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'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: February 28, 2015
Guest: Lance Leonard, Kellyanne Conway, Evan McMorris-Santoro, Adolfo
Franco, Ann Lewis, Kate Zernike, Sahil Kapur, Bill Pascrell, Mo Brooks,
Adolfo Franco, Evan McMorris-Santoro, Mubin Shaikh

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": Did John Boehner
agree to cave?

All right. And good morning. It is the final day of February, the federal
government is still completely open this morning because a shutdown of the
Department of Homeland Security was averted late last night. Just 120
minutes before funding was going to run out and workers were going to be
told to start staying home. But the deal that was reached last night, it
is temporary, it is fragile. It was another down to the wire vote on
Capitol Hill. This one, to provide just a one week extension of DHS
funding. And so, the question is, will we be right back on the brink seven
days from now? The other question of the morning, and we will going to be
diving into after last night`s drama in all the drama, the other question
is, was there a deal? Is there a deal between John Boehner, the speaker of
the House and Nancy Pelosi the top democrat.

A lot of suspense around that. And also we`ll have in the show this
morning, the suspected ISIS executioner behind the James Foley beheading,
he was unmasked. This week, we`re going to talk to a former extremists
turned counterterrorism operative about who Jihadi John really is. And
we`re going to try to find out what drove a young man raised in the west to
become an apparent killer.

Also, we can`t ignore it. The dress that is still dividing the internet
and just about everyone you know. What color did you see? We will look at
why no one can agree on what they saw.

All right. And we begin this morning with that crisis averted on Capitol
Hill last night. And barely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The AZ 357, the AZ 360, two thirds mean in the
affirmative. The rules are suspended the Senate amendment is agreed to.
And without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: All right. Now that was a few minutes before 10:00 last night.
The final vote after a truly bizarre day filled with suspense, filled with
chaos. That vote to keep the Department of Homeland Security open for one
more week. President Obama signing the measure just before midnight.
That`s when funding would have officially run out. But here now, here is
what everyone is trying to figure out this morning. Did House Speaker John
Boehner cut a deal with Nancy Pelosi? Just before that vote Pelosi giving
democrats instructions to vote for the one week extension. This is even
though democrats had been adamant that they would support only a full year
of funding with no short term patches.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: The vote tonight will assure that we
will vote for full funding of the Homeland Security next week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: So, reading between the lines there, Pelosi, the top democrat in
the house seeming to say that Boehner will give in sometime in the next few
days and will give democrats what they want. But now, Boehner strongly
denying that. Quote, "no such deal or promise was made," says his
spokesman. That was last late night. This is all a show down that`s been
building for months now. Starting with President Obama`s executive action
to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. That is
unconstitutional republicans insist. And they drew a line over DHS
funding. They said roll back the executive action or we`re not going to
give you the money to run the department. The democrats had been holding
firm. They`re confident the public is going to blame republican if there`s
any shutdown and they`ve demanded that the GOP allow DHS to stay open, no
strings attaches. And now, as this all comes to ahead, republicans are
divided. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow republicans
on Friday passing that so-called clean funding bill that democrats want.
But House republicans refusing to go along with their Senate counterpart.
Boehner trying to bide time yesterday putting a bill on the floor Friday
afternoon that would have funded DHS for three weeks. Then, watching that
move backfire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The yeas are 203, nays are 224. The joint resolution
is not passed. Without objection a motion to reconsider is laid on the
table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That was about 5:00 p.m. yesterday. Fifty two republicans
breaking with Boehner handing him a shocking setback.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. WALTER JONES (R), NORTH CAROLINA: To me, this is what my vote was all
about. Representing the people of the third district who feel that a
president violated the constitution. And that is, again, why I said that
Homeland Security got caught into the debate. But the debate and the vote
was simply about my constitutional duties to uphold the constitution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: And in the wake of that vote, absolute chaos and confusion
reigning throughout the night Friday on Capitol Hill with that last minute
one week extension finally passing with almost no time to spare. And so
here we are now the morning after. DHS is still open. Democrats, they
think they`ve got a deal to get what they want next week from Boehner. But
Boehner, he is denying there`s any deal. He`s fearful undoubtedly of how
his right flank will react, if there is any deal. And of course, the
countdown clock to a shutdown, it`s now been reset. Seven days and
counting.

For more on how this has all unfolded and will unfold from here, Sahil
Kapur is the senior Congressional reporter for Talking Points Memo. He
joins us from Washington now. He was certainly there last night. Sahil,
thanks for taking a few minutes this morning. So, let me just start with
that question we`re asking. The democrats backing off this all or nothing
posture they sort of had and giving votes for this one week extension last
night, Pelosi suggesting there is a deal, is that what democrats think
there is here, a deal?

SAHIL KAPUR, TALKING POINTS MEMO SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Steve,
this is a bit baffling to me. Because I`m hearing completely different
things from both sides. As you pointed out the speaker`s office disputes
the contention that there was a deal. But a democratic Congressional aide
I spoke to last night, very senior, very knowledgeable says that Speaker
Boehner did absolutely unequivocally make a commitment to Harry Reid on the
phone last night and that Nancy Pelosi also knew about it. Now, think
about this logically, it`s difficult to imagine Nancy Pelosi after showing
her upper hand and scuttling voting down Speaker Boehner`s three week bill
to suddenly turn around and get her entire conference to vote for a one
week bill without getting something in return. So, logically, it seems
like there was some sort of assurance or something that democrats got in
return. But again, you know, this is kind of he said, she said at this
point. Nobody really knows what exactly happened behind the scenes. We`re
hearing very different things from their offices. So, this is the question
that I think everyone on Capitol Hill is pondering going into next week.

KORNACKI: And that`s really interesting what you`re saying. How the
communication is working here. Because we know that Boehner has been
telling his republicans in the House that he hasn`t basically no contact
with Mitch McConnell, the top republican of the Senate. Now you`re telling
us that if there was communication last night, it apparently was between
Harry Reid, the top democrat in the Senate and John Boehner, the speaker of
the House. Let me ask you this, if there is a deal along the lines of what
democrats are suggesting to you. And again, republicans are denying this.
But if there is a deal along the lines of what democrats are suggesting,
how exactly would this then play out over the next week?

KAPUR: Steve, if there is a deal, and Speaker Boehner committed to
bringing up a bill, then the question is, does he bring up that bill. If
he does, it`s going to infuriate his members and his conference on the
right. And remember his speakership is a bit tenuous at this point. He
survived re-election of speaker last month despite a record defection. I
think 25 republicans voted against him as speaker as well as all democrats
of course. But along with that, there are 50 to 60 republicans who voted
against his bill on the three week extension and the one week extension for
DHS. And you have to understand as well, the reason this issue is so
explosive is that it combines two things that make republicans maddest.
The idea of President Obama using his executive authority and the idea of
leniency and help for unauthorized immigrants. So it`s an open question
what happens going in to this. If Speaker Boehner does puts a clean DHS
bill on the floor, there will certainly be talk, and I suspect there might
be an attempt to challenge his speakership.

KORNACKI: Wow. All right. Sahil Kapur, Talking Points Memo. A lot of
drama last night, but clearly that drama is not going to be subsiding until
the next few days. Thanks for joining us this morning.

KAPUR: Thanks, Steve.

KORNACKI: There were five democrats who voted against that one week
funding bill when it would finally got that vote before 10:00 last night.
And those five democrats include Bill Pascrell from New Jersey, he joins us
now live from Capitol Hill. Along with Congressman Mo Brooks, he`s a
republican from Alabama. He also voted against the measure last night.

Congressman Brooks, let me start with you on this question we just raised
with Sahil Kapur, the reporter for Talking Points Memo. Hearing from
democrats, did they believe there`s a deal here, that John Boehner at some
point in the next week will put what they`re calling the clean bill, a full
year of funding for DHS, no strings attached on the floor at some point in
the next week. Do you think, is it your understanding that there is some
kind of a deal?

REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: Well, I`m not a party to the discussions
between Speaker Boehner and Nancy Pelosi. I don`t know what communications
occurred. But I do know this, in my opinion, and I expressed this to a
member of the House leadership, we should have voted on the Senate bill to
fund the Department of Homeland Security. If it passed, if that was the
will of the majority, the members of the House of Representatives, and so
be it, they can defend those votes back home. If it didn`t pass, if
perhaps the position I have, protecting American workers from job losses
and wage suppression by this huge surge of illegal alien labor. That is
illegally unconstitutionally being advocated by the President of the United
States. If that position passed then we would be in a stronger position of
forcing the democrats in the United States Senate to reconsider whether
they really want to shut down the Department of Homeland Security in order
to help illegal aliens take more jobs and wages from American citizens.

KORNACKI: Let me just make sure I`m clear in this then. So, what you`re
saying is the bill that passed the Senate, this is the so-called clean
funding bill, a full year of funding for DHS, no language in there about
stopping the President`s executive action on immigration, you are okay with
John Boehner bringing that to the floor for a vote?

BROOKS: I recommended it to a member of House leadership this week. And
we need to see where everybody`s positions are. And if that`s the will of
the majority of the House of Representatives. If the majority of the House
of Representatives wants to violate their oath of office to defend and
protect the United States constitution, well then they can defend that back
in their districts and in their states as so many senators have already
committed to doing. And why go through this process of stringing the
Department of Homeland Security out for one or three weeks if the end
result is going to be the same thing. I don`t understand that strategy.
Let`s have an up or down vote, let the majority decide what is the best
interest of the American people. And keep in mind we`re caught in a catch
22. All of us want to fund the Department of Homeland Security. The issue
is, are we going to support illegal and unconstitutional conduct which at
the same time has the effect of taking of taking jobs for American citizens
undermining wages of American workers and putting illegal aliens on a
pedestal superior to that of American citizens. That`s what the real
disagreement is about.

