'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, November 9th, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: November 9, 2015
Guest: Claire McCaskill
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much, Chris. It was nice
of you to have me on your show and thank you for the giant tease. I
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
I do want to say thank you to everybody who tuned in on Friday night
to watch our big First in the South Democratic Candidates Forum with the
three Democratic candidates for president. As Chris said, we do have some
data in terms of how that went, its impact. We know first off that we had
a really big audience on Friday night for this event, which is just
We also got a lot of really good feedback in terms of people finding
it to be a useful source of information about the Democratic candidates and
the differences between them and what they stand for. We had a lot of
really good feedback particularly from people in South Carolina itself,
which is great, which is a big part of what we were aiming for.
But as of tonight, exclusively, we`ve also got brand new polling on
who won -- to the extent that there is a winner of events like this. We`ve
got brand new polling exclusive here tonight from Public Policy Polling in
South Carolina. This is a poll of Democratic voters in South Carolina, and
we now know what South Carolina voters thought about the three candidates
in that event, what they thought of Martin O`Malley and Bernie Sanders and
This was a question that public policy polling asked. In this event
on Friday night if you watched the forum did the forum give you a more or
less positive opinion of each of those candidates or did it not make a
First up, Hillary Clinton. Voters were very impressed with her
performance at the forum. Among people who watched the proportion of
people whose perception of Hillary Clinton improved based on what they saw
in the forum was 61 percent -- 61 percent of people felt more positive
about her after seeing her on Friday night.
The percentage of people who watched the forum and had the opposite
impression, it worsened their impression, that was just 14 percent. And a
quarter of people said it made no difference, 25 percent.
The numbers were sort of similar for Bernie Sanders, a little
different but sort of the same idea. Most people, a majority of people, 51
percent of people who watched the forum said that Bernie Sanders`s
performance in the forum gave them a more positive impression of him. Only
11 percent felt the opposite, felt their impression of them get more
negative based on the forum.
It`s interesting, though, compared to Hillary Clinton, a slightly
larger percentage of people say what they saw in the forum really didn`t
change their opinion of Bernie Sanders one way or another.
Now, here`s the super interesting unpredictable and I think in the end
maybe the slightly sad trombone news of the forum. The candidate who
obviously had the most to gain from just being in that forum on Friday
night is the man who is at the low single digits in South Carolina and
across the country, has really had a hard time getting traction. Former
Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley.
He`s basically -- especially in comparative terms he`s basically
unknown to the Democratic electorate nation and in a state like South
Carolina. So, this is kind of the biggest moment he`s had so far. A lot
of time on screen, people having a chance to hear from him at length about
who he is and what he believes, what sets him apart from the other
Despite all of that, despite the fact that voters were kind of meeting
him for the first time, this was his first chance to make a first
impression, at least from the polling it looks like he did not make much of
an impression. A whopping 43 percent of voters say that seeing martin
O`Malley in the forum in South Carolina on Friday night did not make them
feel positively about him or negatively about him, it didn`t make them feel
anything. Forty-three percent said it didn`t change their opinion of him
either way, 18 percent of voters say his performance in the forum made them
feel worse about him, 38 percent said it made them feel better.
So, you know, on paper, when you count the minutes of TV time he just
got before a pretty big audience, this could have been a pretty big
breakthrough moment for Governor O`Malley. It does not look like it was
Martin O`Malley`s breakthrough moment, at least not in South Carolina, at
least not in the initial polling. Longer-term effects may prove to be
better for him. We don`t know.
But here`s sort of the bottom line, or one of the bottom lines from
the public policy polling after the forum. When Public Policy Polling
asked directly who do you think won, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or
Martin O`Malley, a whopping 67 percent of South Carolina voters thought
that Hillary Clinton won on Friday night. Bernie Sanders in second at 16
percent, Martin O`Malley at 6 percent, 11 percent of people say they`re not
The other bottom line, which is probably the more important bottom
line in this new exclusive polling that we`ve got for South Carolina and
the Democratic race, shows that the overall standing among the candidates
staying pretty much where it was. Hillary Clinton in South Carolina in
terms of how many Democratic voters want her as the Democratic nominee or
planning on voting for her, Hillary Clinton at 72 percent. She`s got a
whopping 54 percent lead over Bernie Sanders, and Martin O`Malley is way
back in the single digits.
