Guests: Chris Van Hollen, James Moran, Steve McMahon, Tom Andrews, Susan Molinari, Brent Budowski, A.B. Stoddard, John Feehery, Doris Kearns Goodwin
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to “The Ed Show” on MSNBC.
Tonight, since when is winning not a great thing? Look, if you lose, it‘s not good and it‘s not good for the Obama White House. The best they can hope for I think tonight is for Jon Corzine to squeak one out in a solid Democratic state called New Jersey across the river where Democrats just seem to win most of the time.
In Virginia, Democratic voters in the beltway aren‘t showing much interest in the gubernatorial candidate, Creigh Deeds. The house race in upstate New York, a third party arch conservative has the advantage even after the Republican party candidate dropped out and endorsed the Democrat, wild stuff. Now, I know some experts are saying, you know don‘t read this election as a referendum on President Obama and the White House.
Tell that to the Republicans. Who are going to be out crowing big time tomorrow about seeing change in American politics. Perception is reality. President Obama is the face of the Democratic party, and when they think of president Obama, they see a “D” and when they see that “D” they think of president Obama. Rocks go with the farm.
Off year elections and midterm elections are about emotions and also about the base. Are they still motivated? I think the Democratic base has lost a little bit of heart in this fight. Progressives are impatient. I‘m one of them. I get that, but remember the alternative. Remember the alternative. You know, the other guys, nothing‘s changed over there. The Republicans are the same old warmongering, surplus-driving crowd that was driving this country into the ditch a year ago.
That‘s the key in all of this. Democrats have to deliver no doubt, but they have to deliver on health care, and I think the climate, if they had delivered on health care, the climate today would be just be a heck of a lot different. The progressive base would be out in full force hungry for more. Instead, I think they‘re kind of home sitting on their hands today. Low voter turnout is not good.
You know, I read a commentary and a story about a 76-year-old retired nurse in Iowa. She voted for Obama in 2008. She said, “I really thought there would be immediate change, but it‘s politics as usual. That‘s what I voted against? Voted against? I thought we were voting for.”
If that‘s the mindset of the folks that came out a year ago for Obama, the Democrats better pay attention to tonight‘s results. I think a lot of people feel that way. We can‘t get a robust public option in the house bill. Joe Lieberman is threatening to blow up the Senate bill. We don‘t feel the change, not yet. It‘s only a year. A year is a lifetime in politics and Democrats have plenty of opportunity before election day a year from now. Deliver on your promises, deliver to the people that puts you in office. That‘s going to be the recipe for the Democrats to be strong in 2010.
Joining me now is Maryland Congressman, Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the DCCC. Congressman, it‘s good to have you with us tonight.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD), MARYLAND: It‘s good to be with you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Low-voter turnout. Does that change your expectations at all tonight? I mean, the numbers going to the polls today in Virginia are a lot different than what they were a year ago.
VAN HOLLEN: They are, I don‘t know what the results will be tonight. We need to make sure, Ed, a year from now in the next congressional elections. People do understand that the Obama agenda is at stake, that it is up for election, so to speak, that it will be a midterm report card. I think people will understand that. We‘re going to have to wait until the end of this evening to see what turnout numbers are right now.
In New York 23, the turnout seems to be kind of steady on both sides. Of course, the big story there is that the Republicans already had a fight even before election day and they said, “we don‘t want any moderates, we don‘t want problem solvers in our party anymore.”
SCHULTZ: What do you make of 23? I‘m going to get back to the gubernatorial races, but what do you make of what is happening in 23? I personally think, look, the Republicans, this has been their territory for a long time. What‘s the big shakes on this? It‘s their problem, not ours.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, that‘s exactly right. They‘ve had it for more than 100 years. The NRCC spent more than $800,000 on the Republican candidate. All these outside groups came in spending on the conservative party candidate so the Republicans threw their candidate under the bus. They said, we don‘t want any moderates in the party.
SCHULTZ: So, no matter what happens in 23 tonight, it‘s not going to be bother you? In fact, you‘re going to take a positive out of that because the Republicans are fighting with one another up there?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, of course, we would like to win, but it does spell big trouble around the country. Because if the conservative party candidate wins, it will further embolden the right-wing, the far right extremes and all these Republican primaries that are going on around the country, which will determine what happens in 2010.
SCHULTZ: All right, the governor‘s race in New Jersey, want to talk about that first. You take a look at that Jon Corzine in a state where they have not elected a Democrat in 16 years for a statewide office, and he‘s been behind most of the way. The Obama presence there, his visits have closed the gap. This is kind of ground zero for the Democrats, isn‘t it? I mean, to lose the governor‘s chair in New Jersey, I think it could only be seen as a big negative and maybe the start of a shift in this country. What do you think?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, first of all, I think we‘re going to win. I think Corzine is going to --
SCHULTZ: You think Corzine will win?
