'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, October 15th, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: October 15, 2015
Guest: Seth Moulton, Nick Confessore
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That`s "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You have a nice group of people you work
with, Chris. Who did you sentence on your staff to reading all those
HAYES: No, we brought in an outside ringer for this. Stay tuned.
MADDOW: Somebody`s either been really bad or you better have
outsourced that. Well done, my friend.
And thanks to you at home as well for joining us this half hour. We
have to start tonight actually by correcting the record.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINCOLN CHAFEE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know how to get
legislation passed through Congress because I did it as a senator. I know
how to turn around a state because I did it as governor of Rhode Island.
But what I`m most proud of is that in 30 years of public service, I have
had no scandals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee saying in the
Democratic debate this week that in his 30 years of public service, quote,
"I have had no scandals."
I can report tonight that that is not true. Lincoln Chafee, when he
was Rhode Island governor, he did in fact have exactly one giant scandal.
And it involved a tree.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: As you may know, the governor of Rhode
Island, Lincoln Chafee, refuses to acknowledge that the huge tree the state
of Rhode Island puts up at Christmas time is indeed a Christmas tree. The
governor believes it is a holiday tree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now, that is a scandal. That is a scandal. Every year our
friends across the street at the FOX News Channel have to find a combatant
to wage what they annually declare is a war on Christmas. And in 2011, the
FOX News Channel decided that good old Lincoln Chafee was carpet-bombing
Christmas and mining its harbors.
FOX News was so all over the great Lincoln Chafee holiday tree
scandal of 2011, they actually ambushed him in the halls of the Rhode
Island state house to demand an answer about why he was not using the FOX
News Channel preferred term for that tree. Why was he not calling it a
That scandal went on for years. Literally, FOX News kept on about it
for years, as a national news story, until Governor Lincoln Chafee finally
relented under their onslaught in 2013 and said, OK, fine it`s a Christmas
tree. It`s a Christmas tree, fine. Uncle. Scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAFEE: What I`m most proud of is that in 30 years of public
service, I have had no scandals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mm-hmm. Would that it were so.
And you know, I sort of feel like in a Democratic debate you ought to
actually get points, you ought to get credit for being the subject of a
totally made up FOX News Channel scandal. But Lincoln Chafee did not claim
that credit at the Democratic debate, and I must ding him for that.
And honestly, even though I think the Democratic debate this week was
good for the Democratic party in general and it was definitely good for the
two leading candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and I think it
was good for Martin O`Malley as well, there really is no way you can say it
was good for Lincoln Chafee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR/DEBATE MODERATOR: Governor Chafee,
you`ve attacked Secretary Clinton for being too close to Wall Street banks.
In 1999, you voted for the very bill that made banks bigger.
CHAFEE: The Glass-Steagall was my very first vote, I`d just arrived,
my dad had died in office, I was appointed to the office. It was my very
COOPER: Are you saying you didn`t know what you were voting for?
CHAFEE: I`d just arrived at the Senate. I think we`d get some
takeovers, and that was one. It was my very first vote, and it was 92-5.
It was the --
COOPER: Well, with all due respect, Governor --
CHAFEE: But let me just say --
COOPER: -- what does that say about you that you`re casting a vote
for something you weren`t really sure about?
CHAFEE: I think you`re being a little rough. I`d just arrived at
the United States Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was his first vote on his first day. He didn`t even know
where the bathrooms were yet.
But then CNN followed that up, followed up their own debate with an
interview with Lincoln Chafee that honestly I thought about playing some of
tonight but I feel like it is too mean to replay, in which one of CNN`s
hosts tells Lincoln Chafee to his face on the air that he is an
embarrassment and basically demands Lincoln Chafee gets out of the race.
So, Lincoln Chafee is having a tough time. We have not seen his
fund-raising numbers tonight although they are due to be released tonight
sometime before midnight. Basically, the hope for those numbers for
Lincoln Chafee is that the number he raised will be big enough to require a
comma in the number somewhere.
But with all of that here is my case for old Lincoln Chafee.
Seriously. My case for Lincoln Chafee and the mitzvah that he has done for
us as a country and for our politics as a country, and it`s something that
he did specifically at that Democratic debate.
It was this debate otherwise dominated by Hillary Clinton and Bernie
Sanders. And Lincoln Chafee from the very edge of the debate stage, from
the very edge of relevance, he did something that because of today`s news
ends up being crucially important to the news cycle and to our politics and
broadly speaking for us as a country. And he did it when he pounced on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Governor Chafee, you
were the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the Iraq war. You
say Secretary Clinton should be disqualified from the presidency because
she voted in favor of using force in Iraq. She has since said that her
vote was a mistake. Why isn`t that good enough?