Again, this new PPP polling just out tonight. PPP is going to release
the full results of this poll tomorrow including some really interesting
numbers about how the candidates are doing among black voters in
particular. That is an absolutely key metric not just for South Carolina
but for lots of Democratic primaries in tons of states. So, the numbers on
the preferences of African-American voters on the rest of those poll
results from that PPP poll in South Carolina, those will come out tomorrow,
but those are just the exclusive highlights from that poll tonight.
We also do have one piece of unfinished business from the forum on
Friday, which had to do with those envelopes from which I asked the
presidential candidates less serious or at least much shorter questions.
There`s a little unfinished business involving the remaining envelope.
That will be coming up later on in the show tonight.
Honestly, though, from my perspective, it was just personally a real
honor to be part of that. And the Democrats are going to have their next
formal debate on November 14th, this upcoming Saturday. But in terms of
the Democratic race I`m very proud of how this went off and I think this
event we did in South Carolina was the biggest thing that happened in the
Democratic race this weekend.
And while that event was under way this weekend, simultaneously, the
Republican candidates for president were also having their big event of the
weekend. I don`t know if anybody`s polled on the impact of this one yet.
But what the Republican candidates did this weekend while we were in South
Carolina, it had a significantly different vibe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN SWANSON, NATIONAL RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES CONFERENCE: There are
families whose -- we`re talking Christian families, pastors` families,
elders` families in good godly churches -- their sons are rebelling,
hanging out with homosexuals and getting married. And the parents are
What would you do if that was the case? Here`s what I would do. Sack
cloth and ashes at the entrance to the church. And I`d sit in cow manure
and I`d spread it all over my body. That`s what I`d do.
And I`m not kidding. I`m not laughing. I`m grieving. I`m mourning.
I`m pointing out the problem!
It`s not a gay time! These are the people with the sores, the gaping
sores. The sores that are pusy and gross and people are coming in and
carving happy faces on pusy sores. That`s not a nice thing to do.
Don`t you dare carve happy faces on open, pusy sores. Don`t you ever
do that. Don`t you ever do that. I tell you don`t do it.
Sack cloth and ashes. This is what America needs. America needs to
hear the message. We are messed up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, yes, we are.
Well, we had three Democratic presidential candidates in South
Carolina this weekend. This is where three Republican presidential
candidates were this weekend, in Iowa. That`s a pastor named Kevin
Swanson. He hosted an event this weekend in Des Moines, Iowa. They called
it the National Religious Liberties Conference. Over 1,700 people
And a pretty major theme of the event both in terms of the literature
that was available at the event and the way the host of the conference
spoke from the stage. A significant theme was the practical challenges and
the timing of how exactly and when exactly the United States of America
should start rounding up gay people in this country in order to execute
them, because the appropriate punishment for the crime of being gay is that
the government should have you killed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SWANSON: Yes. Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for
homosexuals. Yes. Romans Chapter 1 Verse 32 the Apostle Paul does say
that homosexuals are worthy of death. His words, not mine!
And I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ! And I am not
ashamed of the truth of the word of God. And I am willing to go to jail
for standing on the truth of the word of God.
And I know I`ve taken the counsel, many have told me this weekend, you
be careful, you choose your words carefully, we have presidentials coming
down to this conference this weekend. I understand that.
But I am not ashamed of the truth of the word of God! And I`m willing
to go to jail for it. And they asked me, yes, but do you advocate for our
civil leaders to do this today? And my answer is -- no.
But why? Here`s why, because that`s not such a big deal. We are not
to fear those who can kill the body. Yes, Jesus says, fear rather those,
the ones who can cast body and soul in hell forever.
The discussion concerning the capital punishment of homosexuals is
nothing, is not all that important when contrasted with hellfire forever.
You say why wouldn`t you call for it?
I say it`s because we need some time for homosexuals to repent, that`s
They need time to repent. Do you understand? America needs time to
repent! You say why don`t you call for it? America needs time to repent!
Of their homosexuality, their adultery, and their porn addiction.
America is steeped in a destructive homosexuality and, friends,
they`re bound for hell! Do you understand? It`s not so much an issue of
the death penalty. It`s an issue of God`s judgment that`s hanging upon
this nation today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So this is a political event. This is a Republican
presidential candidates` event. This is an event in Des Moines, Iowa this
weekend at which three Republican presidential candidates made appearances.
And what I just showed you there, those are not like the kill the gays
ravings of the guy who was hosting this event from some time in his past.
This is not something that we dug up that he said a long time ago that
maybe these presidential candidates didn`t know about.
