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'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Sunday show

Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: April 5, 2015
Guest: Mike Pesca, James Carroll, Eliana Johnson, Sahil Kapur, Eleanor
Clift, Adolfo Franco, Dave Itzkoff, Lynn Sweet, Adolfo Franco, Edward Isaac
Dovere, Brian Stevenson, Joaquin Castro


STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Thirty-eight and done.

(MUSIC)

KORNACKI: All right, good morning. Thanks for getting up with us. Happy
Easter Sunday out there to all of you who celebrate that.

Keep an eye out for holiday-themed additions to our pastry plate this
morning. They last through the commercial break. They look very delicious
from here, at least.

Anyway, even those who didn`t get to watch last night waking up this
morning to some stunning news that the Wisconsin Badgers upset the
undefeated Kentucky Wildcats late last night on college basketball`s
biggest stage. We are going to have more on how Kentucky`s dream of going
a historic 40-0 and being anointed college basketball`s best team ever
ended in just a minute.

It`s also beginning to feel a lot like a presidential race other. More
campaigns officially kicking off in the days ahead. Rand Paul poised to
enter the race in Kentucky on Tuesday. We`re going to take a closer look
at how things really stand heading out of the starting gate.

Also ahead this morning, will Congress scuttle that final nuclear deal with
Iran? The effort to wrest control from the White House is picking up
steam. Those details still to come this morning.

Plus, life after Harry Reid for Democrats in the Senate. The fight to
repopulate the leadership when he`s gone is getting incredibly personal.
We`re going to have details on that.

And also, what will "The Daily Show" look like under its new host? With
"The Colbert Report" at 11:30, a "Daily Show" at 11:00, that hour has
shaped the debate on media and politics in this country more than a decade
now. So, what happens when Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are both gone.

And, finally, it`s opening night tonight for Major League Baseball. So, as
we`re getting ready for the boys of summer, we thought we`d see how the
teams stack up against the presidential field. I promise it will all make
sense or at least a little bit of sense when we get to that ahead in the
show.

But we begin this morning with the quest for perfection denied. It is the
news that everyone is waking up to this morning. It`s the news that some
of us stayed up very late last night to witness. It is the stunning upset
of the university of Kentucky basketball team by Wisconsin in the Final
Four.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPORTS ANCHOR: The shot is launched. There will be no undefeated
champion. Wisconsin with an unbelievable stretch drive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Kentucky entering the game last night with a record of 38 wins
and no losses. The most consecutive wins any team had ever racked up to
start a season, just two wins away from what was their dream, a perfect 40-
0 season and a national championship.

The Wildcats roared through the regular season with a roster loaded with
size and talent and depth. It was a team that barely trailed in any games
all season. It was a team so dominant that many believed it could have
competed in the NBA.

Last night, the Wildcats were outplayed by the scrappy Badgers. This was a
revenge game for Wisconsin. A year ago, they lost in the Final Four for
Kentucky and they were ready for this rematch -- dominating the boards,
turning up the heat on defense and closing strong to overcome a late
Kentucky lead and to win the game 71-64. A seven-foot senior named Frank
Kaminsky pouring in 20 points, grabbing 11 rebounds to lead the way for
Wisconsin. They will now play Duke for the national championship on Monday
night.

And, meanwhile for Kentucky, a season that seemed destined for the history
books instead ends in bitter disappointment. Stunned Wildcats and their
coach left to ponder afterwards just how it could have gone so wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN CALIPARI, KENTUCKY COACH: We all wanted to win those last two. These
kids wanted to win it in the worst way. But you`ve got to give Wisconsin
credit. They did to us what we have done to teams.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: The shock of the loss extending also to Kentucky`s rabid fan
base. A thousand or so Kentucky students, according to the "Louisville
Courier Journal" storming a residential area after the game, lighting small
fires, chanting insults about Wisconsin. Local officials calling the
students, quote, "rowdy and at times hostile." Police in riot gear
arresting 31, three others taken to a nearby hospital. The unrest ending
in the early hours of the morning in Lexington.

Kentucky had been seeking to become the first college team to complete an
undefeated season since the Indiana Hoosiers in 1976. But now, that streak
will live on, at least for another year.

And for Wisconsin, meanwhile, a chance to savor an upset of the ages as
they turn their attention to Monday night`s championship game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BO RYAN, WISCONSIN COACH: It was just the end. It`s the last five minutes
again. These guys just gutted it out. I told them, I`ll hang out on the
sideline 40 minutes Monday night, so here we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: And joining me now to talk about all this, we have Mike Pesca,
sports contributor to NPR, host of "The Slate" podcast, "The Gist".

So, Mike, this game, I`m a little tired this morning because I stayed up
late. Try to put this in perspective, if you could. We say this is a
monumental upset. The Kentucky going for the perfect season.

How big of a shock was this? What happened?

MIKE PESCA, SLATE`S "THE GIST": Well, they were a five-point favorite,
which isn`t tremendous. It`s just the resume that Kentucky had put
forward, the undefeated season.

But, you know, this was the kind of game where we could talk about all the
things tactically that Wisconsin did. They had their big men draw the
Kentucky big men away from the baskets, what you need to do. Sorry to rest
on cliches, the word I come up with is resilient because Wisconsin was
down. Kentucky had gone on a big run late in the second half.

And so many other teams had and we said oh, we`ve seen this before.
Kentucky escapes with a two-point win against Notre Dame. They had been
taken to overtime a couple of times. We say, this is where the other team
wilts, this is where Kentucky shows what it can do.

And, man, did Wisconsin punch back. Not just stopping the Wildcats,
actually causing shot clock violations, they couldn`t the shot off, such
tremendous defense. And I like statistics, I like tactics -- heart, I
really do think heart won this game.

KORNACKI: It was amazing to say that it was sort of a revenge game. They
lost in this round last year. Like you were saying, it was three straight
possessions down the stretch last night where Kentucky couldn`t get the
shot off. They had the shot clock violation.

One thing -- this is certainly true for me, I wonder this seems through for
a lot of people out there. This was a Kentucky team that a lot of people
liked to cheer against.

PESCA: Yes, sure, because I think there are a lot of traditionalists, they
don`t like the one and done, kids who play for a year and go on to the
pros. I am fine with it. I think that`s where the game is and to owe
press these athletes and say, don`t make any more, play for the glory of
your team, because we`re going to force you to -- it`s wrong. Still, same
time, Frank Kaminsky, a senior, the guy who played, you know, 10 minutes as
a sophomore, and then was really good as a junior, and now, this dominant
first round pick as a senior, that`s great to see, the team playing
together, that`s great to see.

Kentucky, nine McDonald`s All Americans, this is the best players in the
country. This means that after their first five leaves the five, you still
have a bunch of NBA players coming in subs. Wisconsin had guys who worked
their way into draft picks for the NBA, but they were not nearly as
heralded. In fact, they were all from Wisconsin, except Kaminsky.

KORNACKI: That`s an interesting question. You mentioned this idea of the
one-and-dones, this new trend in college basketball. You`re there for a
season and then you`re in the NBA. It seemed like that was sort of the
subtext last night. This is a clash between the new Kentucky and
Wisconsin, more traditional experience, and experience had some benefits
last night.

PESCA: Yes, and I really don`t buy that. I really think it`s reductive
and I think that it`s unfair to the best scholar athletes, but it`s true.
And if these guys hadn`t played together so long, and hadn`t play the
system, meaning the Wisconsin guys, they wouldn`t have had this chance
against Kentucky.

It`s not to say all Kentucky did was go out and try to be more athletic
than other teams. They have great tactics and they are wise at basketball.
But some of those kind of Hoosier instincts, some of those more kind of
even, let`s say, atavistic, we want the hometown boys to do good, we want
to beat this seemingly unbeatable team, Kentucky`s lineup is taller. They
fielded a taller lineup than every NBA team this year except one. There
was one game the Utah jazz put up a taller lineup.

KORNACKI: Could they have competed with an NBA team?

PESCA: Well, you know --

KORNACKI: I mean, they couldn`t beat Wisconsin, but I mean --

PESCA: The Knicks are terrible, right? So, yes, they would have lost by
eight to the Knicks. This is a team that will have two top five picks, a
bunch of top ten picks. They`re a fantastic team.

Wisconsin now against Duke, the question is, does Wisconsin say, we already
won our national championship or do they ride the momentum? I look at
these other big semifinal upsets. In 1991, UNLV loses to Duke and Duke
goes on to win the championship. Think about 1980, the miracle on ice.

KORNACKI: That was I just thinking, right.

PESCA: To U.S. that wasn`t the gold medal game. I do think once you get
over that hurdle, even though Las Vegas says the championship game is a
pick `em, they don`t even have a favorite. I think what Wisconsin did will
be momentum building and give them such confidence.

KORNACKI: If there is, I think there probably is some disappointment out
there in the suites at CBS headquarters because they`re going to telecast
this game Monday night. If Kentucky would have won last night, they would
have had Duke versus Kentucky, with the perfect season on the line, two
storied programs, big rivalry there.

Do you think there will be as much interest in watching Wisconsin-Duke?

PESCA: Yes, except everyone hates Duke.

(CROSSTALK)

PESCA: Right. So, I mean, I don`t know, you and I both love basketball.
Who`s the guy who watches the semifinal game and says I don`t want to watch
the final.

KORNACKI: Exactly.

PESCA: Are you invested in Wisconsin? And since Duke is this also loathe
team, I think sometimes for unfair reasons.

Actually, it`s funny, they`re the exact opposite of the charge that you
make against Kentucky. One is all one and dones, the other is too much
pretty boy prep school. Anyway, those are the two most hated teams in
college basketball. What happens if these kids from the Badgers State can
slay those dragons?