CHAFEE: Well, we just heard Senator Sanders say that it`s the worst
decision in American history. That`s very significant, the worst decision
in American history.
If you`re looking ahead, and you`re looking at someone who made that
poor decision in 2002 to go into Iraq when there was no real evidence of
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- I know because I did my homework,
and, so, that`s an indication of how someone will perform in the future.
And that`s what`s important.
BASH: Secretary Clinton, he`s questioning your judgment.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I recall very
well being on a debate stage, I think, about 25 times with then-Senator
Obama, debating this very issue. After the election, he asked me to become
Secretary of State.
He valued my judgment, and I spent a lot of time with him in the
Situation Room, going over some very difficult issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did vote for the
Iraq war when she was a senator 13 years ago. She obviously paid a steep
political price for that vote. It was probably the single issue that
Barack Obama exploited the most against her during that bruising 2008
Democratic presidential primary.
This year, of course, the primary dynamics are very, very different
on the Democratic side. But when Secretary Clinton gets up on the debate
stage now, she is there alongside Lincoln Chafee, who for everything else
you know about him, he really was the one Republican U.S. senator at the
time who voted against the Iraq war, and she stands alongside Bernie
Sanders, who was a member of the House at the time and who as a member of
the house voted against the Iraq war.
And she stands alongside Jim Webb, who wasn`t even in Congress at the
time but as a public figure and a former secretary of the navy, he was on
the record at the time opposing the Iraq war.
To be fair, I`m not sure anybody thought to ask Martin O`Malley, who
was mayor of Baltimore at the time, but at least he certainly didn`t vote
for the war the way then Senator Clinton did.
And so, now, Hillary Clinton has come up with a way to talk about
that vote and apologize for that vote in a way that honestly pretty much
settles it. At least for the Democratic debate audience, it did. It
brought -- her answer on that question brought Democratic voters in that
audience to their feet, cheering for her on that answer.
So Lincoln Chafee of all people jumping on that issue, reminding
voters of that war and peace issue, testing whether or not that war issue
will still be kryptonite for her politically the way it was in the past,
giving her that chance which she took to try to put that issue to rest and
to try to turn it to her advantage finally -- well, thank you, Lincoln
Chafee. Putting the war back into our national politics in the way you
Because honestly, without you, Lincoln Chafee, I`m not sure the war
issue would be in our national politics right now. And it turns out we
really need it to be in our national politics right now because this is
what happened today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To the American
people, I know that many of you have grown weary of this conflict. As you
are well aware, I do not support the idea of endless war, and I have
repeatedly argued against marching into open-ended military conflicts that
do not serve our core security interests.
Yet, given what`s at stake in Afghanistan and the opportunity for a
stable and committed ally that can partner with us in preventing the
emergence of future threats and the fact that we have an international
coalition, I am firmly convinced that we should make this extra effort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This extra effort.
After announcing today from the Oval Office that the U.S. military
presence in Afghanistan would be extended yet again, President Obama had
not apparently planned to take any questions from the press. But even
though he hadn`t planned on taking questions, he did end up changing his
mind and taking one. And his answer to that one impromptu question I think
is going to echo for a very long time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: So, here you have a situation where we have clarity about
what our mission is, we`ve got a partner who wants to work with us, we`re
going to continually make adjustments to ensure that we give the best
possibilities for success, and I suspect that we will continue to evaluate
this going forward as will the next president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: As will the next president.
President Obama wanted U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and
Iraq to be over by the time he left office. Today, President Obama said
bluntly that actually the next president is going to inherit this too, just
like he did when he took office.
At least when he was sworn in as president, though, we knew what he
wanted to do about the wars, right? He had campaigned on it over and over
and over again. Twenty-five times in the same debate stage with Hillary
In fact, if the presidential primary contest was about one thing in
2008, it was about who had had the better judgment on the issue of our
ongoing wars at the time that had been started by George W. Bush.
It`s no secret that wars are a lot easier to start than they are to
end. But now that President Obama has officially announced as of today
that he will not end the war in Afghanistan, and the next president is
going to inherit thousands of American troops there on large military bases
in that country, well, now, all of a sudden, it newly becomes really
important to know what the candidates who want to be the next president
plan to do about that war if they`re elected.
I mean, this really wasn`t on their next president to-do list before
today, but it is now. And as a country we`re great at covering the war on
Christmas every year like it`s a newly breaking out international nuclear
conflagration that we discover every December.
