'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, March 14th, 2015
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Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: March 14, 2015
Guest: Kristen Soltis Anderson, Sahil Kapur, Dave Weigel, Margaret
Carlson, Brian Kelly, Jessica Stern
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: The fight is on in New Hampshire.
All right. Good morning to you. Thanks for getting up with us this
Saturday morning. It is a big weekend for Jeb Bush and for Scott Walker,
both making their first trips as would be candidates to the state of New
Hampshire. The first in the nation state of the New Hampshire right now.
They seem to be getting a warm reception in the granite state. But the
niceties do not seem to be extending to each other.
Kasie Hunt is standing by live for what I think is going to be the first
sniping report of the 2016 campaign. You`re going to want to stand by for
Also ahead this morning, President Obama is making news this weekend with
some crocodile tears for the 47 republicans who sent that open letter to
the leaders of Iran. Exactly what the President is saying now. That is
coming up in just a little bit.
And also, Hillary Clinton is probably glad this week is now over. But
there are new reports this morning that some of the e-mails she said were
kept, may actually could be lost forever. Details on that controversy.
What it means going forward in just a little bit.
And finally, do you know what today is? March 14, 3-14 that makes it Pi
day. As any math nerd out there can tell you. But there is not just any
Pi day because there is something happening in the next two hours during
this show that won`t happen again for another century. We`ll going to be
counting down to that big moment, celebrating it as it arises. Stick
around with that. Our big UP Pi Party that is on the show today.
But we begin this morning in what is ground zero for presidential politics
this weekend. New Hampshire, home of the first in the nation presidential
primary. The top two republican presidential contenders both barnstorming
that state this weekend. It is starting to their fire on each other.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker both
arriving yesterday, both resuming their swings just hours from now. For
Bush, New Hampshire is already a must win state. His prospects in Iowa are
bleak to win the nomination. His goal is going to be to survive Iowa and
then make a real statement in the granite state. Scott Walker meanwhile
much stronger than Bush in Iowa right now and very competitive in New
Could he put together that one two punch of both Iowa and New Hampshire
that every candidate dreams of. For Bush, this is his first political
visit to New Hampshire in 15 years now. Back to when he was there to
campaign for his older brother back in 2000. Jeb Bush this time around
promising the union leader, the state`s largest and most conservative
newspaper promising them this is going to be the first of many visit to the
state. Bush spoke to a business group, into a House party last night and
he made some waves with comments about immigration and education. And
also, it seemed to be a pretty clear shot at Scott Walker. More and all of
that in just a second. Bush head lighting fundraisers with New Hampshire,
republican Congressman Frank Guinta. Senator Kelly Ayotte, this weekend as
well, Walker meanwhile with nearly a dozen stops planned around the state.
Wisconsin governor meeting yesterday with Scott Brown, the former
Massachusetts senator who now lives in New Hampshire and ran for the Senate
in New Hampshire last year as well as having a meeting today with the
former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu. John Sununu by the way will be
joining us on tomorrow`s show. We`ll ask him about all of that. Walker
for his part also taking some not too subtle shots of his own at Jeb Bush.
Saying that he is the son of a preacher, as opposed to being the son of a
president. And also somewhat surprising, Walker embracing the label of
frontrunner in an interview earlier this week. Not a role that most
candidates usually like to claim. This is a wide open race in New
Hampshire primary still 10 months away. But Bush and Walker are clearly
the early leaders in the republican side. There is already a lot online
for both of them this week in New Hampshire. So, with that, let us head up
to New Hampshire to conquer the New Hampshire to the State Capital to the
scene of that event that Scott Walker is going to be speaking at this
MSNBC political reporter Kasie Hunt is standing by. Kasie, apparently this
was moved, this Walker event was moved to a different location, maybe a
little more interest than they were expecting at the same time Scott Walker
giving an interview last night to the local station in New Hampshire
Channel 9. We say he`s embracing the frontrunner role, he`s taking shots
at Bush. Let`s listen to that and then I`ll asked you about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: I think to beat a name from the past, we
need a name from the future. So, a new fresh face I think helps create a
great contrast to Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: He`s sort of, you know, he`s wasting no time here in drawing
contrast with Jeb Bush. As we say embracing the frontrunner`s role. Scott
Walker who is coming to New Hampshire today. Does this guy think he`s the
frontrunner in this race?
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Steve, we haven`t actually
gotten a chance to talk to Scott Walker yet. Well, he did the local
interviews, he hasn`t done the traditional retail politicking that is so
much a part of this state or at least not in the way that the press has
been able to see. Instead, as you saw there, he seems to be coming up here
and taking jabs at Jeb Bush. He also did an interview while in New
Hampshire with the Tampa Bay Times, one of the papers from Bush`s home
state. An interesting decision and a place to take a jab at Jeb Bush.
Bush was a little more reluctant to engage. I asked him yesterday if he
thought that Walker was the frontrunner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Governor, Scott Walker is also here in New Hampshire today. And he
called himself a possible frontrunner. Do you think that`s a premature
assessment, how do you judge it?
JEB BUSH, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Well, I`m not a candidate. Maybe I am,
I don`t know. But I`m not -- you can`t be a frontrunner until you start
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So there you have it. Can`t be a frontrunner until you start
running. And Bush also later in the day, I asked him if he thought that
Walker was a flip-flopper. Walker has taken some heat in the press over
the course of the past couple of days on changing his position on issues
like immigration, potentially the renewable fuel standard. Bush didn`t
want to go after him. He certainly did not engage to the degree that
Walker did on Bush. But he did acknowledge when pressed that Walker has
changed his position on immigration. So, we`ll see how that tussle evolves
and whether Bush ultimately decides to play ball.
KORNACKI: Yes. And Kasie, He also -- Bush -- we`re talking about
immigration common core on education. This is some of the issues where
he`s most vulnerable supposedly with the conservative based of the party
where republicans thinking as the most explaining to do. You mentioned
immigration, I guess, he made news here saying that he has the grownup plan
HUNT: Yes, Steve, so he really took these two issues head on with this New
Hampshire crowd. He did a business round-table yesterday. And even more
aggressively than I had seen him in Iowa about a week ago. And he was a
little bit more careful on these two things. But here in New Hampshire he
was absolutely full throated in his defense, calling it as you say the
grown up plan. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: And it`s easy to say, well, anything you propose is amnesty and --
that`s not a plan. That`s a sentiment perhaps. That`s not a plan. I
think the best plan, the most realistic plan, the grownup plan if you will,
once you control the border and you`re confident that there`s not going to
be another magnet coming, is to say let`s let these folks achieve earned
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So those are some real fighting words on policy from Jeb Bush aimed
at the rest of the republican field -- Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. Kasie Hunt live in, Concord, New Hampshire. Good
luck with the event there. Thanks for the report, I appreciate it.
HUNT: Thanks, Steve. Great to see you.
KORNACKI: All right. For more on this now. Let`s bring in today`s panel.
We have republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, MSNBC political
analyst Joan Walsh, editor-at-large with Salon. And Sahil Kapur,
Congressional reporter with Talking Points Memo.
So, let`s talk about this -- really it`s amazing how these two Walker and
Bush have really kind of jumped out ahead of everybody else. We talk about
wide open race. But we`re talking about two right now in New Hampshire,
same time taking shots at each other. Let me start with Bush on
immigration. What we just heard there saying, I have the grownup position
on this. We know he has a position that he`s going to have trouble selling
to some in the base, Kirsten. Can pull this off talking this way?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: I definitely think he can
pull this off. I mean, I think I give him a lot of credit for being bold
and not backing down from positions where folks have said he`s going to
have trouble with the base. I give him a lot of credit for standing by it.
And I think he`s going to put a lot of these other republicans in a
difficult position when he says what`s your plan? What`s your plan? Is
your plan to deport a lot of folks or is your plan to let folks stay here
with some kind of legal status. And I think he may ultimately wind up
moving the debate to be okay, what is that legal status look like by
keeping this as an issue he`s not afraid to talk about?
KORNACKI: I mean, is that distinction between citizenship, the path to
citizenship, and legal status something sort of citizenship, but it`s okay
we acknowledge you, you`re here you can stay. Does that matter to the
republican base? Is that something that they would appreciate?
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He`s going to have to develop it.
He`s going to have to spell out exactly what it means or else he`s going to
be hit with a backlash against anything that sounds like people can stay.
Which is then always conflated though it shouldn`t be, with bringing in a
new surge of people. I mean, and I thought that the way that he broke it
down was actually helpful. It does not mean a surge. We control the
borders and then we move on to legal status. If that can come across as
being sober and serious as it is, maybe he can win people over. But he may
also face a backlash where it`s just all amnesty. They`ve done a great
job. Anything like that is amnesty.
SAHIL KAPUR, TALKING POINTS MEMO CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Other republicans
have tried this before. Marco Rubio has tried this before. Speaker
Boehner has tried this before. It`s not amnesty -- in path the citizen or
in path to legal status. And maybe we won`t even promise -- maybe we`ll
let them work their way up. Everything gets tagged as amnesty if, you
know, if there`s any kind of leniency for undocumented immigrants. What
Jeb Bush I think is trying to do though is he is trying to secure donors,
the establishment republicans who saw Mitt Romney`s heirs in the 2012
election, to stop the deportation line ended him with something like 27
percent among Hispanics. Republicans know they cannot have a candidate who
does that again. So, Jeb Bush is taking a strong position, he`s making
sure he doesn`t fall in that trap.
