow the families to pay the
ransoms for their nationals.
KORNACKI: Right, and maybe you can hope if the "New York Times" can talked
to some of these released hostages and maybe the American government can
provide some intelligence to help with something like that.
Anyway, we all hope so certainly. Ayman Mohyeldin, thank you. We
appreciate you taking the time this morning and joining us. Good insight
And turning now to the election, which is now, as we said, just nine days
away and here we have those brand-new poll numbers we have been telling you
about, brand-new polling information.
These are new numbers hot off the press as they were coming into us just
seconds ago. New NBC News/Marist poll numbers from six of the key
battleground states. Brand-new data on where those races stand.
And the panel is back with me here to go through that. We have Kelly Anne
Conway, Evan and Basil to join us. So let`s start. We have six states
here and a bunch of numbers from each of them. Let`s go through them.
Starting with Kansas, we are just talking about Kansas. There is the
latest number, NBC News/Marist poll this morning, it shows Greg Orman, the
independent one point ahead of Pat Roberts.
The last time, NBC and Marist surveyed this race. It was a ten-point lead
for Greg Orman. So Roberts is closing the gap there and also a poll in the
governor`s race out there. Again, we`re just talking about this and you
can see exactly what we just showed you.
Paul Davis barely ahead of Sam Brownback in Kansas so we move to Iowa, key
race there between Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley, Joni Ernst running three
points ahead of Bruce Braley, the last time we surveyed it for NBC and
Marist, it was two.
Looking at Colorado, this is a state we were also talking about earlier,
question of how accurate the polls are. It`s one of the better polls that
the Democrats have gotten in Colorado in a while, frankly. That is a one-
point gap Udall against Gardner.
Udall is the embattled incumbent. There have been polls showing him down
five, six, seven points. Also a governor`s race in Colorado, we can put
that up for you, new number there.
John Hickenlooper, the Democratic incumbent doing a little better than
Udall. He is ahead by five points over his challenger. We should also
note the gender gap in Colorado.
This has been a big story out there. Right now that Udall in that Senate
race winning women by 11 and Gardner winning men by 15. Democrats have
been banking on getting a big number among women out there.
Arkansas, next state we have for you, big Senate race there. You have Tom
Cotton running two points ahead of Mark Pryor, the incumbent. Again,
that`s one of the better polls that Mark Pryor has seen lately.
He`s been falling further and further behind lately. Two points behind in
the NBC poll here. Next one, North Carolina. Dead even. Look at that,
Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis, that`s a libertarian gobbling up, 7 percent.
It`s one of the states where Democrats have been leading. Hagan has been
leading and a sign on election night that if this goes to Tillis in
election night. If they`re winning North Carolina, probably is.
The last one we want to show you, this one, I think, it`s time now we can
say, back to the red column. There was some suspense here in South Dakota.
A poll that said, wow, a crazy three-way race, gravity has asserted itself
in South Dakota.
Mike Rounds, the Republican now comfortably ahead and Rick Weiland at 29
and Larry Pressler at 16. We`ll keep an eye on it, but until further
notice. When I`m doing the big board, South Dakota will be red. New
numbers, guys. What do you think of these?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was nice fakeout by Democrats on the South Dakota
KORNACKI: Fun while it lasted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ll leave the poll analysis to Kelly who knows a lot
more about this than me. I will say something interesting about this. The
Democrats sort of setting up this blame game for a bad night on election
Looking at these races, Democrats have been saying right along that in a
close election their turnout machine is supposed to win. So, we`re going
to see now we`re putting it to the test, it looks like, in almost every
single one of these very tight, tight races.
The other thing that stands out to me from what you`re showing is this idea
that the Democrats have been talking about with this women gap and there
was some talk that Cory Gardner, the Republican in Colorado were able to
close that and had the goods to end that for Republicans. That does not
seem to be accurate either.
KORNACKI: You`re getting closer. Democrats are getting much closer to
what they want to be getting there in terms of a gender gap.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is just this incredible back and forth. They
take money out of Kentucky. They put money back into Kentucky. They have
taken money out of a race in Virginia, so, there`s a House race in
So it looks like in many respects the Democrats for a period of time were
on the offense and now, in some respects, they are playing defense to keep
some of the seats that they hold near and dear to them.
But I think one thing that is also striking is that the Hagan race is still
close considering all the money that they have been putting in there.
