Skip navigation

'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: February 7, 2015
Guest: Marc Ginsberg, Barry McCaffrey, Brian Thompson, Josh DuBois, Sam
Stein, Jessica Taylor, Jonathan Martin, Perry Bacon, Jr., Alexandra Alter,
Wayne Flynt, Bernie Sanders



(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: More airstrikes against ISIS.

All right. Good morning. Thanks for getting UP with us. Another Saturday
morning. And a big morning we have today of news and politics. A lot
ahead in the next two hours including, will democrats back a challenger to
Hillary? We`ll going to get a real big clue on that this morning. And
also, some danger for Chris Christie. Signs this morning that new
revelations are hitting him where it hurts with his party`s big dollar
donors. And also, does 88-year-old Harper Lee really want her recently
discovered manuscript published? A friend of the reclusive author is going
to be here, she`ll join us and tell us what she thinks of that and a whole
lot more still to come on the show today. But we begin this morning with
this.

Jordanian fighter jets taking off in the last few hours to launch a second
straight day of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria. They come with
ISIS claiming that yesterday`s strikes killed a young American woman who
was being held hostage by the group. The hostage has now been identified
as 26-year-old aid worker Kayla Mueller, she`s from Prescott, Arizona.
U.S. officials say they are looking into the report. They say they have no
confirmation that Mueller was actually killed in the attack. And also,
Jordanian officials saying they are highly skeptical of the claim. Her
parents released a statement meanwhile saying they hold out hope that their
daughter is still alive. Jordan taking the lead in this coalition
airstrikes after ISIS released a video showing a Jordanian hostage being
burned alive in a cage. That was released earlier this week.

NBC`s Keir Simmons was at that Jordanian Air Force base this morning and he
joins us now from Amman. Keir, thanks for joining us. So, a lot of
headlines here. Obviously, talking about intensifying air strikes. The
air strikes have been going on for a long time now. For months now. This
sort of bombardment campaign. Has it produced to this point meaningful
results?

KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Steve, good morning. A very
windy air force base, we are still here. And they are convinced here that
they are having real results. These air strikes. The F-16, you can see
behind me here, it`s not one of those planes that was involved in today`s
campaign. You can see still the 500 pound MK-82 munitions attached to its
wing. But many F-16s like this took off from this base today. We watched
them go two and a half hours later. We watched them come back. And as far
as we could tell in almost every case they had delivered that deadly
payload against ISIS. That has to be having an effect. We are hearing
reports. Even despite the fact that it is extremely difficult to get clear
facts from the areas the ISIS controlled.

We are hearing reports that many ISIS fighters have been killed. They in
particular the Jordanians are targeting ISIS weapons depots, storage
facilities. All of the apparatus. They will help ISIS continue to hold
that territory. That said, an air campaign like this can only be so
effective in the end. There has to be a move on the ground. We know that
the Iraqis are thinking at some point about moving on Mosul, that city in
Iraq that ISIS stormed into when they stormed across Iraq last year. We
know they are planning, preparing for that possibility. At some point,
that will need to happen. But clearly the air rides are an enormous part
of a depleting ISIS`s strength.

KORNACKI: All right. Keir Simmons live for us in a very windy Amman,
Jordan this morning. Thanks for taking the time, Keir. We really
appreciate that.

And here to talk a lot more about this. We have two experts with us, Marc
Ginsberg, who is a former U.S. ambassador to Morocco. And a White House
Middle East advisor and retired four-star General Barry McCaffrey joins us
from Seattle this morning. And so, General, let me start with you. And
just merely picking up on what you heard Keir Simmons saying there a minute
ago. His reporting that these air strikes -- now months now of air strikes
have been having a real effect on ISIS. When you look at this campaign to
degrade and destroy ISIS, where do you think it stands right now?

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, I think to some extent we
are making progress. Surely, the stupidest thing ISIS did was to mass
around this city of Kobani. It presented terrific targets. The U.S. Air
Force and naval power made a huge impact on them. And I think of course
the Jordanians armed forces or first rate, they have a very good
intelligence service. And they`re going to make contributions. At the end
of the day we should not forget that this is primarily a U.S. air campaign.
We have these space assets, reconnaissance, the command and control. The
air-to-air refueling, that sort of thing, to make it all work. But I think
the Jordanians are mad. And they`re going to definitely try and thump them
a good lick in the coming month or so.

KORNACKI: Yes. Ambassador, the Jordanian`s obviously, this is sort of a
wound to their national character to have something like this happen. I
have heard interpretations out there that the idea that ISIS would burn
alive someone who is a Muslim has the effect of could have the effect of
turning a lot of the Muslim world against ISIS. At the same time I am
assuming at some level there is logic to ISIS doing this in their minds in
terms of they think this actually helps them. How do you interpret that?

MARC GINSBERG, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MOROCCO: Well, actually as we saw
Steve after the emulation of the pilot, in the city of Raqqa, what happened
is that ISIS put on broad display the fact that they had committed this.
And there were people cheering. And this is part of the problem. The
longer that ISIS controls territory, the more that they are able to
brainwash the Sunnis who they have under their control. And it`s important
for us to understand that the air campaign alone as my friend Barry
McCaffrey said, is going to do a significant amount of damage but it is not
going to ultimately destroy the will of the people who are eventually have
to be destroyed. Taking the city of Mosul would be the key. And that`s
still months away at this point.

KORNACKI: So, in the Middle East and the Muslim world over there, when
ISIS does something like this, there is such loud condemnation from around
the world. But this does actually helps them in terms of recruitment over
there, in terms of their standing over there, in the Muslim world.

GINSBERG: I hate to say it. But the romantic adventure aspects of people
being attracted to ISIS. When I go on social media and I see what they are
able to do by turning this on its head, we think it is revolting but still
attract incoherence. And as long as they are able -- look what`s happening
in Libya, look what`s happening in Yemen. Look what`s happening around the
region. Where they are still able to attract recruits. It is a question
really in the end. Are we going to be able to show the people who are
actually in the Muslim world the terrible atrocities that they are
committing? The real problem here is that people like us think this is
horrible. But the Arab world people are not seen really what`s happening.
They may have seen the pilot being murdered. They may hear about the
beheadings but they are not being revolted enough by what ISIS is doing to
the people they`ve captured.

KORNACKI: General, I`m curious about also what the sort of the game plan
here is, for lack of a better term for ISIS. Because when they do
something like burning a pilot alive like this, is the goal here to cause
revulsion in Jordan or in other countries like Jordan so that there is a
movement in this country to stay out, to not participate in the campaign
against ISIS. Is that what ISIS is looking for here? Or is ISIS trying to
draw countries like Jordan into this more because they think that elevates
them in some way?

MCCAFFREY: Well, you know, I think it`s very easy to over -- over talk
this issue. At the end of the day, this is like Shia, Sunni, Kurdish
struggle, internal religious overtones, cruelty. Ambassador Ginsberg knows
all about this region. You know, at the end of the day the Sunnis are
probably more afraid of the Shiite militia backed Iraqi government and the
Assad Alawite Shiite factions and they are of ISIS. So we`ve got some
problems here. I actually think we are probably doing okay. You know,
30,000 fighters. We`re pounding them from the air. There are other
operations going on. Our concerns ought to be both in Western Europe and
the United States is the homeland security aspects. They are -- and
foreign fighters are going to go back to France, and the UK and elsewhere,
several dozen U.S. They will be a threat. But this is a job for customs
and border patrol. And the FBI and the marshal service and the National
Security Agency so we can protect the American people.

KORNACKI: Do you think at some point in this campaign, there`s going to be
a role for a bigger American ground force presence?

MCCAFFREY: No. I think domestic politics would rule it out and be a bad
idea, anyway. You know, we just can`t put -- I listened to somebody
talking about 100,000 ground troops. And they are trying to root out ISIS.
This is nonsense. Now, retaking Mosul by the way which is I think as
Ambassador Ginsberg says, this is a huge deal to the Iraqis. They can`t
get back the second largest city in the country, they`re in trouble. And
I`m not convinced that the Iraqi army can glue that country back together
again. Twenty five percent of them took off like wild hares, abandoning,
you know M1-tanks and Blackhawk helicopters. Though, I have been arguing
to send direct aid to Jordan, a front line state directly to the Kurds. We
need to arm the people that we think are capable, that needed to defend
themselves.

KORNACKI: Ambassador, I want to ask you too just about this young woman.
Again, we are not actually sure right now what her fate is. We know what
ISIS is saying about her. But in general the U.S. government is been
saying in response to these beheadings that we`ve seen and to this ISIS
atrocities that it`s going to revisit and re-examine its policy towards how
it deals with hostage situations like this. Obviously, the policy right
now is, they never pay a ransom. They`re saying, that`s not going to
change. They`re never going to pay a ransom. We do know in a situation,
ISIS has produced proof that they have her, has made a demand for money.
Short of changing that policy, is there the U.S., is there something
different the U.S. can be doing to deal with hostage situations like this?

GINSBERG: No, you know, as you know, Steve, the United States tried to
launch an unfortunately ineffective rescue mission on the other two
American hostages who were held and were ultimately beheaded. And the fact
of the matter is that ISIS is going to continue to try as they have done in
North Africa and then they tried to do in Libya just a few days ago. And
that still hasn`t come out. What they didn`t want to kill, American that
was killed in the -- they were actually trying to capture Americans. Okay?
They want to be able to capture Americans. They want to be able to make
this even more of a personal fight with the United States. And they want
the United States to overreact.

Now, the fact of the matter is that, the National Security Adviser Rice
gave a speech at Brookings. It was a disturbing deer in the headlight
speech. Because it didn`t lay out sufficiently what the United States
policy should be with respect to hostages, with respect to ISIS.
Sufficiently to give the type of assurance to the American people that we
at least have a strategy. That`s what we need right now. And Barry
McCaffrey is right. We are not going to put boots on the ground. That`s
going to be up for the Arabs. We have to contain this fight. And what we
need is an administration policy that`s going to explain to the American
people exactly how our role is going to evolve.