KORNACKI: It made it very easy for me, because in that Kentucky/Duke one,
I think I was going to cheer for Duke for the first time in 25 years, but
now, it`s very easy. I`m with Wisconsin in this one.

Anyway, Mike Pesca, thanks for that. We`ll see you on the panel in just a
bit.

Coming up, he may represent Kentucky in the Senate but Rand Paul has a
rooting interest in tomorrow night`s championship game. He`s a Duke
medical school graduate. He`s a Dukie. It`s a big week ahead for Rand
Paul for many other reasons. We will get into that on the other side of
this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: The race for president is about to heat up considerably. On
Tuesday, Rand Paul will be in his home state of Kentucky to make it
official he is running. That will make him the second candidate to
formally enter the race. Ted Cruz jumping in with a splash just a few
weeks ago at Liberty University.

Those two will be quickly joined by another contender, Florida Senator
Marco Rubio, expected to formally declare his candidacy a week from
tomorrow.

Paul and Rubio both running in the middle of the GOP pack in the latest
"Washington Post"/ABC News poll. Each eyeing a slightly different path to
the party`s nomination. Rubio with more of an insider game plan, trying to
excite the party`s conservative base while also pitch himself to leaders of
the party establishment. Paul, as you might expect, playing more of an
outsider`s game.

Rand Paul will bring to this race a considerable built-in base, that`s
thanks to the devoted following that his father, Ron Paul, gained among
libertarian-leaning Republicans during his presidential campaign. And that
is a base Rand Paul has grown during his four years in the Senate.

Paul also inherits the same challenge his father faced, how to win
acceptance from a party establishment that in many cases considers his
national security views skepticism toward intervention to be outside the
mainstream.

It`s worth remembering how the ground has shifted within the Republican
Party on this issue and how it complicated things for Paul a year or so
ago, his former foreign policy message was finding resonance in the
Republican Party that was as tired of war as the rest of America. And Paul
was even leading in a poll taken last spring. That was before most
Americans had ever heard of ISIS, and before the group began beheading
Westerners, before the conflict between Russia and Ukraine spiraled out of
control and before the Republican Party began re-embracing its old zeal for
more intervention.

Paul also broke with most Republicans and supported President Obama`s move
to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba. Rand Paul was well-positioned to
run when the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were the first thing when people
thought about when they thought about foreign policy. But now that we`re
in the age of ISIS, can he still compete?

Eliana Johnson is the Washington editor with "The National Review", James
Carroll, reporter in the Washington bureau of the "Courier Journal" in
Louisville, where Senator Paul will be making that speech on Tuesday.

So, James, let me start with you. What can we expect Rand Paul to be
saying this week? He`s been very quiet in the last couple of weeks
actually. Anything that`s come up including this Indiana law, they
basically said no announcements on policy. The announcement is coming
Tuesday.

So, what does this going to look like starting on Thursday?

JAMES CARROLL, THE COURIER-JOURNAL: He also said nothing about Iran -- the
recent Iran agreement which a lot of the other Republicans have weighed in
on. His main approach is to sort of reintroduce himself to people. He`s
the third familiar name in the presidential race. You`ve got Clinton,
you`ve got Bush presumably and you`ve got Paul.

I think he`s going to reintroduce himself to a lot of people who are now
going to focus a little more on the race and he`s going to really -- his
main -- one of his key approaches, his path to the nomination he hopes is
to try to reach out to the constituencies that the rest of the Republican
Party candidates are not talking to. He wants to reach out to minority
communities. He wants to go places where the Republican Party hasn`t gone.
That is part of their strategy is to try to broaden that base.

He`s got the libertarian wing of the party kind of nailed down as you
referenced. But, you know, you`ve got to broaden it if you want to get
past 8 percent. I think the "Real Clear Politics" average of his polls,
he`s about 11 percent right now, which is about half of Jeb Bush.

So, how are you going to catch up to Jeb Bush and surpass Jeb Bush? You`ve
got to broaden that base somehow. He`s very, very savvy when it comes to
social media. You know, money bombs and using all the social media and all
kinds of ways to reach out to constituencies that you don`t traditionally
think of as being rah-rah for the GOP, especially young people.

KORNACKI: And we saw with Ted Cruz jumping in, his poll numbers, we`ll
talk about this later in the show, his poll numbers really took off as a
result of that announcement so we`ll see if those numbers budge for Rand
Paul.

But, Eliana, let me bring you in here. Let me just set this up with --
this was a poll of Republican party insiders that "Politico" took this week
and they were sort of surveying attitudes towards the candidates. It gets
to what we were talking about in the intro there, the idea about Rand Paul
having a tough sell on foreign policy with the Republican establishment, 63
percent of these insiders, Republican insiders, who were surveyed by
"Politico" say that they consider Rand Paul an isolationist and only 16
percent think he could beat Hillary.

But that term isolationist, that is in so many corners that`s a poisonous
label to have affixed to yourself. And here`s two out of three of the
elites in the Republican Party saying that`s what they think of Rand Paul.
It seems like he has a problem there.

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL REVIEW: I think that`s true, Steve. Look,
hovering over Rand Paul is a question of political identity. Something
you`ll hear Republicans say a lot, is he the guy who said in 2009 that Dick
Cheney took us into Iraq to benefit Halliburton or is he the guy who signed
Tom Cotton`s Iran letter?

And these two identities, one, is he Ron Paul`s son or is he more hawkish?
He`s tried to pivot to become a more hawkish candidate is hovering over
him. He`s going to have to resolve this question very convincingly once he
announces his candidacy. Whether he can do that, I think, will determine
how successful he is on the campaign trail.

KORNACKI: And, Eliana, is it something -- have you seen -- we`ve seen the
rise of ISIS. One thing when you polled all Americans on the question of
intervention of boots on the ground in the Middle East, after ISIS, after
the ISIS beheadings began, the number of Americans, all parties, who
support some kind of U.S. president or boots on the ground over there, has
really gone up considerably.

Has that changed the sort of receptiveness towards Paul in the Republican
Party?

JOHNSON: It certainly hasn`t helped Rand Paul. And he`ll say he`s not an
isolationist. But I think there`s a perception among Republicans that when
you have to say you aren`t something, and he had this famous "Time" op-ed,
the headline was, "I am not an isolationist", it certainly raises
suspicions that perhaps you are.

And so, for Rand Paul, I think discussing what his foreign policy views are
is going to be something he has to do on the campaign trail. The question
really isn`t, does he support a less interventionist foreign policy, but
it`s -- does he have these sort of conspiratorial views. And I think
that`s the tension and the question that he`s going to have to resolve.
You know, does he think Dick Cheney took us to war to benefit Halliburton?
Does he think American soldiers were electrocuted in the shower.

These are things that certainly his competitors for the nomination will
raise because he`s on tape saying them, and he`s going to have to
absolutely answer those questions. So, I think it`s more about the views
that are considered conspiratorial within the Republican Party than his
more isolationist or noninterventionist leanings.

KORNACKI: Let me ask you that, James, specifically about the question of
Ron Paul. And Ron Paul is somebody -- Rand doesn`t I think like talking
too much about publicly and Ron Paul is somebody -- obviously there`s a lot
of corners of the Republican Party that do not like Ron Paul. How has he
and how will he manage his connection to his father, which is unavoidable
at a certain level?

CARROLL: And it`s a tough balance to strike because obviously he`s proud
of his father, he loves his father, he campaigned for his father. As a
result, he`s not a stranger -- Rand Paul is not a stranger in New Hampshire
and Iowa and places like this, so he`s known. And it`s because of his
father that he`s entering this presidential race really to a great extent
because his last name is Paul. He has this built-in base, built-in
organization, built-in fund-raising, all the stuff that his father -- it`s
sort of a legacy from his father but it is a tough balance for him.

And he`s also -- his father is still writing op-ed pieces and columns
referencing conspiratorial theories. So, once you`re a candidate for
president, you`re going to be asked about all this.

I also want to get back to a point about the foreign policy issue. There
is a record out there that he has to somehow get straight with the
Republican base, which is when he came in to Congress, he said he was
against all foreign aid, all foreign aid. He proposed a budget with no
foreign aid in it, cut it off.

KORNACKI: And this gets to Israel.

CARROLL: It got to Israel very quickly because he later revised one of his
budget proposals to include Israel and nobody else. And since then, he has
sort of modified it a little more. Obviously, he`s trying to find a place
that he still feels comfortable with. I think a lot of Republicans and a
lot of Americans still have sort of a feeling against foreign aid. So,
that`s an understandable thing.

But when it comes to Israel and again when we`re talking about what`s going
on in the Middle East and in Africa, it puts Paul in a different spot than
he was when he first came to Washington just a few years ago.

KORNACKI: Those are questions in the Republican Party particularly right
now, that you don`t want to have be sort of on the defensive about. That`s
the thing I`ve been wondering about Rand Paul in all of this. Given sort
of the change in the climate, I say because of ISIS, but just in general,
he`s now taking this sort of defensive approach where he`s trying to win
over the establishment and move a little bit towards them on these national
security questions.

I wonder how -- it`s a tough sell, I think. But we`ll see --

CARROLL: And you`re going to have a little tension the first time that Jeb
Bush and Rand Paul meet because he has said that our intervention in Iraq
has led to a lot of the destabilization in the Middle East and in Africa.
Well, that was George W. Bush`s policies in Iraq. So, that`s on the
record, it`s on tape. So, it`s going to be very interesting conversations.

KORNACKI: It will be interesting. Those debates will be fun when they get
started later this year. Anyway, my thanks to James Carroll, "Louisville
Courier-Journal", "National Review`s| Eliana Johnson, appreciate you both
being here.