KORNACKI: But that is, Kirsten, that seems to me, that is like there`s a
disconnect in the Republican Party. Because we saw this after the 2012
election when they had that autopsy report. You know, why did we lose in
2012? And one of these specific things that they put in there was hey, we
got to address immigration, we got to do comprehensive immigration reform.
ANDERSON: And it was notable because that was one of the only policy
recommendations in the report.
KORNACKI: Right. And it seems like every time you have sort of leaders in
the party, whether it`s donors talking about sort of party strategists who
put a report like that together, when they start going down that road and
recognizing this is something they think they`ve got to do from a strategic
standpoint the resistance from the base in the party to any movement on
that, I don`t know what else is like it. I mean -- like ObamaCare or
ANDERSON: I mean, it`s one of those questions where, you know, if you do a
survey and you ask republicans how they feel about certain ideas in terms
of immigration reform offering a legal pathway to legal status. They tend
to be in favor of it. But the folks who are not in favor of it are very,
very vocal and active and energize about it. And so, that`s the kind of
leads to that disconnect. You can do a poll that actually shows most
republicans are going to be fine with a position like Jeb Bush`s. Those
who aren`t maybe the loudest. But when you`re talking about over a dozen
people running for president potentially in a state like Iowa or New
Hampshire, you can afford to have 30, 40 percent of the electorate that
considers, you know, I couldn`t vote for them in this primary because of
this issue and you can still pull off a lot of wins and put together --
KORNACKI: Yes. The best friend Jeb Bush has right now, the establishment
candidate, quote-unquote, "Always has is the crowded field." Let`s talk
about Walker here though for a second too. This is a quote -- this is the
Tampa Bay Times interview, Bush`s home state newspaper. Walker, this is
yesterday, he`s talking, he`s making the case, really against Jeb. We had
Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney. If it`s just whoever next up that
hasn`t worked so well for the Republican Party in the past, Jeb is a good
man. I think highly of them, I just think voters are going to look at this
and say if we`re running against Hillary Clinton we`ll need a name from the
future, not a name in the past to win. You know, we always talk about if
he gives the history there, the establishment always seems to win these
primaries in the end. I think Scott Walker is tapping into something. I`m
seeing the resistance there under Republican Party to Bush that I didn`t
even see for Romney and McCain.
WALSH: Absolutely. I mean, he`s making a very good point. He`s actually
-- the way that the establishment candidate has won, as you said is that
there is a lot of right wing candidates. They fight with each other, we
saw it in 2012 and the establishment person is last man standing. So, it
has always been a man. This time around, you`ve got two kind of
establishment candidates. Scott Walker is making his claim to money, I
mean, I consider him an extreme right winger. But he`s making his claim to
the donor class. That he`s an executive, he`s done some important things.
And he`s going right at Jeb Bush, not letting him have the establishment
mantle while also not seeding the right wing base appeal. So, that`s a
really -- nobody has really try to walk that line. And it will be
interesting to see if he can do it.
KAPUR: It`s a legitimate argument to make you feel as a republican that
you need a fresh face to beat Hillary Clinton. And especially if the race
is Bush versus Clinton, there`s a huge disparity in those brand. The
Clinton name is much more popular, it`s sort of like My Space trying to
beat Facebook. It`s an uphill battle. So, you know, Scott Walker, a
recent poll showed, I think a recent NBC poll found that Scott Walker
standing has jumped about 20 points in the last three months among
republican voters and Jeb Bush has standing, has fallen 10 points which
puts him about even right now.
KORNACKI: Is there sort of like, I don`t know, like an issue of class
appeal here within the Republican Party where Bush is sort of the country
club set and Scott Walker is more sort of the blue caller republican? And
he`s playing on that too, when he says I`m the son of a preacher, not the
son of a president. You`re playing a little bit. There is this sort of
blue caller base that Walker has been able to appeal to the guys like Bush,
guys like Romney don`t necessarily --
WALSH: While he`s decimating unions, let`s just make that clear.
ANDERSON: You know, I think this question of the last name is going to
ultimately not be what is really decisive for a lot of people. I think the
question isn`t who has got a name of the past or future but who has got the
ideas of the past or the future. And so, I mean, I think Jeb Bush, when
you hear him talk he sounds very different from his brother. He`s got
ideas that sound very different from what people expect maybe out of a
traditional republican stereotype. And so, I think in that sense, Jeb Bush
despite his last name, has an opportunity to be very fresh.
KORNACKI: Well, we`ll see. Jeb there today, Scott Walker there today.
Obviously, a big weekend. Still ten months to the primary. But the race
really, it is on, folks. More on that this weekend. But still had on the
show today, dozens of leads still no arrests, however in the Ferguson
shooting of those two police officers. A live report on that manhunt still
underway in just a few minutes.
Also President Obama fires back against the 47 senators who signed the Iran
letter. What he said. That`s coming up next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I`m embarrassed for them. For them
to address a letter to the Ayatollah who they claim is our mortal enemy.
And their basic argument to them is, don`t deal with our president.
Because you can`t trust him to follow through on an agreement. That`s
close to unprecedented.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was President Obama in an interview that will be airing
Monday on vice news commenting on the 47 Senate republicans who signed that
open letter to the leaders of Iran. White House Press Secretary Josh
Earnest saying the letter was meant to undermine President Obama`s ability
to negotiate foreign policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The fact is, we have heard
republicans now for quite some time, including the principal author of this
letter make clear that their goal is to undermine these negotiations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Iran itself has also responded. The Ayatollah, the supreme
leader calling it a sign that Washington is, quote, "disintegrating from
within." John McCain, one of the 47 who signed it now expressing some
regret over his own role in that letter. Telling Politico that republicans
should have given it more consideration. Quote, "It was a very rapid
process. Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of
the snowstorm." The letter is the brain child of Arkansas freshmen Senator
Tom Cotton, already one of his party`s most hawkish voices designed to put
Obama on the defensive. Is Cotton succeeding -- are republicans succeeding
here or has this move already backfired on the GOP. The panel is back with
us. So, let`s ask that question. I mean, when it came to the politics of
Iran, it seemed like -- I would have said at the start of this week, just
on the politics of it, the republicans were in a pretty good position. I
think after that Netanyahu speech they probably gotten what they wanted out
of it. Not so sure it say the same at the end of this week.
WALSH: How could they be expected to really deliberate over that letter,
Steve? I don`t know why you`re holding it against them. They were under a
lot of pressure because there was snow coming in Washington.
KAPUR: It`s back firing in a number of important ways. And the biggest
way is that there are two bills out there, two bipartisan bills -- that
would insure Congressional review of any deal and, you know, make sure that
Congress can essentially veto any deal that they think is bad. Democrats
are backing away from those bills now.
KAPUR: Because they`re so, you know, upset at this move. And they think
this move kind of casts a big cloud over this entire issue. So, there`s a
rallying effect among democrats and President Obama side and there`s a lot
of -- against the republicans. But this is a critical issue because this
is policy. They need these democrats to override a veto.
KORNACKI: Has this changed the math of that? Because the expectation
before was the people, the proponents of that legislation that would
basically cripple whatever Obama was able to negotiate with Iran, if
they`re able to negotiate anything. But the republicans had the vote. Has
that math changed now or is it changing?
KAPUR: There are four democrats who have supported that kind of
legislation that President Obama opposes, who very, very strongly
criticized republicans. One of them, Tim Kaine has questioned whether this
new Congress hasn`t turn up to handle foreign policy. So, I don`t think
any of them have denounced their co-sponsorship of that yet. But it`s, you
know, certainly an open question as to where this goes. This is not
helping the republicans.
KORNACKI: What do you think of this, Kristen?
ANDERSON: So I think that if you drew a venn diagram of people who are
genuinely really outraged about this letter and people who read the letter,
there is actually not as much overlap as you would think. When I first saw
this new story breaking and popping up, and then I read the letter, and
it`s constitution explaining as I`ve heard it described. It`s basically,
it`s not a valentine that they`re sending to the leadership of Iran, it`s
basically saying you think dealing with President Obama is tough. You`ve
got to get through us, too. And so when I read it --
KAPUR: You`re saying don`t trust the President, don`t trust the country --
KORNACKI: I know this wasn`t a formal communication sent to Tehran. But
why use that device of addressing it --
ANDERSON: -- by the argument that it would have been more effective had it
been addressed to President Obama, hey, don`t forget you`ve got to include
WALSH: Right. That`s a very different thing.
ANDERSON: We might not be talking about it. And frankly, what I`m
guessing is a lot of republicans think we want to get this story even more
in the news. We want to get people to see even more that it`s us that`s
pushing back against the steal that could -- in the words of Netanyahu pave
the path to Iran getting the bomb. So, I think the calculation was this
will put it more in the news.
KORNACKI: It pushed something in the news. No question.
WALSH: Netanyahu put it in the news in an increasingly bad way for him and
the republicans. And then this letter is particularly ridiculous. It`s
like, yes, it would be different if they addressed it the President. But
they didn`t deliberately. And it`s perceived widely as undermining the
president. And it`s perceived, and you know, I saw Eric Erickson had this
piece about Tom Cotton puts Obama off his game right as I was watching the
President give those remarks to vibe, which were hilarious. I`m
embarrassed for them.
KORNACKI: You know, you can tell that politically they`re happy the White
House is happy.