But the actual war in which U.S. service members by the thousands are
deployed in what is the longest war ever in U.S. history, that is something
that does not end up on TV, it does not end up having a particularly
visible political or partisan dimension anymore because it just doesn`t get
discussed as if it is an issue that derives from politics. It is discussed
as, if anything, a technocratic issue, not a political issue.
The last time the Republican Party picked a presidential nominee he
gave his speech accepting the nomination with no mention of the ongoing
wars he would potentially be leading as commander in chief. This time
around when the heir apparent Republican nominee this year kicked off his
campaign with a major foreign policy address at the Reagan library, the
word "Afghanistan" never came up in that whole speech, 10,000 Americans
deployed there at the time and still now.
At the first Republican presidential debate, the Afghanistan war did
not come up. At the second Republican presidential debate, Marco Rubio did
raise the issue once in passing. It was a third of a sentence. At the
Democratic debate Lincoln Chafee -- yes, jumped on the issue of the Iraq
war, that initial vote, to make Hillary Clinton answer for that again, 13
years down the road.
And we`ll say to his credit, CNN`s moderator at the Democratic
debate, Anderson Cooper, he tried to follow that up with a question for
Lincoln Chafee about whether that meant a President Lincoln Chafee would
extend the war in Afghanistan? Yes, it got asked. Mr. Cooper asked that
question. But that question never got answered. And we moved on.
And in terms of who else is in Washington, Congress is so distant
from making political decisions about the wars that we`ve actually started
a new hugely controversial major war effort in the past year in Syria
without Congress ever even taking a vote on it.
When our political system and all that entails, when our political
system no longer tries to even address questions about war even while we
are at war, wars don`t just become hard to end. They may become impossible
to end. And whether or not you think the key to success in Afghanistan is
adding a 15th year and a 16th year and a 17th year to the 14 years of
effort already spent there -- whether or not you think extending the war
even further creates a greater likelihood of success than we`ve had before,
this announcement from President Obama today that he will not be the one,
he will not be the president to end America`s Afghanistan war, that throws
down a gauntlet for us civilians to figure out through our political system
such as it is whether any of these people who are trying to become the next
president would be the president to end it. We don`t know.
So far, it`s not really getting asked. When it`s getting asked it`s
definitely not getting answered. But now, as of today, we really truly
need to find out.
Joining us now is Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. He`s a
member of the House Armed Services Committee. He`s also a former Marine
Corps officer who served four tours in Iraq. He has twice been to
Congressman, thanks very much for your time tonight. It`s nice to
have you here.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thanks for having me back,
MADDOW: So, ending the war in Afghanistan is something President
Obama obviously hoped to achieve before he left office. He did not want
this to be on the next president`s to-do list. Now, he said today the next
president will inherit this war. Was that always an inevitability or does
this announcement from the president today surprise or concern you?
MOULTON: I don`t think it was always an inevitability but the
conditions are such in Afghanistan, and I saw this when I visited in
February, that I think he`s made a difficult but correct decision. You
know, after four tours in Iraq, a war that I think was a mistake, I want to
bring the troops home as much as all the rest of us. But the problem is
that we can`t bring the troops home too soon so that we have to send them
back just like we`ve done in Iraq.
I mean, the president who promised to get us out of Iraq has had to
send troops back in just five years later. We can`t repeat that same
mistake in Afghanistan.
MADDOW: Having served four tours in Iraq and having such close ties
to other veterans you served with but also the veterans community, can I
just ask you as a vet how this resonates? What you think this is going to
mean and how this is going to sound not just to those still serving in
Afghanistan and their families but to the people who have served there over
this incredibly long, historically long period of time that we`ve been at
war in that country.
MOULTON: It`s the long yet war in our nation`s history, and we all
want to see if come to an end. But I think the troops also want to know
their effort hasn`t gone to waste. That`s what I saw when I went back to
Iraq this February as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
I saw so much that we had fought for and frankly achieved during the
surge just completely squandered by our policy since then. And it`s not
just about bringing the troops out too quickly. It`s about not having a
serious long-term political and diplomatic plan to ensure the peace,
because what we left in Iraq was a political vacuum. And ISIS came in and
filled that political vacuum. And now you see the chaos we have today.
A political vacuum is what we had in Afghanistan prior to September
11th, and it led to the attacks on our homeland right here. So, what we`ve
got to do is ensure that we have a plan to ensure the peace, to ensure the
stability and success of the Afghan government so that we never have to
send troops back there again.
And that`s -- you know, I think that`s something we have to ask the
president about as well. It`s not just about keeping the troops there.