JOHNSON: Thanks, Steve.

KORNACKI: Sure.

Still ahead, more than one in every 10 Americans say they get their news
from this man. We`ll look at the staying power "The Daily Show" has in
American politics. Is it staying power? That`s the other question raised
here.

And next, the surprising response Chuck Schumer gave when asked to support
his roommate of 22 years.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: So, you might think that Senators Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin
are about as close as two senators could possibly be. After all, they
lived together for over two decades, finally moving over their Capitol Hill
apartment where they were roommates just last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Twenty-two years under the same roof? For
goodness sakes, most marriages don`t last that long.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: So, this is why it was surprising just a few days after locking
up support to become the next Democratic leader, Schumer did not commit to
backing his long-time friend and roommate for the number two position.

"Politico" reporting that things erupted when a Durbin aide said Schumer
had promised to support Durbin. Durbin is the current party whip. He
already has the number two job right now, saying that Schumer had declined
to support him to keep that job and they had shook hands on it. An aide to
Schumer shot back that never happened and they know it.

There`s a lot of personal drama here. For years, Durbin was the second
ranking Democrat in the Senate and thought to be the obvious successor to
Harry Reid as majority leader. But instead, Schumer maneuvered himself
past Durbin and is now in line to succeed Reid, who is retiring.

And now, there`s the possibility the Durbin will be pushed out of
leadership altogether in favor of Washington Senator Patty Murray. She`s
currently the fourth ranking Democrat in leadership. She ran the party`s
campaign committee in 2012, the year Democrats hung on to the Senate
against some tough odds. Some saying that Schumer -- with Schumer stepping
into the top spot, the second leadership spot should go to a woman.

So, a lot of intrigue, a lot of tension here. What does it all mean?

Well, Sahil Kapur was a congressional reporter with "Talking Points Memo",
friend of the show. He joins us from Washington, as well as our panel here
in New York this morning -- Eleanor Clift, Washington correspondent with
"The Daily Beast", Republican strategist Adolfo Franco, and Mike Pesca, you
heard from him earlier, host of the podcast "The Gist" on "Slate". He is
back with us.

So, Sahil, let me start with you. And if you could take us through the
personal element of this because I think that`s what makes this so
fascinating. Schumer and Durbin lived together over 20 years. There was a
long time where Durbin was the undisputed number two on the Democratic
side. He`s going to be the guy who replaces Harry Reid.

How did Chuck Schumer maneuver his way past Dick Durbin and what does that
done to their relationship?

SAHIL KAPUR, TALKING POINTS MEMO: Steve, thanks for having me on.

It`s true that these two have feuded for years privately, Schumer and
Durbin have. They have lived together. They`ve been close in various
ways. But there`s always a little tension between them because Schumer has
-- his ambitions are clear. He`s wanted to be the Democratic leader for a
while and he`s pulled this off.

The reason he`s pulled this off as I understand it, and based on the
sources I`ve spoken to in the Senate on the Democratic side is that he has
a knack for working with members directly, he has a knack for sticking up
for them. He has a way of building their trust and earning their loyalty
and their respect in a way that Durbin simply hasn`t done.

Durbin is well-liked, he is well-respected, but he does not engage with
members in the same way that Senator Schumer does.

So, to answer your question -- I think it`s the personal touch that made it
work for Schumer.

KORNACKI: So, what is going to happen now? I mean, again, this is Harry
Reid announces that he`s retiring and now a week or two ago, Chuck Schumer
quickly locks up the votes to replace him, so he will be the Democratic
leader in the Senate. Now there`s a battle for number two spot.
Technically, Dick Durbin has it right now, he`s had it for years and here`s
Schumer saying, apparently, I`m not going to commit to anything right now
on that.

What`s going on there and how`s that going to shake out?

KAPUR: Steve, it`s unclear that there`s going to be a battle at this point
because Senator Murray, despite all speculation, hasn`t specifically said
she`s going to challenge Durbin. At this point, Durbin is still the
favorite to remain whip. He`s been that for a long time. There`s no clear
opposition to him and as whip he knows where the votes are.

So, it`s going to be -- you know, it`s an open question whether Senator
Murray is even going to attempt to challenge him there. It`s important to
also remember that the number three slot opens up for Senator Murray now
that Senator Reid is moving out and everyone is moving up.

So, the question is whether she`s going to be as ambitious and as bold as
to challenge Durbin on this. It`s possible that it does happen because
there is some appetite for a change in the Democratic caucus.

She is very well-liked. She is extremely beloved as one source put it to
me by the conference. She`s taken on a number of roles where she`s earned
their trust, including being chair of the Budget Committee, where she set
their priorities, including running the Senate Democrats campaign arm in
2012 when they should have had a bad election based on the map, but they
ended up winning two seats overall.

So, she`s done a lot to earn their trust. The fact of having a woman in
the number two slot if not the number one slot has an obvious appeal as
well.

So, she hasn`t said anything about this. She`s left the door open. She
hasn`t expressed interest in it. As I understand it from people close to
her, she`s going to feel it out, see where the support is and make a
decision later. We might not hear anything from her about this for a
while.

KORNACKI: Yes, the one thing we can say is there is some time here. This
will not be until January, 2017. Let me bring the panel in and this
broader question of sort of this leadership shuffle taking place on the
Democratic side. That the thing I think of big picture is Harry Reid as
the Democratic leader has been, outside of Barack Obama, I can`t think of a
bigger target Republicans have enjoyed hitting, raising money off of, using
in campaign ads, firing up their base.

Harry Reid has been that target for them for years now. What are they
going to do? In the world of Chuck Schumer going to become the new villain
here or?

ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, Nancy Pelosi has always been the
other target. They can shift to the other side of the Capitol.

I think going after Senator Schumer is a losing venture. He`s a particular
New York personality and I don`t think you can get the country worked up
over him. He`s been in place for a long time.

And Schumer actually elected the Democratic majority. This is why a lot of
the senators are so loyal to him. They want to get the majority back in
2016. And that they figure if anybody can do it, it`s Chuck Schumer.

And with Durbin and Murray, these are two very nice people. Can two nice
people finish in a tie or whatever? I mean, I don`t see them locked in any
kind of terrible feud.

KORNACKI: And, Adolfo, in terms of Schumer, the things I hear is right now
Harry Reid takes all the heat from Republicans but Chuck Schumer actually
has a pretty good working relationship with Republicans.

ADOLFO FRANCO, GOP STRATEGIST: He does.

KORNACKI: Is that something, can that survive? Like when he becomes the
leader, there`s sort of an expectation from the party`s base that you`re
going to attack the leader of the other party. Can those relations that
Schumer has built in the Senate with Republicans survive once he`s in that
position?

FRANCO: Well, I think it`s going to be difficult. Maybe in the good old
days when people used to get along before we had such coverage in
television and so forth, even the Senate itself now that it`s covered by
television I think is going to be very difficult to maintain that
relationship.

That`s absolutely true. He has worked very well with Republicans, Steve.
Look at the immigration bill, for example. I mean, he was key to making
that --

KORNACKI: Right, teaming with John McCain.

FRANCO: To making that work.

But you know, Eleanor, I think that New York personality can go both ways
with the rest of the country. I think -- I think you`ll see Republicans --
I`m not just saying this on political terms, have to really take issue with
Senator Schumer when he does take on the very liberal agenda, which he will
have to in 2017.

So, I think he will succeed Harry Reid in that role, I venture to say, just
as they have tried to develop Senator McConnell. So, I don`t think that
can be --

KORNACKI: The dynamic will live on.

FRANCO: I don`t believe so.

KORNACKI: All right. Well, thank you, Sahil Kapur, down in D.C. We`ll be
seeing you in the next hour. Excuse me.

And still ahead, what Pope Francis is speaking out this Easter Sunday.

And next, if it`s your birthday, Senator Tom Cotton probably wants to
celebrate with you. We`re going to explain why, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right. There`s a lot going on this morning. Time to get
caught up with some of the other headlines making news with our panel.

Let`s start with -- this is in "The New York Times" this morning. The
headline "Jeb Bush as inevitable choice? Republicans say not so fast."
Talking about -- they`re calling this the juggernaut that wasn`t. That`s
how they describe Bush`s drive to dominate the Republican presidential
field early.

Some Republican bundlers are privately chafing it with a view of the Bush
camp`s presumption of their loyalty. This is a very interesting story to
me because I`ve been -- if you`ve been watching the show, I`ve been saying
this for a while now. I`m looking at Jeb Bush`s poll numbers and saying
for all the talk of hundreds of millions of dollars and bandwagon, this is
a party whose base doesn`t -- largely doesn`t want to nominate this guy.

CLIFT: I have sources urging me to predict on "The McLaughlin Group" that
the Bush juggernaut is going to be -- the collapse of the Bush juggernaut
is going to be the next big story. I`m not willing to do that.

KORNACKI: Not going there yet, huh?

FRANCO: Don`t go that far.

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: Exactly.

KORNACKI: Why not?

CLIFT: Because he`s following his brother`s playbook. It did work. I
know we`re in a new era. I still think he`s the strongest candidate they
can put up against Hillary Clinton, who`s the likely Democratic nominee.
And he`s a grownup.

If you woke up tomorrow and you heard Jeb Bush was president, you may not
have voted for him, you may not like him, but you wouldn`t have to move to
Canada or wherever liberals go.

PESCA: But you might think it`s 2006.

Isn`t the word "inevitable" a journalistic straw man? I mean, how can you
say he`s inevitable? He`s number one in one poll in New Hampshire and
number four in one poll in Iowa. That doesn`t lead to inevitable.