KORNACKI: And that`s the way I look at this. Somebody has made the point,
and somebody I forgot where I read this, but basically said, look, if this
had been an op-ed. If you took dear leaders of Iran off of it and you
didn`t frame that way, we wouldn`t be sitting here having this
conversation. Which has raises the question to me strategically. I
understand you`re going to get a little more attention that way. But I
guess this challenges that idea that there`s no such thing as bad
publicity. Because I think the thing that most people sort of look at the
stuff casually take away from this is, they were writing to the leaders of
Iran. Why are they writing to the leaders of Iran? Why are they giving an
WALSH: And they`re undermining the President.
KAPUR: They actually did get one error but it was a technical error, they
said, you know, the Senate will ratify a treaty. Technically it`s the
President who does it but the Senate has to pave a path to that. But to
the more important point, one conspicuously absent, non-signatory to this
letter is the Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker.
KAPUR: He said that the moment he read the letter he knew it was not going
to be constructive to his goal. And he is an author of a key piece of
legislation that would insure Congressional review of any deal that the
White House does not want to --
KORNACKI: Right. Corker Menendez. He`s trying to keep those democrats on
board with his bill. He`s sensitive to that.
KAPUR: And he knew immediately that that wasn`t going to help. It looks
like he was right.
KORNACKI: One of the most interesting twists in this story too, in this
letter that was sent this week, probably the most interesting signature
that was on it belonged to supposedly the most famous non-interventionist
in the Republican Party. Rand Paul. Coming up next, we`re going to look
at that side of it. What this controversy means for Rand Paul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: So, why do I sign this letter? I signed
this letter because I signed it to an administration that doesn`t listen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Rand Paul, the supposed non-interventionists trying to survive
in the Republican Party, trying to run for president in the age of ISIS.
How can he do that? That is coming up.
Plus, the phones are open as we are joined by the legendary Larry King.
Lots of news, lots of politics and yes, Larry King still ahead in the show.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I signed the letter to Iran, but you know what? The message I was
sending was to you. The President says, oh, if Congress won`t do what I
want, so I`ve got a pen and I`ve got my phone. I want to do what I want.
The letter was to you, the letter was to Iran, but it should have been cced
to the White House because the White House needs to understand that any
agreement that removes or changes legislation will have to be passed by us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Not long ago Rand Paul looked like he was the future of the
Republican Party when it came to its approach of the world. Now, however
ISIS has re-energized the republican hawks. The GOP`s war fatigue appears
to be wearing off. So, will Rand Paul be able to find his footing again as
he tries to run for president.
Joining the panel now, Dave Weigel, reporter from Bloomberg Politics who
has been covering Rand Paul and republican politics. So, Dave, I just did
the basic rule of politics when you`re sort of imitating your opponents,
imitating your enemies, it`s probably a sign that you`re losing. You`re
not in a place you want to be. Rand Paul signing this letter this week,
that tells me that the moment for that non-interventionism that he
represents may have passed in the Republican Party.
DAVE WEIGEL, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: Well, to a lot of Rand Paul`s fans and
supporters it seemed that way. If you look at the kind of antiwar
libertarian section of his base, antiwar dot com. The forums that Rand
Paul and Ron Paul websites. That`s how they all read this. They read this
is him buckling to what Marco Rubio and the hawks in the Republican Party
had been saying. And buckling has surprised them because in other forums
when he was in the stage with hawks. The Koch Summit in January, he
emphasized that he wanted negotiations to play out, he mocked the idea that
America was going to get in a new conflict with Iran. He basically had set
himself against the Tom Cotton conception of the world. And so, that`s why
I think when you see him explain why he signed this, he come up with the
explanation you showed. He also told Matt Lauer that he did this to
strengthen the President`s hand negotiations. It`s a model and I think
what his base -- blames it on is that he has some of the same convictions
of them and of his Father Ron Paul. But just when he pivots to adopt
what`s in the Republican Party mainstream, that`s when he gets flat footed.
KORNACKI: Well, also, it`s just seems like the culture of the Republican
Party, it`s not just the Republican Party, it`s sort of, I think the way
all Americans are thinking about intervention has changed in the wake of
all the news about ISIS. We can show you this was a poll about ground
troops potentially being used to fight ISIS. This is just about a month
ago. Sixty two percent, all Americans supporting this. It`s a two to one
margin. Some roll for ground troops. And I don`t think those are numbers
we would have been seeing a few years ago. And then there was this, quote,
you know, I mean, you know, Bill Crystal the champion of the Iraq war ten
years ago, or more than 10 years ago, talking now about Tom Cotton in this
letter saying, "Most of those running in 2016 will sound a lot more like
Cotton than Rand Paul." I mean, Bill Krystal feeling emboldened again, and
the republicans like, is there room in the Republican Party for Rand Paul
the way we thought there might be a couple years ago?
WEIGEL: Well, given -- talking about the crowd in the republican field and
how someone can break through without a huge majority. That`s still the
plan for Rand Paul in Iowa and New Hampshire. He doesn`t need to win, it`s
a ramp of republicans who are against intervention with ISIS. That`s right
in his position. If they all voted for Rand Paul, they`d start with a
block of the base. It`s figured in -- I mean, his problem is that he`s
consciously tried to avoid hawkishness on Iran and try to carve out a very
delicate position on ISIS which is that we should intervene and we should
protect our interests there which he had a limited -- to do so. He had his
own portfolio on this stuff that I think was thought out. But he was
conscious about not allowing opponents to paint him as anti-Israel or as
And I think that is why he jumped into this fray. He thought this would
inoculate him against some of the charges that have weakened him. I mean,
when I`m in the Senate -- if there`s any attempts, any of us in the Senate
to button hole him and ask him if he`s going to sign into Corker Menendez
or any of those. He`s always looking at it. He`s looking at it. When you
saw him in the hearing with Kerry, that was what he was trying to do was
come up with a narrowly tailored version of why he`s not pro-Iran but he is
an interventionist. And I think he has a great case do make here. But he
did not foresee the way the Cotton letter was going to play out. I think
for him it was a way without signing on to a binding legislation, it was a
way to say to his critics that he was not rooting for the enemies of
America by being non-interventionist.
WEIGEL: It`s an argument he can make very well to his base and that he did
not see the ripples that would come from his colleagues. In -- and no
predicted that, certainly not him.
KORNACKI: Let me go to the panel, Joan.
WALSH: Well, I think, one thing that he saw and didn`t anticipate the
backlash was it was a way to kick the President. And anytime you`re
running for president, you`re talking to your base, if you can kick the
president, that`s a good thing to do. And if it actually kind of conflicts
with your stance on Iran, and your stance on intervention, then you realize
it later and he say we`re talking to the President. It was an incredibly
disrespectful thing to do to the President and all his rivals in the Senate
were signing the letter.
ANDERSON: It actually doesn`t surprise me as much. Once I read the text
of the letter that Rand Paul would have signed it because it is so focused
on the constitution, checking the President`s power. By the way, Congress
has to be involved. This is what the constitution says. The letter
doesn`t say we`re going to bomb Iran, the letter doesn`t say anything about
intervention, the letter doesn`t say anything about what our policy toward
Iran should be. It just says Congress should be involved. So, in that
sense that`s why I can both see why Rand Paul would have signed on and why
I`m sure a lot of these folks are surprise as --
KORNACKI: The bigger question they`re looking at the Republican Party
right now. Because you know this better than anybody here, I think. But
if you look at the Republican Party right now, the whole talk two years
ago, was look, in the wake of Iraq and the wake of Afghanistan, the
Republican Party was going to sort of return to these old non-
interventionist routes, like sort of pre-World War II, what Ron Paul sort
of identified with, what Rand Paul kind of identified with. But there was
a real big opening for that because of Iraq. Do you think that opening is
closing because of ISIS?
ANDERSON: I think that now that we clearly see how scary a place the world
is, I think that that debate is going to be less central to what we see up
on these debate stages in the 2016 primary. I mean, I still kind of think
of Rand Paul having a relatively high floor and a relatively low ceiling.
I think in a lot of these states, you know, unless he loses this core base
of support, unless he takes more actions that really alienate the core Paul
folks, I think you can generally see him getting, you know, fourth, fifth
sixth place out of a field of 12. It`s hard for me to see him with his
foreign policy views ever really being one or two.
KORNACKI: All right. I got to -- actually I`m being yelled at here, we`ll
get you next time. Thanks for Dave Weigel from Bloomberg Politics for
joining us. I really appreciate that.
Still ahead in the show today, where in the world is Vladimir Putin? The
mystery surrounding Russia`s leader and his sudden disappearance.
Next though, we`ll going live to Ferguson where that manhunt continues for
the suspects who shot those two police officers.
KORNACKI: There was another peaceful night in Ferguson, Missouri. Where
about a dozen supporters of the city showed up at police headquarters.
Ferguson`s mayor was even there and spoke with the group. Tensions though
still high in that city as police continue to search for the person who
shot two officers on Wednesday night.
For more on where that investigation stands now on couple of days later.
MSNBC`s Amanda Sakuma is live in Ferguson. Amanda, what is the latest?
AMANDA SAKUMA, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: Good morning, Steve. Police are
still scrambling to locate the gunman who fired off the shots on Thursday
morning. But for now, there are so many unanswered questions. Just
yesterday a St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said that there are
currently no people in custody right now. And at this point they`re unable
to say that any arrest is imminent. Earlier this week, police did take
three people into custody for questioning, but they were later released
that day and there were no arrests that were made. Authorities have said
that there have been scores of tips called in to the police department.
But for right now, they really just scrambling to figure out who exactly
was the gunman.
