Guest: Dr. Gilbert Sloan, Ron Williams, Ginger Gibson, Chris Coons, Dan
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. It maybe a more serious look at what‘s going on here. But I will tell you that when we arrived at the Deer Park Tavern here in Newark tonight, we were greeted by a lot of men in witch hats.
MADDOW: So take that as seriously as you want toed. Thanks a lot, Keith.
And thanks to you at home for sticking with us this hour. We are broadcasting live from the Deer Park Tavern in Newark, Delaware.
MADDOW: A very big thank you to everybody here at the Deer Park for putting up with us tonight while we make what would otherwise be a very crowded, half-prized burger nights into a very, very, very crowded half-priced burger night.
The reason we are here—the burgers, thank you—the reason we are here is because we‘re trying to do the best job we can as a cable TV news show covering a Senate race that was supposed to be one of the boring ones this year, but it‘s one that has ended up riveting the entire country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: I‘m not a witch. I‘m nothing you‘ve heard. I‘m you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Me specifically? I‘m not sure you mean me specifically.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: I‘ll go to Washington and do what you‘d do. I‘m Christine O‘Donnell and I approve this message. I‘m you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know, if you‘re me, Republican Senate candidate Christine O‘Donnell, if you‘re me, then I have some questions for me but which I mean you. Should there be a federal minimum wage? Why do you think privatizing the V.A. is a good idea? You said last week that Jim DeMint is the senator you most admire.
The day after that Senator DeMint said, again, that gay people should not be allowed to be schoolteachers in America. Do you agree with him on that?
Senator DeMint also said a pregnant, single woman should not be allowed to teach school in America. Do you agree with him on that?
How about a man who has had sex outside of marriage? Could he teach school? How will you check on that? Do you have a specific virginity test in mind as a perquisite for getting a teaching job in America? One for men specifically.
I came to Delaware today with a whole sheet of questions I would like to ask the Republican Senate candidate here. I did get an interview with the Democratic Senate candidate here, Chris Coons. That was fascinating actually.
MADDOW: I‘ll have that for you in just a moment. But in terms of equal time, we spent a very long time before we came down here and a very long, resourceful day here trying to arrange an interview with the candidate herself, the Republican candidate, or with any staffer from Christine O‘Donnell‘s campaign, with any volunteer from Christine O‘Donnell‘s campaign, with any random Delaware-voting supporter with anyone, with anyone—anyone—who lives and votes in Delaware who would talk with us about why they were supporting Christine O‘Donnell.
We got zippo. We got—actually, we got less than zippo. We got zip. They will not talk. They will not allow anybody to talk—which itself is fascinating to see and to report on in person.
Coming up a little later on the show, I‘ll show what happened when we took our ill-fated trip to Christine O‘Donnell headquarters in Wilmington today. It didn‘t go well.
But even as everyone admits it is the idiosyncrasies of the Republican candidate in this race that have drawn and now hold national attention here, the reason I‘m glad we came, what we found since we‘ve been here is that the common wisdom about where Democrats are at in this election, Democratic voters—that common wisdom appears to be wrong.
Today, the Democratic Senate candidate telling older voters at a senior center in New Castle County that Delawareans do not care about what the former governor of Alaska, meaning Sarah Palin, and a senator from South Carolina, meaning Senator DeMint, have to say about Delaware politics. He said this is a Delaware race and that Delawareans do not want, in his words, to be used as a ping-pong ball in these national fights.
That is the common wisdom, right? And there‘s some support for that here among the tuna burger-eating hoards at the Deer Park Tavern.
But the national narrative about this race is that there‘s sort of a national conservative resurgence, right, that conservatives are mobilized nationally. They want nationwide revolution. They want to take their country back, as they say.
But the common wisdom is also that Democrats are thinking smaller. Democrats don‘t want any part of this national fight. Those big picture ideological, what does it mean to be a Democrat versus what does it mean to be a Republican fights.
The common wisdom is that Republicans are thinking nationwide, thinking big. Democrats are thinking about papules.
That is not what I‘m hearing. It is not what we are seeing from Democratic voters. And we‘re not doing scientific polling here. This is just what we‘re seeing but it is what we‘re seeing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. GILBERT SLOAN, DELAWARE VOTER: Maybe you‘ve already done it and I‘m not aware, thought to ask or even to challenge your opponent and any other Republicans to document their concern over deficit spending between 2001 and 2009.
CHRIS COONS (D-DE), SENATE CANDIDATE: If my opponent and John Carney‘s opponent says over and over and over, we‘re concerned about the debt, we‘re concerned about the deficit, and that means we can‘t do any more deficit spending, we can‘t do any more investments to try and get the country back on track—aren‘t they just ignoring that for the previous eight years, we moved from where we were in 2000, where we had a surplus, to where we are today, where we‘ve got a huge national debt?