I think the talk of inevitability with Hillary Clinton last term was a
little more plausible. But again, she wasn`t inevitable.

We use this term inevitable to poke holes in it. He has the most
strengths, right? I would say he`s not 55 percent likely to get the
nominee. But if everyone in the field, he`s the likeliest, right? That
doesn`t mean he`s likely, but he`s the likeliest.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: But it does seem, Adolfo, we talk about these polls. George W.
when he was running I can remember on the Republican side, 40 percent, 50
percent, he was way away. I`m seeing Jeb Bush at 16 percent. What`s going
on with that?

FRANCO: Well, we didn`t have six or eight or nine candidates. We didn`t
have that many candidates in 2000. That`s the first instance.

But, secondly, if you look at historically the Republican Party, and it
could break with tradition, Jeb Bush is the likely nominee. We tend to be
as Republican and nominate the conventional choice. That`s been the case
for decades.

So I think when you look at those numbers, they`re pretty good numbers.
They`re steady numbers and he hasn`t even announced.

So, I take very much consolation in the fact that he remains -- always at
the top of the list. But the fact of the matter, everybody knows this
conventionally, the Republican Party`s base and 50 percent of activist
Republicans identify themselves as evangelicals. This has always been the
challenge for middle of the road centrists that you`re --

KORNACKI: And that`s why I`m just wondering, if this is -- I`ll put it
this way. We talk about Jeb versus the field. If I had to make a bet
right now, I`d take the field over Jeb. Maybe I`ll change it, but I would
take the field --

FRANCO: We can`t nominate the field.

KORNACKI: That`s right. That`s why I`m hedging on everything here.

We`ve got -- let`s see here, this is in "The New York Times" magazine.
Let`s take another headline here. This is their conversation with Arkansas
Republican Senator Tom Cotton. It`s kind of funny, so he tells the
magazine that he runs a lot every morning so that he can eat birthday cake.
They said, every day? He said, "Most days with ice cream." He`s eating
birthday cakes most days.

"Early on, my wife and I were dating, we went to the grocery story. I told
her sometimes I just buy birthday cakes and I eat them. She said, really?
I do too."

That`s the part of the story I have trouble with. I mean, this is such an
unusual habit to be a birthday cake connoisseur and yet, he randomly
married one too.

PESCA: Yes, for all the match.com algorithms, they don`t have this.

(CROSSTALK)

PESCA: I don`t think that`s healthy too. I know running is healthy but --

KORNACKI: Does the running cancel out the birthday cake?

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: He`s got a very long, lanky body to feet. He can handle the
birthday cake. I don`t know what his wife looks like. I hope she`s gifted
with the same body.

(CROSSTALK)

FRANCO: Be careful, Steve, if you invite him here.

KORNACKI: He`ll jog over and help himself.

What else do we have? This is "The Boston Globe" this morning. Fighting
to save cursive from the Common Core. The Common Core education is going
to be talked about all the time in the presidential race. But here`s one
thing about them. They do not include any requirements for handwriting
instructions.

Education experts questioning whether every students need to be taught two
entirely different styles of handwriting. Now, a movement to install
cursive writing is some kind of requirement. It makes me wonder, I
remember learning cursive. I don`t know how you would describe my actual
handwriting now. It`s just an indecipherable scrawl. But do we needed to
be teaching kids this anymore?

CLIFT: Actually we don`t, but I hate to see it go. I must say most adults
are like you, have indecipherable handwriting. And they don`t really write
-- we don`t write long letters to each other. I mean, it`s a lost art.

PESCA: We write with our thumbs now.

FRANCO: What was it? A penmanship class --

KORNACKI: I always got bad grades there.

FRANCO: Of course, I share Eleanor`s view since I`m from that generation,
so I regret it. By the same token, when we look back, we look back at
things we regret to change, how many people are doing what monks used to do
with beautiful calligraphy and so forth. So, it`s just part of the times
and part of change.

PESCA: I hope we get away with signatures. Signatures are so 15th
century. I buy $7 of things at CVS, I give them my signature?

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: Signature as a form of ID. I`ve been at the DMV where I signed
it and they challenge me. That`s not -- I said I never sign things the
same way. I scribble a few letters --

CLIFT: You write your time on the stylus, half of it doesn`t even catch
on.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: Anyway, still ahead, will the new host of "The Daily Show" mean
a shift away from the formula that made the show so successful?

But first, Pope Francis speaks out yet again, this time at Easter Sunday
mass. We`ll tell you what you said right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Just within the last hour, Pope Francis weighing in about the
agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. In the pope`s Easter
message, Francis said this week`s breakthrough in talks may be a, quote,
"definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world." He also
denounced the violence playing out in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya. He
offered prayers for the young people killed at a University in Kenya last
week. The pope has been critical of the international community for not
being more outspoken about the killing of Christians. Tens of thousands of
people packed St. Peter`s Square for Easter mass today, this despite heavy
rains over there.

Still ahead, more on the state of those talks with Iran, whether Congress
is going to scuttle the deal here at home.

And next, getting ready for a "Daily Show" that doesn`t have Jon Stewart.
Can there be a "Daily Show" without Jon Stewart? That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: Crazy Democrats. The Republicans holding up
Lynch`s nomination isn`t them being racist. It`s them being them.

REPORTER: In the history of the country, there have been 168 filibusters
of presidential nominees. About half, 82, happened during the Obama
administration.

STEWART: They don`t need a reason to hold up an Obama appointee, it`s part
of their daily routine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Twelve percent of adults told Pew Research last year that they
rely on "The Daily Show" as a primary news source. Will that be the case
once Jon Stewart is no longer at the helm?

Comedy Central announced this past week that Trevor Noah, a 31-year-old
comedian from South Africa, will take over as "The Daily Show" host from
Stewart. He`s practically unknown to American TV viewers, Noah is, despite
his huge international following. His first few days as the "Daily Show"
successor were a bit rocky, to say the least, with critics seizing on jokes
that he made and tweeted targeting Jews and women.

Comedy Central is standing by Noah, and barring any further controversy, t
looks like he`ll survive the rollout and actually take the anchor chair.

So, what is "The Daily Show" going to look like under his watch?

Stephen Colbert has been already been replaced on Comedy Central by Larry
Wilmore, and Wilmore`s nightly show is very different than Colbert was, as
John Oliver`s last week tonight on HBO, which seems to focus on policy
issues like net neutrality than it does on media and politics.

The 2016 campaign is already under way but without Stewart and Colbert on
Comedy Central, will campaign season comedy be less sharp.

Joining the panel right now is Dave Itzkoff, culture writer for "The New
York Times". The panel back with us.

Dave, let me start with that question of what can we expect from -- it
seems from the last 10 years, 11:00 to midnight on Comedy Central was the
block for just razor sharp political media satire. Stewart, then Colbert.
Now, they`re both gone.

What`s it going to look like in 2016?

DAVE ITZKOFF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It`s going to look like us crying into
our milk and cookies before we go to sleep at night. But I think we`re
going to adjust and I think we`re going to get to like these new guys.

I think if you see Trevor Noah`s standup, if you see the Showtime special
that he did African-American, you can see that -- I mean, he`s somebody who
has a similar spirit to Jon Stewart, maybe not the same political
sensibility but somebody who is not afraid to go after third rails. If
somebody tells him, you know, you`re not supposed to joke about that,
that`s the kind of stuff he wants to joke about. He`s very politically
savvy and I can imagine -- especially going into a presidential election,
you don`t want to just abandon the political content of the show.

KORNACKI: It did seem to me, I was thinking about it this week, and
Colbert is a whole other thing, such a character. But Stewart on his show
focuses so intensely on it`s not just politics, it`s cable news politics.
It`s like he`s got people watching CNN, this network, fox all the time.
They`re poking out hypocrisies, inconsistencies.

I assume we`re going to lose some of that because Trevor Noah is a
different person and is going to have different set of interests.

ITZKOFF: Well, of course, it`s going to be driven by whatever his
sensibilities are. But I think, even the way that he`s spoken about coming
into the show, I mea, he knows that he`s inheriting a terrific machine in
terms of the writers and producers that are already there and a system that
has worked.

I think there`s going to be a period of I would assume figuring things out,
seeing what continues to suit his sensibilities, but Comedy Central has a
great institution in this show and has really given them a place not only
at the table of late-night comedy, but in terms of really sort of helping
to drive the day`s media coverage. I don`t see why they give that up.

KORNACKI: Yes, that`s the other question, bring the panel in here too.
Just sort of the role "The Daily Show" has played in shaping the political
conversation in this country. I mean, it`s crazy when you think about it.

This show didn`t exist 15 years ago, the network, you know, was barely on
anybody`s radar and this is what drives it, Comedy Central.

PESCA: I think it was the only necessary comedy show at times. I thought
Colbert was more genius doing this high wire out act, and I couldn`t
believe it. But `The Daily Show" what they delivered, Dave and I were
talking before -- gold standard was a phrase he used. And I said that`s a
good phrase, that maybe Colbert was the tech stock but this is the gold
standard.

I`m a little skeptical of Trevor Noah. It`s not because of the tweets were
offensive, because they weren`t that funny.

KORNACKI: Not funny, yes.

PESCA: And I want comedians to push the envelope. If this is where it`s
pushing it, I don`t judge it so much on the tweets. I think he has a lot
of charisma and potential. You compare his body of work before Jon
Stewart`s body of work before they took the show, I mean, Stewart was
really sharp and incisive in ways that before weren`t being.

That said, we`re looking at this like we`re vetting a presidential nominee.
How did he not do the advance work on these tweets? They need to fire a
staffer. It`s a little crazy.