What is your plan to ensure that the Afghan government will be politically
successful and there won`t be another political vacuum left after we leave?
MADDOW: Do we have our own kind of political vacuum on this topic in
this country? I mean, it is not a matter of political confrontation. It
is not a partisan touchstone. And maybe that`s good because our partisan
politics are reductive and gross and occasionally entertaining for the
But the other side of that is we don`t much have a political debate
in this country about the war in Syria, about the war in Iraq, about the
war in Afghanistan. Even now with this extension of the -- as you say the
longest war ever, it`s not something we fight about politically, it`s not
something Congress weighs in on.
Do you wish we had a better political debate about this? Would it
MOULTON: I sure do. And I think you hit the nail on the head when
you talked about the fact that most Americans don`t even seem to realize
that there are young Americans fighting and dying in Afghanistan all the
time, every single day, every single night. And we`ve got to talk about
that. We`ve got to talk about these issues.
We can`t forget that the longest war in our history is still going
on. We`ve got to have a reasoned debate.
And you know, we also have to talk about what happens when veterans
come home because V.A. health care is a disaster, and yet that hasn`t even
come up. The Republicans didn`t even talk about it in the Republican
So, we have young veterans risking their lives, some of them losing
their lives overseas. They come home. They can`t get the health care that
they need. And yet, Congress isn`t even addressing the issue.
So, I`ll tell you, this is something that I`m working on in Congress.
I have four bills to work on reforming health care at the V.A. that
currently have bipartisan co-sponsors and they`re working their way through
This is my top domestic priority. It`s something that I work on
every single day. But it`s frightening how little conversation there is
about this in the rest of the Congress.
MADDOW: Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, Iraq war combat
veteran, thanks for your time tonight. I know you had a really busy night
tonight and you made time for us to be here. Thanks for being here, sir.
MOULTON: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. It is remarkable that what is happening right
now, even if you just only talk about presidential politics, is that
President Obama has said now officially I received this baton from George
W. Bush and I wanted to end this, I cannot end it, I`m therefore going to
be handing this baton to the next president.
And we really have absolutely no idea what any of the presidential
candidates would do with it, what their priorities are, what they think of
how things have gone so far, and if they have a plan to end it. It just
hasn`t come up. It must come up as of today. As of today, this changes
what we need to be talking about in presidential politics.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: For all that is not getting discussed in our national
politics, one of the things that did happen today is we got everybody`s
numbers in terms of how much money they are raising in their various
presidential campaigns. Some very, very interesting stories there. A lot
of those figures still breaking late tonight into this hour. We`re going
to be rounding up some of that in just a moment.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Midnight tonight is the deadline by which all the 2016
presidential candidates have to disclose their fund-raising numbers for
this quarter that just ended, the third quarter. So, we`ve been getting a
big flurry of information throughout the day today from the campaigns.
And yes, it`s just money. It`s just numbers. But it does give us a
really interesting quantitative snapshot of who`s doing well and also who`s
doing shockingly unexpectedly badly. We are going to have more on that
coming up throughout the show tonight.
But one of the things that is proving to be really interesting about
this race this year, even for the candidates who are doing relatively well,
is that they all seem kind of bummed about having to campaign for
president. There`s a lot of woe is me.
I mean, in June, it was Ted Cruz who sent this woe is me fund-raising
e-mail. Do you remember this one? Quote, "I`m sacrificing even more sleep
with long nights and constant travel. The pizza diet is a staple. The
cost of campaigning is increasingly expensive. My days are no longer my
own. Days start before dawn and many times don`t end until early the next
morning. There`s almost no personal time when you run for president."
Also, please send me money to keep running for president because it`s
Just this week, it was Rand Paul, who could barely contain his own
misery about how much he hates running for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They also tell me
because I`m just doing what I`m told, riding around Iowa, looking at corn
fields and answering silly questions, that I`m now supposed to answer the
top Googled questions about me.
The next question is how old is Rand Paul? The answer is -- or the
real answer I guess is 52, but I sometimes feel about 10 to 20 to maybe 30
to 40 to 50 years older after a day of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Fifty? I feel like I`m 102.
Why are they all campaigning like this this year? Even the guy who`s
winning, who`s been winning solidly now in 30 straight national polls,
Donald Trump, who generally seems to be kind of a fun-loving guy, he is
having his woe is me complaining moments as well, particularly following
the last debate, the one that was hosted by CNN.
