Guests: Keith Olbermann, E.J. Dionne, Art Robinson
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: And now, great excitement in Rachel land tonight. A Republican has refused to follow instructions and will be her guest tonight—ladies and gentleman, here is Rachel.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. We are, in fact, very excited here at the show tonight. Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: Marshmallows and popcorn and stuff.
MADDOW: People fainting actually in the newsroom. It was very exciting.
OLBERMANN: Yes. I see that, I see that every day around here always.
MADDOW: We are very excited for the show tonight, because, as Keith said, a real live Republican candidate for office is going to be a guest on this show. This is something that used to happen for us, not too rarely. Then it got rare. Recently, it has been utterly impossible for us to get anyone of any newsworthiness from the Republican side to come sit and chat a while on this show.
Tonight on “The Interview,” we break our recent Republican-free streak. We are excited. Please do stay tuned for that.
But we begin tonight with this question: How long does it take for Beltway media narratives to get rewritten? Because we‘re 26 days from the elections, and the big Beltway narrative about how Democrats need to run this year seems wrong.
With each passing day, we are getting new examples of Democrats rejecting the Beltway common wisdom that Democrats need to play defense only this year. That it‘s a Republican landscape this year. That Republicans get to run on what they stand for and Democrats ought to stay quiet about what they stand for. Democrats ought to stay out of the limelight. Democrats should try to seem as much as possible like maybe they‘re Republicans, too.
With each passing day, that advice—this year‘s political common wisdom is getting less common. More and more Democrats seem to be rejecting that advice and instead getting on offense. And it appears that in many cases they are scoring.
You can tell they‘re scoring by watching the effect that Democrats being on offense is having on those Democrats‘ Republican opponents. It is an effect best described as stop, squirm and run. We are seeing it play out in races in which Democrats are favored and races in which Republicans are favored. We are seeing it in some of the highest-profile races in the country from which the common wisdom about this election is supposedly drawn. If that‘s the case, the common wisdom needs updating.
Here is a case in point. Linda McMahon, the former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO, and Republican nominee for Senate from Connecticut.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think there should be a minimum wage?
LINDA MCMAHON ®, CONNECTICUT SENATE CANDIDATE: The minimum wage now in our country—I think we‘ve set that. And so, there are a lot of people who have benefited from it. But I think we need to review how much it ought to be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you argue for reducing the minimum wage?
MCMAHON: Well, I think we‘ve got minimum wages in state government, minimum wages in the government. And I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Republican nominee for Senate from the great state of Connecticut says we ought to look at reducing the minimum wage.
Here‘s her opponent, Democrat Dick Blumenthal, using that admission to go on offense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: She took home $46 million and now, she‘s talking about lowering the minimum wage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is all in it for her.
NARRATOR: Linda McMahon, profits before people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A Democrat goes offense. The Republican responds by sort of losing it. Despite the tape of her comments, Ms. McMahon is trying to convince CNN that she didn‘t mean what she said. Telling CNN that she misspoke because she did understand the question, she did not understand what was going on. Quote, “I thought I was answering a question that I had heard that was about increasing the minimum wage.”
Would I consider that? I never said anything about lowering the minimum wage. I mean, that was last week. I‘m a whole new person now.
Stop, squirm and run from previously held position. Stop, squirm and run. Stop, squirm and run also on even more emphatic display in the great state of Kentucky, where Democrat Jack Conway is running for United States Senate against our good friend, Republican Rand Paul.
Here‘s what Jack Conway playing offense in that race looks like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: So you really need higher deductibles. And the real answer to Medicare would be a $2,000 deductible.
With Medicare, I think one of the answers is: we will have to maybe pay more.
So, you don‘t want low deductibles, you want high deductibles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now watch stage one of the Rand Paul stop, squirm and run operation. This is the initial version of a response ad, an ad that Rand Paul released in response to that attack from Jack Conway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Rand Paul has never supported higher Medicare deductibles for seniors. Conway lies to hide his support for Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I‘ve never said that thing I said a million times, in front of a million different cameras? Jack Conway is a lying liar and so is the YouTube.
Stop, that was their first attempt at a response. Phase two: squirm. They took down that ad. They took down their own ad denying Rand Paul had said that thing he said a million times on camera. We actually were able to get it from the folks at the “Barefoot and Progressive” blog because they were quick-witted enough to grab it and save it before it was pulled down off the Internet.
Then the Rand Paul campaign replaced the ad denying the thing that was true with a new ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Rand Paul doesn‘t support higher Medicare deductibles for seniors. Conway distracts with negative ads to hide his support for Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, I see. They changed the ad from saying Rand Paul never supported higher Medicare deductibles to saying Rand Paul doesn‘t today—today support that thing he‘s on tape a million times saying. Instead of saying Jack Conway‘s a liar about this provably thing on tape, they now say Jack Conway is distracting—distracting us with all this nailing us for our totally, politically indefensible positions that we will flip-flop on as soon as we are challenged about them.
So distracting when Democrats actually campaign to win, when Democrats actually go on offense. We thought Democrats weren‘t going to do that this year.
The always amazing Ken Buck of Colorado, another great new example of stop, squirm and run this week. Here‘s what Ken Buck of Colorado said late last year—again, on camera about taxes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN BUCK ®, COLORADO SENATE CANDIDATE: I don‘t think the income tax is a good idea. I think a national sales tax, consumption tax, fair tax is a better idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A national sales tax, a consumption tax—enter Senator Michael Bennet, the Democrat who Ken Buck is trying to unseat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Buck wants a new 23 percent national sales tax on everything you buy—on groceries, on medicine, on gas.