KORNACKI: Yes. No, I agree.

PESCA: You know, if that 12 percent that gets its news from Comedy Central
goes down, I`m OK with that.

KORNACKI: Actually, I was surprised it was only 12 percent, but just to
look at my Facebook face.

CLIFT: Stewart wasn`t Stewart when he first started out. He grew into the
role.

I think Noah is more of a comedian than a political strategist or satirist,
but I think he`s going to grow into it too. I think that number is going
to go up regardless, because I think young people, millennials, really
distrust even cable news now.

KORNACKI: You made a good point too. I mean, "The Daily Show" did exist
before Jon Stewart. Craig Kilborn hosted it for a couple of years and I`m
remembering the show under Kilborn was incredibly different than it was
under Jon Stewart.

ITZKOFF: Yes, if anything, it looked more like a "Saturday Night Live"
weekend update segment stretched out to 30 minutes and done every night.
It was very much Kilborn`s kind of sarcastic, shoot from the hip
personality. What was it? The five stupid questions that he`s --

KORNACKI: Five questions. I remember the first week of Stewart show, he
said we`re going to phase this out. So it was four questions, then three
questions and then "The Daily Show" as we know it was born.

PESCA: Like a presidential candidate managing the transition.

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: Very artful on his part.

Anyway, thank you, Dave Itzkoff from "The New York Times", for stopping by.
I appreciate that.

Another full hour of news and politics is ahead, including the biggest news
of the week: the breakthrough in the nuclear talks with Iran. Is Congress
going to derail what President Obama hopes will be his signature policy
achievement? We are going to try to find out, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right, thanks for staying with us this Sunday morning.
We`re going to take a look this hour at how Congress is trying to bypass
President Obama`s breakthrough deal with Iran. It started with Tom
Cotton`s letter to the leadership of Iran and what now may be close to
being a veto-proof bill to take away the president`s power. Much more on
that in just a minute.

Also ahead this hour, why did this man spend 30 years on death row when his
gun wasn`t even used in the crimes for which he was convicted. It`s an
amazing story. It raises serious questions about the justice system. We
will talk to a lawyer who helped get him out of prison just two days ago.

Plus Ted Cruz is surging in the race for the Republican presidential
nomination. We`re going to try to figure out if it`s just a fluke or do we
have to take the Cruz candidacy seriously.

There`s also a surprising name being bandied about this morning to be the
next mayor of London. We`ll assess what that`s all about.

And finally, it`s a day of infinite hope and possibility for every major
league baseball team. All of them tied in the standings today. Every fan
with dreams of a pennant. Does the 2016 presidential field have the same
level playing field on its opening day? We`re going to attempt to merge
those two things and find out - we`ll explain that. Have a little fun with
it ahead this hour.

But we begin with that historic deal under way with Iran. A deal aimed at
severely limiting Iran`s efforts to build a nuclear weapon. The
announcement this week laying the framework for reaching a final agreement
in less than three months in June. And the clock on that now is ticking.
Iran`s foreign minister saying yesterday that they could resume their
nuclear program if the West reneges. President Obama is trying to head off
attempts to undermine a deal at home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: So, when you hear
the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question.
Do you really think that this verifiable deal if fully implemented, backed
by the world`s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war
in the Middle East? 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Now, the Obama administration says that it does not need
congressional approval for this deal because they say it`s an agreement,
not a formal treaty that would require Senate ratification. However, a
bill in which Congress would give itself the power to derail the deal is
now building momentum in the Senate. This is legislation spearheaded by
Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker and it would give Congress an up or
down vote on whether to lift the sanctions on Iran. And if the Obama
administration can`t lift those sanctions on Iran, then the agreement will
fall apart. The White House has promised to veto the bill if it reaches
the president`s desk, but "Roll Call" reports that the bill is now just one
vote shy of that veto-proof majority in the Senate, a two-thirds majority.
It has 66, it needs 67.

The White House hopes that they can use this week`s breakthrough in
negotiations to peel off Democratic support that already exists for that
Corker bill, but that task is not going to be easy for the White House.
Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine now renewing his support for the bill even in
the wake of the announcement of that Iran deal on Thursday. An independent
senator, Angus King from Maine, he caucuses with the Democrats. He is also
a co-sponsor of the Corker bill. He appeared to waiver this weekend,
though, asked if he would still vote for it, King told Politico "Yes, but
is my answer, depends on how it`s handled the next two to three weeks. So,
will the Obama administration be able to rally Democrats to their side to
keep the Iran deal moving forward? Can this Congress which has had a hard
time legislating actually come together and pass a bill the president so
deeply opposes? What is going to be the shakeout here? We`ll be joined by
Congressman Joaquin Castro in just a moment, though.

But first, we have to talk this through. We have Isaac Dovere, a senior
White House reporter for Politico and Sahil Kapur, congressional reporter
for "Talking Points" memo. He`s back with us. So, Isaac, let me start
with you. That 67th vote that they need in the Senate to get this Corker
bill to that veto-proof majority, they would say, hey, the president`s
veto, is it still going to be going to affect any way - they have 66 right
now. But as we say, is there any indication of how many Democrats may be
wavering now that the framework has been announced?

EDWARD ISAAC DOVERE, POLITICO: Well, right, that`s the real question here.
We know that the members of the Senate are unhappy with the way that the
president has said he will go forward on this without looking for
congressional approval. But whether this becomes a part in the issue,
whether this becomes something that Congress is looking to beat the
president up on, is going to determine whether the Democrats are there with
the Republicans to support this bill.

KORNACKI: Yeah, and so, Sahil, we say 66 right now. Also, how much
potential is there for that number to go higher?

KAPUR: Steve, the important thing to remember here is some of the
Democrats who are sponsoring this bill have qualified their support for it.
Just as you mentioned, Angus King, the independent senator. A number of
Democrats I think are on that page where if they view this as an effort by
the Republicans to undermine the president, or undercut him, they may waver
in their support. They may also say it`s not the right time for it if it
comes up before the June deadline.

What I would -- the person, Steve, that I would keep my eye on very closely
is Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in waiting. He embodies the
Democratic dilemma very well here, because he`s a consistent hawk on Iran,
but he is also a close ally of the president. He is not going to want to
undercut him. So whichever way he goes on this, I could see enough
Democrats following him. This is you know, as Democrats see this, I think
they`re stuck in a dilemma because they don`t want to be -- you know, they
want to have a say. They want Congress to have a say on this, but they
also don`t want to be held responsible or be seen as responsible for
potentially starting another war in the Middle East. So it`s going to be a
very difficult decision for all of them. A lot of it will depend on how
the Republicans handle it. If they go the Tom Cotton way, whether they go
guns blazing against the president, or if they do it the Corker way, who I
think is more formidable on this, because he`s very measured, he knows how
to work with Democrats and knows how to get them on his side. The White
House will be lobbying as hard as they can on this to keep Democrats, so
it`s going to be tough.

KORNACKI: Isaac, let me ask you about the other side of Capitol Hill. So
much attention on the Senate, on whether they can get the vetoproof
majority there. But for this legislation to actually go into effect, you`d
need to get something through the House as well. The Republicans control
that. What is the lay of the land there? Would this thing get a two-
thirds veto proof majority in the House as well?

DOVERE: Part of the problem is we don`t know what this thing quite is yet.
But the other thing that`s going on here of course is that it`s not clear
when the sanctions would be lifted. It wouldn`t happen -- it`s not like on
July 1, if this deal is struck by June 30, then the sanctions all go away.
The sanctions, according to what we know about the framework of the deal
that was announced this week, would start to be lifted when Iran meets the
conditions of the deal. That won`t happen for potentially years from now
when President Obama won`t be in office anymore and when potentially a
number of the senators and congressmen involved here won`t be in office.

KORNACKI: Thanks to Isaac Dovere of Politico, Sahil Kapur of
TalkingPointsMemo. Appreciate your reporting on this and coming on today.
Thank you for that.

Joining me now, a member of Congress who has voiced support for the Iran
deal struck this week, some preliminary support, at least, Congressman
Joaquin Castro, a Democrat of Texas, a member of the House Foreign Affairs
Committee. Congressman, thanks for joining me this morning. So let me
start with you, you released a statement this week saying that you were
pleased and you were optimistic about the deal that was struck this week,
or the framework that was struck for the deal this week. What in the days
since that deal has come out. Have you heard more from the White House,
from the administration on this, and where is your thinking on it right
now?

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, D-TEXAS: Sure, no, we`ve been in contact with them.
I think that the prudent thing to do would be for Congress to wait until
the final deal is struck and then make a decision about how they want to
handle it. I think, Steve, as tough a time as the president may have
selling this deal to Congress, it would be even tougher for the Congress to
sell another war in the Middle East to the American people. I think the
president laid it out well. If our goal is to make sure that Iran does not
have a nuclear weapon, then there are really two routes here, either a
diplomatic route, or in the end, whether it`s sooner or later, it`s
military action.

So what was very disconcerting this week is that you saw people right away,
whether it was Tom Cotton or Mark Kirk or others, seem to suggest or open
the door right away, before a final deal has been reached, to military
action. And in my district and around the country, that is not a very
popular thing, and it should be a last resort. Marco Rubio, for example,
said that we shouldn`t take military action off the table. I agree with
that. That should be an option, but it should be a last option. And I
would also point out that we also shouldn`t take peace off the table and
shouldn`t take diplomacy off the table.

KORNACKI: I want to follow up on that. I understand the basic point
you`re making about if you`re not going to pursue a diplomatic route, yes,
ultimately that probably does put you on some kind of track towards
conflict, but I guess the question is specifically this deal, specifically
this diplomatic route, if this is something that Congress -- that your
colleagues were to decide this is not a good deal or a deal in the interest
of the United States, do you think by rejecting this specific deal, we go
on to a path to war?

