'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, November 30th, 2015
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Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: November 30, 2015
Guest: Cecile Richards
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this our.
In November 1994, a doctor named Garson Romalis was at home eating
breakfast in his kitchen. His wife and his daughter were at home with him
as well. His breakfast table was apparently next to a sliding glass door
inside his home in this nice neighborhood where he lived on the west side
of the city of Vancouver.
And as Dr. Romalis was sitting there eating his breakfast at his
breakfast table, somebody fired two bullets from a high-powered rifle
through that sliding glass door into his home. One of those bullets hit
him in the thigh. It actually got him in the femoral artery. He very
easily could have died once that artery was hit. He reportedly saved his
own life by making a tourniquet out of the belt on his bathrobe and
cinching that tourniquet around the wound in his thigh. And Dr. Romalis
survived that assassination attempt.
Dr. Romalis was a gynecologist who sometimes provided abortions. And
anti-abortion protesters had previously picketed at his house in Vancouver.
But that attempted murder in Vancouver, November 1994, that was the first
time anybody had tried to assassinate an abortion doctor in Canada.
The next one was a year later. Same M.O. Dr. Hugh Short was a
gynecologist in Ontario right near Niagara Falls, right near the American
border. He was sitting inside his house in November 1995. He was watching
TV. And this time, the high-powered rifle round came through a window of
his home. It got him in the elbow. And he too survived that assassination
Then, the next one was two years later. It was November 1997. Dr.
Jack Fainman was at home in Winnipeg. He was watching TV at home. His
wife was also at home with him but she was in another room, and a high-
powered rifle round was shot through the window and very nearly killed him.
That bullet hit the doctor in his right shoulder.
At that time, Dr. Jack Fainman was the head of obstetrics and
gynecology at a major hospital in Winnipeg but that rifle round shattered
his shoulder. And after that injury, he never worked as a doctor again.
And for all three of those shootings, it was the same M.O., bullets
from a high-powered rifle fired through the window or through another glass
entryway into the home, 1994, 1995, 1997.
In all of those cases, those doctors who did abortions, they were
injured by that gunfire but not killed. And in each of those instances,
the shooter got away. And then there was a fourth one. It had been `94,
`95, `97. The fourth one was 1998.
And this one was not far from his second attack. This one was just
south of the Niagara Falls area on the American side of the border this
time. This was a sniper attack, 1998, was another doctor who did abortions
who was targeted just on the U.S. side of the border near Niagara Falls in
a town called Amherst, New York. Quite near Buffalo, New York.
Dr. Barnett Slepian was home with his family. He was standing in the
kitchen of his home along with his other family members. He and his family
had just returned from his father`s funeral service. And again, high-
powered rifle rounds came in through the window. And in this case the
doctor was killed.
Initially, the sniper got away again. He ended up leading police on
an international manhunt that lasted for years. He was known to have
dozens of aliases and multiple passports and apparently, people helping him
out at multiple steps along the way. He is known to have spent time in
Mexico and in Ireland and in France.
And it was ultimately not until early 2001 that he was finally
captured in France and extradited to the United States. He was a named
suspect in the three attempted assassinations of those three Canadian
doctors in 1994, 1995, 1997. He was a named suspect in all three of those
attempted murders. But when he was tried and convicted of Dr. Slepian`s
murder, he ended up with a life sentence in this country, and so the
Canadians decided to drop proceedings against him in the shootings of those
three preceding doctors. Those legal proceedings against him were dropped.
But the odyssey of just that one killer from the first shots that he
fired at that first doctor to face an assassination attempt in Canada in
Vancouver in 1994, from that start until this guy was finally locked up for
life in 2003, that nearly decade-long odyssey spanned at least five
countries, involved a law enforcement effort literally the world over.
But when they did finally get that guy, turns out he was not a unique
case. You could just slot him right into a long line of people who have
shot at and attempted to kill and killed not just doctors who provide
abortions but also people who work at abortion clinics, people who have
found themselves at abortion clinics when anti-abortion extremists decide
to carry out their attacks.
Ultimately, people have given up their lives trying to protect
clinics and abortion providers from the repeated and determined campaign of
assassination and terrorism that has targeted these kinds of facilities and
these kinds of health workers for so many years now.
In March 1993, it was Dr. David Gunn in Pensacola. He was shot three
times in the back when he arrived at the clinic where he worked during an
In July 1994, it was Dr. John Britten who was shot and killed along
with a retired Air Force officer who was acting basically as a security
guard for that doctor at that clinic. His name was James Barrett. His
wife June Barrett was also shot and wounded in that same attack.
