Guests: Bob Herbert, Tammy Baldwin, Buddy Roemer
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, "THE LAST WORD" HOST: There you go.
You can have "THE LAST WORD" online, on our blog,
thelastword.MSNBC.com. You can follow my tweets @Lawrence.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is up next.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And it`s been another 20 seconds since then and
still no announcement.
Nice to see you, Lawrence. Thank you.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next
In the decade since 9/11, if you were looking for the single point at
which America deviated the most from the way we have always been before, if
you were looking for the one point at which Washington took the most
radical departure from American history and American tradition and American
political values, if you were looking for the one point where U.S. policy
completely divorced itself from our national interest after 9/11, I would
argue that that point happened in May 2003, May 2003. And it`s not what
When George W. Bush had been inaugurated in January 2001, the nation
had a budget surplus. Not only did not have a deficit. We had a surplus
of more than $100 billion.
However torn up everybody was about Bush v. Gore and that big fight,
the Clinton presidency had left the country in an enviable fiscal position.
We were on track to have no debt at all. Not only no deficit, but no debt
at all within 10 years.
In that context, the brand new president, George W. Bush,
administration passed a ginormous new tax cut. The Bush tax cuts of 2001
were $1.3 trillion worth of tax cuts that essentially undid that whole
budget surplus thing rather fast.
But whatever you think of the fiscal wisdom of those Bush tax cuts in
`01, morally and I think politically and historically, what was
retrospectively most important about the `01 tax cuts is that they happened
before 9/11. George W. Bush signed the `01 tax cuts into law in June 2001.
When 9/11 happened three months later, of course, America then went to
war, we went to war on a global scale and on a footing that even from a
very start looked to be rather permanent. Never before in American history
would the country try to wage a hot war and cut taxes at the same time.
There`s a pretty good case to be made I think that the sober thing to
do at that point in 2001, the fiscally responsible thing to do would have
been to rescind those brand new Bush tax cuts, to say -- you know what
America, we need to change course. Something very unexpected has happened.
We are going to rescind those tax cuts, because we need that money to pay
for the wars. Let`s all sacrifice a little bit.
If George W. Bush had said that at the time, nobody would have
blinked. But, of course, he didn`t. We kept the tax cuts and we waged the
war at the same time.
So, 9/11 happened, we kept the Bush tax cuts, we went to war in
Afghanistan, and we kept the Bush tax cuts. We decided then to stay in
Afghanistan even after the fall of the Taliban, we kept the Bush tax cuts.
And then in March 2003, after already being engaged in one war, we
decided to start another war simultaneously in Iraq, and not only did we
keep those Bush tax cuts still then, but then just two months after
starting our second war, two months after invading Iraq, came that single
moment in which we divorced ourselves from our history and from our
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Bush will sign a more than $300 billion
tax cut today. He says it will help boost the economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Another round of tax cuts, a second round.
This should have been a wait, wait, flashing red lights, bells and
whistles, what the heck are we doing sort of moment for the country -- a
second round of tax cuts. Not only fiscally astonishing, but also rather
morally astonishing. What kind of country starts a war and cuts taxes by
which we would pay for that war at the same time? What kind of country
responds to starting a second war by passing a second round of tax cuts?
If that turned up on an economic textbook about some hypothetical
country, you know, country A or something, you would think that it was a
typo about country A. But that is, in fact, what we did.
If you look at the factors driving our debt right now, yes, it is the
war themselves. Yes, it is the impact of the recession caused by the
fiscal crisis, financial crisis, excuse me, of 2008. And, yes, it`s some
of the recovery and rescue measures put in place to try to stop a Great
Depression after the financial collapse in 2008.
But the big kahuna, the big thing, look at this making up the debt
problem, the huge disaster here, is those Bush tax cuts. That`s the big
deal in the debt and the deficit -- those morally and fiscally catastrophic
Bush tax cuts.
One of their main architects, particularly the 2003 cuts, was this
gentleman here. President Bush`s chief economic advisor at the time, Glenn
Hubbard. Glenn Hubbard is known today as the man who brought us the 2003,
ignore the two wars, tax cuts.
After leaving the Bush White House in 2003, Glenn Hubbard then moved
back into the private sector. At the time, Wall Street was starting a game
of gambling with risk in the way they had never done before. They were
lumping mortgages together, then selling them to each other and making
really big profits for themselves along the way.
The risk of whether any one person would pay back a loan like a
mortgage was totally divorced from the buying and selling of these things
as Wall Street casino chips -- risk itself was monetized and marked up and
sold and resold in an increasingly complex but increasingly insane anti-
common sense game that drove the housing bubble, of course, and that made
Wall Street very rich.