KORNACKI: All right. This is when we are watching closely. We will keep
you apprised of the latest on any details that emerge on that. MSNBC`s
Amanda Sakuma though for right now. Thank you very much for that report.
I appreciate that.
Coming up next, after two years, is Pope Francis already talking about
retirement? Is papal retirement now an official thing? And still ahead,
we are counting up this morning to something very cool happening during our
show this morning. All of the details and a pastry plate, a special pastry
plate still to come. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: All right. There`s a lot going on this morning. Time to get
caught up on some of the other headlines making news. This is, we call
this "Catching Up," I call it the index card segment. We`ve got all these
headlines from around the world on index cards. I`m going to read them and
we`re going to have some comments from the panel on these. Let`s see how
many of these we can get through. This is from "The New York Times" today.
In "The New York Times," what`s the headline say? Pope Francis predicts
his papacy will be brief. This is the second anniversary of Pope Francis
becoming pope. And he`s saying I have the feeling that my pontificate will
be brief. Four or five years. I do not know. Even two or three. He`s
talking about the idea of -- usually this is a lifetime thing. He`s now
talking about death necessarily, he was talking about retirement which the
last pope did but no pope before -- 700 years before that had done. So, is
this a new thing though?
WALSH: He likes the look of retirement. He also talked about wanting to
go out in public and, you know, have some pizza. And I think we just need
to get him a disguise, a pope disguise. Maybe he dressed up like Joe Biden
or I don`t know I`ve got some ideas for him.
KORNACKI: Wear treat clothes.
WALSH: For someone who with that position of power to want to give it up.
KORNACKI: Is this like Francis like?
KAPUR: It`s absolutely is. It`s unique to him in that exact way. So,
he`s almost like a papal Kurt Cobain, the famous hard --
ANDERSON: It`s not about power. I mean, holding the papal, it`s about
serving God. So, actually, I doubt that he would leave the papacy because
he wants to get pizza and be anonymous. I mean, that would be really
selfish. You know, maybe he views himself as having a very specific and
brief mission and then time to hand the reins over.
KORNACKI: Yes. It`s an interesting job. I mean, you get it when you`re
like 78 and he start thinking about retirement at 82, I don`t know some
interesting -- what else do we have here? This is from medium, website
medium, how Netflix broke the unbreakable spoiler alert and how to fix it.
So, they`re diagnosing the problem here. Maybe you`ve picked up on this
one. All these shows get released on Netflix. Like House of Cards --
KORNACKI: All the episodes get released at once. So, you`re on twitter,
you`re talking it for example, they`ve seen all 13, they`ve seen all 18,
whatever it is. And they`re telling you everything. It`s impossible in a
way that it wasn`t before when you just had to worry about like not
watching an episode for an hour, not hearing about it for a few hours.
Now, until you get caught up on with everything, you`re at risk --
ANDERSON: You`ve got to do the status check. I was like, this is where
I`m at in season 3 at House of Cards, so if you`re any further please don`t
tell me anything. You`ve got to give people a warning before you start
WALSH: But it`s also super, I mean, I`m doing it, so how dissatisfied can
I be? But it`s super unsatisfying when you finish episode 3 and you`re
like, oh, my god either what happened or I just need to talk about it.
Because there`s not necessarily anybody around. You know, if you watch
Scandal, if you watch Downton Abbey, you know if you watch shows in real-
time, you have the community of people to say, I can`t believe --
ANDERSON: That was great about the end of Breaking Bad -- it all happened
right before the end so we could all enjoy that.
KORNACKI: Speaking of scandal, we`ll fit one more in here. This is
interesting. "The Washington Post" Kerry Washington, she`s going to be
playing Anita Hill in a movie in an HBO movie called confirmation about the
Clarence Thomas confirmation story back in 1991. There was some other
pology (ph) of Paul Giamatti to play Arlen Specter.
KORNACKI: So, it`s an interesting casting. Twenty fifth anniversary of
that coming up. So, look for that movie. I guess next year, time for
that. Anyway, thanks to the panel. We`ll going to see you again next
hour. Still ahead, could the cash in my wallet become totally unnecessary
soon? And next, my interview with the one and the only, the man, the myth,
the legend, Larry King. He joins us next.
KORNACKI: So, as I say, one of my all-time favorite television
personalities is Larry King. On his show every night you could watch him
interview everyone from major political figures to some of the biggest
names in show business, some of the biggest entertainers in the world. And
for a quarter of a century, his prime time show was the place to be seen if
you wanted to make news. And he can currently be seen on two different
shows. Larry King now and politic king, both of them on Ora TV. And as
you might imagine, I was thrilled to have the chance this week to talk to
Larry King and ask him about politics, about his career. And there is also
a by the way a very special caller standing by. Trust me you`re going to
want to watch this interview all the way to the end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: You were sort of the, you know, sort of speak the king of
interviews. So, let me ask you this. Right now, if you had to put
together your list of the three people you most wanted to interview right
now, who would it be?
LARRY KING, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If I had to put three together right
now, well, the person I`ve never interviewed would be Fidel Castro. And
he`s at the end of an incredible career. And probably the longest running
leader of a country ever. So, he`d be first. He`s not in the news right
now, but he partially is because we`re opening the doors to Cuba. I`d like
to interview whoever the head of ISIS is. If we could find him and do it
without being threatened to have my head cut off, I would love to interview
him because I like to interview people on the other side of the curve.
People who might be considered evil because evil people don`t think they`re
evil. If I had to pick a third it would probably Merkel of Germany. I`ve
interviewed three chancellors of Germany, I`ve never met her. And she is
the most powerful force in Europe today. So, it would be those three.
KORNACKI: That`s really interesting. And that`s one of the reasons I`m
always was such a big fan of yours. I think because the variety you just
provided there in those three different names and sort of those three
different types. That was what made your show. One of the things that
made your show on CNN so fun for me to watch. But who over the years in
politics, what kind of political guests did you have I wonder that
KING: The best political interview of all is Bill Clinton. Because he has
an incredible mind, quick thinking. Looks right into your eyes and answers
your question directly. There is nobody like Bill Clinton. You can`t be
in a room with Bill Clinton for five minutes and not like him.
KORNACKI: How about Hillary?
KING: I remember the first time I interviewed Hillary. There was a
picture of Eleanor Roosevelt in front of us, right behind her. And I
happened to mention to her that I had interviewed her Eleanor Roosevelt in
Miami Beach back in 1960. And she went crazy that I actually know Eleanor
Roosevelt, that I shook Eleanor Roosevelt`s hand because Hillary channels
Eleanor Roosevelt. It was kind of unusual.
KORNACKI: You are also one of the sort of the newest forms of media,
newest forms of social media, Twitter. You are something of a phenomenon
on there. If people don`t follow you I want to give you a look at what
they`re missing. You have this sort of peeve verse of wisdom, random
observation. Here`s a few recent things from Larry King`s Twitter handle
here. Pep tow biz mall not only works it tastes good. Here`s another one,
in an emergency can any doctor remove an appendix? And also this one,
driving a tractor trailer has no appeal to me. Where do these come from?
KING: All right. I tell you where it started, Steve. Years ago I did a
column for USA Today. I did it for 20 years. It started when the paper
started. I wrote every Monday. And one Monday a month I would do a column
called it`s my two cents. It was a throwback Jimmy Cannon, a great
sportswriter. You see the one call, nobody asked me but. All these
thoughts are one liners, they`re just one sentence. And they have a two
sentences. So, I did that for a lot of years. Then I was a writer for the
Miami Herald and then I used to do things off the top. And Jerry Seinfeld
said, I invented that Twitter because I used the minimum amount of words to
get a concise thought out.
KORNACKI: Before we let you go, we want to give you a little bit of a
surprise here. It`s sort of a tribute to the way you used to do your show.
One of the things we always lived about "Larry King Live," the viewer phone
calls. So, we wanted to take one viewer phone call and have somebody ask
you a question from the audience. So, old sort of Larry King Live style
here. New York, New York, we have a caller on the line. He got a question
for Larry King. Go ahead.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Hi, this is Rachel Maddow.
KING: Here`s the way I would do it. New York, hello what`s your question?
KORNACKI: There you go.
MADDOW: New York hello. It`s Rachel Maddow calling from New York, New
KING: Rachel, I watch you every night.
MADDOW: You`re kidding?
KING: I`m not kidding. You come on at 9:00, I watch at 6:00, I`m in LA.
MADDOW: That is incredibly -- that is very humbling sir, thank you. I
have a question for you.
MADDOW: What is the Larry King plan to make Americans stop hating politics
and stop hating our politicians and start voting again?
KING: Well, one, that assumes we have a vote en masse. Did we have a vote
en masse? Did we ever?
MADDOW: Well, we used to vote more than we do now. We just had the lowest
voter participation in 70 years in the last election.
KING: Well, because kids don`t -- I got smart children, 15 and 14 and all
they do is go on their iPhone and text each other. I`ve never seen them
read a newspaper, they`re 15 and 14. Never seen them reading newspaper,
never seen them watch the news on television. Why they`re not drawn to
that, I do not know. Maybe it`s our fault. Maybe we don`t get them
KORNACKI: What Rachel is asking, too is, how do you think you can get
people to care more in general about --
KING: Today it`s more personality driven. If someone came along -- you
know who I interviewed yesterday for my internet show? Ross Perot. A
voice from the past. And I asked him who he is going to be for in 2016.