In December 1994, it was two different clinics that did abortions in
Brookline, Massachusetts. The same gunman attacked both facilities, killed
a receptionist who worked at each of those clinics. Shannon Lowney was
killed at the first clinic. Leanne Nichols was killed at the second
The previous year in 1993 it was an attempted murder. It was an
anti-abortion activist named Shelly Shannon who had shot a doctor who did
abortions in Kansas, a doctor named George Tiller. She shot him through
the arms in the parking lot of his clinic. Dr. George Tiller survived that
attack. He went back to work the very next day.
Ultimately, it wasn`t until 2009 when they finally got him, a
different anti-abortion extremist who had apparently been inspired by the
earlier attack and by the string of attacks like them in this country. He
went back at Dr. Tiller in Kansas again, shot and killed him in 2009 as Dr.
Tiller was serving as an usher at his local church.
We remember the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing for a number of bizarre
circumstances around that bombing, right? Remember the wrong man, a
security guard who had tried to help in the response to the bombing was
initially blamed for having committed it. We also remember the real
perpetrator of the attack, a guy named Eric Rudolph, getting away and
evading capture for years and becoming kind of an anti-abortion folk hero
as he lived as a thief and a pseudo-survivalist and evaded capture for so
What is less well-remembered about the Atlanta Olympics bombing,
which did kill one person, is that Eric Rudolph said he bombed the Atlanta
Olympics specifically to punish America for the sin of abortion. And what
is even more frequently forgotten about Eric Rudolph is that while he was
on the lam, while he was on the run after the Atlanta Olympics bombing, he
also committed another fatal bombing at an abortion clinic in Birmingham,
He set off a nail bomb, set it off by remote control. It killed an
off-duty police officer who was working security for the clinic. That
officer`s name was Robert Sanderson. That same nail bomb also badly
injured a nurse who worked at that clinic. Her name is Emily Lyons.
And now, we have new names to add to that almost unbelievably long
list. At the Planned Parenthood clinic that was attacked by what appears
to be a lone gunman on Friday in Colorado Springs. There are nine people
who were injured in that attack, most of whom are still hospitalized
But we also now have the names of the three people who were shot and
killed in that attack. The first one to be identified was Police Officer
Police have also now identified the other two people who were killed
in the attack. One was an army veteran who had served in the Iraq war.
His name was Ke`Arre Stewart. He was 29 years old. The other person who
was killed was Jennifer Markovsky. She was a 35-year-old mother of two who
had moved to Colorado when her husband was stationed in Colorado because of
his service in the military.
And so, Officer Garrett Swasey and Ke`arre Stewart and Jennifer
Markovsky, they`ve joined this long list of people who have been killed at
the site of U.S. clinics that provide abortions. And this happens at a
time when abortion providers have been expressing alarm and have basically
been asking for help in defending themselves against a recent uptick in
attacks, physical attacks on clinics.
Just this month before the Colorado Springs attack on Friday, NARAL
had started circulating a letter asking the Department of Justice to please
investigate the surge in recent attacks on abortion clinics as acts of
domestic terrorism. They cited the videos released this summer by anti-
abortion activists that targeted Planned Parenthood as a sort of catalyst
for this uptick in attacks.
NARAL says in their letters to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, quote,
"Beginning in July, when the video was first released and continuing in
recent weeks, there have been multiple arson attacks and an outrageous
number of threats to U.S. abortion providers.
Since the first anti-Planned Parenthood video was released, there
have been four arson attacks at Planned Parenthood clinics across the
country, in New Orleans, in Pullman, Washington, in thousand oaks,
California, and in Aurora, Illinois. Just last month, that clinic in
Claremont, New Hampshire, was attacked. Someone broke out and used a
hatchet to destroy equipment and exam rooms and break water and sewer
lines, flooding the entire clinic.
In addition, independent providers alongside with Planned Parenthood
clinics have reported an increase in violent threats to clinics and clinic
staff. We call on the Department of Justice to investigate these attacks
as examples of domestic terrorism."
Again, that letter was circulated by NARAL as basically a petition to
be sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. That was circulated this month
before the attacks in Colorado Springs.
And at this point, police have released no information about a
potential motive for the shooter in the Colorado Springs attack. There are
anecdotal reports that the shooter seemed to be mentally unstable and
conspiratorial. His criminal record involves threatening behavior and
violence, particularly toward women.
