Guests: Mark McKinnon, Gov. Ed Rendell, Nola Foulston
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Happy Monday night. Thank you for joining us this hour.
We begin tonight with the biggest story in American politics right now, at which everyone seems to be swinging and missing.
It starts with a man whose campaign for office this year is so brazenly nuts that I believe he may be a performance art project about how brazenly nuts campaigns can be these days. He is the Republican Party‘s nominee for governor of the great state of New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL PALADINO ®, NY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We must stop pandering to the pornographers and the perverts who seek to target our children and destroy their lives. I didn‘t march in the gay parade this year—the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did. And that‘s not the example that we should be showing our children, and certainly not in our schools.
PALADINO: I just think my children and your children will be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family. And I don‘t want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn‘t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Who knew you could say pervert like that, when it was a noun.
The pervert. It almost makes it sound like an R&B band.
Anyway, that was, of course, Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate for governor of New York state, a man currently raising children with both his wife and with his mistress. Carl Paladino weighing in on what he sees as the valid and successful options for American family life.
It started with that very awkward, very strangely pronounced speech this weekend, then he went on all the morning TV shows today to double down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALADINO: Mr. Cuomo took his daughters to a gay pride parade. Is that normal? Would you do it? Would you take your children to a gay pride parade?
MATT LAUER, TODAY SHOW: I think that you can probably expose your children to a lot of different things—
LAUER: -- and help them decide and make their own decisions.
PALADINO: I don‘t think it‘s proper for them to go there and watch a couple of grown men grind against each other. I don‘t think that‘s proper. I think it‘s disgusting.
I don‘t know if you‘ve ever been to one, but they wear these little Speedos and they grind against each other and it‘s just a terrible thing.
It wasn‘t pretty. It was a bunch of very extreme-type people in bikini-type outfits grinding at each other and doing these gyrations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Says the man raising children with both his wife and his mistress.
As long as we‘re with talking gyrations and what disgusts Carl Paladino, recall that Carl Paladino was the one as recently as April of this year who distributed videos of humans having sex, not just with each other, but also with farm animals. Also, there was the super-racist stuff about black people being like monkeys and the president and first lady of the United States being a pimp and a prostitute.
Now, Carl Paladino wants us to know what it is that he thinks is disgusting.
The reaction to this story, essentially, has been—oh, that crazy Carl Paladino, there he goes again. Gee, this Carl guy sure is a wacky candidate.
Now, Carl Paladino is undoubtedly a wacky candidate, but this is not a crazy Carl Paladino story. This is a culture war story. This is a—how Republicans are running for office this year story.
Wouldn‘t that it were just crazy Carl—Christine O‘Donnell, Republican Senate candidate in the state of Delaware made her name as a national conservative activist by crusading publicly against gay people and gay rights. Her organization did press conferences in Washington, D.C., promoting the idea that homosexuality can be cured through the power of Jesus, through taking part in religious boot camps. She toured the nation promoting the idea that homosexuality can be cured by boot camps.
When President Clinton nominated an openly gay man to be his ambassador to Luxembourg, Christine O‘Donnell helped lead the charge on the right against him, by spreading made-up charges that he had ties to pedophiles.
Earlier this year, Christine O‘Donnell benefited from a whisper campaign that her primary opponent, Republican Congressman Mike Castle, was secretly gay. Here‘s how she responded to that rumor which was being peddled by people associated with her campaign.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: I think that that‘s a very tacky approach. I never said that Mike Castle was gay. I don‘t endorse putting out rumors that Mike Castle is gay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I definitely am not just going to keep saying “Mike Castle is gay.” Did somebody say something about Mike Castle being gay? Does anyone want to ask me about the whole Mike Castle is gay thing? Did you say Mike Castle is gay? Did you say that Mike Castle is gay? Is that what you said? Gay, gay, gay?
Christine O‘Donnell and Carl Paladino stand alongside Sharron Angle as well this year, the Republican nominee for Senate in Nevada. In seeking the endorsement of something called the Government is Not God-PAC, Ms. Angle assured the PAC that she is opposed to gay marriage, she is opposed to gay people being allowed to adopt children, and then the group asked this—quote, “Intel Corporation supports equal rights for gays and offers benefits to partners of homosexual employees. Would you refuse funds from this corporate PAC?”
As you can see there, Sharron Angle checked yes to that question.
See, it‘s not enough to be against gay rights, you must reject money from anyone who isn‘t against gay rights, which kind of makes me want to sign my name on every dollar bill I can.
Sharron Angle and Christine O‘Donnell have both benefited from the financial largess of Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Mr. DeMint‘s political operation has provided some of the muscle for their campaigns.