Hillary was just there the other day talking about women`s equality, pay
So I think there`s a lot of investment, but in some of the southern states
and Appalachian states, in particular. But we`re starting to see a lot of
the earlier good chances of winning in some of the states now receding.
And I`m curious to see what happens.
KORNACKI: I`ve heard on North Carolina, the comment made that Hagan has
run the better campaign than Tillis. That`s why she`s been leading all the
way. If she ends up losing this thing, that is the ultimate statement of,
this is a state that is voting. Personality doesn`t matter, campaign
doesn`t matter. If republicans win the state, that`s why.
CONWAY: I think that`s fair. North Carolina was the only one of the nine
swing states that Governor Romney actually carried over President Obama in
the end in 2012. There`s that.
Steve, this is where the fun begins for professional pollsters because here
we are nine days out and over a million people have voted early in these
states, state like Iowa will have maybe 32 percent, 35 percent of voters
will have already voted by the time Election Day comes around. That`s
The point is, here we go, a high number of undecideds really strikes me
because you still in some of these states have double digit undecided.
What are they waiting to hear? There have been debates, ads going on for
two years. What else do they need to learn?
They tend to be more female than male. They tend to be a little bit
younger. The question is will they turn out. The older young people will
turn out, 25 to 32.
KORNACKI: I`m not even older/younger any more.
CONWAY: Imagine being a pollster and every birthday you think you`re a new
demographic. It`s a terrible feeling. Then everybody stuck in the mid-
40s. But they`ve all been in the mid-40s for months, the entire time.
The question is, not going to be Obamacare and ACA. It`s not going to be
the president`s disapproval rating and jobs in the economy, that`s all
baked in the cake. Not the war on women stuff, either.
How you feel about that, and if that`s important to you one way or another,
already been assimilated. It`s probably going to be some type of security
feeling whether it`s national security, border security.
This feeling that we don`t have control, we need leadership. But I`m
fascinating to see it. In some of these races education will be
determinative. I`ve been an advocate for Republicans who have gone offense
on education, charter school choice against common core.
And I think even if Cory Gardner ends up losing the female vote, as most
Republicans do, he is able to neutralize the war on women where he earned
the "Denver Post" endorsement. I think the war on women has run its course
You have these female senators in the south, who won`t dare touch it,
Alison Lundergan Grimes, Michelle Nunn, Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu. They are
KORNACKI: But Colorado it seems to me is the test of it this year. That`s
where the Democrats. It works so well for them in 2010 in the Senate race
and in 2012 with President Obama and they have really used that strategy in
A week ago, we were talking on the show and where is the gender gap in
Colorado? This poll is telling us, maybe it is starting to merge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t you feel like the numbers would be lot, don`t you
feel like the numbers would be a lot better for Republicans if they didn`t
have some sort of remaining policy problems of their own?
This is an election where incumbents are really not, nobody wants an
incumbent. Nobody wants these people back. Send them home. Nobody wants
them back in Washington. But, yet, these elections are so close.
Doesn`t that indicate that sort of indicate that the Republicans still have
a lot of issue problems that they have to deal with? Isn`t that where
they`re having problems?
CONWAY: No, I think they`ve been vastly outspent. All the articles show
that without an outside money, there`s going to be an advantage and I still
think that incumbents -- look, people love to say I`m for change and
And they come to Times Square and they see Aladdin and Cinderella and these
same people vote and love to say I`m for change, particularly when the
world is on fire.
KORNACKI: We got Olive Garden and Aladdin.
CONWAY: Serious about making change. I do think Republicans still have an
advantage of taking the Senate. The big story on election night is going
to be how many governors lose. Governors usually don`t lose.
KORNACKI: Eight is the number. We put up yesterday, 8 or more will lose
it with Senate panel. Anyway, thanks for our panel. Appreciate it today.
Do polls like this really matter when millions of Americans just hinted at
this? Millions of Americans have already actually voted in this election?
What is the point of the campaign home stretch and look at that issue of
early voting, when we come back.
KORNACKI: We`re past the middle of October in the election season, which
means there is some time for at least for an October surprise. Revelations
or stories about candidates that surfaced only weeks, maybe even days
before an election and shake everything up.
But the October surprise actually now an out-dated concept because so many
Americans have already voted long before the election. That`s because 33
states and the District of Columbia have some form of early voting now and
more than 7 million people have already voted.
