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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Joe Biden, Chris Hayes


KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST:  And now to discuss Vice President Joe Biden‘s old Senate seat with Vice President Joe Biden—ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.

Good booking, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  Yes, fortuitous timing.



MADDOW:  I like to think I saw all this coming, but nobody in America did.  Thank you, Keith.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

I‘m not saying that everyone will remember where he or she was when Christine O‘Donnell won the Republican nomination for Senate from Delaware, but I will remember where I was.  I was here on MSNBC 24 hours ago.  And in the wake of that ever lasting gob-smacker, I traveled from our home studios in New York here to Washington, D.C., for a rare opportunity to sit down with a man, who for a very long time—a long, long time—held the Senate seat that Christine O‘Donnell now wants.

Tonight, my sit-down with Vice President Joe Biden.  The vice president had plenty to say about the Delaware Senate race, a pretty bold assessment of the possible repeal of “don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” and some very direct talk for the Democratic base.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  One reason I want to be on your show is to tell the progressives out there—you know, get in gear, man.


MADDOW:  Having just given away why the vice president would agree to spend a good part of his day with me today—we will get to the rest of what he had to say about Christine O‘Donnell in Delaware, the Republican Party this year, “don‘t ask, don‘t tell,” and how you ought to respond when your political opponents call you everything up to and including a space alien.

That is all ahead.

But we begin tonight with what continues to be the biggest political story in the country, bar none—last night‘s unexpected, jaw-dropping, out-of-nowhere, choose your superlative, victory Republican Christine O‘Donnell in the race for the U.S. Senate in the state of Delaware.  Now, the thing that usually happens the day after a heated primary battle like this one is that there is a party-wide call for unity.  A kumbayah unity rally is set where the victor and vanquished lock arms and march toward the election.

In the case of Christine O‘Donnell in Delaware—don‘t bet on the kumbayah thing.  Today, the vanquished, nine-term Republican Congressman Mike Castle, made it clear to everyone who would listen that he will not be endorsing Christine O‘Donnell—not now and, I‘m guessing, not ever.  A senior aide to Congressman Castle telling today, quote, “She is a con artist who won by lying about Mike Castle‘s positions and about her own life.”

In the immediate hours after her victory, Christine O‘Donnell has faced some of the heaviest fire from fellow Republicans.


KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH AIDE:  How does she make her living?  Why did she mislead voters about her college education?  Why—how did—how come it took her nearly two decades to pay her college bills so she could get her college degree?  How did she make a living?  Why did she sue a well-known and well-thought of conservative think tank?

There are just a lot of nutty things she‘s been saying that just simply don‘t add up.


MADDOW:  Right around the type that Karl Rove was describing Christine O‘Donnell as nutty on FOX News last night, Christine O‘Donnell was also essentially being disowned by the National Republican Party itself.  The National Republican Senatorial Committee whose job it is to get Republicans elected to the Senate saying last night that had no plans to fund Christine O‘Donnell‘s campaign going forward.  That decision was then reversed about 12 hours later.

That flip-flop by the NRSC is sort of emblematic of what has been happening with the rest of the Republican establishment over these last 24 hours.  It has effectively thrown up its hands and decided to grudgingly get in line behind the Christine O‘Donnell candidacy.  Today, events by late hope, high-profile Republican endorsements from people like Mitt Romney and Congressman Mike Pence, Senators John Cornyn and Bob Corker and John Thune.

But there is a reason why experienced Republican politicos were not

getting behind Christine O‘Donnell‘s candidacy before.  That was felt very

palpably today as yet more stuff became known about her positions and about

her political history.  For instance, her past stated views on the issue of

not gay people, not anything as controversial as that, but women in the military.



CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  By integrating women into, particularly, military institutes, it cripples the readiness of our defense.  Schools like The Citadel training young men to confidently lead other young men into a battlefield where one of them will die.  And when you have women in that situation, it just creates a whole new set of dynamics which are distracting to training these men to kill or be killed.


MADDOW:  Women in the military, you are detrimental to American national security, and you are a distraction.  Also in wars, only one person dies.

We also learn more today about Christine O‘Donnell‘s views on sexual education, particularly her view that condoms do not, in fact, stop the spread of HIV.


O‘DONNELL:  A lot of the money that we‘re spending goes to things that we know will not prevent AIDS, but indeed, will continue to spread the disease—when a lot of our money goes to distribute condoms in high schools, when our money goes to distribute material that is literally pornographic.


MADDOW:  As a full-time abstinence campaigner before she started running for office full-time, Christine O‘Donnell has a lot of interesting stated advocacy issues on sex that are just now coming to light.  Back in 2003, she warned about the dangers of coed floors and coed bathrooms on college campuses.

