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'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, April 4th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

Date: April 4, 2015
Guest: Roger Cohen, David Frum, Nan Hayworth, Lauren Victoria Burke, Ana
Marie Cox, Seema Mehta, Brian Wice, Paul Butler, Christine Quinn, Matt
Welch, Nick Acocella, Scott Newell


STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Making a deal with Iran.

Good morning. And thanks for getting UP with us this first Saturday in
April of 2015. Finally beginning to feel a little bit like spring at least
here in New York. Hope it is where you are too. Got a lot of head in the
show this morning, including the Iran deal and also the hard sell. The
Obama administration got Iran to agree to a potentially historic framework
to reduce its nuclear capability. But now the White House has to deal with
Congress where Republicans and Democrats are raising plenty of questions.
A lot more on that in just a minute.

Also to come this morning, the bigger culture war problem exposed in
Indiana. How do you reconcile the rights of those who believe in same sex
marriage with the rights who believe they shouldn`t have to make the cake
for the wedding? We`re going to tackle that ahead. There is also word
this morning of a brand new demographic that is flocking to Hillary
Clinton. We`re going to take a look at why she`s killing it in Roswell,
New Mexico. Think about that one for a second.

Also, today kicks off the final four weekend both for the men`s and women`s
college basketball tournaments. Here`s the question though. Is the secret
to being the best of the best in that sport giving up your cell phone?
We`ll be looking into that question ahead.

We`ll also be taking a closer look at the Bob Menendez indictment and
whether the New Jersey democrat can beat the wrap. All of this. Plus the
segment that I have been looking forward to all week. Chris Christie like
you`ve never seen him before. Cooking up a storm in the kitchen, eating
his favorite Italian food sipping wine and talking politics including
Bridgegate. We`re going to have the first look at clip from his appearance
on the new show called pasta and politics. I am not making this up. And
trust me, you are going to want to stick around and see these clips.

We`ll also talk to the host of that show. But we begin this morning with
the deal with Iran. The tentative deal struck on Wednesday. Deal that
President Obama is now fighting furiously to keep Congress from
undermining. It is a framework for a final agreement that would aim to
reduce Iran`s nuclear capacity in exchange to removing clip wing economic
sanctions against that country. It is being called by many surprisingly
specific. The major points that Iran has now agreed to include, cutting by
two thirds the number of centrifuges it has enriching uranium. That`s a
key ingredient for any bomb. Slashing its stockpile of enriched uranium by
98 percent over 15 years. Dismantling the core of a key reactor that could
be used to produce plutonium and subjecting all of its nuclear facilities
to independent inspections.

Now, what Iran would get for all of these? It would get the end of
sanctions that have wreaked havoc on that country`s economy. What the
critics are saying here? They`re saying that Iran has proven it can`t be
trusted in the past. And the deal, let`s the Iran regime buy time and
return to a path to a bomb in just a few years. Many questions about this,
obviously, but two big ones that stand out. One, is it a good deal or not?
And two, is it a deal that Congress is going to allow or undermine? We`re
going to dive straight into both questions in just a minute. But first, we
go to Tehran where President Obama`s announcement of the deal was actually
broadcast live on state television this week. That`s an unprecedented
appearance by the President of the United States in the living rooms of
every day Iranians. Many of whom marked the moment by taking selfies with
their televisions. But is Iran`s leadership fully on board with this deal?

Joining me now, NBC`s Tehran Bureau Chief Ali Arouzi. So, Ali, obviously,
we`ve been getting mixed political reaction in the United States. But what
is the read from the leadership in Iran? How serious about how committed
to this deal are they?

ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS TEHRAN BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Steve, on the surface,
they`re committed. They have agreed to the joint plan of action. When the
President Rouhani made his speech here, he build it as a victory for the
Iranian people. He said they were going to get rid of the shackles of
sanctions, the economy is going to be lifted and we`ve kept our nuclear
program intact. The foreign minister was greeted here like a local heroes,
crowds gathered around him at the airport as if he was a rock star. And to
give even more weight to this deal, (audio gap) he signed off by the
supreme leader. The buck stopped with him and no deal would have happened
unless he gave his blessing. Now, he hasn`t come out openly to speak about
it, but here on Friday, you have a very important thing is Friday prayers
here. (Audio gap) they`re essentially relaying his message to the people
that go to Friday prayers.

And all of the leaders of the sermons of Friday prayers, build this as a
success. They said this was a good deal and it was good for the country.
So, indirectly, they were speaking his words so (audio gap) but having said
that, there is criticism already from conservatives here. The very
powerful head of the conservative newspaper here, the editor of the
newspaper who is also an advisor to the supreme leader said this is a good
deal for the west, but a very bad deal for Iran. We gave up a fully ready
to go race horse for a broken bridle. Another hardliner here organizers
demonstrations against making a deal with the west, said reactors are only
good for making --

KORNACKI: All right. That`s Ali Arouzi, we`re having some technical
difficulties there, unfortunately. That transmission from Tehran. But Ali
Arouzi, NBC`s Bureau Chief over there. Thank you for that report. And
obviously getting from him there. A little bit of a reaction, a little bit
of a backlash in Iran. He is reporting from some hardliners over there.
We were talk more in just a minute about the reaction in the United States.
We want to turn first to that more basic question we raised at the top, is
this a good deal?


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: It is a good deal. A deal that
meets our core objectives. This framework would cut off every pathway that
Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran will face strict
limitations on its program. And Iran has also agreed to the most robust
and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any
nuclear program in history.


KORNACKI: Many republicans in Congress and some democrats, though, are not
convinced. As for international reaction to the deal, thus far, it`s been
largely positive. Although not from the Prime Minister of Israel.


Iran`s path to the bomb. Such a deal paved Iran`s path to the bomb. And
it might very well spark a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East.
And it would greatly increase the risks of terrible war.


KORNACKI: So is this a good deal? Joining me to discuss right now. Roger
Cohen, a former foreign correspondent and editor of "The New York Times."
Now columnist for that paper, and David Frum, senior editor at "The
Atlantic" and a former speechwriter for George W. Bush. So, Roger, let me
start with you on that basic question we outlined, the framework there and
some of the objections. Is this a good deal?

a very good deal. Diplomacy deals with the real world. The toughest
diplomacy, deals with enemies. And in an ideal world would Iran have no
nuclear knowledge, yes, but it does. And you can`t bomb knowledge out of
existence. What does this deal do? Well, it cuts off Iran`s path to a
bomb for at least a decade and probably beyond that. You`ve seen how it
cuts slashes the number of centrifuges, slashes the amount of enriched
uranium that Iran has been able to amass. Strictly limits its research. I
don`t think in the circumstances there was really a better deal to be had.
And I think it`s very significant that you saw those young Iranians taking
selfies with President Obama as a backdrop.

This is a pro-Western society under an anti-Western regime. And this
agreement condemns, condemns the United States and Iran to have a
relationship. Over the next decade, 15 years, at least, and this, I think,
will gradually bring the world -- the only top 20 economy in the world that
is not integrated to the global economy into the world. That pro-American
sentiment that you saw in those images will be allowed to find expression.
I think that`s a very positive development because I believe Iran a
youthful society to be fundamentally a hopeful society despite the
oppressive theocracy that rules there.

KORNACKI: David, when you look at the framework as it was being -- the
goals for the framework as they were being described by Iran`s chief
negotiator last summer and what`s actually in this agreement, it would
appear that since last summer to today Iran has given more ground, has
given more concessions. Were you surprised, maybe pleasantly by some of
the terms of this deal?

DAVID FRUM, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: The deal allows international
inspectors to go anywhere in the Iranian nuclear industry. But it doesn`t
allow them to go at any time. There are not surprise inspections under
this deal. So, when the international inspectors say, we want to take a
look at this or that, the Iranians are able to be say, sure, it`s a little
messy right now, give us six weeks to tidy up. The most dangerous thing to
me about this deal is that as Roger says, it establishes a relationship
between Iran and the United States. But a relationship of inherent
conflict. We`re now back to where we were, the North Koreans in the `90s
and the Iraqis in the `90s. Where the Iranians are going to push and test
the limits of the agreement.

The international inspectors, these are American inspectors but from the
international community. And sometimes that community is robust as it is
right now. Sometimes as when Mohamed ElBaradei was running the Atomic
Energy Authority, not so robust. And we are going to have an endless
series of points of friction, points of conflict with the Iranians.
Testing, the United States saying, you can`t do that. The United Nations
maybe agreeing with the United States or maybe not. And it`s a pathway to
institutionalized conflict.

KORNACKI: Well, David, can I ask you -- what is the alternative is?
Because I mean, one thing we can say for sure is certainly there`s this --
if you look at the bigger picture history here, there is a history of sort
of Iranian duplicity. However, since these negotiations really began a
little over a year ago, there`s been an interim agreement in place that
Iran has lived up to. Given sort of the other alternatives out there,
isn`t it at least worth going down this road and seeing if they continue to
hold up the agreement?