KORNACKI: Okay. My thanks to Ambassador Marc Ginsberg --

MCCAFFREY: Yes. I might add if I could.

KORNACKI: Quickly, general. Go ahead. Yes.

MCCAFFREY: A quick thought. That`s the problem with trading five major
terrorists for Sergeant Bergdahl. It was a terrible precedent to set. And
regardless of the fact he has also had left his post in combat and
abandoned his unit, I mean, the thought that we would hand over high value
insurgents to these people set a terrible precedent. Ambassador Ginsberg
is right. The danger is now in Lebanon and Jordan and elsewhere in the
Arab world people are going to try and snatch Americans.

KORNACKI: Okay. Retired U.S. General Barry McCaffrey joining us early
from Seattle. I appreciate that. Ambassador Marc Ginsberg, thank you as
well.

We also want to bring you up to speed on the six people now charged in the
U.S. on allegations that they helped to support ISIS. Federal indictments
were unsealed just last night. The six were charged with conspiracy and
providing material support to terrorists overseas. They are accuse of
funneling money, funneling guns and military equipment to ISIS fighters in
the Middle East. Five of them are in custody here in the U.S. The sixth
is still at large overseas. Still ahead on this packed news morning here
on UP, we are going to dive into the bizarre mystery behind a sequel to an
iconic American novel. But first, what the Feds are looking at now in
their investigation of Chris Christie. That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I have every faith and trust and
confidence in David`s integrity. As do people on both sides of the aisle
in this state over the course of the last 40 years and he`s been involved
on and off in public life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That`s New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on March 28 of last
year talking about one of his very close allies, David Samson. He`s just
announcing Samson`s resignation from the Port Authority. That was a
position that Christie has appointed him to. Now, Samson resigned back
then under a cloud of scandal at the Port Authority. Amid federal state
investigations into the George Washington Bridge lane closures. Also,
other allegations about Samson mixing his public services with his private
business interests. These are all allegations that Samson has denied but
now this new development, Bergen record in New Jersey reporting that
federal prosecutors have subpoenaed the Port Authority for records related
to Samson`s travel as well as his relationship with United Airlines, that
is the largest carrier at Newark Liberty International Airport.

And the operations of that airport are overseen by the Port Authority. And
at issue here is what looks like an incredible perk. A direct flight route
from Newark, New Jersey to Columbia, South Carolina. Which is about 50
miles from Samson`s vacation home, it`s a route that United created just
after Samson became the Port Authority chairman and that United ended just
after he stepped down. And Sampson, according to the newspaper referred to
this as, quote, "the chairman`s flight." United Airlines says, its
cooperating with federal authorities has no further comment. There was
also a report this week that federal prosecutor spent hour interviewing a
former county prosecutor Bennett Barlyn is his name. He appeared on the
show and he accused the Christie administration of killing a political
corruption investigation that was getting to close to a Christie ally.
Also pushing him out as a prosecutor.

But the U.S. attorney`s office says, given a forceful statement that was
released on "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" last night calling the reported
characterization of their interview with Barlyn as a quote, "tremendous
leap forward." We talked to people all the time it doesn`t mean we are
investigating anybody. And there is of course, on top of all this, there
is still the matter of Bridgegate itself with New York WNBC reporting that
at least six federal indictments could come any day now. So, how serious
is the new stuff that we learned this week? How is it affecting Christie
as he tries to launch a presidential campaign? The headline in today`s
Wall Street Journal. Probe spooks some Chris Christie backers.

To discuss all of this, we have with us WNBC`s veteran New Jersey reporter
Brian Thompson. He`s been on the story since day one. And our panel
joining us today. We have got Josh Barro, he`s the host of MSNBC`s Shift
show "Three Cents." Also a correspondent for the Upshot at "The New York
Times." MSNBC contributor Sam Stein, he`s a politics editor and White
House correspondent for "The Huffington Post." And Jessica Taylor, she`s
the campaign editor at The Hill.

So, Brian Thompson. We can talk about the looming Bridgegate indictments.
But let`s just start on this David Samson --

BRIAN THOMPSON, WNBC REPORTER: The chairman`s flight.

KORNACKI: I mean, it`s incredible. It looks, maybe there is an
explanation.

THOMPSON: Steve, I know you researched a lot but I bet you haven`t
researched this. Do you know what the slogan for the Chamber of Commerce
in Aiken, South Carolina is?

KORNACKI: Welcome, David Samson?

(LAUGHTER)

THOMPSON: It`s not bad. If you`re lucky enough to live in Aiken, you are
lucky enough. What more can you ask for?

KORNACKI: Besides a direct flight.

THOMPSON: You know, let me go back to what the governor said. You showed
that little clip of the governor. But what you didn`t show was when I
asked him directly about Samson`s reputation at that news conference, he
said he`s not a hands-on guy. He`s a big picture guy basically as I`m
paraphrasing. Well, our information even before that news conference was
that indeed David Samson was a hands-on guy. And that`s why everybody was
so curious about his being mentioned in the e-mails over Bridgegate as
somebody who would do retaliation. Now, there is no evidence that he did
ever retaliate against anybody. I have to say that, make that very clear.
But Wildstein and others could talk about that.

KORNACKI: Well, it seems like this is telling us. It all started with the
closers on this bridge in September 2013. Now, here we are in February
2015. Federal prosecutors clearly looking very closely at David Samson in
turning up all sorts of other stuff. It suggests to me there sort of been
a broadening of the scope of this thing.

THOMPSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think they have uncovered stuff.
The question we have now is, if you`re looking at indictments that were
going to come down as early as January or early into February does this put
a delay in the whole process. Because the subpoenas are only about a month
old, I think according to Sean Berverg`s (ph) article in The Record. And
you know, or they are just, you know, almost every news conference that you
had from the U.S. attorney you asked, what about so and so. The
investigation is continuing. So, do they put this in the investigation is
continuing category or do they try to wrap it all in one big package? And
I know going into this, they wanted to do everything in one big package.
Hoboken, the charges that you unveiled involving Mayor Zimmer. The
Bridgegate situation. Even possibly the ethics charges against Samson that
predate United Airlines. All of this, our understanding was, they wanted
to do in a one big news conference indictment package whether there was
going to be an indictment or not.

KORNACKI: Right.

THOMPSON: And now, the question is, do we have to wait for United Airlines
situation to come in or is that going to be the investigation continues
answer.

KORNACKI: So, okay, now all of this comes to, as Chris Christie is moving
pretty aggressively to launch the presidential campaign. He was out in
Iowa a couple of weeks ago, he sees an opening here. Mitt Romney is out of
it. He wants to oppose Jeb Bush, be one of the leading camp against him.
Jessica, you have a report. This is a headline on The Hill I think today.
This is in the wake of Christie`s UK trip. Christie stumbles out of the
gate. We said there is that Wall Street Journal story that says, basically
republican donors are looking at the sort of things Brian is talking about
right now and basically saying, look, we have 11 other options out there.
We 15 other options out there. We are going to stay away from Chris
Christie -- question marks.

JESSICA TAYLOR, THE HILL: I mean, if Chris Christie wanted to steal the
spotlight right after Mitt Romney left, I mean, he`s completely almost
fallen on his face after this. You just don`t have the investigations.
But you have, with his vaccine comments, you have the report in The New
York Times where he took all of these lavish flights and with his
relationship with king of Jordan and everything. And so, I think it just
all bundled into one he`s had a very bad week. And I think that as you
said, I mean, he had a good performance in Iowa. He did what he needed to
essentially. Iowa has never going to be his good state. But New Hampshire
is where he was supposed to be. I mean, he`s polling fourth, fifth in some
polling there. And I mean, the people who have I think benefitted the most
now, we thought that it would probably be Jeb and Christie. I think it`s
been Jeb and Scott Walker now. And like you said, they have so many other
options. He has to find a way I think to sort of return to that. Chris
Christie was. What I was struck by this week was that, what made Chris
Christie appeal to so many people, of course that he was sort of this
straight-talking politician. He would get up in your face and stuff too.
We saw a very cold, calculated politician with that vaccine answer.

KORNACKI: Right.

TAYLOR: You know, this was so politically calculated that he didn`t want
to offend someone.

KORNACKI: That wasn`t the guy who yelled "Get the hell off the beach".

TAYLOR: No, it wasn`t. It wasn`t at all. But I mean, get the hell off
the beach guy is the guy that got him in trouble with Bridgegate and stuff
too. So, he`s caught in this. And I think that, you know, who really is
Chris Christie? I think that`s sort of what we have to find out. But as
more stuff leaks out about these investigations, it just --

SAM STEIN, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": He had dabbled a little bit in sort of
that anti-vaccine movement, or area whatever you want to call it during his
2009 campaign. So, that wasn`t necessarily what surprised me so much as
him not taking questions in London. It was the day after this whole
vaccine thing blew up. Casey Hunt, other reporters who are in London
started to asked him about basic foreign policy questions, stuff that if
you are abroad you should be able to answer. And certainly if you have the
reputation for being blunt and taking on all comers, you should answer
those questions. And he clammed up and he said, no question. And if your
hope persona is this outgoing guy who will, you know, is fearless --

KORNACKI: Ask the governor anything.

STEIN: Yes. Ask them anything. To do that really was shocking to.
Especially because you`re oversees.

KORNACKI: We have to wrap up a quick final thought, Brian.

THOMPSON: All right. I have one person said to me it was the worst week
in the history of any politician last week for Chris Christie. You know,
that may be going a little far.