KORNACKI: Well, let me ask you, Congressman Pascrell. So, Nancy Pelosi,
your leader, the House democratic leader last night asked you and asked all
democrats to support the one week extension saying that if you do support
the one week extension, she is confident you will be able to get what you
want in the next week. That full year of funding, no strings attached, no
immigration language. You still voted no, why?

REP. BILL PASCRELL (D), NEW JERSEY: Because Homeland Security is a
priority. It`s not like talking about trading soybeans. We`re talking
about the very security of this nation. We should not make deals amongst
ourselves in order to protect America. And I`ve told this to my
firefighters and police officers in my district, I went down to the border
last week and talked to those folks. And saw the hard work that they do.
They`re doing a fantastic job. Remember, we don`t only have one border,
Steve. We have four borders at least. And we need to pay attention to all
of those borders. So I think it would be a violation -- I listened to
Secretary Johnson and I read his letters that he sent to the Congress of
the United States, he feels any short term extension is going to hurt,
create more anxiety amongst the troops. The thousands of people who work
for Homeland Security. And I suspect, Steve, on the bottom -- one of the
points in this, and I don`t accuse my brother Brooks here of this, but I
think there is a very deep dislike and concerning federal workers on the
other side of the aisle. I mean, there is not the respect shown that they
deserve. Because you are working for the federal governor, state governor
or local government doesn`t make you a pariah. I support these people.

KORNACKI: But listen --

PASCRELL: And I think it has a lot to do with the issue.

KORNACKI: But let me ask you though, in terms of getting them, insuring
that they stay on the job, their paychecks keep coming in. The things
you`re talking about there, this has to get resolved some way. Nancy
Pelosi was pointing a direction that she sees for you guys last night
saying if we give them this right now, they are going to turn around and
give us what we want in the next week. You said no. So, what is the way
out that you see?

PASCRELL: Like brother Brooks, we have no assurance that there`s a deal.
What does a deal mean in terms of the security of the United States of
America? We should bring it up for a vote. I absolutely agree with what
Mo just said. Just like we should have brought up the Senate vote on
immigration last year. There was a clear vote. There was a bipartisan
vote in the Senate of the United States. Why do we link these two
positions, these two situations on this particular bill? Why didn`t we do
it on some other? So, it was a strategy that the other side used in order
to embarrass the President, and here we are. We do need a clean vote. It
should have been last night. And in fact, if that vote -- didn`t pass last
night. I don`t know if you agree with me is, let`s say that that vote was
turned down, Steve, of waiting seven more days. If that was not -- if that
was turned down last night, what would have been the next step? Go home
and do nothing? Maybe. Maybe we could have brought up the clean vote.
And why not?

KORNACKI: Let me ask Congressman Brooks in there, and Congressman Brooks
as you said on the top of the show, you have been asking for that so-called
clean bill, the Senate bill to come to the House floor for a vote. You say
you`d be fine by that. The reporting consistently suggests though that a
lot of conservatives, a lot of the people in the republican conference who
are most suspicious of, skeptical of John Boehner are not okay with that.
That they see that as giving in, they see that as giving in to what the
administration wants, giving in to what the democrats want -- do you think,
not from you but from your fellow conservatives, John Boehner has something
to worry about, if he puts that bill on the floor?

BROOKS: There are 435 House members and you have a variety of opinions
amongst those 435. There are some conservatives like myself who will not
vote to fund illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty that takes jobs
and undermines wages for American citizens, period. But if I`m in a
minority position on the Senate bill and apparently, 31 republican senators
were in the minority when that bill was voted on yesterday. If I`m in a
minority in the House of Representatives, so be it. We are a democracy
which ultimately means that a majority prevails. Now, in this particular
instance, here`s what`s at stake. You have the risk of a federal
government shutdown. That`s what`s at stake. And under those
circumstances, I would argue that we have an obligation to prevent that
kind of damage that is done to our federal government and to our country.

And some of those circumstances, I would have preferred that we have a vote
on the full measure passed by the Senate and see where the people and the
United States House of Representatives stood. And if it failed, then that
would reinforce to the United States senate, that their position of
defending the President`s illegal and unconstitutional conduct is untenable
and they would have to reconsider their position. But if it passed, then
this issue would be behind us and we would start moving on to a lot of
other very important issues that still face our country. In the meantime,
as Bill has argued and I think as I concur, we are stringing this thing
out. Let`s bring it to a head, see where the votes are. If we can depose
of it quicker that is a whole lot better than stringing it out and doing
damage in the interim that can be avoided.

KORNACKI: All right.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

PASCRELL: And you agree with me that this is not necessarily
unconstitutional. We don`t know that. That has to be decided. But I
agree with you, let`s bring it up and discuss it and debate it as a
separate issue. It has nothing to do with those border patrolman, the TSA
people who defend, who help us when we get on our airplanes, the cops and
firefighters in our own districts. It has nothing to do with that
directly. And I say I agree with you that we should have had a vote we
should had it last night.

KORNACKI: All right. We will see. We got to end it here. But we will
see in the next few days if you get your way and you do have that vote on
the House floor. And we will see what happens if that does, if that is the
case. My thanks to Congressman Bill Pascrell from New Jersey, Mo Brooks
from Alabama. I appreciate the time this morning from both of you.

PASCRELL: My pleasure Steve, have a good --

KORNACKI: All right. You too. Coming up, the panel will join me to talk
about all this. We`re going to look at just how bad things have gotten
between the leaders of the Republican Party. Amazing story there. Stay
with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: Senate majority leader and I have
had a long relationship and especially over the last eight years, seven
eight years we`ve had a very close working relationship. But you know, he
has his challenges and I have mine. And we have two different institutions
that don`t have the same body temperature every day. And so, you know, we
tend to try to work and narrow the differences. But sometimes there are
differences. You know, the House by nature and by design is a hell lot
more rambunctious place than the Senate much more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: And the House is showing just how rambunctious it can be waiting
until the very last minute night. To vote on just a one week extension to
keep the Department of Homeland Security open.

Here to talk more about this, we have Krystal Ball, she`s a co-host of
MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE." Adolfo Franco, a republican strategist and former
advisor to Senator John McCain when he ran for president. And Evan
McMorris-Santoro, he`s the White House reporter for BuzzFeed. So, not sure
where to start here. But I`ll try this one on for starters. Mo Brooks,
the republican from Alabama who joins us in the last segment, Adolfo,
surprised me. Because what we keep hearing is John Boehner is not going to
put this clean funding bill on the floor. Full year of funding for DHS
because he`s scared of a conservative revolt. And here is one of those
conservatives who voted no on the one week extension last night saying, you
know, what, I think he should put the Senate bill on the floor.

ADOLFO FRANCO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. That`s a little bit unusual I
think in this tech minority. But if we can push the rewind button here for
a moment. I`d like to take the speaker`s position here for a moment. I
think you know, for the last few years the democrats have been clamoring
about regular order. And regular order in Washington speaks, just really
means, let the majority vote their will. You -- for the immigration bill
for example, they complained that the House did not take up the Senate
passed immigration bill a couple of years ago. I think the republican plan
here which was in a sense always cheat up for disaster was, let`s pass this
bill with the provisions on the executive order and the House and let the
Senate vote on it and have the President veto the bill and have democrats
go on the record. It`s significant number probably eight or nine in the
Senate and a good number even in the House and embarrassed the President.

KORNACKI: So, did they --

FRANCO: Well, remember, the President was just on NBC and on Telemundo
with those ideas, where he said this filibustering has to stop. Well, this
is a case in point. Let the regular order move forward. Let the House
works its will, let the Senate work its will. Obviously, there are numbers
there to sustain the President`s veto. And I think a compromise could have
been had. That was the republican plan. But somebody should have told
them this was probably not in the cards. They turned it into a republican
issue, correctly as I would have by --

KORNACKI: Yes. That`s kind of amazing, right? Because we, the
republicans finally got legislatively what they`ve been looking for after
the last election. They got the House bigger majority that they`ve had.
And they finally got the Senate. And so, but of course, republicans should
know from the last six years, even if you don`t have the Senate you can
filibuster and basically grind the place to a halt. Are they really
surprised?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, BUZZFEED: No, I don`t think agree they`re surprise
at all. I love that clip you played earlier of Boehner. I love his sort
of like lessen, like story time of John Boehner where he sure of explains
how the House works. But this is a very sad face like, don`t you
understand over here? It`s crazy I can`t do anything to stop this stuff.
Yes. Different body temperature. That`s like, you know, that`s like a
very angry Boehner. But yes, no, I think the republicans backed themselves
into a huge corner. This is a huge problem for them. I mean, there is no
upside at all to shutting down the DHS. I think they think that, you know,
they have some districts where it`s so conservative in the gerrymander
districts that it appears to be the thing to do. But you know, everywhere
in America this is going to be a terrible news for them. And they`re just
kind of up against this wall and they don`t know what they`re going to do.
And I think that they should have seen this coming. This happened several
times now. That they`ve done things like this.

KORNACKI: Yes. But Krystal, here`s the thing that I wonder though, sort
of the psychology of the republican members of the house who would, you
know, be against this, who would do this? They shut down the government in
2013. The polls said oh, my God we blame you, you`re terrible. In 2014
they had a banner year didn`t hurt them.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Right. Well, that exactly it,
right? So, they feel vindicated in a certain sense. I mean, the American
people either forgot or the people who care about that didn`t show up. So,
it didn`t matter. They had a Boehner year, elected the largest majority
like ever in history. Right? So, they`re feeling like their strategy has
been vindicated. And let`s be clear here. These individuals who are
voting against funding DHS, they don`t care about the Republican Party,
they don`t care about the national republicans, they care about themselves,
right, they care about themselves, they care about their own districts.
They care about their own political interest. I mean, to a certain extents
that`s true of all of these politicians. But, you know, let`s not pretend
like they have, like these altruistic impulses towards the country or their
own party. They`re looking out for themselves. Now, I think this whole
thing from the very beginning was so ludicrous. I could never understand
what they thought the end game was going to be here. It was always going
to end in disaster. There was no other way that this could go down.