And if the term coed sounds antiquated, it‘s because it is.  The idea is that it‘s controversial for women and men to be at school together.  Quoting Christine O‘Donnell, “What‘s next?  Orgy rooms?  Menage a trois rooms?  Coedness is like a radical agenda forced on college students.”

And then, of course, there‘s the video that we finally unearthed last night of Christine O‘Donnell‘s national campaign for self-abstinence.


O‘DONNELL:  We have God-given sexual desires.  And we need to understand them and preserve them to be used in God‘s appropriate context.  We need to address sexuality with young people.  And masturbation is part of sexuality, but it is important to discuss this from a moral point of view.

CHRISTINE GEDGAUDAS, MARKETING MANAGER, THE SALT:  Masturbation is a selfish act, and it‘s a lustful one.  And we are to walk with pure hearts, not adulterous lusting hearts.

O‘DONNELL:  The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery.  So, you can‘t masturbate without lust.


MADDOW:  That was Christine O‘Donnell‘s job before getting into politics full-time.  She was the president and founder of an organization called the SALT—which when it wasn‘t busy warning kids not to get busy with themselves, it was trying to convince gay people that they can be cured of the gay.

This is now the Republican nominee for Senate in the great state of Delaware.  This is who Republicans now spent the day today lining up behind and sending money to.

The thing about Christine O‘Donnell that is so interesting about her as a politico, though, aside from some of her incredibly interesting views is that even though she has been portrayed as an out-of-nowhere political outsider, she‘s not that much of a political outsider.  Christine O‘Donnell is not only this year‘s Republican nominee.  She was the last Republican nominee for this Senate seat, as well.

She was the Republican nominee who lost to Joe Biden for the Senate seat back in 2008.  In fact, Christine O‘Donnell has run for the Senate three times over the past five years.  Running for Senate has been Christine O‘Donnell‘s job.  She has not had a job other than that.  She is a professional Republican candidate for office—leading to complaints from Republicans and conservatives in Delaware that, in their words, she‘s a con artist.


KRISTIN MURRAY, FMR. O‘DONNELL CAMPAIGN MANAGER:  Christine O‘Donnell is no conservative.  You see, this is her third Senate race in five years.  As O‘Donnell‘s manager, I found out that she was living on campaign donations—using them for rent and personal expenses while leaving her workers unpaid and piling up thousands in debt.  She wasn‘t concerned about conservative causes.  O‘Donnell just wanted to make a buck.


MADDOW:  That was a robocall paid for by the Delaware Republican Party, by the Republicans.

Despite the Republican Party‘s best efforts to defeat her, Christine O‘Donnell is now their candidate, whether they like it or not.  And today, I had the incredible good fortune to have the opportunity to interview the last person who ran against Christine O‘Donnell in Delaware from for the United States Senate—a man who defeated her by approximately 30 points.

I sat down with Vice President Joe Biden this afternoon and I asked him straight off about Christine O‘Donnell.


MADDOW:  Mr. Vice President, thank you so much for your time.  I really appreciate this.

BIDEN:  I‘m delighted to be.  I‘m glad you‘re back in here.

MADDOW:  The Republican nominee for your old Senate seat in Delaware is not long-time Congressman Mike Castle, but rather Christine O‘Donnell—who you have run against in the past.  Her own party has derided her as unelectable to any office and they, in fact, ran robocalls that called her a fraud.  A very surprising results.

How do you explain that vote in your home state?

BIDEN:  It‘s hard to explain.  First of all, there—we‘re a single congressional district state.  We‘re a small state, only five smaller.  A hundred eighty-five thousand roughly Republicans registered in the state of Delaware, closed primary.  She got roughly, what, 25,000 to 28,000 votes out of 50,000 cast.

I‘m confident that the Republican folks out there really thought there was a shot here and they showed up, I think, Mike—if Republican had the vote cast—I think would have won 130,000 to 50,000.

But the truth is that it‘s real tough for the Republican Party. 

Really, it‘s hung on a shingle.  You know, no moderates need apply.  It‘s -

and it sort of spawns a—I don‘t know, a tone in politics that is not helpful to getting things done.


And we‘re—and we‘re a moderate state.  And we thank God we have a really first-rate candidate.

This guy is solid.  He is honorable.  He‘s incredibly well-educated. 

He‘s done a great job running the largest county.

They ended up with an AAA bond rating.  They paid all the bills, eliminated the deficit.  This is a very solid guy.  And so, that‘s the good news for us.

MADDOW:  But—this has been a very fun and easy year to be a pundit because, as a pundit, you only have to say one of two things: you either say, “Boy, those Democrats sure are lucky the Republicans keep picking these unelectable candidates,” or you say, “Those Democrats sure are unlucky, they can‘t compete with all of that enthusiasm on the right.”

Now, you and the administration obviously can affect who Republicans choose as their candidates.  But what is your role?  What do you see as your role in terms of trying to enthuse the Democratic base?

