'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, October 26th, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: October 26, 2015
Guest: Bernie Sanders, Patrick Murray
MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- that Secretary
Clinton has not been able to shift position on is Glass-Steagall and the
big mega banks that now still threaten to crash our economy. She cannot
change her position on that. As she said herself, she represented Wall
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: I think --
O`MALLEY: -- and I think that`s a huge difference.
HAYES: I think we`re going to see a lot more of that debate.
Governor Martin O`Malley, it was a pleasure having you come by.
O`MALLEY: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
We here at MSNBC tonight have an embarrassment of riches. You just
saw Governor O`Malley live with my friend Chris Hayes.
Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is in my
studio for an interview. Settle in. It`s going to be a good night.
But our conversation starts on March 24th, 1994. At the time I was
just about to turn 21. I had just moved to San Francisco. I was an AIDS
activist. It was still a couple of years before protease inhibitors were
around to treat HIV infection.
And I remember that at the time it just felt like the AIDS epidemic
was roaring through the gay community, roaring through my community.
And honestly, I didn`t care all that much about electoral politics at
the time. I cared about the activist issues that I was working on, which I
saw as life and death issues. I cared about policy. I cared about, you
know, local stuff and things directly related to the activist campaigns I
was involved in.
But for better or for worse, judge me for it if you will, I honestly
at the time as a 20-year-old did not much care about the presidency nor did
I care that much about the Congress.
But even then, even with that mindset at the time, I remember when in
March 1994, a closeted member of Congress got outed as gay on the floor of
the House of Representatives, in Congress, in a spit-flying, furious floor
speech. This member of Congress, who I had otherwise never heard of, got
outed, got forced out of the closet by a rabid right-wing Republican
congressman named Bob Dornan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ROBERT DORNAN (R), CALIFORNIA: Look, I was born in Manhattan,
and I was raised in Beverly Hills from 10 to 19, when I went in the Air
Force. And those two communities have a particular penchant for poisoning
Little Dorothy`s Kansas or Iowa or other parts of this country. Now, the
last Republican gentleman -- the last Repub -- for the state of New York or
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, point of personal privilege.
I ask the gentleman to withdraw his comment about my district --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the rest of the country.
DORNAN: Ridiculous. Teach him parliamentary procedure.
CHAIRMAN: The gentleman may not assert upon a personal privilege.
The gentleman will resume.
DORNAN: Now, the last gentleman in the well, a Republican, I guess,
quoting my wife again, has a revolving door on his closet. He`s in, he`s
out, he`s in, he`s out, he`s in. Now, I guess you`re out because you went
up and spoke to a huge homosexual dinner last week, Mr. Gunderson, a week
before last if I read the papers correctly. If I don`t, correct me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I think this
conversation is out of order and has no place --
CHAIRMAN: -- from Michigan demands that the words --
DORNAN: Be taken down? I`ll wait. I`m sick of this.
CHAIRMAN: The clerk will report the gentleman`s words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And because the gentleman`s words were reported, words were
taken down, that means they were taken out of the congressional record.
And so, maybe that`s why Congressman Bob Dornan was not censured for making
that kind of a personal attack on another member of Congress from the floor
of the House.
You`re not supposed to be able to do something like that as a member
of Congress. But because his words were taken down, that was supposed to
basically unring the bell, make it so he never said it. But he did.
That March day in 1994, Bob Dornan really did out on the floor of the
House of Representatives a Republican congressman named Steve Gunderson,
who had never publicly revealed he was gay but who had kind of tiptoed to
the edge of coming out in front of some gay audiences. And Bob Dornan
outed him as a way of selling his own anti-gay legislation to try to ban
school districts from ever saying anything about the existence of gay
people, particularly in relation to the issue of AIDS.
And Steve Gunderson weathered it. He actually got re-elected again
from his Wisconsin district later that year. But those were nasty, nasty
And two years, after Bob Dornan outed Steve Gunderson on the floor of
the House, Congressman Gunderson became the lone Republican on the very
lonely side of a vote that still resonates right now in the race for the
presidency this year. It was a vote on something called the Defense of
Marriage Act, in 1996.
That bill banned federal recognition of marriages between same-sex
couples. It passed the House by a huge margin, 342 votes in favor, only 67
votes opposed. Of the 67 votes opposed, 65 of them were Democrats, one of
them was Republican Steve Gunderson, and one of them was an independent
socialist, Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders.
That anti-gay bill passed by such huge margins in the House and the
Senate, the vote in the Senate was 85-14. It passed by such big margins
that if President Clinton had vetoed that bill his veto likely would have
been overridden and pretty easily. The bill would have become law anyway,
even if President Clinton had vetoed it.