KORNACKI: The end game still is whether this is a day or week or whatever,
DHS is going to get full funding with no strings attached. Right?

FRANCO: Well, yes, in all likelihood. But there was an end game, I know
it`s easy to be the Monday morning quarterback. By the way I think
democrats are also voting their own interest. Not just a national agenda
or so forth.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

No, no, but let me tell you this, Steve. Here was the end game, maybe a
miscalculation was, all the polling data demonstrated that the executive
decrease or the executive orders were unpopular. There was a lot of
concern about the President taking these unilateral actions regarding
immigration broadly. So, I though, I think the thinking was, in terms of
my conversation, was there was enough movement at the national level -- I
don`t think it`s the number one issue in the United States, but there would
be enough pressure on the President to actually at least accept the vote
in the Senate.

BALL: What is the polling say was the popularity of the Department of
Homeland Security while ISIS is beheading people and gaining territory?

FRANCO: I agree but --

BALL: People in Brooklyn being arrested for terrorism. I mean, it`s just
absurd that they ever thought it was a good idea.

FRANCO: I was referring to the fact I think there would be pressure to
have an up and down vote. Because there are a significant number of
democrats that are against executive order with the President vetoing and
eventually getting clean bill.

KORNACKI: You`re saying that the calculation then was republican were
confident there would be a vote in the Senate.

FRANCO: Exactly.

KORNACKI: So, how does this end, Evan?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, I don`t know how it ends. I think one way that it
ends, I think we will have the Department of Homeland Security that`s
funded. I think there`s no way that the republican -- but I will say, some
of the damage is already done. I spoke with a very senior DHS official
last week. I called him up, said how are you doing. Morale is so low at
that department already. People are already looking out to send out their
resumes. People are already looking to sort of look outside. They feel
sort of like this is a department where, you know, they`re there to protect
people and do good for people. And they feel like the people who were
trying to fund them and the people they work for are turning on them. So
to a certain extent, the damages already done here. You don`t want to have
a DHS people who are not fired up and --

FRANCO: But it`s not about them and they know it`s not about them.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Of course it`s about them.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

BALL: It`s about them.

FRANCO: It`s about the President`s illegal action, in my judgment. That`s
what it`s about. They`ve been the victim of it, but largely it`s all
funded and most of these individuals would have reported to work and they
would be paid back anyway. You know it`s not an attack on them. It`s an
attack on the President.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I think that`s hard for them to realize this. I think
it`s hard for them to see. When you look at this thing, I mean, these
guys, this is not even like a department that people think and they joke
about. This is a front line department.

BALL: Republicans like this department.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: In the continuing fight against terrorism.

FRANCONA: The government has been shut down before. This department, the
Department of Defense, the difference is this department is actually self-
funded. But to Krystal`s point is, quite honestly, I was told a year ago
in one of these programs that the republicans will pay a huge price for the
government shutdown in November. We have the largest majorities in 80
years in the House. I`ll make you a little wager, we`re back on this
program in `16, this won`t be an issue.

BALL: Well, I will say a lot more people will be going to the polls in
2016 than went in 2014.

KORNACKI: Well, it is. I do think that`s an important point. Because I
remember at height of the government shutdown, there was talk, hey, this is
how the democrats are going to take back the House.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: ObamaCare went down. I mean, if that hadn`t happened
who knows what would have happen. People in November were revolting on the
shutdown.

FRANCO: Oh, come on!

KORNACKI: We will pick this up later in the show. Later in the weekend.
Later in the week. In 2016. Anyway, still ahead the final day of CPAC,
the other big story this weekend, has Jeb Bush looking ahead of today`s big
straw poll? Going to go live to the CPAC floor. That`s coming up.

Also, LeBron Jones is frustrated with some new attention on his family.
We`ll going to have that story for you, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right. There is a lot going on this morning besides the
near shutdown last night. Time to get caught up on some other headlines
with today`s panel. This is our "Catching Up" segment. I love it. The
index card. Let`s see what the news. Let`s they`ve handed me. This one,
it is from Politico. The headline, Aaron Schock scraps fundraisers, this
is the Illinois republican congressman, he postponed his scheduled event in
Washington, Thursday, also this month skipped an NRCC fundraising weekend.
The Florida fundraiser for Mario Diaz-Balart, he is recently retained -- as
the crisis. But this is amazing, Evan. Is he in danger of backlash in his
home district? What`s the danger for him?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: His star has fallen so fast. This was a guy who very
recently was the young, fresh face of the Republican Party. Did a lot of
bipartisan stuff. You know, he worked across the aisles with some
democrats and are going to sort of do this rational caucus and all the
things that they were trying to do. And now he`s a down -- office,
Instagram failure guy. I mean, it`s just an amazing fall.

KORNACKI: It`s amazing. We should say, too --

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I think he`s in danger, whatever danger he can be and
he`s in.

KORNACKI: He`s in that danger. He should know he did repay the $40,000 in
renovations. He did repay that. Let`s see the associated press, this is
the interesting one, LeBron James is not happy that colleges are recruiting
his 10-year-old son.

BALL: Wow!

KORNACKI: He won`t say what schools are reaching out. He did say it`s
pretty crazy. It should be a violation. You shouldn`t be recruiting 10-
year-old kids. I want to know. It`s Calipari (ph). I think it`s
Calipari.

(LAUGHTER)

BALL: I mean, A, it should be a violation. It`s absurd that they can do
that. And B, can you blame them? I mean, if I was a college recruiter, I
don`t know that I would be looking at LeBron James` son.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

KORNACKI: If you`re his kid you`re going straight to the NBA. Right?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: What is the pitch that you make to a 10-year-old if
you`re a college? What do they say to them?

BALL: We have great pizza.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Exactly.

KORNACKI: A 10-year-old --

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: You stay up so late here.

KORNACKI: Let`s see what we have. This is from -- now this is
interesting. This is from "The New York Times." I saw this obituary. And
this was the most interesting obituary seen in the long time. Irving Kahn,
the oldest active Wall Street investor died this week. Hundred and nine-
years-old. Listen to this. He was still until a few months ago commuting
three days a week by cab to his office. He made his first trade in 1929
before the stock market crash. According to his son, by the way, he smoked
until he was 50 and didn`t watch what he ate.

FRANCO: Well, I think the lesson here is first of all he actually did that
trade in June 1929 but he actually cashed in before Black Friday. He knew
what he was doing. A good example I guess of keep working. That`s for
sure.

BALL: Good sematic.

FRANCO: Good genetics and keep working. But I think one of the things
that`s amazing things about him, throughout his entire life, I mean, he was
not only a great investor but had incredible market timing beginning in
1929. I think what he learned from the depression.

BALL: I mean, another amazing thing here, he had three siblings they all
lived to be over 100, 101, 103 and almost 110 and him a 109. I mean,
that`s unbelievable.

KORNACKI: By the way, it`s not like he was a vegetarian his whole life.
He was smoking and he wasn`t eating that well and still live to a 109.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I will do what it says.

KORNACKI: DNA is destiny sometimes. Anyway, we have one more else, so we
want to take sometime this morning to say good-bye to a man who lived long
and prospered. Actor Leonard Nimoy, you may have heard this, he died
yesterday of chronic lung disease. He was 83. Nimoy of course was Star
Trek starring as Mr. Spock, the half-human half-Vulcan science officer.
Going where no man has gone before aboard the starship enterprise. This
role he played on and off for nearly 50 years. President Obama was a big
fan. In 2012 he was even seen making Spock`s trademark Vulcan salute
alongside actress Nichelle Nichols better known as Uhura. The president
saying in part in a statement yesterday, I loved Spock. Michelle and I
join his family, friends and countless fans who miss him so dearly today.

And next, we have the unmasking of a terrorist, a look at how a well-
educated young man from London came to be known as Jihadi John.

And a little later this morning, Jeb Bush`s mighty task of wooing the crowd
at CPAC, how did he do it? Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: Likewise, Jeb Bush, he`s in favor --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Jeb Bush, any supporters?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: This week we started getting a clearer picture of the man who
has become the face, the masked face of ISIS. Many here in the United
States. The suspected executioner in many of those ISIS beheading videos.
The man referred to as Jihadi John unmasked by the Washington Post on
Thursday as Mohammed Emwazi. Who he is and where Emwazi is from doesn`t
necessarily match the typical profile of someone thought to be susceptible
to radicalization. He`s a British citizen, he grew up in an affluent
family in a middle class neighborhood in West London. And yesterday,
British Sky News published this picture of Emwazi as an adult, according to
Sky, the photo dated back to Emwazi`s days as a student at London`s
University of Westminster. That`s where he graduated with a degree in
computer programming six years ago.

In 2009, it was in that year that friends tell the Washington Post, he
began to become radicalized. After his graduation in 2009, Emwazi has
detained when he and two friends travelled to Africa for what they say was
a safari vacation. The British authorities believed they were actually
headed to Somalia where they were going to fight with the terrorist group
al-Shabaab and that they then deported him back to the UK where he was
questioned again. And according to the Washington Post, he then decided to
move to his country of birth, to Kuwait shortly after that. When he
returned to Britain the following year, he was questioned again at
Heathrow, filed a complaint with security officials and told a human rights
group, quote, "Now I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage in London.