BIDEN:  Well, first of all, I think the two premises are both correct

or both are incorrect.  One is that I wouldn‘t sell short these candidates.  I think that in my state—this new Republican candidate‘s going to have an awful lot of money.  I think they‘re going to see it pouring.  And these third-party operations that are going to probably spend more money in both parties in some states are going to be in there.


So, I think they‘re going to—I think—we‘re going to take it very, very seriously.  It‘s a big mistake not to take it seriously, number one.

Now, number two, what I‘m doing, I‘ve been in to over 80 congressional Senate and gubernatorial races.

And one reason I want to be on your show is to tell the progressives out there—you know, get in gear, man.  First of all, there‘s a great deal at stake.

I‘ve been around the Senate a long time.  We fought to regulate tobacco.  We fought for hate crime laws.  We fought to make sure that kids get insured.  We fought for all the things that we finally got done in one year—and they‘re all at risk.

If they take over the House and the Senate, don‘t kid yourself.  They made it really clear.  Pete Sessions said—excuse me—Congressman Sessions when asked, what would they do if they took over the House?  He said, “We‘d have the exact same agenda.”

And look, there‘s a lot at stake here.  And our progressive base, you have—you should not stay home.  You better get energized because the consequences are serious for the outcome of the things we care most about.  And I didn‘t mention half the stuff we‘ve gotten done.

You know, look, it‘s—I think when Barack got—and look, this is one exceptional public figure.  I mean, Barack Obama is—this guy is amazing.  But think about it, I think there was—he did so well, won so big.  I think a lot of people thought, “Well, man, it‘s just going to just fall out of the sky.”

MADDOW:  Right.

BIDEN:  What he brought out of the sky down to earth were really significant, progressive goals that have been met.  More to do.  More to do.  And so, I think it‘s time for our base to say, “Hey, man, take a look.  This opposition is for real.”

MADDOW:  Why hasn‘t that happened organically?  I mean, we‘re looking at numbers now that suggest that Republican turnout in the primaries is outstripping Democratic turnout in the primaries.  That‘s the most concrete measure you get of enthusiasm people willing to take time out of their day to go vote—

BIDEN:  Yes.

MADDOW:  -- and do it.  Why do you think that hasn‘t happened organically?

BIDEN:  I‘ll tell you, it‘s not happening organically for two reasons.  My grandfather used to say, “People don‘t focus on the general election until after the World Series.”  It used to be in early October.

The truth of the matter is, a lot of people are hurting.  A lot of people are angry.  A lot of people are worried and frightened—and with good reason.  I mean, as much progress being made, there‘s so much more that has to be done.

And so, they don‘t want to make a choice now.  They haven‘t focused on a choice.  What they‘ve focused on is the people in power, their dissatisfaction with more—not more progress having been made.

But here‘s the deal: remember—you‘re too young—but there used to be a mayor of Boston, his name was Kevin White.  And they asked him in his second run for election, you know, a tough question.  He said, “Look, don‘t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.”

“Don‘t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.” 

People haven‘t wanted to make that choice.  They don‘t want to focus yet. 

They don‘t want to—it‘s like I don‘t want to be bothered—I‘m angry.  But they‘re going to now—watch them, starting the begin of October, they‘re going to focus.  And the alternatives are stark between a Democratic-led House and a Democratic-led Senate and a Republican-led House and Senate.

And I‘ve been saying all along, Rachel, I know I‘ve been getting beat up for saying this, we are going to retain control of the House.  We are going to retain control of the Senate.  Because when the American people focus on the alternative, it‘s going to be absolutely clear to them there is no alternative.  And I really mean that.  I really mean that.  I believe that with every fiber of my being.


MADDOW:  “When the American people start focusing on the alternative, start focusing on what it would really mean to vote for this slate of Republicans this year,” the vice president says, “they‘re going to vote for Democrats.”

The vice president is speaking with me today at the Secretary of War suite in the Executive Office Building—in case you were wondering what that fancy room is.

That confidence that he expressed about Democrats keeping control of both the House and the Senate today, that confidence was also stated in almost the exact same terms by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.  The White House says Democrats are going to hold both houses in this year‘s elections.  They know they need to get Democratic voters to actually care about the election and turn out to vote in order to do that.

Coming up next: The vice president tells me exactly what Democrats and the administration are planning on doing to get their voters out.


MADDOW:  It‘s a black and white issue.

BIDEN:  It‘s a black and white issue.

MADDOW:  Something that the administration‘s going to go to the mat for?

BIDEN:  Yes, absolutely.


MADDOW:  More for my interview today with the Vice President of the United States—ahead.


MADDOW:  Still ahead: what‘s the appropriate response when your political opponents call you a communist, a foreigner, space alien?  My interview with Vice President Joe Biden continues.