But President Clinton didn`t veto it. He signed it. And before the
House even passed it, weeks before they passed it, he said that he would
sign it if they did pass it. And then after he signed it, he ran radio ads
touting the fact that he had signed it, in the last few weeks before
President Clinton then went on to wallop Republican Bob Dole in the 1996
And now, of course, it is a very different time. Former President
Clinton said in 2013 that his own law, that DOMA law, should be overturned.
And it was. It was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in one of
the biggest gay rights legal victories of all time.
Both former President Clinton and former Secretary of State Clinton
have now said they are of course in favor of marriage equality. More than
that, Secretary Clinton became a vocal champion of gay rights, both now as
a presidential candidate and before that in her time as secretary of state.
She even promoted some landmark pro-gay rights legislation as a senator
from the great state of New York.
And now, we`re in a position where if you want to talk about a divide
on this issue, it`s between the parties. The parties could not be more
different on this issue. All the beltway happy talk about how gay rights
is settled, we`ve supposedly had this great evolution in support of gay
rights in this country, but consider just how deeply and uniformly anti-gay
the Republican field is this year.
I mean, even the supposedly newfangled Republicans all agree that it
is kosher and ought to be totally legal for you to be fired for being gay
or if your boss thinks you might be. And forget it on marriage. None of
them support marriage rights.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the partisan aisle, if you are a
supporter of gay rights, you have an embarrassment of riches among the
Democratic presidential front-runners this year. You cannot find a whisper
of difference between Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton in terms of
their commitment to equal rights now.
But there was a difference back in the day. Back in the bad old
outing closeted congressmen on the floor of the House days of the mid
1990s. And even for people who had no interest in electoral politics at
the time, even like 20-year-old me, boy, did that send a shiver down my
And there is -- you know, there is a difference now, I have to say,
between presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and presidential candidate
Hillary Clinton, even though there is no issue now, no difference now
between them in terms of what policies they support now, there is a
difference between them as candidates, as to whether or not President Bill
Clinton signing that anti-gay law, whether that was an anti-gay and
lamentable mistake that never should have happened or whether, as secretary
Clinton argued here on Friday night, it was actually a well-meaning effort,
a well-meaning effort to head off a greater harm that would have been done
had President Bill Clinton not signed that discriminatory bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: But one of the things that I have been struck by -- and
during the Obama administration -- is that a lot of the -- really, the
civil rights achievements of this administration have actually been undoing
things that were done in the Clinton administration.
Whether it was "don`t ask, don`t tell" or the Defense of Marriage Act,
or the -- you know, tough-on-crime mandatory sentences. Former President
Clinton is progressive on all those issues now.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right.
MADDOW: But the policies that he signed -- for politically practical
reasons -- in the `90s have taken -- you know, the political mural --
miracle of Barack Obama`s election and a decade of progressive activism to
unwind those things to get back to zero.
MADDOW: And so, I know that you and President Clinton are different
people, and I know that -- I don`t -- you`re not responsible for what he
did as president. But is your approach to civil rights issues the same as
his, or is it different?
CLINTON: Well, I -- I want to say a word about the -- the issues you
mentioned, because my take on it is slightly different.
On Defense of Marriage, I think what my husband believed -- and there
was certainly evidence to support it -- is that there was enough political
momentum to amend the Constitution of the United States of America, and
that there had to be some way to stop that.
And there wasn`t any rational argument -- because I was in on some of
those discussions, on both "don`t ask, don`t tell" and on -- on DOMA, where
both the president, his advisers and, occasionally I would -- you know,
chime in and talk about, "you can`t be serious. You can`t be serious."
But they were. And so, in a lot of ways, DOMA was a line that was
drawn that was to prevent going further.
MADDOW: It was a defensive action?
CLINTON: It was a defensive action. The culture rapidly changed so
that now what was totally anathema to political forces -- they have ceded.
They no longer are fighting, except on a local level and a rear-guard
action. And with the U.S. Supreme Court decision, it`s settled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Most gay rights activists say that actually there wasn`t an
active threat of an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment at the time.
In fact the real push for that kind of an amendment did not come until the
George W. Bush administration.
I mean, honestly, bottom line, fast forward to today, Hillary Clinton
and former president bill Clinton both support equal marriage rights with
gusto. Neither one of them would support that anti-gay bill today. But
they did back then.