Ken Buck, extremely wrong for Colorado.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mea culpa. I have to give you a mea culpa. I gave Chris Van Hollen from the Democrat House Campaign Committee the business. Last week, I gave him a really hard time last week for Democrats running ads against Republicans who have talked about this national sales tax.
And I told Chris Van Hollen that I didn‘t think it was going to work. I officially admit to having been proven wrong about that, because I can show you right now, it totally working against Ken Buck in Colorado. Watch Ken Buck run from himself. Watch Ken Buck try to divide himself into two different people so they can sprint apart from one another as fast as they can.
One of those Ken Bucks tells “The Denver Post,” “In the primary season, I was asked about the national sales tax over and over.” Actually, you were asked about the income tax. “And I think it has to be recognized as an alternative, but it was never my alternative.”
I just said I favored it but I didn‘t really. Ken Buck today completely abandoning and thrashing Ken Buck from nine months ago. I hate that Ken Buck guy. I‘m a totally new Ken Buck guy. Stop, squirm and run.
And now to Florida, where the Republican candidate for Senate, Mark Rubio, is being chased away from his own positions by two opponents, the Democrat Kendrick Meek and now, independent former Republican, Charlie Crist. Last week, as we reported, following a negative ad from Mr. Meek, Marco Rubio sprinted away from his own previously held position on privatizing Social Security.
You will recall our exclusive footage of Marco Rubio saying on camera, both that he wanted to privatize Social Security and also that he wanted to raise the retirement age.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCO RUBIO ®, FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: I do think that the retirement age issue is going to have to be confronted at some point as part of a measure to reform Social Security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We‘re going to have to confront it and not to lower it.
That‘s for sure.
Kendrick Meek went on offense against Marco Rubio on wanting to privatize Social Security. Now, Charlie Crist, the independent, recognizing a soft target, is going on offense against Mr. Rubio on the raising the retirement age thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Work longer, get by on less. That‘s the Marco Rubio retirement plan. Rubio wants to raise the Social Security retirement age.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That‘s offense. Witness the Marco Rubio campaign in full stop, squirm, and run mode in response, calling Crist‘s ad false, even though it‘s not, and denying that Rubio ever said what he plainly said on this issue on tape.
Mr. Rubio has apparently changed his mind on the subject. Marco Rubio didn‘t say that or maybe he did but he definitely didn‘t mean it. In any case, Charlie Crist is terrible, lying and terrible.
Listen, the common wisdom is that Democrats need to lay low this year. The Republicans get to set the agenda. Democrats are going to have to just hope if they‘re very, very quiet people may think of them as Republicans, too. But when you hold politically indefensible positions like privatizing Social Security, the government forcing rape victims to bear the rapist‘s child, cutting the minimum wage, wacky giant tax ideas you crib from the Steve Forbes for president laugh-in, when you have totally, politically indefensible ideas like those, you are a soft target.
It‘s not rocket science. Hitting candidates on positions like that hurts them, coast to coast in every race, underdogs and overdogs, liberal district, conservative districts—this is what it looks like when Democrats go on offense. This is what it looks like when it works.
Joining us is “Washington Post” columnist E.J. Dionne, who has been documenting the phenomenon of Democrats on offense this season.
E.J., thanks very much for being here.
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you, always.
MADDOW: Is the common wisdom about Democrats needing to lay low this year—is that common wisdom in peril? Could it actually change?
DIONNE: I think it‘s wrong. I mean, I think that Democrats believe in government, not unlimited government, not inefficient government but they believe government has a role to play in many parts of life to make things better. And they‘ve gotten afraid of just saying it. And I think by highlighting issues like Social Security, like the minimum wage, they‘re saying, wait a minute, do you want this part of government to go away? Do you want that part of government to go away?
Senator Fritz Hollings, when he ran for president—and I wish I could do a Fritz Hollings accent but you wouldn‘t understand me if I could. Well, he got this great line where he talked about the man who fought for our country in World War II, and went to college on the G.I. bill, started a business with an SVA loan, bought a house with an FHA loan, go back and forth to work on the interstate highways, his kids went to college on federal student loans. His parents were happily retired on Social Security and Medicare. And this man, Teddy, was voting for Ronald Reagan to get the government off his back.
And I think that contradiction has to be driven all the time. One other great line I used about five times a year, Bill Cohen, the former Republican senator, when the ValuJet crash happened some years ago and everybody said, where was the government, where are the regulators, Bill Cohen said, government is the enemy until you need a friend.
And I think a lot of Americans instinctively know that. And so, when they see some of these ideas, they say, no, that‘s not what I think.
MADDOW: I think that—I think that the case that you just made is a case that Democrats have been told to be afraid of making. And the Beltway common wisdom still tells Democrats that they should be afraid of making that case. But what I feel like is happening right now is that actual Democratic political activity is out in front of the way people in Washington and the way people in the mainstream press are still talking about it. I think Democrats are getting less afraid of attacking about what government is for, less afraid of attack radical anti-government positions that they‘re seeing in their Republican opponents.
DIONNE: No. I think you‘re seeing some are coming out and defending the health care bill. You know, they‘re not saying I‘m for the health care bill because that thing has been so demonized that the—it‘s the distraction that the Republicans are trying to put out there. But a lot of specific things in the health care bill, like you can‘t throw my kid off health insurance if my kid has a pre-existing condition, or the government is going to stop insurance companies from cutting you off when you get sick, that‘s stuff people want government to do. So, Russ Feingold has run on it, Steve Israel has run on it, Tom Perriello talks about it in Virginia. There are a lot of Democrats saying, these are things were actually for.