I agree that the national debt is a big problem that we need to address and I agree that we‘ve got some folks who are conveniently forgetting that our previous administration took us to war in two countries, dramatically expanded Medicare, and gave a huge tax cut all at the same time and in a way that wasn‘t paid for, and that put us in this problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should call them out what hypocrites they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We‘re here at the Mid County Senior Center in New Castle County, Delaware, and before this event broke up, I wanted to talk to Dr. Gilbert Sloan here who asked a rather impassioned question at this event.
Dr. Sloan, thanks very much for your time. I appreciate it.
SLOAN: It‘s a pleasure.
MADDOW: You asked Chris Coons not just about the deficit, but you said, your opponent and all these Republicans keep talking about the deficit now. How come you guys aren‘t pressing them more on what they thought about the deficit between 2001 and 2009? Why did you ask that question?
SLOAN: Because I want to see the dishonesty and the hypocrisy of the Republicans, generally, and Christine O‘Donnell, in particular, called out. These people had every opportunity to say something about deficit spending between 2001 and 2009 when one of the major causes of deficit spending was the insanity in Iraq.
And so, I put it to Senator Coons, future Senator Coons, to as ask, to challenge O‘Donnell and the other Republicans to document their vociferous opposition to deficit spending then.
MADDOW: The way that this race is getting talked about essentially is that Christine O‘Donnell is running a national campaign. She‘s trying to talk to the country, talk about national issues, sort of not even really talking about how they get filtered through Delaware. Mr. Coons is talking about Delaware, Delaware, Delaware. That‘s sort of, I think, the frame with which everybody is approaching this.
And in there, listening to you and listening to the other questions that Chris Coons was getting asked, I didn‘t feel like that was true. I felt like there‘s a lot of national values question, big picture questions, about difference between Democrats and Republicans, national questions that you guys here in Delaware really are concerned about.
Does that seem right to you?
SLOAN: Of course we are. And I almost to use the phrase, but Chris Coons is a deep thinker. He actually reads books. In contrast to his opponent who is as shallow as can be and is floating on a sea of notoriety. And Chris, along with his predecessor, Joe Biden, who also reads books, has a view and a profound view of what the world ought to be like and what America‘s role in the changing world ought to be.
MADDOW: Do you believe that Republicans are more excited for the election this year than Democrats are?
SLOAN: I keep reading that‘s the case and I find it hard to believe because I‘m pretty excited about this election. So, I can only speak for myself and say that it‘s a critical election because it‘s really a choice between sanity and total, flat-out crazy. People are saying things—the earth is flat.
Chris Coons says he doesn‘t want to discuss with his opponent her personal attributes but they merit discussion.
SLOAN: She says things that are flat-out loony, the mouse and human brain business which, of course, is of a piece with Sarah Palin‘s criticism of a grant for the study of fruit flies, totally unaware that fruit flies are a great vector for the study of genetics. So, these are people who just don‘t know about the real world.
MADDOW: Yes. Dr. Gilbert Sloan, thanks for coming out here and participating your civic life here in Delaware and thanks for taking time to talk to us. I really appreciate it.
SLOAN: A real pleasure.
MADDOW: It‘s really nice to meet you, Gil, thank you.
SLOAN: Thank you. My pleasure.
MADDOW: The common wisdom is that Democratic voters are not fired up this year. The common wisdom is that not only aren‘t Democratic voters fired up, they certainly aren‘t fired up about being Democrats, about what Democrats stand for, that they are fired up against what Republicans stand for right now.
Democratic voters, senior citizens in New Castle County today told
me and told the Democratic Senate candidate here that they wanted to talk
about their belief that the Republican in this Senate race is nuts, that
they think what Republicans are running on as a whole this year is nuts,
that health reform is something to be proud of and that Democrats ought to
brag about it. That‘s the G.I. bill
MADDOW: That the G.I. bill is something to be proud of and that Democrats ought to be bragging about the G.I. bill, that privatizing Social Security is an assault that we ought to hear more about why we pay taxes for government services and why stuff the government does matters because it does.
MADDOW: This is not a “Daily Kos” convention. This is Delaware. But Democratic leaning voters here sound a lot more like the electorate who elected Barack Obama in a near landslide than they sound like the—we don‘t care—
MADDOW: -- but we don‘t care we‘re maybe Republicans now electorate that we keep reading about in the Beltway press every day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should call them out what hypocrites they are.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think one thing that the national media has to do for the populous in this country is explain what taxes are used for. People do not understand that you have to pay for the roads. You have to pay for the schools.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to pay for the hospital. You have to pay those things. You want the results.