And Hillary Clinton`s presidential primary opponent Bernie Sanders is
going out of his way to make sure that history about this matter is told in
the right way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In 1996, I faced
another fork in the road, a very, very difficult political situation. It
was called the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA. Brought forth, brought forth
by a Republican-led Congress, and its purpose was clear -- to discriminate
against gays and lesbians into the law.
And let us all remember -- the gay and lesbian rights were not popular
then as they are today. It was a tough vote. And I`m sorry to have to
tell you that that bill won by an overwhelming majority in the House of
342-57. That was not a political easy vote.
Now, today some are trying to rewrite history by saying they voted for
one anti-gay law to stop something worse. That`s not the case. There was
a small minority in the House opposed to discriminating against our gay
brothers and sisters, and I am proud that I was one of those members.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders speaking this weekend in Iowa. And
tonight, he`s here live for the interview.
Senator Sanders, thank you so much for being here. It`s really nice
to see you back.
SANDERS: Great to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, you have been remarkably consistent in your policy
positions over the years, also your style. You have, as far as I can tell,
in 35 years in public office you have never run a negative ad against an
opponent. I can find no instances of you even saying anything particularly
nasty or even sharp-tongued about an opponent. But you are drawing a sharp
SANDERS: I am. And the reason that I am is I think it`s important
for voters in the Democratic primary process to understand one very
Yes, it is a good idea that recently, for example, Hillary Clinton has
decided to oppose the TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership. That`s great. I`m
glad she did that. Well, I have been opposed to these disastrous trade
agreements from day one.
I`m glad that Hillary Clinton has come on board and now said, well,
she`s against the Keystone pipeline. Well, you know what? If you take
climate change seriously and you understand the cataclysmic impact that it
will have on this planet, it is a no-brainer. I`ve been against that from
day one. Everybody knows that.
And then we get to this issue of DOMA. Here was my point -- it was a
simple point -- I have had in many years in politics, had to make tough
votes. And let me, as you just indicated, the times then were very, very
different. We had a lot of homophobia going on, you know, right-wing
Republican leadership clearly trying to push this anti-gay legislation.
And it bothered me to hear Secretary Clinton saying, well, you know,
DOMA, what it really was about was to prevent something even worse.
MADDOW: Well --
SANDERS: That just wasn`t true. It wasn`t true.
And I think, you know, if you hear today what many of the gay
activists are saying, they will concur with me. Hilary Rosen, who you know
SANDERS: -- and she`s a supporter of Secretary Clinton.
She said, "Bernie Sanders is right. Note to my friends Bill and
Hillary, please stop saying DOMA was to prevent something worse. It
wasn`t. I was there," end of quote.
So my only point there was that was a tough vote. It really was. And
there were a lot of decent people who in their hearts wanted to vote no and
voted yes for political reasons. I didn`t. That`s the only point I want
MADDOW: As you`ve drawn those points of contrast, in the Jefferson
Jackson Dinner speech and again, right here, and throughout your campaign,
you have pointed out some of these issues on which you basically were
arguing you were right from day one, on TPP, on Keystone, on the Iraq war
vote, on DOMA -- on all of those issues you and Secretary Clinton agree
MADDOW: And so, I wonder if I can zero in on exactly why you think
it`s important that you were right first. What -- when Democratic voters
are make their decision about who their nominee ought to be, why are you a
better choice on those grounds?
SANDERS: It`s an excellent and fair question. And the answer is we
live in a tough world and leadership counts. It`s great that people evolve
and change their minds. And I respect that. I`m not being demeaning here.
But it is important to stand up when the going is tough.
And that was a particularly tough vote. And if you look at my career,
I have taken on every special interest when it was tough to do. And where
we are right now in American history is we have a rigged economy with Wall
Street and the big money interest exerting huge power over the economy. We
have a corrupt campaign finance system with super PACs prepared to buy
What the American people and Democrats have to know, which candidate
historically has had the guts to stand up to powerful people and take
difficult decisions. That`s the point that I was trying to make.
And I think anyone reads my record from when I was mayor of
Burlington, where I took on the entire establishment, as a member of
Congress, was a leader in so many areas, United States senator, I think
that they will conclude that when the going was tough, when leadership was
needed, I was there.
MADDOW: I have one more question that I want to ask you on this
subject, and then I have a whole bunch of questions on a whole bunch of
other subjects. Will you stay?
SANDERS: Sure. Absolutely.
MADDOW: Yes. My first victory.
We`ll be right back with Senator Bernie Sanders.
MADDOW: Joining us once again is Democratic presidential candidate,
Senator Bernie Sanders.
Senator, thanks for sticking with us.