CASTRO: I think it certainly brings us closer. I think Democrats are
going to be -- you asked the question how will Democrats react to this,
whether they will be part of the group in Congress that ultimately brings
this deal down. I think Democrats are going to take a look at the
specifics of the final deal, whether it makes sense for the country.
They`re not going to be part of scuttling this deal just to help people win
political points with their base. And in a sense, it`s a tough time to do
this, because we are just coming into the 2016 presidential cycle when
folks -- when Republican presidential candidates are trying to prove how
different they are than President Barack Obama. Are very reluctant to go
along with anything that he`s proposing. That`s been the case for years
now. But I hope for the sake of the nation and for the sake of the
American people that Congress will be able to take an objective look at
this deal, and I do think Congress should have a role in vetting it. But
if Democrats sense that this deal has already been prejudged, that people -
- that Republicans are going to say no, no matter what, then I think you`ll
find them much more reluctant to do something where the president is not
going to be able to veto what the Congress does.

KORNACKI: So that`s interesting, there is some oversight role for
Congress. Let`s play this out. In a few months from now, let`s say a
final deal is struck, and that final deal will basically say, the basic
terms of this we know. Iran is going to basically curb its nuclear program
in exchange for sanctions, the sanctions that have been imposed by the
United States, being lifted at some point. So the case that Congress would
make, the case that will be made for Congress having an up/down vote on
this would be, hey, those sanctions that are at the heart of these
negotiations, at the heart of this deal, those sanctions were put in place
by Congress. So if those sanctions are going to be lifted under the terms
of the deal, shouldn`t Congress get a yes/no vote on that? Not just some
kind of an advisory role, but a yes/no vote.

CASTRO: That`s an incredibly strong argument, and I think Congress should,
but Congress should only get that opportunity if the deal is not prejudged.
In other words, if you`re saying no right now before you see the terms of
it, then you have essentially undermined your credibility. I think that`s
what`s making it tough for Democrats in Congress right now, when they hear
Republicans speaking.

KORNACKI: What would be your inclination -- we say right now it`s unclear,
we talk about this bill in the Senate that would give the Senate oversight
over this, give the Senate a vote on that deal. We`re not sure exactly
what`s working through the House. But if a similar bill to the Corker bill
were on the floor in the House, what would your position on it be?

CASTRO: The first thing is, I`ve observed Senator Corker from Tennessee I
think has actually been very level headed and reasonable on this process,
even as others further to the right have reacted in a knee-jerk way. So
like I said, I still support Congress having a role, but what I`m hoping is
that this doesn`t descend into another opportunity simply to bash the
president and to say no just for the sake of saying no, or to win political
points in a presidential primary. And, Steve, that process is still
playing itself out. I suspect that you won`t see anything significant from
Congress at least until a final deal is done. That`s certainly my hope
also.

KORNACKI: All right, thank you to Congressman Joaquin Castro, Democrat of
Texas. Appreciate the time this morning.

Still ahead in this show, the staggering amount of money that Americans are
spending on Easter candy this year. It seems that we`ve done our fair
share of it on the set today too. But first, the only piece of evidence
that sent this man to death row has now been overturned, but not before he
spent 30 years of his life, more than half of his life, in fact, in prison.
It`s an amazing story and it`s next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: An Alabama man is spending his first weekend as a free man after
30 years on death row. Anthony Ray Hinton was released on Friday after
prosecutors determined that he did not fire the gun that killed two
restaurant workers back in 1985. Two 1985 robberies. The bullets found at
the crime scene did not even match the revolver he had at his home. And
yet Hinton`s lawyers had been denied the chance to conduct further tests.
He spent three decades, that is more than half of his life, three decades
in prison for crimes committed with someone else`s gun.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY RAY HINTON: The miscarriage of justice not only to me but for the
victims` families. For all of us that say we believe in the justice, this
is the case to start showing, because I shouldn`t sit on death row 30
years. All they had to do was test the gun. But when you think you`re
high and mighty and you are above the law, you don`t have to answer to
nobody. But I`ve got news for you. Everybody that played a part in
sending me to death row, you will answer to God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Research shows nearly 4 percent of capital punishment cases in
this country are actually wrongful convictions. Only about 2 percent of
death row inmates are set free, which suggests that two out of every 100
inmates on death row are not guilty. Brian Stevenson is the executive
director of the equal justice initiative and Hinton`s lead attorney.
Thanks for joining us this morning. Let me start with that scene. We
heard from him in the video there, and we saw him walking out to freedom
after 30 years. Just describe for us, if you would, what that scene was
like on Friday, what you said to him, what he said to you when he stepped
outside.

BRIAN STEVENSON, ATTORNEY: Well, it was very exciting and very gratifying,
but also very tragic. You know, his friends and family came to greet him,
they hugged him. It was the first time they had seen him in a suit in 30
years, it was the first time he was free in 30 years. It was really,
really gratifying. We have been fighting so hard to get to this point.
But it was also bittersweet. This man has lost 30 years of his life. He
was condemned to a 5 X 8 cell where the state of Alabama tried to kill him
every day. During his time on death row, he experienced 53 executions. It
was all unnecessary and could have been avoided had there just been some
accountability, some integrity in our system.

KORNACKI: Did this come with any kind of apology from the state, any
attempt to rectify this somehow?

STEVENSON: No. I think that`s what`s particularly maddening. The state
has not acted responsibly from the very beginning. Mr. Hinton`s case is a
really powerful demonstration of the critique that our system treats you
better if you`re rich and guilty than if you`re poor and innocent. He was
convicted because he`s poor. He didn`t have the resources to get an
attorney. His attorney was paid $1,600 to defend him by statute. He
couldn`t find the money to get an expert to disprove this lie. But more
importantly, when we presented evidence that the gun didn`t match the
bullets 16 years ago, the state adamantly refused to test the evidence. I
think that`s grossly irresponsible. They chose to risk the execution of an
innocent person rather than risk the perception that they`re soft on crime
or accommodating people accused of crime. That`s the unconscionable part
of this case. There has been no apology and there has not even been the
kind of outreach that you`d suspect when you`ve done something as tragic as
take 30 years from someone`s life.

KORNACKI: Are you guys considering suing for damages, suing the state?

STEVENSON: We are going to pursue and explore all kinds of options, not
only to help Mr. Hinton recover but there`s got to be reform. I mean, you
know, for every nine people we`ve executed in this country, we`ve now
identified one innocent person who was on death row. Mr. Hinton was the
152nd person to be exonerated. And states aren`t engaging in the kind of
reform that you would expect when you have that rate of error, so we`re
going to have to push them. I think that there are people who not only owe
Mr. Hinton an apology, but owe the whole state an apology, including the
victims, who were also denied justice by their persistence in pursuing
charges against a man who was clearly innocent.

KORNACKI: Can you talk a little bit about the families of the victims?
The crime occurred back in 1985, they got the wrong guy for it. What has
been their role all these years?

STEVENSON: Well, I think they were -- they wanted to believe that the
right person had been convicted, and they were being told that over and
over again, even when the evidence emerged that that wasn`t true. Mr.
Hinton actually was locked in a warehouse when one of the crimes took place
and it was clear he didn`t commit that crime. But they never were held
accountable. They were never required to explain this. When we presented
our evidence 16 years ago that completely exonerated him, instead of going
to the family and saying we may have the wrong person, it`s time to begin
thinking about this case differently, everybody put their head in the sand.
Everybody said let`s just hope we can get away with this, and I think
that`s really, really tragic. It took the United States Supreme Court
overturning this case in a very rare posture, in a very rare cert grant
that got this thing turned around. I fear for Mr. Hinton, but also for the
entire state what would have happened had that intervention not taken
place.

KORNACKI: And finally, what -- he`s 58 years old, I believe. As we say,
that`s more than half his life behind bars. What does he do now?

STEVENSON: Well, he`s going to try to recover. He`s going to try to get
his life together. He`s a remarkable human being. Mr. Hinton never lost
his sense of humor, he never lost his dignity. In my 30 years of
representing people on death row, I`ve never represented anybody who
generated more support and goodwill and allegiance among correctional staff
than Ray Hinton. I couldn`t get in or out of that prison when I would go
see him without someone saying we hope he gets out soon, we`re really
pushing for him. So he`s going to recover and he`s going to do the best he
can, but there`s no question it`s traumatizing to go through what he`s been
through and it`s going to be a long struggle.

KORNACKI: My thanks to Brian Stevenson, thanks for your time this morning.

STEVENSON: You`re welcome.

KORNACKI: And coming up, the coveted voting block Ted Cruz has geared his
entire campaign towards. It might be paying off for him right now.
Opening day and the rest of the morning`s headlines are all still ahead.
Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right. The panel is back at the table. Time to get caught
up on some of the other headlines making news right now. Let`s start with
the "Chicago Tribune," the first page out in the Windy City. Face to face
with the voters. This is it, judgment day. This coming Tuesday. 48 hours
now for Rahm Emanuel, the former chief of staff to President Obama,
congressman before that. He`s the mayor of Chicago. Now he`s been forced
into a runoff by Jesus "Chuey" Garcia. There was talk at the start of the
campaign Emanuel was in serious danger of losing. But now the latest poll
from the "Chicago Tribune" says Emanuel is pulling ahead, it`s 51-37. It
looks like he`ll get re-elected. I know you were just in Chicago. What`s
going on out there?