VAN HOLLEN: .going to pull it out, but I do believe that it‘s wrong to see what‘s happening in New Jersey, which has its own set of state issues with the governor, with what‘s happening with the legislature there and read into that too much about people being disaffected at the national level. Because Obama‘s numbers remain very high in New Jersey.
That, after all, is why Governor Corzine has asked Obama to come in because he remains very popular. So, to read a loss in New Jersey—I don‘t think it will be, but to read that to mean that somehow Obama‘s agenda is not something that has support of people in New Jersey is just dead wrong. I believe it‘s a—
SCHULTZ: But, Congressman, if you take a look at President Obama‘s popularity, if you break it up into sections across the country, the northeast he‘s at 84 percent when it comes to favorability. How could he show up three, four, five times in New Jersey, be a strong supporter of Jon Corzine, Corzine who spent a boat load of money. A loss for Corzine would be a loss for the White House. I mean—this would not be good.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, it would suggest—if that were to happen, and again, I think Corzine‘s going to win there. But it would suggest in this case, people were voting on the state issues, on the local issues in New Jersey that they did not believe that the Obama agenda was at stake.
Where it will very much be at stake when you‘re talks about a congressional election because if Obama loses a vibrant majority in the House, we all know, and voters will know by then that his agenda for a change will be threatened. So, look, 2010, you‘re absolutely right. We need to maintain the energy levels and we need to make sure a year from now if they‘re low today, that people understand what‘s at stake. I think they will when you have a regular congressional election.
SCHULTZ: All right, now, in Virginia, I want to talk about Virginia. Where are the 500,000 people that showed up for Obama last year that aren‘t there today? What happened to them?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, that‘s a good question. I think what you‘re seeing here, though, Ed, is that the—it‘s not that people are unsatisfied with Obama. Obama‘s numbers are higher in Virginia today in terms of favorability than they were on election day 2008.
Now, what you‘re seeing is—what you are seeing, and I agree with this is, those who voted for the president do not see his agenda threatened now in this election. Whereas the opposition feels that, you know, they lost the 2008 elections, they‘re out here to, you know, sock somebody, and it may mean there‘s a little complacency on the Democratic side.
It doesn‘t mean people are unhappy with the president‘s performance. In fact, as I said, his favorability are high, but it does protect—it may mean people are a little bit complacent and they do not see this election somehow threatens the Obama agenda so they‘re not as motivated to go out.
So, if that is the case tonight, we‘re going to have to work very hard between now and a year from now to make sure people are motivated and understand what it would mean if he was to lose a majority in the Congress or a substantial number in Congress.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, it‘s good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much. Chris Van Hollen with us.
For more, let me bring in Steve McMahon, longtime Democratic strategist with us tonight. I don‘t know the school I come from, winning‘s kind of important and if you lose you give your opponent all kinds of ammunition against you. I want to play this sound bite at first if I may state because a lot of people are making a point of the New Jersey governor‘s race and the Obama effect. Is it going to have an effect? This is the White House today, Mr. Robert Gibbs, talking about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I let people look into their crystal balls and figure out what all this stuff means for the future. The president believes that the best candidate to lead New Jersey today and tomorrow is Jon Corzine. That‘s what the endorsement is about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Steve, what‘s your crystal ball say tonight about New Jersey?
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think New Jersey‘s a coin toss. If you look at where Governor Corzine started his campaign, I think he was 20 or 22 points behind and look at where he is today.
I think you‘ve seen the Obama effect and it‘s been positive. Whether it‘s going to be positive enough to overcome the property tax rates in New Jersey, the auto insurance rates in New Jersey, both of which Governor Corzine promised during his last campaign to reduce. Whether it‘s enough to overcome those things is anybody‘s guess, but it‘s a pretty remarkable comeback by Governor Corzine. I think that the momentum is in his favor. I think President Obama‘s visits there and you know, Congressman Van Hollen made a very good point a few moments ago.
President Obama‘s approval rating in New Jersey is 61 percent so he‘s pulling Corzine up, he‘s not pulling Corzine down.
SCHULTZ: So, if Corzine wins and the Democrats don‘t get 23 in New York and they don‘t get the governor‘s chair in Virginia, this would say—this would be a good night for the White House?
MCMAHON: Well, my headline, if Corzine wins and if the Democrats don‘t get 23 in New York and they don‘t get Virginia, my headline would be, Republicans rejected in two out of three because that‘s what—that‘s what‘s going to happen. You‘ve got the Republican candidate in New York 23 who was such an abysmal failure that she had to withdraw from the race and that, I think, tells you where the Republican party is today. You‘ll have a Republican in New Jersey, I hope, later on this evening, who will be rejected by the voters there. So, that would be two out of three Republicans rejected tonight.