MADDOW:  So let‘s say you are vice president of the United States.  You‘re facing your first midterm elections after you were elected and so, you know your party is going to lose seats.

Beyond that historical inevitability, though, this is also turning out to be a year in which the opposition party‘s base is really enthused.  For the first time since the 1930s, more Republicans are turning out to vote in Republican primaries than Democrats are turning out in Democratic primaries -- for the first time since the ‘30s.

That said, overall big picture, no one‘s really turning out to vote. 

Republicans are turning out more people than Democrats are turning out.  But both parties are down.  And if you are a Democrat, there‘s your—relatively speaking—silver lining.

Statistically speaking, the conservative movement this year has greatly enthused a very small number of people.  So, a few Democrats can get their turn out and enthusiasm numbers up, they cannot only compete, Democrats could even potentially still win.

On paper, it works perfectly.  But in real life—if you‘re vice president of the United States and a Democrat, how do you actually get your voters to turn out?  How do you get Democratic voters to care about these elections?

Here‘s how Vice President Joe Biden sees it.


MADDOW:  At a fundraiser this week, you said this is not your father‘s Republican Party.  You‘ve used the construction the Republican Tea Party as if those two things are merged.  Should—in terms of defining that alternative, in terms of sharpening the differences between the parties, making this not a referendum just on state of the country but choice, as you‘re saying—

BIDEN:  Yes.

MADDOW:  -- should the Democrats welcome a chance to really engage on big questions of what government is for when we‘ve got so many people dependent on unemployment, so many people dependent on food stamps, all the safety net things people need because of the bad economy right now?  And on the right, it‘s a wholesale assault on the very idea of a safety net, including wanting to get rid of Social Security—

BIDEN:  The answer is yes.  And as you‘ve even said on your show, that Biden seems to be swinging a lot out there.  Now, I‘m ready for this fight.  And what I do when I go into these districts where these congressmen, Republican congressmen, vote against this health care—I say, “Look, the choice is clear.”  I want Republican so-and-so, congressman so-and-so, explain to the people in his district who lost their job through no fault of their own, because of the financial chicanery of Wall Street, because of this Ponzi scheme they had masquerading as a policy, tell them why they should not get unemployment insurance.

Every district is going to say, “Oh, no, no, we‘re not against unemployment insurance.  We‘re not against it.  We‘re not against making sure that there‘s COBRA or that they have health care.  We‘re not against them.”  When you press them, they‘re not against it.

That‘s why this fight—I think the probably marquee fight is going

to be on taxes. Think about this.  Here you have Mitch McConnell offering -

talking about the deficit, offering a tax bill that “The Washington Post” said today, if it were to be passed—tax cuts for the very wealthy and (INAUDIBLE) -- if it were to be passed, would create a hole in the deficit bigger than the Recovery Act and the health care bill combined.


Let me put this in perspective.  We want a middle class tax cut.  If you‘re making $50,000 a year and you‘re a family of four, you get $2,100.  That‘s the difference between being able to have meat a couple of times a week, being able to pay your utility bill, making sure you can keep your kid in -- $2,100 matters.

Do you know where 50 percent of the tax cut go for the top bracket go and that‘s $350 billion?  To people whose average income is $8.3 million a year.  And they‘re going to get a $350,000 tax break.  What are they going to do with that that they couldn‘t do already?

But yet, somebody, a family of four, making 100,000 bucks, they have two kids in school.  They get a $4,100 tax break.  It matters to them.  It matters.

I want this fight.  I want this fight.

MADDOW:  Does that mean that repeal—letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the richest people in the country while pushing for their extension in middle class tax cut for everybody else, is that a black and white issue?  Is that a—we haven‘t heard a veto threat, for example, from the president on that.

BIDEN:  It is a black and white.

MADDOW:  It‘s black and white issue.

BIDEN:  It‘s a black and white issue.

MADDOW:  Something the administration‘s going to go to the mat for?

BIDEN:  Yes, absolutely.  Look, here‘s the deal—the deal is that if you think about it in sort of black and white terms, it also points out the hypocrisy of the Republicans talking about deficits.

Remember, these are the guys that put two wars, and the prescription drug bill on a credit card, plus a tax cut.  The day we walked into office, we inherited a deficit of $1.3 trillion.  Before we turned the lights on in the West Wing, we had—in the previous seven months—lost 3,750,000 jobs.

And folks, you know, what we‘ve got to make clear to people is these guys are straightforward.  They‘re not bad—the opposition, they‘re not bad guys.  But they really believe what the leader of the Republicans campaign committee said, “We are going to reinstate the exact same agenda.”

Look, this would be a different fight if they said, “You know, the Bush policies really dropped us in a hole so deep that it‘s just this short much—this short of a depression.  And, you know, we don‘t like the Democrat answers, but we‘re offering these answers that are different.”  They‘re not.