These people that don‘t want to pay into health care, if anything happens to them, they want the best of care. If you want the best, you have to pay. In America, you pay.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And how can attack taxes, go to war, have two wars, cut taxes and still continue to want to cut taxes? How are you going to run the country?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question about Social Security. We know it‘s different from Medicare and Medicaid. The question is I believe it‘s under siege. People are trying to eliminate it. For us, it‘s not a problem because we‘re collecting or close to it, but our children and so forth especially lower income need that guaranteed income.
I guess the question is: will you make a pledge or consider a pledge and call out your opponent to do the same thing to basically protect Social Security as it is today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘m so upset about is the overturn of the law where corporations can buy an election. OK? The Supreme Court overturned 100 years of law and now, any corporation in America can buy an election.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we have to thank government for that
G.I. bill and for us to understand the place of government in the future of America. Because the things it gave us permitted us to raise children who could go to college and their children could be contributors to our country and we are in a position now where those who are trying to dumb down our government are really making an incredible mistake for ordinary people in America.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Thank you.
MADDOW: Common wisdom, meet Delaware. Delaware, meet common which wisdom. Ka boom.
So, buckle up. We‘ve got some star local journalists. We‘ve got our disastrously failed trip to Christine O‘Donnell headquarters. We‘ve got my interview with the Democrat she‘s up against, Chris Coons. And we‘ve got lots more ahead.
We are live at the Deer Park Tavern in Newark, Delaware. We will be right back.
MADDOW: We are live at the Deer Park Tavern, just down the road from the University of Delaware, because we can.
MADDOW: Just ahead, what happened when we tried to interview someone, anyone, from the Christine O‘Donnell campaign today—as self-esteem building projects go, this could have gone better.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Hello from the Del in Delmarva, from the first state, from the other Newark, the one that pronounces that Newark, not Newark, take that, New Jersey.
We are live at the Deer Park Tavern in Newark, Delaware, trying to get a bead on one of the most interesting dynamic, surprising, and let‘s be honest, entertaining, political races in this year‘s election. Democrat Chris Coons versus Republican Tea Party favorite Christine O‘Donnell.
We did interview Chris Coons today. We were hoping to interview Christine O‘Donnell. But, as you can see—she is not here.
And so, tonight we turn to two star Delaware journalist who is are on the Christine O‘Donnell beat such as that it is. Joining us now from the “Wilmington News Journal” are Ron Williams, a political columnist, and reporter Ginger Gibson.
Ron and Ginger, thanks very much for being here. I really appreciate it.
RON WILLIAMS, WILMINGTON NEWS JOURNAL: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: I know neither of you have been to this bar before, right?
MADDOW: Ron, let me—let me start with you. We are hearing reports tonight that Christine O‘Donnell has scheduled an event that will be open to the public in Newark tomorrow. That, as far as we can tell, marks a real change of pace for her since the primary. She hasn‘t really been publicly campaigning, has she?
WILLIAMS: No, she hasn‘t.
MADDOW: Yes. Is there a cost to that?
WILLIAMS: I think there will be eventually if she doesn‘t get off the dime and get out. I‘m not sure what her reasoning is because she went on national television and said that she was going to do the local—she was going to quit the national campaigning, the national news media, and go local.
WILLIAMS: And we haven‘t seen her.
MADDOW: Ginger, I know you had access as she was trying to cover the campaign both during the primary and since. What‘s that—what‘s that been like and can you—is there any precedent for it in your career in terms of covering campaigns in the state?
GINGER GIBSON, WILMINGTON NEWS JOURNAL: I‘ve not encountered a campaign where it is as difficult as it has been at this point to talk to the candidate who had access to information from the campaign. In terms of covering it over the primary and into the general election, I‘ve been to a lot of candidate forums and I listened to her speak in a lot of places in order to be able to convey to our readers what she‘s doing and what‘s she‘s saying on the campaign trail.
MADDOW: But in terms of getting access to her the way you would get access to other candidates in previous Delaware elections, this is unusual.
GIBSON: This is unusual.
MADDOW: Does the campaign make an argument, strategic argument, to you when they are excluding you and telling you “no” about why they‘re doing it? Or is it just a flat slap of the hand?
GIBSON: They‘ve made several arguments recently that she‘s been very busy and unable to hold interviews. In the pastimes she was busy, unhappy with coverage was another argument they made. And sometimes, it‘s just been that no answer at all.
MADDOW: Ron, in terms of—in terms of the evidence of her campaign beyond just her, are you seeing a big Republican get-out-the-vote effort? Are you seeing other evidence of a campaign that‘s happening aside from sort of national media stuff she‘s doing?
WILLIAMS: No, I‘m not, and I‘m beginning to think that there‘s some voters remorse here among the Republicans that maybe they didn‘t think she was going to win and then when she did, they said, oops, what have we done here?
MADDOW: Yes. Do you think she could win?