SCHULTZ: All right.
MCMAHON: That‘s my hope.
SCHULTZ: This is Chuck Schumer talking about the trouble that the GOP has got. Let‘s respond to this. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It‘s hard turning the country around and moving the country in a new agenda as the president promised, and we are doing that here and it‘s hard. No one would deny that, but we have a saving grace and that is the opposition just says no. They don‘t come up with an alternative. They just say no and it doesn‘t serve them well. Their numbers continue to go down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: But, there is a wing of the Republican party, I guess you could say, that is breaking off from the Republican party. The Tea partiers, the frustrated and those who don‘t feel good about the direction of the country. Is 23 a model for what could happen in other rural areas across the country in the midterm? What do you think, Steve?
MCMAHON: It absolutely is a model of what could happen. I actually think that it‘s a model of what could happen on the Democratic side. What you have in this country right now, Ed, I think, are parties that are polarized within and amongst themselves.
You could see it in the public option, debate in the democratic party, you could see in the republican party where the conservatives are saying to the moderates, you don‘t really have a place in our party anymore. I think that, frankly, both parties have some things to work out in that regard, but I think the Democrats are a lot more accommodating of the moderates and they‘re a lot more inclusive, and they have a greater willingness to accept a big tent. Than the Republicans which keep moving farther south and farther right and looking more like a white, southern male party. That‘s not a party in the future in a country that is becoming more and more diverse and frankly more and more moderate.
SCHULTZ: I think Corzine wins in New Jersey tonight. What do you think?
MCMAHON: I think he does and I think he has the momentum and I think he is going to win by one or two.
SCHULTZ: And I also think that Bob McDonnell is a guy to watch on the Republican ticket. He‘s a fresh face, military guy, former prosecutor and attorney general. He is running as a moderate, but if you check his background, he‘s the kind of Dobson righty that the conservatives would like. I think he‘s a guy to watch in the future if he wins tonight. Your thoughts?
MCMAHON: Yes, I think he is. You know, he‘s somebody who—I, obviously, voted against him. I live in Virginia but, he‘s somebody who brought a campaign about the economy and about taxes and about the kinds of things people worry about every single day.
I think the Deeds campaign, with all respect to them, relied a little too much on “Washington Post,” a little too much on attack ads, and didn‘t do enough to explain why Creigh Deeds‘ vision for the future of Virginia is which a lot of people wanted to hear from him. I think probably were disappointed not to hear more.
SCHULTZ: Steve McMahon, it‘s good to have with us. Thanks so much.
MCMAHON: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
Coming up, it‘s getting ugly down south. My next guest compares Virginia‘s Republic ticket to the Taliban. Congressman Jim Moran will explain in just a moment.
Plus, Sarah Barracuda keeps finding a way to swim into action. I‘ll tell you how she has influenced the outcome of the New York 23 race. All that and more next on “The Ed Show” on MSNBC. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to “The Ed Show.” Here‘s good news on what might be a not so good night for the Democrats.
Progressive fighter Alan Grayson raised a half a million dollars in one day. Another progressive who‘s not afraid to fight, Congressman Jim Moran. He was rallying the base, the get out the vote effort in Fairfax County, Virginia, and he said, quote, “if the Republicans were running in Afghanistan, they‘d be running on the Taliban ticket as far as I can see.”
He‘s not afraid to call the Republicans out for being extremists, and I love this guy for that and I think we need more of it. Congressman Jim Moran with us tonight here on “The Ed Show.” We‘re not going to get into any kind of apology here, are we now? I mean, you‘re going to stick by this statement, right?
REP. JIM MORAN, (D), VIRGINIA: No, these guys want to keep women in the home, they don‘t think they belong in our workforce. They—gubernatorial candidate when he was attorney general advised Governor Cane that it was illegal not to discriminate against gays in state hiring.
I mean, these are pretty radical extremists. Unfortunately, they‘re able to bring out almost 100 percent of the most conservative Republican base. So, they‘re doing quite well it appears right now and, you know, I think Democrats are suffering from some electoral fatigue. As well as possibly the fact that our gubernatorial candidate didn‘t seem to run alongside President Obama and thus was not able to bring out the minorities and young people to the extent that President Obama was able to.
SCHULTZ: There‘s a big swing in turnout. There‘s no doubt about that. Turnout is everything for the Democrats in Virginia. There are going to be hundreds of thousands short as opposed to a year ago, but Congressman, I‘m intrigued by the exit polls tonight, 55 percent of the people that are voting in Virginia tonight saying that President Obama was not a factor. If that‘s the case, where did Bob McDonnell come from against the Democratic party after you‘ve had Governors like Mark Warner and Tim Kaine? What happened here?