This was actually the host of the event speaking this weekend. This
was him speaking this weekend at the event where these three Republican
presidential candidates were also present and speaking with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SWANSON: He`s a humble man. He`s a Christian man. And he joins us
now. Governor mike Huckabee, running for president of the United States.
Come on up here.
I would like to introduce to you a candidate for the president of the
United States. Ladies and gentlemen, the governor of Louisiana, Governor
Bobby Jindal. Please come up.
Jesus Christ is king of kings and lord of lords. He is king of the
president of the United States, whether he will admit it or not. And that
president should submit to his rule and to his law. Amen? Amen.
Now, my friends, let me introduce to you the next candidate for the
office of president of the office of the United States. Folks, please make
welcome, Senator Ted Cruz.
OK. Senator Cruz, I`ve got a few questions for you. Then I`d like to
open it up so you can share your ideas with the audience today. And the
first question is this.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Fire away. But you`re
not going to ask about fantasy football, are you?
SWANSON: No, I`m not.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hook `em horns!
SWANSON: No, I`m not. I`m going to go much tougher than that. This
is an important question.
In fact, this is the most important question that I ask any candidate
who`s running for political office. And that is this: How important for
the president of the United States to fear god? And what does that mean to
CRUZ: Any president who doesn`t begin every day on his knees isn`t
fit to be commander in chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, all appeared this
weekend at this anti-gay confab in Des Moines, Iowa.
And I don`t think it can be said these candidates didn`t know what
they were getting themselves into. On Thursday, the day before he went to
this event, Ted Cruz was interviewed on CNN and was asked on CNN if it was
appropriate for him to be going to this event with this pastor given the
stated views of this pastor about gay people. Senator Cruz responded to
those questions on CNN by saying, quote, "I don`t know what this gentleman
has said and what he hasn`t said."
Whether or not he knew it in advance, even after -- even once he`d
been questioned about it on CNN before he went, once the event started in
Iowa a significant portion of what they talked about at that conference was
the exact contours, the exact language of what they believe is a biblical
commandment that gay people in the United States should be rounded up and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SWANSON: This is the highest level, the very highest level of clarity
where the word of god has spoken both Old Testament and New Testament, not
to be any debate whatsoever about it. And you know what that sin is --
it`s the sin of homosexuality. Romans 1, First Corinthians chapter 6,
First Timothy I think it`s chapter 4. And, of course, Leviticus 18 and
The word of god speaks there. In fact, the Romans chapter 1, Paul
affirms that this particular sin is worthy of death, In Romans chapter 1.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So some of what happened at this Republican presidential
candidates event in Iowa was more run-of-the-mill culture war, religious
right, fire and brimstone stuff. There were denunciations of Harry Potter.
There was a big long soliloquy about the evils of a movie called "How to
Train Your Dragon."
There was a big screaming denunciation of how country music radio
stations need to repent, repent, repent because they`ve gone over to the
gay side too. But it really was, and I`m not -- I`m not rounding up to the
nearest scary thing -- it really was a kill the gays call to arms.
This was a conference about the necessity of the death penalty as a
punishment for homosexuality. This religious liberties conference in Iowa
this weekend. And there were pamphlets about why gay people should be
executed. There were multiple discussions about it from the stage.
There were at least two other speakers besides the host of the event
who have publicly called for gay people to be executed. There was
discussion at the event in print about whether or not -- there was
discussion at the event by people who have described the finite differences
between the different methods of execution that should be used to kill
people should they be thrown off cliffs, should they be stoned to death?
Apparently both of those are sanctions means of execution for the crime of
And again, this host of the event who interviewed three Republican
presidential candidates on stage, who convened the entire event, he has
spoken in the past about the need to execute gay people in order to live in
a properly Christian society. He did not hide that light under bushel once
the candidates were there. He talked about that repeatedly at this event
from the same stage that these candidates appeared.
And Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are going to be at the kids` table
at the next Republican debate, which is tomorrow night in Milwaukee. Ted
Cruz will be on the main stage because Ted Cruz is now polling third in a
number of polls nationwide.
But part of the way he is campaigning for president, part of the way
all three of them are campaigning for president is by attending a "kill the
gays" rally convened this weekend at the Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, Iowa.
I don`t know if that is considered to be a scandal anymore in
Republican politics. I mean, it will be interesting to see if it comes up
in tomorrow night`s debate, right? I don`t know if our friends over at the
Fox Business Channel will feel comfortable raising this issue with Senator
Cruz or with any of the other candidates who went to the "kill the gays"
event this weekend.