PESCA: I was there a week, and I was told by "the New York Times" this was
a referendum on liberalism or everyone rising up against the Emanuel style.
There`s only been one poll that showed even a single digit lead and he`s
led big. He`s going to win. Does that mean it`s not an important race?
People are a bit dissatisfied. I don`t know that Chuy, who is sort of the
third choice to run against him, is the guy to do it. And interesting
little note, one of the contentious campaign issues is this George Lucas
museum that may be built on the lakefront. Chuy is against it. I find it
interesting.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: Referendum on liberalism. (inaudible). Vermont Senator Bernie
Sanders was out there on Thursday to campaign with Garcia so there have
been some national figures coming in trying to make an example of Rahm
Emanuel.

FRANCO: I think what`s important about this is how things are really
changing. First of all, who was Chuy Garcia before this? No one has ever
heard of him. The fact that he can even poll what he`s polling and doing
frankly as well, obviously Emanuel will win this race, is reflective of the
growing influence of Hispanics, I think, the changing demographics of
Chicago, beyond just the liberalism issue. So I think that`s the big story
here. Someone from really an unknown and no one expected him to even get
this far, could do this well.

KORNACKI: We`ll see what the final numbers are on Tuesday. Again, Emanuel
leading in the latest polls there pretty big.

This from the "L.A. Times." Moving on to another headline this morning.
Fund-raiser ends for pizzeria that won`t cater gay weddings. Raises
$842,000. This is Memories Pizza, that pizzeria out in Indiana this week
that said they would not be catering gay weddings. Any wedding that wants
pizza, I guess. Gofundme page was started by a producer from Glenn Beck`s
news network, The Blaze, it drew 29,000 donors, collected $842,000. So we
say it`s a culture war. This tapped into one side of the culture war.

SWEET: In this case you can take 29,000 voters to the bank, but that`s not
going to make a big difference in any other area. 29,000 is still not a
lot of people in a country of this size. But it shows the power of the
Internet to be able to raise these small dollars. I think as we look at
the campaign and look at Jeb Bush as raising money in all the traditional
ways, I think the other candidates are going to be able to compete.
Billion dollar campaign is going to be multi billion dollar campaign.

KORNACKI: This is the grassroots here, and we`ll talk about this a little
bit more, about Ted Cruz trying to tap into that same grassroots, so it
shows you where their passions are.

How about this from "the Washington Post," cadbury eggs versus peeps.
Americans are expected to spend $2.2 billion on Easter candy this year.
The National Retail Federation has estimated Americans will spend $16.4
billion on clothes, candy, food, and all sorts of Easter-related products.
Money spent on food is expected to top $5.3 billion, and another $2.2
billion on candy, jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, like we got some on
the table here. Anybody has a favorite? I don`t like the peeps. I don`t
like the marshmallow peeps. Anybody have a favorite, though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The big one is the cadbury controversy, isn`t it,
because you can`t get cadbury from Britain. There`s a Hershey patent on
the name. And I guess the recipe is different and people look for the
traditional British one. So I think this is a collector`s piece.

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET: I`m just glad they`re not trafficking in live bunnies and chicks
because that was really disaster for the bunnies and the chicks who would
grow up and be abandoned, so at least this stuff goes away.

PESCA: On this network, they fed me peeps milk on one of your afternoon
shows.

KORNACKI: What is peeps milk?

PESCA: It`s supposed to taste like peeps. But since peeps only tastes
like sugar, it`s flavored milk, and my review, which will be on the side of
all cartons, not as disgusting as you`d think.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: There`s a ringing endorsement. Somebody told me too they make
an egg now that`s filled with peanut butter. That would be my favorite
Easter candy. Get my hands on that later maybe.

Let`s see what else we have in the news. This is from "The Times" of
London. New York mayor eyes Boris` job. "Times of London" saying that
Michael Bloomberg, the former three-term mayor of New York, is now being
urged to cross the Atlantic and become the mayor of London. Friends say
the 73-year-old Bloomberg has revealed he`s considering doing this in 2016
as the Tory candidate. However, point this out last night, Bloomberg
spokesman Howard Wolfson tweeted out a message that said run for mayor of
London? Flattered, but rule it out. Mike Bloomberg loves NYC too much to
leave and too tough to succeed mayor of London. That is Boris Johnson.
Well, Bloomberg is from Boston, originally, he pulled off New York. It
wouldn`t be a big deal.

FRANCO: I wouldn`t be surprised at the end if he runs. First he has to
become a British citizen, but I would not be surprised if he runs. But I
would say to the Torys, be on the lookout. In 2017 he could be part of the
Labor Party.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: Be interesting to see-- he`s back in the media world now, I
think he`s probably happy with that. I always said he came down here to
New York from Boston and he was a Yankees fan. I think he`s secretly a Red
Sox fan.

SWEET: Maybe he can find another city closer to New York to travel.

FRANCO: Can I say something about that pizza story. A more serious note
on this. I will say I agree with Eleanor, but this is -- this is a wedge
issue. I think in many ways, it will galvanize a lot of Republican and
conservative support on the religious freedom issue. And I think
particularly for a number of presidential candidates like Ted Cruz, they
are going to hone in on this issue.

KORNACKI: Hold that thought because we`re going to be getting to that.

Still ahead, remember this moment from 1999.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Well, now the fact is I`ve always been a Yankees fan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought you were a Cubs fan.

CLINTON: I am. I am a Cubs fan, but I needed an American League team.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: See, it`s not just Bloomberg, it`s Hillary too. Coming up, why
Hillary Clinton should love the Yankees even more. And next, how much
really changes when you announce your presidential candidacy? If you`re Ted
Cruz, it turns out a lot changes. Keep it here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: In my experience, grassroots plus money beats a whole lot more money
just about any day of the week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Texas Senator Ted Cruz this week in Iowa, talking about the
support he`s seeing in that early contest state. Right now it appears it`s
not just Iowa that`s taking notice of Ted Cruz, but the Republican
electorate at large. Three polls this week showing a big swing toward the
Tea Party firebrand. Here`s Ted Cruz`s standing from a "Washington Post"
poll back in December. It was 6 percent. Put him in sixth place on the
GOP side. After his announcement on March 23rd, support for Cruz has now
doubled to 12 percent in that poll, putting him in third place in the
Republican field. Democratic Public Policy Polling firm also had Cruz in
sixth place in February with just 5 percent, but now more than triple, 16
percent, bumping him up to third place, very close to the leader. That`s
the biggest number Cruz has seen since the height of the 2013 government
shutdown. In a poll put out by Fox News last week had him tied for ninth
place. After his announcement, he stands at 10 percent, coming in fourth
place and gaining momentum.

So how serious of a swing is this? Ted Cruz certainly excites the base of
his party. He has a big constituency there. Many Republicans actually did
not consider him a threat to win the nomination. Is it time to reassess
that consensus, or is he just reaping the benefits of declaring early?
Back with the panel to talk about this. And before we get to the panel,
I`ll start with this. Ted Cruz made more news on Friday by coming up with
an ad, the first ad of the cycle, the first candidate to spend money
putting an ad on the air, calling it "Blessing." A small buy, only
$34,000, gets a lot of attention. This is the message in that ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Were it not for the transformative love of Jesus Christ, I would
have been raised by a single mom without my father in the house. God`s
blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: So you get a little taste of what Ted Cruz is saying there. It
surprised me. The announcement itself certainly got a lot of media
attention, but I thought there might be more of a ceiling for Cruz, even
within the Republican Party, especially with all this other competition.
It surprised me to see triple the support.

PESCA: Is he running for minister? I think he does have a ceiling. The
second part of your question to me, is he benefiting from being the only
declared candidate? He clearly is. Everything that he offers I think
somebody else offers a little better, right? The firebrand part of it.

KORNACKI: Did anybody offer that better? The firebrand part of it seems to
be what`s resonating there.

PESCA: I think there are more plausible candidates that would appeal to
the Tea Party.

SWEET: He`s also out there with a lovely family and his wife has taken a
leave from Goldman Sachs, forcing him to get Obamacare for his health
insurance, which he wants to pull out root and branch, and yet he`s saying
he likes it. I think he got a lot of publicity because it`s a hungry press
corps waiting for this event to begin. If he got the nomination, I would
be amazed. He`s going to be -- he`s going -- he doesn`t want anybody to
get to the right of him, and that gives you a small amount of a small
amount, and it`s not a winning strategy.

KORNACKI: Can he win the nomination?

FRANCO: No, he can`t win the nomination, but he can get a little more than
Eleanor suggests within the Republican primaries. Look, what he had
absolutely has had the benefit of having the spotlight because he`s the
only announced candidate. He`s also already made some controversial
candidates. For example, he came out for the Indiana law after Pence was
retreating on it himself, so he was at odds with the people in Indiana who
were advancing the law that said it needed to be fixed. He came out and
said that`s the right law to do.

What he`s benefiting from is orthodoxy within the Republican Party. You
had a segment and you began this program on an analysis of Rand Paul.
Where is he on Rand Paul, changing his views on foreign policy. He`s not
Ron Paul. What does he really believe? Same thing as Governor Walker,
he`s flip-flopped on a couple of things. So there`s a base of voters in
the Republican Party that are looking for true conservative, unwavering,
uncompromising ideology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that`s it.

FRANCO: And that`s what he is attracting. But there is a ceiling with
that.