MORAN: Well, I think we had a Democratic candidate who‘s a very decent guy. I certainly supported him and voted for him, but he didn‘t necessarily engage with people in Northern Virginia. I don‘t think he was able to mobilize and motivate the kind of base that President Obama was able to get engaged.
Young people, minorities, they tended to stay away. In fact, if I could give you one anecdote, I hope it‘s not typical, but some African-Americans actually said they voted for McDonnell rather than Deeds and I couldn‘t believe it. They said, well, we understand Deeds doesn‘t support President Obama. Well, I don‘t think that‘s typical, but it does reveal something that we may see that without running with the president as popular as he was, I think you pay a price for that. You just don‘t mobilize these young voters and so we‘re going to lose several hundred thousand people but maybe it‘s electoral fatigue as well.
SCHULTZ: Let me ask you about that. If I can because—did the primary hurt this process for the Democrats? I mean, it was an exhausting process. You know, your relative was in there. Terry McAuliffe brought in a lot of resources. I mean, did this wear down the Democratic vote in your opinion?
MORAN: I don‘t know, I think it wore down the candidates, but the “Washington Post” decided to support somebody from far southwest saying he was a transportation governor. I mean, he doesn‘t have a stop light in his district, but the fact is he‘s a terrific person. He would have been good. I don‘t think he got the money left to be able to run a good campaign.
But, bear in mind, Ed, it‘s been more than a generation since somebody won the governor‘s mansion from a party that was—that was different—that was of the same party as the president. I‘m not expressing that well. Virginia normally in the next year votes for somebody opposite of the party in the White House and so we could have predicted that would be a factor and it clearly was. I mean, the Republican precincts clearly drew more people out than the Democratic precincts today.
SCHULTZ: A lot of pickup trucks and deer rifles in Virginia, that‘s for sure. It appears—it appears you have to get the young vote out there for the Democrats to win in Virginia. That‘s what it looks like.
MORAN: It‘s the metropolitan vote in Northern Virginia that has made the difference for Mark Warmer, for Jim Webb, and for Tim Kaine. I‘m not sure Creeds was able to get them out because he did spend a lot of money in the primary so had less money available when it came to the general.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Jim Moran, thanks for your time tonight.
MORAN: It‘s good to be with you.
SCHULTZ: All the best, you bet.
Coming up, Virginia Foxx thinks the health care bill is more dangerous than terrorism, but the Beckster has outfoxed her. He‘s upped the ante and he lands in the psycho zone. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: In “Psycho Talk” tonight, I have to take a quick break here from talking about the election coverage because I just can‘t let the Beckster get away with this.
He must have been afraid of being outpsychoed by Congresswoman Virginia Foxx on the House floor yesterday when she said this about health care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VIRGINIA FOXX, NORTH CAROLINA: I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Glenn took it a step further last night comparing health reform to 9/11?
Ten years ago, I could have shouted every single day about Osama bin Laden and his wacky crazy threats to kill Americans in New York and no one would have been willing to stand in line two hours while some security officer made grandma take her shoes off.
Conservatives are awake, 9/12ers are willing to do the hard things. They‘re reading 2,000 page health care bills on the weekend. The 9/12ers are willing to stand in line and take our shoes off before the plane actually hits the tower.
Well, first of all, comparing legislation that might actually save lives to the worst terror attack on American soil is simply indefensible, and secondly, does he really expect us to believe that the 9/12ers have read the health care bills? Look at these guys. Do they look like folks who go home and read thousands of pages of legislation? Let alone understand any of it? I don‘t think so.
Comparing health care reform to the September 11th event in this country and then saying a bunch of wing nut Tea partyers are going to save the day, that‘s all kinds of “Psycho Talk.”
Coming up, Ohio voters are deciding whether to open casinos to generate revenue for the states. I‘ll tell you why gambling should not be a recession buster.
Plus, former Republican Congresswoman from New York, Susan Molinari and former Democratic Congressman of Maine, Tom Andrews will be here to debate what‘s really at stake in tonight‘s elections. All that and more next on “The Ed Show.” Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. For the fifth time in 19 years, the state of Ohio has the casino gambling issue back on the ballot. Four cities, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Columbus, are the target of gambling companies that want to set up shop in the state. The license fee is 50 million dollars per casino, and 33 percent of the gross goes to the cities to meet budgets.
That‘s big money, and money is tight. Jobs are scarce and the recession means tough times for local governments to make budgets and serve the people. I hope the people of Ohio vote down Measure Three. Gambling is not a recession buster. And turning alleged entertainment into a revenue stream that governments depend on, I think, is the wrong road to travel.