They‘re saying, “We don‘t like the Democrats”—I know what they‘re against, I don‘t know what they‘re for yet.  That‘s—all different.  I mean this literally.  What are they for that‘s different that they have been for the previous eight years?

MADDOW:  If I was running against—against Democrats right now, if I was running as a Republican politician, I would do everything that I could to avoid saying what I was for.

BIDEN:  Exactly right.

MADDOW:  Because what you want people to do is focus on what—

BIDEN:  Exactly right.

MADDOW:  -- they‘re dissatisfied with—

BIDEN:  Exactly.

MADDOW:  -- and put all of that on the Democrats.

BIDEN:  Right.

MADDOW:  So, it comes down to sharp Democratic strategy—

BIDEN:  Exactly right.

MADDOW:  -- Democratic strategy that has a sharpening focus on who the Republicans are.

BIDEN:  Exactly right.

MADDOW:  It seems to me like the most interesting thing about Republicans right now is that it is impossible to be a moderate and to sustain reelection.  So, you had a lot of allies in the Senate across the aisle—across the aisle, people like Dick Lugar and Chuck Hagel.

Did those bipartisan relationships, when there were some—either moderates or at least people who were friendly across the aisle—did those have an actual benefit to the country?  Or did that just make it nicer to be a senator?  Did it just improve your working environment?  Because those things are never going to happen again.

BIDEN:  Well, I hope—I hope—I‘m afraid they‘re not going to happen soon.


BIDEN:  I hope we‘re wrong about they‘re not going to happen again.

I think they did have a great deal of benefit to the country in substantive ways.  You know, in terms of our willingness for all the stuff that Bush did, there was still the willingness of the folks you named to try to cut a different path in American foreign policy, to try to cut a different path on social issues, to try to cut a different path on the extreme positions that are being—were being pushed even then.

But now, they‘ve sort of doubled down.  With this the moderates gone, it‘s enabled them to double down.  I mean, look at that “Forbes” magazine article about the president.  If you read it, the article reads like science fiction.  That here, you know, Barack Obama—

MADDOW:  The Kenyan anti-colonialist—

BIDEN:  The Kenyan anti-colonialist, a father who was a drunkard who was—is now reincarnated—I forget the exact phrase—in the White House.  It‘s all being channeled through.

And guys like Newt Gingrich repeating that garbage?  I mean, this is -

this is kind of what‘s happened on the Republican side.  I mean, it‘s gotten to the point where—you know, it‘s the same old playbook.


When you can‘t compete in ideas, what you do is the same playbook out of the conservative playbook.  You try to delegitimize the other guy.  That‘s what‘s going on—the attempt to delegitimize one of the most talented men to enter American politics in three generations.

They did the same thing with Bill Clinton.  Remember?  Bill Clinton was part of a drug network in drug dealers in Arkansas.  Bill Clinton was somehow complicitous in a murder of an individual.

I mean, they—you know, when you look at these guys, I mean, it was all about delegitimizing.  And one of the—

MADDOW:  It worked.  It did weaken the Clinton presidency, those attacks.

BIDEN:  Well, it did, but it didn‘t work.  It ultimately didn‘t work. 

He was elected two terms.

And during his term, we created millions of jobs.  The middle class folks actually saw their incomes go up.  You really saw a change in our foreign policy.  We were respected.

I mean—so it didn‘t work.  And it‘s not going to work this time.

But it will work if we‘re silent.  It will work if we‘re silent.

And I know I sometimes get criticized for going out and punching back.  Well, let me tell you something—I learned a long time ago, you cannot underestimate these guys.  You cannot sit back and just take the punch.

MADDOW:  When the punch is insane—when the punch is “the president is secretly foreign” or “the president is secretly a space alien” or whatever—whatever the flavor of the week is in there, what‘s the best way to punch back?

In storytelling, in making effective memorable news stories about this sort of thing, usually, the most fun thing to do is talk about the person who has come up with that science-fiction, sort of name and shame them, try to make them famous for it.  That‘s not the way it works in politics, because to do that, you guys would have to be elevating the sort of smear merchants who are coming up with these things.

So, how do you respond when the questions about the birth certificate or anything else like that?

BIDEN:  Well, the way we respond is, go and try to focus on the ideas, substantive ideas that the smear merchants are peddling.  To point out that this isn‘t about the accusation they‘re making.  It‘s about delegitimization, they tried to give an opportunity for their argument to win without having to make it.  And so, it seems to me, it‘s a little bit like, again, I‘ve known Newt Gingrich for years.  I am stunned!  I really am, I am stunned he bought into this playbook.  I mean, there is such—seems like such desperation on the republican side.  To pander to the lowest common denominator that I just—it is—and by the way, my wife always says.  I say, look, “I have great faith in the American people‘s judgment,” and she‘d look at me and say, you know, “would you have as much faith if you lost?”