FRUM: I`m not against diplomacy. But surprise inspections are the
indispensable ingredient to making a regime like this work. The inspectors
have to be able to go somewhere on five minutes` notice, not six weeks.
And the United States did not get that. And this goes to the way the Obama
administration approached this whole transaction. That, you know, when you
negotiate there are a lot of different approaches. The Obama
administration`s key idea was there was a lack of confidence between Iran
and the United States. It tried to do confidence building measures. When
it detected incidents where the Iranians were maybe cheating on some other
understanding, they would come up with the most benign possible explanation
for it. They chose not to negotiate with the threat of intensified
sanctions on the table. They negotiated -- that way rather than in this
way and the result was, the key component, surprise inspections they didn`t

KORNACKI: So, Roger, that issue David is raising about inspections, about
not having surprise inspections here, how big do you think that is?

COHEN: I don`t think it`s huge, Steve. I think it`s significant. Is it a
perfect deal? No. No perfect deal was possible. But I think Iran has
given up a lot. And David just spoke about institutionalized conflict.
Well, I`d much rather have institutionalized conflict than conflict without
any framework. The Middle East is in huge disarray right now. I`m not
announcing anything in saying that. And Iran is a major player. The
Islamic republic, like it or not, has been around for 35 plus years now.
And it has survived through prudence. And Iran and all the upheaval of
recent years and I witnessed the terrible oppression after the 2009
election. But it has been a relative area of stability.

And if you look at Iraq, if you look at Afghanistan, if you look at all the
problems of the Middle East, if you have some kind of institutionalized
framework within which the United States and Iran can for the first time in
35 years speak to each other, I mean, Nick Burns, who was number three at
the State Department who is now at Harvard, he was in charge of the Iran
dossier not so long ago for three years. Never spoke to an Iranian
official. That`s a reminder of how far we`ve come. And I think a U.S.
Iran relationship of some kind and it will be conflicting. We`re in
conflict about a lot of things, about what`s going on in Yemen, about
attitudes towards Israel. The heinous things that Iran says from time to
time about Israel. Many many things, Hezbollah. But I`m happy to see that
in a framework. And I`m happy to see the end of the freeze in U.S. Iranian
relations over more than three decades.

KORNACKI: All right. Thanks to Roger Cohen at "The New York Times."
David Frum from "The Atlantic." I appreciate you both joining us.

More on this potentially historic arms agreement ahead and why it`s not
just republicans that the President has to worry about as he tries to sell
this deal to Congress. Stay with us.



OBAMA: If Congress kills this deal, not based on expert analysis and
without offering any reasonable alternative, then it`s the United States
that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. International unity will
collapse. And the path to conflict will widen.


KORNACKI: That was President Obama on Thursday warning Congress not to
derail the tentative nuclear deal with Iran. Many republicans in Congress
though were unmoved.


SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: There is no deal or framework with Iran.
There is only a list of very dangerous United States exceptions that is
going to put Iran on the path to a nuclear weapon.


KORNACKI: Also republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois likening the deal
to the appeasement of the Nazis, an analogy in Neville Chamberlain. But
this is not just about republicans trying to torpedo what would be a
signature foreign policy achievement for Obama. It`s also his own party.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s certainly a mixed bag of tricks. And we`re going
to have to assess it in these next few months while the bill and the
details that are being hammered out.


KORNACKI: And democratic Congressman Ted Deutch from Florida also agreeing
the deal with skepticism saying that it`s hard to trust Iran. The White
House is not calling this a formal treaty. That means it doesn`t need
formal approval from Congress. But still many in Congress are trying to
change that with a bill that would essentially give them an up or down vote
on the deal with Iran. And that bill as of yesterday afternoon, now only
one vote away from a veto proof majority in the Senate. So, all of this
leads to the question, will Congress kill the deal with Iran?

Joining us to talk about it, we have our panel for this morning. Nan
Hayworth, she`s a former republican congresswomen from New York. Lauren
Victoria Burke, a managing editor at the site Politics 365 and a
contributor to The Root. And Ana Marie Cox, a contributor to the "Daily
Beast." So, thanks everybody for being here. But let me just start with
this, in terms of a lot of objections, or at least a lot of concerns being
expressed by Congress. And again, the information we put up at the end
there, one vote away in the Senate from the veto proof majority in this
bill. The White House badly doesn`t want. But let me put up the public
opinion polling on this. This was an ABC Wall Street Washington Post poll
this week. Before the terms of the deal were announced, just the concept
of the deal had basically two to one support in the poll. Fifty nine, 31.
I mean, to the country seems to be saying, we like the idea of striking a
deal with Iran. Congress saying -- you`ve been there, what`s your party
going to do in this?

look at this deal, this negotiations in terms of motivations, incentives
and verification. And I think David Frum made some excellent points about
the dubious nature of being able to trust Iran in carrying out any terms of
a deal if they won`t agree to on the spot inspections. So politics aside,
and it should not be a political issue at all. We understand that politics
are obviously going to play into it. But those who are skeptical about
this deal and there are democrats as well as republicans, need to approach
it from a standpoint of making sure that we are protecting America and its
interests. And I think the President does need to heed the opponents of
this deal and take them seriously. And they need to act in a way that
would be serious and not political.

ANA MARIE COX, "DAILY BEAST": Yes. What does that mean exactly? Actually
just really curious what it would mean to be serious and not political on

HAYWORTH: Well, in other words --

COX: Because it seems like they`re being political.

HAYWORTH: Well, no. I think the objections that are being raised are
reasonable objections. And reasonable appropriate criticisms. They
shouldn`t be cached in political terms. But we don`t have strong reason to

criticisms before the deal was even made. Before the deal was even made.

HAYWORTH: Well, you`re right.


BURKE: And so the same people criticizing the deal before it was made are
criticizing it right now. You have the added complication as you know of
people like Tim Cain, and even, Nia Lowey (ph) sort of coming up. Tim Cain
was of course having an argument with the President over the war powers


BURKE: And of course, the involvement of Congress. So, it`s likely that
sort of the thing from the democratic side will show up as well. But from
the republican side, we heard the same people Tom Cotton et cetera and so
on criticizing the President before anything even happened.

KORNACKI: Well, it seems like there`s like two or three different things
going on here. And one is just somebody like Tom Cotton has a world view
that is just fundamentally at odds with the White House. Just the concept
of dealing with Iran, that is something he doesn`t --

COX: He`s not making specific objections so much as he`s making objections
to the entire ideas.

BURKE: He is on his side, so he`s not saying, hey, I don`t like this deal,
I don`t like --

COX: Let`s do something else.

BURKE: But let`s do something else. He`s not saying that.

COX: And I would say, anyone who makes a comparison to Neville Chamberlain
is importantly making arguments -- and the whole like analogies, Neville
Chamberlain is saying -- well, the reason Neville Chamberlain, you know,
example, resonates is because it implies that we should have gone after
Hitler earlier. So, if you`re comparing Iran to Hitler --

KORNACKI: But now, the -- President Obama -- we should say President Obama
this week also invoked sort of the possibility of war, the possibility of
conflict. And he basically was putting it out there, you know, look, we
put our best foot forward in terms of trying to strike this deal. If this
deal evaporates, the alternative he would be saying though is war.

BURKE: For Mark Crook to say that -- he`s a moderate. So, imagine that`s
republicans in moderation. So, imagine what we get --

KORNACKI: He`s a hawker, he`s a hawk unfortunately. He`s a moderate on
gay rights and stuff like that.

BURKE: He`s got to be careful one would think. And to say that right off
the bat, before the ink is even dry is pretty amazing. From what is, a not
so Tom Cotton like republican but still it`s amazing.

KORNACKI: I wonder --

HAYWORTH: He would not get uniform support from republicans. Nor should
he have. We have to take -- we have to take a way. We have to think
beyond the politics of this.


There are legitimate objections to this deal and they are legitimate --

COX: What does it mean though? What does it mean to a politics of this?
Because if Congress steps in -- I had a conflict for the democrats here, I
do believe this president has done some executive overreach. The war
powers act exists for a reason. What I find odd here is that usually the
war powers is invoked is going awful halfcocked to get us into a war. I
mean, this is a case where actually like it looks like we`re trying to put
brakes on going into any kind of like armed conflict. And the Congress is
saying, no, no, no, no, we would like to have more power --


KORNACKI: But one point that members of Congress would make is certain
that democrats have made this point is look, the sanctions that are at the
heart of the negotiations here, the sanctions that the Iranians want
lifted, that we are using a sort of a -- to get them -- those are sanctions
that were put in place by Congress. So, if the administration, a different
branch of government is going to be out there negotiating over these
sanctions, shouldn`t we, shouldn`t Congress have ultimately have a say
about whether these sanctions that we put in place get lifted?

BURKE: Yes. That`s sort of a new thing that`s happened with this
president. All of a sudden, Congress wants to get overly involved in
things. I mean, this being an executive agreement. He doesn`t actually
need the vote in Congress is my understanding. There may not be a direct


Right. There will be a lot of talk and a lot of hearings, et cetera and so
on. But when you hear people like Ed Royce who is the chair of House
Foreign Relations already coming out and saying that well, if there isn`t
on the spot inspections right here, right now anytime any place. That`s
sort of a bad sign from Congress. But, you know, usually of course the
politics stopped at the water`s edge until this President came up, so
obviously, we`re going to see a lot of interference.

