'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, February 22nd, 2015
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Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: February 22, 2015
Guest: Amy Klobuchar, Bob Dold, Jim McDermott, Christina Bellantoni,
Robert George, Basil Smikle Jr., Danny Vargas, Jose Antonio Vargas, Ben
White, Christianne Boudreau, Svante Myrick
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Can the president`s executive action
All right. Good morning. Thanks for getting up with us today. A lot to
come, a lot to talk about. A lot of news happening, around the world and
around the country this Sunday morning. A lot we`re going to be getting to
starting with the breaking news overnight. The Mall of America confirming
that it has increased security, this after being named in an apparent video
by a Somalia-based terror group. It`s the same group behind the 2013
attack in the mall in Nairobi, Kenya. We`re going to have much more ahead
this morning on that.
And Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, she represents the state where the
Mall of America is located, she is scheduled to join us next hour. Also in
the news this morning, making headlines, more signs in Ukraine that the
cease-fire is unraveling before our eyes. The United States and Britain
both now discussing the possibility of new sanctions against Russia. This
just a week after that cease-fire supposedly went into effect. And here in
the United States, the fight continuing over President Obama`s executive
action on immigration. A battle that could end up cutting off funding for
the Department of Homeland Security only five days from now. We`re on
shutdown watch officially this week.
And Scott Walker seems to have turned his Rudy Giuliani problem into a
Scott Walker problem by saying he doesn`t know whether President Obama is a
Christian. We`re going to be taking a closer look at exactly what he said.
Also, the Oscar frenzy goes to the new heights this morning. It`s going to
be looking a little bit at maybe a gambler`s guide, or better`s guide to
tonight`s Oscars. Why does it always seem that there are few very real
surprises that win and a lot of sure things that do come in.
But we begin this morning with President Obama fighting back on two fronts
for one of his top priorities. With his immigration actions now under fire
from both Congress and from the courts. The president scrambling to rally
the public, trying to protect policies that would defer deportations of as
many as 5 million undocumented immigrants. These are policies that Obama
implemented unilaterally because he says of Congress` refusal to act. The
president heading to Miami this week, on Wednesday, to speak with that
city`s immigrant community. It`s a town hall event that will be moderated
by our own Jose Diaz Balart. It`s going to air in prime time in fact right
here on MSNBC on Wednesday night.
At the same time, the Obama administration is also upping its legal battle.
Just in the next 24 hours they plan to ask a Texas federal court to block
last week`s ruling that would postpone Obama`s immigration actions. It was
being described as the most aggressive legal approach available to the
White House after that set back in the courts.
Immigration fight has also prompted the latest battle on Capitol Hill.
Republicans insisting that a bill to fund the Department of Homeland
Security also include a provision that would block Obama`s immigration
actions from taking effect. House Speaker John Boehner saying that
Republicans will let the security agency, the DHS, shut down just five day
from now rather than let the president`s planned actions continue.
That some voices in his party are calling for a different approach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R ) ARIZONA: It`s not a good idea, Joe, to shut down the
Department of Homeland Security. And we should be working together despite
the obstruction of our Democratic colleagues to resolve these issues that
we don`t shut it down. And now we have got a perfect reason to not shut it
down because the courts have - decided at least initially in our favor.
Joining me now with the latest on the war over immigration, we have NBC
White House correspondent Kristen Welker. So, Kristen, as we say two
fronts in this. There`s the public opinion, there`s the battle over the
shutdown, also talking about the legal battle here. What is the White
House trying to do this week?
KRISTEN WELKER: Well, first, Steve, to the legal battle, look, as early as
tomorrow, as you pointed out, the Obama administration is going to file
that emergency injunction.
KORNACKI: Do we lose - it sounds like we lost Kristen Welker there. We
will try to get her back, and try to get you more of an update on what the
White House is looking to do specifically on immigration this week.
Meanwhile, though, as we`re saying the battle over the president`s
immigration policies at least would leave millions of undocumented
immigrants in limbo unsure if they will be shielded from deportation as the
president intended before his action was blocked by that court. You may
remember the name Astrid Silva. She`s a dreamer from Nevada. President
Obama shared his story when he announced his executive actions to defer
deportations for people like her and her family three months ago. Here`s
what she had to say this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASTRID SILVA: Our families are waiting for any type of relief. We need to
make sure that they`re allowed to stay in this country. And every single
day that passes by as one day less that our families are able to live in
peace and to live without the fear of immigration coming and knocking on
our doors. Because now our community doesn`t know the date. Now our
community doesn`t know if this is going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And joining me now to discuss President Obama`s immigration
actions and what their delay means, journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio
Vargas, founder of "Define America" and executive editor of the new "L.A.
Times" project "Emerging Us." And also with us this morning, Republican
strategist Danny Vargas, no relation there. He`s a former chairman of the
Republican National Hispanic Assembly. So, Danny, let me just start with
you with the big political question of the week. It certainly seems like
we`re heading towards this DHS shutdown, showdown. Republicans in the
House, and then as many in the Senate as well basically saying, look, we
would rather shut down, deny funding to the Department of Homeland Security
this week than implement - then have the president implement any of these
immigration policies. Do you think that`s the approach the Republican
Party should be taking this week?
DANNY VARGAS, GOP STRATEGIST: I don`t. I really think - and good morning.
I think the Department of Homeland Security is an incredibly important
department. I think it needs to get funded. I think the judge`s ruling
gives us, I hope, some breathing room in order to allow DHS to get funded
and hopefully, at the same time, allow the Republicans in Congress and the
Senate to craft their own version of immigration reform.
There was a set of legislative solutions that the Republicans and the House
were putting forward last year that never got anywhere in the Senate. Now
if there is a Republican controlled Senate, I`m hoping that we`ll be able
to move forward with a piecemeal approach to immigration reform that
provides some more of a permanent solution that I think Jose and I are both
interested in seeing for this population.
KORNACKI: Well, let me ask you about that, Jose, because, you know, as
Danny sort of gets to there, one of the criticisms from some Republicans at
least of the president on immigration, on his executive actions, he`s
taking on immigration, is that he sort of - they would say he sort of
short-circuited the legislative process. That hey, we could have had some
kind of reform in Congress. Marco Rubio is ready to do something in 2012.
JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, EXEC. EDITOR #EMERGINGUS: Until he wasn`t.
KORNACKI: Well, so, what`s your take on that?
JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS: My take on that is, for far too long the Republicans
- I mean President Obama gave too much ground to the Republicans. That`s
why he deported what - more than 2 million people in six years, right? I
mean he deported that many people because he kept saying, look, let me work
with Congress. Let me work through this way. Let me make sure we`re
following this in a matter that the American public would support which is
going through Congress. Well, that didn`t work, right? I mean how many
times did obstructionists in the Republican Party try to stop any sort of
movement and development on this issue? This is the same party, by the
way, that says that, you know, Latinos have cantaloupe legs. This is the
same party that has been saying ...
KORNACKI: This was - You`re talking about a comment from Congressman Steve
King from Iowa.
JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS: And so, it`s really hard to keep saying, let`s wait
for the - you know, for Congress to get its act together when they don`t
even want to acknowledge the simple facts about this issue. I`ve read, by
the way, this stay that the Texas judge, you know, issued last week to stop
this. By the way, I`m one of the 5 million people who would benefit from
something like this. This is the kind of policy that I`m waiting for, so I
can go see my mom, hopefully this spring after 21 years, right? And now,
of course, politics is happening. Does the judge know that there are 1.7
million undocumented people in Texas who in 2010, the latest year
available, paid $1.6 billion in state and local taxes? Just in 2010. Does
he even know how much we contribute to the state economy? To the national
economy? Because that`s nowhere in that 120 pages.
DANNY VARGAS: Steve, let`s be honest about it. We live in a republic, we
do not live if a monarchy. We have a president. We don`t have a king. We
have a legislative process that affords the people and its representatives
to craft a law. And it`s up to the executive branch to faithfully execute
those laws, right? If there`s a demand to change the laws, then we have a
process by which we can do that. I`m one that - I`m an advocate of
immigration reform. I think we absolutely need to do it for the needs of
our economy, for the needs of our security and for, frankly, our nature as
a country to be able to move forward with immigration reform, but it has to
be done in a legal way. I think the undocumented population deserves a
permanent solution with the force of law behind it.
KORNACKI: OK. Let me --
DANNY VARGAS: The executive action is a Band-Aid approach. At best, as
they sugar rush, it doesn`t provide the level of security.
KORNACKI: All right. I understand that, but let me - but let me just
follow up on that for a second. Because this is - when we talk about the
executive actions from the president, we`re talking about sort of two
phases here. There`s sort of a broader thing that he announced a few
months ago. That`s now been put on hold by this court down in Texas. But
before that, in 2012, he did this thing called deferred action, DACA, they
call it that has benefited not as many people but that has benefited and
currently is benefiting a large number of people in this country. The
question is would you as a Republican, now that the president has done this
would you like to see that rolled back? Those protections that now exist
for these people rolled back?
DANNY VARGAS: What I want to see, I want to see a solution that is worked
through Congress. I want to see a permanent solution to our immigrant
system writ large. Our immigration system is broken. And it`s not just
about the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country, it`s about a
system that doesn`t need the needs of our security or our economy. I want
to make sure that we have an immigration system that meets the needs of the
United States of America.
KORNACKI: Right. Jose ...
JOSE VARGAS: Danny, and I completely agree here. We completely agree.
But the problem is how do we get this Republican Congress -- now that you
control both houses, what do we do now? I mean I completely agree with him
that we need a permanent solution, that this is nothing - but until
something happens, what do we do? Do we deport 1,000 people every day? Do
we roll back this DACA that has now made undocumented people go to college,
pay taxes, contribute to this country that they call their home. Is that
what do we do now? I mean ...