WILLIAMS: I think that there would have to be a lot of different circumstances. It‘s always possible. I mean, who knows with what‘s going on this year with the mood of the electorate? But, no, I don‘t think she can as of right now. But if things were to dramatically change against the Democrats for some reason, you know, there‘s always a chance.
MADDOW: You‘ve been writing that Chris Coons needs to take her more seriously as an opponent.
WILLIAMS: Yes, because I‘m thinking that no one has been taking her seriously. It‘s certainly not Mike Castle.
WILLIAMS: So, that‘s one of the problems. So, there wasn‘t really much of the race there because people were thinking that she was a fringe candidate and not worth any attention.
Ginger, one of the things I found frustrating and strange and also fascinating is the relationship of the sort of Republican powers that be in Delaware to this campaign. Obviously, the Republican Party did not want her as their candidate. They campaigned against her. There seems to be lingering hard feelings.
Does her success thus far, raising this much money, being the nominee, do you think it changes the Republican Party in this state?
GIBSON: We‘ve asked that question, what it‘s doing to the party, and there seems to be a sort of battle going on within the Republican Party. One person called it a civil war to be, which is that, you know, there‘s a group of establishment GOP members who have been there for a long time who work for candidates, who feel like a group of outsiders is taking over.
GIBSON: And it‘s not clear yet, this election will largely determine some of that, who will win out in that battle.
MADDOW: Well, Ginger Gibson and Ron Williams, both with the “News Journal,” Ginger, a reporter, and Ron, a political columnist—thank you for helping us sort this out. You have a hell of a challenge covering a campaign that refuses to be covered.
MADDOW: Good luck to both of you. I really appreciate. Good luck to you both.
So we have been calling Christine O‘Donnell campaign headquarters to see if Christine O‘Donnell herself or anyone from her campaign would consent to an interview about the campaign. We told them we‘d be in town, advanced notice, the whole bit. Nothing.
So, then, we went to O‘Donnell headquarters to ask politely and totally not ambushy if we could please interview someone, anyone, since now we were here in town. It really did not go well, that part of our day here in Delaware is coming up.
Please stay tuned.
MADDOW: So, among the various wobbly pillars of common wisdom about this year‘s elections, is that Republicans are part of some national level conservative revolution. Well, Democrats are only worried about the stuff in their own zip codes and consequently, Republicans are capitalizing (ph) into it right now and Democrats really aren‘t.
Maybe that‘s true. I guess. But I went to a Chris Coons‘ campaign event, a Democratic campaign event on this raw, drizzly Tuesday morning before 9:00 a.m. today. And not only was the crowd there described to me by a local political reporter as bigger than normal, but the Democrats I met were totally into it, and totally into big national what does it all mean Democrat versus Republican issues.
Here‘s a little evidence to hold up against this year‘s dumb common wisdom.
MADDOW: Chris Coons‘ campaign has a decision to make about, frankly, how much they‘re going to talk about Christine O‘Donnell. Christine O‘Donnell has—the reason she‘s a national celebrity is not just because conservatives like her, but because everybody in the country is dying to know what the next thing that‘s going to be unearthed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minimize her. It seems what the media did, they made Sarah Palin bigger than life. They‘re getting ready to do the same thing to Christine O‘Donnell. I think you give them too much airtime. I cannot watch a show on television without seeing Sarah Palin or something she said.
MADDOW: Put yourself in my shoes, though. I have secret information from—
MADDOW: I‘m just going to file that away? Major party candidate for United States Senate. Who declassified it to you? You can‘t say don‘t cover it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And without Christine O‘Donnell, we wouldn‘t have so much fun watching you at night.
MADDOW: Is it irresponsible either to the voters or is that irresponsible strategically? If you have—if you have an opponent who says I have access to secret, classified information that China is trying to invade the United States and I can‘t tell you—is it irresponsible either to the voters or is it irresponsible strategically to not go after your opponent when they say things like that? I mean, it‘s one thing to say, don‘t give Christine O‘Donnell—don‘t give all the craziness too much attention, but when the craziness is really crazy, do you have to talk about it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s a good point.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, she hasn‘t done a darn thing. I think that, you know, speaking for myself, if Chris coons were dismembered and in a body bag, I would vote for him over Christine O‘Donnell because he would do more for the State of Delaware than Christine O‘Donnell.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One way I would like to see Delaware be different from the rest of the nation is I‘d like to a state where we didn‘t have to literally go out and knock on doors and beg people to participate by going to the polls on November the 2nd and casting their votes.
MADDOW: You‘re saying you do have to beg people here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. Absolutely. Our turnout is -
And I just said I‘d like to be able to distinguish us against the rest of the nation by having a community that really cares beyond the small percentage of people who showed up here today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got a robo call.