A person imprisoned and controlled by security serviceman stopped me from
living my new life and my birthplace in my country, Kuwait." This past
August the suspected executioner begins to appear in those ISIS videos that
shows several Americans and Britains having been beheaded. A well-educated
young man who loved soccer in close, he`s described as polite making a
remarkable transformation, a terrible transform in a matter of just four
years.

Mubin Shaikh was an undercover counter terrorism operative, a Canadian
security intelligence service. He`s a co-author of the book "Undercover
Jihadi: Inside the Toronto 18." He joins me now from Toronto. Mubin,
thanks for taking a few minutes this morning. I think what some people
wonder about is, the middle class background, all the opportunities, all
the possibilities that sort of awaited this guy in life, and yet he ends up
being radicalized. And we hear about sort of his treatment, potentially
his treatment at the airport, his treatment from security personnel. That
sort of thing. Maybe you could see how you`d get upset by that and be
unnerved by that. But how does that -- how could that possibly trigger a
transformation of this magnitude, this terrible?

MUBIN SHAIKH, FORMER COUNTER TERRORISM OPERATIVE: It does not trigger that
kind of change. Clearly, there are other things happening in his life and
his life history that led him to end up where he did. You know, also,
there`s a problem of our caricatures of what we think is a typical profile.
There is no typical profile. The only typical profile is that they come
from relatively normal backgrounds. Some are, you know, relatively
educated, some are not. Some are poor, some are not. Some need jobs, some
have jobs. So, there is a whole spectrum of behavior that you can find in
these kinds of individuals.

KORNACKI: So, what are the common threads? Are there any? Is there a
trigger moment usually? Is there some specific event that happens that
sends people down this path, is it more of an accumulation of things, what
is it?

SHAIKH: It`s the latter. It`s an accumulation of things. So,
radicalization is a process. Whereby when a person comes to take on
extreme views. And when you act on those extreme views, you are a violent
extremists. So, in that radicalization process there will be life events
that may act as catalyst. There may be cognitive openings. Something
happens in your life and for whatever reason you start to look for
alternative ways to explain your life around you. And this is precisely
where ideology plays a big part, is it allows you to justify your actions.

KORNACKI: I`m curious about your own story too. Obviously you were going
down this road, then you ended up turning back to the other side and
assisting as a counterterrorism expert. But I wonder, do you look at
Jihadi John and say, that could have been me?

SHAIKH: Yes. I do that all the time. A lot of these individuals that are
picked up, whether they`re younger kids or older young adults, I was there.
I was on the line. I thought, you know, I was being oppressed as a person.
But I personally wasn`t being oppressed. I wasn`t discriminated against or
bullied or picked on or anything like that, harassment by security
services. I didn`t go through those things. So, those aspects didn`t
resonate for me. For me it was, you know, I had a chance encounter with
the Taliban in Pakistan. So, I mean, a single event like that of such
great significance, you know, those are single events that push people, you
know, a few degrees more than normal events would.

KORNACKI: All right. Mubin Shaikh, terrorism expert. We really
appreciate you taking a few minutes this morning. Thank you for that.

And still ahead, the strategy Hillary Clinton could use if she runs for
president. That many aides say she should have used the first time around.

And next, what President Obama is saying about the murder of one of
Vladimir Putin`s most vocal critics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: We`re going to get back to the world of politics in just a
moment. But first, we want to get you up to date in another major story
developing overseas right now. The murder of a prominent Russian
opposition figure. Russian officials say they are still looking into why
someone killed Boris Nemtsov. He was shot as he walked on a bridge near
the Kremlin yesterday. Nemtsov was one of the most vocal critics of
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Former deputy Prime Minister of Russia,
he was supposed to take part in a march tomorrow to protest Russia`s
involvement in Ukraine. Flowers now adorn the bridge where he was gunned
down. Mourners continue to pay their respects there. And meanwhile, the
White House calls this a brutal murder and he`s demanding a prompt
impartial and transparent investigation into it. We will continue
following the story.

Up next, what does all the chaos in the House mean for President Obama?
We`re going to go live to the White House to find out.

And if seeing this dress change color is causing you to shut at your TV
right now, you will definitely going to want to stick around for our next
hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right. Turning back to this morning`s top story. Congress
has agreed to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded, at least
through the next week. The House finally approving the measure late last
night just a few hours before DHS was about to shut down. President Obama
then signing the resolution minutes before midnight.

NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker joins us live from the
White House. So, Kristen, how does the White House reacting to this and
what did they think is going to happen in the next week?

KRISTEN WELKER, FOX NEWS NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they
think that ultimately DHS is going to be funded. But they don`t think this
looks good for anyone. Look, this was a real political nail biter last
night with less than just two hours before the Department of Homeland
Security was scheduled to shut down. Congress passed a one week extension
to keep the agency open. That short term resolution came after really
embarrassing defeat for House Speaker John Boehner. Earlier in the evening
Boehner had brought to a vote, a bill that would have funded the agency for
three full weeks but Boehner failed to get enough votes from members of his
own party. So, ultimately that short term proposal failed.

So, here is what the issue here. Just to remind our viewers, conservative
republicans want any legislation that funds the DHS to also block the
President`s immigration action, which would of course provide relief from
deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants. Those conservative
republicans argue that the President has overstepped his constitutional
authority. The President has consistently defended his action. He says
it`s legal. And he`s vowed to veto any bill that would block him. The
rationale for this one week extension is that the extra time will give the
sharply divided Congress some room to try to reach a longer term deal. But
of course, this all comes as republicans have taken control of Congress. A
lot of people this morning questioning whether this could threaten House
Speaker Boehner`s speakership.

KORNACKI: Yes. Kirsten Welker live at the White House. Thanks for that
update. I appreciate that.

And that`s the question to take to the panel here. So, John Boehner, look,
the situation here for the next week, where democrats are expecting, what
Nancy Pelosi basically said last night, she expects sometime in the next
week, John Boehner is essentially going to cave and he`s going to take that
clean funding bill that democrats have been demanding, he`s going to put it
on the floor, the democrats are going to vote for it. Some republicans are
going to vote for it. And that`s the question Kirsten raised. We had
Sahil Kapur reporting on the top of the show raising the exact same
question. If and when he does that, what`s the blow back risk for him
among republicans? Some of whom have been waiting a long time for the
moment when he sells them out.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, the idea that it could endanger Boehner`s
speakership presupposes a very important thing, which is any other
republican would want that job. Somebody else would have to be speaker.
You know, we`ve seen this before a million times, Boehner speakership is in
peril, it hasn`t really happened yet. I think that that kind of dance is
less important than the sort of overall image that the Republican Party is
presenting doing this.

BALL: I mean, I am inclined very much to agree with that perspective,
right, and have been failing to understand why John Boehner didn`t do
things like bring the immigration bill to the floor and just go ahead and
pass it and get it out of the way. But the only way that what he`s doing
makes sense is if he actually thinks that there`s a real threat. Because,
otherwise, why would you go through this three weeks again from now? Why
would you go through this a week again from now. You would just put the
full year clean bill on the floor and get it passed with democratic support
and move on with your life. If you didn`t think that there was some sort
of real threat.

KORNACKI: I mean, yes, Adolfo, he sat there a couple years ago and watched
15, 16 republicans said no to him as speaker. This year. Yes. I mean,
his margin was kind of narrow.

FRANCO: Yes, I agree with Krystal on this. I think his speakership is in
peril, not imminent, but I think it is.

BALL: He`s always watching his back.

FRANCO: He is. And he should. I mean, it`s a real problem. I think the
strategy for the next week, which I`m surprised they haven`t highlighted,
the leadership, as much. They will in the coming days, is let`s let this
play out in the courts. There`s been a victory at the district court
level. It might be short-lived, but it`s going to take at least a couple
of months, minimum to go to the court of appeals which is a conservative
circuit.

BALL: Yes.

FRANCO: So, they might even get a good ruling there.

KORNACKI: Yes. You know --

FRANCO: I think that`s his out in his strategy. But ultimately, I think
it is in question if he starts to rule the House through a coalition with
Nancy Pelosi, drawing in democratic votes and losing the Hastert Rule which
is the majority of the republicans. And that`s why he might be in peril.

KORNACKI: He thought he had bought three weeks with the court ruling in
the first place. That blew up. And so, let`s see what happens. Anyway,
thanks to the panel. We are going to see you guys again in the next hour.

Also coming up, Chris Matthews joins us live on the set. You`re not going
to miss that. So, don`t go anywhere. Back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Did John Boehner make a deal?

(MUSIC)

KORNACKI: All right. Thanks for staying with us this very busy Saturday
morning.

MSNBC`s Chris Matthews is here to go over last night`s late night drama on
Capitol Hill.

We also have a lot more stories we`re going to be bringing to you this
hour, including Hillary Clinton has been talking up economic populism in
recent months. Is she ready to discuss gender next? We`re going to talk
about that with one of her long time advisors.

Plus, was this the week that broke the Internet? There was the llama chase
that captivated the nation`s keyboards and smartphones, leading up to the
main event asking, what color is this dress, anyway?

But we`re going to get to that, but we`ll start this hour with the story of
the morning. The chaos on Capitol Hill late last night with Speaker John
Boehner saved in the final minutes by Nancy Pelosi.

And now, the question that will determine whether we end up right back on
the brink, maybe even past the brink just a week from now? Did John
Boehner cut a deal with the Democrats?

It all began with a stunning moment, a truly stunning moment a little after
5:00 Eastern Time last night. House Republicans expecting to pass a bill
to keep the Department of Homeland Security open for three weeks.

And then this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The yeas are 203. The nays are 224. The joint
resolution is not passed. Without objection, a motion to reconsider is
laid on the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: There`s 52 Republicans who joined in in rejecting that three
week extension. They`re protesting the fact it did not roll back President
Obama`s executive action, specifically on immigration.