He said he`s looking for Washington or Lincoln. If we had some great
charismatic figure. A true charismatic, not just the name, but
charismatic. Clinton was the last one. You know, Rachel who is a great
charismatic politician today wherein you would say I`m going to cross the
street to watch him speak?
MADDOW: No. I don`t think there is anybody. I mean, there are
politicians who I think are good people and likable people.
KING: Oh, yes, yes.
MADDOW: But in terms of somebody who seems larger than life, I feel like
those days are past.
KING: That`s right. Maybe the truth is what goes around comes around.
So, hopefully -- I`ll be gone you`ll still be here Rachel.
MADDOW: You`re never going to be gone, Mr. King. Never.
KING: Oh, thank you.
KORNACKI: Well, I`ll put a vote in here by the way for the charismatic
politician these days. I think Obama still has the capability to do that
every now and then but --
KING: Yes. When he`s running.
KORNACKI: Right. I mean, in 2008, certainly the energy that he generated
back then. Thank you Larry for making the trip to the studio and thank you
caller of I`m sorry, Rachel, thank you for taking part in this. It was
great to unite the two of you.
MADDOW: My privilege.
KING: Maybe, the next time you call in, get right to the point, okay?
KING: Thanks guys.
KORNACKI: Rachel Maddow on the phone, Larry King in LA. We really
appreciate the time. Thank you very much.
KING: Thank you, Steve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right. And my thanks again to Larry King and to Rachel
Maddow the caller from New York, New York for making that all happen. That
really, that was a huge treat for me. Hope he has much -- watching that as
I had been there for. Also, a quick note that I misread one of those index
cards earlier when I said that Paul Giamatti is going to be playing Arlen
Specter in mid-TV movie about Clarence Thomas. That was actually a
humorous suggestion from one of my producers, he wanted me to ask everybody
who your dream casting would be. So far, at least, Paul Giamatti not going
to be in that movie. But maybe we just gave him a great idea. I kind of
like it. Anyway, another full hour of news and politics still ahead. Stay
KORNACKI: Is Hillary too big to fail?
KORNACKI: All right. Thanks for staying with us this busy Saturday
Ahead in the second hour of the show today, is the Hillary Clinton e-mail
scandal resonating with voters? More on all of the reaction and the data
on that in just a moment.
Also, things went from bad to worse this week for the agent`s charged with
protecting the president. Our White House correspondent Kristen Welker is
standing by this morning with some new reporting on the Secret Service.
Also, this may be the day I finally learn what Bitcoin is. I`ve heard the
name over a couple years now. I don`t know exactly what it is. Maybe I`ll
find out today, making no promises, though. CNBC`s Brian Kelly is going to
be here to tell me all about the brave new world of digital currency.
Maybe he has his work cut out for him on this one, I have to say.
Also, amid new reports that ISIS is losing ground in Iraq, we will try to
found out what motivates the terror group and how they`re positioned for
the long haul. Author Jessica Stern has written a new book all about ISIS.
She will be here to tell us about that.
And plus, we talked about this last hour. Now, we are only minutes away
from what is a truly once in a century, once in a lifetime event, if you`re
not a math nerd.
Today`s very special Pi Day is worth commemorating. We are counting down
and getting ready to celebrate. That is going to happen this hour. Stay
with us for our big pi party.
But we begin this hour with the biggest story of the week, Hillary
Clinton`s press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I am very confident of the
process that we conducted and the e-mails that were produced. And I feel
like once the American public begins to see the e-mails, they will have an
unprecedented insight into a high government official`s daily
communications, which I think will be quite interesting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, Hillary Clinton this week doing her best effort at damage
control, her best ever to get this story behind her. How did she do? How
much work does she have cut out for her on that front?
Obviously, this story, this e-mail scandal raising some concerns among
Democrats. You`re seeing it reported here by "The New York Times" this
week. Democrats who think that Hillary Clinton is, quote, "too big to
fail." The idea being, that Democrats don`t really have another choice, a
good pullback plan behind Hillary Clinton.
So, this better not be a serious problem. She better be able to withstand
something like this. That`s what Democrats are worried about.
Let`s take a look at some of the numbers. Let`s go to the big board and
assess where Hillary Clinton stands right now.
And let`s start with this, let`s look within the Democratic Party. That
question is who will be the Democratic candidate for 2016. And in this
front, there isn`t much for Hillary Clinton to be worrying about right now.
This is the newest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll came out this week
asking Democrats, could you see yourself supporting this person or could
you not see yourself supporting this person? Look at these numbers for
Hillary Clinton: 86 percent could see themselves backing her. Only 13
percent saying they couldn`t. Very, very -- I mean, a difference of 73
points. You look at all the other usual suspects on the Democratic side.
Nobody even beginning to come close to this.
This is the kind of number -- it`s rare to see a candidate, a politician
with numbers like this. So, on the Democratic side, really right now,
nothing for Hillary Clinton to be worrying about there.
However, if you look at the broader general election electorate, all
voters, Democrats, Republicans, independents, things start to get a little
different. Now, these are the overall favorable unfavorable ratings of
some of the biggest names in politics.
And, again, you see right now, first of all, Bill Clinton positioned at
least right now to be an asset for Hillary Clinton. Look how popular he is
right now, 56 percent favorable, all voters. Twenty-six percent
Hillary not doing bad there on her own, 44 percent unfavorable, 36 percent
unfavorable. The best news for her I think when you look at is compare her
to Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush seen by many as the Republican frontrunner, not sure
he is. But seen by many as Republican frontrunner, he`s only at 23
percent, 34 percent. So, Hillary Clinton doing better than him.
And, in fact, look at Jeb Bush, doing worse than his brother, George W.
Bush, when it comes to favorable/unfavorable. George W. Bush did not leave
office very popular, and yet Jeb Bush has a lower score on that front than
him right now.
Let`s take a look at this, though. If you match up Hillary Clinton and Jeb
Bush, average the polls that are being taken right now. It`s about an
eight point margin, Hillary leads.
Interestingly, if you put Scott Walker in there, Scott Walker, a little
less known, he does slightly better right now than Jeb Bush does.
And that takes us to the mood of the country right now. Do you want a
candidate who experienced, who is tested or do you want a candidate who is
going to bring change in 2016? This is a change election. And look at
that, nearly 60 percent saying they`re looking for the candidate who
represents change, not experience.
You go back to 2008, you talk about a change year, Barack Obama, the Obama
wave of 2008, all about change. The number wasn`t even that high in 2008.
It`s even higher now.
So, that`s a warning sign for somebody like Hillary Clinton, who obviously
-- experience has got to be part of her calling card, and this kind of goes
hand in hand with that. You look at Bush, you look at Clinton, you ask the
question, do they represent the past or do they represent new ideas?
Bush overwhelming people say represents the idea of the past. Hillary
Clinton, not as overwhelming, she fares better than Jeb Bush on this front.
That`s not necessarily a good number to be supporting if you`re Hillary
Clinton when you look at that appetite for change.
So, you know, it raises the question of, Jeb Bush, is he necessarily the
best Republican to put up against Republican? If you put somebody up
against her, she may be more vulnerable in the general election just
because of the mood of the country?
So, to talk more about Hillary Clinton, where she stands now in the wake of
the press conference this week, we`re joined by Margaret Carlson. She`s
the White House correspondent, current columnist at Bloomberg View.
And also, going to bring back our panel, Joan Walsh, Kristen Soltis-
Anderson, Sahil Kapur.
They are all still here as I awkwardly walk around the cameras and work my
way back to the table. I`ve made it. I did not trip.
And, Margaret Carlson, you join us from Washington, taking a look at to me
this week was about a flash back to the 1990s. I think we`d forgotten sort
of what it was like for the Clintons to be facing a media firestorm like
this for the past six or seven years. Now, she`s back in that front and
How do you think she handled this week?
MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS: You know, if you -- looking at your
stats there, Steve, if you have Clinton fatigue, you`re a little bit tired-
er this morning, but, you know, if -- it`s good to be queen. That`s what I
have to say about Hillary. You know, those who love her will still love
The press conference, it wasn`t like the press conference in pink. I don`t
remember if you remember that one when she just stood there and answered
all the questions. This was fairly short.
And my conclusion, and I think the conclusion you have to draw, is that
Hillary Clinton doesn`t ask for permission. She barely asks for
forgiveness in that press conference.
You know, she got what she wanted. She got an e-mail system she
controlled. No matter that other public officials can decide what`s
private, those ones that she decided were private, over 30,000, I think
they are gone.
You know, I didn`t know that e-mails could be gone. But these sound like
they might be gone. And whatever server was out there in the garage in
Chappaqua seems to be able to destroy e-mails.
KORNACKI: Yes. I mean, that`s some of the new reporting this morning.
This is -- we can show you, this is the front page of "The New York Times"
talking about that. The idea that some of these -- some of these actually
could be lost for good. That`s in "The New York Times" this morning.
And there is also -- we should point this out as well, Glenn Thrust in
"Politico" has some news about Hillary Clinton as well. This is saying
that there -- a long time Clinton aide is saying that everybody has an
incentive to start this campaign except for Hillary Clinton. That she
still wants to sort of delay things here.
Margaret, when you look at that question of when she will formally enter
the race and I guess formally subject herself to this on a daily basis,
when do you think that`s going to happen? You know, in some ways this was
her unintended debut, because it looked like part of a campaign. She
wouldn`t have planned it this way. But, you know, those are the -- the
wages of having done what she did.