But the truth of the matter is, I do.  The American people will see through this.  But what they want to know from us, they want to know from us is we want to fight to keep going.  We want to fight for our agenda.  We care enough about this to fight back.  And the best way to fight back is with the facts.  It‘s that old clich’.  Harry Truman said, you know, they give them hell and he yelled back, I‘m not going to give them hell, I‘m going to tell them the truth and they‘re going to think it‘s hell. 


MADDOW:  For the record, I don‘t think that any republican candidate say for Senate or governor this year has yet accused Barack Obama of being from space.  But now we know what the administration‘s response will be when that inevitably comes up.  More from my interview with Joe Biden including some news from him about the Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell policy. 

Plus, some late-breaking election results from last night‘s primaries. 

Some very important Lady Gaga news, all coming up.  Please say with us.          



BIDEN:  I‘m ready for this fight.  And what I do when I go into these districts where these congressmen, republican congressmen vote against this health care, I say, look, the choice is clear.  I want republican so-and-so, congressman so-and-so, explain to the people in his district who lost their job through no fault of their own, because of the financial chicanery of Wall Street, because of this Ponzi scheme they had masquerading as a policy.


MADDOW:  I had essentially two big political questions for the vice president today.  What strategy can democrats use in the elections when the economy is so bad?  And how can democrats compete with the enthusiasm of voters on the very, very far right?  Turns out, same answer to both questions.  Democrats want every American to know what republicans want to do on the economy.  That‘s what the administration is counting on.  They are counting on and understanding of what republicans want to do about the economy driving lots of democrats to the polls in fear. 


OBAMA:  Right now we could decide that every American household would receive a tax cut on the first $250,000 of their income.  Once again, leaders across the aisle are saying no.  They want to hold these middle class tax cuts hostage until they get an additional tax cut for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.  When we simply can‘t afford that. 


MADDOW:  In other words, you‘re worried about the deficit or better yet, you‘re mad about the deficit.  You‘re mad about the economy.  Wait until you see what these guys on the republican side of the aisle want to do to the economy.  We heard that argument today from the vice president in my interview with him.  We heard it from the president in the Rose Garden.  And to add an exclamation point to the whole thing, the one American who got famous during the financial crisis because Americans liked what she had to say about it, how to fix it, and how to make sure Wall Street never did it again.

Elizabeth Warren is going to take a job in the administration.  Jake Tapper at ABC reporting that the job of setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is going to Elizabeth Warren in a new position that will have her reporting both to the treasury secretary Tim Geithner and to the president directly.  Today here in Washington, a source familiar with the decision confirming those details to us and confirming that the announcement of Elizabeth Warren‘s appointment is due within a week. 

Joining us now from somewhere apparently down the street from here is the Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine and MSNBC contributor Chris Hayes.  Hi Chris. 

CHRIS HAYES, WASHINGTON EDITOR, “THE NATION”:  Hi, Rachel.  It‘s kind of sad that we are in different parts of the same city. 


MADDOW:  I can actually see you from here, I just didn‘t want to be in the same room.  It‘s awkward.  Kidding.  All right, the Elizabeth Warren appointment was reported back and forth last week, the White House denied it was happening for a while.  But now we learned that she is getting the gig, at least some gig on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Why is this a politically important move?

HAYES:  Well, it‘s politically important because, A, it‘s always nice to see someone rewarded for being right for a change.  And Elizabeth Warren is one of those people.  The last—the last kind of prophetic voice who the administration appointed who was Dawn Johnson who was appointed to head the OLC in the Department of Justice and who was incredibly prophetic about the perils of the (INAUDIBLE) being constructed.  You know, she was left to languish.  So, I think that it‘s nice to see Elizabeth Warren who was right about the financial crisis, who was right about its causes, who has been a prophetic voice about what to do about it and whose policy is now law has been a champion for the vision of the political economy that is more just and less financialized to see her actually as part of this administration is incredibly gratifying and promising about what this agency‘s actually going to look like. 

MADDOW:  Elizabeth Warren is somebody who has a lot of supporters among the already activated, especially internet-based democratic base.  Vice President Biden spoke as directly as a politician keen today about firing up the progressive base.  And people who are connected know Elizabeth Warren and like her, but she‘s not a household name.  In order to connect with people who aren‘t already connected to politics right now on the progressive side, does the White House have to adopt some of the populous ways that Elizabeth Warren talks about financial issues in order to make this a political plus for them?