DANNY VARGAS: No, what we need to do, we need to let the system play
itself out. We have never had a situation in the last several years where
there`s the Republican controlled House has had the opportunity to work
with a partner in the United States Senate. The Democrats in the United
States Senate have blocked what the House is trying to do. There are two
houses of Congress, they have to be able to work together and reach a
consensus, reach an agreement as to how to move forward. The House wants
to move forward with a piecemeal approach, with multiple bills, the Senate
wants to move forward with a large, comprehensive bill. Those are two
different approaches. The two Houses need to be able to come together.
And now that there are Republicans in control of both Houses, hopefully we
can move forward with that. What the president did with the executive
action was to - that process and he frankly poisoned the well for us to be
able to actually move forward in a consensus approach.
KORNACKI: Jet me just ask you, Jose, we talked about - we have the legal
situation right now, that`s unresolved. We have the political situation.
Who knows if Congress can or will do anything in the next couple of years.
Are you optimistic when you look at what you want out of this, are you
optimistic that that`s going to happen?
JOSE VARGAS: And I think more than the legal, in the political - we have
the moral bankruptcy here that`s happening, right? I mean this is an issue
that`s impacting people`s daily lives. And yet, we see it played, this
kind of - I mean look, a lot of us, a lot of us were expecting this judge,
given that he`s been a conservative judge, who`s been rallying against
immigrants in Texas for years, so, we knew this was happening, right? But
the fact that the predictable partisan politics is being played, phrases
like spoiling the well, I mean we`ve heard that so many times, right?
I think the American public, who, by the way, majority of whom back the
president`s action, I think they understand that`s something has to happen.
And that unfortunately, you know, toxic politics like this is preventing
something from actually moving forward.
KORNACKI: Well, it`s going to be the story to watch this week. As we say
that shutdown clock basically is in effect right now. We will see what
happens in Congress, we`ll see how the public reacts to that. My thanks
for this morning to Danny Vargas in Washington, Jose Antonio Vargas.
Again, their relation - emerging us. And thanks for coming in this
morning. I appreciate that. This programming reminder, that President
Obama will be talking more on this issue with our own Jose Diaz Balart this
week. Jose moderating a town hall with the president in Miami on
Wednesday. He will be taking questions from those in attendance, but also
from people who send them in over social media. So if you have a question
for President Obama, send that using the #obamatownhall. And be sure to
watch MSNBC at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday night for that town hall.
Still ahead this morning, Hollywood`s best and also Hollywood`s worst. We
are going to be celebrating those who are celebrating - then up next, is I
don`t know still an acceptable answer for a politician who`s asked whether
President Obama is a Christian. More on who exactly is in hot water right
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R) WISCONSON: The mayor can speak for himself. I`m not
going to comment on what the president thinks or not. He can speak for
KORNACKI: Did you agree with those comments? Did you agree with those
comments? Were you offended by those comments? What was your reaction
when you heard them?
WALKER: I`m in New York. I`m used to people saying things that are
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Wisconsin governor and likely Republican presidential candidate
Scott Walker on Thursday trying to say as little as possible about Rudy
Giuliani`s inflammatory remarks about President Obama`s love of country
remarks that were delivered at a Walker event where Walker was present.
Now, this morning a new controversy involving Walker, this time about
President Obama`s religion. Walker telling two "Washington Post" reporters
yesterday afternoon, that "I don`t know whether the president is a
Christian." "I`ve actually never talked about it or I have not read about
that. I`ve never asked him that. You`ve asked me to make statements about
people that I have not had a conversation with about that. How could I say
if I know either of you are a Christian, he`s talking to two reporters
there. To me, this is a classic example of why people hate Washington and
increasingly they dislike the press. The things they care about don`t even
remotely come close to what you`re asking about.
Walker`s spokesperson later clarified that "Of course, the governor thinks
the president is a Christian. There also comes a little - this also comes
a little bit more than a week after Walker made headlines by telling a
British interviewer that he would "punt on a question about whether he
believes in evolution." Walker has been surging in Republican polls lately
but the way he`s handling the new media scrutiny is prompting questions
about whether he`s ready for prime time. Conservative writer Matt Lewis
saying in a new column this morning, "Campaigns are crucibles, if the last
couple of days are a harbinger of things to come, he`s in trouble."
On the panel this morning to talk about this and a lot of other stuff, we
have Robert George, editorial writer at "The New York Post," Basil Smikle
Junior, political strategist and professor at Columbia University, and
Christina Bellantoni, editor-in-chief with "Roll Call." So, three times as
a trend, three times as a charm. I don`t know, three times as a story.
So, here`s Scott Walker. It`s evolution a couple weeks ago, then it`s the
Rudy Giuliani comments and now it`s is the president a Christian. And we
just read through everything he says to those reporters, and it`s followed
up by a spokesperson saying about eight words. Of course, he`s - President
Obama is a Christian. Hasn`t Walker learned at this point? That`s how you
answer a question like this?
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, "ROLL CALL": Well, and also, let`s say you want to
criticize the president. This is what confounds me about this. There`s a
million things you could say. President Barack Obama loves this country a
ton, he`s the worth president we`ve ever had. Or he loves Texas more than
he loves anything else. Whatever. And so, you get into this, you tie
yourself in knots, which is all the media is going to talk about for the
next four days. He`s going to keep getting the question asked of him.
I`ve been covering Barack Obama since 2006. This is a question that has
continued to come up. And so, it`s feeding into this like little quiet
narratives, and he`s trying to make some broader point about this is the
press` fault for you asking the wrong questions. You can shut it down.
KORNACKI: And that`s the point that Matt Lewis, again, a conservative
writer in this piece is making. He`s saying, conservatives say hey, you
don`t ask these questions, the Democrats, you don`t ask him about X. And
he`s saying well, hey, if that`s true, or that isn`t true, put that aside,
because if you`re a presidential candidate you have to know better than
ROBERT GEORGE, "NEW YORK POST": Yeah, and it is - just give me a minute,
it is rather early, it is rather early in the game. It is also kind of a
got you question. It`s kind of funny, it said, you know, President Obama`s
Christianity questioned. It`s like so, you know, but why was the question
asked in the first place especially when he`s not running - when he`s not
running again? But yeah, that`s the thing. If Scott Walker does want to
run for president, he`s going to be focusing on the fact that Barack Obama
is not going to be running again, as far as I understand. You know, you
are not allowed to run for a third time. So, you know, it shouldn`t
matter. So he said - just said, look, he is a Christian. He`s going to be
out of office in two years, I want to talk about the future of the country.
End of story.
KORNACKI: But I guess the significance of the moment, it is early, but
then it`s also, we always call this the invisible primary.
KORNACKI: This is that moment when it`s all these Republican donors, and
all these sort of opinion shapers in the party are sizing up all these
candidates, they are taking sides, and then that has a huge effect on who
end up being in contention a year from now. I looked at somebody like
Scott Walker, as we said, the last few weeks he has really gotten a surge
in the polling. You know, there`s polls in New Hampshire that - of Jeb
Bush. He`s moved ahead in some polls in Iowa, and so now, when he starts
handling questions like this, I think the risk there was this influential
people in his party start looking at him and saying, I don`t know, maybe we
get some other options here.
BASIL SMIKLE, JR., POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Yeah, that`s absolutely right.
And then sort of going back to your point. There are these quiet
narratives, as you say, that are being spun. And I think this was his
attempt to sort of test one of those narratives and it was clumsily done.
And the reality is that the more that he keeps tying himself into that, the
more that he keeps stepping into this, I don`t see a tightening of his
message or his narrative. And to me that, I think the Republicans broadly
are going to look at him and say, well, not only do you have to start
explaining yourself a little more, but I think just the American -- the
voters are going to ask the same question.
KORNACKI: And this - and now the - I mean, again, so OK, there`s the
conservatives who say, well, the press is asking these got you questions
and everything, but at the same time when he handles them this way this
will only invite the press to ask more questions. I was talking to
(INAUDIBLE) or my produce this morning, say, is somebody going to ask him
now, was the president really born in Hawaii? Are we going to start
getting that? But then how does he handle that? You know?
BELLANTONI: And then, the other part of this, is he`s about to hang out
President Obama for the winners - the meeting with the president - on the
governor, you know.
BELLANTONI: And you`ve also got this - net for CPAC. And so, whether or
not, people are asking this question of every candidate, you know that
every candidate that gets on stage is going to be able to respond to the
media and saying they are bringing up dumb controversies. But it still
keeps the issue alive. And you do, you - it`s exactly tying yourself into
a pretzel for no reason. And I - I think the reporters shouldn`t be asking
this question either. I mean it`s kind of dumb. It`s something for a
debate stage, right?
SMIKLE: But ...
BELLANTONI: You get all ten Republicans, and you say, look, you know, is
this an issue that`s settled or not settled?
SMIKLE: But I would also argue that if you have individuals like Rudy
Giuliani who was still - who are out there and who are making a lot of
these comments that all it does is it keeps these questions out there,
keeps the reporters and the media active. And it would - it gets to a
point where candidates like Walker and others are going to have to say, you
know, the same thing they did to African Americans for a long time, are you
going to repudiate Louis Farrakhan? They are going to have to do exactly
the same, the same thing. So, I think to the extent that Republicans want
to keep along the sort of straight and narrow path, they`re going to have
to push people like Giuliani sort of out of the picture.