KORNACKI: I think Nixon had a worse one at one point. But it may have
been the worst week in Chris Christie`s career, at least during the
presidential hopes. My thanks to WNBC`s Brian Thompson. Still ahead,
panel sticking with us. The next block, also the grassroots gathering to
find a liberal challenger to Hillary Clinton. Senator Bernie Sanders are
going to be here to say, he`s going to be that guy maybe. We`ll also catch
up on the many headlines making news this morning. Sarah Palin returning
to one of the most infamous nights in her political career. Stay with us.
That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right. The panel is back. This is our "Catching Up"
segment. A lot going on this morning. We`ll going to take a look at some
other headlines that are making news this morning, making news this weekend
with. People talking about all over the country right now. Here`s one.
We talk so much about Hillary Clinton on the democratic side. We talked
about all the republican -- how about Joe Biden? How about the Vice
President of the United States? He`s making little news here. Joe Biden
says he`s going to skip Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s speech
to Congress saying he`s actually going to be out of the country, what a
coincidence, when Netanyahu addresses Congress. Also Biden, let`s see her
taking the lead when it comes to Ukraine over in Europe attending German
Chancellor Angela Merkel`s speech today in Munich about diplomatic efforts
in Ukraine. And also, on top of all this the Des Moines register reporting
that Joe Biden will be in Iowa next week giving a speech at Drake
University, I think is the Drake bulldogs, and doing a round table on
college affordability. So, Joe Biden wants you thinking he`s looking at
this race, he`s interested this running.

JOSH BARRO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Kind of adorable how Joe Biden thinks he`s
running for president.

KORNACKI: It`s so mean.

BARRO: Where is Hillary in the polls now? Seventy percent like this.

KORNACKI: She was 58 points ahead in the last time I checked.

BARRO: Yes. There is just no, there`s no Joe Biden constituency in this
primary. Anybody who would have been -- I mean, and Joe Biden has run for
president twice before and lost. Anybody who would have been in that
campus probably in the Hillary camp.

STEIN: Usually sitting vice president -- but the last two sitting vice
presidents we basically assume will never run for the higher office. Joe
Biden probably still has some politics left but I`m with Josh, there is not
a constituency here.

KORNACKI: Yes. Like Cheney never seemed interested in running. He`s
like, look, well, I`m going to be the guy behind the scene. I think Biden
though thought for all these years. There was going to be a chance.

TAYLOR: Yes. Joe Biden should be V.P. for life. I mean, he is --

KORNACKI: Put him on the ticket with Hillary in 2016, you know?

TAYLOR: VP for life.

KORNACKI: The New York Delaware connection, the Daily News telling us that
Sarah Palin will be returning to "Saturday Night Live" for their 40th
anniversary special that coming up on February 15th. You remember her
appearance in 2008. You probably remember a lot more Tina Fey. But it`s
in this building. Sarah Palin is going to be here in this building a few
weeks.

STEIN: Things come full circle. And I think it`s sort of a nice capstone
for her trajectory which is from politics to entertainment. She`ll now
going to finalize it as an entertainer. But not much more to say to it.

BARRO: Yes.

KORNACKI: So, we`ll move on to the next one. How about this -- New York?
I do writing for that site. Sometimes they have Michelle and Malia Obama
visiting New York College. They were spotted yesterday at NYU in Columbia.
Also the Chicago Sun Times reporting that Michelle Obama is going to get a
pick where her husband`s post presidential library is. And she favors New
York City. Columbia University putting in a bid right now. Obama went to
Columbia undergrad. I guess if their daughter is going to be here. Maybe
they would want to have the library here. But, you know, this is not one
of this -- they have Columbia, they have University of Chicago. Give it to
the University of Chicago, be a populous. Give it to the public school.
Don`t give it to the Ivy League. They have everything else. I`m sorry.

BARRO: Yes. It`s no problem.

STEIN: I agree with you. You know, Columbia, such an ivory tower.

KORNACKI: Where did you go?

STEIN: I went to Columbia Journalism School.

KORNACKI: University of Hawaii, I don`t know.

Look, it`s remarkable how there`s been a lot of political consternation in
Chicago about the plans to put it at the University of Chicago. They want
to use some public parkland for it.

TAYLOR: Yes.

KORNACKI: People are upset about taking a public park and using it for
this purpose. So, you know, it would seem like Chicago ought to have the
inside track. But it reminds me sometimes of this Olympic bids. Where
it`s like the city is supposed to really want with it and then you have all
these people are like, well, maybe we don`t really want that space.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

TAYLOR: You know, I`m trying to take it over. Trying to shepherd it
through. So, I think it would be an embarrassment for Chicago if it
doesn`t end up there.

STEIN: He`s so much more closely associated with Chicago than New York.
Right? I mean, it would be really weird I think --

TAYLOR: Yes.

KORNACKI: Yes. The Clintons were never associated with New York. And now
they`re like a first couple --

BARRO: The library is still in Little Rock.

TAYLOR: Yes.

KORNACKI: That`s true. That`s true. One more I want to get too. Sam
Stein, I actually got this because you put this on twitter yesterday. And
this is the craziest story that I have seen this week. This is from the
Bleacher Report. Check this out. The high school basketball game made
history. The final score. This is not soccer. This is not hockey. This
is basketball and that`s not 20. That`s two-nothing. What is that, Cobb
County against Brookwood. Basically, the moral of the story is get a shot
clock. The teams went into like their prevent offense.

STEIN: Well, what happen was, these two teams got, there is no shot clock.
Quickly, you can just hold the ball. And these coaches were total jerks.
And so, someone scored within 15 seconds and then they just decided to play
four corners and never shoot so that they could hold the ball until the end
of each half. And it ended up being two-nothing. And people in the stands
were going like, play the game. And it just ended up at two-nothing.

KORNACKI: And they got quarter after quarter.

STEIN: The neither coach wanted to blink. They are like, nope. I`m not
going to do it, I`m not going to get out of my game plan. And you ended up
with a two-nothing game.

KORNACKI: I`m going to see the actual box score from that game. I think
two shots, there`s no fouls.

TAYLOR: If I were playing basketball, that would be the score.

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: All right. Well, thanks to the panel. We`ll see the three of
you later in the show. Of course, they are all here also for the UP
against the clock championship. Still ahead on the show your kids could
one day be reading the sequel to this American classic in their English
classes. We`ll going to talk to a close friend of Harper Lee, the author
of "To Kill a Mockingbird" about her new book, whether she actually wants
it published. And next, we`re going live to Pennsylvania. Because if
there`s going to be a challenge to Hillary Clinton to the democratic
nomination, it`s going to start there today. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All signs point to Hillary Clinton running for president. Every
poll says she`s way out ahead when it comes to the democratic race. But if
she`s going to get a challenge for her party`s nomination next year. It`s
probably going to come from a man who just a few minutes from now is going
to be speaking to a convention of party activists in Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania. The event is the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit, it`s going
on right now. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is going to be addressing the
crowd later this morning and MSNBC`s Alex Seitz-Wald is live at that
summit. He joins us from just outside of it right now. Alex, thanks for
taking a minute this morning. So, Bernie Sanders talking there this
morning and we should say, he`s going to be on the show next hour as well.
The appetite of the people you talked to there, the activists who were
there. How many of them are really looking for somebody besides Hillary
Clinton to be their candidate next year?

ALEX SEITZ-WALD, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think people are
definitely looking for an alternative to Hillary Clinton who I should say
was invited to speak here. She`s not speaking here. Bernie Sanders is
speaking instead. And they want Bernie Sanders, they want Elizabeth
Warren. Definitely someone from that wing of the party. They say that
they like Hillary Clinton but she`s not progressive on a whole host of
issues. And I have heard a lot about fracking. In Pennsylvania, a big
issue. I heard a lot about labor issues. And they want somebody else to
be a true progressive voice in the party. Although they realize it`s going
to be a tough road against Hillary Clinton.

KORNACKI: And so, Bernie Sanders, we`ll ask him again but his stock answer
on this, is you know, I`m thinking about it. I might do it a few months.
By the way, if he does, that he`s going to have to actually register as a
democrat. Something that`s not the case right now. But when he ultimately
comes to the end of this, do you think he`s going to go ahead and run?

SEITZ-WALD: I think he`s looking at it very seriously. He doesn`t want to
run and be a spoiler. He doesn`t want to be another Dennis Kucinich. But
if it looks like there is serious support that he could run a serious
campaign, I think he goes for it.

KORNACKI: All right. And that Hillary Clinton turning down the
invitation, something tells me that`s going to be a theme for the next few
months. But I`ll put it out right now. Hillary Clinton, come on the show
any time. You`re invited. Anyway, my thanks to Alex Seitz-Wald and Bernie
Sanders as I said, going to be our guest live from that summit. That`s in
the next hour of UP.

And still ahead, I`m going to be joined by two of America`s top political
reporters and ask them about the death of the democratic field.

Plus -- the question of who might emerge to challenge Jeb Bush. We also
have a big celebrity making a special surprise appearance on today`s show.
And here`s a hint. It`s Alex Trebek. You`re not going to want to miss it.
So, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: My guess is that for many people they
look at the political process and they say, yes, my family is hurting. I`m
working longer hours for lower wages. My job went to China. My kid can`t
afford to go to college. I can`t afford health insurance. What are those
people in Washington doing to protect my interests? Not much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That was Senator Bernie Sanders laying out his populist agenda
on the Senate floor last month. Sanders as we just said speaking at a
convention of democratic activist in Pennsylvania this morning. Maybe one
of the first steps in a presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton.
He`s going to join us live from that convention next hour. So, how much
traction could Bernie Sanders get in a race with the former secretary of
state.

For that, we want to turn now to Jonathan Martin, national political
correspondent from "The New York Times." And Perry Bacon, Jr., senior
political reporter for NBC News. Perry, you have been following the
democrats particularly closely. So, let`s say Bernie Sanders gets in this
race. Let`s also say, becomes a democrat as I like to point out. He still
has to do that. So, be becomes the democrat. He runs against Hillary
Clinton. The polls say she`s 50, 60 points ahead. Where can he really go
with that campaign? What happens then?