The "Post and Courier" newspaper in South Carolina reports tonight
that the suspect in the Planned Parenthood shootings was charged with rape
in North Charleston, South Carolina, in 1992. It`s unclear whether that
rape charge was ultimately dropped or what happened to that part of this
man`s criminal record. That again being reported tonight by "The Post and
Courier" in Charleston, South Carolina.
There have been two law enforcement source that`s have told NBC News
that among the statements made by the shooter once he was arrested by the
police was the phrase, quote, "No more baby parts", which could just be
crazy talk. It could also imply some sort of anti-abortion motivations for
the shootings. We just do not know.
And so, we are left with this incomplete picture, where we do have
some known knowns but we don`t have the full picture, right? We`ve got an
incomplete picture. We`ve got three people dead. We`ve got nine people
For once in an incident like this, we`ve got a person in custody.
We`ve got this nine-hour standoff that terrorized this community in
Colorado and no public statements so far from the gunman or statements that
police are willing to attribute to him. We`ve got no definitive statement
from police or prosecutors as to what they believe motivated this incident
or this killer.
But it also happened inside a Planned Parenthood clinic amid a
nationwide upsurge of violent threats, attacks and arson attacks committed
against Planned Parenthood clinics and other abortion clinics across the
And it comes after this decades-long history of more or less mentally
unbalanced armed people motivated by anti-abortion ideology assassinating
people at facilities that provide abortions.
And so that is our set of known facts, direct and circumstantial.
With that context in mind, while people are still in the hospital fighting
for their lives, while the dead have yet to be buried, what would your
reaction be if you were running for president of the United States and you
were asked to respond to this set of facts? What would you say if you were
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you think the rhetoric involved in the Planned
Parenthood videos in this race had any impact or effect on the (INAUDIBLE)?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think there
has been some vicious rhetoric on the left blaming those who are pro-life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas speaking with reporters in Iowa
about his reaction to the Planned Parenthood shooting at that Colorado
Springs clinic. Senator Cruz volunteering that it may be vicious rhetoric
on the left that should be looked at in terms of understanding these
And, you know, a number of presidential candidates have had more or
less partisan or more or less sort of blame the victim kinds of responses
to these attacks and we can talk about that in detail at some other time.
I want to talk specifically about Senator Cruz, though, because Senator
Cruz is linked to this issue in one very specific way of his own making.
Because Senator Cruz as a presidential candidate has gone out of his
way just in the past couple of weeks to court and celebrate and brag about
his own affiliation with people who are at the very radical, bleeding edge
of anti-abortion extremism and violence. And I`m not talking about just
mainstream anti-abortion, mainstream pro-life figures. What I mean
specifically is that two weeks ago Ted Cruz put out this statement touting
the fact he had been endorsed by a man named Flip Benham.
Flip Benham is an anti-abortion activist who was convicted a couple
of years ago of stalking an abortion doctor in North Carolina. He passed
out hundreds of "wanted" posters with the doctor`s photo on them and the
doctor`s name on them. They said "wanted" on them.
A jury only took about 90 minutes to find him guilty of stalking that
doctor. He was convicted of that stalking in 2011. Ted Cruz is touting
his endorsement by that convicted stalker now in 2015. Ted Cruz also put
out this lengthy statement praising his endorsement recently by the head of
Operation Rescue. Operation Rescue is the group behind the aforementioned
videos that started this spike in anti-abortion extremist violence that
really took off this summer.
Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue, argued in this book that
the U.S. government should execute abortion providers. After one of those
murders that I you just described at the top of this segment, after the
double murder committed by Paul Hill, this anti-abortion activist, walked
up to a clinic in Pensacola, Florida and shot the doctor and shot the
retired air force officer who was trying to protect that doctor and shot
the Air Force officer`s wife as well and almost killed her. After that
multiple murder this guy, who Ted Cruz is now touting the endorsement of,
put out a statement lamenting that the murderer in that case, the assassin,
was not allowed to present a defense in court claiming that the killing of
the abortionist in that case was, quote, "necessary."
After the killer in that case was convicted and sentenced, Troy
Newman said there was, quote, "no justice in that case because the court
prevented the killer from preventing the legal defense that his conduct was
justifiable defensive action." In other words, that the abortion provider
needed to be killed. Troy Newman, who Ted Cruz is so proud to have an
endorsement from, he put out a press release specifically touting the
endorsement of Troy Newman.