HAYWORTH: The politicization has been from both sides of almost every
issue. And the reality is, that, I mean, it is a salient fact. And it is
an unassailable truth that Iran will not allow spot inspections, what are
they trying to hide? If you have nothing to hide, open it up.

BURKE: Yes. We go to war.

HAYWORTH: So, no, not at all.


COX: On their nuclear, you know, projects --

HAYWORTH: Yes, without anything at all.

COX: Under sanctions and without us doing anything at all. So, the
question is --

HAYWORTH: That`s right.

COX: -- do you keep this somewhat fragile, you know, coalition of people
who are putting pressure on Iran together, which is what happens if you do
this deal. Because it`s not just the United States making this deal.
Right? So, we either make our -- so the question is we can`t keep that
coalition together putting pressure on them indefinitely. Some people are
going to flake off. This is an attempt to say that we`re going to do some
moderate, you know, lifting of sanctions I think.


COX: I think this is probably going to be in stages and not just all at
once like it says.

SHARPTON: Lifting sanctions is still years away. It was still defined but
it`s years away.

HAYWORTH: Right. And we were going to get some inspections and we`re
hopefully going to at least, like put the brakes on whatever nuclear, you
know, project they have.

COX: We haven`t put any significant brakes on them so far.

HAYWORTH: We haven`t had any power to.

COX: But this --

HAYWORTH: And they haven`t had any incentives too.

COX: This gives them a little bit of incentive to put some breaks on it.
It gives us some power to go in and look at what they`re doing. I mean, if
we hold out for pop inspections all the time, they`re just going to say no
and they`re going to keep on --

KORNACKI: Nan, I will give you the final word.

HAYWORTH: Instead what we have is, you know --

COX: So, what should we do instead?

KORNACKI: Go ahead. Go ahead, Nan.

HAYWORTH: All these reasonable people would like to see Iran not get a
nuclear bomb. There`s no question about it. That`s not at issue, that`s
not an issue from either side of the aisle. But what is at issue, is it
worth endorsing a deal that will realistically only be a sham?

BURKE: So, if we don`t endorse it, what are we doing, we`re going to war?

KORNACKI: All right. We have to end this. The debate certainly will
continue here and probably in Congress. This is something to watch over
the next few months.

Still ahead, what is a state supposed to do when it runs out of water?
California Governor Jerry Brown has some monumental plans. We`ll be
bringing to you that coming up.

But next, a new statue of Lucille Ball in her hometown is frightening local
residents. We`re going to show you that if you can bare it. Stay with us.


KORNACKI: All right. There`s a lot going on this morning. Let`s get
caught up on some of the headlines making news around the country with
today`s panel. They call this one catching up. I call it the index card
segment. Here`s my first index card with the first headline. We are going
to "The Washington Post" this morning. Here`s the headline. Ted Cruz
takes 2016 campaign to the air with Easter weekend TV buys. It`s his first
ad as a presidential candidate is the entitled blessing. We have the clip
of this, is that right? There you go. We`re showing the video of it, not
the actual sound. But there is the ad. So, Ted Cruz is already up on the
air. And of course, this all comes on the backdrop, there is a new poll
out this week. Ted Cruz was stuck there in single digits on the republican
side. He announced his candidacy about two weeks ago, suddenly he`s at the

BURKE: Exactly. I think people are going to be surprised by him. He`s
very personable. And I think he`s like that on the trail as well. And I
think him and Rand Paul are going to surprise people.

KORNACKI: Yes. It`s one of those you watch and work those rooms too.


KORNACKI: With the base that he`s going --

COX: Yes. I was going to say, personable is one word and then
personality. He has a lot of personality. I would say is definitely true.
I also think probably republicans are really -- someone to actually
announced, I think if I were a republican I`d be like, okay, someone is

KORNACKI: This Tuesday, Rand Paul is going to announce his candidacy,
Marco Rubio the week after that. So, it is beginning. Let`s check the --

BURKE: There are a lot of articulate and passionate people who are going
to be entering this race. Yes.

KORNACKI: There will be a lot of them. I`m sure. Let`s see here. The
Hollywood reporter this morning. What`s making news out there? Lucille
Ball fans lead crusade against frightening hometown statue. Look at this,
this is Jamestown, New York. This is Lucille Ball`s hometown. They want
to honor her, I think. And this is the statue they came up with. That is
one freaky statue.

COX: You can`t control the lighting in the studio.


KORNACKI: I mean --

COX: It looks like fonzie more than it looks like her. I feel like, I
mean, it just looks like a man, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But
just that`s not her.

KORNACKI: You`re seeing the fonzie in that?

COX: It looks more like a bouffant. I don`t know.


BURKE: Something that`s going to be around year after year, not a good


KORNACKI: Yes. It makes you wonder what the statue budget is in
Jamestown, New York. Maybe, they could put out with more parking tickets
or something.

HAYWORTH: I think they`re getting voluntarily contributions. The mayor
wisely so said, I`m not spending public money to replace it, but if we get
enough contributions we`ll do it.

COX: Here we go.

KORNACKI: All right. Let`s see what else we have here. This is from
Mother Jones, "ETs for Hillary: Why UFO Activists Are Excited About Another
Clinton Presidency?" So, listen to this. Capitol Hill`s only registered
UFO lobbyist, Stephen Bassett is his name, he`s hopeful for Hillary Clinton
presidency because he believes she could give full disclosure on what the
government knows about aliens.

COX: All those deleted e-mails, I mean, who knows.

KORNACKI: Well, I think the reason -- I`m going to ad-lib. I think one of
her top advisors actually has now publicly said that he believes in UFO`s.
John Podesta. So, I think that`s the reason.

BURKE: To have Hillary Clinton and full disclosure in the same sense is
the kind of comical right now. The e-mail thing but the Podestas into it.
That`s interesting.

COX: Yes. They`ll do anything to distract from the real story.

HAYWORTH: That`s right.

KORNACKI: UFOs are coming. All right. Anyway, that is this hour`s
catching up. We`ll going to do some more headlines next hour to with the
panel. But still ahead you haven`t seen him like this before. Chris
Christie, look at this picture, Chris Christie puts on an apron and gets
cooking, he gets talking about bridge. You have got to see these clips.
We`re going to have for you later.

And coming up, still in the middle of a historic drought, the California
Governor Jerry Brown admits where he went wrong last year calling for water


GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: I called for 20 percent voluntary and
we`ll get more like nine percent. That`s not enough.


KORNACKI: What Jerry Brown is doing now, how the entire country could be
affected by what`s happening out in California. That is next.



BROWN: We`re standing on dry grass and we should be standing in five feet
of snow. That`s the way it`s been. We`re in a historic drought. And that
demands unprecedented action. For that reason, I am issuing an executive
order mandating substantial water reduction across our state.


KORNACKI: California Governor Jerry Brown this week announcing a 25
percent mandatory reduction in water usage for California residents. This
is an unprecedented step amid a four year drought.

NBC News Miguel Almaguer is reporting.


our rainy season. Mountains should be lush with green. Instead they`re
bone dry. Tonight we are coming to you from a Lake Piru, the bottom of the
reservoir. We should be 30 feet underwater here, instead these are the
conditions. This is why California is in a state of emergency.


KORNACKI: Now, many not just in California, but nationally are alarmed
with recent headlines trumpeting that California has only a year of water
left in his reservoirs. It would take a couple of months. It would then
have to start topping ground water. If you think this is just a California
problem, the state grows nearly half of all of the fruits, vegetables and
nuts produced in the United States. So, what`s emerging now is a national

Return now to Seema Mehta, she`s a political writer for the Los Angeles
Times, she joins us now from Culver City. Seema, thanks for getting up.
Very early out there.

SEEMA MEHTA, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Thanks for having me.

KORNACKI: Still bad for our west coast guest in this 8:00 hour. But thank
you for doing it.

MEHTA: Thank you.

KORNACKI: So, the 25 percent reduction that the governor announced this
week, if this is successfully pulled off, what does that do? Does it sound
the problem long term or if this just the future for Californian going

MEHTA: I think this is just a very initial stuff. I mean, the step that
the government made last week does not address agriculture and agriculture
use this -- three quarters of the water and our state. Obviously, you
know, it`s called the bread basket of America, the salad bowl of America.
And the steps that the governor laid out last week, it calls for some
recommendations. Some reporting from agriculture but it doesn`t call for
any water reductions.

KORNACKI: He didn`t say, he didn`t want -- that`s a big industry in
California. I mean, we could put some of this up. This is just some stats
here. The share of U.S. crops that are grown in California. I mean, look
at this. Ninety nine percent of all Walnuts in this country in California.
Ninety seven percent of kiwis. Ninety five percent of celery. I mean, I
hate celery, but a lot of people eat it. That`s a big deal. But how are
every day Californians responding to this? The Bergen kind of shifting to

MEHTA: Well, I mean, as we see in polling, Californians are increasingly
aware of the drought. And there are, you know, there was a poll from the
public policy in South California last month that, you know, two thirds
that felt more needed to be done. We`re already stealing the impacts. I
love in Long Beach which is a city of about a half million people. About
20 miles south of LA for more than a year. You know, we can only water our
lawns at night three days of the week. If you go under a restaurant in
Signal Hill you have to ask for water. They don`t just bring it to your
table. I mean, these are pretty mild effect. But I think everyone
recognizes this is just the beginning.