Who was one of the great champions of that game? Well, hello there.
It`s Glenn Hubbard. Fresh from his time at the White House, Mr. Hubbard
teamed up with chief economists naturally at Goldman Sachs in 2004 to write
about how Wall Street`s new gain was enhancing the, quote, "stability" of
the U.S. banking system.
As for the impending threat of economic calamity, according to Mr.
Hubbard, recessions are less frequent now and milder when they occur. So,
if you`re wondering whatever happened to the guy who came up with the post-
Iraq war fiscal disaster Bush tax cuts plan and who said Wall Street risk
is fun casino action before the financial collapse is actually enhancing
the stability of the financial system, if you`re wondering whatever
happened to a guy like that, wonder no longer, he has a new gig as the
chief architect of Mitt Romney`s new economic team.
Mr. Romney`s new economic plan unveiled today. It calls, oddly
enough, for more tax cuts. It features a picture of Mr. Hubbard and a long
foreword written by Mr. Hubbard. He is now running Mitt Romney`s economic
team. I don`t think the plan, yet, is for starting another Iraq war, but
hey, keep the tax cuts coming.
The reason Mitt Romney came out with his Glenn Hubbard foreworded jobs
plan today is the same reason all of the other Republican presidential
candidates are coming out with their jobs plans too. It`s essentially as a
pre-sponse to President Obama`s big speech on jobs and the economy slated
for the day after tomorrow.
Like Mitt Romney, candidate Herman Cain also released his jobs plan.
He wants corporate tax rates reduced to 9 percent. Not reduced by 9
percent, but reduced to 9 percent.
Newt Gingrich will deliver his jobs plan tonight, I believe. That
calls for -- surprise -- more tax cuts.
Jon Huntsman released his plan last week, but he hyped it again. In a
"Wall Street Journal" today, Mr. Huntsman lamenting the affect of high
unemployment on Americans, quote, "pride that comes with self sufficiency"
-- which is both true and a little hard to take from the man who is the
heir to the McDonald`s Big Mac Styrofoam container invention. His dad
invented that. That`s where the money comes from.
United States Chamber of Commerce is not technically running for
president this year. Sometimes, it`s a little hard to tell if corporations
are people -- how far away are we from the Chamber of Commerce running for
president? But they did just release their own jobs plan, like all the
other candidates this week. Chamber`s tax plan, of course -- jobs plan, of
course, calling for more tax cuts, naturally. Also, more oil drilling,
But also, the Chamber of Commerce, in their plan this week, called for
increased spending on infrastructure. Hmm.
For all the gridlock on the issue of the economy, could that actually
be a way forward? Last week, when Barack Obama talked up the idea of
infrastructure at the White House, he spoke alongside both a representative
of the Chamber of Commerce and the head of the AFL-CIO.
The president gave his Labor Day speech in Detroit yesterday and the
part that he said was a preview of what he`s going to offer on Thursday, he
shouted out infrastructure specifically, and listen to how he did it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On Thursday, we`re
going to lay out a new way forward on jobs to grow the economy and put more
Americans back to work right now. I don`t want to give everything away
right here, because I want you all to tune in on Thursday --
OBAMA: But I`ll give you just a little bit.
OBAMA: We`ve got roads and bridges across this country that need
rebuilding. We`ve got private companies with the equipment and the
manpower to do the building. We`ve got more than 1 million unemployed
construction workers ready to get dirty right now.
There is work to be done, and there are workers ready to do it. Labor
is on board. Business is on board. We just need Congress to get on board.
Let`s put America back to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Labor is on board. Business is on board. He could have also
said that the American public is on board.
A pair of new polls out today show that the American people are very
much in favor of infrastructure spending right now for job`s sake. When
asked in a poll commissioned by "Politico" and George Washington University
if they would support, quote, "a large scale federally subsidized nation-
wide construction program," which is not the friendliest way to put it
frankly, Americans responded that they like the idea by a 30-point margin,
actually. Fifty-one percent in favor, 21 percent opposed.
In the new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, basically the same
thing. When asked how they feel about new spending on a new road
construction bill, 47 percent of Americans said that would be a good idea,
just 27 percent said it was a bad idea. That`s a 21-point margin in the
So, for all that`s not working and self-defeating and craven in
Washington right now, could we actually get some real jobs help by
investing in infrastructure?
The president is on board. Democrats, obviously, are on board. Labor
is on board. Business is on board. The American people are on board.
Republicans? I`m pretty sure they are not on board, but I have to
tell you, it is sort of hard to tell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Twenty years ago, if you
want to make a phone call at the airport, you took out a quarter and you
went to the pay phone and you put it in the pay phone. Today, you got
these things, all right? You got a smartphone.