As I mentioned, he runs an organization called Operation Rescue. The
person with whom he runs Operation Rescue is a convicted clinic bomber
who`s spent time in prison for having tried to blow up an abortion clinic
in San Diego. This guy who Ted Cruz is so proud to have endorsed him, he`s
touting this endorsement as a reason to vote for Ted Cruz for president,
this guy Troy Newman to this day maintains an online list of names and
addresses and up-close photos of individual abortion providers for the
convenience of the anti-abortion movement.
Do you know anybody who works at a Planned Parenthood clinic? Do you
know anybody who works as an abortion provider? Have you ever checked any
of the anti-abortion extremist Web sites to see if they`re listed there
with their photo and their address and everything?
So, all the candidates are going to get asked about a terrorizing
attack in a multiple murder like this. And you would hope for the best.
You would hope for leadership and compassion and good judgment from a
leader on an issue like this. Specifically in this case, when we don`t
know anything from police about what might have motivated the attack, you`d
hope that nobody would get out over their skis in terms of assigning
meaning to events and actions which are as yet officially unexplained.
But Ted Cruz, alone among them, he is in a weird position of his own
making because of how much he has cozied up to the people who have
literally justified and all but encouraged physical attacks on abortion
providers in the past or even who have been involved in those incidents
themselves. He has put himself in a weird position on the subject already.
And so, maybe he`s just feeling the pressure from that or something. I
But for whatever reason, Ted Cruz, after singling out vicious
rhetoric on the left, Ted Cruz in that same interaction with reporters
about this incident came up with the single strangest response to this
crisis and this attack that I think anybody could have imagined.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: We don`t fully know the motivations of this deranged
individual. We know that he was a man who registered to vote as a woman.
The media promptly wants to blame him on the pro-life movement when at this
point there`s very little evidence to indicate that.
REPORTER: Well, it was reported the he said "no more baby parts" as
he was apprehended.
CRUZ: Well, it`s also reported that he was registered as an
independent and a woman and a transgendered leftist activist if that`s what
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Ted Cruz is in a bad position as a political leader
here because of the way he has touted endorsements from people on the
violent end of anti-abortion extremism who have said publicly and
repeatedly that abortion doctors ought to be killed. To get away from that
now he has seized on what appears to be an inaccurate voter registration
record to claim that the shooter at this Planned Parenthood who killed
three people and injured nine people must have been in his words, quote, "a
transgendered leftist activist."
OK. And maybe we`re now seeing how Ted Cruz handles high pressure
situations. Maybe we`re now seeing what Ted Cruz does when he`s backed
into a corner, especially one of his own making. But this is a very
strange line from him in the midst of a very strange campaign from him in
which he has on purpose aligned himself specifically and by name with the
parts of the extremist anti-abortion movement in this country that has
veered with shocking frequency over the years from protests and virulent
charges and rhetoric over the line from that into domestic terrorism and
Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, joins us next.
MADDOW: So my guest for the interview tonight is the national
president of Planned Parenthood. She`s going to be here live in studio to
give us her response to what happened at that Planned Parenthood clinic
Colorado Springs on Friday, that rampage there that killed three people and
Again, the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, is here
next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today was the first court appearance of the man accused of
killing three people and injuring nine others at a Planned Parenthood
clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday. The suspect appeared in court via
The reason it looks like he`s wearing something strange is here is
he`s dressed in what officials call a suicide prevention garment. While he
was on that closed circuit feed to the courtroom he spoke only four words -
- "yes", "yes", and, "no questions". He`s being held in jail without bond.
He`s expected to be formally charged next week.
Police have released no information about the potential motive in
this case or even basic information like what kind of weapon he used.
But the shooting in Colorado on Friday does come after a string of
recent threats and vandalism and arson at Planned Parenthood clinics and
abortion providers across the country, in Louisiana and New Hampshire and
California and Illinois and Washington state. Now with this latest attack,
three people killed and nine more injured at that clinic in Colorado.
Joining us now for the interview is Cecile Richards. She`s president
of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Cecile, thank you for your time tonight. I know it`s been a really
hard few days.
CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA:
It`s good to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Was this shooter known to Planned Parenthood prior to this
weekend? Was he on your radar at all?
RICHARDS: No, he wasn`t. We`re -- you know, the whole thing came as
a surprise. And, of course, our hearts go out to the families and the
victims, the victims` families, and, of course, the many people that were
injured on Friday.
It`s been extraordinary that frankly the staff in that health center
as well as law enforcement in Colorado worked so closely together to bring
this to an end and we`re really grateful for that. But it`s been a really
tough time for Planned Parenthood.
MADDOW: I think I`m right in saying this, and tell me if I`m wrong.