But you know there are ways you could do it. You could maybe just
have a little tableau of gay people being stoned to death or thrown off
cliffs, tuck one into the envelope, surprise one of the candidates with it,
ask them how it makes them feel, good thing or bad thing.
Listen, I know the envelope thing might be a glib little device but
sometimes it helps you get right to the heart of the matter. We`ll be
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SWANSON: People are coming in and carving happy faces on the sores!
That`s not a nice thing to do. Don`t you dare carve happy faces on open
pusy sores. Don`t you ever do that. Don`t you ever do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So there`s big news out of the state of Missouri today. The
president of the University of Missouri resigned over racial tensions at
Mizzou. The chancellor of the whole university system also says that he
will resign over the controversy.
Here tonight in studio for the interview is a University of Missouri
alum who also happens to be one of that state`s highest-profile
politicians. That`s ahead.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: This right here, this is a great photo. This is a sitting
U.S. senator shot gunning a beer for the first time in her life while
wearing her pajamas. Clearly, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill was very
happy on the night these photos were taken in 2012.
But she was not happy because she had won an election that night. She
was happy because her opponent had won an election. This guy, Congressman
Todd Akin, had just won the Republican primary that night, setting him up
to challenge Claire McCaskill for her U.S. Senate seat in the general.
And Claire McCaskill was thrilled with that Republican primary result
because honestly, Todd Akin was the general election opponent that she
really wanted. She really wanted to run against Todd Akin if she had to
run against anyone. She wanted to run against Todd Akin so bad she
promised her daughters that if he won the Republican primary, she would
shotgun a beer with them. And so she did.
She was partly celebrating because Todd Akin was the opponent she
wanted in a general election, but she was also over the moon shotgun a beer
happy because her strategy for making that happen, her strategy for getting
unelectable Todd Akin picked by the Missouri Republican primary voters,
that strategy of hers had been so awesomely successful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I`m Claire McCaskill, and I
approve this message.
AD NARRATOR: The most conservative congressman in Missouri as our
senator, Todd Akin, a crusader against bigger government. Akin would
completely eliminate the Departments of Education and Energy and privatize
Social Security. Todd`s pro-family agenda would outlaw many forms of
contraception. And Akin alone says President Obama is a complete menace to
Todd Akin, Missouri`s true conservative, is just too conservative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Missouri`s true conservative. Claire McCaskill ran that ad
during the Republican primary. And it`s brilliant, right? Senator
McCaskill, she puts her name on it at the top. It is ostensibly an attack
ad by Claire McCaskill against Todd Akin.
But really it`s just a list of things that Republican primary voters
would love, right? A crusader against bigger government, pro-family, anti-
Obama, the true conservative.
In her new book, Senator McCaskill reveals that ad was part of an
almost $2 million operation by her campaign to help get Todd Akin the
Republican nomination for that Senate race. Quote, "We came up with the
idea for a dog whistle ad, a message that was pitched in a certain way that
would only be heard by a group of people. I told my group they needed to
put Akin`s uber-conservative bona fides in an ad, and then using reverse
psychology we would tell voters not to vote from him and we needed to run
the H-E double hockey sticks out of that ad. As it turns out we spent more
money for Todd Akin in the last two weeks of the primary than he spent in
his whole primary campaign."
And it worked. Not only did Todd Akin win the Republican nomination,
he, of course, went on to make his infamous legitimate rape comment. Just
the sort of thing Claire McCaskill was sort of banking on him to say on the
campaign trail. And she went on to win that election by more than 15
points. And that was in a state that went for Mitt Romney by almost ten
points on the same night.
Since her reelection, Missouri has had some trying times including a
lot of national attention. Last summer when the police killing of Michael
Brown touched off protests in Ferguson, Missouri Senator McCaskill was
there listening to the protests, calling Attorney General Eric Holder,
pushing for a federal investigation. When she got back to Washington,
D.C., she held a Senate hearing on the militarization of local police
This past week, there have been ongoing protests at the University of
Missouri, which activists there say are the culmination of tensions, racial
tensions that have been simmering at Mizzou since Ferguson if not before.
African-American students at the University of Missouri have been raising
concerns for months about incidents in which racial epithets were hurled at
them. There was another incident recently where a swastika was drawn in
feces on a dormitory wall.
Activists at the school say the university has not been responsive to
their complaints on these and other matters. And then a week ago, a grad
student at the school went on a very public hunger strike demanding the
resignation of the University of Missouri president, Tim Wolfe.