MADDOW: You would like Delaware to be more enthused.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We still don‘t have anything to worry about in Delaware. Look at the turnout we had when President Obama was elected.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, but gosh, darn, that turnout never happened before because, for the first time in Delaware history, we had African-Americans register to vote and them got out and voted. And if they don‘t get out and vote this time, we could lose it all again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, we can. That‘s right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Oh, yes. Right. We don‘t want that to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, it took George Bush eight years to run the economy into the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They want President Obama to fix it in 18 months.
Unheard of. He‘s not a magician. OK? You can‘t do it. We have to
support him. You went out in 2008 and helped elect him -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You‘ve got to help him get his policies through.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don‘t, if you sit at home, you‘re angry, wait until the Republicans get in.
MADDOW: I‘m holding the door right now and you‘re knocking on it.
MADDOW: So the rock with Democrats of New Castle County, Delaware, are not consenting to or participating in any enthusiasm gap this year, thank you very much.
And then, there is the very famous well-funded Republican here in the Senate race in Delaware, Christine O‘Donnell. We really, truly wanted to interview Ms. O‘Donnell or anyone from Delaware affiliated with her campaign today. Oh, how we tried.
The results of that quixotic bit of shoe-leather reporting is coming up. We are live in Newark, Delaware. Please do stick around.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER A. COONS (D), DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN DELAWARE: Had they succeed in privatizing social security, the consequences would have been disastrous. We would have lost trillions of dollars and then the taxpayers had to refund that.
I am opposed to privatizing social security. And I am opposed to changing the structure for folks who have paid into it, earned it, and are relying on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Democratic Senate candidate from here in Delaware, Chris Coons, committing politics today after one of his would-be constituents at the Mid-County Senior Center near Wilmington told Mr. Coons that he thought Republicans were laying siege to social security. He said he wanted Mr. Coons to pledge to defend it. Here‘s my interview with Chris Coons.
Mr. Coons, thanks very much for your time. I really appreciate it.
We‘re at the Mid-County Senior Center in Pike Creek(ph) in New Castle County. Tell me about the decision to campaign here, when you made the decision how to best use your time. Why come here?
COONS: This is a great senior center. I‘ve been coming here for years for the decade that in county service. And it‘s a community that I know well and where there‘s a lot of questions, a lot of tough questions and concerns about social security, about the veterans administration, about health care, about the direction of the country.
And one of the things I find very good is to keep listening to and responding to the real concerns of Delawareans. Now, I‘ve gone to senior centers, to civic associations, to fire (UNINTELLIGIBLE) up and down the state of Delaware. And this just happened to be a good day for the senator in me to be here.
MADDOW: You know, being here reminds me of every local political event I ever went to as a kid, you know, my dad being on the fire commission and seeing people do that sort of stuff.
I mean, this is timeless retail politics. I have to ask, are you running into your opponent on the campaign trail? Part of the reason a lot of the national media is here is because nobody can find her.
COONS: I‘ve seen her once since the primary. She came to a public debate.
Other than that, I have not run into her at all.
MADDOW: Does that seem politically important to you or is that just a tactical decision to have a bit of campaign (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
COONS: How she‘s running her campaign really doesn‘t concern me. I‘m interested in trying to connect with as many Delawareans and listen to their concerns as I possibly can.
MADDOW: My concern is that she thinks that this is a state that will respond well to lots and lots of, you know, paid media and the TV ads and the negative talk. I don‘t think it will and I‘m looking forward to having debates with her and to being at community events with her.
I hope Delawareans will get a chance to listen to both our ideas and to compare our experience, our values, our background and where we want to take the country. I think she speaks for a wide group of folks who are angry and very concerned and upset about what‘s going on in Washington.
And I keep hearing from folks of those groups that they want to take their country back. And my view is I want to take our country forward. And I look forward to the chance to put those views and compare them.
MADDOW: It‘s not just a difference in orientation in terms of who your opponent is listening to, who she is getting advice from and who she is directing her message to. It‘s also a difference in money.
I mean, one thing about the fact that you are running unexpectedly
against national conservative celebrity is that it‘s a huge tide of money
from outside the state. How do you -
COONS: Five weeks ago she had $20,000 at that time. Today, if you believe her Web site, she used to have $2.7 million in pledges. And that is a real concern that this, as you‘ve heard, tide of money from around the country would come to our little state to try to influence the outcome.
Obviously, outside money did have a big influence in the outcome of the primary. My strategy is to continue doing what I‘ve been doing since I started in county service, go up and down the state, listening to people, being with them and coming up with real, concrete proposals to address their concerns. Because at the end of the day, this is Delaware.
COONS: People want to meet their candidates. They want to know what you‘re going to do for them. And they want to listen and talk with you about their real concerns.