President Obama voted early. He cast his ballot in his hometown of Chicago
this week. Not a new phenomenon. Ballots that were cast early in Oregon,
Washington, Colorado, all voters now receive their ballots in the mail
weeks in advance.
They can turn them in or mail them in, or do it in person on Election Day.
In other states, you can elect to vote by mail if you want to. In Arizona,
you can get a choice. You can vote by mail or voted in person starting
In Florida, early voting started yesterday and going to run until next
Saturday. You only have a week to vote early there. In Idaho, early
voting started back in September and ends next Friday. So you have
different states, different dates, different rules and different voting
What does Election Day even mean any more when you have early voting?
Early voting, is it a good idea? Here to discuss this, we have "Politico"
reporter and host of "Rolston Reports," John Rolston as well as attorney
and co-director of the Advancement Project, Judith Browne Dianis.
So John, I`ll start with you because I read a thing you wrote, I guess it`s
a couple years old. You had a very strong take on why you don`t like early
voting and go ahead and make it.
JOHN ROLSTON, HOST, "ROLSTON REPORTS": Steve, the greatest problem I have
seen in politics and covering it for 25 years is the just gradual
dissipation of interest and civic engagement. I think early voting for too
many people is a way to say, OK, I just want this over with and I`ll go
Without getting all the information that he or she needs to get before
Election Day and then the other argument, which is the one that you made
that doesn`t even have to be an October surprise, but something could
You could get a mail piece that shows you that a candidate is willing to do
something that indicates a character flaw. They could put a TV ad on that
is so offensive that will show you something. Why not get all the
I mean, voting is supposed to be the most sacred right we have as
Americans. I think this is a way not to take it as seriously. Not to get
all the information.
One last case here, Steve, is that the argument is it`s supposed to
increase turnout because of all this alienation from getting involved in
civic engagement. That is not true.
In fact, here in Nevada, it is not helped and we are going to have
historically low turnout this year despite having two weeks of early
KORNACKI: All right, Judith, you heard his case against it, what do you
say to that?
JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS, CO-DIRECTOR, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: I would agree that
voting is a sacred right and because it is a sacred right that means that
we should have a lot of opportunity to actually cast that ballot. It also
means that voting should be easy.
We don`t want to have hurdles to voting. Having a voting period that is
restricted to one day is absolutely ridiculous. When, in fact, what we
need is to have a period of time where people can participate.
Now, with regard to elections and candidates, it just means that that
October surprise better come in September. It means that if you have
information, you need to court your constituents earlier.
But really, if you look at a place like North Carolina, for example, in
2012, 70 percent of African-Americans voted early. It`s easier for people
who are working. It`s easier for students to cast those ballots during
that period of time.
KORNACKI: I guess the question, though, there`s a huge range here. The
state that I`m from in Massachusetts, you don`t have early voting. Unless
you`re out of state and you request the absentee ballot.
Other states, as we say, start doing it in September. I wonder if there is
a case to make this uniform if we`re going to have some form of it.
The other thing, Judith, I think back to the 2012 and the final days of the
campaign when super Storm Sandy hit, a huge natural disaster, remember Mike
Bloomberg, the mayor of new york, sat at that campaign and made his
He made his endorsement because of how Barack Obama handled that and
because of what that said about the issue of climate change to him. It was
the decisive issue for him and I think for a lot of people, too.
There are Republicans who insist, you know, Mitt Romney lost because of
Super Storm Sandy, I`m not sure I buy that, but it illustrates how it could
change people`s fundamental perceptions about candidates. Isn`t that lost
when you`re voting a month early?
DIANIS: Well, I mean, I do think there are those moments like the Sandy,
but, quite frankly, if you`re doing your homework you kind of know who the
candidates are. You know what they stand for.
You know what Bloomberg stood for. So, I don`t think that that actually is
a hindrance. I think that people need to have a period of time that is
more open. I do believe that we do need to have some national standards
around early voting.
So, for example, a place like Virginia does not have early voting. So, we
do need to have national standards, but we really need to open up the
opportunity, the number of days where people can cast a ballot because not
everybody has the luxury of being able to turn out on a Tuesday between
8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. in order to cast a ballot.
KORNACKI: John, this is my solution to it, tell me what you think of it?
Election Day, national holiday, get the day off, you don`t have to vote if
you don`t want to, but if you want to, you got the day off.