Senator DeMint stands alongside Christine O‘Donnell and Sharron Angle and Carl Paladino in defining this year‘s Republican Party stance on gay rights.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: If a person is a practicing homosexual, they should not be teaching in our schools.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Jim DeMint back in 2004. He brought that view up again and repeated it earlier this month during something called the Greater Freedom Rally in South Carolina.
In the great state of Montana, the state Republican Party has a party platform that seeks to make homosexuality illegal, you know, like in Iran. Under the crime section of the party platform, they state, quote, “We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation, to keep homosexual acts illegal. Do the crime, do the time.”
Again, this is not a wacky “do you believe that guy, Carl Paladino” problem. This is the Republican Party this year. The Republican candidate for governor in the state of Minnesota is a man named Tom Emmer. Tom Emmer was the subject of a nationwide boycott earlier this year after it was revealed that he donated money to something called the You Can Run But You Cannot Hide ministry.
Meet You Can Run But You Cannot Hide ministry.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Muslims are calling for the execution of homosexuals in America. They themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination.
If America won‘t enforce the laws, God will raise up a foreign enemy to do just that. That‘s what you‘re seeing today in America.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: You Can Run But You Cannot Hide ministry. After being challenged about giving financial support to those charming folks, Minnesota‘s Republican candidate for governor, Tom Emmer, explained that he gave the ministry money because he said, quote, “They‘re nice people.” which is a very special interpretation of Minnesota nice.
Last week, you may recall that we interviewed Art Robinson, a Republican congressional candidate from the great state of Oregon. Art Robinson has argued in the past that AIDS is not a real disease. AIDS is just what you get for being gay.
He has argued that the government created a fake AIDS crisis to explain deaths caused by, quote, “exposure to homosexual behavior.”
It‘s not just crazy Carl. It‘s not just a Carl Paladino problem.
One of the laziest of all the Beltway media narratives about the elections this year is that the conservative resurgence isn‘t about social issues. It‘s vaguely libertarian-ish. The culture war is over. That‘s what they say. But the culture warriors are not only real, they are waging that culture war right now.
Now, not everybody in the Republican Party is waging that war with them, but who is stopping them from doing it? And who‘s responsible for the casualties of that war that they‘re waging?
Joining us now is Republican strategist, Mark McKinnon, who has advised the campaigns of John McCain and George W. Bush. He is vice chairman of the public relations group, Public Strategies. He‘s also a contributor to “The Daily Beast,” where he recently wrote a column entitled “The GOP‘s Gay Fiasco.”
Mark McKinnon, I have missed you. Thanks for coming back on the show.
MARK MCKINNON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Hi. Thanks for having me back, Rachel.
MADDOW: So the Republican Party is going back to the days of Jesse Helms with some of these candidates this year. What happened?
MCKINNON: Well, Carl Paladino is such a throwback, he makes Archie Bunker look like Howard Dean.
And—but I do want to point out there are lots of Republicans being lead by people like Ted Olsen, who‘s a former solicitor general, who argued the Supreme Court case on the recount for President Bush is the lawyer for the case, the gay marriage case in California to repeal it and to make it the law of the land. So—and I was at a fundraiser last week where a lot of leading Republicans were there with him.
So, there are lots of Republicans out there who understand that this is a fundamental right and if we‘re going to defend the Constitution, we say we‘re the party of the Constitution, we have to stand up for gay rights. It‘s the right thing to do on its face, but also politically, it‘s in our best interests because the tide of history is sweeping forward.
Gay marriage will be the law of the land. “Don‘t ask, don‘t tell” will be repealed. And we can either get on a surfboard and go with the wave, or get drowned by it.
But my advice to the Republican Party is: do the right thing, get right on this issue, or we‘re going to be doomed to minority status forever.
MADDOW: This is—I‘m so glad you were able to come on the show and talk about this tonight, Mark, because I feel like there is this fascinating contradiction. People like you, like Steve Schmidt, like Cindy and Meghan McCain, like George Bush‘s daughters in some cases, like Ted Olsen, like Ken Mehlman, like—a lot of people—a lot of people who are powerful, either just as public figures or who have a lot of power to wield within the Republican Party are out as moderates on gay rights issues.
And I think that sort of manages the upside. It makes it OK for people to not be so anti-gay.
But what in Republican politics manages the downside? What are the negative consequences in the party for being super anti-gay, like a Jim DeMint or a Sharron Angle?
MCKINNON: Well, I think the negative consequences will be losing.
And I think that, you know, Republican candidates who may have won
primaries are likely to lose general elections for adopting these kind of -
these views which are prehistoric.
You know, I think they may cater to a very narrow slice of an ideological sector of the party primaries, but they don‘t appeal to the vast middle of America, many of whom are Republicans. It sends the wrong signal and it‘s problematic for the brand of the Republican Party.