GEORGE: Yeah, but the other aspect of this is, though, I think Republicans
in general do get frustrated by the idea that they have to somehow speak or
repudiate every other Republican, not just whether it was a former mayor of
New York, but, you know, some - you know, I don`t know, dog catcher in
Dubuque, Iowa or something like that. Or he said this. Do you agree? You
know, do you agree with that? And I think they do get kind of tired of
those - of those kind of got you questions. But this is not the - a way to
KORNACKI: Right. I mean as - you can get tired of it, but it just seems
like presidential campaigning 101, if you don`t want stories like this,
especially if you have just gone through this twice in the last two weeks.
And somebody asks you that. I would think strategically you would ...
KORNACKI: question differently. Right. But anyway, still ahead in this
show, and a lot of other things, too, Jeb Bush entering this morning 2016
fray. It was no accident. We`re going to go inside the very methodical
planning of Jeb Bush`s presidential bid and the shock and awe strategy.
That`s what we are going to call it, but next, we will catch up with some
in the morning`s top end lines, including the branding of Hillary 5.0. Oh
my god. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: All right, there is a lot going on this morning. We are getting
caught up on some of the other headlines making news in the country around
the world with our panel. This is our catching up segment. I love this
one. They give me these index cards, I read them. I`m surprised by the
headlines that you guys react. It`s very funny. So ...
KORNACKI: Let`s see what we`ve got here. This is the "Washington Post,"
and the headline, marketing wizards crafting Hillary 5.0. Clinton`s
recruited consumer marketing specialists for her expected presidential run.
One adviser has marketed brands like Coca-Cola to younger and more diverse
customers. Now, advisers are old friends who dreamed up the "Don`t mess
with Texas" - slogan, in campaigns for Southwest Airlines and (inaudible).
5.0. First of all, I`m trying to think what exactly the first four of them
were. And second of all, I don`t know, marketing Coke, now you are
marketing Hillary Clinton?
BELLANTONI: I actually will defend this. It is - it sounds dumb, but this
is how a lot of voters vote. They vote with their gut who would you rather
have a beer with, whatever, and it`s also, when you test the negative
messages, this is how like, for example, Mitt Romney, you have a certain
sentiment about him that, you know, people feel. So, if you can find
anything that reinforces that narrative. That can help torpedo a campaign.
And so, it`s done just as much for negative testing as it is for let`s ...
SMICKLE: It`s weird that they`re yes, it`s weird that they are talking
about comparing big macs to Chipolte in - in the conversation. But what do
you think about Hillary Clinton, but there is ...
BELLANTONI: Both are high calorie.
SMICKLE: Both high calorie. But - but there`s a precedent for this. If
you read "The Selling of the President", if I remember correctly.
KORNACKI: That was Nixon.
SMICKLE: That was Nixon.
KORNACKI: Yeah, you don`t want that precedent.
SMICKLE: No, I don`t want that precedent. And which is odd, but
apparently this does work.
KORNACKI: Yeah, but so - how do you market Hillary Clinton? I mean
everybody knows, everybody`s got to - who does ...
GEORGE: Yeah, but that`s - I think that is actually part of the problem.
And you are talking about - you are talking about somebody when 2016 comes
around, you know, who has been on the stage for, you know, 25 years. And
it seems to me that just the fact they`re calling it 5.0 just kind of shows
you how many different iterations there were.
BELLANTONI: The 18-year-olds of the election in 2016, will not be familiar
with her, and so this is also partially that. They`re reintroducing her to
a whole new ...
KORNACKI: Let`s hope for her saying, that whoever this - this person is
from Coca-Cola, was not the new Coke person.
KORNACKI: Let`s see what`s else is in the headlines here. The Associated
Press, the AP, "Birdman" flies high at independent spirit awards. Michael
Keaton wins best actor. "Birdman" wins best picture. Apparently, this was
at - held at a beach site tent at Santa Monica. Oh, boy. But apparently,
this is a good harbinger. Everything is a harbinger, right? For the
Oscars. But I guess last year all the independent spirit award winners
also won the Oscars. So, here we are, it`s Oscar night, it`s all
"Birdman." I haven`t seen the movie. But it looks - I don`t know.
GEORGE: Right now they are saying, that it`s between "Birdman" and
"Boyhood." And "Boyhood" is kind of like sort of the love - kind of the
love letter to filmmaking because it took 12 years to film. And, you know,
as the young man grew up and so forth. So, it`s not surprising that would
be the thing that the old guard in Hollywood loves. Whereas "Birdman" just
definitely has this, you know, this independent sensibility about it. And,
you know, the beautiful ...
KORNACKI: It`s about the industry, right? It`s about ...
SMICKLE: Well, they are both ...
KORNACKI: No, "Boyhood" is more about - it`s about growing up. Because
SMICKLE: Plus I think there`s sort of a redemption in it. Because as we
were talking earlier, we are both science fiction and comic book fans, and
to see Michael Keaton having played Batman and to sort of come back in this
KORNACKI: Almost winking at his own background. Exactly.
SMICKLE: There`s something wonderful about that.
KORNACKI: I just see - again, I haven`t seen it. I don`t like that they
do the subtitle thing for it. It`s "Birdman, or the Art of Learning" -
something like that. Anyway, I`m against it.
KORNACKI: Here`s and (INAUDIBLE) my lawn.
KORNACKI: 89-year-old Steven Kornacki shakes his fist.
All right, both on Friday, sitcom writers - Mindy Kaling (ph) tweeted,
coming soon to the Mindy project, father Michael O`Donnell. And you can
see in that photo, Stephen Colbert. And yet Stephen Colbert will be on her
show, we are all waiting for his next sort of public appearance, and you
could see as well, but yeah, Stephen Colbert is apparently growing a beard.
The Co-beard, or do they pronounce the Co-beard?
BELLANTONI: It`s just the most talked about story on the Internet this
week, which as a, you know, a political journalist makes me a little sad.
But it is - people care. They care what he looks like, they care when his
next - is going to be. They really care what the show is going to be like,
and you know, you couple this with Stewart leaving, I mean it is like this
massive attention focus on these two guys on what`s next.
KORNACKI: Yeah, it is this massive crater, I guess, for Comedy Central, 11
- you know, 12 o`clock timeslot. Those two for, you know, ten years now,
and now suddenly, both gone, or will be both gone.
GEORGE: To comment on the beard, the beard was great.
KORNACKI: Beard is great.
GEORGE: This is great.
BELLANTONI: It is appropriate for the season.
KORNACKI: Yeah. It`s interesting to see it come in gray, too. It`s, you
know, it`s - the surprise, I guess. Anyway, that is - that is it for right
now. We have more of these coming next hour.
Still ahead, though, how one northern city was encouraging potential
visitors to just stay away in favor of this? And next, Jeb Bush`s launch
for president may have seemed like a shocking surprise. We`re going to
find out how it was anything but that. That`s right after this.
KORNACKI: A few months ago no one seemed to know if Jeb Bush was even
interested in running for president. He was a former governor who had last
run for office more than ten years ago. It was talked that he wasn`t
exactly clamoring to get back in the game. Then, seemingly out of the
blue, just nine days before Christmas, Bush suddenly pounced announcing
that he had "decided to actively explore the possibility of running for
president of the United States. That surprise announcement left his
competition flatfooted, forced to scramble, to speed up their own
decisions, their own fundraising, their own campaigning. Mitt Romney, he
was forced to think things over, he opted out. Chris Christie now he`s
struggling to compete with so many would be donors defecting to Bush. In a
new article, Ben White of "Politico" reports that all of this was by
design. It was a careful and elaborate plan more than a year in the making
that allowed the former Florida governor to grab all the cash and all the
oxygen in the critical point in the race.
And Politico`s Ben White is the co-author of that article. He joins us and
the panel on the set right now. So, Ben, thanks for taking a few minutes.
So, I`ve seen the label "Shock and awe." This is the shock and awe
strategy by Jeb Bush. Take us through it exactly where this came from.
This was more than a year in the making?
BEN WHITE, POLITICO: Well, it started sort of November of 2013. He came
up to New York and gave a speech at the Securities Industry Association
annual meeting. A lot of Wall Street people there. And he talked about a
number of issues that made people think he is going to run for president.
So, a little chatter started on the Wall Street, this guy is really serious
about it, all of his speeches took on more sort of political importance.
He said, look, I don`t have the infrastructure out there do this, I need to
pull back, start to put together a team to - look at running for president.
And he`s also said, look, I have got some controversial stances on issues
that are not going to be selling well with the Republican base, on
immigration, on common core. I need to figure out, is there a path for me
to the Republican nomination without changing those principles?
So, he spent a year putting together his team, Sally Bradshaw and others,
Mike Murphy in California, the headman. You know, coming up with the
strategy for I`m not changing these principles, so I`m going to need to
raise a ton of money very quickly to be able to ...
KORNACKI: How much are they talking about here? Sort of hundreds of
WHITE: 50 million to 100 million. I`ve talked to a lot of people who
think he could go over that number.
KORNACKI: And he wanted to raise that by when?
WHITE: He wanted to raise that by end of the first quarter. So, end of
March - 100 million.
KORNACKI: So, a month from now, they are thinking, did Jeb Bush might have
$100 million in ...
WHITE: Somewhere between 50 and 100. Yes. And then more that`s come
after that, but he`s raising it a $100,000 ahead fundraisers. It`s not
just in Wall Street, but elsewhere.
KORNACKI: $100,000 per person.
WHITE: Per person. Yes. So, this a lot of money that he`s putting
together. But he knows he`s going to have to run a lot of ads in Iowa, New
Hampshire, elsewhere, to try to explain to people why common core is not
necessarily a bad idea, why comprehensive immigration reform is not a
terrible thing. So, he can actually go out there. I mean the idea is,
raise all this money early on, so then he can go do retail politicking in
Iowa, get some of those numbers that are low with the base, get them up,
because that`s going to be his real problem.