ROLSTON: Well, you took the words out of my mouth, Steve. I was about to
say that. I think that`s a great solution and it would allow people to
have all day that they wouldn`t have to be at work and they would be able
then to wait and see all the information.
You brought up the great case of Sandy. Back here in 2006, we had a
governor running for election, a gubernatorial candidate by the name of Jim
Gibbons. They were three separate scandals uncovered about Jim Gibbons in
the last couple weeks.
By the time the last one was uncovered tens of thousands of people had
already voted who did not have the benefit of that information and, again,
I say, to just say that you can go down to the store and vote or go to the
library, go to the polling place and vote early, to me, it diminishes the
importance of your vote.
Have a national holiday, have people go out there. Have people do the
things that they`re not doing any more, you know, the Sunday night or the
Monday night before election night families used to get together and talk
about the candidates. Talk about politics. It would encourage more civic
KORNACKI: All right, Judith, we`re short on time, but we`ll give you the
final word. Go ahead.
DIANIS: Yes, people still do that even when you`re doing early voting.
Yes, we should have a national holiday, but, still, our system is not built
so that everybody can go vote on one day. That`s why we have to have
multiple votes so we can make it people to engage in our democracy and lift
up their voices.
KORNACKI: All right, John Rolston and Judith Browne Dianis, thanks for
joining us and enjoy that discussion. It`s an interesting one.
One of the nation`s top health officials is speaking out this hour against
the Ebola quarantines. What he is saying and why. We`ll have it for you
KORNACKI: Politics and one of the biggest stories right now are
intertwined. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief of infectious diseases at the
NIH, is speaking out this hour against the mandatory quarantines on
travelers from West Africa that have now been put in place in New York, New
Jersey and Illinois.
Dr. Fauci`s says the mandatory quarantines could have unintended
consequences. Quoting him, "There are other ways to protect. We don`t
necessarily need to do that." His concern shared by many as the only way
to really stop the virus is at its source, in Africa.
Imposing regulations in some states will discourage medical workers from
going to Africa to help. We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: We are just days away from the 2014 election. If you couldn`t
tell by now, follow elections pretty closely. But at a certain point,
there are some things that start to blur. And one of things at least for
me are numbers about money in politics, $300,000 here, $1.5 million ad by
there, it`s easy to lose count.
But here is a figure that even I could understand. It estimated $4 billion
is going to be spent on this election cycle when all is said and done,
that`s according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
That number, $4 billion is a 10 percent increase since the last mid-terms.
That money means in places like North Carolina, for six consecutive days
this month the negative ad ran on an average of once per minute for the
Senate race alone, negative television ad once every minute.
So where is all the money to pay for all of this coming from? Who are the
big players here putting up the money? How much are they giving? Who are
they giving it to? And here`s the most important question, what do they
want for all of it?
ere to break that down for us is "Politico" reporter, Ken Vogel. He is the
author of the book "Big Money" about the American campaign finance systems
and it`s colourful characters.
So Ken, thanks for joining us today. So, we have some of the bigger
players from a money standpoint and want to go through them with you and
tell people, we`ll start with Tom Stire.
And I think people might know the name, Tom Stire, climate activists, you
know, hedge fund guy, lots of money. He`s spending heavily on the issue of
climate change. Tell us exactly where is this money going and who is he
supporting, in particular, and is he getting anything out of it?
KEN VOGEL, "POLITICO": Tom Stire, Steve, has emerged as the biggest donor
on the left by far. He`s given $60 million just to a PAC that he set up
called "Nextgen Climate Action" that is specifically focused on elevating
the issue of climate change. That is really his animating cause.
He wants the whole American body politic, but particularly the Democratic
Party to be more aggressive on proposing solutions to climate change. So,
what he had hoped to do was kind of become a Koch brothers equivalent on
That is to give his own money, but also to be able to rally support from
other donors to raise big money for his Super PAC. He originally proposed
giving $50 million and raising $50 million.
Well, he`s given more than $50 million, but he hasn`t raised that much and
it sort of raised questions on the left about, "A" whether there is the
appetite for the type of single issue giving.
And, "B," whether folks are willing to go outside of the official party
mechanism to an individual donor/leader, operative type like Tom Stire. He
shows no signs of slowing down though.