I have one more question for you on this DOMA issue -- on the gay
rights issue in which you`ve been drawing this contrast with Secretary
Clinton. Obviously, 1996, you voted no as a member of the House on the
Defense of Marriage Act.
Ten years later, though, when you were running for Senate in Vermont,
you also said that you would not support Vermont moving forward to legalize
same-sex marriage. Obviously, Vermont had civil unions at the time but not
MADDOW: You said, when you were asked during the campaign, "Not right
now". I don`t think that`s because you have an anti-gay bone in your body.
I think that`s because you thought for politically tactical reasons --
SANDERS: Here`s what happened. Vermont was the first state in the
Union to pass civil unions. You know that.
SANDERS: And trust me, I was there and it was -- it brought forth
just a whole lot of emotion. And the state was torn in a way that I have
never seen the state torn. So, Vermont led the nation in that direction.
And what my view was, give us a little bit of time. Give us a little bit
of time --
MADDOW: Internal rancor in the state, people being upset by the
SANDERS: Exactly, demonstration -- yes. There were anti-civil union
demonstrations. The state was very much split.
And I felt that at that time, given the fact that Vermont had gone
first in breaking new ground, let`s take it easy for a while. That was my
MADDOW: And that is not to suggest that you were anti-gay or that you
had some anti -- some views on marriage that wouldn`t support eventually --
SANDERS: No, I mean, what it says is that Vermont -- you know,
sometimes the world has changed a lot. Vermont was first in the country.
That was a huge deal, to say that if you are gay you`re going to get the
same benefits as a straight couple. That was pretty revolutionary at the
It split our state, and I thought that things would calm down before
we go further. That was in my mind.
MADDOW: Isn`t -- isn`t that -- the reason I want to draw you out on
that is because I want to ask, isn`t that the same kind of tactical
thinking, the same kind of political pragmatism, that may have driven the
decision for which you criticized Secretary Clinton --
SANDERS: All that I criticized Secretary Clinton on was saying
something that wasn`t accurate. I mean, you can argue that, you know,
somebody made -- hey, look, I don`t agree with DOMA politically, I have to
do it. You can make that argument.
But you can`t say that DOMA was passed in order to prevent something
worse. That is just not the case. That`s the only point that I want to
MADDOW: All right. There`s news tonight out of Washington. And NBC
has not confirmed this. It`s being reported by other sources.
But there`s news tonight that there may be a mega budget deal that`s
about to drop in Washington as part of an agreement to lift the debt
ceiling. It`s apparently complex. It`s obviously not official yet. But
the word is it would include fairly significant cuts to Medicare and Social
Security disability benefits.
Have you been briefed on this at all? Do you have any reaction thus
SANDERS: I have not been briefed on it. I know what you know. And
if that is, in fact, true -- and I don`t know that it is -- I would not
support that. Our goal is to expand Social Security benefits, is to push
for a Medicare for all single-payer program. I will not be supportive of
cuts in those programs.
MADDOW: If the debt ceiling depends on, it raising the debt ceiling
depends on it, comes down to your vote, is raising the debt ceiling,
avoiding that sort of catastrophic effort -- catastrophic effect on the
economy, would that be worth it?
SANDERS: That`s a hypothetical. I don`t think actually that it`s
going to be the case.
MADDOW: You joined unionized Verizon workers --
SANDERS: Yes, I did.
MADDOW: -- protesting earlier today in midtown Manhattan. Why were
you walking the picket line today?
SANDERS: Because Verizon is now doing exactly what many, many other
large profitable corporations are doing, and that is as the corporations
make huge profits, as their CEOs get huge compensation packages they are
either not negotiating with a union in one case, workers can`t get a first
contract, or else they are bringing forth a contract for other workers
which is a bad contract. And they fired another worker whose crime in life
was that she was busy organizing, trying to organize the union.
So to my mind what Verizon is doing is what we`re seeing all over this
country, is corporations going to war against their own workers. They are
making huge profits. They are demanding in many cases cuts in wages, in
health care, and in pensions.
This is what the race to the bottom is about. This is why we have
more and more income and wealth disparity. This is why tens of millions of
people are working two or three jobs.
So, what I believe, we`ve got to stand with unions, we`ve got to grow
the trade union movement, and we`ve got to tell corporate America and the
billionaires in this country, they not -- they cannot have it all. Their
greed is destroying this country. And that`s exactly what`s taking place
MADDOW: The workers` rights issue, employees` rights, union rights,
that issue has obviously been core to you for a very, very long time.