KORNACKI: You know, and we can put these up too. This is interesting. If
you are a resident of California, these are some of the local press out
there giving you tips on how you can cut your water reduction. These are
the kinds of things you should be doing in California or think about doing.
You cut your shower time in half. You would raise the blade on your lawn
mower. How about this? When you put food coloring in the toilet tank.
The ideas, if it shows up in the bowl then without flashing, you have a
leak, you`re wasting water, you should scrape your dishes, not rinse them.
You should reuse sink water. You should thaw food in your fridge, you do
that overnight. Instead of using water to defrost it. You know, Seema, I
mean, these are practical things. But I guess, is there a bigger concern
here, you know, California is sort of this almost like destination state
for decades. People want to move to California. It`s part of the American
dream. Is there a fear maybe that that`s changing a little bit with this?

MEHTA: Well, it already is. I mean, when I first moved to California, I
mean, from the East Coast at 90s, people always said you could surf in the
morning and ski in the afternoon. You can`t ski in the afternoon anymore.
I mean, you look at some of these pictures coming out of the ski resorts.
You have people skiing through these tiny little patches of snow and fields
of dirt. I mean, it`s kind of sad. Resorts are closing early. They`re
long term, they don`t think this is necessary fixable anytime soon.
They`re starting to put in climbing walls and zip lines because they need
to do something to keep making money. It`s already changed our way of

But I think people think that this, you know, in terms of measures on
residences, this is just the first step. People are talking about, you
know, having to cover your pools. People are talking people not being able
to fill their pools, you know, not being able to water your lawn at all, or
not being able to wash your cars. So, I think people recognize that this
is just probably the first step of a lot of, you know, reductions that
we`re going to see in the future.

KORNACKI: And I got to say, one of the more disturbing things I saw. This
is from somebody named -- this is from Jeff Wheelwright, he`s a
contributing editor of Discovery Magazine. He lives out in California. He
talks about how this in his mind this might dismantle California`s easy
going social compact. He says, having watched my neighbor wash his truck
when he`s not supposed too, now I`ll be justified in turning him in.

MEHTA: Right.

KORNACKI: More of us will report violators to the city authorities though
perhaps without giving our names. If the drought continues California`s
easy going social compact may crack and wither too. That`s an alarming

MEHTA: Right. And I mean, in the city where I live, although we have, you
know, restrictions on water use. I don`t think they`re very well-enforced.
But I think that will change if things continue down the path we`re on.

KORNACKI: All right. Seema Mehta with the LA Times again, thanks for
getting UP at 2:30 in the morning.

MEHTA: Thank you.

KORNACKI: Whatever that is. I appreciate it. Still ahead, it`s 5:30, I
can do the math. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is vowing to fight the
corruption charges against him. Can he beat the wrap?

And next, the latest on a deadly storm system that plowed through the
Midwest. The dramatic and dangerous scene in Louisville right on the other
side of this break.


KORNACKI: People in Kentucky are finally getting some relief this morning
from a powerful spring storm system that authorities say killed at least
one person in that commonwealth. Left a mother and child missing. Two
days of torrential rains and winds came to an end last night. The streets
of Louisville underwater in flash flooding. First responders rescuing more
than 160 people. Roads were also milmatch (ph) for the conditions. Part
of this road, in suburban Louisville collapsed. We will be going to
Louisville live for the very latest in our next hour.

Plus, up next, making the case for and against Senator Bob Menendez. Who
has the tougher task? The prosecutors who to prove the senator did
political favors in exchange for gifts. Or the senator himself, who says,
hey, it`s just friendship, nothing illegal about that. Stay with us.

KORNACKI: "New York Times" has a blunt message for Senator Robert
Menendez, resign now. The paper`s editorial urging the New Jersey democrat
to step down in the wake of an indictment. A 14 count federal indictment
against him and his friend who is also a very wealthy donor. New York
Times editorial writes, quote, "It`s hard to imagine that he will have
enough time to adequately represent his constituents while he braces for a
legal fight that could drag on for years." Prosecutors say that Menendez
accepted nearly a million dollars in gifts in donations from a Florida eye
surgeon named Solomon Melgen. All this they allege in exchange for
political favors of Melgen`s behalf. According to the 68 page indictment,
the gifts showered on Menendez, include a stay in a five star hotel in
Paris worth almost $5,000. Trips to Melgen`s vacation home in the
Dominican Republic on the Doctor`s private jet. And also expensive meals
all paid for by Melgen. Menendez and Melgen entered pleas of not guilty to
those charges on Thursday. They vehemently deny breaking the law.


SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: These allegations are false. And I am
confident they will be proven false. And I`ll look forward to doing so in


KORNACKI: The question is, can Menendez beat the wrap? I want to bring in
to talk about that, our legal dream team, Criminal Defense Attorney Brian
Wice. He successfully worked to overturn the money laundering conviction
of former republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. And Paul Butler, he
was a former federal prosecutor who worked at the Department of Justice,
specialized in public corruption. And while he was there, he was part of
the team that indicted Senator David Durenberger in the 1990s. He`s now a
professor at Georgetown University.

Welcome to both of you. Brian Wice, I`ll start with you, you got a delay
cleared. So, let`s say Menendez calls you up, you take the case, what is
the message? All of these gifts that they can prove that Melgen, this guy
gave to Menendez. Clearly he intervened in some way on his behalf, on his
Medicare issues, what`s the defense?

BRIAN WICE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, I don`t want to break
character Steve as house counsel for the damned on this show. But this guy
is in big trouble. I mean, on final four weekend, this guy is a 15 seed up
against two. Now, having said that, he`s also a guy as you know, who over
the last 30 years made his bones in New Jersey politics. All the way back
from the time he was the mayor of Union City and wore a bullet proof vest
to ferret out corruption. And we do know that in New Jersey, politics is a
Greek word that means I want you to give me 650,000 of your American
Express points so I can stay in Paris. Look, the indictment alleges a
number of acts that are certainly sketchy. My favorite legal word.
Prurient. Don`t know what that means but it sounds bad. But can they
prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? Again, this is a friendship that
goes back generations. And again, politics is everybody who has ever
watched the show knows is about friends helping friends. And that doesn`t
mean it`s necessary a criminal act, guys.

KORNACKI: Well, that`s the thing. So, Paul, from a prosecutor`s
standpoint, I mean, they can clearly make sort of a correlation there.
They can say there`s a connection that all right, all these gifts, hundreds
of thousands dollars worth of gifts, and here official acts that Menendez
did. What Menendez is going to say on this defense is as Brian saying
there, well, this is one of my closest personal friend. This goes back
generations. Where do you draw that line legally though? Because let`s
say this was something else. Let`s say Melgen had called him up and said,
hey, I got a nephew, can you get him an internship. Well then, technically
he`s doing him a favor and he got money for. But you wouldn`t prosecute
that. Where did you draw this line?

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Steve, this is an easy case for
the prosecution. It proves the case by the timing and by asking the jurors
to use their common sense. Every time this rich doctor got a huge favor
from the senator, the senator gets rewarded with cash money in the form of
political contributions or lavish gifts. If you read this 68 page
indictment, it reads like a menu of how much the senator charges for what
service. How much it costs to get him to get your girlfriends a visa. How
much he charges to help your business get a government contract. Most
expensive item on the menu, if you have a dispute with Medicare and you
want him to get a meeting with the Secretary of Health and Human Services,
that cost $300,000. You know, jurors are getting fed up with this kind of
brazen corruption. You know, if this is a friendship, this is incredible
friendship with benefits. I mean, come on.

KORNACKI: And Paul, from a prosecutor`s standpoint, we had most recently
the Justice Department went after Ted Stevens the former, the late Alaska
senator. They botched that and it ended up getting thrown out. Are there
lessons from that for this?

BUTLER: No. Because first of all, that case went to a jury. The jury
convicted Senator Stevens. It turned out that the Justice Department
didn`t disclose all of the evidence. So, they ended up dropping the case.
Would they have done that for somebody who`s not a senator? I kind of
doubt it. But again, that`s what happened in that case. But moreover, if
we look at Blagojevich in Illinois, McDonald in Virginia. These guys got
convicted. So, I think what my boy Brian says that, you know, this is New
Jersey politics, when the prosecution brings these cases, they`re trying to
send a message not only to the politicians that who are considering
corruption, you better not do that. They`re also educating the general
public. They`re asking us to have higher expectations for our public

KORNACKI: Brian, if Menendez looks at this a few weeks or few months from
now whatever as this is going towards trial and says, you know, I don`t
like my odds in this trial. Can he use the fact that he`s still in the
Senate that he`s holding on to the Senate seat, can that be leverage in
that negotiation? Could he say look, prosecutors, I`ll give up the seat,
I`ll resign in exchange for some kind of leniency?