And it‘s refreshing. Nobody likes a wimp. Nobody likes somebody who says, I‘m afraid of what I believe.
I think President Obama‘s numbers are coming up a little bit because he‘s out there being strong about what he believes again. I don‘t think people like it when you‘re so into compromise that you start looking like you‘ll give away the store.
MADDOW: Even in—even in conservative districts, even in swing districts. I think that‘s exactly right.
Let me just ask you, E.J., in terms of people thinking about Democratic strategy for these elections. When you‘re looking at Republicans holding politically untenable, sort of politically indefensible positions like some of those that I highlighted in the introduction here, does the question of what makes a soft target for a Republican candidate—does what makes a soft target vary from race to race or district to district? Or are there some things that you can run against Republicans on no matter where you are?
DIONNE: Well, I think there are different targets. If the Republicans had nominated Mike Castle in Delaware, instead of Christine O‘Donnell, he would have better much harder target to get at than Christine O‘Donnell is. But a lot of these Republicans are losing primaries.
And I think if the Republicans want to run a campaign saying we‘re against regulation—which ones? The ones that keep our drugs safe, that ones that keep our food safe, the once that keep our minds safe, the ones that keep our workplaces safe? Which ones are those? I think that‘s a large issue.
Talk on taxes. We do have a big debate going on do you really think that the best way to spend $700 billion over 10 years is for tax cuts for wealthy people?
So, I think there are themes that work across districts. But, obviously, some of these folks are much more right wing than others.
MADDOW: “Washington Post” columnist E.J. Dionne, he‘s been doing great work explaining this side of the strategy when very few other people in Washington are—E.J., thanks very much.
DIONNE: Thank you.
MADDOW: So, do you remember the movie “The Producers”?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want that money!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel raising tons of money for a Broadway show so bad they were sure it would flop, because they wanted to keep all the money they raised afterwards.
Is politics this year turning into the same game? There is something a little Mel Brooksian going on here. That‘s coming up.
And later on, we always want to hear from conservatives on the show.
It, however, is very difficult for us to book them to come on the show. But today, jackpot! A real deal, real live conservative Republican congressional candidate agreeing to sit down with me on this show. We‘re very excited. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: There‘s one issue in American politics, a perennial issue, that is an always, every time, surefire, proven, kick butt winner for progressive and Democratic politicians. Every time it comes up, Democrats win on it, Republicans lose on it. Unless Republicans adopt the Democrats‘ position or bamboozle people into thinking they‘ve adopted the Democrats‘ position. It never gets any national discussion. But it always works in Democrats‘ favor, every time. Hugely.
It is a magic decoder ring for Democratic electoral success. It has nothing to do with marijuana. It is the subject of our closing comment on tonight‘s show—that‘s ahead.
MADDOW: When Sarah Palin quit her job as governor of the state of Alaska last year, she said she was leaving political office in order to focus on politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I think the problem in our
country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just kind of hunker down and go with the flow. We‘re fishermen. We know that only dead fish go with the flow.
I choose for my state and for my family more freedom to progress all the way around so that Alaska may progress. I will not seek re-election as governor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Since quitting being a politician in order to focus on politics, Governor Palin has made a ton of loot - book deals, $100,000 per speech, the FOX News gig.
Quitting the stupid public servant stuff but staying vaguely in politics has been very lucrative for Ms. Palin. Quitting actual politics made her a lot of money. But some candidates have figured out how running for office itself can make you a lot of money as well.
Yesterday, “The New York times” reported that Carl “I‘m mad” Paladino, the ostentatiously surreal Republican candidate for governor in New York state may be doing horrendously in the polls but it is turning out to be all pretty good for his business interests.
Quote, “Of the $3.8 million that Mr. Paladino had spent as of September 27th, nearly $2 million has gone to companies he owns or controls. Mr. Paladino‘s campaign houses out of town guests in a budget hotel he owns, leases cars from a rental agency he owns, parks cars in the garage he owns and uses the services of an accountant whose other job is at Mr. Paladino‘s real estate development company. When Mr. Paladino cannot put money back in his own pockets, he steers it to people he does business with. He buys handbills, signs and other materials from companies that lease from him. His campaign treasury is deposited in a bank branch that also pays him rent.”
The better to be able to pay Carl that rent.
Vaguely the same deal in Delaware with the ostentatiously surreal Republican candidate for Senate there, Christine O‘Donnell. The first allegations that running for office was a bit of a for-profit racket from Ms. O‘Donnell came in the primary—during the primary from her own former campaign manager.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KRISTIN MURRAY, FMR. O‘DONNELL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Hi. This is Kristin Murray. In 2008, I was the campaign manager for Senate candidate Christine O‘Donnell. 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 debts. She wasn‘t concerned about conservative causes. O‘Donnell just wanted to make a buck. That‘s why I left.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That campaign manager said that Christine O‘Donnell used the campaign debit card, funded by political donations, to pay her own personal living expenses.
Ms. O‘Donnell has since defended using political donations to pay the rent on her town house where she lives.
Carl Paladino and Christine O‘Donnell are not favored to win their races, to say the least—Mr. Paladino at last count down by as many as 18 points; Christine O‘Donnell down by 17 points. But they are running such nutty, cuckoo for cocoa puffs campaigns that they‘re getting tons of national attention. We can‘t help ourselves.
Even or maybe especially if you lose, this politics thing can be a nice way to get a new wardrobe, it could be a nice to pay your townhouse rent, it could be a nice way to pump a whole lot of cash through your various financial interests. Running for office is becoming a racket. Nice fake work if you can get it.