But as far as I understand it, you`re obviously working with police in this
ongoing investigation and as part of that, you`re not talking about whether
or not any of the folks who were injured were staffers or volunteers at the
RICHARDS: That`s correct. We`re really working with law enforcement
and trying to respect their process and the privacy of our patients and
MADDOW: Can you tell me generally about either security concerns or
contact with anti-abortion demonstrators and protesters or any form of
extremists at that clinic in Colorado specifically?
RICHARDS: Sure. Well, Colorado Springs has always been the site of
a lot of protests. And, unfortunately, over the last three or four months
as you kind of mentioned earlier in the show, we`ve had renewed protests at
a lot of health centers across the country. So, we`ve been very vigilant
You know, there`s kind of three things we do in the security realm.
One is we work very closely with the local law enforcement. The second is
we do enormous training with our staff all across the health centers. And
the third is we invest in the best equipment we can to protect our patients
and our staff. That`s our highest priority.
Fortunately, there in Colorado Springs, the staff were incredibly
well-trained. They took action immediately. And I really do believe that
because of their actions working closely with the police, they were able to
prevent this from becoming even a worse tragedy than it already has been.
MADDOW: It seems like from what we already know, and again, it
should be clear a lot of details of this have yet to be discussed publicly
by police, but from what we know from contemporaneous reporting, it seems
like the way the gunman was confined after his initial entry into the
building, the way that he was not able to get access to other people who
were inside the building, and specifically the existence of that camera
system that police could tap into, both to see where people were who could
potentially be rescued and see where he was, that seems like that was key
to the death toll not being higher than it already was.
RICHARDS: Well, you`re correct, and that there`s a lot of details
still to be sort of talked about publicly. But absolutely, our staff and
the police worked hand in hand. And because of a lot of the video
equipment that we do have, they were able to really follow the shooter, and
to again over a series of hours finally bring this to a conclusion and get
him out of there, and get the rest of the staff and patients out of the
MADDOW: Does that -- obviously, that`s got to give you some
confidence in those protocols and the equipment that you`ve got. Will
anything change? Will you do anything differently because of this?
RICHARDS: Well, we always -- this is obviously the kind of
circumstance that we plan for but hope never happens.
RICHARDS: But now that it has we`ll be looking at everything we can
learn from this to improve security for our patients and staff. That is
our highest priority. It always has been.
And as you know, I think you know, the next day actually, even
despite the tragedy of Friday, health centers were open in Colorado. They
were open all across the country, providing health care to women at Planned
Parenthood health centers. Really, folks just carried out the health care
-- the needs of the patients and I`m incredibly proud of the staff for
their resilience in the face of this kind of tragedy.
MADDOW: I don`t want to push this point too hard because again, we
don`t know anything about this gunman. Police are being very tight-lipped
in terms of where he was coming from and what might have motivated this. I
also want to say that I do not think there is a direct line between being
against abortion rights and supporting violence against abortion providers
But is there a clear line to you, a clear place where criticism or
argument does cross over into encouraging people to act violently or
inciting them to act violently? Do you feel like there`s an identifiable
place that people should be more shy about than they are?
RICHARDS: Well, I mean, what I can tell you is from where I sit at
Planned Parenthood -- we have seen over the last three months, as there
have been renewed and aggressive attacks on -- not only on Planned
Parenthood but on abortion doctors, harassment of women at health centers,
the escalation over the last few months has been very significant.
And I do think it`s time for people in this country, elected
officials, leaders, people who want to be president of the United States,
to really think carefully about the way they talk about health care
providers in this country, the way they demonize women and the decisions
they make about their pregnancies. I think it`s time for everyone to take
stock of that because I do believe words have consequences.
MADDOW: And you think that the rhetoric in what purports to be
mainstream politics has a direct effect in non-mainstream extremist and
RICHARDS: Well, I`m just saying I don`t know what the direct
correlation is, but I have never seen the kind of rhetoric we`re seeing now
in this presidential election, the demonization not only, again, of Planned
Parenthood but of women who have abortions, of doctors who provide
abortions, which are safe and legal in the United States of America. Women
shouldn`t have to fear for their safety. They shouldn`t have to be
harassed just for exercising their right to health care in America. And,
unfortunately, I think that`s what we`re seeing more and more at health
centers not only in Colorado but across the country.
MADDOW: Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood -- thank
you for talking to us. Again, I know there`s -- you have a lot to be
managing right now and a lot to be handling. Thanks for talking to us.
MADDOW: Good luck.