President Obama`s strategy is a pay phone strategy and we`re in a
smartphone world. And so, we`re going to have to change.
What he`s doing is taking quarters and stuffing them in the pay phone
and thinking -- can`t figure out why it`s not working. It`s not connected
anymore, Mr. President. Your pay phone strategy does not work in a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, the pay phone is still there. It`s a pay phone museum?
It`s a pay phone that is standing but is not hooked -- he`s putting the
quarters in the -- he`s against something, I can tell here, and I think
it`s about phones, but I don`t know.
If you are into infrastructure and you think that spending some money
on infrastructure might be a good way to try to get some jobs to get us out
of the economic problem that we are having here, there`s sort of a good
news/bad news situation here. The bad news is that apparently the
Republicans are against, I think, working on infrastructure to get us some
jobs. But the good news is that totally inexplicable arcane pay phone
metaphors are so far the best way they got to explain their position. So,
Joining us now is former "New York Times" columnist Bob Herbert,
distinguished senior fellow now at Demos and a contributor to
I tried to call you earlier, but I picked up the phone and no matter
how much I was putting in the --
BOB HERBERT, DEMOS: It wasn`t connected.
MADDOW: It was there still but not on the -- I love the idea that 20
years ago, what Mitt Romney was doing was standing in airport`s lobby
putting quarters in the pay phone.
HERBERT: Exactly. Yes, if you believe that one -- we`re in a weird
place right now.
MADDOW: Do you think in this weird place we`re in right now, there is
little ray of sunshine that something could pass?
HERBERT: No, no.
MADDOW: All right. Very good.
HERBERT: I think nothing is going to happen. We`re watching
political theater. I don`t think the president is going to propose
anything big and bold, which is what we need on Thursday night, and even if
he did, the Republicans would not allow it to pass.
I think that what we`re watching is the early stages of the
presidential campaign. So, the president is trying to set the Republicans
up as the do nothing Congress, take his fight to the people and hope that,
you know, it results in a negative reaction to the Republicans.
The problem is that this is what he should have done, I think, in the
first year, year and a half, of his presidency when the Republicans were
being obstructionists even then, and he should have made the case for a big
infrastructure proposal, and then he should have taken that case to the
American people, not for political reasons but in hopes of actually getting
MADDOW: So, follow up the big stimulus proposal from his first year,
from very early in his first year, with a separate infrastructure plan.
HERBERT: Absolutely. Yes.
MADDOW: In terms of --
HERBERT: And get rid of those tax cuts. This tax cut-mania, you`re
talking correctly about the Republicans, you know, and Hubbard and the tax
cuts and all that other kind of stuff. But apparently a big portion of the
president`s proposal Thursday night is going to be about tax cuts, too.
It`s exactly what we don`t need.
MADDOW: Go ahead.
HERBERT: How can you talk about tax cuts on the one hand again and
again and again while ranting on the other hand about the deficits that are
allegedly killing the country, according to the politicians? It makes no
sense at all.
MADDOW: In terms of what we are hearing about what the president is
going to say, it was reported tonight by "The Associated Press" that the
president is going to propose a package that is a total of about $300
billion, less than $50 billion of that is spending on infrastructure, more
than half of it is an extension on unemployment and an extension of the
payroll tax cut.
MADDOW: Which is a tax cut but one targeted to people who cash
HERBERT: Which we need. I mean, you need the unemployment benefits,
it does stimulate the economy, but you need it to help the people who are
suffering from joblessness.
MADDOW: How -- when you describe something big and bold from the
president as something that we would need, what would you think of as
something that would be big and bold?
HERBERT: Well, the thing to look at now is that despite all the
rhetoric, interest rates are very low, and while we have a long-term debt
problem in this country, the big problem in the short to medium-term is
employment. We need to get people back to work in order to get the economy
moving again, because the problem now is that you don`t have the demand,
and you need to get people on the payroll so that they are paying taxes
again, and that begins to alleviate some of your deficit problems.
It`s at that point you can pivot, to use a term the Obama
administration likes to use, that you can begin to pivot to deficit
reduction. But right now, we should be borrowing money at these
historically low interest rates to invest in the economy, and I would
invest a lot of it in infrastructure and that sort of thing, to put people
back to work.
I also think -- this will never pass in a million years -- but I also
think we have such an employment crisis in this country that we need direct
government job creation to put some people, and especially a lot of young
people who are disconnected from the workforce entirely, to put them back
to work again to alleviate some of the tremendous suffering out there.