I think this does do this, it says let`s start sooner rather than later.
There was a feeling inside her camp that they had forever. But now, they
realize they don`t, because there is no good operation that falls into
place when something like this happens.
By the way, she was the only person I know to have a fail at a book tour.
There wasn`t an apparatus to help her through that when she started out
saying things like, we were dead broke. There wasn`t an apparatus in place
to deal with this and get her out front in less than eight or nine days
before she actually met with the press.
KORNACKI: Let me bring the panel in here in New York on this.
So, what do you guys make of how she handled this week?
Let me start with you, Joan, we talk about on the Democratic side those
poll numbers are enviable for any politician. There are other Democrats
out there interested in this. One of them is Martin O`Malley, now the
former governor of Maryland -- you actually interviewed him this week.
We put it up on the screen. You`ve interviewed him for "Salon" this week.
So, Martin O`Malley looking to get into the race. I wonder what your sense
of him is as a potential candidate and whether there is any kind of an
opening for him or somebody else to go against Hillary Clinton?
WALSH: I think there is an opening. I think he very much wants to run.
He did not make news with me and say I`m running. But you got all the
feeling that he intends to make a run.
The sad thing for Martin O`Malley right now, though, is us. We have no
appetite for asking him to elaborate on why he wants to reinstate Glass-
Stiegel. We just want to know if he`s going to hit Hillary on e-mail. If
he doesn`t we walk away, interviews end. That`s all he`s getting.
I asked him about foreign policy. His answers were not very practiced,
because he hasn`t had any practice. No one -- one of his aides told me, I
was the only one who asked him about the letter signed by the 47 Republican
senators, because everyone else is asking him, what about Hillary`s e-mail
and why won`t you attack her?
So, he`s in this weird place where he`s kind of having a moment, but nobody
wants to talk about the issues. He`s clearly trying to carve out some
Elizabeth Warren space for himself. Nobody is paying attention unless he
will hit Hillary Clinton.
KAPUR: She`s going to need a number two on that ticket if she does get the
nomination. He would -- and I think he`d be a good choice.
KORNACKI: Because he knows that, he`s holding his fire a little bit.
KAPUR: I think he recognizes this. Yes, he didn`t attack her. Bernie
Sanders isn`t attacking her. No one really wants to attack Hillary Clinton
on the emails. It hasn`t hurt her with Democrats. Most people aren`t
WALSH: I mean, I don`t think it`s a strategic move or an ambition move, I
think they believe this is not an issue. Most Democrats, Bernie Sanders
talk about it as disgust, because most Democrats do see it as a ginned up.
She had an unorthodox server situation, but every politician makes a
decision whether he`s going to use his private -- or her private e-mail or
the public e-mail. Everybody handles that differently.
ANDERSON: That is a very interesting word to use. Breaking the rules
would be the way that I see it.
ANDERSON: This isn`t a story that I think a lot of Americans are
necessarily following. But the reason why you`ll see the sort of -- it`s
the partisan, because it really comes down to trust. Do you trust Hillary
Clinton snp do you think she`s a trustworthy person or do you think she`s
trying to hide something, always trying to push the limits, always trying
to just maybe follow the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law in
the sort of Clintonian fashion?
And that`s why I think you`ve got a lot of Republicans who smell blood in
the water. They say, you know, are we going to attack Hillary Clinton for
being incompetent or are we going to attack Hillary Clinton for being the
past? Are we going to attack her for being untrustworthy?
And this has opened up the opportunity. Even if people go I like Hillary
Clinton but those e-mails I`m not going to vote for her, probably not a lot
of voters. People go this drip, drip, drip of Clinton, Clinton, Clinton --
KORNACKI: Margaret, I want to bring you back in this very quickly at the
end, because I`m curious about looking at Hillary Clinton versus the
Republicans, and that sort of debate Republicans are having that Scott
Walker is trying to start on the Republican side about, you know, you want
a fresh face to run against her. You don`t want a Bush or the son of a
president. These numbers we have in the polling showing people in the mood
for change here. Does Walker, does he have a point there?
CARLSON: Walker is the freshest of that group, and as you showed Hillary
is fresher than Jeb Bush. You know, the problem with what happened this
week is it makes her seem staler, that we`re pulled back into Clintonian
days when secrecy and non-transparency and we do things our way. And, you
know, the idea that there are 30,000 e-mails about center pieces for the
wedding or eulogies for her mother`s funeral, very heart tugging and very
wise for her to bring up these personal things. But, you know, it`s hard
to believe there were 30,000 of those.
So, we`re dragged back not just by ideas, which is what you were doing --
showing us earlier. But we`re dragged back bike behavior. That`s the
problem with the e-mail issue.
KORNACKI: All right. Joan is dying to get here, so I`ll let you get in
quickly at the end.
WALSH: I -- she ran a terrible campaign in 2008. But I have never seen
one poll that said her problem was that voters didn`t trust her. The media
don`t trust her, voters trust her.
And we have not seen Jeb Bush`s private e-mails either. He admittedly has
a lot of private e-mails he hasn`t released. We`re not going to see them.
Why must they not become public? It`s ridiculous.
KORNACKI: Ten seconds, I`m going o put you on the clock. Ten seconds.
KAPUR: The effect for Democrats here is that this is kind of wakeup call.
It does remind them of the Clinton`s penchant for secrecy, their penchant
to attract drama. And the fact that she doesn`t have a campaign apparatus
So, you know, if those things can be dealt with and address, and this could
be looked back on as maybe a positive wakeup call for them at this moment.
KORNACKI: All right. Margaret Carlson for "Bloomberg View" really
appreciate you getting up this morning. Thanks a lot.
All right. And still ahead, our pi party now just minutes away. Special
guest, celebrations, pastries all sorts of things standing by.
And next, we`re going to go live to the White House for the latest
reporting on the Secret Service controversy. Some truly surprising
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: We`re still waiting for President Obama to comment on the latest
embarrassment for the Secret Service. By now, you`ve probably heard that
according to "The Washington Post," two high level agents who had been
drinking drove through a barrier near the White House during an
investigation to a bomb threat.
NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker joins us live from the White House.
Kristen, what do you know about this?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So, Steve, here`s the latest
information we have. This incident happened last Wednesday.
Two top Secret Service agents Mark Connolly and George Ogilvie allegedly
left to going away party here in D.C. for a colleague and drove a mile here
to the White House. They interrupted that active bomb investigation as you
It was initially reported that they crashed into a barrier at the scene.
My sources are telling me it`s more like they nudged a barrier at a low
rate of speed. The car wasn`t damaged.
Still, there is bipartisan outrage and concern on Capitol Hill. And now,
the House Oversight Committee chaired by Republican Congressman Jason
Chaffetz is demanding that Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy brief the
committee by next Wednesday.
So, here are the key concerns, why did it take five days for President
Obama to be told about this incident? The source close to the
investigation telling me that part of the delay was the Director Clancy,
while aware of the incident, wasn`t briefed on its severity until Monday.
So, that`s what made the president aware.
Other key concerns for lawmakers, though, why is a supervisor who was on
that scene that night allegedly allowed the two agents to go home without
undergoing field sobriety testing, as was recommended by other officers on
the scene. The two senior agents have been reassigned and have not
responded to our requests for comment. President Obama saying he stands by
Director Clancy but he will get tough questions on Capitol Hill next week -
KORNACKI: All right. NBC`s Kristen Welker, live a the White House,
appreciate that. Thank you very much.
Still ahead, something happening after this coming break that is not going
to happen for another 100 years. It is Pi Day. It`s super Pi Day. We`re
counting up to a moment you are not going to want to miss.
Coming up, we have on set with us, Marc Umile. He is the world`s biggest
pi enthusiast. He claims he can recite pi out to a thousand digits. He`s
over here right now in the studio.
Good morning to you, Marc. You can go ahead and start counting. We`ll
check back with you after the break and see how far you can go. It is the
Pi Day of the century.
Stay with us.
MARC UMILE, PI ENTHUSIAST: My pleasure.
Pi equals 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971 --
UMILE: -- 64308602 --
KORNACKI: The countdown continues. Marc Umile is counting out as many
digits of pi as he can. I`m very impressed. I don`t think he`s making
You can stop with your counting, Marc. I will be joining you at the big
board in just a moment.
There are now over two minutes to go until this key moment of pi, Super Pi
Day. The key here is 92653 that is when it is March 14th, 2015, at
9:29:53, the calendar matched up perfectly with pi, deeper, more digits
than ever before. This is a huge math event. We`re about two minutes
away. We will commemorate that with our count down clock.
In the meantime, in a minute and a half we have, other stories making news
this morning. We`re going to do our catching up segment here.
We have "The New York Times", here`s a headline Vladimir Putin has
vanished. Rumors are popping up everywhere. Putin has not been seen
public for more than a week, canceling a trip and postponing a treaty
signing. Some speculating he`s sick, all these rumors about Vladimir
Putin, also this wild one. Look at this one, Joan, the cover of "The New
York Post" today.
WALSH: Love child.
ANDERSON: Is he spelunking in Caracas? This is like where (INAUDIBLE) the
San Diego style.
WALSH: He`s working on his abs.
KORNACKI: I`m sure they`ll release pictures about that if that is the
But, yes, I mean, Vladimir Putin is always good for a mystery or two.
What else do we have? "Washington Post", how about this one? The rise of
luxury toilet paper growth in the sale of luxury toilet paper, outpacing
regular toilet paper for the first time in ten years. I guess you`re
looking at luxury toilet paper right there. It`s considered anything that
is quilted, lotioned, perfumed or ultra soft. So, there you go.