KORNACKI: Yeah, New Hampshire has got one television station. So, I think
100 million is going get you far there.
Well, Christina, what do you think of that as a strategy? What do you
think of that?
BELLANTONI: Well, in some ways I think it`s possible that he can do it.
It`s also - his team really thinks that he has the likability factor nailed
down. Like yes, he`s going to have to answer questions about his last
name. You are seeing him address that all week, but they know, he`s out
there. He can connect to his people on like kind of a human being level.
They listen to him, they have the - yes, I think that he is telling me the
truth factor. And that`s all from testing in the focus groups just like
Hillary Clinton is doing right now. And so, yeah, I think it`s going to
shock and awe if he really does raise that much money.
KORNACKI: Robert, what I always think about with this strategy is what his
brother did, what George W. did, basically, in 1999 heading into 2000. It
was a huge wave of cash. Like six people quit the race after he put his
fund-raising numbers out that year. But the difference that I`m seeing is,
the Republican Party is in such a different place now. That with Bush,
with W, he talked about compassion and conservatism, and they wanted to
win. They were fine with it. With Jeb, when he starts with common core,
all these things, they were a lot more sort of - they were a lot more
focused on purity right now. I wonder if Jeb sells the way George W. did.
GEORGE: It`s going to be a little bit - a little bit a lot harder. Money
makes it a little bit easier to frame, to actually - to get that message
out there, put - and the thing is, though, that George - excuse me, Jeb -
Jeb Bush has a way of, I think, selling himself, making himself look
different from his brother. Yes, it`s going to be tough making the case
within the party. But when he comes - if he comes out on stage with his
family, he has a way of personalizing the immigration issue in a way that
no one else can. And it may not sell perfectly with the pure base, but
keep in mind, with such a wide open field, and if he`s got money, there`s
really kind of percentages that he just needs to convince in Iowa.
KORNACKI: Right. And you don`t necessarily need 50.1 percent in a crowded
primary. Well, Basil, that idea of in the line from Jeb Bush that`s been
used is the idea of being willing to lose the primary to win the general
election. Basically not falling for all the traps that Mitt Romney fell
for in the primaries in 2012. When you look at this as Democrat, you look,
at Jeb Bush and say, that is the toughest guy we could face next year?
SMICKLE: You know, it`s interesting, because I do - I do think on paper he
might be a really tough candidate to beat because he does bring in the
immigration conversation in a way that a lot - in my mind, a lot of other
Republicans can`t. But one of the things that I wonder about him, going
back to sort of the Republican base, is I`ve always thought that Rand Paul,
interestingly enough, was the one, if he wanted to, and if he had the time
to move the party in a direction that made him a strong general election
candidate. I`m not sure, particularly with things like common core, if Jeb
Bush, even with all his money, can actually move the base of the Republican
Party. And especially if you have folks to the far right really upset and
feeling disenfranchised, which actually shares the sentiment with people on
the far left.
KORNACKI: Yeah. I have the same doubt about that. Ben, let me ask you
this, though. How is the rest of the field reacting to this? OK, so Mitt
Romney is forced to act fast. He`s out. Chris Christie, we are seeing all
these stories about donors going to Jeb instead. What effect is this
having on the other Republicans?
WHITE: It`s on enormous - obviously, you mentioned Romney, looked at it,
saw all his donors going to Jeb, said there`s not a window for me. Chris
Christie having a lot of trouble with Wall Street fundraisers. But there`s
not a lot of big names. Woody Johnson, that owner of the Jets going to -
Jeb Bush, you`ll see a lot more of that. They worked very hard to pull all
the Romney supporters over to them pretty successfully. I think the rest
of the field, obviously, sees an opportunity to go well to his right, like
Walker does, Rand Paul does, the rest of them do. And there`s definitely
opportunity that one of them could take Iowa. The Bush strategy is, fare
decently in Iowa, second, even third is OK, as long as you are up near the
top. Win New Hampshire, win South Carolina, and then run the table on
Super Tuesday and the big states.
So, and for Walker, you have ...
KORNACKI: South Carolina, it sounds like a very tough place.
KORNACKI: In New Hampshire.
WHITE: South Carolina, a little harder.
KORNACKI: Can these other - but can these other candidates - look, so Bush
is going to raise maybe the most money. How competitive can the other ones
be? How competitive can Rand Paul be?
WHITE: They can`t be that close. I mean Rand raises great small dollar
donations, does really well at - with that stuff on the lower dollar
donation. So, it`ll get you to 100 million. He`ll have enough money.
He`ll have probably one or two really big ticket supporters. But you
mentioned Walker and his troubles recently with some of these comments
about Obama, plays well with the base, does not play well with the rest of
the establishment, Republican Party, who says, look, if we go with a guy
like this, there`s a danger that he blows up terribly in the general
election. So, do we hold our nose and say, OK, Jeb is not with us on
everything, but he can win. Let`s stick with him for ...
GEORGE: If Hillary is going to be the Democratic nominee, there`s this
weird - there`s a weird - there`s a place where Jeb and Hillary kind of
need each other. Because the dynasty thing gets ...
KORNACKI: It`s my dynasty neutralizes your dynasty.
BELLANTONI: And then get your third party candidate.
KORNACKI: There you go.
GEORGE: Those are always fun to talk about.
KORNACKI: My thanks to Politico`s Ben White for joining us this morning.
I appreciate all that. And to the rest of my guests, we`ll see you again
in the next hour. Still ahead, though, whether you call it "Birdman" or
this is the subtitle, "The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance," this is the
full title of the movie. Will we be calling that movie the big winner
And next, we are going to go live to snow-covered New England and show you
an angle of the damage that you probably haven`t seen. So stay with us.
KORNACKI: Just a few minutes ago, Tennessee officials announced three more
weather related deaths. That means at least 21 people in that state have
now died since last Monday because of the arctic blast known as the
Siberian Express. Storm this time, though, did manage to spare New England
another huge accumulation of snow. But what New Englanders did get piled
on top of the eight feet that were already there, this is a drone shot look
at all of the rooftops just outside of Boston in Somerville. City
officials there trying to check on whether they are in danger of
collapsing. And the Weather Channel`s Reynolds Wolf is live for us right
now in Quinzy, Massachusetts just outside of Boston.
REYNOLDS WOLF, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: Absolutely, guys. And I`ll tell you,
snow is coming down as we speak right now. And it`s not really that
powdery stuff. It`s the stuff that adheres pretty well, you know. It
makes perfect snowball, that kind of thing. What`s interesting is because
it sticks together really well, it does a great job of sticking up on
roofs. So, although the snow looks - looks beautiful, looks pretty it`s as
welcome as being diagnosed with scabies. It`s nasty stuff, guys.
Let me show you - all of this is kind of nasty. We have had some warmer
temperatures, which means that a lot of the ice on the roadways is turning
to slush. That`s the good news, however, we still have plenty of the
frozen stuff on many of the roofs that you have in the area. And speaking
of roofs in the area, we`ve had, let`s see, I think 119 roof collapses
alone in Massachusetts, which is really bad. It`s not really as much of an
issue on the houses or structures that have the pitched roofs, but more
like the roofs that are kind of flat like this one on this business across
What`s interesting, too, is you see this located right next to a cemetery,
where, again, they have been just buried, buried in the heavy snowfall.
What`s lucky, though, is we`ve had a lot of trucks that have been coming
through, like this gentleman. Came on through. Sir, just come on through,
there you go. Tall skinny pedal on the right moves you forward. There you
go. And they have been moving out about making sure the roads are in
pretty good shape. And all things considered they are fine. As we are
getting close to record breaking snowfall. Latest totals that we have from
Boston last night, let`s see. It was 1.1 inches of snowfall, which means
that for the season, we`re at 99.8. There`s a chance we could get to the
century mark today and possibly we are getting a lot closer to that record
of 107 inches for the season. The season, this winter that will never end.
Guys, we`ll send it back to you.
KORNACKI: All right. Reynolds Wolf in Quincy, Massachusetts. I said
Quincy, by the way, I grew up there, I shouldn`t have - it`s not Quinzy,
it`s Quincy. I always get that wrong. My apology.
WOLF: Strong on the "Z." Absolutely.
KORNACKI: My apologies to the people - anyway, and good job playing
traffic cop, dear Reynolds. That was very impressive.
WOLF: There you go, madam.
KORNACKI: Sure things and long shots. For once, I`m not talking about
sports. I`m talking about the Oscars. They are tonight. We`re talking
about them next. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: All right, well, guess what today is? Today, Oscar day.
Tonight, Oscar night. All of the - you know, best movies, best actor, all
that stuff. So, we thought we would give you a bit preview. If you`re
trying to enter your pool at work or at your party tonight, or something
like that, we would give you a little bit of guide on who to bet on, who
not to bet on. And the person to do that for us today, Jesse David Fox.
He`s the senior editor at Walter. And he`s going to take us through a
better`s guide to tonight. So, Jesse, thanks for joining us today.
JESSE DAVID FOX: Thank you for having me.
KORNACKI: Let`s get right to it. So, first major category we want to get
your opinion on, best leading actress. Best actress in a movie. Here are
the nominees, handicapped...
JESSE DAVID FOX: This one is done. I mean it was done about four, or five
months ago. But Julianne Moore is going to win. The only way it won`t
happen is if Matthew McConaughey just like goes rogue and says Reese
Witherspoon, because they are friends, like? Julianne Moore is going to
KORNACKI: So, why is that such a sure thing? What about her performance
makes this so much better than these others?