Boehner has been handed some surprising defeats on the floor in the last
few years. This, though, was by far the most stunning. Republican leaders
caught flat-footed. The midnight deadline approaching, President Obama
meeting with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson late last night to prepare for a
shutdown, just hours before it was about to begin.

And then, finally, a last second plan by Boehner to keep DHS open for just
one week, and then, from Pelosi, some surprise instructions to Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Your vote tonight will
assure that we will vote for full funding of the Homeland Security next
week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That one week extension then easily clearing the House just
before 10:00 p.m., 174 Democrats voting for it, only five voting against
it. But now, the key question, Democrats believe Boehner is about to cave
in the next few days. He`s going to give in. He`s going to give them the
vote that they want on full funding. No strings attached.

Boehner`s office, though, strenuously denying that there is any such
arrangement.

So, is there a deal? If there isn`t, what are Democrats going to do, if
there is, if Boehner told Democrats that he`s already decided to cave, then
what are Boehner`s fellow Republicans going to do it?

Joining me now from Capitol Hill, Republican Congressman Leonard Lance of
New Jersey.

Congressman, thanks for taking a few minutes.

So, let me start with you on this question -- Democrats are saying that
they believe John Boehner has indicated he will put that -- you know, clean
-- so-called "clean funding bill" on the floor next week. Do you think
that`s what`s going to happen here?

REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), NEW JERSEY: I don`t know, Steve. And let me say
that I`m sure that there has been no deal struck. I`m certainly pleased
that we have funding for the Department of Homeland Security. And I will
support funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

KORNACKI: What do you think the end game is on this, then? It`s a one
week extension. How do you get from where we are right now to having this
issue resolved? What do you want to see happen in the next week?

LANCE: Yesterday, the Democrats refused to vote for a three-week
extension. And yet they voted for a one week extension. I would have
preferred that we go to conference based upon the bill with the Senate. As
you know, the Senate filibustered this issue four times. We had passed a
bill more than six weeks ago.

And I favor full funding of the Department of Homeland Security. And John
Boehner, the speaker, favors that. I am sure that will be the case and we
will not shutdown government.

KORNACKI: All right. But let`s be clear on the distinctions here. The
bill you`re talking about that made it out of the House, didn`t just
provide funding for the Department of Homeland Security, it included
language that would take away what the president has done in terms of
executive action on immigration. The bill that cleared the Senate, the
bill to fund the Homeland Security Department just funds the Department of
Homeland Security.

The question to you, if that bill is put on the floor in the House, full
year of funding for the Department of Homeland Security, no language about
immigration, how do you vote on that?

LANCE: I would vote for that. But I think that it`s important that we
discuss the immigration issue, Steve. That`s why we wanted to go to
conference. That would be what is known as regular order.

Now, there has been the court case in southern Texas, and that will be
appealed to the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. And we are all concerned on
the Republican side with what we believe is the president`s overreach
constitutionally on the immigration issue. And thank goodness there has
been the court case in Texas. We hope for an early decision in the Fifth
Circuit in New Orleans.

KORNACKI: If John Boehner in the next week puts the Senate bill that has
no immigration language on the floor of the House, does he have a problem
among Republicans?

LANCE: I believe that Speaker Boehner will be our speaker for the complete
term. He was elected unanimously in our conference following the November
election. And I see no credible alternative to Speaker Boehner. He has a
tough job and I think he`s doing a good job.

KORNACKI: All right. Congressman Leonard Lance, Republican from New
Jersey, appreciate the time this morning. Thank you.

LANCE: Thank you, Steve.

KORNACKI: All right. Before helping John Boehner get the votes he needed
to keep the Department of Homeland Security open last night, Nancy Pelosi
had some tough words for him yesterday afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: I`m just saying to the speaker, get a grip. Get a grip, Mr.
Speaker. Get a grip on the responsibility that we have. Get a grip on the
legislative pockets that are here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: All right. Here now, there is no one better to join us in
analyzing what happened on Capitol Hill.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The part --

KORNACKI: MSNBC`s Chris -- well, you`re the host of "HARDBALL", but you`re
Capitol Hill veteran. I mean, you`ve been there for battles before, Tip
O`Neill, all that stuff. What do you make of what happened last night?

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s clear that Republican members -- by the way, I don`t
think it was a Republican Party like we grew up believing there was, sort
of a culture, a unifying force that holds people together as party members.
I think the conservatives have found a home in the Republican Party,
including very right wing conservatives. They`re willing to use it as a
tool. But they don`t really love it. So, people like Jeb Bush could be
yesterday, as far as I can see, any of the people like Chris Christie,
yesterday.

So, I think what we`re seeing is a rebellion against what is the shambles
of the Republican Party, Boehner representing that. I don`t think a
conservative Republican wants to go home to his district or her district
and face a primary challenge because they voted for amnesty. And that`s
what they call it, when you let people come into the country illegally
become legal. And that`s what the president is doing, and they say, you
can`t do that. It`s a very strong issue with those people.

KORNACKI: So, how -- I mean, how do you -- what they chose to do here,
what the conservatives in the House chose to do is take that idea of we
think this is amnesty and attach it to funding for the Department of
Homeland Security. This is not the first time we saw that. A couple years
ago, we don`t like Obamacare, we think that`s overreach. So, we`re going
to attack that for funding of the government.

How does it get to the point where we break away from that style of --

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m not sure they can because they don`t have, well, the
courts, of course, because the courts, I think -- you know, could be the
most powerful branch of government this year. They could say Obamacare
doesn`t have the funding for the subsidies because they can`t have
subsidies unless they have state exchanges. That could happen. They could
give us a right for a marriage equality this summer, probably a bigger deal
that Congress is going to do.

And they could undermine the president on these executive orders. They
could say, you overreached. You can`t make immigration law. You can
create incentives for people to say here. You create roadblocks to the
prosecution if they`re here illegally. That`s writing law.

So, maybe we`ll go back to the end of the summer to a fact where they`re
going to have to live with each other, the right and left. But they don`t
want to live with each other. It`s almost like they choose -- they choose
eruption and chaos over agreeing to live with each other.

Pelosi could have given the 14 votes yesterday afternoon. Why didn`t she?
Let`s not get too goody two shoes here. She wanted them to sweat and
humiliate themselves. Fourteen Democratic votes would have given Boehner
that majority earlier in the afternoon. There wouldn`t have been his
"Perils of Pauline" on the railroad tracks late at night.

So, she was playing the political game, too, here. Let`s be honest.

KORNACKI: Well, what she apparently what she told Democrats, too,
yesterday afternoon when this thing went down, was she told them, if you
vote no now, if you withhold your votes now, she said, I`m confident that
tonight John Boehner will have no choice but to put on the floor full year
of funding, no strings attached.

MATTHEWS: But he didn`t.

KORNACKI: That didn`t happen, right. So, what happen --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think the question is whether he can continue as speaker if he
breaks what they called the Hastert Rule, which Hastert doesn`t even
accept.

KORNACKI: The majority of the party, right.

MATTHEWS: It has to be a majority of Republicans, because I think that
Congress would be ruled by majority rule. Is that a simple enough idea?

KORNACKI: Do you think the right goes for that?

MATTHEWS: No, I think Boehner is in trouble. I think -- I agree with a
couple of pols, including Krystal (ph). I think there`s going to be a big
fight if he tries to do this, because he`s turning control over of the
Congress to the Democrats and they lost. They lost the election in `14.
They lost the last couple.

KORNACKI: He`s back into a corner here --

MATTHEWS: He lets the Democrats rule the Congress. How can they do that?
And let them basically gave what they believe to be amnesty.

And, you know, I say this before and it offends everybody because nobody
wants to deal. I think Lindsey Graham, Chuck Schumer, the late Ted Kennedy
was serious about immigration reform. Those Republicans like Corker that
went along, Bob Corker went along with the deal the other year. They
believe in it.

Very few people believe in a combination of letting people become legal
here, and dealing with the future problem of immigration by outlawing
illegal hiring, putting it all together into a comprehensive bill, find the
members of Congress in either party who says, I`m for a comprehensive
solution."

They love the word but they don`t mean it. That`s the problem.

KORNACKI: When you look at Boehner, you think he`s in a bit of trouble
right here. I mean, so, you worked for House Speaker Tip O`Neill.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: First of all, Tip was so long ago. I hate to keep relying on
it, but you brought it back, that`s in the `80s, OK?

But the fact is, one thing I know about politicians, they don`t like to be
out of touch with their base. The question in the Republican Party,
however, is far different. Tip was the base of the Republican Party. He`s
an ultraliberal, right? Boehner is not. He`s not an ultraconservative.

The base of the Republican Party are conservatives first, Republicans
second. We got to stop thinking about Republicans and Democrats. The
conservatives are against illegal immigration, against government big
spending, big government, what else? Violently antiterrorist, of course.

The Republican Party is a house for them, not a home.

KORNACKI: So, is there --

MATTHEWS: Boehner is the one who is part of the Whig Party, because that`s
the old Republican Party which is establishment.

Going back to the beginnings of the Republican Party, there were two sides,
right? You know all this. Everyone who watches knows it.

There were the Whigs, the people with money, the establishment types, and
the wild antislavery people, the abolitionists. They wanted to get rid of
the way things were. So, today, you have basically the same situation.
You have the abolitionist, people who don`t like government, who don`t like
the way things are against, strict constructionists, against this
establishment crowd that`s hanging on.

Guys from New Jersey and Long Island, they`re the odd men out here, you
know, Lance, that fellow you had on, and Peter King, they`re the old people
out. Most Republicans are violently anti-illegal immigrant, right, and
they don`t really care about Boehner. So, we`ll see.

KORNACKI: So, can -- is there another Republican who could be speaker and
do more? John Boehner, is he doing the best he can?