MADDOW: When “The New York Times” asked Christine O‘Donnell who in the Senate she most admires, the answer that the Delaware Republican gave was surprising, at least in part. The first thing she said wasn‘t surprising. The first senator she named was Jim DeMint—nothing unusual there.
The South Carolina Republican endorsed her campaign for Senate. He is probably as far right in his conservative beliefs as Ms. O‘Donnell is herself. So, that wasn‘t the surprise. That made sense.
The surprise was what O‘Donnell told reporter Mark Leibovich of “The Times” a few seconds later. Quoting from “The New York Times” article. After a few more seconds, she mentioned Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, who left the Senate almost two years ago.
Quoting Ms. O‘Donnell, “She is a woman in a man‘s world holding her own. As one woman is also taking some flak and stepping into the political arena, I deeply admire that.”
OK. But you know Hillary Clinton‘s not in the Senate anymore, right? What was odd in the “New York Times‘” write-up was it wasn‘t clear whether or not Christine O‘Donnell realized that Secretary Clinton hasn‘t been a senator for almost two years now.
Yes, the reporter asked her who in the Senate and she answered Hillary Clinton and Hillary Clinton is not in the Senate. But whether or not Christine O‘Donnell doesn‘t understand who Hillary Clinton is or what her job is now was left sort of vague and strange.
Then this happened. Taking questions at the headquarters of the Newark, Delaware Republicans last night, Christine O‘Donnell was asked to give a whatever is on top of your head response to the phrase “health care reform bill.” This is amazing and so strange. This is what her answer was. This is what she said was on the top of her head when asked about health reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: If both the House and the Senate pass legislation to repeal the health care bill and then Barack Obama thumbs his nose to the will of the people and vetoes that bill right before his re-election, I‘ve already seen some Hillary Clinton ads. I don‘t know about you, but I have. I have. So—I mean, there are a lot of Democrats who don‘t want this. And if he has the audacity to ignore a very clear message from the people, he‘s making his re-election very uncertain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I have already seen some Hillary Clinton ads. I don‘t know about you, but I have. What on God‘s tiny blue earth is she talking about?
It got even weirder when she said almost the exact same thing this afternoon on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: If Barack Obama vetoes that the year before his re-election, he‘s setting himself up to be very vulnerable. And I‘ve seen many “Hillary for President” ads running.
So if she chooses to thumb his nose at the will of the American people and ram this unrealistic, unconstitutional bill down America‘s throats, then there will be consequences, politically, for Obama.
MADDOW: This is now so weird I don‘t trust my own ears. Play it again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: He‘s setting himself up to be very vulnerable. And I‘ve seen many “Hillary for President” ads running.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The ads that Hillary Clinton is running right now for president that Christine O‘Donnell has seen? I think I can speak for everyone in the country who is not Christine O‘Donnell - we haven‘t seen those ads.
Perhaps they were screened at the fake classified intelligence briefing about China invading or in Hillary Clinton‘s current fake Senate office that she maintains to fake everyone out into thinking she‘s not really secretary of state. Top secret Hillary Clinton in 2012 ads that only Christine O‘Donnell has been briefed on.
Officially making Christine O‘Donnell‘s super-secret briefing on the Chinese coming to get us - the second craziest thing we have learned about this candidate in the last week. And the week is not over yet. It is only Thursday. I love the midterms. I love the midterms. I love the midterms. I never thought I‘d love the mid-terms as much as I do. I do. I do. I do. I do. I cannot believe this.
MADDOW: In southwest Oregon, the Fourth District, the congressional race this year is between Democrat incumbent Peter DeFazio and his Republican challenger, Art Robinson. And also someone else - someone else who is anonymous but he is spending a ton of money on this race.
Nobody knows who they are. They are an entity that exists only on paper, paper filed by a Republican lobbyist in Washington. They‘ve spent more than $150,000 already running this ad against the Democratic incumbent in this race, against Mr. DeFazio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nancy Pelosi and Peter DeFazio made a mess of our economy. Their policies aren‘t working. It‘s time for change. Art Robinson is a research scientist, not a politician.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And so on. More than $150,000 running that ad to promote the Republican campaign of Art Robinson. Art Robinson, the beneficiary of this political intervention, says he has no idea who this mysterious rich group is, but he is very happy to have their help in this race.
Joining us for the interview tonight, I‘m delighted to say, is Republican Congressional candidate Art Robinson. Mr. Robinson, thank you very much for your time, sir.
ART ROBINSON (R-OR), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Thank you for yours.
MADDOW: Am I correct in saying that you really have no idea who‘s funding this $150,000 ad buy that promotes your candidacy?
ROBINSON: That‘s correct.
MADDOW: It would be illegal for somebody to try to give you $150,000 campaign contribution, to write you that kind of a check. Isn‘t this essentially an in-kind donation of that size?
ROBINSON: What‘s legal is the donations I‘ve received from 3,500 people to support my campaign. I‘m happy to have this help because my challenger - my opponent, Mr. DeFazio, is spending more than $1 million on the campaign. And he has had more money than me for television and radio. I‘m delighted these people have helped to level the playing field.
MADDOW: Does the fact these donations to this group are anonymous - does that bother you at all? Just to ask an American, I mean, if you get elected in part because of this funding and you find out it‘s from criminals or foreign interests or communists or something, wouldn‘t that bother you?
ROBINSON: Doesn‘t it bother you that Mr. DeFazio gets $500,000 for his campaign from special interests that he‘s done favors for in Washington?