And so, I think it‘s important for Republicans across the board stand up and voice their opposition to these kind of views and make clear it doesn‘t stand for the Republican Party, it‘s not the majority view of the party, it‘s a minority view. And it may be a short-term strategy to win primaries, but it‘s a bad long-term strategy for the party.
MADDOW: What would that look like in the nuts and bolts sense? I mean, should the RNC make a statement against candidates who have super anti-gay views or say very homophobic things? Should state parties do that? Should leading candidates do that?
I mean, Jim DeMint isn‘t up for re-election this year, but he‘s not losing anything. He‘s getting more and more powerful and he‘s got among the most anti-gay positions that I‘ve ever heard a public official voice in my lifetime.
MCKINNON: He does. Listen, I think we should have it in the Republican Party platform. I think it should be in the state platforms. I just think it is such a throwback to the past and it‘s such a denial of the obvious—of where we‘re headed and what the right thing to do is.
And, so—like as I said, I think it‘s the right thing to do politically. But I think it should be in our platform, broadly speaking. And I think that we should be penalizing candidates who adopt this sort of view.
But, Rachel, politics is a market, and the market‘s not going to respond until these people get penalized, and they get penalized by voters in the voting booth. And so, my point of view is: Republicans need to come out in primaries and make sure these people don‘t get elected to represent us, because, (a), they‘re either likely to lose, which would be a good thing, or the worst thing might be that they get elected and drag our party in the wrong direction.
MADDOW: Former George W. Bush adviser, Mark McKinnon, contributor to “The Daily Beast” and always a really welcome guest here on the show—
Mark, thanks as always for your time.
MCKINNON: Carry on regardless, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. Coming up next: we have a big announcement. We have a big announcement that is sort of about it shall of the culture wars being back, but mostly for us, it is about the next big thing that is about to happen on this show. Big announcement, next.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Important programming note for you: Two weeks from tonight, on Monday, October 25th, MSNBC will premiere a new documentary. It is called, “The Assassination of Dr. Tiller.” I am the narrator of the documentary. I was involved in its production and its editing. It has been a long time in the making and we here at MSNBC are very, very proud of it.
Abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller, was assassinated, murdered last year by a man named Scott Roeder. Scott Roeder was a longtime anti-abortion extremist.
This new MSNBC documentary explains how the murder happened and what we know of why it happened. A lot of new footage that has never been seen anywhere else and interviews with people who you will not be able to believe we got interviews with.
Tonight, there is news in this case. The district attorney who successfully prosecuted Scott Roeder for Dr. Tiller‘s murder is our guest in just a moment. But again, Monday night, October 25th, a special edition of this program, our new MSNBC documentary, “The Assassination of Dr. Tiller,” 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over the next six years, we will rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads—enough to circle the world six times. We will lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways—enough to stretch from coast to coast. And we will restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next generation air traffic control system that reduces delays for the American people.
This plan will be fully paid for. It will not add to our deficit over time. And we are going to work with Congress to see to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Work with Congress, ha-ha-ha.
Here‘s the thing about infrastructure. Oftentimes when you talk about it, it doesn‘t look like normal politics. For example, today in the Rose Garden, with the Democratic president, there was the transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, a Republican and a former congressman.
Also, two former transportation secretaries, Sam Skinner, there on the left behind the president, he served under George H.W. Bush. He‘s a Republican. Also, Norm Mineta who served President Clinton and President George W. Bush. He is a Democrat. I repeat, a Democrat who served in the cabinet of the George W. Bush administration.
Infrastructure is so bipartisan, it‘s not even bipartisan. It‘s not even nonpartisan. It‘s like apartisan. And it often looks like that. We have often had cross-party transportation secretaries, Democrats serving Republicans, Republicans serving Democrats.
It‘s because infrastructure, particularly transportation infrastructure, has been one issue that both sides have, in the big picture, sort of agreed on. Even as recently as the very partisan fight over the stimulus, many Republicans argued, we need more infrastructure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: We do need more money on infrastructure spending. We need more on the infrastructure. We need more on the infrastructure.
REP. JOHN MICA ®, FLORIDA: There‘s 7 percent of this on infrastructure out of $825 billion. We have an opportunity to double the amount of infrastructure money.
REP. DON MANZULLO ®, ILLINOIS: We had an $825 billion bill, about 90 billion worth of infrastructure. This was not a stimulus bill, just a tiny portion of it was.
REP. DAN LUNGREN ®, CALIFORNIA: We can disagree on other things, but Democrats and Republicans get together and say, if there‘s one thing we agree on with the spending package, it is for simple infrastructure.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: That was last year, Republicans arguing for infrastructure spending. Infrastructure—roads and bridges and air transportation, and the electrical grid and communications. This used to be the one issue on which you could not discern party, at least from a distance. You couldn‘t discern partisan differences.