KORNACKI: Here`s the interesting thing, though. Look at the Ted Cruz
strategy here. Politico did a story looking inside what exactly Ted Cruz
is trying to -- where he sees his path to victory. They identified
evangelical Christians as a key. You look at that ad, blessing that he`s
running. There`s the article right there. Look at what the numbers are
that Ted Cruz is seeing that encourages this. Take a look at this. This
is from 2012. These are the exit poll numbers from the early Republican
primary and caucus dates in 2012. The question is what percentage of the
Republican electorate in those states is evangelical, born-again Christian.
Look at that in Iowa, nearly 60 percent. In South Carolina, basically two
out of every three Republican primary voters there in 2012. Florida
basically half. New Hampshire, the only one there that`s not that big, but
even there that`s more than one in five, 50 percent overall. The caucuses
and primaries that decided the nomination in 2012, 50 percent of the
voters. So that`s what Cruz is going for.

SWEET: So he`s the Mike Huckabee or the Rick Santorum of this cycle but
without the charm. He does not have a friendly personality. Maybe he
hopes to come out of this with a Fox talk show.

PESCA: (inaudible) the other senators hate him. Is he a good shakeup or
does he show that a guy who does not play well with anyone can have
success? Maybe that`s bad for the party.

FRANCO: I`m not sure it`s bad for the party. I think it`s good to have
diverse views of the party. The fact of the matter is, those statistics
show it, you have a large number of people who share these views. They`re
welcome in the Republican Party. The question is getting them to
understand that these are not individuals that can win the general
election, and that is the trick. Obviously, this is the challenge that
John McCain had, that Mitt Romney had and that Jeb Bush is going to have.
The difference is Jeb Bush has already staked out in CPAC positions that
are consistent on immigration, on common core and other issues, and hasn`t
wavered, and has still been steady and doing well. I don`t think you`re
going to see Jeb Bush make the mistakes of the two previous Republican
nominees to try to appeal--

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET: The question is can Cruz fool or persuade enough voters in
Republican primaries to make them believe that he could also win a general
election, that you can hold these views and that they will be popular.

KORNACKI: That`s the thing, you think back to 2012. Newt Gingrich managed
to win South Carolina, not just win it, he crushed Mitt Romney there. And
look at Newt Gingrich and say with all of that baggage that guy brought to
the table, it`s hard to believe he was going to go to a general election
and beat Barack Obama. In a key early primary state he was able to win it.

FRANCO: Sure, but let me give a prediction on this program. Jeb Bush
(inaudible) will not win in Iowa. Iowa will be won by either Governor
Walker or Cruz, whoever has the most charm and has the most orthodoxy. I
wouldn`t be surprised if Cruz would win in Iowa.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: But then South Carolina becomes -- we just showed two out of
every three voters in South Carolina. That was the biggest evangelical
number on the board.

FRANCO: That`s assuming that was just Ted Cruz. That vote is going to be
shared by Walker, by Rand Paul who you described earlier, and then there is
going to be probably just one centrist alternative. I don`t think it will
be Governor Christie, and it will be Jeb Bush.

SWEET: I don`t think Mitt Romney won a single primary or caucus state. He
limped through with sort of a plurality that made him look serious and --
to get to the bigger states.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: There was a fault line with Romney, and I think the number was
50 percent. When that evangelical was above 50 percent in 2012, I think he
didn`t win, and when it was below it, he wasn`t losing. It was just enough
for him. But that shows you the tricky terrain they will all have to
navigate. Anyway, thanks to the panel for this morning. Eleanor Clift
with the Daily Beast, Republican strategist Adolfo Franco, Mike Pesca,
appreciate you all being here.

Still ahead, who is the New York Yankees of the 2016 elections? You knew we
would find a way to make opening day political.

And next, my last night`s historic final four upset was particularly
special for Wisconsin`s Frank Kaminski.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Even when it takes place on April 4th, there is still a reason
they call it March madness. Last night at the final four, which some
believed to be impossible, it actually happened. The 38-0 mighty
undefeated Kentucky Wildcats lost. They were upset by the Wisconsin
Badgers. That`s what makes the NCAA basketball tournament so special. In
any game, anything can happen. Last night anything did happen. We get
more now from NBC`s Craig Melvin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CRAIG MELVIN, NBC: Kentucky made history all season long. A heavy
favorite in Vegas. Even the White House.

OBAMA: The chances are high, and I am putting Kentucky in there.

MELVIN: But nobody told Wisconsin. The Badgers shocked the Wildcats with
a 71-64 upset led by senior Frank Kaminski, who celebrated his 22nd
birthday with the biggest win of his life.

FRANK KAMINSKI: We didn`t change what we did. We didn`t freak out.

MELVIN: The win fired up fans back in Madison and had folks setting fires
in Lexington. More than 30 arrests reported, and several people
hospitalized. Also in ashes, Kentucky`s hopes for basketball immortality,
matching the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers, the last team to finish undefeated.

JOHN CALIPARI, KENTUCKY HEAD COACH: I wasn`t thinking 40-0, I was just
trying to win the game and get on to another game. I would hope my team
was that way, but they`re 18- and 19-year-olds. Maybe they were.

MELVIN: Perfection is only a game away, an undefeated season still a rare
feat. 25 years ago UNLV made it to the semifinals with an unblemished
record as well, before being knocked off by Duke, who Wisconsin will face
Monday night. Everything was bouncing the Blue Devils way against Michigan
State.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI, DUKE HEAD COACH: They have been so good in this
tournament, the lights and the stage have not been too big for them.

MELVIN: But it was Wisconsin`s night to shine and show us why it`s called
the big dance.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KORNACKI: My worthless pick for Monday night, I`m picking Wisconsin to
beat Duke. Our thanks to NBC`s Craig Melvin for that.

Up next, if Hillary Clinton were a baseball team, which team would she be?
We`re combining our summer baseball preview with the preview of the 2016
presidential race. I`m heading over to the big board to get ready and
explain it. So stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: So that was Felix Hernandez, Dustin Petroya (ph) and Adam Jones
reciting lines from the classic movie "Field of Dreams." Major League
Baseball put out that video this weekend because tonight is opening night
for the 2015 season. An exciting time for baseball fans everywhere.
Conveniently this is also right around now the start of the 2016
presidential cycle. Ted Cruz becoming the first to officially announce his
candidacy two weeks ago. At least two more to follow in the coming days
and weeks. Rand Paul this coming Tuesday, for instance. For baseball,
this time of year is a fresh start, a new beginning full of hope. Everyone
is tied in the standings. Can the same be said for the presidential field?
We thought we would combine our love of the American pastime and our love
of American politics. Take a look at what the boys of summer and the boys
and girls of campaign stumping have in common.

So let me explain. What we were trying to say if this presidential
candidate were a baseball team, which baseball team would this presidential
candidate be? Let me take you through some of these. Let`s start with
Hillary Clinton. Who would she be? The New York Yankees. The New York
Yankees are the biggest brand name out there. You think of baseball, the
first thing you think of is the Yankees. You think of a presidential
candidate, the first thing you think of is probably a Clinton. Also New
York is her home state and a big war chest as well. The Yankees always
with one of the top payrolls. Certainly Clinton will have one of the top
war chests. We say she`s the Yankees.

Martin O`Malley. We say he could run against Hillary Clinton in the
Democratic primary. We say he`s the Pittsburgh Pirates. This is a lower
tier market team. They don`t have the kind of payroll the Yankees have.
They have to be scrappy, they have to be a lot sharper, smarter. They also
play in a very tough division. He`ll certainly be in a tough division if
he runs against Hillary Clinton. Let`s look at the Republican side. Ted
Cruz, who would Ted Cruz be? He would be the Kansas City Royals. He`s got
the element of surprise on his side. The Royals were of course a moribund
franchise, and last year made it all the way to the World Series. Ted Cruz
sort of in the last couple of years has sort of come out of nowhere in the
American politics, and he has that wild card potential as well.

Who would Jeb Bush be? Jeb Bush would be the Los Angeles Dodgers. Why
would Jeb Bush be the Los Angeles Dodgers? Because if Hillary Clinton is
the New York Yankees with the second biggest payroll in baseball right now,
Bush, it looks like by all indications, he`ll have the biggest war chest,
so the Dodgers with the biggest payroll. We say that is Jeb Bush. Also,
the experts are picking the Dodgers to win the World Series this year, at
least on the Republican side a lot of the experts are picking Bush to win,
not necessarily to beat Clinton. Chris Christie, who would he be? He`d be
the New York Mets. That is a team in a major market, but they have been
underperforming of late and they have been hurt by scandal. Their payroll
and their ability to have a big payroll decimated by the Bernie Madoff
story. Christie of course has had his troubles.

Rand Paul would be the Oakland Athletics, the Oakland A`s. So Rand Paul
always wins the straw polls they have at CPAC, for instance. The Oakland
A`s had the best record in spring training. So it`s impressive, but does
it really mean anything? We`re not sure, so that`s why he`s the A`s. Ben
Carson, he would be the AAA Rochester Red Wings. Ben Carson always does
really well in these presidential polls, but everybody still doesn`t think
he can win. It`s certainly the consensus, so sort of like a great minor
league team. That`s what he looks like to people right now.

Marco Rubio, we say he would be the Chicago Cubs. The Chicago Cubs loaded
with youth this year. Marco Rubio stressing youth, generational issues.
And of course, the two-team town, the Cubs and the White Sox sharing
Chicago, and Rubio has to share Florida with Jeb Bush. And finally we end
with Scott Walker. We say he would be the St. Louis Cardinals. This is a
team every year, they keep winning games every year. Scott Walker, he
keeps winning elections every year, so we say Scott Walker, is the St.
Louis Cardinals.

Anyway, thank you for playing along with us on that. Enjoy the baseball
season that kicks off tonight. Enjoy the presidential season. Thank you
for getting up with us today. Up next, Melissa Harris-Perry. Stay tuned
for that. We will see you next weekend. Have a great weekend. Happy
Easter to my family.

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