MADDOW: One of the things that seems to be back on the table, at
least in terms of discussions is sort of a pseudo-version of that, a tamp
program which pays private companies to hire existing -- people who are
unemployed now for training purposes, something that was very successful,
part of the initial stimulus effort, championed by a lot of Republican
governors, including Haley Barbour at the time.
HERBERT: Right, there was a lot of bipartisan support for that. One
of the problems with that and the president`s infrastructure proposals to
date is that they are too small given the scale of our employment problem.
It`s not a problem, it`s really a crisis.
I mean, we really need something huge, but I don`t think that it`s in
the cards. And then towards the latter part of this year, they`re going to
start talking again about deficit reduction, and austerity is just exactly
what you don`t need right now. So, I think that we`re in for hard times
for a long time.
MADDOW: Bob Herbert, former "New York Times" columnist, now a senior
-- distinguished senior fellow at Demos -- Bob, it`s always great to have
you here even though you are sometimes --
HERBERT: Doom and gloom.
MADDOW: -- Mr. Doom and Gloom.
HERBERT: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: We do get a smile, which I appreciate it.
All right. Democratic Senate hopeful from Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin
will be joining us next.
And the interview tonight is Republican presidential candidate Buddy
Roemer, who has been charming everybody in the building since he`s been
MADDOW: With the president`s big expected jobs speech on Thursday and
the Republican debate tomorrow night, everybody`s been saying it sort of
feels like the presidential campaign is starting this week. I don`t
usually find myself in agreement with the political common wisdom, but in
this case, I got to say, it really does feel the presidential campaign is
starting this week.
And part of the reason it feels that way is because the White House
did a couple of things over the last week and a half that felt like they
were trying to get out of the way before the start of the actual campaign.
As hundreds of people came to protest outside the White House and
hundreds of arrests were made, including quite a number of celebrity
arrests and arrests of prominent advocates, the Obama administration
nevertheless gave an important green light to the Keystone XL pipeline -- a
new oil pipeline designed to stretch from the Canadian oil sands of Alberta
all the way down to Texas.
And on Friday, the administration announced that it would not, after
all, go through with new anti-smog regulations they had long promised.
Now, did these actions by the president any goodwill from Republicans
or business interests that criticize him on stuff like this? No, of course
The Chamber of Commerce`s top lobbyist told "The Washington Post" the
administration, quote, "Still has a heavy hand with regard to regulations,"
regardless of the fact that they are not pursuing regulations they had
So, the administration didn`t appease its critics on the right. Duh!
And Mr. Obama`s presumed allies on issues like this are now very unhappy
You can`t help but think that this is the sort of maneuver you want to
get done before the campaign starts. Because once the campaign does start,
you`ve got to make sure you`ve got your base and your natural allies on
your side and working for you and happy. They should be scared of what
will happen if they don`t support you and enthused about what will happen
if they do support you.
So, the Obama administration in the last couple of weeks spent those
couple of weeks kicking oil sand in the face of the Democratic Party`s
base. But then this week, start with the pair of Labor Day speeches by the
president and by the vice president, frankly, they were doing much the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
OBAMA: If you want to know who helped lay these cornerstones of an
American middle class, you just have to look for the union label.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president and
I know that Labor Day is not about a day. It`s about a way of life.
That`s what Labor Day is about.
OBAMA: America cannot have a strong, growing economy without a
strong, growing middle class and without a strong labor movement.
BIDEN: The middle class would not exist if not for organized labor.
OBAMA: As long as I`m in the White House, I`m going to stand up for
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: One of the things that Democratic politicians have had a hard
time with in this past generation -- Republicans have no trouble at all
with this. But Democrats have had a hard time, wit not just saying things
their base will agree with, not just aligning themselves with the interest
of the Democratic Party`s base, but recognizing that within the Democratic
Party, there actually is a base and it is a base that exists not just on
election day. It is a base that is a political actor, that wages political
fights on behalf of working people, and it`s a base that needs support in
those fights from powerful Democratic politicians.
Whenever you hear Republican politicians talking to Tea Party rallies
and saying I`m with you, I`m here with you to fight your fight, that`s what
they are doing.
Democrats, generally, has had a harder time with that dynamic. But
when Vice President Biden spoke on Labor Day yesterday, he spoke in Ohio.
And in Ohio, the Democratic base has had a real, real fight on its hands
this year and the vice president frankly crossed the Rubicon when he was in
Ohio, he named the fight of the Democratic base in Ohio, he voiced support
for their position in the fight, and he tried to help them win their fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: This, ladies and gentlemen, is the fight of your life. Across
the country from here in Ohio to Wisconsin to Florida, they are reopening
fights we thought we settled 50 years ago.