This weekend African-American players on the very good University of
Missouri football team said they would not play any games until the
This morning, Senator Claire McCaskill, a University of Missouri alum,
she made clear she was with those players.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCASKILL: Well, certainly, I want to say how proud I am of the young
people on that campus that have decided that they are going to make a
stand. And I`m proud of our football team, frankly. If you remember, this
is the same football team that -- where Michael Sam came from.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: Yes.
MCCASKILL: One of the first athletes to go through the NFL draft as -
CUOMO: Openly gay.
MCCASKILL: Openly gay.
So I really believe that good things are going to come from this,
because of the passion and commitment of these young people.
Obviously, it`s not their fault. It`s not their perception. There is
systemic racism. And it`s important we look at it from top to bottom on
university campuses, in the criminal justice system, in the workplace.
And I believe that the university is going to turn the page today and
we`re going to see some changes that I hope will allow us to go forward and
fix this issue, at least do a much better job than we have done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You heard her say there, "I believe the university is going
to turn the page today, we`re going to see some changes." That was Senator
McCaskill speaking this morning. Just a few hours after those remarks, the
president of the University of Missouri resigned. And the chancellor of
the announced he will leave his post too at the end of the year.
The university also says it`s implementing a series of initiatives to
address the racial climate on its campuses. So, a remarkable
accomplishment of those activists in a relatively short amount of time.
But what happens next?
Joining us now for the interview is Senator Claire McCaskill of
Missouri. She has a new memoir out called "Plenty Lady-Like."
Senator, it`s great to have you here with us. Thanks for being here.
MCCASKILL: Thanks. And by the way --
MCCASKILL: -- you know you`ve made it when, when you are parodied on
"Saturday Night Live."
MADDOW: Oh, well --
MCCASKILL: Congratulations. That was pretty cool.
MADDOW: You know the weird thing? It looks like she was wearing my
exact clothes. I keep my clothes in the building. Like I don`t wear like
a suit when I go home.
MCCASKILL: They probably figured out a way to get them.
MADDOW: I think it`s quite possible I need to send the dry cleaning
bill to them. But thank you for that.
MCCASKILL: You bet.
MADDOW: So in that interview this morning you sounded like you maybe
knew these resignations were coming today. Is that true?
MCCASKILL: Well, I certainly have been in contact with the
administration and frankly been in contact with Jonathan Butler`s family
over the weekend.
MADDOW: The hunger striker.
MCCASKILL: Yes. I mean, I found that sometimes you can do better
work when you are quietly reaching out and talking and trying to move the
But the credit goes to these kids. The credit goes to these kids who
took a stand and to the football players who went to visit the young man
who had gone days without food. And they were motivated and moved by his
And then I was proud that -- it wasn`t just the black players that
were in that picture. It was the team and the coach. That all kind of
came together and said, you know, we`re one here too. And something needs
to happen. There needs to be a reprioritization of how important this
problem is on campus.
And I`m proud that I think today, the university really took a
meaningful step toward that.
MADDOW: Admiring the accomplishments and the sort of tenacity and
dedication of those activists is sort of one lane here, but the other issue
is the veracity of their complaints and their concerns that there`s not
just been random racially tinged incidents at the University of Missouri,
but that there is a problem with race relations and the way that racially
biased and racially inflected incidents are happened -- are dealt with when
they happen at that campus.
You think the substance of their complaint is fair?
MCCASKILL: I do think on several issues. I think the substance of
how diverse the faculty is. And this is a problem all over America.
And, by the way, in fairness to the University of Missouri, I bet you
there`s a lot of college administrations that over the next week are going
to be checking to see what they`re doing. Checking to see how much effort
they`ve put in to retain students who come in in some way marginalized
because of socioeconomic status or because of minority status.
I think this will be impetus all over the country across higher
education to really do a hard look in the mirror about their commitment to
making sure that their campuses are tolerant and inclusive and doing the
best job they can to make sure that all students are welcome and feel safe.
MADDOW: One of the things that feels very relevant to me about your
book is that a lot of the book, everything, including the title, "Plenty
Lady-Like" is the title, a lot of the book is about things you have faced
as the first woman this and first woman that and as a lonely woman in a
prosecutor`s office or a lonely woman in the legislature, a lot of things
you`ve done where you were in mostly male environments and the kind of
sexism that you experienced and the way that you dealt with it.