MADDOW: How do you run away from the Martha Coakley Phenomenon? I mean, she got that special election in that case, you know. I don‘t mean that you‘re - you‘re not Martha Coakley and Christine O‘Donnell is not Scott Brown.
But the dynamic, in some ways, is the same. The out-of-state funded, celebrity conservative against somebody who has been a lifelong public servant of the state?
COONS: I haven‘t been a life-long public servant. I spent eight years with one of Delaware‘s most innovative manufacturing companies and I don‘t take anything for granted.
This is an election. To me, as you heard me say, this is a job interview. And I‘m going to keep working my hardest up until Election Day and then afterwards. And I think Delawareans respect that, respond to that.
They want to see that you‘re out there working hard. That would be my
you know, if I were advising my opponent‘s campaign, because I‘m sure Delawareans haven‘t gotten a chance to meet her, to see her, to understand what she is about and what she‘s going to do.
COONS: I think Delawareans, at the end of the day - they‘re going to respond to engagement and to respect. And I don‘t know what happened in the Massachusetts race, but my impression was Martha Coakley didn‘t work really hard after the primary. She took it for granted. You can‘t take anything for granted.
MADDOW: Democrats across the country are paying attention to this race now because Mike Castle is expected to be the Republican nominee, expected to be a very strong favorite. Now, that he‘s not the nominee, Christine O‘Donnell is, you are expected to have a very good shot. You are up in the polls by double digits as the Democrats around the country are paying attention to you.
You were the founder of the College Republicans at your college. You cut the living hell out of the budget in New Castle (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as New Castle county executive. Should Democrats around the country, people who don‘t know you for your service in Delaware, think of you as a progressive?
COONS: They should get to know me. They should look hard at my issues, at how I‘ve spent my time, at my values and my service. I am a fiscal conservative and that‘s in keeping with Delaware and a lot of Delaware‘s traditions.
But I am progressive on issues that I think are critical to the folks who have driven and inspired and supported the progressive movement nationally. I resist certain easy labels on one thing or the other. But there‘s a whole series of, I think, very important issues on which I‘m a solid and reliable Democrat and progressive.
MADDOW: On the issue of your service in New Castle County, your opponent and some other people in the state are suggesting that your campaign is interfering with your performance as New Castle County executive, that you should resign New Castle County executive, what‘s your response to that?
COONS: I‘m working as hard today as county executive as the whole six years I‘ve been county executive. I have a great team. The county is doing very well. I have, in my county executive office, daily and I am on top of all the issues in the county. We have 28 days to the election.
COONS: And I frankly think I put up my record of public service and of leading and managing and running our government against my opponent‘s record.
MADDOW: Let me ask you one last question. I know you have tried to run your campaign in a way that avoids making it all about Christine O‘Donnell. But I have to ask you, though - she‘s an unusual candidate who has taken unusual stances.
In 2006, she said she had access to classified information that she couldn‘t discuss but that indicated that China was trying to take over the United States of America. She has talked about being around blood-soaked, satanic altars in her past.
She has talked about her fear that people are hiding in the bushes at her campaign headquarters, out to get her. Are there issues about not just her policy views but her world view, her connection to reality that you feel like are relevant to this first, that you need to talk about to (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
COONS: I think that‘s a decision Delaware‘s voters are going to make on November 2nd. I‘m grateful for a chance to get out and meet and talk with and listen to average Delawareans up and down our state. That‘s what I‘ve been doing since the campaign began.
At the end of the day, Delawareans are very commonsense, very levelheaded people. And I think they‘ll make their own judgment about all the other issues that the national media has done a great job of highlighting the campaign. But what I hear from Delawareans, none of them asked me about this stuff.
COONS: They ask me, “How are you going to get us back to work? How are you going to fix the deficit in the budget? How are you going to protect the environment? How are going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Because that‘s what they care about. At the end of the day, that‘s what this campaign is about.
MADDOW: Do you have access to any secret information about China trying to take over the United States?
COONS: No, I don‘t, Rachel.
MADDOW: I‘m going to ask everybody in Delaware thinking that, maybe, somebody will let me know why she might know.
COONS: Well, I wish you the best of luck in finding my opponent and asking her questions.
MADDOW: Chris Coons, thank you very much for giving us some time today. I really appreciate it. Thanks.
The man that you heard in the background while I was interviewing Chris Coons was Delaware‘s Senior Senator Tom Carper who was at the senior center today, talking with people, spent the whole morning there meeting with his constituents.
I was able to do that interview today because Chris Coons has public events on his campaign calendar that you can actually find and go to. His Republican opponent Christine O‘Donnell, a whole other story, which you will see in just a moment.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is randomly, just because we wanted to be, live at a bar in Delaware. Please stay with us.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MADDOW: We are in Newark, Delaware, at the Deer Park Tavern in the middle of an unexpectedly riveting U.S. Senate race here.