WICE: I certainly think that`s one of his options. And obviously, as in
any criminal case where there are two defendants. He can certainly turn on
Dr. Melgen. And the fact that Senator Menendez has led a life of good work
and public service, will certainly count for something. But my concern as
my boy Paul just said, the timing and the frequency of these acts are what
concerns me. I mean, it`s like they say in West Texas, Steve, once is
happenstance, twice, coincidence. But the third time is enemy action. And
it`s not just that he saw fit to intercede with Medicare, Dr. Melgen`s
behalf. What concerns me and what I think may even upset New Jersey
jurors, this notion that I`m going to try to hook you up for not one, not
two, but three of your girlfriends from far flung venues as varied as
Brazil, the Dominican Republic and of course, what we always see in these
kinds of indictments, Ukraine.

KORNACKI: Right. Well, thanks as always to Defense Attorney Brian Wice,
he always brings the lines to them. Paul Butler, Georgetown University, I
appreciate you both being here.

BUTLER: It`s great to see you.

KORNACKI: Still ahead in our next hour. The unlikely political coalition
that brought together everyone from Miley Cyrus to Walmart. That and much
more still to come. Stay with us.


KORNACKI: Whose America is it?


KORNACKI: And thanks for staying with us this Saturday morning.

Coming up this hour: the new front in the culture wars. Does accepting
same sex marriage as the law of the land mean you have to bake the cake for
the wedding? It`s an important part of the Indiana story. We`re going to
talk all about that.

Also ahead, how do you respond if you`re a Republican who wants to be
president? They have to appease the conservative base without turning off
the rest of the electorate in the general election. What the candidates
have been saying, and what it means. That is still ahead, too.

Also, today kicks off final four weekend. Both the men`s and women`s
college basketball tournaments coming to a head.

And here`s the question for you: is the secret to being the best of the
best in college basketball giving up your cell phone? We`ll explain that,
and look into that question ahead.

We will also be finding out what Chris Christie is now saying about
bridgegate. Plus, his tips for a good rigatoni with meat sauce. Our buddy
Nick Acocella has come up with a great idea for a political talk show ever.
He`s here to tell us all about his very first guest and he`s brought clips
with him, you are not going to want to miss this. That is later this hour.

But we begin with the newest clash in the culture wars -- protecting the
rights of gay Americans versus protecting the rights of religious people
who object to gay marriage. The battle coming to a head this week in
Indiana and Arkansas, where religious freedom legislation that critics say
would have authorized discrimination against gay people ran into a fierce
and unexpected backlash.

By Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Arkansas Governor Asa
Hutchinson had signed revised measures of their state measures meant to
address those concerns.


GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: This debate goes on. But the fact that
it might not solve every problem for everyone probably means that it`s a
good bill.


KORNACKI: And these fixes don`t solve every problem for everyone in this
debate. "The New York Times" reporting, quote, "Liberal critics said the
new versions did not go far enough to prevent discrimination and some
social conservatives saw the measures as needlessly watered down."

But this is about a lot more than just Indiana and Arkansas. This week`s
firestorm raises difficult questions about the country as a whole, a
country where gay marriage is already legal in two thirds of states, and
where the Supreme Court is expected very soon to make it legal in all 50.
By this summer, the right of gay and lesbians to marry may be settled law
in every corner of America. But even at that, it is still far from a
settled cultural or religious issue. A big chunk of the country that is
four out of every 10 Americans, that chunk of the country still opposes gay

As a legal matter the country is moving towards same sex marriage. But
these people, many of them religious conservatives want nothing to do with
it in their own lives. And that is the question that emerges from this
week. Where do their rights, the rights of religious people who think gay
marriage is a sin. Where do their rights to opt out of a culture that
allows gay marriage end?

This is where these so-called religious freedom bills come from. Religious
conservatives who think they shouldn`t be compelled to provide services for
wedding ceremonies that they believe to be immoral. Is there a balance
that can be struck here? A balance between religious freedom as
conservative Christians are defining it and non-discrimination as LGBT
advocates define it.

At a certain point, they appear to be irreconcilable. Either the Christian
bakery has to provide the wedding cake for the gay customers or it gets to
say no. One or the other, but not both. So, how do you balance LGBT
rights with religious liberty in a post-gay marriage America?

Joining me now to tackle this question, we have Christine Quinn. She`s the
former New York City council speaker, and Matt Welch, he`s the editor-in-
chief of "Reason" magazine.

Also back with us from our panel, former Congresswoman Nan Hayworth from
New York, and Ana Marie Cox with "The Daily Beast". They are joining us at
the table as well.

So, Matt, let me just start with you -- I mean, that basic conflict we
talked about here, because it seems to me this week, if you`re looking at
this from a standpoint of a religious conservative, you`re saying about my
right not -- if I don`t want to make the cake I shouldn`t have to make the
cake if I think it`s immoral. If you`re looking at this from the
standpoint of discrimination, you`re saying that`s discrimination.

Is there a way to reconcile that?

MATT WELCH, REASON MAGAZINE: Well, RFRAs are not the way to reconcile
this. That`s been the craziest thing. We have these laws in 20 states now
and we have something like those laws in the state constitutions of another
11 states. RFRAs had never been once ever, ever been used for someone to
successfully evade a discrimination lawsuit. That`s worth holding onto and
thinking about for a second. It`s never been used for this.

In New Mexico, there is a wedding photographer who said, look, I want to
use this to try to say that I don`t have to be compelled to work in a
wedding. Sorry, you lose.

So, the thing we have been so excited all week doesn`t have anything to do
with that very interesting question, which is, should we compel somebody
who is providing a business service to do something they don`t want to?

I think the answer to that second question is, no, I don`t think that we
should. I don`t think that`s the way you persuade people.

The culture has moved towards gay marriage. Our side, the side that wants
legal recognition of same sex marriage has won. OK? So, it`s won mostly
through culture and through this -- through persuasion. Once you start
knocking people in the head with that, that ceases to become persuasive in
my view. But RFRAs don`t really have anything to do with that.


KORNACKI: Christine Quinn on remote, I hear her trying to get in. Go


I just want to make sure people understand, though, that the RFRA law
passed or attempted to be passed in Indiana is very different than the
federal one. People have been making that comparison. That law gives --
Indiana law gives individuals affirmatively the right to discriminate and
makes them corporations, which is a whole another question, treats them
individuals in a way that basically government was treated in the federal

And that`s really troubling, and it`s exactly what we feared when the Hobby
Lobby case came in. Exactly what the people were for the Hobby Lobby case
said would never happening. And we see it happening. So, I think we need
to understand the distinction.

KORNACKI: But, Christine, I appreciate that. But at the same time, I want
to broaden this conversation out to just this idea of how to balance the
concept of religious liberty and how to balance the value of non-
discrimination in the post-gay marriage America. And that`s why I set it
up the way I did because at a certain point, it does seem irreconcilable to

You think about the born again Christian baker does not want to have to
provide the cake. Either he gets to say, no, I don`t want to, or he has to
do it. Where do you come down on that?

QUINN: Well, look, I mean, the question here is that baker is in a service
industry. They`re interacting with all kinds of people. I think the
balance is, that person has full religious freedom and we can`t force their
church to do anything.

But when their desire to embrace their religion impacts on my rights to
access services, you`ve stepped over the line.

KORNACKI: What do you think?

COX: I mean, I agree with that statement. I think it`s important for the
context of the discussion of the Indiana law that it was in part passed in
response to like what happened in New Mexico, to try and change the ability
of people to not have to do these kinds of things.

And I guess I want to be -- like I don`t think they`re reconcilable. I
think you`re going to have to force people to do things they don`t want to
do. That`s sometimes what happens in a democratic society. And I think
that also, I think it`s important to understand, when we talk about the
Indiana law, that it had intent behind it. There are people who passed
that law intended to be able to use it as a defense for discrimination,
whether or not it could have been successfully been used for one or not is
an open question. It apparently won`t get answered.

WELCH: It`s important question.

COX: The intent is important, too. What was intended by the people who
passed this law? What was the intended by the people who supported this
law? I think it showed an ugly side of this debate on both sides.

KORNACKI: What it speaks to, though, as I say, this is -- there`s a
culture moment here that we`re living in, where again, we are probably
months away from gay marriage no longer being a contested legal issue. At
the same time, we still live in a country where a significant chunk of the
population fundamentally believes this is sinful and they don`t want any
part of it. So, the question is --


KORNACKI: Hang on a second, Ana Marie. The question is, what right do
they have to opt out of that? So, Matt was saying earlier, and I want you
to get into this, Nan, Matt was saying earlier, he says this is not the way
to pursue the sort of the next phase of this culture battle for supporters
of gay marriage. It is not to insist the baker be able to have to provide
the cake no matter what.

What do you think of that?

HAYWORTH: Well, I think so long as we have these laws, I think there is
good reason to allow our citizens -- the original impetus for the federal
law was to allow, for example, Native Americans who smoked peyote as part
of their religious observances to be able to have a means of accessing
that. There were specific issues that had nothing to do with moral
opposition to what some citizens do whom we should be serving in our public

Given that we have these laws, I think it`s very important, and Ana Marie
said it, as a society, we have a fundamental value that every person -- it
is enshrined in our Constitution fundamentally, every person should be
allowed to pursue his or her life in the way he or she chooses, so long as
we are not defrauding or causing forceful harm to anyone else. And I
certainly think that it`s very appropriate to express the spirit of that.
If we`re going to have religious freedom restoration laws for good reason,
it`s important to state the principle within the context of the law, that
this does not mean that you can, if you are a business offering your
services to the public, that you can discriminate against people based on
their characteristics.