I am going to cut this short and head over to our Pi Day countdown clock
now. It is 9:25 a.m. that means we are inside of a minute. That big
moment we were telling you about, as Mark continues to count the numbers
here. He`s probably about 500 in now.
You can see, this is pi, this is the formula for the whatever exactly it
is. Some kind of geometry thing I did really bad on in school.
So, 3.14, the numbers go on and on forever as Mark is saying. March 14th,
2015. At 9:26:53. That puts us now 20 seconds to the ultimate moment of
This is a moment I think mark has been waiting for, for a long time as we
move to our ten seconds countdown, ladies and gentlemen. We are ten
seconds away from something you will not experience for another 100 years.
You`re going to have to be frozen to experience this again. Two, one,
boom. You`re all matched up. And we stopped the clock.
Marc, how do you feel?
UMILE: It`s a planetary alignment. You will not see that for another 100
years, until the year 2115.
KORNACKI: How does it feel?
UMILE: Very refreshing. I`ve come a long way to see such an alignment. A
little anomaly of these dates which would be the decimal point here,
simulate that, 3.141592653. About 11 decimal places that you see right in
KORNACKI: How long have you been looking forward to it?
UMILE: I`ve been looking forward to it since I first became very
interested in pi, when I first wanted to be the insanely obsessive person
in this country to want to break the record the North American record, back
as far as 1995.
KORNACKI: Twenty years in the making.
We have actual pie with the pi logo delivered to the set over there. So,
our guests, our panel enjoying that.
Tell me a little bit more about Pi Day. This should -- all right. We had
some details. Here we go. Pi has been around 13 trillion known digits.
Maybe we`ll learn so more of them one of these days.
It would take approximately 150,000 years to recite them all. Mark can
tell you what that`s like a little bit more here.
All right. We`re having trouble with the app. Let me ask you this, Mark,
you have been looking forward to this for 20 years. The moment came, we`re
celebrating it. We have pie for you.
What do you do now?
KORNACKI: What do you do as a pi enthusiast now you have reached the high
moment of pi.
UMILE: I want to inspire people what pi is. As far as how it affects our
daily lives in this country. It`s the -- in the world rather. It`s the
most indispensable decimal when we use in all applications, mathematics, in
engineering, in geometry, trigonometry. No building could stand. If you
look around the Manhattan area, the bridges that you see, most especially
the roadway tubes, which are the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, everything
that employs the shape of a circle. Pi has been implemented as that
constant in order to make those circles precise. You cannot have anything
KORNACKI: I still don`t know what it is, but I`m going to have the other
pie, the one with an E, along with the panel.
Marc Umile, congratulations on this moment. Thank you for joining us.
Really appreciate that.
UMILE: My pleasure.
KORNACKI: Still ahead on the show, Bitcoin ATM`s are popping up all around
Should you be using them? We`re going to get some badly needed advice on
And next, are Republicans beginning to sound a lot like liberals? Stay
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We`ve seen over the past number of years two
Americas emerge. The top 1 percent earned a higher share of our income in
any year since 1928. For the rich and powerful, big government has been a
good deal. But working men and women across this country are hurting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Republican senator Ted Cruz talking about two Americas.
It`s a political catchphrase that was made famous by a liberal Democrat,
John Edwards, remember him? Ran on an antipoverty platform in 2008. He
was also a vice presidential candidate in 2004 for the Democrats.
It wasn`t too long ago that Republicans blasted talk of the income divide
as class warfare. Speaker of the House John Boehner with this to say back
in 2012 when President Obama was running for reelection and casting
Republicans as advocates for the wealthy, quote, "This is a president who
said I`m not going to be a divider, I`m going to be a uniter. Running on
the politics of division and envy is to me almost un-American. That was
John Boehner in 2012.
But with the economy improving significantly, Republicans now seem eager to
spout some of the populist economic themes they wouldn`t touch a few years
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: The so-called 1 percent that
the president is always talking about have done quite well. Middle and
lower income Americans are about $3,000 a year worse off than they were
when he came to office.
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: The recovery has been everywhere
but in the family paychecks. The American dream has become a mirage for
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Income inequality has worsened under this
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president`s policies
have made income inequality worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And joining the panel to talk about this, we have an MSNBC
contributor and "Washington Post" columnist, E.J. Dionne, joins us from
E.J., welcome. Happy Pi Day to you.
E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Happy -- it`s the greatest pi show on
KORNACKI: That`s what we aim for. I`m glad we`re living up to it. Let me
ask you. So, John Edwards and now, Ted Cruz using the same words and same
theme. What do you make of this?
DIONNE: It`s really fun to see Republicans sound like Marxists.
I mean, what you here and you alluded to it in your introduction, is that
the Republicans wanted to attack President Obama because the recovery
wasn`t yet producing jobs. Well, guess what the recovery is now producing
a lot of jobs. So, they have to move on to the remaining economic problems
and remaining economic problems are indeed wage stagnation, inequality,
declining social mobility.
So, that`s what they want to talk about. The problem here is that when
they do that, they have to start talking the other side`s talk. The
Democrats did this back in the 1980s in the Reagan era when they wanted to
sound more entrepreneurial. Remember the Atari Democrats and Democrats
were talking how much they loved entrepreneurs and all that.
The disadvantage to Republicans is, yes, this is a real problem. The
disadvantage is they`re playing on the other side. So, where are their
solutions? If I could use a metaphor of the day, is there any pie in the
pie box labeled inequality?
And what you see for example for Marco Rubio and Mike Lee, on the top,
there`s a proposal to increase the earned income tax credit to help the
working poor. That`s good. But it`s superimposed on all these big tax
cuts for the rich. So, we`re back to the same old policy.
I think the challenge is picking up on an idea the other side focuses on.
Will their ideology allow them to answer the problem?
KORNACKI: I brought this up early and I`ll come back to it now, it strikes
me, you know, in 2012, when you had the Democrats and President Obama,
playing up themes of income inequality of the idea as Republicans as the
protectors of the rich, one of the things about it that made it effective
was that Mitt Romney played to type. He was in many ways the opponent
Democrats dreamed of having on that subject. So, a rich guy and all the
house and all that stuff.
But I wonder when you look at the Republican today which seems very tented
by Scott Walker from Wisconsin, somebody from a much more humble
background, somebody who plays, tries to play up more of a blue collar
Does having a different kind of messenger like that make it easier for
Republicans to connect on issues like this?
DIONNE: It makes it somewhat easier if the messenger also speaks the right
language. Mitt Romney didn`t just get in problem because of who he was, it
was the things he said, notably, the 47 percent that are enforced the
perception of what he was.
So, yes, a Scott Walker or someone else, or a Marco Rubio who doesn`t
present as this rich guy who worked on Wall Street all these years is a
better messenger in that sense. But he still can`t be sort of hobnobbing
with rich donors and promising the rich donors lots of tax cuts and other
benefits. They have to have -- you know, in the end, I think voters look
and they see impressions, but they also understand in their guts which
direction policies go in.
And if the policies don`t change at all, then the impression will be
better, they won`t have as men problems as Romney has, but they still won`t
stop the problem.
KORNACKI: Kristen, all these talk about Republicans, I might as well ask a
Republican about this.
How do you look at this? Is there a reaction here looking at the 2012
election, looking at Mitt Romney, the wealth gaffs all these things -- are
we seeing a reaction to that?
ANDERSON: I think the Republicans understand they need to be able to win
over the middle class in a really serious way in order to competitive in
national politics. In that most recent NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll it
shows they say don`t think President Obama or Hillary Clinton represent the
middle class, but they really don`t think the Republicans represent the
middle class. So, there`s an opening. People don`t think there`s anybody
speaking for them in Washington.
Republicans have this interesting argument where they say, look, it`s not a
coincidence if the ten richest counties in America, most of them are right
around Washington, that you can`t separate out this issue of big government
from crony capitalism. And you know, more money the government takes in,
the more money the government spending, the more opportunity there is from
it to be taken from the middle class and given to the friends of rich
So, big government is the enemy of the middle class. I think that`s the
sort of argument you`re going to hear from a lot of these folks, squaring
this economic populism with their desire to see limited government.
WALSH: But I think big government also built the middle class in the `50s
and `60s. And we need to acknowledge that.
Scott Walker, again, blue collar roots of sorts, but busy busting unions.
A lot of economists have said at least one third, maybe half of the current
wage stagnation is attributable to the decline of unions. Wages decline as
you see the share of workers in the unions decline. It`s kind of a magical
graph. They travel together.
So, there is lot that we could be doing. The idea that Barack Obama is
being blamed for income inequality is ridiculous. The top 1 percent is
keeping more of their income than they were keeping under Ronald Reagan.
And so, we need to get back to tax policies that fund the things that build
the middle class.
KORNACKI: All right. I want to thank MSNBC contributor E.J. Dionne for
getting up, joining us from Washington. Thanks, E.J., for that.
DIONNE: Good to be with you.
KORNACKI: All right. Up next, we are going to try to answer all your
questions about Bitcoin. All of my questions about Bitcoin, including what
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: If you`re looking to book a summer vacation, this could be a
great year to head overseas, particularly Europe. The value of the euro is
the lowest it`s been in 12 years now. The dollar could soon be worth more
than the euro for the first time ever.
It`s also a good time for another currency, one you can`t carry in your
wallet. It`s called Bitcoin.