Democratic candidate Chris Coons campaigning constantly, making himself as available as possible. He actively wants to be found. We got an interview with him today, versus Republican candidate Christine O‘Donnell who actively does not want to be found.
And no, no booing. But I will say that her representatives told us loudly and angrily today how much they wanted us to leave them alone. Our decision 2010 reporting adventure continues in just a moment.
MADDOW: So before we came down here to Delaware today, we tried with all our might to get somebody from the Christine O‘Donnell campaign or Christine O‘Donnell herself to talk with us because we knew we were going to be talking with her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons.
We were not able to arrange anything in advance. We left lots of messages. We talked to people. Couldn‘t get anybody to call us back. For a long time, we tried a lot of different means.
We have come down here anyway and decided we would just stop by Christine O‘Donnell‘s campaign headquarters. So this is it. And we didn‘t want to be jerks, so we didn‘t go in with a camera crew, “Hey, we‘re here to ambush you and make you feel bad about us trying to get in.” And so you guys went in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There‘s no sign when you go in. There‘s no sign that says the office is on this floor, this suite or whatever. But there was a guy coming out who had on a Christine O‘Donnell shirt. And so Bill asked him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, “Are you with the Christine O‘Donnell campaign?” “Yes, I am.” And I said, “Is the office around here?” And he said, “Yes. It‘s on the second floor.” And then, as he was walking away, “But you didn‘t hear that from me.”
I swear, “Didn‘t hear that from me.” So that was odd. So we went upstairs and knocked on the - walked in. It‘s was a glass door.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone was coming out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone was coming in. We walked in. There was nobody at the reception desk. Anyway, we talked to a fellow and said, “We‘re from the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.” And he said, “Oh, wait a second.”
And he went and retrieved two guys who work in the - what seemed to be the communications department. And they came by very friendly. And we said, “We‘re here. We‘d love to speak with Ms. O‘Donnell or any representative of the campaign.”
And they said, “Well, hang on just a second.” And then, over came a third gentleman who was less happy to see us, I would say.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s a little like getting bounced from a bar.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said, “What is your purpose?” I said, “Well, we‘re down here covering the Senate campaign, obviously. It‘s a big deal. And we went to a Coons event at a senior center. And we were hoping to also tell the story of the O‘Donnell campaign.”
And he said, “What show are you representing, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW?” and he said, “That‘s unacceptable.”
MADDOW: “That‘s unacceptable” was his response to you saying the name of the show?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And then, so I was getting the feeling it wasn‘t going to happen like that. And then, he said that you had been classless, that you had - I can‘t remember the word, the verb he used to talk about what you had done to Christine, like slammed her, ripped her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trashing, something like that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But essentially, I remember “classless” for sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I said, “OK, so not to be obnoxious, but just to be clear, so no one‘s available to us?”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then a very - I would say, some scorn, visual scorn
from him to me. He said, “It‘s unacceptable.” I said, “Wait -“
MADDOW: Wait. Act out the visual scorn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say - I say, “So no one‘s available? Anyone from the campaign, any communications person, whatever? That‘s what you‘re saying?”
And he said -
MADDOW: Oh, like Eddie the eagle?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sort of. And then he said, you know, “No. It‘s unacceptable, blah, blah, blah.” He was unhappy that we would suggest that you would do this. And we said, “OK, well, we - I accept that.”
MADDOW: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I said, “We accept that. Thank you and have a nice day.”
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And as we left, they asked the young man who was - who had let us in, to position himself outside the door so that no one else would get in that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It felt as though they thought we had like stormed in, when, really - we really hadn‘t stormed in. I think one of the points you made was that we hadn‘t gone there with cameras.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And part of the point, at least, I was very conscious
of, “Don‘t be unfair. Don‘t ambush.” We‘re not trying to make anybody
look bad. No. And so we hadn‘t sneaked in. We hadn‘t gone -
MADDOW: We were calling trying to see if we could talk to anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, and we didn‘t - they said stand here and we stood there. In other words, we didn‘t go anywhere or take any pictures or do anything that wasn‘t sanctioned.
In fact, we assumed nothing was sanctioned and so we stood there literally like this, hands folded. And then they came over and said, “Unacceptable and you‘re trashing her and you‘re classless” and this and that. And so, here we are, in the rain outside.
MADDOW: The thing that‘s frustrating is that she doesn‘t have any public events, so we can‘t compare public events with Chris Coons like we saw today, to public events with Christine O‘Donnell, because there aren‘t any Christine O‘Donnell public events.
She‘s not campaigning. She‘s not doing events in - I mean, I don‘t know if she‘s doing any events anywhere else. She‘s not doing any events that we know of or that they‘re letting anybody know about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. Certainly, not in the way that we can tell by reading the newspaper, reading the Internet, reading her site. She may be, but it‘s impossible for us to tell by any publication.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe she is, secretly. But can‘t - we haven‘t been able to figure out where she‘s going to be.