Now, it is just another way to highlight how the parties are different. The president wants a $50 billion paid for, not deficit-funded infrastructure investment. He is looking for Republican votes, since so many Republicans say they are for that, and we are clearly in need of more economic stimulus.
So far, anyone? Anyone? Anyone at all? Any Republicans in Congress on board with this? Anyone?
Joining us now is Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell. He met with the president today about this new infrastructure proposal.
Governor, thanks very much for your time.
GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Appreciate it, Rachel.
MADDOW: Now, you are living the bipartisan dream of infrastructure. You have been working with Governor Schwarzenegger, the Republican governor in California, and Mayor Bloomberg from New York City, about trying to build bipartisan support for a way forward on infrastructure. It seems like it‘s possible when you guys do it out of the federal level, but at the federal level, it‘s just fallen apart.
What‘s the difference?
RENDELL: Well, I think this congressional election has caused it to fall apart. It wasn‘t too long ago, Rachel, that Senator Jim Inhofe, certainly one of the more conservative members of the Senate, and I authored—we co-authored a piece on the need to invest in infrastructure in “Politico.” I think the election has soured everything.
And I am hopeful, again, I‘m a cockeyed optimist, but I am hopeful that after the election, regardless of the results, that we can get together and do something significant because the need for infrastructure, the substantive need is great, but it‘s also the single best job producer we can have. It puts people to work at construction sites, back at steel factories, concrete factories, asphalt factories, and it‘s well-paying jobs that can‘t be outsourced.
So, I think that people get it, and Republicans get it, too. If we can get past this awful partisanship, maybe after the election, we‘ll do something for the country. Again, I‘m optimistic, but it could fall apart. But if it‘s paid for, I think we‘ll get some Republican support.
MADDOW: I am charmed by your optimism, I have to say. But I‘m imaging the lame-duck Congress coming back after the election, heading into much smaller Democratic majorities or maybe even Republican majorities, and this being associated with stimulus, this being associated with the Obama administration. If the president is for it, I think Republicans are going to be against it. The 2012 election sort of starts the day after 2010. I want to be as optimistic as you are, but I don‘t hear it.
RENDELL: But your piece is—but your piece was very good, because we can go back to them and say, hey, you guys argued for more infrastructure spending in the stimulus, and, in fact, it‘s true. Barbara Boxer and again, Jim Inhofe, they tried to triple the amount of infrastructure spending in the stimulus and got beaten back. So, I mean, we‘ve got their own words.
John Micah, the ranking member of transportation in the House, he wants a significant bill. He and Jim Oberstar agree about the scope and dimension of the six-year bill that we‘ve got to reauthorize.
I think there‘s hope here. If there‘s one area where we maybe can get off on a right foot after the election, it‘s infrastructure because of its history, because of its tradition, and because—look, the unemployment news, the economic news is stark. After the election, I believe—and again, I know this sounds like I‘m a naive fool—but I believe that we‘ve got to act in the best interest of the country.
And this works. This absolutely works. We can show it, state by state. We can show the significant number of jobs that were produced, again, on the construction site, back in the factories. It‘s great for American manufacturing and it fulfills a substantive need.
Do you want to hear a shocking statistic, Rachel? The Army Corps of Engineers needed to spend a little under $7 million to repair the levees in New Orleans before Katrina. We didn‘t get the money and now we‘ve spent $16 billion in New Orleans, the federal government.
MADDOW: John Micah, who you described correctly as the ranking member on the transportation subcommittee there was one of the Republicans who came out today after the president‘s event and pooh-poohed it, immediately said, no, this is never going to happen. I wonder if because there was some infrastructure spending in the stimulus, we had about—as far as I know, about $50 billion in transportation infrastructure problems—
RENDELL: (INAUDIBLE) infrastructure.
MADDOW: What‘s that?
RENDELL: More than just transportation.
RENDELL: There was money in water and waste water, money for broadband, money for the electrical grid—significant infrastructure, above and beyond transportation.
MADDOW: Yes. But even if you just look at the transportation infrastructure, about $50 billion credited with about 14,000 projects. A lot of stuff came in under budget. Obviously, the construction sector is one of the sectors that‘s hit the worst on unemployment. There‘s this—there‘s a very positive story to tell about what happened with infrastructure spending in the stimulus.
But what were the political lessons learned about how to make it more sustainable in Washington in order to come back and do more of it?
RENDELL: Well, interesting. It‘s got to be done more quickly. And the president and the governors and mayors discussed that today. And I pointed out to the president that we rebuilt the bridge in Minnesota, a brand-new bridge in less than a year.