PERRY BACON, JR., NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I don`t know if he
can go far. You had a remarkable thing happen this week where the White
House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri is leaving that job to work
for the Clinton campaign. I mean, Clinton is almost like an incumbent
running for re-election almost. I mean, she`s so strong in the party right
now.

JONATHAN MARTIN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. She is basically the closest
thing we have ever had to an incumbent who is not an incumbent in American
politics. And it doesn`t leave very much space. But this is the
Democratic Party. This is not going to be a 100 percent election. There
are going to be folks in their party who could be looking for an
alternative. And I think Bernie Sanders what happened to -- he`s always
been a very robust left wing of that party, especially on economic issues.
Places like Iowa and New Hampshire. Steve, as you know, have got about 20
percent of the electorate in the Democratic Party that are real
progressives. And I think there`s going to be an opening for Bernie there.
The question is, how many debates does she give him? And also how much
money does she spent not just, his message for going after her. That`s
what I`m curious about. How much of this is about Bernie talking about his
progressive agenda and how much of it is him going after her on the --

KORNACKI: Yes. I`m reminded a little bit of Ron Paul and the republican
side. Ron Paul had the same speech he`d been giving for 30 years. And he
just started giving it at a debates and campaign events but it didn`t
really changed. Is that what Bernie Sanders does or does he tailor it to
like, and she failed on this and she failed on that. That`s an interesting
question. We want to get to some other stuff on this front. The GOP
nomination. Senator Marco Rubio weighing in on the hottest political story
of the week. That`s what he had to say about vaccines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: There is absolutely no medical science or
data whatsoever that links that vaccinations to the onset of autism or
anything of that nature. So, absolutely, all children in America should be
vaccinated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: So, an interesting twist there. Rubio separating himself a bit
from Rand Paul, from Chris Christie. They got in hot water for what they
said this week. Rubio is actually sounding a bit like Jeb Bush there who
the next day said, quote, "Parents have a responsibility to make sure their
children are protected. Over and out." So, the question is in a crowded
presidential primary, can Rubio beat out fellow Floridian Jeb Bush who is
already staking his claim with the GOP establishment or even Perry Bacon,
the question to me is, is there even room for a Marco Rubio candidacy with
Jeb Bush, the fellow Floridian, a lot of the same donors, that sort of
thing, maybe trying to play the same role here. The more of the moderate
voice of reason kind of thing. Is there even room for Marco Rubio to get
in this race?

BACON: You know, Steve, I think there is. I think Jeb Bush getting in the
race is a problem for Marco Rubio. They have a lot of the same views on
immigration, they have a lot of the same donors. That said, there is room
in this race. There is the Ted Cruz and the Mike Huckabee, the faction of
the right. There is Jeb Bush who is the moderate candidate, they`re
getting most of the moderate support. But I think there is room in the
middle. You`ve seen the polls. And you talk to people in the party too.
There is some desire for people who are in the quote-unquote,
"establishment" who don`t want a second, third Bush term. Who are not that
excited about Jeb Bush. And I think you have Scott Walker and Rubio, and
Christie and net block (ph) and I think there is room for one or two of
them to run a real campaign and maybe win. Not three of them probably.
So, I think one of those people is going to struggle. I`m not sure where
Marco Rubio goes right now. Walker has all the buzz. But there is room in
that category for the middle of the two polls of the party.

MARTIN: Yes. I think if you look at the polling and it`s so early but the
polling is really soft right now. And it`s split among a lot of different
candidates. So, I think Rubio has got an opportunity, he has time on his
side, look, it doesn`t have to figure out if he`s going to run for re-
election for the Senate or for president until into calendar year 2016.
It`s only February, 2015 now. He has got months and months to look at
this. Look, he won`t say this out loud. I think his approach is, yes, Jeb
Bush can raise some money. But is there actually an opening for Jeb Bush
among actual voters in the primary? And if there`s not, we`re going to
know that here at some point during the course of 2015. And if there`s not
he`s going to have an opportunity.

KORNACKI: To me, that`s one of the biggest stories right now of this Jeb
Bush rollout. It`s look like they`re going to do fine when it comes to the
--

MARTIN: Financially, sure.

KORNACKI: But when I look at those polls, I mean, he`s struggling to get.
He`s had nine percent in Iowa. They say it`s just name recognition at this
point. Well, if your name is Bush and you only have nine percent right
now, that says a lot about what your name means to republicans. And it`s
not good.

MARTIN: The first Jeb Bush trip to Iowa is going to be so fascinating to
watch. That first town hall there, in New Hampshire, in South Carolina.
But you know, he`s going to have a lot of the money guys in the party. But
where are the actual voters? Is there an appetite in the Obama era? A
much more conservative party for another Bush. It`s an open question.

KORNACKI: Yes. Very interesting. My thanks to Johnathan Martin of "The
New York Times." Perry Bacon, Jr. from NBC News, I appreciate you both
taking a few minutes.

And still ahead, those prayer breakfast comments. We`ll going to discuss
President Obama`s faith-based controversy with his former faith-based
adviser.

And next, "To Kill A Mockingbird" is getting a sequel. But is the author
really on board with it? We`ll going to talk live with one of Harper Lee`s
friends, that`s right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: The new this is week that Harper Collins is going to be
publishing a second novel by "To Kill A Mockingbird" author Harper Lee is
being greeted with plenty of enthusiasm. Already the book is number one on
Amazon`s best seller list. But also there`s plenty of skepticism too. Did
Harper Lee really give her consent after more than half a century of
spurning opportunities to publish a second book? The Harper Lee who has
been for decades afraid that her second effort would never match
expectations doesn`t seem to mesh with the one who appeared to say this
week in a statement that she was, quote, "Happy as hell about the looming
publication." What was a recently discovered manuscript of the follow up
to "To Kill A Mockingbird" and it`s called "Go Set A Watchman." Court
documents filed by her lawyers described the 88-year-old Lee who is in a
nursing home near her hometown in Alabama as having trouble both seeing and
hearing. One friend telling "Vanity Fair" in 2013 that she is profoundly
deaf, 95 percent blind and has a very poor memory.

Joining me now to talk about this is Alexandra Alter, she`s a publishing
reporter for "The New York Times." And Wayne Flynt is a retired history
professor and a lifelong friend of Harper Lee from her hometown of
Monroeville, Alabama. And he joins us from Montgomery. So, Wayne, let me
start with you. First of all, have you spoken with Harper Lee this week?
And do you believe that this is something she wants to happen? If she
wants this book out there.

WAYNE FLYNT, FRIEND OF HARPER LEE: Steve, ironically actually I was down
in Monroeville with my wife Monday before the story broke on Tuesday. So I
really do think she`s in control of her cognitive ability. I think she`s
quite capable of telling people that she wants this published. So I have
no reason to think what she`s been quoted as saying is true.

KORNACKI: So, you were with her on Monday, is that right? Is that what I
heard?

FLYNT: That`s correct.

KORNACKI: And did she mention it?

FLYNT: We go once a month. And we had a conversation where for instance
she was talking about her grandfather and said he was in the 15th Alabama
regiment in Gettysburg. And I said, in Gettysburg, I said, was he wounded?
She said, no. You know, Oates and his regimental history, that`s Colonel
Oates who was later governor of Alabama and author of the "History of the
15th Regiment" and I said, they were killed or wounded because they ran
fast.

KORNACKI: So she`s -- sounds like she`s still with it. But I`m curious if
you saw her on Monday, did she mention that, hey, on Tuesday the whole
world is going to be talking about this new book? Did she mention it all?

FLYNT: No, she didn`t. That`s partly because with I preempted the
conversation by walking into the room. She hugged me, she hugged her, my
wife. And she -- I immediately put in front of her the fact that "USA
Today" had her book at 49th 55 years after it was published. And so I
said, look, Nell, you`re 49th on the best seller list and this is 55 years
after your book was published. And she looked at it. And she said, I
can`t believe that. And I said, I will take it down to your magnifier in
your room and you can see. And so, from that point, oh, we were talking
about "To Kill A Mockingbird." We were talking about her father. Then
they brought in lunch and we had lunch with her. So, we were there an hour
and a half. And she was reminiscing about her father and about "To Kill A
Mockingbird." And I blame myself. Because I didn`t really give her a
chance to talk about much of anything other than "To Kill A Mockingbird"
and her dad.

KORNACKI: So, Alexandra, I`m curious. I mean, you have reported on this
this week obviously and the skepticism that`s around this. What do we know
about how this came out? Because for 50 years there were few authors who
can sort of publish a book at the snap of a finger. She would be one of
them. If she said to any publisher, hey, I have something here. There
would be a race to publish it. So, that`s why there`s so much people think
this is ad after 50 years. Suddenly now, she`s ready to do this. What do
we know about how this came about?

ALEXANDRA ALTER, THE NEWS YORK TIMES: So, according to the statement that
was put out by her publisher which came through her lawyer. Harper Lee
said, you know, she wrote this novel first before, "To Kill A Mockingbird."
She submitted it to her publisher at the time. And they told her that re-
write it from young scout perspective. And that`s how he got "To Kill A
Mockingbird." So, and there is actually evidence in her letter, with her
later agent that she did submit this book for publication. So, at one
point, she did want to publish it. And then last fall apparently her
lawyer Tanya Carter who is a family friend and goes back with him
discovered it among her sister, I believe it was her sister`s papers. She
said it was in a secure location with other papers attached to the original
manuscript of "To Kill A Mockingbird." So, that was something that Harper
Lee knew about. She thought it was lost. Apparently, according to her
statement and with thrilled and it was found again, had a few reservations
about having it published. Had people read it and, you know, confirm and
though it was worth publishing. So, that`s what we hear from her lawyer
and her publisher.

KORNACKI: This is going to be at publishing events go. This is huge.