FOX: It has to do with two things. One, she`s playing a person that has a
disease, which is like a very popular Oscar thing. She plays a person who
has early onset Alzheimer`s. Also, she`s has never won before. And
there`s lots of -- they like to award people who had long careers where
they might deserve it. And also, it`s considered a weaker race. She had a
strong performance. It really was never close.
KORNACKI: Julianne Moore. If you have your pool at home, pick her.
Otherwise you are going to fall behind. Best actor? Is this one closer?
FOX: It is closer. It`s actually very close. Eddie Redmayne is probably
the favorite. It`s a very showy role. He again plays someone with a
KORNACKI: He plays Steven Hawking.
FOX: Yes. Big transformation. Though some could say Bradley Cooper has a
chance because this movie made a lot of money, and that matters to people.
And "Birdman" could, Michael Keaton could win, probably because of the
redemption story, probably because if "Birdman" runs the table, if they
start winning a lot of awards, then Michael Keaton will win just because
he`s part of --
KORNACKI: You have given us the three could wins. I want the --
FOX: Eddie Redmayne I think will win.
KORNACKI: That`s who you are betting on. So we have a little bit of a
wild card here. Sound mixing. We just wanted to throw in an
unconventional one, because I think sometimes during the ceremony, you`re
watching this and they announce the category, and your main question is,
what does that category even mean. There`s sound editing, and there`s
sound mixing. What does sound mixing mean? What is the difference there?
FOX: It`s great. Sound mixing is actually one of the more exciting -
basically, sound editing is creating sounds, and sound mixing is how loud
that sound will be compared to the others--
KORNACKI: These require separate categories?
FOX: Sound editing was invented with the visual effects. These are called
sound effects. Sound mixing I guess at some point they split. Sound
editing always goes to war movies. They like the sound of bullets, so
"American Sniper" should win. Sound mixing often goes to movies with
music. So "Whiplash" actually is a favorite for that. But sometimes the
categories are combined, because Oscar voters also don`t know the
difference. "Birdman" has a chance, because, again, if it runs the table.
"Whiplash" won the BAFTA for it, and usually BAFTA`s are a pretty good
KORNACKI: All these indicators, we heard there is an independent one
(inaudible). Here`s one everybody knows about. Directing. "Boyhood," and
"Birdman" are the two big pictures here. Is this a race between those two?
Does anybody else have a chance?
FOX: It is a race between those two. Director and best movie are usually
paired. The last two years, it`s been a split. If "Birdman" is the
favorite that would give Richard Linklater a chance. However, because
"Birdman" won the director`s guild, and director`s guild is a pretty good
indicator of who`s going to win, I think it will go to "Birdman."
KORNACKI: This is one of those things. You`re watching the ceremony, they
will give out director before best picture.
FOX: If "Birdman" wins, I think it`s sewn up. At this point, we`ll get to
it, but I think "Birdman" --
KORNACKI: We shouldn`t kill the suspense. We have one more to get to, the
one everybody cares about the most. Best picture. Again, race between
these two? Does "Selma" have a chance?
FOX: No, "Selma" has no chance. There`s an outside chance of "American
Sniper." Some people say maybe "Imitation Game" could surprise, because
there are a lot of older voters, and "Imitation Game" is the type of thing
that appeals to them. But it really is a two-film race. Really it`s a
one-film race. At this point, "Birdman" won directors guild, screen actors
guild, producers` guild. The producers guild has predicted the winner for
the last 8 years or so. It will be really hard for "Boyhood" to win. It
would be a great surprise. "Boyhood" premiered at Sundance.
KORNACKI: If you have the Oscar ballot, who are you voting for?
FOX: I would vote for "Boyhood," I think what they did was more
impressive, and also I didn`t really like "Birdman."
KORNACKI: I have not seen "Birdman," I have some opinions about the
subtitle, whatever that is. It`s very pretentious.
FOX: Also, what it did is it made fun of Hollywood and almost dared them
to vote for it. It worked. They made fun of Hollywood, and they`re like,
we`ll show you. We`ll vote you for best picture.
KORNACKI: I`m cheering for "Boyhood" with you. I believe in the upsets
and the underdog. We`ll what happens. My thanks to Jesse David Fox,
really appreciate it.
Up next, another full hour of news and politics, including the latest on an
apparent terror threat against the Mall of America, in Minnesota. And
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar will join us live, stay with us.
KORNACKI: Thanks for staying with us this Sunday morning. Another packed
hour of news still to come. Including reports this morning that the Mall
of America in Minnesota is increasing security after being named in a
terror video. All the details on that in just a moment. We`ll be asking
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar about that. She`s here to discuss
President Obama`s plan to combat home-grown terrorism in places like the
Also, one mother`s incredible story about what happened when her son
traveled to Syria to join ISIS militants. We already talked about the
Oscars this morning, as well, we`ll also be getting to something called the
Razzies. You probably heard of those before. It`s the same weekend that
Hollywood celebrates its best, it also chastises its worst, and with
apparent good reason. Based on the list of honorees this year.
And anywhere, but here today we will talk about the mayor whose tourism
board encouraged visitors to skip upstate New York this brutally frozen
winter for the Florida Keys instead. We will begin this hour with that new
video released overnight from the Somalia-based terror group, al Shabaab.
It names western shopping malls as potential targets, including Minnesota`s
Mall of America, right here in the United States. In 2013, this is the
same group that claimed responsibility for an attack on a mall in Nairobi,
Kenya, in which 67 people were killed. For more on the latest on this
video, let`s go to NBC White House Kristen Welker. What do we know right
now about the video?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: Here`s what we know so far. According to top
U.S. officials, al Shabaab, the group you just mentioned, released a video
calling for attacks on shopping malls in Canada, the UK and the United
States. Those who have seen the video say in it, the terror group
references that attack on the mall in Kenya, which left more than 60 dead.
In a statement last night, a spokesperson for the National Security Council
tells me quote, "protecting public safety and national security is our
highest priority. We are aware of the reported call from al Shabaab for
Westgate style attacks against shopping centers around the world to include
in the United States." In recent months, the FBI and DHS have worked
closely with our state and local public safety counterparts and members of
the private sector to include mall owners and operators to prevent and
mitigate these types of threats." So Steve, essentially officials here are
stressing that their security posture has not changed in the wake of this
video because they are already on heightened alert when it comes to mall
security and also protecting other places that draw large crowds.
Meanwhile, the Mall of America also released a statement saying that the
mall is aware of that video. And that quote, "we will continue to monitor
events with the help of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
We will continue to follow this situation along with law enforcement, and
we`ll remain vigilant as we always do in similar situations."
A little bit of background on al Shabaab. It`s a Somali based terror group
that has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks, including a
suicide attack in a hotel in Mogadishu on Friday. That left 25 people
dead. The terrorist group has recruited heavily in Minneapolis. The city
has the largest Somali population in the United States. Now law
enforcement officials say they don`t believe there`s any specific threat
against the United States, but still they continue to investigate this
video. They are taking it very seriously.
KORNACKI: Kristen Welker, appreciate that this morning.
President Obama is not just going to be putting a heavy focus on
immigration reform this week as we already discussed during the show today,
but he`s also going to continue to emphasize the need to tackle the problem
of violent extremism, including home grown terrorism right here in America.
Three cities were named this week as communities of focus, the greater
Boston area, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. As we have already reported, and
you just heard from Kristen Welker, the Mall of America outside of
Minneapolis now increasing security after being threatened in an apparent
video from the Somalia based terror group, al Shabaab. At least 15 young
people from the Twin Cities area joined ISIS just this past year. This
according - excuse me, statistics from the FBI. The first American killed
while fighting for ISIS was 33-year-old Douglas McCain, he was from
Hennepin County in Minnesota, before he was recruited. Hennepin County
holds the largest concentration of Somali immigrants in the nation. Young
people are often a target of recruitment by Al Shabaab and by ISIS. The
aims of the White House program in Minnesota are this: to improve law
enforcement relationships, to create jobs. Over half of the Somali born
population of working age in Minnesota are unemployed. And also, trying to
build out relationships with fractured communities. This is how the
president characterized that notion this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: In Los Angeles and Minneapolis, and Boston, these are partnerships
that bring people together in the spirit of mutual respect. And create
more dialogue and more trust and more cooperation. If we`re going to solve
these issues, then the people who are most targeted and potentially most
affected have to have a seat at table where they can shape and strengthen
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Here to talk about countering violent extremism in the United
States, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. She attended the White House
summit this week. Our panel is also back with us. Robert George of the
New York Post, political strategist Basil Smikle Jr, and Christina
Bellantoni, with "Roll Call." Senator Klobuchar, we want to get to the
agenda here on preventing home grown terror, but we also want to get your
reaction to this story out of your home state, this apparent Al Shabaab
video mentioning perhaps the Mall of America in your state. What is your
reaction to that, and have you had any communication with Washington about
its response to this?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, D-MINN.: Thank you so much, Steve. As you know, this
just came out yesterday. This is something we`ve seen before, sadly, in
Minnesota, where we have seen al Shabaab target usually young men in our
community. They did it with an actual video where they were showing a
plane ticket from Minneapolis, St. Paul to Somalia to fight with the
terrorist group. We`re seen these slick videos before. It`s one of the
tools of their trade, and our FBI and law enforcement is ready to respond.
They upped the security at the mall. And I think as you noted, this is
also, the threat was made regarding a mall in London, a mall in Canada.
This is what this group does. That is why we have been focusing not just
on going after the evil of ISIS overseas, but also the home-grown
terrorism. The fact they are targeting young men in our own communities,
not just in Minnesota, all over the country.
KORNACKI: In Minnesota, this is talking about your experience there.