For me to do a current bridge in Pennsylvania, brand new, with EISS and the environmental requirements would take about three years. Now, we‘ve got to get those timelines concurrent instead of consecutive. We‘ve got to speed up the bid process. There‘s so much we can do when the will is there.
And I‘m proud that Pennsylvania was—Congressman Oberstar ranks the states in how quickly they obligated and spent the money. We were number one in the nation.
But that‘s because I got my contractors together at the beginning of the stimulus and said, look, this is going to put people back to work, it‘s going to put money in your pockets, but we‘ve got to move, we‘ve got to roll on this. You‘ve got to be ready to go. I‘m shortening the bid time on every single contract.
There‘s a way to get it done if there‘s a will to get it done. And look, everyone agrees—Congressman Micah wants the broad six-year bill reenacted. We need to get that done, no question about that. But in the short-term, we need to get this bill passed to put Americans back to work and back to work quickly. If we don‘t—if we wait until February or March, we miss next year‘s construction cycle.
And construction, particularly in the northern half of the country, you can only construct from late March to late November. If we wait until next year, we miss that crucial construction cycle. The last two construction cycles, the economy‘s been fueled by stimulus spending. If we don‘t have it next year, if we don‘t have this extra spending, we will get really hurt.
There‘s 20 percent unemployment in the construction industry right now. It‘s a critical need for the country and Lord knows we‘ve got to do something bipartisan.
MADDOW: Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, both optimistic and somehow responsible for the Phillies wrapping it up last night so your schedule was clear to talk to us—good luck to you, sir. Thanks a lot.
RENDELL: Absolutely. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Still ahead—still ahead: in a year of electoral inexplicability, we have the Ohio candidate for Congress in a Nazi uniform. It‘s not a metaphor, it‘s not an analogy, it‘s not even a hyperbole. Oh, how I wish it was. That‘s ahead.
Plus, “The Interview,” plus what today‘s Nobel Prize announcement made very, very awkward in the United States Senate.
That is all to come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”: Tiller, the baby killer out in Kansas, acquitted - acquitted today of murdering babies.
I wanted George Tiller, Tiller the baby killer going, “Yay, can make more money killing babies now.”
She doesn‘t seem to be real upset about this guy operating a death mill. Tiller, the baby killer. As “The Factor” has been reporting, this man will terminate fetuses at any time for $5,000.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After years of being vilified on the right, nationally, and stalked and harassed and bombed and shot and attacked where he lived and practiced medicine, on May 31st of last year, abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, was finally murdered by an anti-abortion extremist.
The killer‘s name was Scott Roeder. Mr. Roeder had been one of the legion of anti-abortion protesters outside of Dr. Tiller‘s clinic in Wichita. When he was pulled over and arrested after the shooting, he had the phone number of a senior staffer at the anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue, in his car.
He had visited in prison dozens of times another anti-abortion extremist named Shelley Shannon, a woman who, in 1993, had shot Dr. Tiller in both arms. Scott Roeder was convicted in January of this year. And in April, he was sentenced to life in prison.
There was never really any question that he committed the crime. But late on Friday night, there was a shock of a new development in this story. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW staff E-mail tree lit up in the middle of our show on Friday night as we learned, behind the scenes, about news coming down from Kansas.
News coming down from Kansas that a federal grand jury was investigating whether, in fact, Scott Roeder acted alone or whether this assassination was not the action of just one kook, but rather the manifestation of a broader conspiracy.
In a year when radical anti-abortion policy positions are held by more candidates for high office than any other election we know of in U.S. history, the prospect of a conspiracy case in the latest murder of an abortion provider has the potential to put abortion rights and anti-abortion extremism right back into the center of American politics. In just a moment, we‘ll be joined by the district attorney who prosecuted Scott Roeder for the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE WARREN WILBERT, SEDGWICK COUNTY COURTHOUSE: Your total term of incarceration will be life with parole eligibility in 50 years plus 24 months. We have the form committing Mr. Roeder to the Secretary of Corrections. With nothing further, we are adjourned.
SCOTT ROEDER, CONVICTED FOR MURDER OF GEORGE TILLER: Nola Foulston, you have the blood of babies on your hands. Blood of babies on your hands, Nola Foulston.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Scott Roeder, the man convicted earlier this year of killing Dr. George Tiller in Kansas, shouting as he was let out of the courtroom at the woman who successfully prosecuted him for that murder.
Joining us tonight for the interview is Sedgwick County, Kansas District Attorney Nola Foulston. Ms. Foulston, thank you so much for being here tonight. I really appreciate your time.