Apparently, Donald Trump also fought that was just a miserable
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What have you learned after tonight?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I`ve learned that I
have no trouble standing for three hours. And you know, that`s -- I mean,
literally it must be a record. I hope that the audience is OK because I
actually think it`s a little bit too long.
One complaint would be it was a long debate. You know, to be three
hours has got to be a record. So I would say the one thing, it was very,
very long. Three hours. It was a very long debate.
Can you believe this? That debate was three hours. It felt like
more than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Donald Trump was so tired after that debate. It was so
Are there even movies that are three -- there are movies that are
three hours, actually. You know, being president is hard. Anyway.
Well, now, today`s news is that Donald Trump, presidential front-
runner, is threatening to not participate in the next Republican debate
unless CNBC and the Republican Party accede to his demand that the debate
not take so long, that it be shorter.
And that is a weird thing to demand. It`s a weird hill to die on in
terms of participating in the presidential debates. But that`s his demand.
And what is even weirder about it is that he has joined forces with
one of the other top candidates. He`s joined forces with the guy who`s
running second to him, Ben Carson.
So, the Trump and Carson campaigns are making this case collectively.
The Trump and Carson campaigns wrote this joint letter to the folks at
CNBC, our sister network, demanding that those two candidates get a say in
the debate format or else they will not show up for that next debate.
Quote, "Neither Mr. Trump nor Dr. Carson will participate in your debate if
it`s longer than 120 minutes, including commercials and does not include
opening and closing statements."
Now, whatever you think about the length of the debate complaint,
this fight over opening and closing statements is also a little hard to
understand. I mean, strategically for these guys, they don`t really need
that guaranteed extra time talking before and after the questioning part of
the debate since they`re the number one and number two front-runners,
they`re pretty much guaranteed the most air time during the debate.
The opening and closing statements, wanting to defend those and make
sure those happen, you would think that would be more important to the
candidates who are not doing as well, who will probably not get as much air
time, the candidates who aren`t running first and second in all the polls.
So, why would Donald Trump and Ben Carson be picking this fight?
It`s strange. It`s strange. But for all the strange things about this
news, this fight today, their threat is now out there. Ben Carson and
Donald Trump say they won`t participate unless they get what they want.
And now, there`s a lot more at stake because the two top leading
Republican candidates for president are saying that if this isn`t resolved
to their satisfaction, if their demands are not met by tonight, they not
only won`t participate, they want and expect the Republican party to
unsanction that CNBC debate.
RNC rules say that any candidate who participates in an unsanctioned
debate is barred from participating in any future sanctioned debate. So,
if Ben Carson and Donald Trump insist that the Republican Party unsanction
this CNBC debate because they don`t agree to the terms -- well, that would
pretty much guarantee that no other candidate would show up for the debate
either. It would essentially cancel the whole thing.
And that would be a very dramatic development. It would also give
these guys a chance to get to bed early that night, though, get some down
time. Maybe a nutritious meal. Could be exactly what they`re after, after
MADDOW: Chart imitates life. Today, we learned that the U.S. budget
deficit is the smallest it has been in eight years. Mazel tov.
The great Steve Benen put this graph together at Maddow blog. You
can see we`re back to where we were under President Bush at the start of
the Great Recession. Feel free to clip and save this for the holidays when
your crazy uncle who watches FOX News all day tries to tell you that the
deficit is spiraling out of control.
That is a myth. The deficit is shrinking. Very, very fast. So
MADDOW: OK. Myth number one in American presidential politics.
Myth number one: the reason the candidates with the most money tend to win
is because you have to spend a lot of money in order to win. TV ads are
expensive. TV ads are how you win.
Turns out that`s not true. Not this year. The candidate who was
clearly winning the Republican nomination for president, clearly, clearly,
clearly winning for months now, he has spent precisely zero dinero buying
TV ads this whole year. That`s myth number one.
Myth number two. Myth number two is that the reason candidates drop
out of races like this is because they have run out of money. Turns out
that is also not true.
Scott Walker quit the Republican race last month, but today he turned
in his fund-raising numbers for the third quarter anyway and those numbers
still put him ahead of half the Republican field. Even though he spent a
lot, he had twice as much left over as Bobby Jindal has raised in total.
And Bobby Jindal`s still in the race.
Myth number three: having this giant a candidate field is inherently
unsustainable. Having 15 major candidates competing for the Republican
nomination, it can`t last. There`s just not enough resources, there`s not
enough voter support and interest to divide by this many people so the herd
by necessity will have to thin.
Nope. Not this year. The first candidate to drop out of the race
was former Texas Governor Rick Perry. He quit on September 11th. The next
candidate to quit was Scott Walker, who quit ten days later.