Where are they targeting? How does this work? How do they go and get - you
mentioned some of the propaganda there, but how do they recruit in your
KLOBUCHAR: What we have found, Steve, I used to be the chief prosecutor
for Hennepin County so I`ve been involved in some of this for quite a while
before I was the U.S. senator. They tend to use the Internet. We have not
seen as much mosque recruitment as you might have seen in other places.
They use the Internet, go after young men. The parents often don`t know
it`s happening. That`s why the answer has got to be from the community.
I will say, we are proud of our Somali community in Minnesota. We have
half the Somalis in the country in Minnesota. And they have helped us with
these cases. There were actually 20 indictments against people
participating in Al Shabaab, there has already been nine convictions over
the last few years, and there have also been some recent indictments
involving those recruited to go fight with ISIS. So we know this is a real
problem in our community. But the Somalis in our community, they are
serving in elected office, they are running businesses. They are a part of
fabric of life in the community and also part of the solution.
KORNACKI: I want to get to the panel. Robert George, I know you have a
GEORGE: Senator, Robert George with the New York Post. Here in New York,
we had some of these controversies where the NYPD has monitored mosques
here in the city and in New Jersey, as well, and there`s been controversy
about the idea of violating potential civil rights. How do law enforcement
agencies engage with the community and try and identify problematic actors
that might be laying in wait?
KLOBUCHAR: Our U.S. attorney, Andy Luger, has made very clear that the
community outreach that`s part of this latest effort is separate from the
law enforcement work that goes on. But I will say that building these
relationships, I certainly found this when I was chief prosecutor, having
those relationships with the community, so people feel comfortable coming
to the police, the Minneapolis police chief and St. Paul police chief and
our elected sheriff, we`re all out there in Washington at the summit with
the president this last week.
They have hired officers who are Somali, that can relate to the people in
the community, that makes a big difference. And all of those agencies have
hired Somali officers, and they have also built the relationship with the
community, so there`s a trust with the community. If you don`t have that,
you can never build these cases.
BELLANTONI: Senator, Christina Bellantoni with Roll Call, you talk about
the community, and there is a large Muslim population both in Minnesota and
neighboring Michigan. I wonder how the killings in North Carolina might
complicate this outreach, trying to get the community involved to find
those bad actors with all of this concern about this possible hate crime in
KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. And I know that`s being investigated. That was a
horrible, just a horrific crime. Of course I`ve spoken to many of the
Muslim people in our community about that. They take it personally. It
was a very, very bad thing.
That being said, one of the things I learned over time, we in Minnesota, a
regular citizen, a pilot actually called to law enforcement, to their
attention Moussaoui, as you remember, the 20th hijacker, who was imprisoned
before 9/11. And one of the things we did after that, the U.S. attorney
and I, the Bush appointed U.S. attorney at the time, we spent a lot of time
going out to the Muslim communities, and meeting with them. And building
that kind of trust. There were hate crimes against them at that time. We
made sure that those were prosecuted, that they were brought out in public
so you have that kind of trust build up so the people don`t feel they`re
alone. That can also lead to reactions that are not going to be helpful
for public safety. You have to be there for them and you have to
understand that not every one of these people is involved in this. To the
contrary, most of them are law abiding citizens. No parent wants their kid
to go over to Syria and fight for ISIS, no parent wants their kid to go to
Somalia to fight for al Shabaab and become a suicide bomber. That`s how
you have to look at this as you work with the community.
SMIKLE: Senator, Basil Smikle, Columbia University. My question is, given
this conversation about terror, I imagine it`s difficult to extricate that
conversation from a lot of the larger conversations in Washington, D.C.,
around immigration and what to do with respect to the middle class and
providing opportunities to grow and expand the middle class. How do you
see, how is that conversation taking place in your state?
KLOBUCHAR: I think our state actually has a very low unemployment rate.
We are working very hard. We want to get more help for some of these kids
that have -- potentially the ones that will be recruited and make sure
they`re graduating from high school, that they`re getting jobs. I think
every community has the same problem in the inner city. But overall we
have really tried to focus on that employment piece of it.
Apart from that, I`m glad you raised that immigration issue, because when
we get back to Washington now, my Republican colleagues have a choice. We
have the homeland security funding. And with the latest threat and the
latest video, that needs to get funded. Secretary Johnson has been very
clear about this. We need to fund our homeland security and not weigh it
down with extraneous matters and poison pills related to immigration issues
that really are not related to the funding of homeland security. That is
what happened over in the House. It came over to the Senate. And I think
-- I hope this latest video and some of the things we`re seeing overseas
will bring a lot of my Republican colleagues, who I know many of them
didn`t want to have these immigration provisions built into this bill, that
we can pass a clean bill and get this done.
KORNACKI: Senator, we were talking about that earlier. The clock is on,
we`re basically five days away right now, what are the chances you see
right now of a DHS shutdown at the end of this week?
KLOBUCHAR: I hope given what we have seen, nothing but escalating violence
overseas, I hope this -- and now threats on our own homeland, on a mall in
our own country, I hope that will bring my Republican colleagues to the
table and enable us to pass this bill. I don`t really think there`s
another choice. I think there is plenty of time to try to work on
comprehensive immigration reform. I really believe we need to get it done.
But they are basically have decided to try to debate this on a bill that is
not related to it. They`re talking about dreamers, and all those kinds of
things, when in fact this is about homeland security. We should pass this
clean bill and fund our homeland security and not furlough security
KORNACKI: Amy Klobuchar, Democratic senator from Minnesota, thanks for the
time this morning, appreciate it.
KLOBUCHAR : Thank you very much for having me on, Steve. Look forward to
being on again.
KORNACKI: Great. Still ahead in the show, young men and women choosing to
run away to Syria in order to join ISIS and also the families they leave
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you say to a young person who came up to you
and said I`m thinking about joining ISIS?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will tell him my whole story. I will tell him don`t
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: We`ve been talking about stopping homegrown terrorism. How to
target ISIS propaganda that`s luring young men and women in America to
jihad. NBC`s Jamie Novograd sat down this week with a young man recruited
by ISIS in Syria when he was just 15 years old. He recently escaped across
the Turkish border.
JAMIE NOVOGRAD, NBC: Halid was once part of ISIS. He didn`t like it, so
he escaped. It all started, he says, because he wanted revenge against the
regime of Bashar al Assad. His neighborhood was under attack. ISIS
offered food and medicine.
They gave you a bit of hope. You wanted to join them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hoped they would become strong and fight the regime.
NOVOGRAD: So at the age of 15, Halid joined the ISIS child army. ISIS
calls its child soldiers lion cubs of the caliphate. It celebrates them in
propaganda videos like this one. Children are trained to use a rifle,
given classes in religion, and taught to love ISIS and hate its enemies.
Then the children are sent into combat. For Halid, that day came sooner
than he expected. His camp was attacked only two weeks after he had first
pikced up a gun. Four ISIS fighters were killed. Halid was shot in the
neck. He was terrified and he missed home. His mother heard he was
wounded and she found him at the ISIS camp.
What did she say to you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said take care of himself.
NOVOGRAD: He can`t continue telling his story without crying.
KORNACKI: Now overseas this morning, a desperate search continues for
three British teenage girls thought to be traveling to Syria to join ISIS
militants. The families of two of the girls issuing public appeals this
weekend for them to return home. The girls were on a break from their
school in London when they flew to Turkey this week, where it`s feared they
crossed the border into Syria. According to United States officials,
roughly 150 U.S. citizens have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria to
support armed groups there since the start of the conflict in 2011. The
Canadian government says they are aware of more than 130 people suspected
in taking part in terror related activities in Syria, Iraq and other
countries. One Canadian mother who participated in this week`s White House
summit, Christianne Boudreu, knows all too well how this happens. Her son,
Damien Claremont (ph), converted to Islam as a teen, then traveled to Syria
to join ISIS militants, losing his life there over a year ago. Her son`s
radicalism motivated Boudreau to help other parents and communities look
for the warning signs and to help prevent the next generation of homegrown
terrorists. She joins us now live from Calgary. Christianne, thank you
very much for being here. Really appreciate it. I think I would just like
to start, I think the thing most people are most curious about to begin
with is, your story. How did your son, a western teen, become an ISIS
militant? What was the process like?
CHRISTIANNE BOUDREAU: I think it was a combination of things. So, when he
converted to Islam, he was -- it was 2008. He was only 17. So changes
didn`t start happening for him until much later in 2011. At that time, he
just changed where he was living, met a different group of friends. I
think the ideologies were introduced to him, and then he was led to the
Internet to just reinforce those messages, and research.
KORNACKI: At what point does he tell you he`s going to go overseas?
BOUDREAU: Well, in 2012, in the summer of 2012, he brought up that he
wanted to go back to school, he wanted to go to the university to study
linguistics and Arabic, and he wanted to do that in Egypt. I did not
question it because I really encouraged travel, getting to know other
cultures before settling down to open his mind. So we had no reason to
think he was going anywhere else. We had never heard of foreign fighters.
We had never heard of Canadians joining these groups. So we were quite
surprised to learn much later that he didn`t go to Egypt, that he had gone
to Turkey and crossed into Syria.
KORNACKI: So at what point did you find that out? Was it -- was he in
contact with you while he was over there? Did you only find out after he
was killed? What was that process like?
BOUDREAU: He went over in November of 2012. We stayed in contact on the
telephone every two, three days. I believed he was in Egypt. No reason to
question him. And then the last phone call we got was December 23, 2012.