I wonder looking at the situation of the university of Missouri,
looking at the resignation of the president and the chancellor now, if you
feel like you have learned things about the way to demonstrate leadership
in the face of low-level intolerance that`s otherwise passed over,
otherwise seen as the normal way of doing business.
MCCASKILL: Well, one of the things I say in the book and one of the
things I`m fearful of is I confess I`m not sure I handled right when I was
a young woman and I faced some fairly blatant and ugly sexism in the
Missouri legislature in the early `80s, but I really believed that if I
would have publicly confronted it, it would have minimized my effectiveness
as a legislator.
So, I kind of internalized all that and said I`m going to show them.
I used it as fuel. I`m going to -- I`m better at this than you are. I`m
going to work harder at this than you do. I`m going to go farther than
And the speaker of the House, which I talk about in there, who is the
one who told me when I asked him if he could help me get my bill out of
committee as a freshman legislator in 1983, he said did you bring your knee
pads? I ended up in the United States Senate and he ended up in prison.
So, the plan to try to go farther kind of worked. I`m not sure that
was the right way to do it. I think young women today I hope have more
information and more confidence to do a better job of confronting -- and
these young people are a great example. This was a bold thing for this
young man to do. And then he was a leader and got others to follow him and
he impacted real change that I think will make a difference for many other
students of color at the University of Missouri.
MADDOW: Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, you are on the Armed
Services Committee. You`re on the Homeland Security Committee. I have a
few very serious questions for you on those matters as well as something
else. Will you stay?
MADDOW: Very good. Senator Claire McCaskill`s with us. We`ll be
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Governor, we`re going to take a very quick break. We`re
going to come back, and I`m going to talk with you about foreign policy and
a few other things. But first here`s the stump (ph).
MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Uh-oh.
MADDOW: I promise it won`t hurt. Pick one. I don`t know what`s in
it. There`s four here.
O`MALLEY: This is like --
MADDOW: Go ahead. I won`t hurt you. I won`t hurt you.
O`MALLEY: Johnny Carson and the swami thing. I go like this?
MADDOW: These are not policy questions. They`re also not questions
that will make you look or feel dumb. I promise you I will do it to the
other candidates as well. Are you ready?
MADDOW: When we come back, I have a lot of very serious questions for
you. But first you have to do this stupid thing. This is to try to make
you hate me as much as you hate the rest of the media.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I`d never
MADDOW: These are not about policy. Like I said, but they`re not
designed to make you look or feel dumb.
SANDERS: How many pair of underwear do I have?
MADDOW: I would never -- if you care to volunteer the information --
SANDERS: Am I really Larry David? OK.
MADDOW: Here we go.
SANDERS: Watch, it`s the underwear question.
MADDOW: No, I swear. Have had there been any underwear questions I`d
be too embarrassed to ask them. I`d get all red, and I`d break out in
The questions here are not policy questions. They`re also not
designed to make you look or feel dumb. So don`t hate me for making you do
this. Everybody else did it.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: OK.
MADDOW: Pick one.
CLINTON: The Academy Award goes to.
MADDOW: Yes. Except opposite. Because it`s no reward. All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If you were watching the Democratic candidates forum closely
on Friday night, you might have noticed we had three candidates but we did
not just have three envelopes. There were four envelopes. And that`s
because I didn`t want to be unfair to Secretary Clinton. I wanted her to
have a choice as well.
So, even though there were three candidates there were four envelopes.
You want to know what was in the fourth envelope?
There`s a person here for the interview. A person who I`ve always
said would be a pretty spectacularly formidable candidate for president
herself if and when she ever decides to run herself. The fourth envelope
for Senator Claire McCaskill here next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: There`s a lot of things to talk with, with Senator Claire
McCaskill about, including a lot of very serious stuff. She`s involved in
very serious things.
But before that, I need to ask you if you would help me out. I`ve
always said, and it has always embarrassed you, that I thought that if you
ever wanted to run for president, you`d be a very good candidate for
president. I know you are supporting Hillary Clinton and you are not
That said, because I think you would be one of the most formidable
candidates for president if you ever ran, I want you to open my fourth
question, fourth envelope full of dumb questions. Would you mind?
MCCASKILL: No, I think it would be fun.
MADDOW: OK, you don`t get a choice. It`s the last one.
MADDOW: But I don`t know what`s in here.
MCCASKILL: That`s OK.
MADDOW: Are you ready?
MCCASKILL: I`m ready.
MADDOW: What were you most afraid of as a kid?