"The Wall Street Journal" reporting this week that a Bitcoin startup called
21 raised $116 million to turn the digital currency into what the paper
calls a mass marketed phenomenon. We`re told that more money that any
Bitcoin startup has ever raised.
The company is keeping mum about what it plans to do with the investment.
To be honest with you, I don`t think I understand the plan even if they
told me, because I don`t understand much of what I`ve been saying about
Bitcoin. The concept of a digital currency like Bitcoin completely baffles
Like what exactly is Bitcoin? How would I use it? How should I use it?
Will I get arrests for using it? Where do people keep their Bitcoin? Are
there Bitcoin collectors. I don`t know.
I hope Brian Kelly can answer some of these questions for me. He`s a
contributor to CNBC`s "Fast Money". He is also the author of the book,
"The Bitcoin Big Bang: How Alternative Currencies are About to Change the
World". And he joins us now.
So, Brian, I`ve been hearing the name Bitcoin for a few years. They
sponsored a college bowl game last night. I watched the Bitcoin Bowl. I
still don`t know what a Bitcoin is. My -- is there an actual coin?
BRIAN KELLY, CNBC CONTRIBUTOR: There is not a coin. There is not a coin
like a paper, like a dollar that you pull out. But essentially, it`s an
entry in a data base, just like your bank account now, as you log on to
JPMorgan and you see the dollars that you have in there. You log on to
your Bitcoin account, and you`ll see the Bitcoin that you have in there.
KORNACKI: So, what is the you could do that with your bank.
KORNACKI: I could log on to my Wells Fargo. OK, I have $14 in your
savings account, so I know that. Why would I want to use Bitcoin instead
of the dollar?
KELLY: For the first time in human history and sense money has been
invented. I can send you money without a trusted third party. So, when
you go back to the ancient banking of Mesopotamia, you still had to go into
the temple, find a money changer and exchange it because I didn`t know the
dollar bill you`re sending me is counterfeit or not. I don`t know where
you got it.
So, somebody would sit in the middle of that whole transaction and
guarantee that the dollar I`m getting is actually a legitimate dollar. The
banking system does that now. We transfer it back and forth.
With Bitcoin what you can do is I don`t need a banking system. I remove
the middle man completely. And that`s the first time in financial history
that we`ve actually done that.
KORNACKI: So, is the appeal of this, is it -- you can transfer money
without being detected, is that basically?
KELLY: No, it`s actually -- you know, it`s interesting, is the appeal is
you can transfer money or value without a middle man. So, essentially, the
business concept is, it brings the costs of transferring any type of value
down to zero. So, in any business that`s a good thing for the consumers.
In terms of -- without being detected, that`s actually not -- that`s --
that`s people get that wrong. You can track everything single Bitcoin that
was ever created where it went, every wallet address it went to from the
beginning of time.
KORNACKI: It sounds like a tax avoidance thing to me. That you can
transfer money and you don`t have to pay an inheritance tax or something.
KELLY: No, you would. The IRS has actually ruled this as property, just
like a house. So, you do have to report it on your taxes. It`s completely
within the law to use Bitcoin and you do have to pay taxes.
KORNACKI: Can you -- I mean, can I go to a store right now and pay for
something like Bitcoin?
KELLY: Sure, there`s a lot of stores that accept Bitcoin. You actually
mentioned the Bitcoin bowl. There is something called Bit Pay and they
have point of sale systems. You can go to a store. And just like Apple
Pay, you put up a QR code, boom, and you send them Bitcoin. I bought some
champagne for a client of mine from a store in Staten Island with Bitcoin
KORNACKI: Do you guys trust this thing?
KAPUR: I`m not sure what the legal argument is for. My understand it
would be illegal to start your own currency. This seems like its own
KELLY: It is its own currency. The legal argument is -- well, here`s the
thing, it exists in cyber space like the Internet. So it may be illegal to
start your own currency -- to compete against the U.S. dollar. This is
more of a value transfer type system. It exists beyond borders.
So, the legal argument is a little up in the air right now. And you start
to see invasion moving to jurisdictions that are more supportive of digital
KAPUR: Is anybody trying to shut it down? Or go after this?
KELLY: In some countries, yes. So, you look at the -- the biggest
countries like Russia. You`ve seen that. There is a bill on the books now
they actually want to ban digital currencies. A lot of countries like
China have made it difficult to use it, although China is a very big
digital currency trading. But what people are doing, the wealthy elite
were using Bitcoin to get money out of the country.
KORNACKI: So, very quickly, with that sort of uncertainty there, if you
sink money into this right now, are you at risk of this whole thing just
KELLY: Listen, it`s a new technology. So, absolutely, there are biggest
risks. And the biggest risk is a regulatory risk, as you mentioned right.
At any point in time, the government could come in and say this is illegal.
But I don`t think that`s going to happen. I think that was the risk a year
or two ago.
But now that it`s such a big part of Silicon Valley, it`s such a big part
of finance right now, I think it`s going to be very difficult to shut this
down. I don`t think they will. They already said they`re supporting it.
KORNACKI: I learned one thing at least -- Bitcoin is not actually a coin.
All right. My thanks to CNBC contributor Brian Kelly for coming on today.
I appreciate that.
You know, in our last hour, Larry King told us he would like to interview
the head of ISIS. Up next, we`re going to try to find out all we can about
ISIS with the author Jessica Stern here to talk about the best way to
combat that terror group.
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: After what seemed like nonstop expansion, the Islamic State is
now losing ground in Iraq as more than 30,000 government and local militia
forces take back the city of Tikrit. Kurdish fighters pushing them out of
northern Iraqi territory, that they`ve held for months. This week,
Britain`s Sky News interviewed an ISIS defector who says that the hostages
always appear calm in videos where they`re murdered because they have been
subjected to so many mock executions before. The defector says the
militant known as Jihadi John directed him in what to say to the captives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would say to me, say to them, no problem, we only
video. We don`t kill you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Joining the panel now is Jessica Stern, a terrorism expert and
lecturer at Harvard University, also co-author of a new book "ISIS: The
State of Terror."
Jessica, thanks for joining us.
You know, every week, it seems we get a new horrible little detail about
how ISIS -- what they do and how they do it. Let me ask you this sort of
bottom line question about them. What is their ultimate goal? What would
ISIS consider a success in what they`re doing right now? When will --
what`s their goal?
JESSICA STERN, CO-AUTHOR, "ISIS: THE STATE OF TERROR": They would like to
establish a caliphate all over the world, but they`re also anticipating the
end times. And they are going through a series of signs. It excites them
to manifest the signs that they see as leading up to the end times.
KORNACKI: What -- in terms of their appeal right now, in the Middle East
and even locally, what is it? What about ISIS appeals to people, a
potential sort of convert?
STERN: I think there are many aspects to how ISIS recruits. One is
promise you the opportunity to live in a Sharia-based state. A, quote,
"pure" ISIS`s version of a Sharia-based state. In other words, come here,
we`ll give you a wife, we`ll give you free housing.
There`s the spiritual reward of actually getting to help people they
certainly claimed. And some people are attracted to the notion of helping
Sunnis who are very much under threat in Syria, and living in -- for a long
time in a sectarian regime since Maliki -- well, since 2011.
KORNACKI: So, what is the state of the campaign against ISIS right now?
We say in the introduction there`s some success in taking some territory
back. You had in the last year or two this wave of success for ISIS. Are
we watching that be reversed right now? Are these temporary gains that are
being made? Where does it stand?
STERN: Well, I think we see some gains, but we also see some losses. This
week also, ISIS accepted Boko Haram into its fault. And ISIS is pushing
out into other areas of Iraq. I think it`s going to be awhile before we
can really declare victory.
KORNACKI: Is it something ultimately that can be defeated?
STERN: Not for a long time. I mean, it`s both a terrorist organization,
an insurgent army and it`s also an ideology. And we need to fight all
three aspects of ISIS.
KAPUR: The question --
KAPUR: There`s something that`s really fascinated me. I`m curious what
your take is on this. What is a real role of religion in a group like
ISIS? You have President Obama saying that this is not about religion.
This is about people perverting religion. As there are others who said
that there are real ways you can read the Koran to see these things and you
can`t ignore that source of the problem.
I`m wondering where you come down on that. What`s the truth?
STERN: Well, I have been interviewing religious terrorists my whole life.
I haven`t been able to interview ISIS terrorists. But they always give me
a reading list. And they always have aspects of the text that would seem
to justify what they do.
So, yes, it`s based on their interpretation of Islam. They claim it`s the
only interpretation, but obviously, that`s not true. It`s their
KAPUR: Is it a plausible interpretation though?
STERN: I`m not myself a religious scholar. My -- it seems to me, no. I
think King Abdullah of Jordan is absolutely right when he calls them
outcasts. You know, there`s Identity Christians consider themselves to be
true Christians, but very few Christians recognize the Christianity they
practice. To me, ISIS, is -- well, Islamic in the same way Identity
Christians are Christians, which few people would recognize.
KORNACKI: All right. Jessica Stern, a terrorism expert, co-author of "The
Islamic State", thank you very for joining us this morning.
Also, I want to thank the panel for joining us, Sahil Kapur, Kristen
Soltis-Anderson, Joan Walsh, appreciate you all getting up.
Thank you at home as well for getting UP with us today, and celebrating Pi
Day with us. We`re going to join this Pi after the show.
Up next is Melissa Harris-Perry. Have a great day.
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