He just kind of went off the radar. At the end of January 2013, our
security intelligence here in Canada showed up at our home and started
questioning us about, you know, do we recognize any these photos of other
gentlemen? I said it didn`t matter, that Damien was in Egypt, he was not in
Canada. They said that`s the problem. We`ve been watching him for almost
two years with a group of young men, and we suspect he`s actually gone to
Turkey, gone to a training camp, and then crossed into Syria. At that
point, I didn`t hear from Damien again until the end of February, which we
remained in contact up until June of 2013.
KORNACKI: When you look back at it, were there warning signs that you look
at now and you say I wish I had seen this? Other parents should be looking
BOUDREAU: Yeah, if I had known what to look for, that there was a concern,
maybe the red flags would have been there. His behavior started to change.
He started becoming much more rigid in his beliefs, he was agitated all the
time, he wouldn`t come to the table if we were having a bottle of wine. He
started discussing western media, how it was portraying lies, that what was
going on in the Middle East, we were not doing enough. We were being
selfish, and people were being tortured and killed. And we weren`t doing
anything about it. You could see the agitation there. You could see he
was starting to look at other things, other parts of the world.
KORNACKI: Did you ever -- you mentioned you were still in contact with him
about two years ago. Did you ever have conversations with him where he
talked about this at all?
BOUDREAU: Yeah. When he finally did contact me again at the end of
February of 2013, at that point I didn`t let him know that the security
intelligence had been in. But I did say I noticed the country code on the
phone and that it indicated he was in Syria. He admitted it. He came
clean at that point. He said, mom, I have to be here. I have to do
something productive with my life. And I`m trying to save women and
children who are being tortured, murdered and raped. And that the Bashar
al Assad regime, trying to fight against them to save people. Over time,
you could see changes in him. He would go on a couple of field trips or a
vacation, as he called them, and he became colder, emptier, more distant.
KORNACKI: Do you, from a -- there was a summit you attended this week in
Washington from a public policy standpoint. Are there things you look at
that the government, whether it was in Canada or the United States, can and
should be doing to prevent this from happening to anyone else?
BOUDREAU: We definitely have to start on the preventive side. The costs
for military and everything, it`s a Band-Aid, it`s reactive. You can only
do so much for that. We need to educate our young children so they build
up resiliency and understand how these people are trying to reach out to
them and try to counter that, to deliver some models so they can speak to
it. So with Extreme Dialogue, that`s what we`ve done. We created the
resource guides, the films to raise those questions, to offer opportunity
for our kids to discuss it at a younger age and be prepared. We can`t be
with them 24/7 when they`re on their iPads, on their smartphones, and we
can`t watch over everything that they do. With all the outside influences,
it`s important. We also have to prepare resources to support them, to
strengthen them, to strengthen our communities so we`re prepared for this.
KORNACKI: All right. Christianne Boudreau joining us live from Calgary
this morning, really appreciate the time. Thank you very much.
BOUDREAU: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Still ahead, just how miserable has this winter been in the
northeast? It`s so bad that one city`s tourism bureau is actually
encouraging people to stay away from that city. The mayor of that town
will join us in a bit.
Also, we talked about the best in film making this year ahead of the
Oscars, now it`s time to talk about the worst. That`s next. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: We`re back with our panel now. Another edition of catching up.
My favorite index card says let`s see what`s in the news. Let`s take a
look at "People." "People" magazine. The Razzies. This is the anti-Oscar
ceremony every year. Cameron Diaz, Ben Affleck bring home the Raspberries.
It`s on the eve of the Oscars. Hollywood has fun doling out awards for the
worst performances of the year, starting with Kirk Cameron, who won both
worst picture and worst actor for "Saving Christmas." I didn`t see many
good reviews for this one.
BELLANTONI: I think the last thing he was in that was any good was
GEORGE: He was brought in at the late end of the run as the cute new kid
because the other ones were aging out.
KORNACKI: Had a good run. (inaudible) "Who`s the Boss." What else?
Cameron Diaz, got the worst actress for "The Other Woman" and for "Sex
BELLANTONI: "Sex Tape" was a terrible movie. I actually watched this on
an airplane. They edit out all the good parts, basically. It`s an even
worse movie without the sex.
KORNACKI: I imagine it`s a very short movie, too.
GEORGE: Didn`t Cameron -- isn`t she the only person who showed up for the
KORNACKI: Here is another one. Last one here, the worst supporting actor,
this was for four different movies, Kelsey Grammer, Dr. Frasier Crane was
in "Expendables 3," "Legends of Oz," "Think like a Man," "Transformers 4,"
and for that quartet, he got --
GEORGE: In fairness to him, he has big alimony payments, you have to take
a check. What are you going to do.
KORNACKI: Very little watched show on the Starz Network.
KORNACKI: He`s better on TV.
Let`s see what else we have here? This is from Bloomberg. It says here is
what the DNC thinks will help Democrats win more elections. The party`s
2014 midterm election autopsy. It came out yesterday. Says the party has
a messaging problem because no one knows what the party stands for. I`d
say that`s a messaging problem. This is the new thing, I guess, when a
party loses an election. The Republicans did this in 2012, they said,
well, better change your views on gay rights and you better do immigration
reform. No immigration reform. Now the Democrats say this is a values
based narrative, that is what they need. They need more of an outreach to
white southern voters.
GEORGE: The interesting thing is, one of the things that the Republicans
did do actually looking at that autopsy is go out and recruit more minority
candidates, recruit more women candidates, and that turned out to be
successful in 2014 at the state level and in terms of electing two to
Congress as well. If the Democrats do seriously look at that, yeah, they
are going to have to figure out what the party stands for. But sometimes
these autopsies can bear fruit.
BELLANTONI: It`s the most diverse group of House Republicans as well. Not
just the two prominent female senators. With this issue, you go for an
autopsy. The Democrats when you talk to them, they say if we stand for the
middle class, if we say we`re the party that cares about your economic
well-being, we are going to win. And that`s what they`ve been saying for
like 10 years, and in some ways it works and then in the midterms they get
totally wiped out.
SMIKLE: Part of the problem was they didn`t really develop the
infrastructure. Not only did part of this report and other folks talking
about it said they didn`t focus on any of the down ballot races, which is
insane, but the fact of the matter is, in this social media age, going back
to 2008, the president`s campaign was about creating a movement around him.
And because it could be so segmented and so specific, it`s hard to bring
other folks and other candidates along in the process. So you develop no
state party infrastructure.
KORNACKI: My solution for the Democrats, wait for the next presidential
election. They seem to do much better in the presidential races than the
midterms. Maybe it`s as simple as that. I know Republicans will probably
disagree with that. Did not have time for this one, LeBron James wants to
host "SNL " again. I was hoping to talk about that. There it is. OK.
(inaudible), Robert George, Basil Smikle Jr, Christina Bellantoni,
appreciate you all being here. Still ahead on the show today, the
surprising travel tips being given out by the city of Ithaca, New York.
The mayor joins us. And next, we examine the possibility of boots on the
ground in Syria, more boots on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, maybe,
stay with us.
KORNACKI: If the Obama administration does decide to slow the U.S. exit
from Afghanistan, that is something the new defense secretary, Ash Carter,
now suggests might happen. If the U.S. does decide to make that move, it
may be the case that the American public is more open to the possibility
than you might think at first. This poll, looking at right here, asked
about ground forces to combat ISIS, not the Taliban, but still, the
majority of those surveyed by CBS News this week say that they favor the
U.S. sending boots on the ground into Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS. That
is a 10-point jump since October. That is also an 18-point jump just since
September. Similar resulsts in the NBC News Marist poll conducted just a
few days earlier, with 54 percent there saying that they want their member
of Congress to vote to authorize military action against ISIS. So here we
are, nearly a dozen years after the invasion of Iraq, even longer since
U.S. forces began attacking Afghanitan. And here now, attitudes seem to be
shifting in America, with a nation that was war-weary not long ago, growing
more and more comfortable with the idea of sending troops overseas, sending
troops to the Middle East. So what does that mean for America`s role in
the fight against ISIS? Joining me now are two members of Congress,
Democrat Jim McDermott of Washington state, Republican Bob Dold from
Illinois. Thank you both for being here this morning, and Congressman
McDermott, let me ask you that. The American people seem to be shifting in
the direction of a little bit more of an interventionist direction here.
Do you agree with that shift? Is that something you yourself had felt as
you look at ISIS?
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT, D-WASH.: I am very uncomfortable with it. In 1991,
George Bush led us into the Gulf War. In 2001, George Bush II led us into
that war, and now we are talking about an extension which goes beyond the
end of Obama and into the next presidency. Suppose it`s Jeb Bush, OK?
We`ll have the third Bush war. The real question is, what is going to
happen that`s going to end with the sentence that says, after this
happened, the troops came home? When will we have success? It`s not in
KORNACKI: On that, this is the authorization the administration submitted
to Congress for the fight on ISIS. Is that something right now you`d be
MCDERMOTT: I would be very uncomfortable with the one that`s on paper
right now. It`s going to go through a lot of debate and a lot of action in
the Congress, so I can`t say what exactly I`m going to do, but the one
that`s on the table right now, I am not supportive of.
KORNACKI: Congressman Dold, let me ask you about that, what is your
appetite as a member of Congress when it comes to boots on the ground to
REP. BOB DOLD, R-ILL.: Let me just certainly say that hearing from my
constituents, there`s no question that people are starting to say this is
an extremist organization that is beheading people, and frankly when they
threaten our president, when they behead an American, they are an enemy of
the United States and our allies. I do think that fatigue cannot be
something that we take into account when we talk about our national
KORNACKI: How do you look at this authorization the White House has
submitted? It`s sort of a working document maybe at this point, how do you
look at it now?
DOLD: I look at it as it`s actually too narrow from my perspective. If
we`re going to put men and women in harm`s way, we need to make sure we`re
giving the president all the authority to do whatever is necessary for what
may come up. I think the authorization for use of military force that has
been presented is too narrow at this point.