MCCASKILL: Failing at sports in front of other people.
MADDOW: At sports. Specifically.
MCCASKILL: Like getting up to bat and not being able to hit the ball.
So I avoided organized sports because I didn`t want to fail in front of
Country you have most liked to visit outside the United States.
MCCASKILL: You know, I`ve got to tell you, I had never been to Paris
until like a year ago. And the bread -- just the bread.
I mean, I know I`m at an age and a woman, you`re not supposed to eat
all those carbohydrates. But there`s something about the carbohydrates in
France that just makes them irresistible.
MADDOW: Bread eaten abroad has no carbohydrates.
MCCASKILL: There you go. There you go.
MADDOW: That`s the rule.
I need a good book to read. Can you recommend one?
MCCASKILL: You know, I have read a series of books that were
historical novels about Josephine Bonaparte that were fantastic. They are
historical fiction but it`s accurate. And I love the series of books
because you saw the strength of this woman and how incredibly smart she was
and how important she was to Napoleon.
MCCASKILL: And so I`m not going to be able to tell you the author
right off the top of my head.
MADDOW: A series of historical books about --
MCCASKILL: Three -- one is dancing something -- she started a woman
who was born in the Caribbean and then who came to France and ended up
being Napoleon`s wife and was quite a woman. They were really something.
I`ve read them twice, I liked them so much. And I very rarely do that.
MADDOW: You`re always into the story of women`s leadership.
All right. Last question. And this -- remember, I wrote these
questions for the Democratic presidential candidates. So, this one, you`re
going to have to modify. What I wrote was will you run again if you don`t
win the Democratic presidential nomination this time?
MCCASKILL: Oh, definitely.
MADDOW: So, we`ll take it again. Since you are not going to win the
Democratic presidential nomination this time, will you ever run for
MCCASKILL: I do not believe I will. I don`t think so.
I`m at the point -- if you look at -- I mean, I`m pragmatic and
realistic about this. If you look at where I am in my career and my age
and Hillary Clinton is going to be president and she`s going to be
president for eight years, and then I`m of an age where I really need to be
spending some time with these amazing nine grandchildren I have. I can top
Bernie by two.
MADDOW: So that`s the way that people need to lobby you when they`re
ready to lobby you. Is how happy your grandchildren would be if you ran
for president. I hear you. I hear you.
Let me ask you one serious question about -- and I know you`re on the
Armed Services Committee and Homeland Security Committee. There is
increasing not conclusion, right? We have not yet arrived at a conclusion
but there`s a lot of talk about a potential ISIS successful bomb on that
Russian plane that came down in Egypt.
If ISIS did that and they were successfully able to bring down a
commercial passenger jet and they committed a new level of international
murder with this attack, do we as a country need to be doing something
toward ISIS that we are not doing now? What could we scale up to if we
wanted to scale up the fight against ISIS?
MCCASKILL: Well, first of all, if we could scale up in an effective
way, we should be doing it regardless of whether or not they had a bomb on
that plane. The problem is, how do you do that? With -- and get the
outcome that we would want in a way that is thoughtful and that there`s
We tried going into a country thinking we were going to change that
country, and we lost billions and billions of dollars and more importantly
hundreds and thousands of lives. So, the most luxurious Monday morning
quarterbacking that goes on in our country is the Monday morning
quarterbacking that goes on about what we should do about ISIS. I have yet
to hear anyone come up with a better plan.
A no-fly zone, there are some problems with that, especially now with
Russia flying in there. It would take our aircraft away from other
important targets they are currently hitting with surgical precision.
Bringing in massive amounts of troops on the ground is very hard because
this is not a unilateral opponent in Syria. There are so many different
factions. And you`ve got the rebels and you`ve got Assad and you`ve got
Russia and you`ve got ISIS.
So, I really think what the president is doing, he`s shown flexibility
in terms of changing strategy. We`ve abandoned the training program. It
wasn`t working. I think the Special Forces limited is important --
MADDOW: You support that?
MCCASKILL: I do. But I also think it`s important the work we`re
doing with 65 different countries, keeping them united against ISIS.
That`s a formidable power in the world. You know, the Arab countries and
the European countries, all these countries that are committed to combating
ISIS in every way we can that makes sense.
But just saying what we`re doing isn`t working. I listen to these
Republican candidates, I`ve not heard one of them come up with a reasonable
strategy that the military leaders say you know, that would work.