WELCH: Both to Ana and Christine, I`m a member of the Westboro Baptist
Church, you are a baker, I want you to work my wedding. Should the state
be -- should you be compelled, should you face $150,000 fine as happened to
the baker in Portland if you say, no, I don`t like your church, I`m not
going to serve you?

COX: Go ahead, Christine.

QUINN: As a baker, I`m providing public services. I shouldn`t have the
right to deny you because I don`t like your religion or how you practice

Let me be clear, I do not like how the Westboro Church practices their
religion. But I also want to remind folks about a backdrop to all of this,
is that many states in the union and the federal government do not provide
protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity and gender
expression. So, we have a real issue here that this brings up. In many
states right now, and perhaps soon, God willing in the entire country,
there will be full marriage equality. That means there are states where
people could theoretically get married on Saturday and then fired on Monday
for having gotten married and made it clear that they`re LGBT.

So, this is a real issue beyond the so-called religious freedom laws that
we have to address by affirmatively adding sexual orientation, gender
identity and gender expression into all these civil and human rights laws
in every state, and on the federal level.

KORNACKI: I want to pick up on one thing you were saying there, Matt,
because this is what my question is, you were saying earlier, you don`t
think the way to pursue this is to sort of supporters of gay marriage and
gay rights more broadly, is to insist on, you know, the business has to
provide the service, no matter what. And I get your point about, hey, if
this can work, a lot of different ways if you`re Westboro Baptist Church,
you don`t want to necessarily depriving them with services.

But there`s the question here of once you open that door, you could blow --
somebody else could come in and blow it wide open, right? I mean, it
doesn`t have to stay this narrow.

WELCH: That`s not where the culture is going. I mean, a majority of
Republicans under the age of 45 are in favor of gay marriage. A huge
majority, everybody under 30 are in favor of gay marriage. Is there a
company out there right now, a consumer-based company, that is known at all
for denying service to gay people? Is there? I mean, I don`t think that
there is, because it`s not going to work.

COX: I actually can point to a subtle one. But like there`s a difference
between the way that you go about persuading people to be accepting and the
laws that we make. And I think you`re right. I don`t think that the hate
that was poured out on that family pizza place in Indiana was appropriate.
I do not like the fact that people who I`m aligned ideologically with
expressed themselves in such a way that will not convince that family to be
more open and accepting of gay marriage.

HAYWORTH: Nor will anyone else.

COX: I`m not going to donate money to their GoFundMe page because I do
think they were acting like bigots. You know? And I think --

KORNACKI: You talk about this moment we`re living in. So, that pizza
place, that GoFundMe page now. I saw this morning -- yes, almost a million
dollars has been raised for that pizza place.

COX: Is there a consumer organization that is being not serving gay
people? Yes, there is one in Indiana.


WELCH: It`s an important factual thing. They said if I was asked to do a
wedding -- which they never will be because they`re a pizza place in a
small town. They wouldn`t do it. They said they will continue --


KORNACKI: Nan, I want to get Nan. Christine, we`ll go to you after. Nan,
and then, Christine.

QUINN: OK, fair enough.

HAYWORTH: This is generating -- that whole controversy generated more heat
than light. But there`s a reason it did, because clearly, we do have among
us fellow citizens who feel that they are being discriminated against
because of the fact of who they are. They`re -- who we are and there`s
what we do.

For example, with regard to Westboro Baptist analogy, you might say, look,
if you walk into a bakery and somebody says, I`m not going to serve you
donut because I don`t like Baptists. That`s the problem.

But if you say I don`t like what Westboro Baptist is doing, I think they`re
doing some hideous things, and you decide you don`t want to get involved
with Westboro Baptist, I think the business has a legitimate right to say
I`m not participating in that activity.

KORNACKI: All right.

HAYWORTH: I think as a society, this is what we`re talking about.

KORNACKI: We -- unfortunately, we lost the connection with Christine. I
wanted to give her the last word. But I want to thank her, Christine
Quinn, the former speaker of the New York City Council for joining us this
morning. Also, Matt Welch of "Reason" magazine, I appreciate you being

So, how is what we saw in Indiana and Arkansas this week playing on the
campaign trail? That part of the discussion is next, as we look at the
candidates for 2016 starting with Jeb Bush and two different comments he
made this week.

Stay with us.



SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Religious liberty is so under assault. It`s
never been as under assault as it is right now in this country. And
religious liberty is not some fringe issue. It is an issue that unifies
us, that brings us together.


KORNACKI: That was Senator Ted Cruz citing religious liberty as one of his
big issues in Iowa this week.

The fallout from Indiana`s religious freedom law playing well for some like
Cruz, at least with his base, but also affecting the other probable 2016
candidates. Jeb Bush first giving his full throated support for Indiana
Governor Mike Pence, then in an apparent 180, telling an entirely different
audience in California that Indiana`s law needs revisions. The whole issue
magnifying a debate that we`re sure to see again among the 2016 candidates.
Can a socially conservative Republican platform that play well inside the
party also be tenable on a wider stage? As the reaction in the last two
weeks give candidates pause as they ramp up messages for their campaigns.

Back with us now, we have the panel, Nan Hayworth, Ana Marie Cox, as well
as Lauren Victoria Burke with Politic365 and "The Root".

So, let me just start with this, talking about how the presidential field
reacted this week to all of this uproar.

Let`s start with Monday. This is just sort of really beginning to
traction. Jeb Bush goes on a conservative radio show, Hugh Hewitt`s radio
show, he has this to say.


JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I think Governor Pence has done the
right thing. Florida has a law like this. Bill Clinton signed a law like
this at the federal level. This is simply allowing people of faith space
to be able to express their beliefs, to have -- to be able to be people of


KORNACKI: Now, that`s Monday. Two days later, Bush is at a closed door
fund raising event in California. Word leaks out of what he tells the
audience in there. He says he actually favors a more consensus-oriented
approach. That`s what he calls it towards this issue, prompting a headline
-- and he`s flip-flopping here. Jeb Bush seems to shift tone in his praise
of Indiana law.

So, Bush seeming to sort of trying to have it both ways. Although what I`m
seeing in this is it`s the story of the Republican Party right now, it`s
the business community, the people who are going to be on those private,
you know, fundraising. They say, we don`t want this issue to be
distracting from everything else. Bush tells them that.

But the sort of the grassroots heart of the Republican Party, still a lot
of religious conservatives who have problems with gay marriage.

BURKE: They know what their demographics are. They know who they`re
appealing it. They know who they`re trying to get out. The problem
becomes your on the wrong side of history, big time, and you`re making an
issue out of something that I don`t think many people stay up at night
really thinking about when they`re about to vote for somebody.

So, it just becomes sort of a commentary on who you don`t like. It`s a
negative commentary on a certain group of people for absolutely no reason.
I actually don`t think this will be a big issue this time next year. But
with the Republican Party, you never know, you never know how they`ll try
to galvanize the base.

COX: Cruz has really dug him heels in, like Cruz threw himself out as
like, I`m going to be the one that is defending traditional emergency, and
he said it in public, he said it private. You know, that`s where he`s
chosen to stake his claim. I think that will wind up being bad news for

It`s interesting, if you look at the polling on this issue among
conservatives in general, of course, people say you should have the right
to refuse service. If you look at Hispanic Catholics and African-American
Protestants, they say nope, because, you know, people with a history of
bigotry, people who have experienced bigotry in their lives are sensitive
to it and sort of see it as a problem.

So, I think any attempts by the GOP to reach out beyond their base, which
is what they`re trying to do now, right? I mean, I don`t know. I don`t
know --

KORNACKI: In there autopsy report after the 2012 campaign, they talked
about -- they talked about -- Nan, you talked about gay rights issues being
a threshold issue for voters. You have to be right on this issue, for
young voters, before they will look at you.

COX: Young voter and minority voters.


HAYWORTH: Rightly so. We are an inclusive society that we were devised to
be that with, of course, having -- had to fight a great civil war and a
great civil rights struggle beyond that to get to a better point in our
history. It`s crucial for anybody who wants to serve the broad public to
concentrate on the issues that unite us all, and to be inclusive.

You know, as far as I can tell, our biggest problem is that we have an
economy that isn`t including everybody. That isn`t fair to everybody,
because we have a government that is profligate and does impose too much of
that. Let`s talk about that, let`s talk about those hard issues.

BURKE: Instead of messaging who you`re against --

HAYWORTH: Instead of trying to narrow segment of the face.


BURKE: The Republicans are getting that vote anyway. They`re getting the
evangelical vote anyway.

KORNACKI: We don`t know who`s getting the primaries. You have ten
candidates out there.


KORNACKI: And that`s interesting. We should also point out -- Republican
candidates this week, we should say, you know, those who spoke publicly
were supportive of Pence, except Rand Paul who is preparing to make an
announcement next week. He`s not been responding to any policy question
this week. This one included, this is a sort of statement they`re putting

HAYWORTH: Because Rand is libertarian.

KORNACKI: Senator Paul is out of pocket all week with this family leading
up to April 7th. You know, probably happy he doesn`t weigh in.