MADDOW: Well, we‘re not - but what about the -
ROBINSON: The American people don‘t know where his money comes from. And your representation that this money could come from criminals is simply a way of trying to smear them and smear me by association.
MADDOW: Well, who are they though?
ROBINSON: This campaign -
MADDOW: Who are they? Who are they?
ROBINSON: Is about something else. This campaign is about Mr. DeFazio‘s votes for big government, high taxes and higher - things which impinge on our lives from Washington. It‘s about his failure to protect the fisheries and forests of our district for use by our businesses.
MADDOW: But, sir, do you - do you dispute that -
ROBINSON: It‘s about his vote against medical -
MADDOW: Do you dispute - wait. Hold on. Let me just ask you a question.
ROBINSON: His vote for the medical care bill when he didn‘t tell what
it‘s about his vote for the medical care bill when he promised not to do it. It‘s about all kinds of things.
You want to look into finances? Pete DeFazio ships his personal money to a tax haven in New Zealand. Does that interest you?
MADDOW: Sir, do you -
ROBINSON: You‘re not interested in anything except this issue which will divert the campaign from the main issues that American voters want to hear.
MADDOW: What I‘m interested in is what‘s new about this year - what‘s
new about this year in American politics, which is that a group that does
not disclose its funders at all - we have no idea where the money came from
has dumped $150,000 into your race on your behalf.
And I find it hard to believe as a civic-minded guy, as a guy who‘s been so publicly engaged as you have been, that you‘re not at all disturbed by the fact that all of those dollars are anonymous. Really, it doesn‘t bother you at all?
ROBINSON: If you have been informing the voters about where the
million dollars he‘s spending - he is spending came from and the million
dollars I will spend from individual donors, 3,500, the fact that his money
is special interest money, the fact that mine is all from individual people
MADDOW: Except for the $150,000 anonymous dollars that you won‘t talk to me about.
ROBINSON: If you have been (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the people where the money for this campaign comes from, then I would be concerned perhaps that you couldn‘t find out about where this smaller amount of money comes from.
MADDOW: The $150,000 - may I just ask you yes or no -
ROBINSON: Your issue is political, Ma‘am. What you want to do is to talk about everything except the issues in this campaign. What you want to do is throw mud at me.
MADDOW: No. I want to know -
ROBINSON: I want to tell you something. The mud is sticking to you.
MADDOW: I just want an answer - I want to know an answer to this question. Ready?
MADDOW: Do you care?
ROBINSON: Well, we‘ll see.
MADDOW: Wait. I haven‘t asked the question yet. Do you care -
ROBINSON: Do I care about what?
MADDOW: That the -
ROBINSON: Do I care about that the -
Let me ask the question, then you can answer. It works very well
ROBINSON: Do I care about your sarcasm? No, I don‘t care about your sarcasm.
MADDOW: It‘s a standard form of - you don‘t care about the - wait.
ROBINSON: What I care about getting the issues to the voters. And this program of yours is simply a way of diverting the campaign from those issues and of course from Mr. DeFazio.
MADDOW: I‘m going to take that as a no.
ROBINSON: He is taking this issue out so “MoveOn.org” will raise money for him. Are you concerned about the fact that he is milking hundreds of thousands more on the basis of your program?
MADDOW: I‘m going to take it as a no that you don‘t care about the anonymity money that‘s being used to spend $150,000 of ads. I‘m just going to take that as a no, OK? So let‘s talk about your beliefs.
MADDOW: Now, you are well-known for your belief that global warming is made up.
ROBINSON: About beliefs, let‘s do that. All right.
MADDOW: You don‘t want to talk about your beliefs?
ROBINSON: Yes, go ahead.
MADDOW: You‘re well known for your belief that global warming is made
up, that that is not true. That‘s sort of a source of your national
reputation, to the extent that you have one. Your opponent, Mr. DeFazio is
ROBINSON: That‘s not a belief. That‘s a conclusion I reached as a physical scientist. I have a degree from Cal Tech. Many others who have degrees from Cal Tech have agreed with me on this.
ROBINSON: We have - there are thousands of physical scientists in this country who, on the basis of scientific information alone, reject the idea of human-caused global warming.
You wish to portray each of those people as a nut. I‘ll tell you, madam, there are thousands and thousands of them, far more than there are at the U.N., pushing this bogus claim of human-caused global warming. You like it (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
MADDOW: Do you mind if I ask you a question about your beliefs?
ROBINSON: It‘s a dead scientific issue, Madam.
MADDOW: Do you mind if I ask about your beliefs on this?
ROBINSON: It‘s not a belief. It‘s a scientifically proven -
MADDOW: Right. Your scientifically proven fact that it‘s not true - may I ask you about your scientifically-held, scientifically-proven, absolutely true beliefs that anybody who questions is attacking you about?
OK. You have advocated that radio -
ROBINSON: You can go right ahead. You‘ve already put a big pejorative statement before the statement. But go ahead. You can anything you like.
MADDOW: You have advocated that radioactive waste should be dissolved in water and, quote, “widely dispersed in the oceans.” Quote, “All we need to do with nuclear waste is dilute it to a low radiation level and sprinkle it over the ocean or even over America after hormesis(ph) is better stood and verified with respect to more diseases.”
Now, hormesis is your belief that low-level radiation is good for us to a certain extent? Is that right?
ROBINSON: The statements that you have just made are untrue.
MADDOW: Wait. I was quoting you.
ROBINSON: What you have done is take tiny excerpts from a vast amount of writing I have done on this scientific subject. I have not advocated any of this.
MADDOW: I - all we need to - did you not say this?