MATTHEWS: If you ever take math, it`s an explosive model. It isn`t going
to fit. It isn`t going to settle. It isn`t going to come together.

This is a problem with our politics today. It`s an explosive model.
Democrats are basically the side here with the Hispanic community in this
country, legal and unlegal, right? Undocumented and documented. They`re
with them. They know that`s the future of the party. It`s a big chunk of
the party.

Republicans are basically married to the anti-illegal immigrant point of
view, which is it`s amnesty.

And so, as long as congressional districts are drawn geographically, the
CDs, most Republican CDs are going to be able -- the guy, member of
Congress is going to be able to be anti-Hispanic and openly so, right?

But Republican senators on the other hand have to represent Hispanics,
because states include Hispanics, most of them do. So they have to be a
lot more lenient about the issue. The Senate went along with this the past
couple weeks. And the House won`t. It`s the difference of the
institutional construction.

These districts are right wing. They are really right wing and they have
very few Hispanics in them. So, a right wing Congress person has nothing
to risk by taking "I`m against amnesty" position. That`s a safe position.

KORNACKI: We were talking about this earlier in the show. The Republicans
could look at the Republican shutdown in 2013. And --

MATTHEWS: They don`t care about a government shutdown. They`re
antigovernment.

KORNACKI: Well, look at this, but they got rewarded in 2014, right?
That`s how they would interpret it.

MATTHEWS: Chaos works for the anti-government party. The more chaos,
every Democrat or establishment reads "The New York City", oh, this is very
concerning to me, the government is shutting down. Now, to a conservative,
the government is screwed. The government is always screwing up. They
made their point.

KORNACKI: It`s good politics.

MATTHEWS: I think one point I`ve worked on since I got up this morning is
thinking about the fact that the Republican Party is a House for
conservatives, it`s not their home. They use it but they care more about
illegal immigration than they care about John Boehner. Think that through.
At home, their voters are like that.

KORNACKI: That`s very interesting. What you`re saying about Boehner is
interesting too.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s a scored point if they get rid of Boehner, for most
members of the Congress.

KORNACKI: Well, it could be coming to a head this week.

MATTHEWS: We dump Boehner, put it in your news letter. We got rid of this
bum. He`s a RINO.

KORNACKI: Yes, they call him one.

MATTHEWS: He`s for amnesty.

KORNACKI: Chris Matthews --

MATTHEWS: You know, I think they hate their leadership more than they hate
Democrats. Well, that was a hell of a statement. It really when it comes
down to, is the modern construction of the Republican Party is more of a
house of conservatives than it is the party of Lincoln.

KORNACKI: It`s a good point. Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC`s "HARDBALL" -
- thank you for getting up early. We appreciate that.

You can catch more of Chris weeknights, HARDBALL, 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Don`t miss that.

And still ahead on the show today, I do have a confession for you -- I
don`t see either of the color options. We`re talking about the dress. The
colors I see are coming up. No one has mentioned them yet.

But up next, who is the front runner going to be going into today`s CPAC
straw poll? Live update, live report, stay with us. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right. It is the third and final day of CPAC, the
Conservative Political Action Conference. It`s been taking place outside
D.C. this week.

All the main speakers have made their remarks. The conference won`t wrap,
though, before today`s much anticipated straw poll, the presidential straw
poll on the Republican side.

So, who is going to win it? Let`s take a look at the moments voters are
going to be basing their decisions off of.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Here`s the bad news -- the bad news is that
today our nation is on the road to decline. But here`s the good news. We
are one election away from triggering another American century.

(CHEERS)

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: We need to reestablish
relationships with countries we have managed to mess up. I mean, we`ve
managed to mess up almost every relationship in the world, if you think
about it, including Canada, which is hard to do, but we`ve done it.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We could have had Hillary here. But we couldn`t
find a foreign nation to foot the bill.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I`ll tell you, as a good Catholic, we
ought to give up something for Lent. I went to my parish priest and I said
to him, I`m giving up "The New York Times" for lent.

(CHEERS)

CHRISTIE: The -- no, no, don`t cheer. It`s bad news. He said, Chris,
that`s not acceptable. You have to give up something you`ll actually miss.

RICK PERRY (R), FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: We survived worse. We had a civil
war in this country. We had two World Wars. We had a great depression.
We even survived Jimmy Carter. We will survive the Obama years, too.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I promise you this, as a doctor, I will take
it and make it my mission to heal the nation. Reverse the course of
Obamacare, and repeal every last bit of it.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Last question, I did run in track. I
was good in the half mile and quarter mile. I`ve been running three times
in the last four years. So, I`m getting pretty used to it.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KORNACKI: So, in total, there are going to be 17 candidates on the ballot
for today`s CPAC straw poll. That`s actually down from last year`s 25.
And among the choices, the usual suspects, Bush, and Christie and Rand
Paul, Scott Walker. Some of the lesser talked about speakers also on that
ballot, John Bolton, George Pataki, yes, even Donald Trump. Maybe the only
ballot he`s actually going to appear on for president. But that`s another
thing.

Anyway, what can we expect today? Who have the voters on the floor liked
thus far?

To guide us through, we have Kellyanne Conway, a GOP strategist, president
of the Polling Company. She is actually conducting today`s straw poll.

So, Kellyanne, thanks for taking a few minutes this morning.

So, let me just ask you, we played some of the clips there. All these
speeches over the last few days, when you look toward today`s voting, did
anybody over the last few days really stand out on your mind who you think
is going to have a particularly good day in the straw poll?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, GOP STRATEGIST: Several people stood out. But the way
you win the straw poll here at CPAC, Steve, is have a very inspiring
educating performance on the stage, but also do the leg work leading up to
CPAC. So you have lots of volunteers, lots of students here who already
support you. I think that that metric really benefits Senator Paul.

Rand Paul has won it the last few years in the row. His father had won the
straw poll before him, when he performed yesterday, there was standing room
only crowd, and chant of "President Paul, President Paul." They`ve been he
seems to be very good about activating the base.

Curiously, some of the best received speeches here at CPAC were from the
three United States senators who are first termers, Rubio, Paul and Cruz.
And that`s curious because, obviously, this is sort of a non-Washington,
not anti-Washington crowd.

But I will also say why there are 17, not 25 candidates this year. This is
the first year my firm is conducting the straw poll. We really tried to
clean it up in two ways, one, people had to meet three criteria, they`re
hiring people at early states, they`re telling donors, supporters, media,
that they are seriously considering a run and they`re accepting invitations
to purely presidential forums, like say, the Iowa Freedom Summit.

So, that really took people off the straw poll and included people who are
making such moves.

KORNACKI: All right. So, you guys managed to pin it down to a much more
17 candidates on the ballot.

Anyway, Kellyanne Conway, thanks for taking a few minutes. Good luck with
the straw poll. They were easily looking --

CONWAY: Thank you very much, Steve.

KORNACKI: We`re looking at what the results will be.

Back at the table this hour, our panel. MSNBC`s Krystal Ball, GOP
strategist Adolfo Franco, Evan McMorris-Santoro with BuzzFeed.

So, a lot of background noise here. I didn`t realize they were still going
at 8:00 in the morning. I thought it would be an empty room or something.
What do we think of this? First of all, Rand Paul or Ron Paul, one of them
has won like five of the last seven of these.

So, I guess, if that happens, people probably discount it a little. I
guess one of the questions here is, can Scott Walker win this thing? Is
this a sign, if he does, is this a sign of, boy, this ascendancy we`ve been
talking about Scott Walker in the Republican side?

ADOLFO FRANCO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: From my view, it doesn`t matter very
much. I agree with Kellyanne, it`s entertaining and it`s the best speech
and who can pack the house. Romney won it once. He packed it, though,
quite honestly.

And so -- in that sense, I don`t think -- a lot of credence to it.
Everyone will expect a conservative, a real conservative. You saw the
sound bites there.

Obviously, Rand Paul is the expected winner. If he`s not, that would be a
huge disappointment and an indication that he`s not on track to be the
alternative -- Ted Cruz, Walker, and the others.

But I think the real winner here, is Jeb Bush, who will not win the straw
poll. But I think he did himself a lot of good in this particular forum.

KORNACKI: Let`s take a listen. We have a clip. So, Jeb Bush had the Q&A
with Sean Hannity yesterday. A lot of college Republicans apparently, they
bussed in for this. There was a walkout some of the more conservative
delegate -- attendees. Let`s play a clip from this Bush exchange
yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: You support in-state tuition prices for those
children of illegal immigrants that weren`t citizens.

(BOOS)

HANNITY: Hang on --

BUSH: We should give them a path to legal status, where they work and
where they make a contribution to our society. That`s what we need to be
focused on.

HANNITY: A lot of reaction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Do you guys agree with Adolfo? That he do a good job yesterday?

BALL: I give him a lot of credit for going in there and sticking to his
guns and explaining himself and saying this is who I am and this is what I
believe. And, by the way, he was very smart to organize and make sure he
had his people in the room. So, yes, there were some boos, but you heard
more cheering in terms of what we got in the media over the airwaves.

I mean, I am impressed as heck that he did that. You contrast that to
Marco Rubio for example who basically went and issued a mea culpa for his
stance on immigration. I think it took a lot of courage. I don`t know
that it`s a winning stance for going into Iowa. But I give him a lot of
credit for it.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, BUZZFEED: He also took a kind of a hard line on
immigration, too, when he was asked about what he would do if the -- with
the minors that were crossing the border, he`s like I would turn them back.

BALL: Hillary said the same thing.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yes, I`m not sure that`s a great message for the
Hispanic voting community.

FRANCO: By the way, Evan, the president said the same thing initially.
The president of the United States said the same thing, initially, with
respect to the crisis, before they had a different script prepared for it.