It‘s dangerous territory. This is more than buying a Lottery ticket.
This is, I think, picking on the vulnerable and depending on the desperate. Ohio voters have to see this social ill for what it is, and what it will create.
What‘s next? Prostitution to pay for roads and bridges? Where are we going in this country?
For more, let me bring in Tom Andrews, a former Democratic congressman from Maine, and Susan Molinari, a former Republican congresswoman from New York.
I want to pose this because both of you have been in the legislative process, and deciding what‘s best, and representing constituents. Is money so tight in this country? Have we lost our intestinal fortitude to make tough decisions, that this is what we‘re going to resort to, gambling to make up budgets in cities that just maybe haven‘t been able to make the tough decisions? Tom, is this the right way to go?
TOM ANDREWS, FMR. CONGRESSMAN: Ed, I agree with you. I really don‘t think it‘s the right way to go, by a long shot. This is a desperation move in a desperation economy. These are minimum-wage jobs. They‘re dead-end jobs. They‘re not the kind of jobs you want to build an economy that‘s going to create opportunity for our people.
It‘s a desperation move. I agree with you 100 percent. In terms of who is bearing the burden on this, it‘s not based upon—that is investments in education and the fundamentals of government. It‘s not being based upon ability to pay. It‘s based on who‘s going to those slots. And very often, they‘re the people who can least afford to be making the kind of investments we to need to be making in government.
No matter how you look at it—we had this in Maine. We had a referendum on the question of gambling, casinos in Maine. We turned it down. I‘m very happy that we did.
SCHULTZ: Susan Molinari, obviously taxes are a big issue in every state. When budgets are tight, politicians, local politicians don‘t like to go back and dig into people‘s pockets. Is this an avenue that we‘re going to go down and see more of in this country? Where do you stand on it?
SUSAN MOLINARI, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN: You know, I have to be very honest with you. I don‘t know where I stand on it. I do think that Ohio is doing it the right way. They‘re asking people in Ohio if this is something they want to do. Look, you know, gambling is legal in certain states throughout the United States. People go to places to gamble. It‘s not like we say there is no gambling in the United States.
Is it fair that one state gets to derive revenue from people who are willing to get on a bus? Or should states try and keep that revenue within that state, that people who are willing to gamble, you know, usually are willing to go some place else in order to gauge that.
So I think going at it a referendum way and allowing people to make that decision for themselves, as opposed from the election officials making that decision for them. I think the referendum, the discussion is the fair and right way to do it.
SCHULTZ: Gay marriage is on the ballot in the state of Maine today.
Tom, a lot of out of state money has come in to turn this thing around. What‘s going to happen there? I understand the turnout, the voter turnout, has been heavy today.
ANDREWS: Ed, that really is the good news. You mentioned at the top of the show that one of the disappointing news for progressives and Democrats has been the low turnout in some of these key races. But in Maine, well, that‘s the story. There‘s been a very strong turnout, and, you know, much greater than what was anticipated. They were looking at a 35 percent turnout. They‘re now talking about over 50 percent. Those lines have been very long at those polling places.
SCHULTZ: Is it going to pass?
ANDREWS: I think it‘s—I think the good guys are going to win. I think we‘re going to defeat this referendum. By the way, the referendum was put in by the right wing. Lot of out of state money. Out of state ads that were run—exactly the same ads run in California were run in the state of Maine.
They‘re trying to do to Maine what they did to California. They‘re going to fail. Part of that is because Mainers just got fed up, got energized. The progressive base got energized. That‘s the key to turning this around. I think that‘s going to be one of the lesson of this elections that could be a very important lesson, particularly for Republicans, who find themselves being taken over by their right-wing base.
SCHULTZ: Susan, let‘s talk about that. What‘s happening in district 23 in New York? Is there room for moderates anymore in the Republican party?
MOLINARI: OK. Of course there are room for moderates in the Republican part. What happened in district 23 -- look, Dede Scozzafava isn‘t a moderate Republican. I was considered a moderate Republican. John McHugh, who got to be secretary of the Army, whose district we‘re talking about right now, is considered a moderate. Our conservative voting record was scaled at 73, 74 percent. Dede‘s was lower than 40. She ran on the Working Family Party—
SCHULTZ: So I guess you could say that this was an easy win for Sarah Palin then? She went up there and did some camera hogging and what not. And now she‘s being relevant by the fringe?
MOLINARI: I wouldn‘t put it that way. I think it was as easy win, because Dede didn‘t really have the base of Republicans, and Republican conservatives in New York. She did come out and say she would support the stimulus. That has become—this election, tonight, in New York, in New Jersey—and in upstate New York and in Virginia, what‘s happening here, what a lot of people like to call, you know, the wing nuts taking over the party is the economic conservatives are—
SCHULTZ: Let me ask you that. Is this a model for the Republicans to get seats back in 2010?