HAYES:  Well, yes, I would like it if they did.  And it was interesting recently, there was polling out—I forget which poll it was because it was such rough recently.  But it showed that the financial regulatory reform bill that they passed is the most popular thing that this administration, this democratic Congress has done.  And that was—that was clear in the run up, the polling was behind it.  It was the reason that we were able to get some fairly strong language on things like derivatives.  The reason we were able to get the Consumer Finance Protection Agency.  All of that was because there is a lot of public support for the notion of cracking down on Wall Street.  And I think it would be incredibly smart in these—in the run up to the election to make Elizabeth Warren a household name to talk a lot about what she‘s going to be doing.  To talk—talk about the financial regulatory bill and talk about the people who reformed it, which was down the line, just about every republican. 

MADDOW:  Could that explain some of the back and forth about what exact job Elizabeth Warren is going to have.  If she was going into a Senate confirmable position right now, she‘d essentially have to go into the cone of silence that all Senate nominees have to go into.  By going into the sort of advisory position of setting up the agency, she‘s allowed to be a public figure right from now, isn‘t she?

HAYES:  That‘s exactly right.  I think that‘s totally what it‘s about.  I mean, I think, first of all, it‘s a practical consideration that this isn‘t some agency that exists and can run on auto pilot, right?  You can‘t just put an acting interim director while we wait for Elizabeth Warren to be confirmed and the republicans would fight tooth and nail.  They dragged out in fact, I‘m sure there‘s an informal caucus policy that anyone, a guest multiple times on THE MADDOW SHOW can not, you know, can not be voted for in clotures.


So, I think that, you know, it would be a tooth and nail fight together confirmed.  Even if you got her confirmed, it would take a while.  That‘s what they do, they run out the clock.  And you can‘t just let this new agency languish.  So, I actually think, I understand for a practical perspective, you need someone to start standing up this agency.  It‘s really important.  The reforms have gone into effect.  Banks are coming up with all sorts of crazy new ways to gain the system.  You want someone there.  But yes, second of all, she really can be a public voice now, she can be a public face. 

When I‘ve talked to nominees, you know, throughout the last two years who are so frustrated because they sit there and they have republicans say completely erroneous things about the record.  And they are in what you cold you cone of silence.  They can‘t respond back, it‘s all very managed and it drives them absolutely bonkers.  And I wonder if they could even manage to keep Elizabeth Warren in that cone of silence that they wanted to, given how outspoken she is. 

MADDOW:  Well, she‘s both outspoken and incredibly adept at using that bully pulpit on economic issues which the administration really needs right now politically.  Chris Hayes, Washington Editor of “The Nation” magazine and an MSNBC contributor and some guy down the hall who I wouldn‘t let in the room.  Thanks, Chris. 


HAYES:  Well, thanks.  Next time maybe, you know, in person it would be wonderful. 

MADDOW:  Yes, maybe, we‘ll see. 

HAYES:  If I get lucky.  See you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  All right.  Coming up on “COUNTDOWN.”  For years, Karl Rove cared for and fed the far right edges of the Republican Party.  Now they are waging war on him. 

Coming up on this show, guess who thinks the ban on gay people serving in the military is about to go the way of the dodo, Lawn darts ends the whole idea of installing the gas tank right next to the back bumper. 

Vice President Joe Biden told me today that Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell will be ending.  He got pretty specific about how that will happen.  That‘s coming up.


MADDOW:  Here in D.C., the accepted Math for the Republican Party path to take over the Senate includes them holding on to Senator Judd Gregg‘s seat in New Hampshire and Senator Lisa Murkowski‘s seat in Alaska.  Updates on both of those today. 

In New Hampshire, former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte beat Ovide Lamontagne by a narrow margin of about 1,600 votes.  Lamontagne conceded the race today after a very long line of vote counting in New Hampshire.  Contrary to national prevailing wins, Ayotte is the establishment GOP choice in the Granite State.  She will face democratic Congressman Paul Hodes in November. 

Meanwhile, Senator Lisa Murkowski lost in her GOP primary in Alaska to a Tea Party guy with a beard named Joe Miller.  Murkowski has refused to endorse him so far.  After trying and failing to get the libertarian candidate for Senate in Alaska to give her his line on the ballot, Lisa Murkowski now says, she will announce by Friday whether she will run a write-in campaign to try to keep her old seat.  Midterms are supposed to be boring.  I keep waiting to be bored.          


MADDOW:  Coming right up, Vice President Joe Biden and I talked about repealing Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell today.  Mr. Biden was fairly blunt about it. 


BIDEN:  And everybody‘s looking for the orderly elimination of this law.  I would prefer it not be orderly.  I prefer it just end.  Boom, done. 



MADDOW:  On Monday we reported a regrettable but totally unavoidable excited tone about why for the first time it was relevant on this show to talk about Lady Gaga.  Miss Gaga, Miss Lady, what do you call her?  Miss Gaga I guess, took with her to the MTV‘s Video Music Awards as for dates, four former members of the military, all either discharged under Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell or had resigned because of the policy.  That lead us to make public what had otherwise been our price private Venn diagram breaking down where this show and Lady Gaga intersects.  Now we need to picture how Harry Reid might fit into that diagram. 