MADDOW: It`s a big ideological powers that be issue. But as a matter
of state policy is where it has been changing most radically over these
last few years, and that`s because Republicans have made it a priority --
MADDOW: -- and they`ve taken over so many state legislatures and
If you were the Republican -- the Democratic Party`s presidential
nominee, you`re effectively the leader of the Democratic Party, what would
you do to make Democrats win more down-ticket races, to take back more
state legislatures and governors?
SANDERS: Rachel, Republicans win when voter turnout is low, which is
what happened last November -- when people become demoralized, when they
don`t think their vote matters.
One of the things I`m very proud of in this campaign is that we have
created a huge amount of enthusiasm. Over 300,000 people have come out to
our meetings, 750,000 individuals have contributed more than any other
candidate in history at this point to the campaign.
MADDOW: It`s a record.
SANDERS: OK? We`re -- and a lot of young people and working-class
people are coming out.
The reason that I think I can help the entire Democratic Party at the
head of the ticket is we have got to increase voter turnout. We`ve got to
get low-income workers. We`ve got to get young people to stand up and
fight back and get involved in the political process, and I think I can do
that. I think that`s what our campaign is about.
So, that`s the message. We win when people come out. Republicans win
when their big money buys low voter turnout elections.
MADDOW: We`ll have more with Senator Bernie Sanders right after this.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders is here. We are getting him a fresh
cup of water because I have a lot of questions and I intend to ask them
all. The senator has just generously offered to answer my questions.
So stay with us, Senator Sanders.
Stay with us you at home.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: What these companies do is use their power to cut wages, to
cut health care benefits, to cut pensions. Their greed has no end. And
what this campaign for president is about is saying to corporate America --
you cannot get it all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A lot of presidential candidates come through New York City
in the course of a presidential campaign. Very few of them come through
New York City and make sure to stop by at a picket line. But that`s where
Bernie Sanders was today at a union rally at Verizon here in New York City.
Senator Sanders, thank you for staying with us.
SANDERS: My pleasure.
MADDOW: I want to ask you a political process question. I understand
that you have hired a pollster, which is a not very Bernie Sanders-sounding
thing to do. Should I -- is that because we`re about to see Sanders for
president ads? TV ads. Are you about to launch --
SANDERS: Oh, yes, we are. Absolutely.
MADDOW: Is that what the pollster`s for?
SANDERS: Yes, in one way. It`s obviously not going to be to change
my message. But sometimes it`s better to know where people are so you can
better connect with them -- to them with the message. And that`s what it`s
about. And it`s also maybe to prepare us for some negative ads that maybe
coming down the road.
MADDOW: Do you -- have you found that you have needed to sort of
change your political ways or change the way that you have approached
things in the past as a political figure and as a politician in order to
compete at this level of presidential politics?
SANDERS: Well, this is a crazy level. You know, I represent a small
state that has 620,000 people. I know that state pretty well. Now, you`re
running all over the country. So, the size of our organization, the number
of people that we have hired, you know, makes life very, very different.
It`s a big learning curve.
I mean, one of the problems that we have is we have grown so fast that
we haven`t been able to staff up appropriately. We are now expanding our
staff in many, many states beyond Iowa and New Hampshire, into Nevada, into
South Carolina, into many states all over the country.
MADDOW: I want to ask you specifically on that point. When we spoke
in September, you talked about that issue of staffing up, building up
MADDOW: And you said you`re putting a lot of resources into Iowa, New
Hampshire, and South Carolina. You said specifically you would do better
than people expected in South Carolina.
Now, the latest polling has you doing very well in New Hampshire. The
latest poll has you up by 15 over Secretary Clinton in New Hampshire. It
has you very close in Iowa, down by three in the latest poll.
But it has you way, way down in South Carolina. The Bloomberg poll
has you 43 points behind in South Carolina.
Has something gone wrong there with your strategy?
SANDERS: No. We have just a lot more work to do. And let me be very
honest with you. We have a lot of work to do specifically in the African-
American community and the Latino community. And we are going to do that
And I think once the African-American community knows my record and
once they know our agenda, which is going to focus on the need for real
criminal justice reform, creating jobs for young people, making public
colleges and universities tuition-free, raising the minimum wage to 15
bucks an hour, these are issues that are very relevant to all Americans but
even more so to the African-American and Latino communities.
So, I am confident that we`re going to gain a lot of ground within
those communities, but we still have a long way to go.
MADDOW: Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has
attacked you specifically, went out of his way to go after you
individually, specifically for the way you responded to Black Lives Matter
protesters. He said it was a sign of weakness --
MADDOW: -- that at one event that you basically ceded your microphone
to the activists who had interrupted you and let them speak their piece.