MOLINARI: The model is to speak up against big government, to speak
up against taxes, to speak up against increasing the deficit, and for
speaking for smaller government. That is the model. That‘s what I think -
· when we talk economic conservatism, the Republican party always can unite and can win.
SCHULTZ: What about that, Tom?
ANDREWS: I think it‘s a disaster for the Republicans. Let‘s face it, if what happened in the 23 Congressional District Happens around the country—here you have democratically elected party officials, elected by the people of the 23rd Congressional District, being attacked by the right wing blow-hards around the country, the ideological police, saying that they know better about the 23rd Congressional District of New York than the people who live in the 23rd Congressional District of New York. They elect a right-wing individual that, of course, will galvanize.
If you look at what happens in Maine, the right-wing forces come into Maine; it galvanized progressives. It galvanized Democrats. It‘s what happened in 2006. It‘s what happened in 2008. It was a key to our success then. We didn‘t see it in some of these other races. But where we have seen it, including in the state of Maine, the backlash against this right-wing move, the progressives have been successful.
I think if the 23rd Congressional District of New York is what we‘re going to see around the country, then that‘s going to be very good news for the Democrats.
SCHULTZ: All right. Thank you, Tom Andrews and Susan Molinari. Appreciate your time tonight. For more, let‘s bring in our panel. Brent Budowsky, columnist for “The Hill” and former Senate/House aide, also A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of “The Hill,” is with us, and John Feehery, Republican strategist.
John, you got that big smile on your face tonight. Is that because you think you‘re going to win in Virginia or what?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think we‘re going to win in Virginia. I think we‘re going to win in New York 23. I think we‘re going to win in New Jersey. I think it‘s going to be a good night for conservatives.
SCHULTZ: Why are you going to win in New Jersey? You don‘t think Obama is going to have an effect up there?
FEEHERY: I think Christie is going to win. I think the fact of the matter is that Corzine—Christie just filed a lawsuit saying that Corzine‘s campaign played for robo calls endorsing the independent candidate, which is clearly illegal. And it‘s really—what shows desperation.
I think that there‘s a populist wave out there. The Republicans are riding the populist wave. Democrats are going to get engulfed by it.
SCHULTZ: A.B. Stoddard, does it mean anything if Jon Corzine gets defeated tonight? Is it a reflection on the White House, the Democratic momentum? What‘s your take?
A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”: The Republicans, if they win all three tonight, that‘s going to be the big story, Ed. It‘s going to be hard for Democrats to explain away those losses. New Jersey would be very painful for the White House to lose. Obviously, they saw that was the best place to use the resources they had, to have president Obama go out and try to save an unpopular incumbent.
But it is going to be Jon Corzine‘s fault if he loses this race, for sure. He‘s at 39 percent approval rating, Ed. President Obama is at over 60 percent approval rating in New Jersey.
Yes, Cousin Pooky might not get off the couch, like President Obama asked him to, and vote for Jon Corzine. I don‘t think it will be President Obama‘s fault. But the Republicans will tell you that it its.
SCHULTZ: Brent Budowsky, how did the Democrats get in this mess in New Jersey? How can you have a strong hold for so many years, have a president that is so popular in your region, and all of a sudden it comes back to bite you? Jon Corzine‘s a Wall Street guy. He was a former United States senator. He spent a boat load of money in New Jersey to get this seat. What went wrong here?
BRENT BUDOWSKY, “THE HILL”: Ten percent unemployment, a feeling that Washington is not fighting hard enough for working people to create jobs, and to fight against the special interests, a sense that events are out of control, a governor, who‘s a good man who used to work for Goldman Sachs, at a time when, on the front page of every newspaper, Wall Street bonuses are out there every day.
It‘s about jobs. It‘s about fighting for jobs and it‘s about fighting for people. There‘s a feeling that Democrats in Washington have not done a good job of fighting for people and fighting for jobs. There‘s a feeling that the special interests are still in control, that there hasn‘t been enough change. There‘s a hope—certainly, I share it, because I‘m angry at Washington, like many other people are.
SCHULTZ: If a health care bill had been passed—we‘ve been talking health care, let‘s see, May, June, July, August, September, October—I mean, six months. And now the Democrats are fighting within themselves right now on health care reform. Would have health care bill have changed the climate in New Jersey and in Virginia?
BUDOWSKY: A health care bill would change the climate. But a jobs bill would change the climate more.
SCHULTZ: What do you think, John?