I agree with Krystal. I don`t mean to interrupt you. But I think it was
brilliant. I think he walked a tight rope here. He was able to convey a
conservative message while sticking to principles. And the booing, I
think, was actually pretty good ultimately.

(CROSSTALK)

FRANCO: Beyond CPAC, the loser here is Senator Rubio.

KORNACKI: Here is what I agree with you on. This is the line that Jeb
Bush said at the beginning of all this a few months ago, is he said, you
got to be willing to lose the primary to win the general. So, I thought
about this, is this the kind of thing where you lose a primary. We just
talked about Chris Matthews about immigration and today`s Republican base.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That`s all different with primaries now, right, because
the last time around, the primary was completely topsy-turvy. Santorum won
Iowa, and Romney won New Hampshire, New Hampshire is the important one.
And then South Carolina, Gingrich won.

You could totally see a situation where Jeb Bush loses South Carolina
because of his positions and stuff. But guys like Romney and Jeb Bush,
they don`t care about losing South Carolina anymore.

FRANCO: But they certainly don`t care about losing Iowa.

KORNACKI: But here`s the difference that I see between how Romney got the
nomination, how McCain got it in 2008 and the trouble that Jeb Bush has.
They didn`t run against somebody like Scott Walker. You compare him to
Herman Cain.

BALL: Right.

KORNACKI: You compare him to Rudy Giuliani. He`s pro-gay rights, pro-
choice, all those things. They never had to face somebody with that kind
of credibility with the conservative base. That`s what I wonder about.

BALL: I agree. And let`s not forget. I mean, the immigration stuff is
really tough. The other issue he was talked about was Common Core, which
is also a big issue among the Republican base. So, I think it`s tough.
You know, he`s not going to win Iowa. I think he has to have somewhat of a
strong showing there to prove, though, that he can win over some of these
conservative activists and that he`s not going to just be relying on New
Hampshire and praying for Florida.

FRANCO: Let me say, I was on the Romney campaign. I was one of his
spokespeople.

Let me tell you what I think is the difference here. I don`t think anyone
is going to accuse Jeb Bush on flip-flopping on these issues, even on the
Common Core. He has some issues. He`s for national school board and the
rest of it. But he didn`t walk away from it. He did not walk away from it
all. He didn`t walk away really from his immigration position.

So, this isn`t a shift the way Senator Rubio has and so forth. I think
this will help him. He will still have problems with some of the base.
The question is ultimately, if he is the establishment alternative, whether
there`s enough establishment Republicans to overcome the conservative
alternative which will likely be Governor Walker.

BALL: Well, and also some of those establishment folks are willing to get
behind Scott Walker, right? So, it`s not like Jeb Bush is going to have --

KORNACKI: That`s what I mean, is like when they looked at Santorum in 2012
as an alternative, this guy lost in Pennsylvania by 20 points. Look at
Scott Walker, he survived a recall. He`s won twice in Wisconsin. This is,
you know, basically --

(CROSSTALK)

FRANCO: That`s true. Notice we`re not talking about Governor Christie.
But that`s a different --

KORNACKI: Well, we are later in the show. We also pretty much stay away
from Trump there, which is not one of my goals.

Anyway, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addressed the unfortunate
comparison his political action his name as drawn that PAC`s title as
leadershipmattersforAmerica.org. It has the acronym LMFAO. That is the
same name as the party hip-hop duo.

And on Wednesday, Christie was asked about it on his monthly radio show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOST: (INAUDIBLE) that name.

CHRISTIE: It was a collective thing. By the way, dot-org is not part of
the title. I know where you`re going.

HOST: I know, but, you know --

CHRISTIE: Please?

HOST: Who vets those things? Did somebody not look at that and go wait a
second?

CHRISTIE: You include dot-org at the end of it, that`s not in the title.

HOST: Did you do it on purpose?

CHRISTIE: I`m not going to tell you that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: We`re going to have a lot more on the governor`s less than
hilarious month later this hour. So, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right. A lot going on this morning. We`ll get caught up
with other stories. Catching up, index cards, what do they have for me?

Well, look at this, there is only one thing to talk about here. BuzzFeed,
thank God we have a BuzzFeed guy here. Look what they did to our lives
this week. What colors are this dress?

BALL: What do you have to say for yourself, Evan?

KORNACKI: First of all, you guys, you made a fortune off of this. I hope
you get a cut out of it or something.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yes, I never have to work again.

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: What color is it, Evan? You tell us.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: First of all, I was there when this was created, and I
was pretty amazed as it blew up at BuzzFeed, I was at BuzzFeed New York
office. It`s white and gold. That`s the first thing. It`s clearly white
and gold. That picture is white and gold.

And I will say on the air, people who are not seeing white and gold, and
are seeing blue and black, I think they`re lying.

(LAUGHTER)

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I think that they are lying --

KORNACKI: There are 35 million views of this since it was posted on
Thursday. How do you get white out of that? I saw blue and gold.

BALL: Well, it looks like a bad picture of white. I`m totally team white
and gold. I totally agree with Evan. I think the people who say they see
blue and black is because they know what the dress looks like in real life,
like what they`re supposed to be seeing.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: What do you see?

FRANCO: This is a lesson that I guess.

BALL: There is no black there. That much I know. There is no black.

FRANCO: Seeing is believing doesn`t hold true any longer.

KORNACKI: What do you see there?

FRANCO: I see the white and the gold on there. I mean, I see it very
clearly.

KORNACKI: Exactly.

BALL: There is no black.

KORNACKI: I agree there is no black and there is no white. There is blue
and gold.

BALL: Before I knew what the debate between white and gold or blue and
black, I said silver and gold is what I saw, because the white -- I can see
like the cornflower blue hint. To me, it was a bad picture, badly picture
of white.

KORNACKI: All these people seeing white, I`m waiting on them to start
complimenting me on the white shirt.

(CROSSTALK)

FRANCO: I wonder at the end, this is just be a big hoax.

BALL: That`s what I was waiting for, too.

KORNACKI: BuzzFeed, you can confess that later, Evan.

Anyway, that was, you know, no resolution. We had to get that in.

Still ahead, though, Chris Christie trying to turn things around. He takes
on organized labor, the mainstream media, conservatives within his own
party. Those details still to come this morning.

But next, she could be the next woman president of the United States.
We`ll look at how Hillary Clinton is embracing gender in a way she didn`t
in 2008.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I have so many opportunities
from this country. I just don`t want to see us fall backwards. No. So --

(APPLAUSE)

You know, this is very personal for me. It`s not just political. It`s not
just public. I see what`s happening. We have to reverse it.

And some people think elections are a game. They think it`s like who`s up
or who`s down. It`s about our country, it`s about our kids` futures, and
it`s really all of us together. Some of us put ourselves out there and do
this against some pretty difficult odds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That emotional moment during the 2008 Democratic presidential
primaries was the weekend between the Iowa caucuses where Hillary Clinton
finished third and the New Hampshire primary which she came back to win.
Well, that moment is often cited as pivotal in turning her campaign around,
a moment that made her appear vulnerable, humanized her sometimes steely
image.

This time around in 2016, if she does run, moments like that might not be
as necessary. "The New York Times" reporting this week that Hillary
Clinton will be playing up the fact that she`s now a grandmother, and she
will embrace a deeply populist message.

Ann Lewis is senior advisor in that race, called the decision not to
accentuate Mrs. Clinton`s gender, quote, "the biggest missed opportunity of
the 2008 primary contest, which ceded the mantle of barrier breaker
entirely to Barack Obama."

Ann Lewis joins us now, alongside our panel.

So, Ann, let me start with you.

That`s really an interesting comment. I wonder if you could just elaborate
on that. The idea that you look back on 2008 and you say, they handled the
issue of gender the wrong way. It was the biggest. Why?

ANN LEWIS, SENIOR ADVISOR: Well, I thought it was a missed opportunity,
because if I look at Hillary Clinton`s record, for example, from the
Senate, where she was the lead sponsor of an equal pay bill that we now
refer to as the Lilly Ledbetter bill, that finally got passed, or on
women`s health, which was really such a strong advocate for access to
healthcare for every woman. That was her record, that`s what she did.

And yet, in the presidential campaign, it was implicit, not explicit. You
got the sense -- I know I did because I was there -- people thought
everybody knows she`s a woman so we don`t need to talk about that.
Instead, let`s talk about how presidential she would be and let`s talk
about the, quote, "presidential issues".

That turned out to be a missed opportunity. I think that clip you just
showed tells you people connect with you better when they see that your
real, that you`re human, that you have life experiences. And that I think
is what you`re going to see going forward.

KORNACKI: I wonder if part of the calculation back in 2008 as the campaign
thought about at this, might have been also, looking at how people -- how
voters might think about gender, might think about the first female
president. And was there some instinct she has to look tougher, she has to
look stronger, less emotional, all of those sorts of things, that`s why you
don`t want to talk about gender, too?

LEWIS: Oh, I think there was a little of that. It is not easy to be the
first of anything. So when you`re trying to put together a campaign for
the first woman president, when there were no role models, there were no
examples, you kind of feeling your way.

KORNACKI: Krystal, I wonder what you make of this, you ran in 2010 in
Virginia. You`ve had some thoughts on Hillary. I`m curious what you make
of this.

BALL: Yes, I mean, it is really interesting and you can already see
Hillary setting herself up for a very different run, right? We saw her
speak to women in Silicon Valley. Next, we got her going down to D.C. to
cover, she`s key noting a speech to a group of progressive women. Emily`s
List is a very powerful group.

So, she clearly is embracing that message really more. And it is
interesting the way that the political conventional wisdom has changed
since 2008. When I ran in 2010, I got the same advice and was looking at
things very much the same way that Hillary was. I was told don`t talk
about your kids. Don`t talk about your gender, right?