MADDOW: And so not only is it no to the candidate but no to anybody from the campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s correct.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
MADDOW: And nobody who supports her will talk to us either?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not yet. We can always go to the train station.
MADDOW: I have all these questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, 11,000 people voted for her. So they exist.
MADDOW: In this county?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In this county.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, so -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 444 in Wilmington.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MADDOW: That‘s right, actually, in the city of Wilmington. We can‘t find the O‘Donnell campaign. And when we did find them, they insulted us and told us to leave. That‘s hard to cover. You know, it‘s hard to cover both sides. Everybody says, “Why didn‘t you talk to Republicans?”
This is what it‘s like, sulking in the rain outside their campaign headquarters after they‘ve insulted us and told us to leave. That‘s what it‘s like trying to talk to Republican candidates, top-of-the-ticket races in this year‘s elections.
So we spent the whole day in Delaware. And we got great access to the Chris Coons campaign, spoke to the candidate himself, saw him talking with his would-be constituents at a rally.
He was there with Sen. Tom Carper who would be the senior senator once either Christine O‘Donnell or Chris Coons wins this race. Talked with a bunch of people who had gone out see Chris Coons at that event.
And since then, we‘ve essentially been all over everywhere we can possibly think of to try to find somebody to speak to us about the other side of this campaign, about the Christine O‘Donnell side.
So after spending a lot of time online contacting people, after writing to different groups of people who had supported Christine O‘Donnell, contacting, for example, tea party groups, of course, contacting the campaign itself, we even went to the campaign headquarters.
They kicked us out and didn‘t let us talk to anybody and insulted us and said we should leave and never come back. That was very unpleasant.
But while we were over there in Wilmington getting insulted and thrown out of the Christine O‘Donnell campaign headquarters, we got a line. We got a lead. We got a bead that there was somebody who was willing to talk to us from the Republican side about this campaign - finally.
It was the president of the College Republicans here at the University of Delaware, which is in Newark, Delaware. It‘s beautiful. We‘re here on the college green right now. His name is Dan Boselli. I‘m going to go talk to him. I‘m very excited.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(on camera) We finally found a real, live Republican. Dan Boselli from the College Republicans.
DAN BOSELLI, PRESIDENT, COLLEGE REPUBLICANS, UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE: I‘m happy to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: Really great to have you here. Thank you for doing this. I‘ve got to say, it‘s been strange to - it‘s not that weird, I think, that Christine O‘Donnell doesn‘t want to talk to us. She‘s had a constrained sort of media strategy.
But it‘s hard to figure out why nobody who supports her wants to talk to the media. Do you have any insight into that?
BOSELLI: What I think personally is that for her, she wants to focus on the voters of Delaware and she wants to reach out to them. As for the party, I think they ought to let the candidate speak for herself.
MADDOW: Dan, I‘ve got to say the one thing I‘m worried about is that we got - when we were trying to find Christine O‘Donnell supporters, we kept hearing from people, “I‘m a Christine O‘Donnell supporter. I‘d love to talk to you.” Every single person we heard from was out of state.
MADDOW: And you just told me that you‘re a Pennsylvania resident.
BOSELLI: I‘m happy to help you out here in your moment of need.
MADDOW: This way?
MADDOW: I‘ve been practicing Newark, Newark.
BOSELLI: That‘s right, Newark.
MADDOW: Where are you from?
BOSELLI: I‘m actually from Pennsylvania.
MADDOW: Oh, Pennsylvania.
BOSELLI: I‘m actually a resident there. I‘m not a -
MADDOW: Pennsylvania resident.
BOSELLI: But don‘t worry. Don‘t worry. I‘ve been involved in Delaware politics. I went to high school in Delaware. Let‘s make a left.
MADDOW: Oh, man.
BOSELLI: That‘s right. I am the president of the University of Delaware College Republicans. And if you saw a poll recently, 40 percent of voters do support her according to Rasmussen. So she does have strong support in Delaware. And I‘m essentially Delaware resident.
MADDOW: But you don‘t vote in Delaware?
BOSELLI: That‘s right. I don‘t vote here.
MADDOW: So we‘ve still - we‘re still 100 percent strikeout in terms of
finding a Delaware voter who says they‘re going to vote for Christine
O‘Donnell. I don‘t like -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We failed. Totally failed. That does it for us tonight. We‘re very thankful to the folks here at the Deer Park Tavern in Newark for taking such good care of us. Everybody please tip your bartenders.
Now, with his guest, RNC Chairman, Michael Steele, it‘s “The Last Word with Lawrence O‘Donnell.”
Lawrence, Delaware says Hi.
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