Can you -- I`m not going to ask you to respond to Donald Trump, but I
would like you to explain how those kind of interactions, those kind of
interventions by activists challenged you and changed you?
SANDERS: Well, the message -- you know, I`m not greatly in favor of
people disrupting meetings. We were talking about immigration reform, a
huge issue, and in another case, Social Security.
But the issues these young people are talking about are of huge
consequence. And I`ll tell you the truth -- I think many white people are
just not aware of what goes on in terms of police relations with the
African-American community. And what they are saying with Black Lives
Matter is about is -- hey, do you understand that our people are getting
beaten up, that unarmed people are being killed, that we`re afraid to walk
the streets, that we are afraid of police. They`re not helping us.
And it`s important that we understand. It is important. And to my
mind as president I will move very aggressively. We have more people in
jail than any other country on Earth, 2.2 million people. We spend $80
billion a year locking up people.
In my, view, we have got to invest in education, in jobs, rather than
incarceration and in jails. We need real reform. We need to demilitarize
police departments. We need to make police departments look like the
communities that they are serving.
We need to do away with mandatory minimum sentences. We need to end
this outrageous level of recidivism. People get out of jail. They end up
We need to rethink the war on drugs, which has just destroyed so many
lives in this country.
These are some of the issues that Black Lives Matter are raising.
They are real issues, and they need to be dealt with.
MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is -- we`ve talked a lot
over the years. I always enjoy talking to you. And I hope you`ll come
back whenever you can. It`s really nice to see you here.
SANDERS: You keep up the great work, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you. Good luck, sir.
SANDERS: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So there`s breaking news tonight out of Washington, D.C., a
little bit of which I just discussed with Senator Bernie Sanders.
It`s news about a possible deal on some of the biggest fiscal issues
in the country, which of course have become the biggest political bugaboos
for both parties.
The context here is that I think is unexpectedly relevant to a story
like this, is that House Speaker John Boehner got his stuff moved out of
his office today in Washington. John Boehner is leaving. He is packing up
and moving out. He said that he would stay in his job as speaker until the
end of October.
Now we know that he meant not one day longer. He`s stepping down as
speaker and he`s leaving Congress and, literally, they are trucking his
stuff out there have. There is one thing, though, that Speaker Boehner has
said he really wants to get done before he leaves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don`t want to leave
my successor a dirt y barn. So, I want to clean the barn up before the
next person gets there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What`s left in the barn if the barn is dirty? Do you mean
like a stable? Come on. Clean the barn. Give the presumed next speaker a
clean slate. He cannot need a shovel on day one. Make it easy as possible
on presumed next Speaker Paul Ryan.
Well, tonight, it appears that John Boehner may actually manage some
attempt at cleaning the barn. There have apparently been weeks of talks
between the White House and congressional leaders that have produced a
possible deal on roughly everything, stopping premium hikes for Medicare
patients, funding the nation`s highways, locking in a two-year budget deal.
And yes, raising the debt ceiling so the government does not go into
Oh, and, by the way, Paul Ryan is not involved in the negotiations.
So, if you don`t like the deal, don`t blame the incoming House Speaker Paul
Heading into a leadership meeting about this deal tonight, Speaker
Boehner was asked by NBC`s Luke Russert whether he was about to clinch this
deal he wanted to get done before leaving his post.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: Is this what you`ve been waiting for? You`re
a legacy guy, right? Is this the last hurrah?
BOEHNER: Cleaning out the barn.
RUSSERT: Cleaning out the barn after two years.
REPORTER: How clean is the barn going to get, Mr. Speaker?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: How clean is the barn going to get?
If all goes according to what we are told is the plan, this giant deal
will be voted on on Wednesday. Paul Ryan is expected to be elected speaker
on Thursday. John Boehner will thereby hand over a clean barn and ride off
into the sunset.
But, as you just heard, Senator Bernie Sanders reacting to the news
that this deal may include Medicare cuts and Social Security disability
cuts. We heard Senator Sanders just moments ago saying that he at least
would be opposed to such a deal. And, of course, the other big kahuna here
is the majority of the house, the House Republican caucus.
Whether or not they`re in the middle of switching speakers, how often
do speakers go according to their plans?
Watch this space.
MADDOW: OK. Take a look at this clip. This person singing the
national anthem in Iowa over the weekend, this is a presidential
candidate`s wife. And she is awesome. Watch this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Do you believe her hitting that high note there?