We`ve got a lot more to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is the type of Russian jet that was shot down along the
Turkish-Syrian border last week. It`s a supersonic bomber called an SU-24.
Last Tuesday, one of these Russian jets was fired at and brought down by a
Turkish military jet, by a Turkish F-16.
The Turkish government said that that Russian jet had crossed into
their air space in Turkey and so, that`s why they decided to shoot it down.
It`s been six days now since that fatal incident, and there are now two big
changes that have come about as a result of that shoot down. And they`re
The first of the two big changes, number one, is that Russia and
Turkey are no longer talking to each other. There`s no more military to
military communication between the Russian military and the Turkish
military as those two countries both fly missions over the same territory
That development, the first one, is all the more significant when you
consider the second big change that has now happened since the shoot down,
which is that Russian jets flying over Syria are now for the first time
being armed with air to air missiles. These are missiles designed to take
down other airplanes.
The Russian military is now arming their jets with air to air
missiles and they`ve also reportedly been moving surface-to-air missiles
into Syria for the same purpose, potentially shooting down other planes in
the region. In response to this news today a Pentagon spokesman said this,
quote, "Whether it`s putting air to air missiles on planes or putting in
surface to air missiles, those are things that clearly are not about ISIS
since ISIS doesn`t have any aircraft."
Oh, right. ISIS doesn`t have any planes. Neither do any of the
other Syrian opposition groups that Russia says it is fighting against in
Syria. Most of the non-Russian planes over Syria now are in fact ours.
They`re either U.S. military jets or they`re jets being flown by members of
the U.S.-led coalition in Syria.
And those U.S. and U.S.-led coalition aircraft are now flying their
missions over Syria amid brand new Russian anti-aircraft missiles both on
Russian planes and on the ground. What could possibly go wrong?
MADDOW: New Delhi in India held a half marathon yesterday, and in
one very specific way that half marathon did not go well. More than 30,000
-- yes. Look. More than 30,000 people ran in this race amid just stunning
air pollution and smog. Some runners actually wore face masks, wore sort
of pollution masks during the race. Two runners were reportedly taken away
by ambulance. A number of people collapsed at this half marathon. That
was the scene at New Delhi yesterday.
This was the scene in Beijing, China, today. It was an orange alert
for terrible air quality in Beijing today. Authorities urged people to
stay inside unless they absolutely had to go out. At the level of one
particularly dangerous particulate was found to be 25 times what the World
Health Organization considers to be safe. This day today, this orange
alert day in Beijing, was the single worst air quality day they have had of
any day this year in that big city.
But there was one person who was not there to experience that smog
which covered the Chinese capital today, and that was the Chinese
president, who had already left Beijing for Paris to participate in the
largest gathering of world leaders ever all in one place.
And I mean that without hyperbole. I mean, yes, every year hundreds
of world leaders gather in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, right?
But that`s spread out over a week and a half. Not everybody`s there on the
same day. At the U.N.`s Conference on Climate Change today over 150
national leaders congregated in Paris all on the same day in the same
place, the heads of more than 150 countries.
And aside from the question of whether or not those 150 world leaders
are going to achieve the kind of agreement they want to achieve, having
more world leaders in one place on a single day than ever before in human
history also poses its own logistical concerns. Obviously, security is
foremost in everybody`s mind, particularly with France under an ongoing
state of emergency after the November 13th terrorist attacks in Paris. The
security concerns stemming from the terrorist attacks led France to ban all
large-size protests and demonstrations that had been planned around the
Yesterday, though, protesters still illegally took to the streets.
Police fired tear gas to try to disperse them. They arrested over 300
protesters. They do say almost all of the arrested protesters have now
At the Place de la Republique, which has become a memorial site for
the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris, protesters left rows and
rows and rows and rows of shoes. Thousands of shoes as a poignant silent
protest about the climate.
Other activists, artists, plastered protest posters like these at
Paris bus stops. The artists mocked up fake ads that looked totally real
like this one for Air France. We have the Air France one there? We have
one for air France that says, "Of course we`re not fighting climate change.
We`re an airline." And then there`s this Volkswagen one that says, "We`re
sorry that we got caught", which is of course about their diesel emissions
They did like 600 different posters like these, fake ads, all over
Paris bus stops, for this huge climate conference.
Apart from the security concerns, though, and the climate protests
bubbling up all over Paris, there`s also just logistical concerns and the
etiquette of not stepping on giant egos, which comes from trying to make
meaningful change and trying to make sure that all these world leaders get
heard and there`s time for them to do actual work together. The conference
is so crowded with very important world leaders that some of them ended up
today waiting hours for their turn at speaking from the podium.