Because now, Senator Reid has said that the first Senate votes on a bill that would allow the military to repeal its Venn on Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell could come as early as next Tuesday.  Senator Reid also tweeted the news directly to Miss Gaga.  Mr. Reid‘s spokesman saying that the majority leader definitely knows who Lady Gaga is, quote, “The first magazine he reads each week is People.”  The likelihood of which, I shall not diagram.  Vice President Joe Biden tells me how soon he sees Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell ending and how soon he sees an ending, next.  


MADDOW:  The Obama administration‘s position on gay people serving in the military is that they should be allowed to serve.  The process of getting rid of Bill Clinton‘s disastrous Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell policy however has always presented as some sort of hellish Gordian knot that takes something far more time-consuming and delicate than just political leadership to cut through.  Since the policy is now stuck in the Senate.  Today, I asked the vice president if he‘s using his 36 years of Senate experience to try to finish this thing off. 


MADDOW:  Let me ask you about fighting on an issue that has been a totally political one, and that is Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.  The administration very permanent stand that Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell should be repealed.  Are you personally involved in trying to get it past the Senate next week in that defense authorization?

BIDEN:  Absolutely.  I was personally involved in getting out of committee.  Look, I don‘t only think we should repeal it, I think everyone who was fired should be able to reinstated if they want to.  I just think, look, there‘s 20 nations in the world that are allies that allow openly gay and lesbian people to be able to function.  I mean, here we have fired hundreds of translators when we‘re out there trying to figure out how in the God‘s name to find enough people to speak everything from Farsi to Urdu.  I mean, this is absolutely minors what we‘re doing.  We‘re going to have a chance, I think we have the votes.  When it comes up in the defense authorization bill.  And this sounds like, this is, you know, Senate speak, I apologize. 

There‘s going to be vote on the bill authorizing spending for the Defense Department.  In that bill, there‘s a provision to repeal Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.  End it, bury it.  Now, the republicans are going to introduce at some point an amendment to strike it from the bill.  We‘ve got the votes to defeat that.  We‘ve got the votes to defeat that.  Then the republicans as they are as foolish as I think they may be, then they may try to hold up the defense authorization bill.  And they‘re going to probably filibuster that.  I believe that at that point, the issue is, are these guys so out there that they‘re willing to punish the Defense Department and the fighting women and men who we have in Afghanistan which you just-visited in Iraq?  I mean, that‘s the frame.  We have enough votes to sustain support for repealing Don‘t Ask, Don‘t vote and we‘re just going to push it as hard as we can. 

MADDOW:  In terms of the timing of that, if that goes as you say, it‘s possible that it could go, if that repeal happens, the timing is that the Defense Department is studying the issue through December.  They‘ve got another I think 60 days or something that they after which they would have to delay any repeal process.  So, we‘d be looking at best case scenario for repeal would be sometime in the spring.  With the policy under such intense scrutiny, that study under way at the Defense Department.  Progress being made in the court ends politically.  Why not suspend the discharges of people under the policy now pending that Defense Department review?  Why keep kicking people out now while all of this movement is happening toward ending the policy?

BIDEN:  Because that is the compromise we basically had to make to get the votes to finally repeal it.  In other words, everybody‘s looking for, in my view, if I can just waive a wand, it would just be flat repeal, no one else would be able to suspend it.  And everyone suspended would be able to come back if they wanted to.  But the truth of the matter is, we had to build a consensus for this.  Working very hard on the telephone, calling people thumb, and everybody is looking for the orderly elimination of this law.  I would prefer it not be orderly, I would prefer to just end it, boom, done.  But that‘s why that hasn‘t happened.  It‘s resulted in us getting over 55 votes, I think we‘ll get 55 votes to flat repeal it.  And to send the statement to the country and to all the world that the majority of the elected members of the United States Congress and the president and vice president of the United States think this is a bad policy.  That‘s why it‘s played out to the legislative process the way it has. 


MADDOW:  Vice President Joe Biden detailing his own day to day work trying to end Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.  Saying the process of kicking people out of the military while the policy is studied is not on the table though because of real politics.  Compromise to try to get it repealed some day once and for all hoping that the republicans don‘t filibuster the offense bill for it.  On tomorrow‘s show, the vice president on why U.S. troops in  combat conditions in Iraq aren‘t described technically as on a combat mission now, and what the U.S. still plans to do in Iraq before we leave there. 


BIDEN:  Nothing easy about it.  But we‘re bringing those kids home, including my son. 



MADDOW:  More of my exclusive interview with Vice President Joe Biden tomorrow night.  “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN” starts right now.



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