But now, nobody`s quit for 25 days. And nobody appears to be
planning to get out anytime soon.
The idea that this unsustainable herd must thin, that apparently is
also a myth.
But there`s a reason these myths exist. These myths were not just
made up out of nothing. The reason we expect those things to be true about
presidential campaigns is because they always are true about all the other
Why are they not true this year? Turns out it`s a very specific
thing about money. Hold that thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we need to be more
aspirational again. I mean, I remember -- this will sound kind of odd, but
four years ago in one of the debates Gingrich, Speaker Gingrich talked
about colonizing the moon. And it was one of those big raucous crowds, you
know, 4,000, 5,000 Republicans. Those crowds get, you know, rowdy. Let`s
just leave it at that.
And people started laughing. In the other debate, people running for
president kind of laughed at him as well. I`m thinking, really?
I think it`s pretty cool. I mean, what`s wrong about having big
lofty aspirational goals?
REPORTER: Governor, when you colonize the moon, who would you put as
governor? Marco Rubio? Donald Trump?
BUSH: There`s lots of people who could be effective leaders on the
Let me think about it. I`ll get back to you on that in the next
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican candidate Jeb Bush in New Hampshire today
throwing his weight behind Newt Gingrich`s 2012 plan to put a permanent
colony on the moon by the end of his second term as President Gingrich.
Newt Gingrich, you will remember, didn`t want to just make the moon a
colony. He wanted to make it a specifically American colony. He said once
we figure out how to get a few thousand Americans up there, it could be our
Newt Gingrich might now be president of the moon. But it didn`t work
out for his campaign here on earth.
It`s possible that the moon colony plan can be revived enough to work
for Mr. Bush, though, this year. Could do, might do. At least we know
what is not working for Jeb Bush this year. It`s his plan to saturate the
airwaves in early states like New Hampshire with TV ads promoting the idea
of him as president.
Governor Bush and super PACs supporting him have spent nearly $5
million on TV and radio ads since early September in New Hampshire.
Politico.com reports today that in the last three weeks, pro Jeb Bush spots
have occupied about 60 percent of the political ad air time in New
The net result of all those pro Jeb Bush ads, though, is that Mr.
Bush`s numbers have actually gone down in that state, not up.
One of the truisms of electoral politics in general, and presidential
politicking in particular is that spending money, particularly in the early
states, is not just something you ought to, it`s something you have to do.
That`s the way you get your poll numbers up. For some reason, that truism
is not working this year for Jeb Bush.
And then there`s this larger issue. Jeb Bush`s viability, his
perceived stature as a top-tier candidate. That`s premised in large part
on this idea that money is what makes him viable even if nothing else does.
If he does have a lot of money, super PAC or campaign or otherwise, if
that`s what`s supposed to make him available, but then it turns out his
spending that money doesn`t actually boost his poll numbers, doesn`t help
him get support from real people, then should Jeb Bush be seen as a top-
tier candidate? What happens to his candidacy?
There`s been a lot of anticipation, specifically for that reason,
about what Jeb Bush was going to turn in for his fund-raising numbers
today. Part of the anticipation was because his whole viability is
premised on that. Part of it is because there`s a little drama. He pushed
his announcement about his numbers to be very, very late.
Then when he did announce those numbers, though, the campaign decided
to put out the fund-raising numbers amid a whole bunch of other data.
Almost felt like they were trying to sort of hide the fund-raising numbers
in some other muddy water. They put out his health status, they put out
his bundler names, they put out his tax returns. Everything`s coming out
all at once.
Turns out the fund-raising numbers are kind of fine in context, I
guess. He brought in more than $13 million in the third quarter. That`s
more than most of his rivals.
But honestly, the money game doesn`t feel all that obvious anymore.
We don`t know what $13 million means for Jeb Bush anymore. Is that
terribly bad for him? Is that sort of OK for him? It sort of seems fine
That said, when you see a bad number, you really know when it`s a
really bad number. Jim Gilmore raised $105,000 this quarter. And part of
raising that money means that he raised $43,000 of that total from himself
through a personal loan.
George Pataki raised $153,000 this quarter. Again, that includes a
loan from himself. Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, he did a little
better. He brought in about a half million dollars this quarter.
And Chris Christie`s case today, the fund-raising numbers were not
that bad. He did OK in the fundraising numbers. He raised more than $4
million. But the numbers he got today that were truly terrible were his
There`s a new New Jersey Republican primary poll that came out today
that puts Chris Christie, the current governor of that state, at 5 percent
in his home state. That actually puts him below the margin of error in
In August, he was second only to Donald Trump in his home state of
New Jersey. He was at 12 percent. Now he`s down to 5 percent. He`s tied
with Carly Fiorina for fifth place. He has seen his percentage nearly
halved to 5 percent at home.