And those logistical issues today and the worries about sort of
etiquette and egos and how to manage all of these heads of state led today
to something we are not used to seeing in the United States, which is when
our president got publicly interrupted. And it was not a heckler. And it
was not just a gentle interruption. It was more like he was at the Oscars
and the equivalent of the orchestra started to play to try to get him off
It happened during President Obama`s speech today repeatedly, and it
was a very weird thing. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here in Paris let`s
reaffirm our commitment (BEEP) that sources will be there for countries
willing to do their part to skip the dirty phase of development. Here in
Paris let`s also make sure that these resources flow to the countries that
need help (BEEP) preparing for the impact of climate change that we can no
There are hundreds of billions of dollars ready to deploy to
countries around the world if we get the signal we mean business this time.
Let`s send that signal.
That`s what we seek in these two weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Let`s send that signal. That is not the president`s
elevator arriving at its proper floor on the parking garage. That was the
beep to apparently try to tell him he was going over time.
This is the first effort to get a binding global agreement on climate
in 18 years, since Kyoto. And the U.S. did not sign on to the Kyoto
Agreement you might remember.
President Obama is determined to get the United States to sign on to
something this time. But what that might be and the power of President
Obama`s domestic political opponents to try to stop him from doing that,
that right now tonight is very much a live question.
A live question that we will now put to NBC News senior White House
correspondent Chris Jansing, who joins us live from the middle of the night
now in Paris.
Chris, thank you so much for staying up to be with us.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Love it.
Love it. Love being here.
MADDOW: Is there a feeling among the U.S. delegation, among people
who are covering this and who know this subject tightly, is there a feeling
that there is going to be something to sign, that there is going to be a
binding agreement, that the U.S. is going to be part of something quite
different than what we have done in the past?
JANSING: I think there`s a sense of optimism. There`s also a sense
of urgency and they kind of go together, right? I mean, when you think
about first of all what they`re doing here, it almost boggles the mind.
They`re trying to get virtually every country on earth to sign on to an
agreement to say we are going to cut our greenhouse gas emissions.
So, that is an enormous task that they`ve taken on. But I think if
you listened today, and a lot of people got those bings that the president
got because a lot of people were supposed to have only three minutes and
people kept running over. You listen to what they say, it was
I mean, you had Francois Hollande, who obviously is the host here,
saying never have the stakes been so high. You might not be surprised by
that. But then you hear Vladimir Putin, who hasn`t exactly been a friend
to environmentalists, say it`s one of the greatest challenges to humanity.
The president presented this kind of apocalyptic vision of what would
happen if we didn`t get a climate accord, and he tied it to when he went to
Alaska and he saw the glaciers melting, he saw the impact firsthand.
But for me, when I was listening and when I was reading the
translations of some of the really small countries, frankly places I`d
never even heard of before, tiny little island nations whose very existence
is being threatened, you realize that there is this sort of unanimity of
opinion that something has got to get done here. And remember, even after
Kyoto in 2009 in Copenhagen, I mean, those are two examples where people
had been working on this issue for decades, long before it became a part of
the real lexicon, you know, got disappointed.
This time they think that there is a will that something actually
could get done. I keep asking people for percentages. They range from 70
percent to 90 percent. There are still obstacles but there is a sense here
that there`s a will to accomplish this.
MADDOW: And, Chris, in terms of that likelihood of success, are
there -- you mentioned some countries there that obviously are key to be on
board and you might not expect going along with an international effort on
any subject let alone this one. Are there specific countries that are seen
as being -- kind of being the worry point, countries that are going to be
the most difficult in terms of getting on board with reforms? Are there
weak spots and people know who those countries are?
JANSING: So, this is the other really interesting part about this,
because when you look today, the president made a very pointed decision
that the first person he was going to meet with was China`s President Xi,
somebody he`s got a lot of disagreements with, whether it`s the South China
Sea or cyber security. But they`ve been working very closely together over
the last year or two to really talk about how to move this forward.
Somebody he has a close personal relationship with and there`s been a
lot of jokes about the bromance between President Obama and Prime Minister
Modi of India, that`s a real concern here. And in fact, when you talk
privately to some folks in the White House, they bristle a little bit
because there`s been so much pushback.
One of the key questions here is between developed countries and
developing countries. As you know, India is the fastest growing democracy
in the world. But they really believe that in order for their economy to
flourish, they have to be given a lot of help -- and I`m talking hundreds
of billions of dollars worth of help to keep that moving forward.