That was Candy Carson, wife of Republican presidential candidate Ben
Carson, and she can sing. Boy howdy, she can sing.
And she has a husband who right now is enjoying a major surge in the
polls in a place where it counts more than anywhere else in the country. I
don`t know if it is because Candy Carson is now singing the national anthem
at his events. I don`t know if the two things are related. But for
whatever reason, Ben Carson is really hitting the high notes right now in
In the latest Monmouth University poll, which is just out today, Ben
Carson has now opened up a double-digit lead over the guy who was starting
to look like the permanent presidential front-runner for the Republicans in
every state in the country, including Iowa. He`s up double digits over
Donald Trump, 32 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers saying they
support Ben Carson for president, while Donald Trump is way back in second
place at 18 percent.
Ben Carson and Donald Trump were tied in that same poll back in
August. Now, Dr. Carson has a 14-point lead. Dr. Carson`s support has
gone up among all ideological groups in Iowa. But he has really stolen the
vote away from Donald Trump, essentially among a couple of key voting
groups there. Ben Carson now leads Donald Trump among non-evangelical
voters by a nine-point margin. In August, Donald Trump had a six-point
lead among those same voters.
Ben Carson is also now leading Donald Trump among men in Iowa. He now
leads Donald Trump among men by 11 points, which erases a ten-point lead
that Donald Trump had among those same voters back in August. This new
Monmouth poll overall, this is the fourth poll in a row now that has Ben
Carson leading in Iowa.
What is behind this shift? Should we have seen it coming? And can we
tell anything from the character of that lead right now that tells us
whether or not it`s going to last?
Joining us now is Patrick Murray. He`s director of the Monmouth
University Polling Institute.
Mr. Murray, thank you for being here.
PATRICK MURRAY, MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY POLLING INSTITUTE DIRECTOR: My
MADDOW: Was this foretellable? Were there signs of softness in
Donald Trump`s earlier polling that should have alerted us to the fact that
somebody else is poised to take his lead?
MURRAY: Yes. Absolutely. And this goes back months and months and
months. I spent some time out in Iowa specifically talking to Iowa voters.
And every Donald Trump voter I met said, "I might consider some other
candidates including Ben Carson." Ben Carson voters said, "No, I would not
consider voting for Donald Trump."
There is a difference in the type of voters, even though they were
both going for outsiders and they wanted an outside candidate, they didn`t
want an establishment candidate, the Carson voters are -- and particularly
in a place like Iowa, this is why I think it should have been predictable
in Iowa, is there`s this thing out there in the Hawkeye State called Iowa
nice, right? Which is that`s Ben Carson. He`s Iowa nice.
Donald Trump isn`t. And I think there was a natural ceiling on Donald
Trump`s support. He could never go above 30 percent. Even among the
angriest voters out there in the Republican Party.
And there was a lot of real affection for Ben Carson and his personal
story. That`s what I kept hearing over and over again. It`s his personal
story, it`s his personal story. I like where he stands on the issues. And
I don`t think he hurt himself with his "Meet the Press" interview in
talking about abortion in the way he did, because it resonated with those
evangelical voters out there. But the other part of it, or the flip side
of it was his own personal bearing and character.
MADDOW: The way that this was I think being described broadly I think
when people saw Donald Trump`s lead slip and saw Ben Carson starting to
move up, first, it was just one poll. Now, it`s been four in a row.
I think the sort of bottom line that everybody assumed on this was oh,
this must be religious voters, this must be a lead that is entirely driven,
it must be religious voters like Ben Carson, Donald Trump doesn`t seem
religious enough, and therefore he can`t win in Iowa. That`s not actually
what`s going on.
MURRAY: No, that is not what`s going on.
MURRAY: Because if that were true, Donald Trump would have been
losing those voters to a lot of other people. You would have seen Ted Cruz
doing even better. I mean, Ted Cruz is doing well with that 10 percent.
But you would see him doing better, you`d see Mike Huckabee doing better.
You`d see Rick Santorum doing better.
That`s not what`s going on here, because Ben Carson is getting
evangelical voters and non-evangelical voters. I mean, he`s opened up
leads among both groups. And it`s because of the sense that these voters
want an outsider. But the more they look at Donald Trump the more they
say, not quite the kind of presidential bearing that we want -- whereas Ben
MADDOW: In terms of that bearing issue and in terms of what Iowa
voters like about Ben Carson, I have to ask you heading into this Wednesday
debate that we`re about to have, Ben Carson at the previous Republican
debates has been a flat line. I mean, he hasn`t said anything that has
resonated beyond that evening at all. I think the most memorable thing
that has happened for him at the debates is when bad lip reading did a
funny thing where they made it seem like he was creating a puzzle at his
I mean, he really just hasn`t registered. He hasn`t hurt himself, but
he hasn`t done badly.