ROBINSON: As a scientist, I have written about this and many other possibilities.
MADDOW: Wait, wait, wait. Are you saying that your own -
ROBINSON: You are not telling the truth.
MADDOW: Are you saying -
ROBINSON: If you‘d like to tell the truth, that‘s fine. I‘m not going to answer to your lie. That is more mud.
MADDOW: I‘m quoting from your own newsletter.
ROBINSON: This is a complicated scientific subject which you are misrepresenting to your viewers.
MADDOW: This is not -
ROBINSON: You are misrepresenting a very -
MADDOW: Did you not write this?
ROBINSON: Complicated scientific subject, and giving me 30 seconds to answer. That can‘t be done. You go ahead and misrepresent the truth.
MADDOW: Did you write this?
ROBINSON: But it won‘t work for you.
MADDOW: All we need to do with nuclear waste is dilute it - did you write this? This is - I‘m quoting from your newsletter.
There‘s no ellipses here, “All we need to do with nuclear waste is dilute it to a low-radiation level and sprinkle it over the ocean or even over America after hormesis is better understood and verified with respect to more diseases.
ROBINSON: I wrote thousands and thousands of words in this subject.
You have picked a few words and twisted them into an untruth.
MADDOW: OK. Let me ask you about some other words about your own -
ROBINSON: Do whatever you want, Madam. You‘re just throwing mud.
MADDOW: Let me just ask you some other things that I got - I‘m trying to learn about you, so I read your newsletter. In your newsletter, access to energy - you understand it, right?
ROBINSON: What you‘re trying to do is smear me by - you‘re just trying to smear me with out-of-context quotes.
MADDOW: I‘m trying to get to know by asking you about stuff you‘ve written that I don‘t understand.
ROBINSON: Everyone knows exactly what you‘re trying to do. That‘s your stock and trade.
MADDOW: Can I ask you?
ROBINSON: It‘s not mine. I‘m a scientist and a very good one.
MADDOW: Can I ask you about something else that you‘ve written in your newsletter and you can tell me that I‘m taking it out of context?
ROBINSON: You can ask anything you like. You‘re running the camera.
MADDOW: In your newsletter, “Access to Energy,” you wrote approvingly
of the idea that AIDS is a myth, right? Sir, I‘m quoting you. The
arguments presented against the -
ROBINSON: About what? Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I didn‘t hear you.
MADDOW: The - Art, I‘m quoting you here, “The arguments presented against the HIV hypothesis are sound.” You wrote this, “Median age at death for homosexual men dying of AIDS is 39 years. The value for homosexual men who did not die of AIDS is 42. By comparison, the value heterosexual married men is 75. This is evidence in support of the hypothesis that AIDS may be little more than a general classification of deaths resulting from exposure to homosexual behavior.” So you‘re writing about the myth that HIV doesn‘t cause AIDS.
ROBINSON: Would you like to tell your viewers the date on that quotation, madam?
MADDOW: This is from 1995.
ROBINSON: Would you like to tell your viewers the date?
MADDOW: Do you no longer believe that?
ROBINSON: Yes, 1995, 15 years ago. There was still a debate over the cause of AIDS and I was writing about that. I wrote about all the other hypotheses, too. Fifteen years ago, the scientific debate was different than it is today.
MADDOW: No, it wasn‘t sir.
ROBINSON: And I wrote approvingly on many of the hypotheses. But you have picked a 15-year-old quote. You‘ve taken it totally out of context. I wrote a lot about this issue. Trying to make it look bad 15 years later.
Why don‘t you do something up to date?
MADDOW: Well, let me - I want to know if you still believe this, “Only government reclassification of more and more disease types as AIDS cases has kept the numbers of victims at politically necessary levels.”
You were a conspiracist that AIDS was a government conspiracy in 1995 at a time when a lot of Americans were dying of AIDS. You were advocating that it was made up you for political purposes. Have you changed your mind about that or do you still believe it?
MADDOW: No? You haven‘t changed your mind?
ROBINSON: Your statement is - you just strung several lies together in a row, and I don‘t have the time to answer these.
MADDOW: I‘m quoting from your own newsletter, sir.
ROBINSON: You strung several lies together in a row because you infused vast amounts of editorial comments into this complicated issue.
MADDOW: Did you say only government -
ROBINSON: You are lying about my view, madam. You‘re just lying about them.
MADDOW: Here‘s a direct quote. Only government -
ROBINSON: I told you, you‘re about it - you‘re reading out-of-context
quotes from 15 years ago, a large body of information that I wrote -
MADDOW: Do you no longer believe -
ROBINSON: And I‘m not interested in debating what was thought about 15 years ago. Why don‘t you get to the facts?
MADDOW: What you wrote 15 years ago and published. Here‘s the thing,
ROBINSON: Why don‘t you get to the facts? Why don‘t you get to the truth? Why don‘t you stop being so sarcastic and ask a reasonable question.
MADDOW: If you think this is sarcasm, you misunderstand the term. I can show you sarcasm. What I‘m asking you about is stuff that you have written, sir.
ROBINSON: No, madam, it‘s sarcasm. You know what you‘re doing. I know what you‘re doing.
MADDOW: Is this still your belief?
ROBINSON: Pete DeFazio voted for higher taxes. Pete DeFazio voted for more regulation of Oregonians. Pete DeFazio has cut off Oregonians from the use of their forests and their fisheries. Pete DeFazio voted for the medical care bill, but he promised his constituents he wouldn‘t.
MADDOW: And sir, you would like to replace him in office. I would love to ask you about your stated views.