FEEHERY: If you look at the exit polls, the number two and number three things were property taxes are too high and corruption. Those are the things that conspired to kill Corzine. Of course, jobs is number one issue. But those three things are the things that killed Corzine. He‘s extraordinarily unpopular, and he‘s not a very good governor.
SCHULTZ: A.B. Stoddard, it‘s kind of hard to have a president influence eminent domain. This, too, has been a real issue in New Jersey that they‘ve been dealing with, and school funding. There‘s a lot of local issues there that Corzine maybe has been somewhat inept on, in the opinion of some.
STODDARD: You know, John is right. He has let the voters of New Jersey down. I think he‘s probably going to get beat tonight. I don‘t think President Obama, with his, as I mentioned, high popularity in New Jersey, could get in there and save him. What will happen, even though Jon Corzine was so unpopular, is that the Republicans will make a victory there into a referendum on Obama, because there is so much sentiment across the country including, in New Jersey, about concern about runaway federal spending and growing government and deficit—
SCHULTZ: We were spending a lot of money when we were in Iraq and Afghanistan before Obama showed up. It just seems the Republicans have turned the tide. They‘re so concerned about finances right now. Panel, stay with us. We got a lot more coming up.
Up next, the president‘s coat tails may have been shortened over the past year. I am concerned about it. I think it‘s going to mean a lot for the Democrats in 2010. Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin will put it all into perspective when we come back in my playbook. Stay with us. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, last November, Barack Obama cruised to victory, dragging a bunch of other Democrats into office on his coat tails. But one year later, his influence on the voters may be waning. Obama‘s approval rating still very solid, there at 54 percent in a new poll out today. but the widespread Democratic enthusiasm that swept the country last year seems to be—seems to be slipping away.
Let me bring in presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Doris, good to have you with us tonight.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Interesting exit polls. In Virginia, 55 percent, In New Jersey, 60 percent of the voters saying that President Obama really had no effect on their vote today. Is that pretty normal?
GOODWIN: I think it‘s absolutely normal. I think the coat tails is a weird measure for one year after a president has taken office. The coat tails that will matter will be two years after, obviously, when the Congressional elections take place. That will effect the majority in the Congress.
But much more important, even than that, is what have we learned in this one year about the strengths and weaknesses of the leadership style of this new president? Because that‘s what‘s going to be with us in the months and years ahead. I think we‘ve seen he‘s steady and calm. We‘ve seen he‘s poised. We‘ve seen that when he gets to make a decision, he has information that he brings in, and he has strong voices that can compete with him.
The real question is, have we seen an ease with the Congress? So far, we could use a little more LBJ I think with Mr. Obama, threatening, cajoling. LBJ used to say, you‘ve got to court those Congressmen as much as you court your wife. Start calling them at 6:00 in the morning, call them at 2:00 a.m. in the morning.
I think that‘s something he‘s going to have to learn more of. We‘ve seen a lot of learning and a lot of acknowledging of where he‘s going.
SCHULTZ: Presidential approval ratings this early on. The president seems to be in pretty good shape. In November of 2001, of course, George Bush was at 87 percent after the country was attacked. Clinton at 49 percent, Bush Senior, Bush 41 at 70 percent, Reagan at 52, Carter at 56. Obama is in at 54 percent. Is that good?
GOODWIN: I think, again, the approval ratings are not the marker. Look at Bush at 87 percent. One year into his presidency, he had already made the decision to go into Afghanistan after September 11th. He did get the Taliban out of power. But he was making already the decision to go into Iraq, which would end up defining his presidency.
He had not created a shared sacrifice in the country, which would end up hurting the country. So it‘s those things you don‘t see at the time, like, for example, JFK didn‘t look that good in some ways. His approval rating was up, but he screwed up at the Bay of Pigs. His summit with Khrushchev wasn‘t very good. But he had learned from the Bay of Pigs that he had to make decisions in a different way, bring in more people, question, be more self-critical, which proved critical when the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred a year later.
So it‘s those invisible markers that I think we have to go down a level from approval ratings or coat tails, to figure out how we feel about these characters.
SCHULTZ: Doris, in the big picture, where does health care play in all of this? This is Topic A for the Obama agenda. If they pass a bill, is this really what he‘s going to be remembered for in his first term? How big would it be if he were able to get sweeping reforms?
GOODWIN: I agree with what you said before. I think health care, if it does become robust, if it‘s big and it passes, it will be a signal to the people who voted for him that this really was a historic election. Right now, we‘re not feeling that. It was transformational for him to get in there. But that activist progressive movement is not out there knocking on doors and doing the things they did in the election.
SCHULTZ: So if they had passed a bill before tonight, things might have been different you think?
GOODWIN: I think it would have given people a sense that, yes, we are in a moment we can tell our children‘s children that we did something that no president has been able to do in 100 years. That only gives you impetus, then, OK, let‘s go for regulatory reform; let‘s go for energy independence. You need that step of progress to go to that next step.