MADDOW: Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, author of
the new book "Plenty Lady-Like," which is both a good read and a good
insight into who you are as a leader -- thank you for being here. It`s
nice to see you.
MCCASKILL: Thank you, Rachel. It`s really fun.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Senator Rick Santorum, you have my every sympathy. Former
Republican senator from Pennsylvania, of course, has been stuck at the kids
table for this entire Republican presidential season including being back
there again tomorrow night. But now, he has lost his voice. Rick
Santorum`s campaign manager posted today just like Michael Jordan had his
finals flu game, Senator Santorum is, quote, "about to have his laryngitis
debate night." Game on.
So, Rick Santorum may be communicating in just guttural noise and
gestures at tomorrow night`s kid table debate. That will be interesting.
Good luck, Senator.
Here`s one other thing to watch though: for a couple of months, we`ve
been covering the really important but. Often unpredictable random and
last-minute decisions by TV networks for determining which Republican
candidates get into the debates. It has just been a guessing game and a
mess all season long through the Republican primary contests so far. Well,
today, we got news that Republican Party leaders are trying to do something
The conservative "National Review" magazine reports that Republican
Party leaders are upset that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is going to
be sent to the kids table for tomorrow night`s debate even though he did
fairly well on the main stage last night. And since then, he`s been on the
rise in New Hampshire.
The Republican Party and its leadership will now reportedly advocate
to the TV networks that the networks should start using polling from the
early states instead of just national polling to qualify candidates for the
debates from here on out. And that would be good for somebody like Chris
Christie or Bobby Jindal for that matter.
However, the party also reportedly wants to raise the threshold number
for qualifying for the main debate. Currently, it`s a cutoff of roughly 3
percent. You have to be polling at an average of 3 percent or above in
order to get into the debates.
"National Review" reports wants want to raise it to more like 5
percent. And that higher cutoff would kill off a whole bunch of candidates
from the main stage. It would make for a much bigger kids table, if
Republican leaders can get the networks to go along.
So, tomorrow night`s debate is going to be a little bit nuts. Mike
Huckabee and Chris Christie at the kids table. Lindsey Graham is not even
allowed to be at the kids table. Presumably, he will be holding court at a
bar nearby or something. Or Senator Graham, come here. I would love to
talk with you.
But then the morning after the debate, Wednesday morning, the
Republican Party leadership is reportedly going to have a meeting to try to
throw out all of these weird and evolving and unpredictable eligibility
rules in favor of a whole bunch of new eligibility rules that would also
have an unpredictable effect, all change. Next stop, new and different
We`ll keep you posted.
MADDOW: Chris Christie may be at the kids table tomorrow night but
he`s still in charge in New Jersey. Chris Christie is still the boss of
you, New Jersey. There are some things that are just not going to fly
around here anymore.
For starters, New Jersey, quit looking at the dog funny. Governor
Christie today signed a ban on bestiality in New Jersey. You can no longer
legally have sex with animals in the Garden State.
Now, I do not think this is an attempt to outflank Rick Santorum in
the race since he`s going to be sitting next to him at the kids table
tomorrow, but wherever he`s doing now, whatever this is for, New Jersey,
(INAUDIBLE) Chris Christie signed a ban on that today. No bestiality in
his state anymore.
Also, New Jersey, by order of Chris Christie you absolutely cannot do
this. You cannot expand early voting, register to vote online, or
automatically register people to vote when they get a driver`s license.
Today, Governor Christie vetoed a bill that would have made voting easier
in his state all of those ways.
I don`t know why he vetoed this bill, whether it`s because Republicans
do better when fewer people vote. I just know this is the way it`s going
to be in New Jersey. No expanded vote rights and also hands off the turtle
tank. Have some decency, you guys. Seriously.
MADDOW: Two things: first of all, we just bought
handsofftheturtletank.com. Governor Christie, if you want
handsofftheturtletank.com for your campaign, to celebrate the new
bestiality ban you just signed in New York, at the same time you were
vetoing a voting rights bill, just let me know, because you did get that
Handsofftheturtletank.com. I own it. You can have it free of charge.
You just have to come on the show.
Second of all, here`s the thing about tomorrow night. Tomorrow
night`s Republican debate is at 9:00 eastern. This show will also be live
at 9:00. So, if you don`t have an appetite for watching the Republicans
fight it out, come here. We will be here live.
After the debate is over at 11:00 there will, of course, be live MSNBC
recap, a live special edition of "HARDBALL", which is the best post-debate
recap anywhere on television.
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. Welcome back.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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