ROBINSON: Pete DeFazio urged all Oregonians to buy American while he was shipping his own personal assets abroad. You don‘t want to talk about any of that. Those are the issues in this campaign.
MADDOW: I have interviewed Pete DeFazio in the past. Now, I‘m trying to interview you about your stated beliefs.
ROBINSON: Then find something you can talk about 15 years later.
MADDOW: Wait. Here‘s the thing.
I‘ve already interviewed Pete DeFazio.
ROBINSON: Why don‘t you talk about the political issues in this campaign?
MADDOW: I‘m trying to get to know you. You would like -
ROBINSON: No, it‘s not.
MADDOW: You would like to unseat Pete DeFazio in Congress.
ROBINSON: It‘s fun to argue with you on your own show, but you really ought to settle down and talk about at least one single substantive issue from this campaign like the press.
MADDOW: I‘m trying to get to know you as a candidate. I‘ve interviewed Mr. DeFazio already.
ROBINSON: No, you‘re not. No you‘re not. You‘re trying to smear me.
MADDOW: And so - no. I‘m asking you about things that you‘ve written that are in the public (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ROBINSON: Yes, you are, ma‘am.
MADDOW: Do you deny that this is stuff that you‘ve written? Any of the things that I‘ve quoted from you, do you no longer believe these things?
ROBINSON: This is 15 years ago.
MADDOW: Do you no longer believe things that you believed 15 years ago? Have you changed your mind?
ROBINSON: I don‘t know that I even have the documents present to check what you‘ve said.
MADDOW: Well, let me ask what you‘ve said and then you can tell me whether or not (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ROBINSON: You‘re misrepresenting that I wrote something 15 years ago and I don‘t have the documents in front of me. This is a smear campaign.
MADDOW: It‘s not a smear -
ROBINSON: Stop smearing me and talk about a single issue in this campaign. You‘re afraid to talk about the issues because your candidate is wrong on every one of the issues.
MADDOW: If it were possible to smear a person by quoting to him things he has published in his own newsletter that he edits, then I don‘t know how you define a smear campaign in normal human interaction.
ROBINSON: I don‘t even know I‘ve written.
MADDOW: I‘m quoting you about stuff that you said.
ROBINSON: I‘ve written thousands and thousands of pages. I wrote a lot of that stuff 15 years ago.
MADDOW: A lot of which have really crazy statements in them. A lot of which I‘d love to ask you about.
ROBINSON: And you want to talk about that instead of the issues in this campaign.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about hormesis.
ROBINSON: You‘re telling - and I‘ll tell you something. Right now, it‘s sticking to you.
MADDOW: Can I ask you about hormesis?
ROBINSON: Every one of your viewers knows exactly what you are, madam.
MADDOW: You are - hormesis -
ROBINSON: They know. They know that you have a political contest between two candidates. And instead of discussing the issues, you‘re going over the thousands of pages of stuff this guy has written.
MADDOW: To try to figure out who you are.
ROBINSON: And you‘re taking stuff from 15 years ago. And you‘re quoting it to him in a context where he can‘t even check the quotes.
MADDOW: Let‘s talk about hormesis.
ROBINSON: This is not honest journalism.
MADDOW: Well, let me ask you.
ROBINSON: That is what you do as entertainment. That is not journalism.
MADDOW: Let‘s talk about hormesis. So hormesis is your belief, that
ROBINSON: Hormesis is a complicated scientific (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
MADDOW: Well, help me understand it. Help me understand it.
ROBINSON: I don‘t think you‘re capable of understanding it.
MADDOW: That‘s patronizing and charming but I would love to get you
to expand on it. Hormesis is your idea that low-level radiation is good
for us, right? Now, I realize that you‘re also an advocate for expanded
nuclear weapons testing in the United States. Is that because you think it
would be beneficial -
ROBINSON: OK. Let‘s throw in a few more pejorative comments with the
questions so we could get the questions -
MADDOW: To up the background radiation levels in the United States
because that radiation would be good for us. When “The American Spectator”
wrote an article on you in 2001 -
ROBINSON: That‘s an outright lie. That is an outright lie.
MADDOW: I‘m asking you a question. Is that true.
ROBINSON: You can‘t even find an out-of-context quote to support that one.
MADDOW: Here - wait. Let me ask you a question.
ROBINSON: Would you like me to ask you on hormesis or on nuclear testing which has been settled a long time ago?
MADDOW: So hormesis -
ROBINSON: You wanted me to answer under hormesis?
MADDOW: Yes. Is hormesis, vaguely, for a layman, for stupid people like me who don‘t understand your complicated ideas - is it the idea that background radiation levels, at some levels, are helpful for human health? Is that the idea? The basic idea?
ROBINSON: We live in a sea - I‘ve got about half the sentence out before you started on the sarcasm again. Hormesis is the study of the effects of low-level radiation on human health.
MADDOW: Isn‘t that the basic idea that it‘s good for you?
ROBINSON: I can‘t even get out a sentence. Here we go again. You ask me to explain something and interrupt with more sarcasm. What am I going to do with you?
MADDOW: I‘m not being sarcastic. I am quite literally asking you a question.
ROBINSON: You are. You interrupted me in the second sentence. I don‘t see any reason - you know, I‘ve taught thousands of students at the university. But I‘ll tell you, I don‘t think I could teach you because you interrupt the first sentence the instructor gets out of his mouth.
MADDOW: Have you ever done a satellite interview before?
ROBINSON: Have I ever done what?
MADDOW: A satellite interview before? A TV satellite interview?