Not only is he not polling well, in that same poll of Republican
voters in New Jersey, 54 percent of New Jersey Republicans say they believe
Chris Christie should quit the presidential campaign. Those are his home
Despite that, though, despite that bad home state news even those
languishing at 1 percent in the national polls right now, it doesn`t look
like Chris Christie`s going to drop out.
And again, his fund-raising numbers today are sort of fine. Better
than Rand Paul at least. The Rand Paul campaign put out a statement also
saying that Rand Paul should not be expected to drop out anytime soon.
There`s also no sign that Bobby Jindal or Jim Gilmore is dropping out
George Pataki is definitely not dropping out anytime soon. He was on
"ALL IN" with Chris Hayes tonight. He wouldn`t do that if he was dropping
Nobody`s dropping out. We`re going to have a kids` table at every
debate all the way into Iowa and beyond apparently.
What makes a candidate viable or not anymore? I mean, anything that
happened in previous elections to guide our thoughts about what money meant
for campaigns, apparently it`s no guide this year, either for who`s going
to win or for who`s going to quit. It`s weird.
Joining us now is somebody who can hopefully make some sense of this.
Nicholas Confessore is a political reporter for "The New York Times" who
focuses on these issues for "The Times." Nick, it`s nice to have you here.
NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Great. Good to be here.
MADDOW: Is there any one thing about money that is functioning
differently in this election as compared to previous elections that makes
it make sense that all of our previous understanding of how these things go
just don`t seem to apply?
CONFESSORE: Well, partly it`s the guy who has free money, which is
Donald Trump. If you`re getting free TV all the time, you know, it is a
massive subsidy for your campaign for Donald Trump. There`s also small
Finally, we`re seeing conservatives actually master online small
donor fund-raising, efficient small fund-raising and that means you can get
gas in the tank and keep going for a long, long time. And then, finally,
it`s super PACs, right?
There`s a huge amount of cash stockpiled in these campaigns but
outside the campaigns in the super PACs. So, your ad budget can be
outsourced to these super PACs in a big way. And it scrambles everything.
It really does.
MADDOW: Is there something qualitatively different going on across
the board, not just for an individual candidate this year but across the
board in terms of whether or not political ad spending redounds to poll
I mean, we`ve seen Donald Trump run zero ads. You`ve said he`s
getting free TV. We`ve seen Jeb Bush run a ton of ads. It seems to not to
be having an effect in a state like New Hampshire. John Kasich seems like
his ads in New Hampshire pumped up his numbers for a bit and then it went
right back down as he kept his ads on the air.
What`s going on there?
CONFESSORE: Look, it could be finally we`re at that point where
people have stopped responding to political ads on television --
MADDOW: More than an ad a year before the election.
CONFESSORE: It`s crazy, right?
CONFESSORE: There`s negative ads. But this is actually all positive
advertising we`re seeing so far. It`s almost all positive ads except for
the growth for growth from Donald Trump.
People are getting news, following candidates on Twitter. Folks can
reach out to their followers on their own for their Twitter feeds. It`s
like a post-modern campaign. It`s not through TV all the time anymore.
So, it changes everything, how the campaign is experienced and fought and
MADDOW: Is there a populist silver lining here that implies that if
you ever had a candidate who could capture people`s attention the way that
Donald Trump has in either party, even if they couldn`t self-fund the way
that he can, they could potentially be viable without coursing a lot of
money through their campaign?
CONFESSORE: Well, yes. It`s possible. But look, small donors are
very different from large donors, right? So, Sanders on the left and Ted
Cruz on the right are candidates who are not beloved by the donor
establishment and their parties. They`re not raking in huge amounts of
money in Beverly Hills and Washington, right? It`s almost all small
And there is something pleasant about that or beneficial to voters.
CONFESSORE: It is money that does come with strings from interest
groups, and that I think is healthy to see that model succeed in both
parties. Whoever wins, that is probably healthy for the country.
MADDOW: You`re the only person I think might be able to answer this
in a way that I will understand.
MADDOW: Which is Ben Carson made this announcement today that he is
-- well, it may not have been an announcement. But it was reported today
that Ben Carson is essentially stopping his campaign, not doing campaign
events between now and the next event, and instead he`s going to do book
touring, and money he raises selling books just goes to him as a person
rather than his campaign.