If health care reform passes, I think it will change the mood of the progressive sentiment behind him, and of the Democrats as well.
SCHULTZ: Doris Kearns Goodwin, always enjoy your insight and expertise. Thanks so much.
GOODWIN: You‘re welcome, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
Coming up, if the Republicans do well in tonight‘s races, I want to know what‘s that going to mean to Sarah Barracuda, T-Paw and the Mittser. Oh, our panel is going to dig into that one when we come back, right here on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. We‘re getting close to some election results here tonight. The Virginia polls are going to be closing in a matter of minutes. We‘ve been talking a lot about what tonight‘s results will say about President Obama. But a bigger question may be, what does this mean for the future of the Republican party?
Let‘s bring back our panel tonight, Brent Budowsky, A.B. Stoddard, and John Feehery. Panel, I want to play this sound byte from this morning on MSNBC. This is Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty talking about the moderates in the party and he also goes after Olympia Snowe. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Olympia Snowe, though, you want her in the big tent, right?
GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA: If Olympia Snowe disagrees with us on one or two things, there‘s room for her, of course.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you want Olympia Snowe in your Republican party?
PAWLENTY: There is a process in her state that is broad based that endorses her, and the Republicans in that state say, we want her to be our candidate.
There is a range of behavior and issue positions we can accept and celebrate in the party, and there‘s room for all of that. But you can‘t be so far out of that range that you become Deed Scozzafava.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: So the Republicans are going back and forth at one another. Senator Olympia Snowe responded today to “Politico,” saying that she‘s been a lifelong Republican, doesn‘t know what the problem is. She went on to say that she thinks Tim Pawlenty is a thoughtful person.
Panel, let‘s go to this. John Feehery, is there a problem in Denmark for the Democrats with an identity crisis?
FEEHERY: I believe the Republican party does better. I think any political party does better when they focus more on addition than subtraction. Olympia Snowe should be a member of the Republican party. She‘s been a member in good standing for a long time.
I do think these elections show one thing, though, that there‘s a populist wave coming. And there‘s a reaction against President Obama‘s agenda. And I think that‘s going to be good for Republicans in the coming election.
SCHULTZ: What about that, A.B.? Is this a model for 2010? Is this how Republicans are going to get House seats back again, what‘s going on in District 23?
STODDARD: This is not a model. It‘s not going to be the case usually that the moderate Republican nominee pulls out. If you have a situation next year where the disaffected conservative grassroots activists do not like the nominees of the Republican party, and they go after them with third party candidates, they are going to split the vote, and they‘re going to elect Democrats.
It is a real situation for the Republican party to look at, how to harness this grassroots anger and do something productive with it. I just think once you start looking at third parties, Republican incumbents are in trouble, and they can‘t take back the majority that way.
SCHULTZ: Brent Budowsky, it looks to me like Pawlenty is really trying to carve out a spot for himself on the conservative wing of the Republican party and be a factor. He comes in at 23. He supports Hoffman. And now he goes further and goes after Olympia Snowe. What does this illustrate?
BUDOWSKY: First of all, let me offer Olympia Snowe a place in the Democratic party any time she wants.
FEEHERY: Can‘t have her, Brent.
BUDOWSKY: I have to be honest. John, I love you like a brother. You‘re a good mainstream Republican. If your tent gets so small, and they come to you, let me offer you, John Feehery, a place in the Democratic party as well.
FEEHERY: They‘re not coming to me. I‘ll be a good Republican for a long time.
SCHULTZ: What we got here—we have these hard righty Tea partiers. We got the moderate Republican. We got the Democratic party. And we got the frustrated progressives. We have a lot to choose from right now, don‘t we, Brent?
BUDOWSKY: Oh, yes. There is a populist wave. I agree with John about this. I disagree about how it plays out. The country is angry at special interests, Wall Street, Washington, power brokers, bankers. The president—my column in “The Hill” tomorrow is “Come Home, Mr. President,” to fight for the things he fought for one year ago today. And if he does, he‘ll win.
SCHULTZ: A.B. Stoddard, quick take on tonight in New Jersey, who wins?
STODDARD: I really can‘t predict. I have a feeling that it‘s going to be a Republican route, tonight, Ed, in three place. I mean, if I had—
Joe Scarborough is a good predictor. He always predicts the midterm elections in our newspaper correctly. He‘s saying all three go down.
SCHULTZ: I think the Republicans win, except in New Jersey. I think Corzine‘s going to pull it out. That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. Polls in Virginia are just about to close. MSNBC‘s election day coverage continues with a special edition of “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. That starts right now here on MSNBC, the place for politics.
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