NOLA FOULSTON, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SEDGWICK COUNTY, KANSAS: Oh, you‘re entirely welcome. Thank you for inviting me.
MADDOW: Was the Scott Roeder trial as rough as it looked in that clip that we just played? I‘ve seen a lot of footage of this trial and I wasn‘t there, but just watching the footage, it seems upsetting.
FOULSTON: Well, it certainly was. It was very traumatic, of course, for the family, the Tiller family, sat through every single day of that courtroom nightmare. This was an assassination. This took the gut right out of our community.
And regardless of the number of individuals who were protesting against abortions, when our community came to the bottom line, they said, this kind of violence isn‘t going to be tolerated.
It was a difficult case. It was made more difficult, of course, by others who attended. But all in all, we finished this with a verdict from a jury that was taken from this community. It‘s a good deal.
MADDOW: In terms of the others who attended - we‘ve talked a lot about on this show about connections that Scott Roeder had and still has to a broader, extreme anti-abortion movement. Now, of course, new focus on that with the word of this federal grand jury being convened.
How apparent were those connections during the trial? Did he have people there at the trial in the courtroom, essentially taking his side?
FOULSTON: Oh, you know, throughout the trial, there were groups of individuals that came in, individuals in our own community that had been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted and spent time in prison for bombing clinics.
Randall Terry came in and his entourage. A number of other individuals sat through in a section watching the trial for the entire presentation of evidence.
Even before this trial, there were letters, information, a lot of E-mails to my office, and, of course, the perennial favorite assassinator who failed, Rachelle Shannon, even got in the mix here and was very interested in writing me letters about what should happen in this case.
MADDOW: Were you threatened?
FOULSTON: Seems she‘ll never go away.
MADDOW: Were you threatened by people involved in this?
FOULSTON: No. No, not at all. No, not at all.
MADDOW: OK. The Justice Department announced that it was investigating Dr. Tiller‘s murder in June of last year. Presumably, they have been working on the case all of this time.
What was your initial reaction when you found out that the investigation had come this far, that a grand jury had been convened and people associated with Roeder were being subpoenaed?
FOULSTON: Well, it wasn‘t - really, it isn‘t a surprise. But from the very beginning of this case, from day one, the FBI was involved. The anti-terrorism and civil rights unit of the Department of Justice was also involved. An attorney from that division came and sat through most of the trial, and those are the individuals who, I believe, that are involved in the grand jury up in Kansas City.
I was not told when this was going to happen, but it was not a surprise that it did, because that was one of the things that they were looking at. There are so many intricacies, but in this case, we didn‘t leave stones unturned.
And we prosecuted Scott Roeder for his individual acts. So they are taking a look to see if there‘s anything more tangential that would have been of a criminal nature, including other people that he associated with.
MADDOW: Because of the - because there have been a lot of crimes of violence and crimes of property damage committed by people who have an - who share an ideological commitment to the extreme wing of the anti-abortion movement, this is a form of criminal behavior that has been - “federalized” is the wrong word, but about which there was federal attention in ways there wouldn‘t be if the crimes were not related to anti-abortion ideology.
As somebody working as a district attorney in Sedgwick County, Kansas, do you feel like you were offered federal resources or that you had the support of the federal government that reflected a federal concern with this essentially as a form of domestic terrorism, or at least as a different type of crime?
FOULSTON: Well, we were capable of handling the case with our own resources. I did call several of the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, who were involved in the collection of evidence. They made appearances in our court hearing.
But by and large, the work that was done here was the fantastic detective work from the Wichita Police Department and our local Kansas law enforcement. They were ancillary to this investigation - the feds were. But they were helpful whenever we needed them. They would be there whatever assistance we needed.
MADDOW: Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston, who I feel like I got to know from watching trial footage from that amazing prosecution of Scott Roeder, thank you for your public service and thank you for joining us tonight.
FOULSTON: And thank you very much for your work on this as well.
MADDOW: Thank you. Again, two weeks from tonight, Monday, October 25th, will be a special edition of this program. It is the premiere of the new MSNBC documentary, “The Assassination of Dr. Tiller.”
Coming up right after the show, on “THE LAST WORD,” Lawrence O‘Donnell welcomes as his guest, Congressman Ron Paul. You know that will be a good discussion.
Next on this show, what kind of qualifications does a candidate need to get confirmed by the Senate for a job at the Federal Reserve? Would a Nobel Prize in economics help at all? Please stay with us.
MADDOW: The express train to incredulity departs in just a few minutes. We‘ll be making stops at the Republican congressional candidate in the Nazi uniform. And then, we‘ll be making all local stops through the white supremacist candidate neighborhoods. We will not be stopping at witchcraft, however. This is an express train. All aboard.