KORNACKI: That`s interesting. So next, speaking of, you mentioned the
Koch brothers, David Koch, you know, one of the -- David Koch was a
libertarian candidate for vice president. But now these are huge sources
of money for the Republicans. Are they spending it everywhere this year
and anything in particular that they`re looking for?
VOGEL: Yes, they are. The short answer to the part of the question, they
are spending it everywhere. They are on pace to spend around $290 million
through this vast network of non-profits that they`ve set up as well as the
Super PAC, actually, a new sort of piece in their arsenal.
And they are going into all the contested Senate races in a big way. Even
in some House races, although a little bit less. What they said that they
want is really fiscally conservative candidates that are more of the Tea
Party mode than of the big establishment GOP type mold.
However, they have increasingly become more associated with and involve
would the Republican Party. Quite a far cry from where David Koch was as
the libertarian vice presidential candidate. They still do believe in
In fact in some ways they sort of block the GOP orthodox in simple, civil
libertarian-type issues and drug reform, for instance, as well as on
foreign policy and national security.
They are much more non-interventionalist than the mean of the Republican
Party. But nonetheless their money is going in a big way to Republicans
KORNACKI: Now here`s another name everybody knows, Sheldon Adelson. He
for a while was single-handedly keeping the Newt Gingrich presidential
campaign alive. My understanding, I have a hard time figuring this guy
out. From what I can tell he is about casinos in Israel. Am I missing
anything in there?
VOGEL: A little bit on the anti-union stuff, but just giving is really
motivated primarily by Israel. Steve, you are not alone in figuring this
guy out. Even the operatives who want his money and beg him for his money
can`t figure this guy out. He and his wife really sort of embody the chaos
inducing effect of this new, big money.
They`re willing to give a lot of money and less willing to listen to advice
and political calculations subsidizing the Newt Gingrich campaign and all
the GOP operatives who I talked including some who were very close to him
were going to him and begging to him, please, stop giving us money to keep
Newt Gingrich alive.
You are hurting our eventual chances of defeating Barack Obama. He wasn`t
willing to listen to anybody in this case in 2014. They were begging him
for money, the GOP operatives for months and months and months.
He only recently started giving and there`s a question, can the money that
he is giving now used effectively?
KORNACKI: It made the race a lot more interesting. Last one on here and
this was the interesting one, a super PAC called Mayday. It`s started by
Lawrence Lesig from Harvard. This is the super PAC to end all Super PACs.
The idea is to raise money through crowd sourced ways and raise money to
spend money to elect people to get money out of politics. We`re going to
be talking in a minute, but tell us how that`s working.
VOGEL: Well, there are sort of mixed results. Difficult to find a race in
which they have played and tried to elevate the issue of campaign finance
that you can definitively conclude campaign finance was a major factor in
But, you know, for the most part, voters are more concerned about sort of
pocketbook issues whether it be health care with Obamacare or the really
sort of stagnant recovery that we`re seeing with the economy.
Even foreign policy issues with the rise and the threat of ISIS and those
are all issues that sort of animate more voters as a top voting priority
than campaign finance.
Occasionally we`ll see a race in which campaign finance rises to the top in
the 2000, actually both 2000 presidential primaries, Bill Bradly on the
Democratic side and John McCain on the Republican side.
Really raised it on an issue, it`s on a lot of folks minds back then with
Enron and Worldcom scandals. I don`t see the situation being synonymous
now. No big campaign finance scandal despite all the money and all the
figures that we are throwing out.
That are being spent in this election, that are really making voters pay
attention to campaign finance in a way that would sort of generate the
popular will that`s necessary to generates the tremendous amount of
political will to really significantly change the campaign finance laws and
regimen in our country.
KORNACKI: Ken Vogel, author of "Big Money," the foremost expert on money
in politics, a good time to add to that position. Ken, thanks for joining
us this morning. Appreciate it.
VOGEL: Thanks, Steve.
KORNACKI: We`ll turn to the chairman of the Mayday super PAC. We`re going
to ask him how things are shaping up. You heard Ken talking about Mayday a
minute ago. We`ll talk right after this.
KORNACKI: The actor, Jason Alexander, you might remember him from
"Seinfeld," but you catch him in this Senate campaign ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Paid for by the Patriot Action.
ANNOUNCER: Paid for by, paid for by --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know what paid for by really means? It means
a billion dollars in the last election. Our government is filled with
people who have been paid for. But no one should have more influence than
you. That`s what Rick Weiland is committed to. Help us make a world where
paid for by -- is a thing of the past.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That`s a Hollywood star appearing in a South Dakota campaign ad,
the race for Senate there, part of the campaign to reduce the influence of
money in politics.