But, Nan, what you`re saying, right, the longer term detriment possibly. I
read an article. I think this was in "The New York Times", and it really
resonated with me. The culture wars have shifted. The politics of the
culture wars have shifted, where a few years ago, take an issue like gay
marriage, take an issue like gay rights, sort of the consensus of the
middle of America was on the right.

We`re not sure we want this. So, it played to the Republicans. And the
Democrats had to do this thing a lot of their base wanted them to be on
there. We`re going to scare off Middle America. It`s now shifted. This
consensus is now on the left.

BURKE: What they`re going to do is make the gay lobby into a sort of the
new NRA -- a strong group that`s gotten all the political victories already
in the courts and legislatively. Now you made it -- we saw what happened
with the business community obviously in Indiana, millions of dollars
leaving the state. Mike Pence, you know, looking foolish and losing huge.
And that will continue.

I mean, there is no other way this is going to go.


BURKE: The Supreme Court, in terms of their lobbying strength, in terms of
their political victories, they`re right up there. They win.

They know what to focus on. They go for the legal victories. They focus
excellently. Their lobbying effort --


KORNACKI: They have culture change, right --

COX: With them, majority of Americans don`t back the laws that are
proposed by the NRA. So, I mean, I think it`s a little bit different.

BURKE: But the NRA still wins, why is that? The people on the ground in
America --


HAYWORTH: They can swing elections.

BURKE: The gay lobby is up there --

COX: There is no gay lobby. One is NRA.

KORNACKI: You won`t find an address on K Street for that.

COX: Tell me where the big pink building is.

KORNACKI: Anyway. Still ahead, is Ohio Governor John Kasich, is he trying
to be the new Christie? Details on that are coming up.

But, first, new this morning, a survivor is found from that horrific
militant attack in Kenya that left over 140 people dead. We`re going to be
going live to Kenya for the latest, from NBC`s Bill Neely. That is next.

Stay with us.


KORNACKI: New developments this morning in that attack at the University
in Kenya. Officials say they have found a survivor, hiding in a cupboard
two days after that attack.

NBC News chief global correspondent Bill Neely has more from Nairobi.



Well, from the scene of a terrible massacre, a remarkable story of survival
this morning. Nineteen-year-old Cynthia Cheroitich, a student at the
university, has been found after two days. She was hiding from the gunmen
in order to survive. She did in a large cupboard. She covered herself
with clothes.

She heard the gunmen ordering her fellow students to come out of hiding and
refused to come out. She stayed there. She was scared when rescuers came.
It was only when she heard the voice of her teacher that she decided the
coast was clear and emerged.

She was tired and hungry and thirsty. But otherwise, she said I simply
prayed to God. She`s a Christian. And she survived.

So, some good news, but unfortunately most of the news is bad. I`ve spent
most of the day at a mortuary here in Nairobi, where 119 bodies are now
gathered, and really terrible scenes there of grief, of emotion, as one by
one the relatives view pictures of the dead that have been taken and
they`re put up on screens. They were warned before they went in that this
would be a very difficult scene.

And they come out, as you can imagine in a terrible state crying and
screaming. There have been fights as tensions spill over with the security
people at that mortuary.

There is anger also in this country, angry that the government people say
didn`t do enough to stop this massacre. The government has said today they
have arrested five people in connection with the attack. And they say
they`ve beefed up security all over Kenya.

There is also a report that the al Shabaab terror group, which did this has
issued another threat saying that there is nothing Kenya can do to stop its
attacks, and that Kenya`s cities will run red with blood. That threat
unconfirmed at the moment, but in a sense they don`t have to issue threats
because their actions speak for themselves both here and at the Westgate
Mall two years ago when they killed more than 60 people.

So, Kenya today still trying to come to terms with this massacre. But at
least, Steve, today, we have one story, one good news story if you can call
it that of survival -- this remarkable 19-year-old girl who has emerged
from hiding.

Back to you, Steve.


KORNACKI: All right. Bill Neely from the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi,
appreciate that report.

Still ahead: Governor Chris Christie on the charges against Senator Bob
Menendez. What he`s saying might surprise you.

And our next guest broke bread and made pasta sauce with Christie for a TV
show. What they talked about -- incredible clips from this, too -- right
on the other side of the break. Please stay with us for this one.


NICK ACOCELLA, POLITIFAX: I want to ask you -- if you had one do-over, one
thing you could go back and revisit and do it differently, what would it




ACOCELLA: I spent a lot of years covering New Jersey politics from my home
here in Hoboken. This town feeds one of my other passions, great food.
I`ve always been fascinated by political deals and cooking great meals. So
I figured, why not combine them?


KORNACKI: Well, I have been waiting all morning to play that for you, been
teasing it all morning. It is the intro to a great new politics show which
has the perfect premise. Veteran New Jersey reporter, friend to the
program, Nick Acocella, talks with New Jersey politicians while cooking
pasta. Naturally, it`s called pasta and politics.

Not only does the episode air Wednesday on New Jersey public television,
NJTV, the governor of New Jersey himself, Chris Christie, is the first
guest. Together, Nick and the governor chopped celery, saute pancetta,
pour cream and discuss big issues, including bridgegate.

And here to share what Governor Christie said about that and share some
more of his fabulous new show is the host of "Pasta and Politics", the one
and only, Nick Acocella.

Welcome, sir. This is so -- we have clips here. I want to play them and
get you to talk about them and just talk about what he was like in the

But, first of all, I mean, the concept of this show, we played the intro.
I love the idea of this. Where did the idea come from?

ACOCELLA: Out of my little brain.


ACOCELLA: Out of my little brain.

I was looking for -- I mean the people were looking for new ideas for
shows. And I made up a list of about a dozen and this was at the top of
the list and they all said, yes, that`s a great idea and --

KORNACKI: So, you got a kitchen, you call Chris Christie up. How did you
get Chris Christie to agree to do this?

ACOCELLA: Well, you have to understand that the commitment was made a long
time ago. This show has been two years in the making. And he wasn`t going
to back out on the commitment just because things have happened in the last
two years.

It was tougher landing a date with him because he may be running for

KORNACKI: He`s not in New Jersey as much as he used to be.

ACOCELLA: He`s not in New Jersey as much as he used to be.

But I`ve known him a long time. I mean, I`ve known him since he was a
freeholder in Morris County, covering him. So, that wasn`t hard to get to
him and pitch the show. And he thought it was a great idea and did it. I
wouldn`t have done it unless he could do the pilot.

KORNACKI: And so, now, the idea here was each -- every week, you`re going
to have a political -- every show.

ACOCELLA: One a month.

KORNACKI: They pick a dish. What did Christie pick?

ACOCELLA: Rigatoni Bolognese. It was a complicated -- I was surprised.
It`s a complicated dish. This is not something where you just throw
something in the pan. There are many ingredients and they cook for 30
minutes here, and 25 minutes there. But he has been around a kitchen.

KORNACKI: Well, let`s play the clip first because --

ACOCELLA: Go ahead, sure.

KORNACKI: This is -- so, he picks the dish. They`re in the kitchen. This
is what happens.


ACOCELLA: Governor, we`re going to take a half a pint of heavy cream.


ACOCELLA: Just in case anybody thought this was a dietetic dish. We`re
going to --

CHRISTIE: Can I help you with this? Listen, a governor can do this. This
is part of my function here.

ACOCELLA: Beautiful. Beautiful. You get it.



ACOCELLA: All right.

Give it about half of it and we`ll mix it in and do the other half. Very
nice. This is cooperation.


ACOCELLA: You`re better than most of the sous chefs I`ve had.


ACOCELLA: Totally unrehearsed.

KORNACKI: What was it like cooking a meal with Chris Christie?

ACOCELLA: It was a charming conversation. We talked about his career. We
talked about New Jersey politics in general. We talked about some specific

You can`t get too specific because it`s not timely. I mean, the show is
not going to air. This was taped two months ago, six weeks ago. You can`t
really be timely. But he`s -- listen, he can be very, very charming when
he wants to be. He can be very tough when he wants to be.

COX: I was going to say do you think there`s any meaning behind -- I mean,
do you think you can divine any meaning about people`s personality? About
what is, he`s a man of hearty appetites, clearly.


ACOCELLA: Yes, he`s a man of hearty appetite. Maybe you can. Some of
them didn`t really know what they wanted to cook. We had to talk about
when you go in a restaurant.

We taped a show with former Governor Tom Kean. You`d like this one. He
just said something with scallops. I love scallops. He left a lot of it
up to me.

And some of them have been very, very definite. Steve Sweeney, the Senate
president, said I got to have rigatoni with roasted peppers.

And, you know Steve, he`s got a very big hands. He`s an iron worker.

HAYWORTH: How much did Bob Menendez want to be on the show?

ACOCELLA: Menendez has made a commitment to be on the show, but that was
before his more recent troubles. I don`t know.


ACOCELLA: I hope he still does it.


KORNACKI: Let`s take a look at another clip from the show. You finished
the meal, then you put it over the table, you pour the wine and you start
talking. Let`s play one of the subjects that came up.


ACOCELLA: I want to ask you if you had one do over. One thing you could
go back and revisit and do it differently, what would it be?