ROBINSON: I don‘t - I guess I actually think I have, yes. But not very often, because I don‘t often do these things. I‘m running for political office for the first time. And I‘m not a politician. I‘m a scientist, a very good one. I‘m sure you checked it out and found that to be true. But you‘re going to smear my reputation anyway.
MADDOW: One of the things that happens in satellite is there‘s about a 1 ½-second delay between me asking a question and you hearing it.
ROBINSON: Fine. But when I start answering - you know that I‘m in a middle of an answer, don‘t you?
MADDOW: So you can interpret that as sarcasm and interruption, but it‘s actually just the way the medium works. I‘m sorry that‘s been so awkward for you.
ROBINSON: No, no. Your interruption was not caused by the delay.
That‘s just the speed of light, madam. It‘s much faster than that.
MADDOW: I‘ve enjoyed this beautiful conversation, but I would love to ask - get an answer from you on one question before we go.
ROBINSON: You asked one of me. You want to listen to the answer?
MADDOW: If every time I try to clarify what I‘m asking YOU or what you‘re saying, you‘re going to call me sarcastic, but I don‘t think you understand what sarcasm means, then no. So let me try to get an answer to an earlier question.
ROBINSON: No. Well, I would call you sarcastic when you are.
Just ask a question and give me to answer it and we‘ll fight again.
MADDOW: Did you get the speed of light thing? Not happening here.
All right. Here‘s the AIDS question. You posited, in print, in your own
publications. There was no editor. You weren‘t taken out of context -
ROBINSON: Oh, here we go again.
MADDOW: That AIDS was a government conspiracy, that it wasn‘t real,
that the government was misclassifying -
ROBINSON: I absolutely deny that. I never, ever in my life made a statement like that. You are lying. I never made a statement like that and I know it. You‘re lying. The statement you just made is an outright lie, and everyone listening to you needs to know that.
MADDOW: Quoting from Mr. Robinson‘s newsletter, quote -
ROBINSON: No way. No way. You are lying.
MADDOW: Wait, wait, wait. Look, it‘s on the screen. Yay!
ROBINSON: I have never in my life made that statement in that manner.
Did not happen.
MADDOW: “Only government reclassification of more and more disease types as AIDS cases has kept the number of victims at politically necessary levels.” You wrote it. I‘m quoting it. Do you no longer believe it?
ROBINSON: No, you - madam, I‘m not going to discuss - what happened to hormesis? We were in that. Fifteen years ago, in a large discussion of many things, you go right ahead. I can‘t even check your quotes and I don‘t trust you, so I‘m not even going to answer your question.
MADDOW: They‘re your own quotes, but if you want me to send you your own newsletter back issues, I will. Yes.
ROBINSON: No. Madam, no, no.
MADDOW: Mr. Robinson -
ROBINSON: Why don‘t you read everything that was written about it, ma‘am?
MADDOW: Oh, my god. I read so much of your stuff I can‘t even tell you.
ROBINSON: I bet you have. I bet you have read all that stuff.
MADDOW: There‘s a reason I look glazed over today. It‘s because of
reading your conspiracy theories -
ROBINSON: Yes, it must have been terrible for you.
MADDOW: That radiation at low levels is good for us, that nuclear weapons testing should be upped, that AIDS is a government conspiracy, and that public education should be abolished.
ROBINSON: Oh, boy.
MADDOW: So I have enjoyed learning about you.
ROBINSON: You just keep telling yourself - you‘re just like DeFazio.
MADDOW: You haven‘t shed any light on yourself on this program. But I‘ve learned a lot about your temperament, at least, and your lack of understanding about the word “sarcasm,” also some interesting theories about the speed of light.
ROBINSON: And I‘ve learned a lot about yours. Stop lying. Tell the truth. Consider the issues.
MADDOW: Lying -
ROBINSON: You might be considered a political analyst.
MADDOW: A man who denies that his own words are his own and then accuses me of lying about them, Republican Congressional candidate Art Robinson, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I thoroughly enjoyed it. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: So yes, we have a problem getting Republicans to agree to come on this show. They were never eager to, but frankly, after - it was after the Rand Paul interview, it totally dried up. Can‘t get them at all.
We were so excited when Art Robinson, Republican Congressional candidate, professional global warming denial guy. We were so excited when he finally agreed to break the dry spell we‘ve been having and come on the show.
Hey, dry spell, nice to have you back, I‘m thinking. Damn it. All right. But I‘m sure you know, the show that begins right after mine is called “THE LAST WORD.” It‘s hosted by my friend, Lawrence O‘Donnell. It is a great show. It‘s getting great ratings. All of us here at MSNBC are very proud of it already.
But here‘s the thing. Lawrence‘s new show secret weapon is booking. His guest list has been spectacular. They have only been on the air eight nights and their guest list has already included the Vice President, Joe Biden, chairman of the Republican Party, Michael Steele, Levi Johnston of familia Palin, Meghan McCain, Michael Bloomberg, Charlie Crist. They have a great guest list.
But then, tonight, the day the giant investigative piece comes out in “The Nation” magazine on Lou Dobbs, “Lou Dobbs, American Hypocrite,” about Lou Dobbs making his career on railing against illegal immigrants, while he reportedly himself employed illegal immigrants, on the day that show - that piece comes out, Lawrence and his show have managed to book Lou Dobbs to give his response.
They have also booked the writer for “The Nation” who wrote the piece. So good. We are so psyched. We are not the kind of network that has talking points for the network where they tell us to promote what the other shows are doing. Nobody told me to do this.
I am doing it because I‘m so psyched to see this interview. Tonight, “THE LAST WORD.” Popcorn not included, but encouraged. It starts right now.
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