We`re talking about this in the last segment and here now is one of the
people behind that ad, one of -- there is in money in politics. Lawrence
Lessig is a Harvard law professor and the chief organizer behind Mayday.US,
that`s the Mayday super PAC.
The super PAC that is designed to end super PACS and he joins us now.
Larry, let me start by, let`s put a practical example on this for people.
So in Kansas, there is this race going on between Pat Roberts, the
incumbent Republican and Greg Orman, the independent challenger. Your
guys, your group went into Kansas and I think it was $774,000. That can
buy you a lot out there.
You put that money down behind Greg Orman. If Greg Orman wins this
election, what are you getting in return for it?
LAWRENCE LESSIG, CHIEF ORGANIZER, MAYDAY: Well, what we`re showing is the
way in which people will rally to this issue. We`re not getting anything
from Greg Orman. What we`re going to get is from the pollsters who
demonstrate after the election the number of people who made their decision
on the basis of this issue.
Even in the New Hampshire race, which we ran, when we were in the
Republican primary, we found 37 percent of people said this issue, this
corrupting issue of money and politics was the primary issue that made them
decide who to vote for and for those people, the candidate we supported
beat Scott Brown by 18 points.
So, in each of these cases, what we`re doing is fighting the conventional
wisdom that Ken Vogel was uttering in the earlier segment, the conventional
wisdom that Americans don`t care about this.
And how we`re doing that is by going into the districts and making this an
issue and then moving voters on the basis of this issue so that in the next
election cycle, the conventional wisdom can`t be that people don`t care
about this issue because we find they do care about this issue and we think
we`re able to move voters and win races based on it.
KORNACKI: Someone like Orman and feel free to pick an example of someone
you`re supporting. You want to make a point, I get that. What is it he
said that said, if you care about campaign finance reform, you need to be
voting for Greg Orman. Is that some kind of promise there or assurance,
LESSIG: Absolutely. Greg Orman has been incredibly articulate about what
he calls, quote, "the legalized bribery" of the current system. Constantly
attacking the way money is driving policies in Washington with opponent Pat
Roberts and he has supported.
He has signalled to support for something called the American anti-
corruption act, which is one of the most important changes in the way we
regulate lobbyists and the way we raise money in campaigns for American
Another race the one you opened with in South Dakota. We went into South
Dakota and a coalition led by a group called Every Voice. We put up a
million dollars and they put up a million dollars and we upped that by
another half million dollars.
We went into that race nobody thought there was any chance other than the
Republican could win, Mike Rounds. But they both have made this corruption
an essential issue of their campaigns. Rick Weiland`s whole frame for the
campaign is, take it back, take it back from the special interests.
After we put that money in, now the DSEC has put a million dollars in and
that race is open and it is opened because of the corruption that they see
Mike Rounds in the middle of. He has this huge scandal.
KORNACKI: Earlier in the show, we got some brand-new polling numbers this
morning and from what I am told, more coming in the next few days. In
South Dakota, it now shows that after a big spike in interest and we had
the candidates on our show a few weeks ago, Rounds has pulled well ahead
The best he has been polling all year, he`s at 43 percent, and Pressler
crashed down to 16 and does raise the question, the flipside of this is
maybe you can win with Orman. You go into a state like South Dakota and
try to make a statement like that.
If the polling we are seeing now is accurate and Mike Brown runs away with
this thing, you have some egg on your face.
LESSIG: We are making a big gamble that you can demonstrate something by
the way people change their votes or move their votes and that`s what we`re
doing in that race. That`s what we`re doing across the range.
But, what we need to do is not necessarily win 100 percent of the votes or
even 50 percent of the votes. What we need to do is to demonstrate a
significant portion of voters who care enough about this so it`s important
for people to actually want to make this an issue that they talk about.
Not everybody, not even 50 percent of the candidates, but we need enough to
make it so that we can win a Congress committed to fundamental reform and
that`s the strategy we`re playing in right now.
KORNACKI: All right, Lawrence Lessig, from the Mayday Super PAC,
appreciate you getting up this morning. Thanks for that.
Up next, back to the big board. We`ll break down the two races, the two
key races that are the reason there is so much suspense about the Senate
right now. We`ll tell you about those states right after this.