CHRISTIE: Gosh, I wouldn`t have been as trusting of some people. I would
have asked more questions on certain things in general. And I wish I would
have that to do over again.

ACOCELLA: How would that have worked, really?

CHRISTIE: I don`t know.

ACOCELLA: You ask --

CHRISTIE: I did ask --

ACOCELLA: I think I know what you`re talking about. I think you`re
talking about the bridge. You did ask people. If people are going to lie
to you, they`re going to lie to you consistently.

CHRISTIE: Yes, it`s true. I mean, I think, you know, for me I`m pretty
good. Maybe I could have been more aggressive. I don`t know it`s one of
those things that`s still kind of surreal to me. And I don`t really
understand it still. But it`s something that has been, you know, a really
bad period --


CHRISTIE: For me. You know, both personally and professionally.


KORNACKI: When you asked that question, Nick, what`s the do over for you?
Did you expect that`s where he`d go, bridgegate?

ACOCELLA: Oh, yes, sure. Sure.

I don`t think he has many other doubts about his career. I was actually
positive that`s where he would go. I didn`t expect him to be that
forthright. And, yes, I mean, his -- he has always insisted he was lied to
and he didn`t press hard enough. I wasn`t surprised at all by the answer.

KORNACKI: All right. The show is a pasta and politics. You say Tom Kean
is going to be on it in an upcoming episode?

ACOCELLA: Yes. Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Vinny
Prieto and Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.

KORNACKI: Unfortunately, you got to be in New Jersey to watch. I hope you
guys -- I have been begging you to put the clip online. I hope this one
comes up.

ACOCELLA: I hope they`re going to tut it on their website. I let you know
when and if they do.

KORNACKI: Check my Twitter account. If this is up there, I guarantee you
I`m putting it out there. Those clips you can see on our Web site I think.

ACOCELLA: If Hillary Clinton wants to come on the show, I`d be glad to
cook whatever she wants.

KORNACKI: Hillary, after you finish UP, you can head over to New Jersey
and cooks pasta with Nick.

My thanks to NJTV`s Nick Acocella, host of the new show, "Pasta and
Politics", appears Wednesday night at 8:30.

Up next, winter is back with the vengeance for part of the country that is
definitely ready for spring.


KORNACKI: We maybe in April under the calendar, but it still feels like
winter today in parts of New England. On the other side of the country,
California could be getting much need snow and rain very soon. Meanwhile,
the rains that have pounded the Midwest the past few days have moved out of
that region. But the storms are being blamed for at least two deaths in

The Weather Channel`s Scott Newell is here live in Louisville.


Five-point-six-four inches of rain in a 24-hour period. That`s a record
for April here Louisville. Never has there been that much rain in one day.
If you look behind me here at the University of Louisville, that underpass
right there, there were five feet of water in that yesterday. It was a

As you can imagine, all that rain, that record amount of rain came in and
it`s just overwhelmed the drainage systems. People were stuck in their
cars, they were stuck in their houses, they were stuck in their apartments.
The water levels just kept rising. And there were at least 150 water
rescues yesterday.

Now, you mention those two fatalities, those happened further east from
here, one in Lee County. A woman was swept away as she was in her car.
The police couldn`t get to her.

And also at a campground there in Lexington, there was a family camped and
a big tree fell on that family. The woman was killed. The husband was
injured but the kids are OK. You can`t get anymore weather here. There is
not only a river flood advisory for the Ohio River but also a frost
advisory for the morning because it`s going to be in the 30s. So, just
about every kind of weather you can imagine here. It`s been a rough winter
and spring not much better.

Back to you.

KORNACKI: All right. The Weather Channel`s Scott Newell live in
Louisville, appreciate that report.

Up next, an NCAA team discovers that shunning technology is the secret to
their success. Stay with us.


KORNACKI: All right. Once again, my panel is back.

We`re going to get caught up on some of the other headlines making news
this morning. It`s another round of catching up, the index card segment.

Here`s an index card with a headline from "The Bergen Record". This is a
New Jersey newspaper with a columnist who`s noticing that Chris Christie,
the governor of New Jersey, we`re just talking about, tiptoeing around Bob
Menendez`s legal woes. Once a federal prosecutor, Christie is not piling
on Senator Bob Menendez, who is indicted on 14 counts this week.
Christie`s quote, "Everybody deserves the presumption of innocence.
There`s no reason for me or anybody else to get ahead of themselves."

Interesting situation Christie finds himself in on this one.

BURKE: I mean, he`s right. There`s a presumption of innocence. But if
you read the indictment, which a nerd like me did, it`s pretty bad stuff.

And I think it`s a lot worse than the Bob McDonnell case. There`s some
sort of almost quid pro quo, you do this and I do that, one-day-right-
after-the-other type stuff and that`s just not good.

KORNACKI: Christie, too. I mean, he may be --

COX: He`s someone who gets ahead of things pretty often and then, you
know, accuses and then apologizes. It seems odd.

KORNACKI: It seems interesting to me because we have talked about it on
this show the reporting is out there that indictments are eminent in this
bridgegate matter in New Jersey and so, Chris Christie saying now, we want
the presumption of innocence.

HAYWORTH: Following the process.

KORNACKI: What`s in "The Washington Post" this morning? How about this?
College kids giving up their cell phones, the incredible tale of the
Maryland women`s basketball team. They are in the Final Four. They have a
unique policy. They gave up their cell phones. The girls on the team gave
up their phones for 72 straight hours last weekend, went out there, got a
trip to the final four.

So, apparently, it worked to separate. I couldn`t be separated from my
phone for 72 minutes.

HAYWORTH: Isn`t that the beauty of being in the moment and being engaged?

COX: I gave up my phone for awhile a few years ago.

KORNACKI: For how long?

COX: I gave it up for three months.

KORNACKI: You gave up the cell phone for three months.

COX: I gave Twitter and Facebook and e-mail for about three months. And I
have to say. It made a huge difference in my life. I left D.C. and went
off and did some stuff, found myself. But it made a huge difference. I
have never looked at it the same way again. I have been able to put it

KORNACKI: Can you hold that thought? I want to check something.


COX: If you do that, it it`s good for them and it`s good for everybody.
If you do that kind of heartbreak, it will seem hard, but once you discover
the ability to do it, you will thank yourself every time.

BURKE: It`s got to be better, but I couldn`t do it.

HAYWORTH: Substituted shallowness for depth. We have a lot of chatter in
our lives. But we`re still missing.

KORNACKI: We like some kind of stimulation or something. I`m sitting in a
meeting, I was in an all day meeting this week. The thing ran like 11
hours. I had my phone in my pocket. You hear it buzzes twice for me if
it`s a text, once if it`s an e-mail.

I`m sitting for a couple hours, it`s like, oh, that`s a double, oh, that`s
a text, who is that, who is that? You just want to know. I end up and go
to the bathroom and check it and it`s nothing. I didn`t miss anything, but
I feel like I`m missing everything.

HAYWORTH: It`s a mission to do that now.


KORNACKI: Exactly, it`s tough habit to break.

Here`s "The Associated Press" this morning -- personal quirks at heart of
2016 prospects for Ohio`s Kasich. This is saying that John Kasich, the
governor of Ohio, who is eyeing a run for president. A led entry into the
Republican race, he has some of the same appeal as Chris Christie. He goes
off script regularly and is known for a prickly personality. But it`s
interesting because we talk about this crowded, unsettled Republican field.

I have been saying this is the guy, I look at Kasich and I say, I could see
the opening. If this is a party that doesn`t want to nominate Jeb Bush or
Ted Cruz, you need somebody there -- I`m not Bush, but I`m electable.

HAYWORTH: Scott Walker type stuff.

COX: In Ohio.

KORNACKI: Right. He did some different things with Scott Walker, too.

BURKE: The Medicaid expansion was huge, but he`s going to get beat up.
But still, there`s lots of place where he can say, I`m a different type of
Republican, and that can work.

COX: Is he allergic to dogs?

KORNACKI: That was Scott Walker.


COX: At least Romney had an excuse that he was allergic to dogs.

HAYWORTH: I`m like you, Steve. I`m talking about John Kasich for a long
time, especially since the convention is going to be in Ohio.

KORNACKI: That`s right. I mean, in Ohio, the swingiest of swing states.
The one everybody else talks about hearing.

HAYWORTH: Well, the House --

KORNACKI: We have one more headline, a sad one -- we do want to get this
one in. This is from "The L.A. Times", Sarah Brady, the widow of James
Brady, longtime gun control advocate, her life changed, her husband`s life
changed in the 1981 assassination of President Reagan that wounded her
husband, paralyzed him. She died yesterday at the age of 73. Sarah Brady,
a major figure for the last 30-plus years unfortunately. Some sad news to
end the show, but we wanted to make sure to include that.

From now, though, I will thank our panel for today -- former Congresswoman
Nan Hayworth, Ana Marie Cox, Lauren Victoria Burke -- appreciate you all
being here.

Thank you for getting UP with us today.

And we ask you, urge you and invite you, beg you, I don`t know, just watch
our show tomorrow morning, Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. Before that, you`re
going to want to stick around for Melissa Harris-Perry. She is coming up

Have a great Saturday.


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