MADDOW: The Barack Obama administration is lousy with Nobel Prize winners. It‘s pretty embarrassing. The president of the United States himself, Barack Obama, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year.
Our nation‘s energy secretary, Steven Chu, also a Nobel Prize winner. He has a Nobel Prize in physics. Today, the Nobel Prize in Economics was given to Peter Diamond. Dr. Diamond was Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke‘s professor in college. He won the Nobel for pioneering work on how unemployment persists even when jobs are available.
Peter Diamond is one of President Obama‘s nominees for the Federal Reserve board of governors. But he is not on the Federal Reserve board of governors even though he was nominated way back in April and even though there are a bunch of vacancies on that board and even though it‘s kind of an important board.
Peter Diamond has had his nomination held up in the Senate by Republicans. It‘s not just part of their general “we don‘t want to approve anybody” resistance to President Obama‘s nominees in a sort of wholesale sense. No, they have a specific objection to Peter Diamond.
They have a specific objection to Peter Diamond and the objection is that Peter Diamond is not qualified to work at the Fed. That‘s how Richard Shelby, Republican senator from Alabama, explained his objections when he said he would vote “no” on Professor Diamond‘s nomination to the Fed back in July.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL): I do not believe he‘s ready to be a member of the Federal Reserve board. I do not believe that the current environment of uncertainty would benefit from monetary policy decisions made by board members who are learning on the job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: See, take it from Richard Shelby. Peter Diamond just isn‘t ready. Peter Diamond is just a kid. He‘s just a 70-year-old MIT economics professor who was the president of the American Economic Association and who quite literally schooled the current head of the Federal Reserve.
He was his teacher and he‘s now won the Nobel Prize in economics. Yes, what does that guy know? Good thing Richard Shelby is the gatekeeper in the Senate keeping yahoos like that out of our government.
MADDOW: For some politics stories this year, for some candidates in this year‘s elections, it is safe and, I would say, fair to say that we are now beyond the point at which political analysis is necessary or helpful or, in some cases, even possible.
This weekend, we learned, thanks to Josh Green at “The Atlantic,” that there‘s a Republican running for Congress, the Republican nominee running for Congress in Ohio‘s 9th District, a guy not just trying, not just some long shot candidate, but the guy who won the nomination named Rich Iott, and he has a hobby. His hobby was dressing up as a Nazi.
I don‘t know if that sounds like a euphemism or an analogy or me accusing him doing something Nazi-like. But honestly, between you and me and the whole world, I would never do that to anyone not wearing a Nazi uniform.
There‘s no such thing as “like a Nazi.” There‘s only Nazi and everything else. So what does Republican nominee for Congress Rich Iott‘s explanation for this un-analogize-able thing? Well, Mr. Iott went on TV today to defend dressing up like a Nazi for its educational value.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICH IOTT ®, REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR CONGRESS, 9TH DISTRICT OF OHIO:
Participating in re-enactment, historical re-enactment, living history, is a much better way to get a message across. It creates, you know, a lot more interest on the part of those people involved and also the people who are learning. And it‘s a great outreach to the public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It‘s shocking more people don‘t wear Nazi uniforms more when they want to outreach to the public. Mr. Iott isn‘t the only one defending Mr. Iott. Up on his campaign Web site today, he posted a letter from a pal of his, a “some of my best friends are Jewish” character reference from a man named Richard Gabai from Los Angeles.
Richard Gabai from Los Angeles is famous for making, among others, films like “Revenge of the Party Nerds,” “Virgin High” and “Revenge of the Party Nerds 2: The Heavy Petting Detective,” which reminds me to bring up Carl Paladino, the Republican running for governor in New York who was in the news for very anti-gay remarks over the weekend.
But when we first learned of, remember - when it came to light that he was known for sending out hardcore porn and super-racist videos to his friend. You‘ll recall the video of monkeys dancing, titled “Proof the Irish Discovered Africa.”
And the one of African dancers labeled, “Obama inauguration rehearsal” and the picture of the Obamas poorly Photoshopped to look like a pimp and a prostitute. Get it, because they are black?
Yes. You know, the guy running for Congress who dresses up as a Nazi for fun - it‘s hard to cover that as a story, not only because when you say Nazi, people think you‘re comparing somebody to a Nazi as to opposed to simply describing the outfit that they are wearing.
I mean, in any other year, this would be a huge story. But this year, it‘s like, “Oh, ho-hum. It‘s Monday.” This year, it‘s like, “Oh, Carl Paladino won the Republican nomination” after the racist video stuff came out.
This year, you can just add the Nazi dress-up guy to the list. It‘s a long list. Remember, Jim Russell, the Republican running for Congress in New York‘s 18th District, who you could accurately describe as the anti-miscegenation candidate?