Otherwise, they need a break on these carbon emissions.
And so, yes, it is sort of this strange bedfellows here, and behind
the scenes, that`s where a lot of the nitty-gritty work is being done,
first of all, by the president, who had that meeting and you showed the
picture today of him with Prime Minister Modi. But remember, this is going
to go on for another couple of weeks. And you`ve got thousands of
delegates here, thousands of diplomats who are going to continue to do this
work to try to get this done.
MADDOW: NBC`s senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing at the
U.N. Climate Conference in Paris. Chris, again, I know it`s the middle of
the night there and you`ve had an incredible day -- thank you so much for
staying up for us. I appreciate it.
JANSING: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Super happy to have that report from Chris.
And that point about India and sort of all eyes on India right now,
particularly in light of President Obama`s really good personal
relationship with the new leader in India, it is going to be fascinating to
watch. This is also one of those rare events where you see presidents, you
see heads of state doing their own negotiating, doing their own meetings,
trying to work things outs one on one rather than just leaving it to their
minions. Stuff like this doesn`t happen very often.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: I have a thing for you to put on your calendar. Thanks to
House Speaker Paul Ryan and his new Thanksgiving beard.
Speaker Ryan today officially invited President Obama to deliver the
2016 State of the Union Address. So, now we know when it`s going to be.
January 12th, Tuesday, January 12th. So, that is officially a date now.
You and me, we`re going to be here together Tuesday, January 12th.
You can put it in your calendar. You can put it in our calendar in pen.
Just write SOTU, you will remember, I swear.
MADDOW: We got one story left for you tonight. It is some really,
really good news for one presidential candidate who really needs it. It`s
the sort of thing he wouldn`t expect to have the opportunity to get until
much later in the campaign but he`s down in the dumps. It`s a really good
thing. It just happened for him and it happened early.
That story is next.
MADDOW: This weekend, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey got the
endorsement of New Hampshire`s largest newspaper, "The New Hampshire Union
Leader." And that is great news for Governor Christie, particularly right
now when he`s at the relegated to the kids table part of his campaign. He
could really use a boost.
This is an unusually early endorsement for that newspaper. That
comes for Governor Christie just in the nick of time.
However, it has also now had a secondary effect, because the
editorial newspaper at New Jersey`s largest newspaper, "The Star Ledger",
is a guy named Tom Moran who has covered Chris Christie for 14 years. And
upon seeing this New Hampshire endorsement headline for governor Christie
today, Tom Moran was so flabbergasted at that endorsement that he called up
his counterpart at "The Union Leader" who said basically, "Are of you
looking at the same guy I am?"
Here`s what Tom Moran from "The New Jersey Star Ledger" wrote about
this today, quote, "The Union Leader knows almost nothing about Chris
Christie`s record as governor. Take Bridgegate, the editorial made no
mention of it. How about pension reform? The board of Manchester did not
know that Christie made his core promise on that by skipping pension
The editorial said he dealt admirably with Sandy, Super Storm Sandy.
That would come to the shock at victims, 60 percent of whom say they`re
dissatisfied with the state`s response. How about the nine credit
downgrades on his watch as governor? You get the idea.
I hate to second-guess a fellow editorial board. But this editorial
confirms my worse fears about this presidential race. It`s all about
performance, not substance."
So, that`s the view from Chris Christie`s home state. But, you know,
still, good news for Chris Christie in New Hampshire. He got the big New
Hampshire endorsement which he does sort of desperately needs. He needs
something good in New Hampshire, because despite all the time he has spent
in that state, he`s still hovering around 5 percent in the polls. His
national numbers are worse.
So, Governor Christie needs a boost. Maybe this endorsement will do
the trick. John McCain`s got the paper`s endorsement in `08 and went on to
win the New Hampshire primary and nomination. Again, "The Union Leader"
also endorsed this guy in 1988, a man named Pete DuPont, who finished
fourth in New Hampshire and did not go on to be the nominee. Then they
picked Pat Buchanan twice, also not the nominee.
In 2000, it was Steve Forbes who not only did not win the New
Hampshire primary, you get a gold star if you remember that he existed.
The last time around, the paper endorsed Newt Gingrich who then went
on to finish fifth in New Hampshire and not become the nominee.
So maybe this endorsement turns Chris Christie into magic or maybe it
turns him into Newt Gingrich. Back home in New Jersey, the early money is
not on the magic option.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll 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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