Is that actually not a weakness for a candidate who is liked in the
way that he is liked by the voters who are saying they want him?
MURRAY: It`s not a weakness in a field that spills over the stage,
where you can`t fit up all the candidates on one stage. That`s why it`s
not a weakness because you can be in the lead with 30 percent by a lot,
whereas in another race years gone by, there would be three or four
candidates. So, 30 percent wouldn`t be enough.
But it works in a place like Iowa. To some extent, it works in New
Hampshire in terms of the personal connection but it doesn`t work when you
get to the big media states. When we get to Super Tuesday, it doesn`t work
as well. You have to pop.
MURRAY: This is why he`s doing well in Iowa. Not sure that that`s
going the carry over into these other states.
MADDOW: Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling
Institute and an expert at talking about polling in a way that makes sense
in human terms. Thank you for being here.
MURRAY: My pleasure.
MADDOW: All right. We got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re just talking about how well Ben Carson is suddenly
doing in the Iowa polls. Four straight polls now in which he is beating
Donald Trump in Iowa.
But in all fairness to Mr. Trump, I guess, which even feels like a
weird idea, there is one more piece of polling that`s making the rounds
today which I think is absolutely stunning and important to know about.
It`s from "The A.P." It`s about who Republicans think would be their
single best candidate in a general election.
So, not who do you like but who do you think Republicans ought to
nominate if they want to win in November. According to this new "A.P."
poll, the percentage of Republican voters who say they Donald Trump would
be their best candidate in the general election is 71 percent.
Regardless of whether or not they are supporting him, 71 percent of
Republicans think that Donald Trump is the best we`ve got. There`s nobody
better to represent the Republican Party and to try to win the White House
than Trump, 71 percent.
Even when Donald Trump was doing very well early in this race, the
people who said they wanted to vote for him didn`t always say they thought
he would get nomination. And they didn`t necessarily think he would win if
he did get the nomination. They just liked him anyway.
Now, some transformation has happened, and Republicans, whether they
support Donald Trump or not, seem to think that he really is their best
chance of winning the general election next November. Literally, that`s
the Republican mindset right now. I`m not sure whether or not I really
like Trump but I might vote for him because it`s really important to me
that the Republicans win the White House in 2016. And he`s our best bet.
Just a stunning piece of polling and a stunning window into the
Republican mind right now.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: There has been a resolution at long last in the federal
corruption case that has been hanging around campaign of Republican
presidential candidate Rand Paul. Rand Paul`s former campaign manager, the
guy who has been lately running his presidential super PAC, was one of
three people indicted by the federal government earlier this year on
charges related to the Ron Paul presidential campaign in Iowa in 2012. The
charges followed allegations that Rand Paul`s father`s presidential
campaign, the Ron Paul campaign in 2012, basically paid a bribe for an
endorsement in the Iowa caucuses last time around.
The results of that federal criminal trial turns out to be kind of a
bad news/good news thing for both Rand Paul and his dad.
The bad news is about the guilty verdict. Ron Paul`s former deputy
campaign manager, a man named Dimitri Kesari, was convicted of causing a
false record. Basically because they didn`t report the bribe money for
that state senator that they bribed as a campaign expense on government
forms, he was found guilty of that one charge, faces up to five years in
prison on that charge. That Ron Paul deputy campaign manager convicted on
that crime in federal court, awaiting sentencing. There was a hung jury on
the other counts against him.
The good news for the Ron Paul/Rand Paul world of politics is that the
other former Ron Paul, former Rand Paul campaign staffer, Jesse Benton, who
again had been running Rand Paul`s presidential super PAC this year, Jesse
Benson was found not guilty in federal court on the charges against him of
lying to the FBI while they investigated that case.
When Jesse Benton was indicted it was a shock to the Rand Paul for
president campaign. Again, he was running Rand Paul`s super PAC at the
time. This federal trial has been under way in Iowa as Rand Paul tries to
campaign for votes in Iowa but, again, Jesse Benton, one of Rand Paul`s key
aides, has now been acquitted of all wrongdoing by a federal jury in Iowa,
found not guilty in charges related to that scheme, to bribe an Iowa state
senator for his endorsement back in 2012.
And now that he`s been found not guilty, he`s now already back in
charge running the America`s liberty super PAC, trying to get Rand Paul
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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