Mr. Russell‘s views on race mixing are detailed in his 2001 essay titled, “The Western Contribution to World History,” published in a white supremacist journal called “The Occidental Quarterly.”
In that essay, he denounces, and I quote, the “culpability of media moguls who deliberately popularize miscegenation in films directed for adolescents and preadolescents. In the midst of this onslaught against our youth, parents need to be reminded that they have a natural obligation as essential as providing food and shelter to instill in their children an acceptance of appropriate ethnic boundaries for socialization and for marriage.”
Jim Russell, Republican candidate for Congress. Jim Russell is not just the anti-miscegenation guy. He‘s also - he‘s got a lot of pride, could we say, a white-specific pride.
Here he is in 2003 talking about immigration on Phil Donahue‘s show which was here on MSNBC at the time. This was first brought to our attention by the “Politics on the Hudson” blog.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM RUSSELL ®, REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR CONGRESS, 18TH DISTRICT OF NEW
YORK: First of all, it‘s not at all inevitable that whites will become a minority in their own country. And I would like to ask Gerard Taylor(ph) if he thinks that as more and more white Americans realize that they are becoming outnumbered whether there will be a rise in white activism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: White activism. Jim Russell, Republican nominee for Congress in New York‘s 18th District, very concerned about white people becoming the minority, wondering about how to encourage white activism.
Similarly, you have Republican Art Robinson, our guest last week, who is also running for Congress. Personally, as part of his home-schooling curriculum, he was keeping in print a spectacularly racist 19th century British writer named G.A. Henty.
Art Robinson recommends you teach your kids based on the historic novels of Mr. Henty. From a chapter entitled, “The Negro Character,” quote, “They are just like children. They are always either laughing or quarreling. They are good-natured and passionate, indolent but will work hard for a time, clever up to a certain point, densely stupid beyond.”
“The intelligence of an average Negro is about equal to that of a European child of 10 years old. They are fluent talkers, but their ideas are borrowed. They are absolutely without originality, absolutely without inventive power.”
“Living among white men, their imitative faculties enable them to attain considerable amount of civilization. Left alone to their own devices, they retrograde into a state little above their native savagery.”
“The Negro Character” - that is what Art Robinson has been keeping in print for the home-schoolers for years, for you to teach your kids.
As far as Senate races go, you‘ve got Republican Sharron Angle running against Harry Reid in Nevada on the “scare white people” platform. Political advertisement clinic episode 74, you may recall that this is one of the most famous race-baiting advertisements in modern political history.
It was put out by Sen. Jesse helms, the conservative icon in his race in 1990 against an African-American Democrat named Harvey Gant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: You needed that job and you were the best qualified, but they had to give it to a minority because of the racial quota. Is that really fair?
Harvey Gant says it is. Gant supports Ted Kennedy‘s racial quota law that makes the color of your skin more important than your qualifications. You‘ll vote on this issue next Tuesday.
For racial quotas, Harvey Gant. Against racial quotas, Jesse Helms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Blunt, right? Here is what that ad looks like in 2010. It is arguably slightly less-blunt, but it is essentially exactly the same ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE ®, REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL NOMINEE, NEVADA: I‘m Sharron Angle and I approve this message.
ANNOUNCER: Harry Reid voted to give special tax breaks to illegal aliens. And Harry Reid voted to give social security benefits to illegals, even for the time they were here illegally.
And now, Harry Reid is fighting for a program that would give preferred college tuition rates to none other than illegal aliens using your money to pay for it, leading to a simple question. What does Harry Reid have against you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The latest campaign ad from Sharron Angle, Republican Senate candidate in Nevada - look who is coming after the white college student, Nevada. Who will protect white kids from the terrible menacing frowning brown people?
Sharon Angle will protect the white people from the brown people, or maybe her husband will or something. For decades, the Republican Party‘s southern strategy of overtly appealing to the racial grievances of white people, of amplifying all perceived or imagined threats to white people from nonwhite people was accepted as a net political plus.
Sure, it meant no nonwhite person would vote for Republicans. But if they could amp up that fear and racial animus of white people enough, they would make up for the whole blatant bigotry thing by maxing out white vote.
The political potency of white people feeling afraid is what Jesse Helms counted on in 1990. It worked 20 years ago in the Deep South. Sharron Angle is trying to tap into that same well right this year in the American southwest. How is that Republican Latino voter outreach thing going?
This has been a heck of a year for GOP candidates. The stuff about them barely makes the news anymore. They say that when you endure something, it stops being an irritant. It stops being strange. It becomes the new normal. I don‘t want this to become the new normal.
That does it for us tonight. Now, it‘s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell. Good evening, Lawrence.
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