You have to be a polished tough congressional figure. And that has really
changed. You can even see that in the way Alison Lundergan Grimes ran this
past time around, obviously unsuccessfully. But she really embraced being
a Kentucky woman and made that a core part of her message.

I think it appeals to a lot of voters, not just women, by the way.

KORNACKI: And I wonder, Ann, too, that the idea of -- in 2008, President
Obama, Barack Obama, the first African American president if he wins.
Hillary Clinton would have been the first female president if she had won
that year.

The idea of breaking the barrier, do you think it will be as exciting to
the country in 2016 as it was in 2008?

LEWIS: I can tell you from the many people I hear from, largely but not
entirely woman, young and old, the idea of electing a woman president is a
very exciting idea. They`ve never been in a potential campaign situation,
the underlying potential here, it is possible if he decides where so many
people in the year ahead of time are coming up and saying, it`s time to do
this. We really want to do this.

So, yes, I think it is very exciting.

KORNACKI: All right. Yes, thank you for pointing out, still only a
potential candidacy, even though I`m not sure how much I believe you on
that.

Anyway, Ann Lewis, thank you for getting UP and joining us this morning.
Appreciate that.

Up next major changes to a large protest scheduled for tomorrow in Russia
after one of its key speakers is murdered. Details on that right after
this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Organizers have now canceled the rally that was scheduled for
tomorrow in Moscow. It was a rally that was planned to voice opposition to
Russia`s actions in Ukraine. The cancellation comes after Boris Nemtsov,
one of Vladimir Putin`s most vocal critics was shot and killed near the
Kremlin late yesterday. Nemtsov is a former deputy prime minister at
Russia.

He was scheduled to speak at that rally tomorrow. Instead, now though,
organizers are calling for a memorial rally to mourn him.

Already, the bridge where he was killed has become a makeshift memorial.
Here`s a live look at -- we don`t have the picture, I`m sorry.

Russian officials say they are still looking into possible motives behind
Nemtsov`s murder.

Stay with MSNBC and MSNBC.com throughout the weekend as we learn more about
this story.

Up next, Chris Christie had harsh words for "The New York Times" this week.
So, what was the reaction in its newsroom? We will tell you when we
return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is in California this
morning, speaking to state Republicans at the end of a rocky month in his
all but announced campaign for the White House. February began with a
withering criticism for Christie`s response to a question about
vaccinations.

In a "New York Times" report, on his taste for luxury travel paid for by
others, now a massive blow to Christie`s effort to balance the books in New
Jersey with a state judge ruling that Christie broke his own signature
pension reform law when he failed to put $1.5 billion into the state
employees pension fund as the law had promised. That`s a huge hole that
Christie has to patch up as he tries to scrape together his presidential
campaign.

His approval ratings back home meanwhile now just 37 percent, the lowest
since he took office. Christie, in search of a solution, he`s heading back
on to the local town hall circuit, his first in six months. He`s also
taking shots at the national media on his monthly state and radio show and
on a national stage before the CPAC audience in Maryland.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: Are we shocked that "The New York Times" does this? This is a
"New York Times" who has already decided to endorse Hillary Clinton for
president, I`m sure.

I don`t care what they write about me in "The New York Times". They can
keep it. I don`t subscribe, by the way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Joining the panel is Kate Zernike, the national correspondent
for "The New York Times," co-author of the story on Christie`s travel.

Look, I`m not going to ask you for a response to it or anything, but it is
fair to say the media, "The New York Times" being part of the media, this
is a common punching bag that you hear about from conservative politicians.
Certainly, there are Democrats who attack the media as well. That`s not
unheard of and the Clintons don`t have the best relationship there.

But what is Christie trying to do here? What is it?

KATE ZERNIKE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, look, it`s easier to go before the
Iowa straw poll and say, I`m going to give up "The New York Times" for
Lent, than saying like I`m going to give up gluten or chocolate, which is
what most of us do.

Look, I think it`s very easy. The issue is not "the New York Times" or the
media. The issue is, how are we going to fix the pension problem that you
said four years ago? What are you going to do about those eight credit
downgrades that now make your borrowing more expensive? How are you going
to fix the roads when the fund to fix the road has run out and your
borrowing capacity is exhausted?

You know, the issue is, frankly, what did you know about the lane closings?
If you didn`t know, why you didn`t know? What was the culture you set in
your office that allowed people to think this is OK?

Those are tough questions for Christie to answer. The easier thing for him
to do is to go out and say, oh, it`s all the media`s fault. They just hate
me. They just love Hillary.

KORNACKI: So, what is the -- it seems like there`s a strategic shift here
from the Christie people in terms of having go back to New Jersey.
Obviously, the news is sort of compelling that he would be there, but also,
more town halls having to deal with the pension issue, the pension crisis
essentially back in New Jersey right now.

Is there a strategy here of trying to recast him as, you know, the Jersey
leader as opposed to this guy who`s out of the state most of the time?

ZERNIKE: Yes, and it was actually fascinating at the town hall because at
the end, the town hall was fairly -- you know, he said as he started, I`m a
little rusty at this, but he came out at the end and he said, he sort of
added a little, you know, a new chapter at the end and he said there`s a
lot of talk that I have forgotten about New Jersey and I have not forgotten
about New Jersey. I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I can lead --
I still love the state. I grew up here, I`m raising my kids here. I can
still walk and chew gum at the same time, and lead the state.

Of course, then, he goes -- does his radio show that evening, and then the
next day, he goes to Maryland for CPAC, and then goes to California for the
weekend. So, he`s really got a tough balance here if he`s running for
president and running the state.

KORNACKI: And he -- so, at CPAC, he got -- now, this was interesting, too.
A lot of the candidates didn`t give speeches. They were interviewed.
Generally, it was by Sean Hannity.

Christie was interviewed by Laura Ingraham. And lot of people thought that
Laura Ingraham was maybe given more of a grilling that Hannity was giving
the other candidates. So, that was interesting.

But at one point, Hannity excuse me, Hannity -- Ingraham was asking him
about Jeb Bush. This was sort of what Christie said at CPAC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: If the elites in Washington who make background deals decide who
the president is going to be, then he`s definitely the front runner. If
the people decide to pick the next president of the United States and they
want someone who looks at them in the eye, connects to them and is one of
them, I`ll do OK if I run.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Let me bring the panel in on this. So, it`s OK about, you know,
the purpose of the sort of attacks on the media, also sort of positioning
himself as I`m running against Jeb Bush. How is this going over with the
Republican base?

FRANCO: Well, it`s going over well, although I read "The New York Times".
Probably was a good thing for "The New York Times", actually, the
readership.

It goes over well with conservatives, obviously, this is red meat and so
forth. The problem with Governor Christie, though, is I think it`s a lose-
lose proposition for this reason. I think he`s in serious trouble at home
with 37 percent. As a Republican in the establishment of Republicans, his
appeal was our dream of possibly carrying New Jersey, Pennsylvania
potentially, in other words, a candidate that could attract a lot of
independent voters, particularly.

BALL: The map.

FRANCO: Expand the map and do what we needed to do to win the general
election. That`s Christie`s appeal within the Republican Party. It
certainly isn`t with the conservative faction.

BALL: Yes.

FRANCO: But with 37 percent approval rating, trying to pick a fight to be
a Scott Walker is not the right fight. Trying to do the thing with pig
farmers in New Jersey where there are no pig farmers, to play well in Iowa
is really pandering. So, I think ultimately, he loses at the national
level, he loses at home, because now, most of us look at this and say, this
guy can`t -- with 37 percent, he can`t carry New Jersey. Why would he be
on the ticket? He`s certainly not going to appeal in the South.

KORNACKI: Are they, Kate -- people around Christie, what do you pick up
from them? From Trenton about, like did they look at the last few months
and say, we made some mistakes here.

ZERNIKE: Well, I think they do and I think the travel story hurt them.
They felt that some of them felt it was a fair hit, not all of them
certainly, but they felt like this was a problem that he did in the first
place and they want to get through to him saying this is the kind of thing
you can`t do.

BALL: It`s going to hurt his everyday image.

ZERNIKE: Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yes, walking and chewing gum isn`t great when the
chewing is going to a Dallas Cowboys game on Jerry Jones` tab. I mean,
it`s just a crazy idea.

ZERNIKE: And you mentioned Pennsylvania. And one of the interesting
things was going to the Cowboys game against the Eagles. That`s really
angered people in Pennsylvania. The polls showed it.

KORNACKI: Yes, you don`t cheer for Jerry Jones` team.

BALL: I mean, one of the things I thought going back to his answer on Jeb
Bush, it`s almost sort of sad, like he`s now bashing the establishment.
This is the folks he was hoping to back his campaign, right? So, it says a
lot about how far he`s fallen that now he has to make this like outsider
pitch.

FRANCO: A lot of the donors that were going to support Christie, New
Jersey donors, are now supporting Jeb Bush.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: He`s never going to be the grassroots candidate, and the
idea that now he`s trying to say that`s how he -- that`s his thing. That
was never his thing.

KORNACKI: By the way, Chris Christie, this whole Jeb Bush money machine
that could be taking him down right now, and Chris Christie helped build
that. Chris Christie`s political career was made by being a major Bush
donor and getting the U.S. attorneys job out there. I always like to point
that out.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: I didn`t even have to say it.

FRANCO: -- to the benefit of Jeb Bush? So, thank you very much.

KORNACKI: I didn`t even have to say it. Just pointing out the irony.

My thanks to Kate Zernike of "The New York Times", Evan McMorris-Santoro
with BuzzFeed, Krystal Ball with MSNBC.com, Republican consultant Adolfo
Franco -- thank you very much.

And to you for getting UP for us tonight.

Up next, "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". Stay tuned. Don`t miss that.

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

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