ALTER: This is massive. I mean, they are planning a two million first
printing which is huge. I mean, it`s been probably the literary discovery
of the century. People have been yearning for another book from her for
more than half a century. So, it`s pretty big news. The questions that
remain, you know, are basically how involved was she in the decision to
published and nobody really know except for her lawyer and her literary
agent Andrew Nurnberg. You know, she`s excited. But because she`s such a
private person, doesn`t give interviews and she is, you know, increasingly
isolated these days. No one has -- boxes her right of course.

KORNACKI: Yes. And Wayne, very quickly. Wayne, are you excited to have
this book out there?

FLYNT: One of the great literary events as Alexandra said. Because we`ll
get to see the way in which this was transformed from a book that was
rejected into the "To Kill A Mockingbird" a year later. And then we get to
compare the voices to the voice of the two authors and we`ll also be able
to put to rest forever the Truman Capote wrote "To Kill A Mockingbird"
because he was in Italy during this period with his partner Jack Dunphy.

KORNACKI: Yes. There is something about these great books that are
rejected by all of these publishers. And then, you know, a confederacy of
dunces is my favorite one. And I think by 25 publishers said no to that
and now it`s a classic.

FLYNT: Correct. Correct.

KORNACKI: Anyway, my thanks Alexandra Alter of "The New York Times."
Wayne Flynt, lifelong friend of Harper Lee. Number one on the bestseller
list already. Hasn`t able been published. Anyway, another full hour of
news and politics still to come. So, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Stepping up as a super power.

(MUSIC)

KORNACKI: All right. Thanks for staying with us this Saturday morning.
Another full hour of news, politics, and a little trivia as well this
morning.

A couple special guest appearances you`re going to want to stick around
for, because the "Up Against the Clock" tournament of champions is going to
be crowned at the end of this hour. Also, a special surprise appearance by
Alex Trebek. He`s going to be here, too.

Plus, if there is a liberal challenger to Hillary Clinton, it`s likely to
emerge this morning from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Senator Bernie Sanders
joins us to help explain.

We`re also going to take a closer look at President Obama`s comparison of
the crusades to ISIS. Lawrence O`Donnell will be here to help talk about
that.

We begin with hour with the foreign policy crises -- and that`s plural --
facing the Obama administration this morning, including that new round of
air strikes against ISIS. Jordanian fighter jets this morning launching a
second straight day of attacks on ISIS targets in Syria. Military
officials confirming just now that separately, U.S. and coalition military
forces have conducted 15 air strikes in Iraq.

Yesterday, of course, ISIS claiming an American woman held hostage by the
group was killed in one of those airstrikes. She`s been now identified as
the last known American captive of ISIS. Twenty-six-year-old humanitarian
aid worker Kayla Mueller. She`s from Prescott, Arizona.

Video released by the Pentagon shows the raids took place 140 miles away.
Jordan-led airstrikes on ISIS this week after the terrorist organization
released a video showing a Jordanian pilot that had been taken hostage
being burned alive in a cage.

Let`s get the latest on all of this now from the White House. NBC`s
Kristen Welker is standing by there.

And, Kristen, Kayla`s parents have released a statement saying that they
hold out hope that she`s alive. So, have administration officials given
any indication about anything they`ve learned about that question that she
could be still alive?

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: They haven`t, Steve. They are being very tight-
lipped. Just this morning, U.S. officials telling me they are not able to
confirm that claims by ISIS that Kayla Mueller was killed yesterday.

In a statement, NSA spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said, quote, "We are
obviously deeply concerned by these reports. We have not at this time seen
any evidence that corroborates ISIS` claims."

Now, officials are telling me that there were streams of intelligence which
showed that Kayla Mueller was still alive just a few weeks ago. So, right
now, the intelligence community is going to be going back to those same
streams of intelligence, trying to determine what happened to her. Now, I
am told that additional resources are being directed toward this effort.
This is a top priority here of the Obama administration.

Now, of course, this comes as the White House is readying a request, Steve,
that it will send to Congress in the coming days asking for a new
authorization to use military forces against ISIS. There are still some
key sticking points. Though, the final language being hammered out --
things like length of time for U.S. engagement, scope -- and this is a big
sticking point -- whether the language should prohibit the use of ground
forces.

Of course, we have all heard President Obama say multiple times that he`s
adamant he`s not going to send U.S. ground troops into a combat role. Some
Democrats want that language in writing but many Republicans disagree. And
even some top administration officials have argued that such language could
tie the president`s hands if they are needed in a different capacity, for
example.

The president expected to send that request as early as next week. But
final authorization could take months -- Steve.

KORNACKI: All right. My thanks to NBC`s Kristen Welker, live at the White
House. Appreciate that.

And, of course, that`s not the only foreign policy crisis that the White
House is dealing with this weekend. Fighting in eastern Ukraine continues
to escalate. Some are now calling this the worst war in Europe since the
Balkans.

John Kerry and Joe Biden this morning are in Europe. They are working on a
last ditch diplomatic push. The administration is weighing sending arms to
the Ukrainian government to fend off separatists that are believed to be
backed by Vladimir Putin`s Russian government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We`re not seeking a conflict with Russia.
No one is. But we cannot close our eyes to tanks crossing the border from
Russia, coming in to Ukraine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Amid all the foreign policy challenges the U.S. is facing at the
moment, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, fighting in the Ukraine, nuclear talks with
Iran -- amid all these threats, "The Washington Post`s" David Ignatius,
argues that it is time for the United States to think and to act like a
super power again.

He says the U.S., quote, "shouldn`t rush to make concessions to weaker
nations. It shouldn`t be shy about helping friends or making adversaries
pay for the reckless behavior as in dealing with Russia`s aggression in
Ukraine. Fortune blesses strong nations but only when they act with
resolve. Squandering America`s real advantage to gain short term
diplomatic success would be a big mistake.

Joining me now to discuss all of this is Steve Clemons. He`s the
Washington editor at large for "The Atlantic", and MSNBC`s own Lawrence
O`Donnell, host of "THE LAST WORD" in a rare Saturday morning appearance.

Lawrence, thanks for joining us.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, THE LAST WORD: Well, this involves getting up at an
ungodly hour for a weekend.

KORNACKI: Tell me about it. Every morning, every weekend morning.

So, let me start with you, Lawrence. On the column we quoted from, got a
lot of attention. People looking at that and saying what he`s really
arguing there is that the United States, 10 years after Iraq has been
haunted by the experience of Iraq, by the experience of intervention, that
it`s almost too timid in the world now and that we need to shake ourselves.

What do you make of that argument?

O`DONNELL: What I make of it is every advisory issued from op-ed columns
like this in the 21st century -- they`ve got a batting average worst than
the worst hitter in basketball, you know? It`s -- there could be some
wisdom in that and it could be completely wrong.

And we are -- in every one of these ventures of the 21st century, in
uncharted territory. We don`t have a previous experience in that region
with Russia or with the Soviet Union, its predecessor that could -- that
use it is guideline and say, oh, here`s why this will work. So whatever
steps you`re taking have to be taken with the humility that they can
backfire on you.

You know, we took steps like this in the past that helped create Osama bin
Laden. So, you know, I approach these things with great humility. I can`t
write that column. I can`t tell you what we should do in the situation in
Ukraine.

I think it has incredible complexities. It`s why on my program, I invite
Steve Clemons on to talk about this. I let him make any recommendation he
wants without argument from me, because I do not know what to do. And I
wish -- I wish at this point in the 21st century we could run columns in
newspapers that say, I have thought about these things all my life. I
don`t know what to do here.

KORNACKI: You know, that would be so different, it might actually get some
clicks. Maybe you should write it and see what happens.

Steve Clemons, OK, the man with the answers.

O`DONNELL: I`m going to take notes now when Steve gives his answer.

KORNACKI: Let me put it this way. The argument that Ignatius makes more
specifically is he talks a lot about oil prices, about declining oil
prices, and how oil prices have been linked so much to the global power
that Putting and Russia have enjoyed, to Iran perhaps having leverage on
nuclear talks in the United States. And he`s basically saying because oil
prices have fall and are falling so dramatically, Putin`s in a weak place.
The hard liners in Iran are in a weak place right now. And so, therefore,
it gives the United States a position of strength in dealing with them.

What do you make of that specific argument?

STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC: I think David Ignatius is a great thinker,
but wrong on this. I think that one of the things I give the
administration credit for in the national security strategy that it
released is it had the guts to say the word strategic patience which means
strategic restraint. Sometimes, it`s the choice, the hard choice to make
when the temperature is high and hot on other things.

And when it comes to dealing with Putin and Russia when it looks like it
was a basket case, well, it`s a basket case in the 1990s. I interviewed
Richard Haas recently and asked him, when you were at the State Department,
did anybody think about what Russia would look like when it became strong
and felt like it was rich and powerful again, might be -- you know,
resorting back to muscle memory of trying to pick up the buffer zone. Why
didn`t we give Russia an opportunity eventually to have a track into NATO,
so we wouldn`t have this them versus us dynamic that we`re in today.

And so, I would remind David Ignatius that we had opportunity when Russia
was weak and we made very bad policy. And our problem today with Russia
was rooted back in the decision where the United States was high in the
saddle. Russia was a mess. And we didn`t think ahead 10, 15 years that
when Russia grows back into form, it may in fact begin acting, you know,
with muscles again in international affairs.

So, we tend to get it wrong when we`re powerful and Russia is weak. We
need to think more strategically, less reactively and more long term.

David usually does that. I`m a great fan of his. But this article that he
has was wrongheaded in my view.

O`DONNELL: You know, can I just make one point about the article? And
these kinds of articles in general, when I read them, what strikes me about
them is how many notes of agreement actually David Ignatius has with the
administration and sort -- in that article, while also suggesting
alternatives that they take. And these op-ed columns are written by people
who are home alone, basically. That`s sort of an op-ed column is, my
thinking, right?

And when I read them, I think, you know what, if David was in the White
House meeting last week, he probably in that discussion -- and I don`t mean
just him, I mean, many other such columnists on many other subjects
including domestics, he probably would have found himself agreeing with the
group decision of what to do given all of these things.