KORNACKI: I keep talking about how this is the most suspenseful election I
can remember. We`ve had high stakes elections in last few years, but this
is most suspenseful because we really don`t know which party will be
controlling the U.S. Senate.
We really don`t know which one will be controlling an election. Two big
reasons for that, two specific reasons for that, I want to show you what
those reasons are.
We are going to go to the big board. You`ve been seeing a lot of this. I
love using this thing. We`ve pulled it out to illustrate this point.
Note, we had the South Dakota poll earlier, we are making South Dakota red,
leaving us with battleground of ten states in yellow, where there`s
suspense about who is going to win the Senate races in those states.
Now what we`re going to do is make a hypothetical exercise here, we`re
going to start awarding some of the states based on how polls are now.
So, for instance, we`ll look up to New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat
seems to be leading there, could lose, but right now, we`ll say blue for
that. North Carolina, same story with Kay Hagan leading in the polls,
could still lose, we`ll make it blue.
There are states like that for the Republicans as well. We`ll color those
in. Kentucky with Mitch McConnell seems more likely to go to him than not.
Arkansas, a close poll earlier today, but the news has generally been good
for Cotton for now.
It could change, call it red. The same thing for Louisiana, Mary Landrieu,
could be in rough shape in run-off there. Out to Alaska, very difficult to
poll but very Republican. Again, Democrats would love to win it, but for
right now we`ll put that one as red state.
So those are states to make assumptions now, and see what that leaves you
with. Four states that are a lot closer right now. It also leaves you
with Republicans sitting at 49. Now, keep in mind, Republicans need to get
to 51, magic number, if they want to achieve their goal, control the
Senate, they need 51, OK?
This would lean them at 49. If they win the states that we just put up
there. Now, here`s the thing. Look at this map. Two states should jump
out. If they don`t, we`ll use this John Madden feature and circle them,
one is Georgia, delayed circle there, the second is Kansas.
Now, these are two deeply red states, Kansas is a state that has last voted
for a Democrat for the U.S. Senate in the year 1932. You know Georgia,
it`s not quite as Republican as Kansas, but it`s pretty close.
Voted solidly for Mitt Romney, solidly for John McCain, Bush and for all of
that, these are two states at the start of the year nobody thought we would
be talking about at the end of October, particularly Kansas.
But because of the weird stuff in Kansas with Democratic candidate out of
the race, Pat Roberts facing this challenge from independent Greg Orman,
Orman being able to win, Kansas suddenly in play.
Georgia is same thing with Michelle Nunn and David Perdue. If those two
races had not come in to play, right now we wouldn`t be talking about
Kansas and Georgia. They`d both be red. If both red now, well, I can show
If Georgia was red like we all thought it would be, if Kansas was red like
we`d all thought it would be, that`s it, ball game over, 51 for the
Republicans, 45 for the Democrats. Doesn`t matter what happens in Iowa in
Colorado, these are two Democratic held seats. It wouldn`t matter at all.
Let`s take a close look at what`s go on in Georgia. Click on that, we have
to do this first, still learning this thing. Now click on Georgia. You
can see, average of all polls. Look at this, the most amazing Senate story
of the last week or two.
Democrat Michelle Nunn has pulled ahead of David Perdue, the Republican in
the average of all polls in Georgia, has momentum. The big reasons are
comments that David Perdue made about outsourcing. You see, Georgia
totally in play.
Again, if we take a look out in Kansas we showed you earlier the newest
poll there, again to remind you, Greg Orman, independent, ahead, barely,
but in the average of polls against Pat Roberts, two states totally in
It gives Democrats something to work with if they get Orman over the top
and get to caucus with them, get Michelle Nunn over the top in Georgia, it
means they`ve got to do something with Colorado and Iowa, but it gives them
a chance to win the Senate with Colorado, with Iowa, some combination
Whereas if Kansas and Georgia were doing what we all thought they`d do at
the start of the year, Colorado and Iowa wouldn`t matter, this whole
wouldn`t matter, Republicans would have the Senate now.
Instead, there`s a ton of suspense right now and there`s a ton of suspense
on election night because of those two states. Anyway, end of the show.
Thanks for joining us. We`ll be back next weekend, Saturday, Sunday, 8
a.m. Eastern Time.
Coming up next, "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" and we will see you next week here
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