KORNACKI: That`s an interesting thing. The gap here between both sides.
This doesn`t necessarily break on predictable partisan lines, but you got
one side that says this is maybe too much they are asking for. The other
side says, as Congressman Dold did, too little. Congressman McDermott, let
me ask you, is there a scenario, is there something the administration
could have put on paper, is there something you could hear in terms of
intelligence or strategy that would make you more comfortable about a more
MCDERMOTT: I would have to hear an awful lot more about who they think
ISIS really is and how do you fight an ideology. Protestantism has many
kinds of Protestants. ISIS is a part of Islam, it is an ideology, and you
are fighting an ideology, and that`s hard to put down. People believe in
that, they`re willing to give their lives for it, and when we walk in
there, we better understand exactly who we`re going to fight. Because
we`re not going to the Second World War or Korea or Vietnam or any place
else. We`re going against an aspect of Islam that is very dedicated to
what they believe. I think it`s very hard to construct a way in which we
could go in and wipe them out.
KORNACKI: What about this idea, Congressman Dold, you can`t fight an
ideology with a military? What do you think of that?
DOLD: Listen, defeating an ideology is obviously very, very difficult, as
my friend from Washington noted. What ISIS does have is they have a set
territory. They`re now controlling about 6 to 8 million people, and they
draw some of their power actually from those resources that we actually do
have a defined area, unlike al Qaeda. I think we have to, when I talk
about the use of military force, giving the president all the options, we
want to make sure all the options are on the table if we`re putting men and
women, American troops in harm`s way. That`s up to the president, the
commanders on the ground in terms of what the best use to achieve victory
is. I would agree that I would like to see more about what that strategy
is. Because I don`t want to put men and women in harm`s way without a
clear path for victory.
KORNACKI: What are you hearing from your constituents? We show these
changing poll numbers. I`m getting the sense that the stories about the
beheadings, the nature of ISIS, has changed the psychology of this country
as it relates to troops and to war. What are you hearing?
DOLD: That`s exactly what we`re hearing, what I`m hearing on the ground.
When you march 21 Egyptian Christians down to the beach and behead them,
when you behead journalists, it starts to change what people realize, that
this is absolutely going to be something that comes and impacts the United
States. Secretary Clinton, Secretary Panetta, General Dempsey, Secretary
Hagel, all have come out to say this is, you know, an organization that we
need to step up and do something about. They encouraged the administration
to take action earlier. This is absolutely something that the United
States needs to take a leadership role in. And we need to act now.
KORNACKI: All right, Jim McDermott from Washington state, Bob Dold from
Illinois, appreciate both of you getting up this morning. Thank you for
Still ahead, the mayor of one snow-covered upstate New York city will try
to convince us to go there in the dead of winter, really wants those
tourism dollars. Next, we will go live to Dallas where there isn`t any
snow on the ground yet, but that could be changing.
KORNACKI: The Dallas/Ft. Worth area is under a winter storm warning this
morning. Forecasters predicting sleet and ice for part of the country that
really is not used to dealing with that. The Weather Channel`s Mike Seidel
is live for us in Dallas. Mike, snow today, is that really happening down
MIKE SEIDEL, WEATHER CHANNEL: We`re not going to get any snow here in
Dallas. We`re getting a lot of snow right now on the far range, Bolder and
Denver, those areas. We`ve had a lot of flights canceled out of Denver
International Airport. But here in north Texas, it`s all about the
temperature profile. And we`ll have some warm air aloft. I think it will
be freezing rain and then a lot of sleet. This area only averages 1.2
inches of solid precipitation, snow and sleet, a year. They`re not heavily
equipped to deal with it. But they have loaded up the trucks, the salt
Turks, the sand trucks, and putting down the brine solution.
The big issue here is this, just about every interstate, every freeway is
elevated. Look at all that concrete. The cold air surrounds the surfaces
and they freeze first. We always tell you to watch the elevated surfaces.
Well, that`s just about everything here in Dallas-Ft. Worth. So we have
rain coming in, in the next couple of hours. About 10:00 tonight,
midnight, temperatures will fall down to the magical number of 32. And
that`s it. Once we hit freezing and then go into the 20s, it will stay
below freezing well into Tuesday. So even though the sleet and freezing
rain will end later tomorrow, maybe early tomorrow evening, even into
Tuesday we will have issues. We won`t have any sun, we`ll have the
daylight certainly, but without the sun and temperatures staying below
freezing until Tuesday, this place will shut down. I know this will be a
travel nightmare tomorrow in Dallas/Ft. Worth. And we got ice predicted as
far east as Birmingham, Alabama with this system. This one will not come
up the coast. So those of you in the northeast, no worries, just cold and
dry for most of this coming week.
KORNACKI: Don`t worry in the northeast, except about those 100 inches of
snow already in your backyard. Anyway, Mike Seidel in Dallas, appreciate
it. Snow in Dallas - well, not snow in Dallas. There was snow in Dallas
on Thanksgiving Day `93, big NFL game that day. (inaudible). Screwed
Up next, you would expect the tourism bureau to urge you to visit a place
like this right now, except when that tourism bureau is more than 1500
miles away. We`ll explain that after this.
KORNACKI: The dead of winter has many of us dreaming of getting away to
someplace warm, someplace tropical, someplace like Ithaca, New York? Well,
not really. Ithaca`s tourism bureau, though, is looking to be anywhere
else these days. One of the funniest stories I saw this week. For a time
this week, the visitIthaca.com website was actually encouraging would-be
travelers to go to the Florida Keys instead. "That`s it," the web site
read, "We surrender, go to Key West instead." The web site also said
"please come back when things thaw out. Really, it`s for the birds here
now." Message has since been taken down. Local businesses and ski
operators were reportedly not too happy with it. We thought we`d invite
Ithaca`s mayor to our show to defend his city this morning. He accepted
the invitation, so joining us now from cold, snow-covered Ithaca, New York,
is Mayor Svante Myrick. Mr. Mayor, I don`t know if you did this or this is
just the backdrop behind you, but I`m noticing there`s snow on the window
and a palm tree drawn into it. Is that a subliminal message here?
MAYOR SVANTE MYRICK, (D), ITHACA, NY: I wish I could take credit for it.
Honestly it`s students here at Cornell University. We actually just found
this on campus and thought it was the perfect backdrop for today`s
KORNACKI: So where do you come down on this? Should people -- I don`t know
who would be thinking of traveling to Ithaca right now. Should they go to
the Florida Keys right now?
MYRICK: No, of course not. I mean, here`s what we thought, and I have to
say I can`t take credit for the decision. Bruce Stoff (ph) has earned his
salary and then some over at the Tuppence (ph) County visitors bureau with
this idea, but I stand fully behind it. Look, we know that upstate New
York is a wonderful place to be year round. If you don`t mind the cold,
there`s so much to do here in the winter in Ithaca and in the surrounding
area. You can visit the Corning (ph) museum of glass or the Johnson art
museum here in Ithaca, visit Greek Peak and the ski resorts here. But we
also knew that in February, particularly with this cold snap, people
weren`t looking for us. People were not thinking about Ithaca, New York.
So we had to find a way to draw attention to all the offerings we had, and
we said why not tell the truth.
KORNACKI: Draw attention to it by saying go somewhere else?
MYRICK: And it worked. We were averaging 1500 hits a day on our website.
After this broke, we had 120,000 hits in one day. Because we were telling
the truth. Which is that if you want to go to Key West, I don`t blame you,
part of me wants to go myself. And of course right now the weather is much
better there. But we still have things to offer here and we needed to find
a way to bring attention to it, and it worked. We did just that.
KORNACKI: So is there -- there was a statement, I guess, from the chamber
of commerce or the tourism council in the Florida Keys saying it was
unconventional, but they appreciated it. Are you expecting that in the
middle of the summer, Key West or the Florida Keys is going to say hey, you
know, enough sun, enough warmth, go up to Ithaca. Are they going to return
MYRICK: I don`t know. We certainly don`t expect them to, but they have
been very gracious and they have played along with us quite well. In fact,
they have gotten so much attention from this marketing campaign that they
have reciprocated. They have offered free nights, hotel nights in Key West
in vacation packages that we can raffle off up here to the charity of our
choice, so they have been very generous and helping us play along here.
KORNACKI: This sounds like the birth of some great sister cities, twin
cities kind of relationship. Give it to us very, very quickly here, it`s
the dead of winter, it`s 9 below zero, there`s 100 inches of snow outside.
What do you do in Ithaca?
MYRICK: What do I do in Ithaca? I stay indoors mostly. But we`re a hearty
people. We are people that are used to the cold weather and are used to
taking it in stride. My brother lives in Dallas and is seeing his airport
shut down right now. We are used to this. We see this every winter. So
we go skiing, we go snowshoeing, we go to the chilifest on the commons on
our downtown outdoor pedestrian mall. We make it work for us. Frankly, we
look forward to spring, summer and fall, which -- during which you couldn`t
find a more beautiful place to be.
KORNACKI: There it is, the mayor of Ithaca, Svante Myrick, getting in all
the good stuff about his home city. There`s some publicity for them.
Thank you for joining us. Thank you for getting up with us today.
Programming reminder, MSNBC`s Jose Diaz-Balart will host a town hall with
President Obama on Wednesday. You can send questions using #obamatownhall.
Then be sure to watch MSNBC Wednesday night at 8:00 pm. for that town hall.
Up next is Melissa Harris-Perry followed by "Taking the Hill" with former
Congressman Patrick Murphy, and we will see you on this show next week.
Have a great week.
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