KORNACKI: You know, Steve, though, the broader question here, too, the
idea of have we gone, have we stopped acting like a super power. That
seems to be the thesis here after the experience in Iraq. And what I think
of is, how we seem to -- rear view mirror logic seems to prevail so much.

After Vietnam, for years, we wouldn`t touch anything on that scale because
we don`t want another Vietnam. Then, we have the First Gulf War in 1991,
and suddenly, we can take out Saddam, we can have a regime change in Iraq.
Everybody votes for the war in Iraq. That goes haywire. And now, we`ve
gone sort of back in the other direction.

Is there something to be said for maybe we`re always overreacting, did we
overreact too much to the experience in Iraq?

CLEMONS: I think we did. I mean, I think that one of the interesting
challenges of being a super power in the world -- and let`s be honest.
It`s often a matter of mystique and the invasion of Iraq, the sense that
the United States extended its military too far, that it couldn`t fight two
battles in the world at the same time. That we became an economic mess
internally shattered the mystique of American power in the world and other
nations began to doubt our resolve in either challenging threats or even
our allies began to doubt whether we would be there like we would have been
years ago for them in times of crisis.

And so, it`s not just a matter, as David argues, a posture of just
asserting yourself. It has a lot to do with the combined assets and sort
of the stock price, if you will. Does the world look ahead in 20 years
from now, see the United States and its power on the rise and capacity?

Because power is not just a function of throwing a military bombing raid
here and there. Power is a function of getting other people to do what you
want without using power. That`s the mistake at some degree of what David
saying. When Barack Obama came in, he inherited both one of the worst
economic messes in the United States, and also, an extraordinary military
miss. Our stock of power was very low.

And one of the reasons that I intend to be more supportive of what Barack
Obama has been trying to do with Iran and other things, is he`s trying to
show the United States has the ability to make a strategic list to be able
to impact the things that matter and not get distracted by things that are
lower level.

KORNACKI: All right. Steve Clemons of "The Atlantic", thanks for joining
us this morning.

Lawrence O`Donnell, you`re staying in put. You`re going to join us on the
other side of this break.

We also want to bring you up to speed on the six people charged in the U.S.
on allegations that they helped support ISIS. The federal indictments were
unsealed last night, and six were charged with conspiracy and providing
material support to terrorists overseas. They were accused of funneling
money, guns and military equipment to ISIS fighters in the Middle East.
Five of them are in custody now in the United States. And the sixth is at
large overseas.

Still ahead, a very special surprise guest appearance in our "Up Against
the Clock" tournament of champions finals. Who is it? Here`s a hint: it`s
Alex Trebek.

And up next, why is Lawrence O`Donnell less than impressed with Obama`s
prayer breakfast address? Stay with us. We`re tackling that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We see faith driving us to
do right. We also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge,
or worse, sometimes used as a weapon. We see ISIS, a brutal vicious death
cult that in the name of religion carries out unspeakable acts of
barbarism, terrorizing religious minorities like the Yazidis, subjecting
women to rape as a weapon of war and claiming a mantle of religious
authority for such actions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That was President Obama speaking at the National Prayer
Breakfast on Thursday morning. His remarks coming before ISIS claimed the
death of 26-year-old American captive Kayla Mueller.

In his speech, the president condemned ISIS but also compared their acts to
the Crusades of over 900 years ago. And those remarks drew harsh criticism
from the right and from some on the left. Bill Donahue, president of the
Catholic League, accusing Obama of trying to deflect guilt from Muslim mad
men.

Bill Maher, a critic of all religion, but especially these days, Islam,
weighing in on the show last night to say that the president missed the
point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER, TV HOST: I made this point myself a billion (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) times, that if I was living in the 16th century, it would be
Christianity who I would be going after because they were the ones who were
the most violent and the most intolerant. But we`re not living in the 16th
century.

The problem with Obama making this statement is that he doesn`t make the
follow up statement that I always do. We did it then. They are doing it
now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: And here to talk about all this is Josh Dubois. He`s a former
executive director of the White House Office of Faith Based and
Neighborhood Partnerships.

And Lawrence O`Donnell, host of MSNBC`s "THE LAST WORD", back with us on
set.

Josh, let me start with you. The criticism the speech is starting to take
right now, the idea that, hey, yes, Christianity did horrible things. You
know, horrible atrocities during the crusades and there are horrible things
being committed in the name of Islam today. But the president is sort of
glossing over the fact that there`s about 800 years separating these
things.

What do you make of that?

JOSH DUBOIS, FORMER DIR., W.H. FAITH OUTREACH: Well, Chris, I think we`re
also glossing over something else, which is the president talked about the
Crusades, but then he also talked about Jim Crow and slavery. And you know
what? Less than 60 years ago in this country and certainly over the last
hundred years African-Americans were hung up from trees and their necks
were with snapped, black men were charred and people who claimed to be
Christians stood in front of their burned bodies.

This was not ancient history. People have been doing terrible things in
the name of the religion, not the religion itself, and that`s the point
that President Obama was making, was, let`s not blame an entire faith for
the evil that people do in the name of the faith. And I think that`s a
really important distinction, and it really isn`t ancient history. He was
connecting the crusades to things that happened, you know, less than a
hundred years ago.

KORNACKI: Lawrence, what do you make of this?

O`DONNELL: Well, first of all, there`s an article in "New York Times"
today about the backlash over the speech, which turns out to be worldwide.
China is objecting to his references to the Dalai Lama. I personally am
glad that he pissed off China with references to the Dalai Lama and
honoring the Dalai Lama. India is mad because India was dragged into the
discussion of ISIS.

And what we are talking here about scale. We`re talking about scale. Yes.
The only comparable event in terms of religious war that you can come up
with is 800 years ago. And it is the Crusades, that is correct. It is
comparable event. And it is important that it was 800 years ago and what
is important about it is that Catholicism, which was running the Crusades
and Christianity more broadly, grew out of that, and that`s what we`re
looking for in terms of what`s happening with the Islamic State, is how
will the use of the religion in this way be something that eventually
people in the region, tens of thousands of them who were involved in this
moved beyond that? How do they move beyond that?

And there is -- it`s worth studying how that happened in the crusades and,
oh, by the way, it`s very grim because it took centuries to grow out of
that. As far as the Jim Crow stuff is concerned, we are with talking about
scale. We are talking about numbers and we`re talking about religion.

The reason people were killed by the Ku Klux Klan was the color of their
skin, not their religion. The Ku Klux Klan hated Jews and hated Catholics,
and did not lynch Jews and Catholics. They lynched black people. They
assassinated only black people.

And to include that in a reference to an army, an active army that`s out
there in the tens of thousands and has worldwide reach, that can
assassinate cartoonists in Paris. You know, the Ku Klux Klan never
assassinated a cartoonist in New York. We are talking about a scale that
makes these comparisons irrelevant.

DUBOIS: Lawrence, with all due respect -- yes, let`s talk about scale.
The brutality of the Atlantic slave trade all the way through
reconstruction and Jim Crow which extended into the middle of the 20th
century killed at least 16 million African-American Americans.

ISIS is brutal. They`re horrible. The president condemned them as a death
cult. But all of, you know, the Islamic terrorists that --

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: I don`t mean to interrupt. But I think the distinction that is
being made by critic of this speech is that horrible as this slave trade
was, it was being done in the name of Christianity, as much as it`s being
done in the name of profit.

DUBOIS: Unfortunately, that`s an absolutely historical inaccuracy. People
were directly using their faith to justify the subjugation and annihilation
of black Africans in this country. That`s just -- it`s just simply not
true. That is how people justified it.

We should not condemn Christianity for that justification, because it
wasn`t Jesus. It was evil that men did in the name of Jesus. In the same
way, we should not condemn Muslim Americans and Muslims around the globe
for the evil being perpetrated in the name of Islam.

O`DONNELL: No does. No one does condemn Islam.

DUBOIS: Yes, they do.

O`DONNELL: Well, look, just -- it`s not in this program now, OK? So,
there are people saying they would like the president to declare a war on
Islam. That`s crazy.

But what the president is involved in and what the United States military
is involved in is a war against the Islamic State. They are doing that.
And so -- and I agree with you. He did make a reference to slavery, which
on the basis of scale is gigantic.

And I -- and yes, people were always citing religious justification for
what they were doing. That was always a part of it. But this is a unique
kind of threat we have not seen.

DUBOIS: But that`s the thing -- it`s not unique, though. People are doing
evil thing this is the name of religion, and that`s terrible, but we should
not condemn the religion itself. And let me just, in fact, people are
conflating these things. You and I may not. And Steve may not, because we
know Muslim Americans and we thought a lot about these issues.

But there were a lot of folks for whom the only association that they have
with Islam is the Islamic State. And so, the president is saying we need
to decouple that.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: That doesn`t mean we have to be silent about the connective
tissue that these people are bringing to what they are doing from religion
to what they are doing. The president is arguing in that speech that this
is a perversion of the religion. And that is a good line of argument.

Let me just read to you in the corrective article today in "The New York
Times" that the White House has out there about what the president meant to
say. And whenever you`re in a situation with a speech where you have to do
an article about what the president meant to say, that means it didn`t
work.

So, the spokesman says, I think what the president was trying to say, over
the course of human history, there are times when extremists pervert their
own religion to justify violence. Joshua, if that was the line he used
word for word, there would be no controversy. None.

DUBOIS: Here`s why there is a corrective article in "The New York Times"
with, again, with due respect, Lawrence, the reason is immediately when the
president uttered this very basic historical analogy, folks with a vested
interest in showing that he is somehow scolding America, lost their minds.

O`DONNEL: That`s not true. That`s not true.

DUBOIS: I`m not talking about you.

O`DONNELL: I have never heard --

DUBOIS: Not you.

O`DONNELL: An Obama speech I have -- in fact --

DUBOIS: What I`m saying is Jim Gilmore and Bill Donahue.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: I`m not in the business of attacking what President Obama says.