Financially, is that surprise to you? Does that something that`s
going to impair his campaign abilities at all?
CONFESSORE: It is strange decision when you`re on top right to hit
the pause button.
CONFESSORE: On the other hand, I suspect the book tour will be a
campaign tour by a different name.
CONFESSORE: It`s going to be hitting a lot of different places. It
will excite his supporters. It will be covered in local places. So I say
good function either way.
Look, I think Carson is operating by his own rules, he makes a lot of
rule books for campaigns. He is not a great debater, not a big fire-
breather, but he`s very conservative. I think he has his own thing going
on, and I can`t see the logic in it by conventional standards, but he is
winning in a lot of states, or he`s in second place.
MADDOW: If you are in any physical heat at any point in your life,
feel free to burn all the rule books about politics for this campaign,
because none of them apply this year, which makes it a lot of fun to cover.
Nicholas Confessore, political reporter for "The New York Times",
thanks for being here.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, we have some breaking news out of Los Angeles tonight.
This is what the I-5 freeway in the mountains north of Los Angeles looks
like at this time. This is the main freeway connecting L.A. to the Central
Valley and the cars you see stuck there are stuck in mud on the freeway.
The I-5 is shut down, and may be shut down for as much as 24 hours.
This is all as a result of some dramatic flash flooding and some very
large mudslides. Fire department has dispatched helicopters to search for
truck drivers all over north L.A. The L.A. area has been hit with massive
thunderstorms dropping four to five inches an hour. And in some places,
golf-ball sized hail.
So, just crazy apocalyptic weather in Southern California tonight.
Fortunately, we`ve got no reports so far of injuries, but we will keep an
eye on this and keep you updated.
MADDOW: You will thank me.
First, there was the poop fairy. That is right, the poop fairy, with
a long nose and blonde hair, and her seemingly awkward scooping mechanism.
The poop fairy was part of a PSA created by the sheriff`s department of
Jefferson County, Colorado, to encourage people to pick up by their dogs.
Quote, "The fabled poop fairy has been the stuff of legend, flying
undetected in parks, neighborhoods and schoolyards. She follows close
behind dogs and their owners picking up what the dog left behind before
flying off to the next canine creation."
The poop fairy is an awesome, memorable, maybe a little disturbing
mascot, invented and designed to get you to do one very specific civic
thing. A very civic thing, (INAUDIBLE) with the poop fairy.
Then, there was Johnny the running toilet, who works for the Raleigh
public utilities department in North Carolina. His favorite activity is
reminding people to get his toilets fixed, because a leaky toilet is a
wasteful toilet, and a wasteful toilet costs everybody water and costs you
So, even everybody loves Johnny and his contagious smile, don`t say
contagious, discovering that your home has a running toilet may cause you
to frown. You hear that, people? Johnny wants you to check your toilets
and know this is not the beginning of a prank phone call, this is serious.
Of course, these bursts of civic creativity are not always about
going potty, there is Smokey the Bear, the iconic and inspiring and oddly
hunky bear reminding you that you are the one who can stop forest fires.
Smokey is timeless, classic, yes, he keeps changing his look over time, but
nobody cares because he gets better with age.
People love Smokey the Bear more now than they did 30 years. Your
grandparents love him, your grandkids will love him. Smokey the Bear,
When it comes to PSAs, Smokey the Bear is what kids these days would
call the GOAT, the greatest of all time. The GOAT, only Smokey the Bear
can`t be the GOAT, because this is the GOAT.
This is Totes McGoats. Totes McGoats, yes, the new recycling and
refuse mascot of Niagara Falls, New York. Totes McGoats unveiled this
week, I`m not making this up, I`m not making this up, I`m not making this
Totes McGoats unveiled this week to get children more involved in
recycling. This is how Niagara Falls is targeting children.
Now, Niagara Falls, we get it. Obviously, on one level, this is
awesome. And if the point is to get attention to this issue, I never lived
near Niagara Falls, I`ve never been there. But, boy, am I interested in
this part of your civic aspirations. So, you have succeeded there, but
Totes McGoats is really scary!
I mean, does he have to look like something that was so disturbing
for the first season of "True Detective"?
I mean, all the flavors in the world that you guys sprinkled with
nightmare fuel. I mean, listen, I don`t have a crystal ball, maybe some
day Totes McGoats and Smokey the Bear will be next to each other on Mount
Rushmore on civic duties and PSAs, but meantime, think of the children.
Look at that thing. It looks like the satanic sculpture they were
going to put up at the Oklahoma state capital. Remember that? Totes
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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