DUBOIS: I agree with you.

KORNACKI: Final thought here, Joshua, in honor of Lawrence O`Donnell I
will give you the last word. But you got to keep this one short.

DUBOIS: Sure. I`m saying is that when Jim Gilmore and Bill Donahue and
folks on the hard right --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Those are crazy people.

DUBOIS: I know, but that`s what got written up and that`s what`s being
responded to now. So, unfortunately, we cannot have thoughtful
conversation about race or religion --

O`DONNELL: Bill Donahue is here. He`s a complete fraud. He represents no
one.

KORNACKI: Joshua Dubois in Chicago, MSNBC`s Lawrence O`Donnell here in New
York, that was an interesting conversation. I appreciate it both of you,
and I wish we could continue it.

And, by the way, Lawrence O`Donnell, if you don`t already know this, you
can catch him on weeknights, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, "THE LAST WORD" here on
MSNBC.

And still ahead, in about 30 minutes from uh now, one of these three
contestants will be able to brag that he or she is the new "Up Against the
Clock" national champion. The championship game, the final game, it is
coming up.

And also just minutes from now, Bernie Sanders will speak at the
Pennsylvania Progressive Summit, but he`s going to speak to us first. We
will ask the potential presidential candidate what he`s going to talking
about to those Democrats today when he joins us live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: And just minutes from now, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will
be taking the stage at the Progressive Summit in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

And like Hillary Clinton, Sanders who is actually an independent still, has
said that he`s thinking of running for president. And politico recently
called him perhaps the Democratic Party`s best vessel to channel populist
outrage and to push Clinton to the left in the Democratic primary.

We`re fortunate enough to have Bernie Sanders with us just before he goes
into that room to talk to the crowd.

Senator Sanders, thanks for taking a few minutes this morning. So, you are
walking into a room full of Democrats who are starting to think about 2016.
What is it you`re going to tell them this morning?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, what I`m going to tell them is at
a time when we have more income and wealth and equality since 1929, the
middle class is continuing its 40-year decline. And we need a bold
progressive agenda to stand up to the billionaire class. We need to create
millions of decent paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.
We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. We need a national
health care program which guarantees health care to all of our people.

KORNACKI: The agenda you just laid out when you look at Hillary Clinton,
do you think she`s in a line with that agenda?

SANDERS: Well, I think the proper person to ask that question to is
Hillary Clinton. I know what I stand for and I have been fighting for
working families for my entire political life. And what I think right now
is we need a mobilization at the grassroots level of people who are
prepared to take on the Koch brothers, who are prepared to take on Wall
Street. And to try to get the United States government, I know it`s a
radical idea, to start working for working people rather than just the top
1 percent.

Look, where we are right now -- this is quite unbelievable -- is since the
Wall Street crash, 99 percent of new income generated goes to the top 1
percent, at the same time as we have the highest level of childhood poverty
in the industrialized world. That`s pretty crazy. I think we need a
political revolution in this country. We need to get people once again
actively involved in the political process and take on the people who have
the real power in America.

KORNACKI: Well, you say the question is better directed at Hillary
Clinton. I would tend to agree. But as you know, she was invited to speak
today at the event where you are. She declined that invitation. She`s not
been saying much, frankly, for the last few months in terms of accepting
invitations to appear on television shows for interviews, interview
requests from print reporters, speeches to groups like the one with you`re
at today.

Is Hillary Clinton taking this for granted?

SANDERS: Look, again, you`ll have to speak to Hillary Clinton. I don`t
know that she`s going to run. I`m assuming that she will run. I have not
made a decision if I`m going to run.

But if I do run and if Hillary Clinton does run, trust me, there will be a
real clash of ideas. I happen to like and respect Hillary Clinton. But I
suspect on issues like massive investments in infrastructure, on real tax
reform, on a need to deal in a very bold way with the planetary crisis of
climate change, on the transpacific partnership, I suspect we`ll have some
real differences.

KORNACKI: And I do want to ask you just looking ahead to the next two
years between now and when this election finally finishes up, we are in a
situation with the Democratic president, Republican control in the Senate
now, Republican control in the House -- you talk about laying out your
agenda here. Do you think there is a prospect for progress on the agenda
you have laid out in the next two years?

SANDERS: This is what I think. I think if some of us are successful in
mobilizing the American people and in a sense giving the Republicans an
offer they can`t refuse, yes, we can be successful. Let me give you an
example. Right now, the Republicans are preparing to cut disability
benefits and/or Social Security in general. That`s a widely unpopular
idea. If we can mobilize the American people to say, you know what, we`re
not going to cut Social Security, we are going to expand Social Security.
Yes, I think we can win the battle.

You know, in the last election, in four states, people voted to raise the
minimum wage. If we can mobilize workers all over this country to say
$7.25 federal minimum wage is the starvation wage, we need to move toward
$15 an hour, you know what? We may not get everything we want, I think we
can push the Republicans to raise the minimum wage a lot higher than it is
right now.

KORNACKI: All right. And very quickly, no decision yet on whether you`re
actually going to run for president. But have you decided, if you do run,
whether it would be as a Democrat?

SANDERS: Well, it`s going to take a lot of thought and talking to a whole
lot of people.

KORNACKI: All right. Bernie Sanders, independent senator still from
Vermont -- thanks for joining us. Appreciate that.

SANDERS: Thank you very much.

KORNACKI: And everything from here on out this morning on the show is
going to have to be phrased in the form of a question, because Alex Trebek,
another special guest, they are ahead, as the "Up Against the Clock"
tournament of champions reaches the peak. The championship game, that is
straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Sam Stein, Jessica Taylor, Josh Barro, what do they all have in
common? Each one of them survived the regular season. Each one of them
survived the first round of the tournament. And all of them are going to
compete head to head to head in the "Up Against the Clock" tournament of
champions final. We are minutes away.

And the winner is going to get a special prize from this mascot. This is
Sandy, the Seagull. The Brooklyn Cyclones single-A mascot. Sandy is going
to have a prize, one of them is throwing out the first pitch in the
Cyclones game.

Sandy, welcome. Players, get ready.

The tournament of champions final is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Live from Studio 3A in Rockefeller Center, USA, it`s time for
the tournament of champions finals of "Up Against the Clock".

His grandfather is a famous music composer and he`s hoping to orchestrate
the biggest victory of his trivia career. Say hello to Sam Stein.

She may be an only child but she has no trouble putting up a fight. Please
welcome Jessica Taylor.

In his qualifying round, he answered correctly that Clint Eastwood was the
mayor of Carmel, California. But we`ve got just one question for him. Do
you feel lucky? Well, do you? It`s Josh Barro.

And now, the host of "Up Against the Clock," Steve Kornacki.

KORNACKI: Thank you, Jim Cutler. Thank you, studio audience. Thank you,
contestants. Thank you to everybody tuning in at home for a very, very
special edition of "Up against the clock."

The moment you have been waiting for all year has arrived. These three
contestants -- Sam, Jessica and Josh, they have survived the gauntlet
that`s the regular season and the tournament. They are here today to play
for glory, to play for honor, and to play for an incredible prize, which we
will tell you about a little about later on.

But the quick refresher here. You have all been watching all year. You`ve
been playing. You know the rules. This is three rounds of play. The
questions get harder as we go along. A hundred points, 200 points, 300
points.

Because this is the championship game. We have expanded the rounds. They
are super sized in 105 seconds now instead of 100 seconds.

Remember, the most important thing, contestants, you can ring in at any
time but you will be penalized for incorrect answers. So, keep that in
mind.

Studio audience, I say welcome to you and also please no outbursts.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

KORNACKI: With that, you see the cheering sections for our players here
today.

We are going to put a hundred seconds on the clock. I have the first round
questions here.

The championship game begins with this. It was reported this week that New
York City will likely be the site of the 2016 presidential campaign
headquarters of Hillary Clinton --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Sam?

STEIN: Brooklyn or Queens.

KORNACKI: Incorrect. I`ll complete the question. Who is the wife of this
former president?

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Jessica?

TAYLOR: Bill Clinton.

KORNACKI: Is correct for 100 points. A little twist there.

A hundred tossup: A confirmation hearing was held Wednesday before the
Senate Armed Services Committee for this Obama nominee --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Josh?

BARRO: Ashton Carter.

KORNACKI: Ash Carter for secretary of defense. Josh ties the game.
Hundred point toss up. The United States is pressing for its new embassy
to be opened by April in this --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Jessica?

TAYLOR: Cuba.

KORNACKI: Incorrect. I`ll complete the question, in this Cuban capital
city.

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Josh?

BARRO: Havana.

KORNACKI: Havana, Josh in the lead.

A hundred-point toss up: according to David Axelrod`s forthcoming book in
2007, then-Senator Barack Obama said he wished he could buy, quote, "a boat
load --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Jessica?

TAYLOR: Apple iPhone.

KORNACKI: Apple stock, that`s correct. Jessica, hundred points.

Hundred point toss up: California Governor Jerry Brown this week indicated
his support for eliminating virtually all measles vaccine exemptions after
a recent deadly outbreak that started at this --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Josh?

BARRO: Disneyland.

KORNACKI: Correct. Stop the clock, very exciting for you. The measles
outbreak started at Disneyland. That`s not why they`re cheering, though.
They are cheering because you have triggered our video bonus question.

Very simple. This is a risk free proposition for you. We have a famous
quote to be read by a famous person. If you can identify who said it, we
will give you an extra hundred points.

So, for the quote of note, I will ask you to direct your attention to our
video monitor. And get ready for this -- Mr. Alex Trebek.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX TREBEK: Hello. I`m Alex Trebek with this week`s "Up Against the
Clock" quote of note.

This French general and statesman once remarked that politics is too
serious a matter to be left to the politicians. Who was it?

I remind you, this is the tournament of champions, so answer carefully and
good luck.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: All right, Josh.

BARRO: Charles de Gaulle.

KORNACKI: That`s correct. Listen to Alex Trebek there. Hundred extra
points for Josh.

We set the clock in motion. On Thursday, a blood clot hospitalized Rick
Snyder who is governor of what state?

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Josh?

BARRO: Michigan.

KORNACKI: Of Michigan, 100 points.

Hundred point tossup: in an effort to prepare for what would be his second
presidential campaign, this possible candidate announced on Thursday that
he has recruited more than 80 major --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Sam?

STEIN: Uhh, ooh, Rick Perry.

KORNACKI: Is correct, at the wire.

Hundred point toss: "The New York Times" reported this week that Chris
Christie took an all expenses paid trip to Jordan in 2012 and socialized
with Bono --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Sam?

STEIN: King Abdullah.

KORNACKI: Incorrect. Bono, the iconic singer for what --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Josh?

BARRO: U2.

KORNACKI: From U2 is correct. Ends the round.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: At the wire, he has the early lead with 600 points. Jessica
behind with a hundred. Sam in negative territory.

But this is the 200-point round. You can make up a lot of ground. The
questions are twice as hard, twice as valuable.

Let`s put a hundred seconds on the clock. And we begin with this.

The construction of the Keystone pipeline could increase greenhouse gas
emissions according to a report this week from this federal agency.

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Jessica?

TAYLOR: State Department?

KORNACKI: Incorrect.

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Josh?

BARRO: The EPA.

KORNACKI: The EPA, 200 for Josh.

Two-hundred point tossup: filing for bankruptcy this week was the
electronics retailer --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Josh?

BARRO: RadioShack.

KORNACKI: Incorrect. I`ll complete the question: was the chain RadioShack
whose first store opened more than 90 years ago --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Sam?

STEIN: 1921 in Boston.

KORNACKI: In Boston, 200 points for Sam.

Two hundred-point tossup: the online nickname Dread Pirate Roberts used by
Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the online black market Silk Road who was
found guilty of drug trafficking this week was taken from this 1987
romantic comedy film.

STEIN: Oh --

KORNACKI: Time.

It was "The Princess Bride." Inconceivable.

Two-hundred point tossup: calling it a reversion to the peace work of the
19th century. The sharing economy was denounced this week by this former
labor secretary.

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Josh?

BARRO: Robert Reich.

KORNACKI: Robert Reich is correct.

Stop the clock. Very exciting news for you, Josh. Not only do you get 200
points for successfully answering that question, but you, sir, have
triggered our use it or lose it bonus question. Very simple here.

For 200 points, you can use the bonus question. It is related to the one
with you answered or choose not to answer it, you will lose the 200 points
if you get. You get 200 extra if you get it right.

Josh, I have the question. Will you use the question or lose it?

BARRO: I will use it.

KORNACKI: He will use it. Here it is. In 2002, Robert Reich ran for
governor of Massachusetts, finishing in second place in the Democratic
primary to this woman who went on to lose the general election to Mitt
Romney.

BARRO: Shannon O`Brien.

KORNACKI: Shannon O`Brien is correct, 200 points for Josh. Big lead.

Two hundred-point tossup: after a series of revelations about his fiancee
the largest newspaper in Oregon this week demanded --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Sam?

STEIN: John Kitzhaber.

KORNACKI: The resignation of Governor Kitzhaber, 200 points.

Two hundred-point toss up: a plan to ban some political contributions by
public opinion unions was proposed this week by this new governor of
Illinois.

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Josh?

BARRO: Bruce Rauner.

KORNACKI: Bruce Rauner, 200 points.

Two hundred-point tossup: alleging that their constitutional right to
representation is being violated. A group of voters in New York this week
filed suit demanding that a special election be called to replace --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Jessica?

TAYLOR: Michael Grimm.

KORNACKI: Incorrect. I`ll complete the question, to replace former
Congressman Michael Grimm in an election to be called by this governor --
Sam.

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Sam?

STEIN: Andrew Cuomo.

KORNACKI: Andrew Cuomo is correct. Two hundred-point tossup.

Saying smoking marijuana was a youthful decision he now --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Sam?

STEIN: Ted Cruz.

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Incorrect. That he now regrets. A spokesman for Ted Cruz
admitted use to this publication.

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Jessica?

TAYLOR: "The Daily Mail".

KORNACKI: "The Daily Mail", 200 points for Jessica. It brings us to the
end of the second round.

Sam moving in second place. Josh, pretty far ahead right now at 1,400.
But --

STEIN: Answer some questions wrong.

KORNACKI: The round of champions, 300 point questions. These are the
hardest we have, the most valuable, miracles happen in the third round. We
have seen it before. Will we see it again?

Let`s dim the lights for dramatic effect. Put a hundred seconds on the
clock. Ladies and gentlemen, let`s crown a champion.

It will begin with this: a major cyberattack this week compromised the
personal data of tens of millions of customers of --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Jessica?

TAYLOR: Anthem.

KORNACKI: Incorrect. I`ll complete it -- of the insurance giant Anthem
which until last December went by this name.

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Sam?

STEIN: Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.

KORNACKI: Incorrect.

Josh, you want to take a guess?

BARRO: No.

KORNACKI: It`s WellPoint.

Three-point tossup: at Thursday`s National Prayer Breakfast, the keynote
address was given by this legendary former race driver and NASCAR hall of
famer.

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Jessica?

TAYLOR: Darrell Waltrip.

KORNACKI: Waltrip, 300 points for Jessica.

Three hundred-point tossup: most of the cast of the `90s teen sitcom "Saved
by the Bell" was reunited on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon this
week, including this actor who played the principal Richard Belding.

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Jessica?

TAYLOR: Richard Haskins.

KORNACKI: Incorrect.

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Josh?

BARRO: Dennis Haskins.

KORNACKI: Dennis Haskins.

Three hundred-point tossup: that is showing that marijuana can be helpful
for certain medical issues should quote drive policy making, this Obama
administration official --

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Jessica?

TAYLOR: Vivek Murthy.

KORNACKI: Correct, the surgeon general said that, 300 points.

Three hundred-point tossup: despite a year that resulted in more than $4
billion worth of recalls, 48,000 union workers found out this week that
they will receive bonuses higher than usual from this auto giant.

(BUZZER)

STEIN: GM.

KORNACKI: GM, 300 points for Sam.

Three hundred point tossup, saying as long as it retains the child`s
dignity, Pope Francis approved this week of what parental discipline?

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Josh?

BARRO: Spanking.

KORNACKI: Of spanking, 300 points for Josh.

Three hundred-point tossup: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this
week that he will not sign a budget this year unless it contains a full
slate of ethics reforms in response to the corruption arrest of Sheldon
Silver, who held what office?

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Josh?

BARRO: Speaker of the assembly.

KORNACKI: Speaker of the assembly, 300 points for Josh.

Three hundred-point tossup. A nominee for best spoken word album at
tomorrow night`s Grammy Awards is the audio book for a call to action
written by what former U.S. president?

(BUZZER)

KORNACKI: Jessica?

TAYLOR: Bush.

KORNACKI: Time. Sam or Josh?

Sam?

STEIN: Will say Bush.

KORNACKI: Incorrect. Josh, do you want to take a guess?

BARRO: No.

KORNACKI: Doesn`t matter. Jimmy Carter is the answer.

Josh Barro is the champion, 2,300 points. Congratulations! Josh, an
incredible accomplishment as our champion, you have a very, very special
prize package, which we`re going to tell you about right now.

No, we`re not. We`re bringing out Sandy the Seagull. The price package is
simple. You, sir, are going to throw out the first pitch at a Brooklyn
Cyclones game. Sandy the Seagull is here to present it. Congratulations.

BARRO: I`m mostly excited. Nobody has ever given me a big thick check
before.

KORNACKI: You have to bring that to the gate to get in. Bring three of
your friends with you. We`re paying for the subway ride.

Jessica, Sam, thank you very much.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right. We are back. We have cleared the unruly studio
audience. The official presentation to Josh Barro there, from Sandy the
Seagull, the official mascot of the Brooklyn Cyclones.

We want to thank the Brooklyn Cyclones for generously offering this, Josh.
Sometime this summer, you will be throwing out the first pitch. Are you
ready to do this? Can you reach the plate?

BARRO: Oh, I`m not ready. My brother has been making so much fun of me
for this, saying I won`t get it over the plate.

KORNACKI: You`ve got three months to do it.

BARRO: Yes.

KORNACKI: Jessica, Sam, so many memories from this season. Sam, One of
the high scorers in regular season. Jessica, you upset the defending
champion in the first round. I`m sorry you guys came up short. But --

STEIN: Me too.

TAYLOR: There`s always next year.

KORNACKI: There`s always next year. That`s right. That`s what the
Cyclones I guess say.

But, anyway, Sandy, again, the mascot here, we loved having you be part of
the show. Also, I do want to give a big thank you to Alex Trebek, how cool
was it to have Alex Trebek be part of the show today. So, I love that.

STEIN: Historic.

KORNACKI: Anyway, congratulations again to Josh.

And thank you, everybody, for watching this, this season. A lot of fun
with "Up Against the Clock". And remember, you can always play online. We
have an online version.

Anyway, join us tomorrow Sunday morning 8:00 a.m. Guess who`s going to be
on the show tomorrow? How about this? Senator Al Franken is going to talk
about something he`s very passionate about.

Maybe, maybe, I`ll ask him something about that "SNL" reunion coming up.
And maybe he`ll say something interesting about it. Why do I say that?
Because we interviewed him and he did.

Anyway, up next, you`re going to want to watch. Stick around for this,
Melissa Harris-Perry. She`s here. She`s next.

Have a great weekend. We`ll see you tomorrow.




THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2015 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2015 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>






  MORE FROM RACHEL MADDOW SHOW  
  
Rachel Maddow Show Section Front
 
Add Rachel Maddow Show headlines to your news reader:
 

Sponsored links

Resource guide