Ladies and gentlemen, governors are rolling back collective bargaining
rights. They are trying to pass paycheck deception laws. They are pushing
the right to work for less again.
It`s time to turn the tide in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida,
everywhere where basic rights to bargain fairly are under attack. And it
seems to me that`s exactly what you`re doing here in Ohio, demanding a
referendum on SB-5.
Stand up now! Be counted! Repeal these laws these governors passed,
and, ladies and gentlemen, vote, vote, vote your values.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Vice President Biden in Ohio, supporting the repeal of Ohio
Republican`s union-stripping bill. That bill will be on the ballot for
repeal this fall in Ohio.
The president speaking in Detroit yesterday also name checking the
fight against Republican union-stripping in Ohio, as well as in Wisconsin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The values at the core of the union movement -- those don`t
change. Those are the values that have made this country great. That`s
what the folks trying to undermine your rights don`t understand.
We are all in this together. That`s why those crowds came out to
support you in Madison and in Columbus. We are one nation. We are one
people. We will rise and we will fall together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: National Democrats, the president and the vice president,
connecting national politics to these raging fights that have been
happening all year long in the states between Republicans and the
Democratic Party`s base. The Democratic Party is starting to recognize its
base, starting to nationalize the fights that base has been fighting all
year long without any attention from Washington. And that is probably a
good thing for the Democratic Party`s electoral chances coast-to-coast.
Economic populism is not only fun. It happens to win elections. But
what effect will nationalizing these fights have on those fights in the
As you heard from Vice President Biden, the effort to repeal Ohio`s
union stripping bill is going to be on the ballot in November. Does it
help to have Vice President Biden on the stump there talking about it in
Ohio on Labor Day?
In Wisconsin, as of today, we have a much better idea what the fight
for that state`s open U.S. Senate seat is going to look like. On the
Republican side, one of the likely contenders for that seat is one of the
two Fitzgerald brothers who run the Wisconsin Republican legislature. In
this case, it`s the one who runs that assembly. You`ve heard Republican
Wisconsin being called FitzWalkerstan this year?
One of the likely Republican contenders for the open U.S. Senate seat
in Wisconsin is one of those Fitzes.
And on the Democratic side as of today in order to complete the
standoff here, we now know it will be a progressive Democrat who has never
been afraid to acknowledge the party`s base and its fights and who has
never been shy who she is.
Joining us now is seven-term Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of
Wisconsin, who as of today has announced she`s entering the race for United
States Senate from Wisconsin.
Congresswoman Baldwin, thank you for your time tonight.
REP. TAMMY BALDWIN (D), WISCONSIN: Well, it`s a pleasure to join you,
MADDOW: You have been in the middle of the fight against union rights
all year. What did you make of the president and vice president name-
checking that and bringing it up the way they did in their Labor Day
BALDWIN: It was music to my ears. I have been in the front seat
witnessing what has happened in the state of Wisconsin as progress that
this state has made over decades was peeled back. And what happened is
that the people of the state decided that if their leaders were not
listening to them, they were going to speak out, and it has been incredibly
inspiring to me.
But, you know, we`ve been talking about why this is so important, why
collective bargaining rights and the right to organize, but also we`re
fighting right now, as you`ve been talking about, for the very survival of
the middle class. It used to be that if you worked hard and played by the
rules, you could get ahead.
And I hear day after day by -- from Wisconsin families and individuals
who are playing by the rules and are working hard, but they are not getting
ahead. People are trying to save for their kid`s college, people having to
dip into their retirement savings just to pay bills when they are just a
few years away from retirement.
The suffering is real, and the disconnect that we see both in the city
of Madison at the state capitol and in Washington, D.C. is outrageous. And
that`s why I`m running for the U.S. Senate.
MADDOW: The last election in November 2010 was a very Republican
election across the country, but it was particularly so in Wisconsin. Russ
Feingold lost his seat. The legislature went basically completely red.
Obviously, Scott Walker was elected governor.
Why do you, as a Democrat, think that you will have a real chance at
this Senate seat in this next election?
BALDWIN: Well, as we`ve seen as Wisconsin has been on the national
stage, people want to be heard and they want their leaders fighting for
them. And that`s not what is happening in Madison. It`s not what is
happening in Washington, D.C.
I think the voters thought they were getting something different than
they did in the midterms last year, but we see Wisconsin citizens coming
alive, getting involved, and I think that`s a sign of what`s to come.
People need a voice and a fighter in Washington. The middle class needs a
fighter in Washington. We`ve had great representation from Senator Herb
Cole, who has been a champion of the middle class and children and seniors.
We need to continue that tradition in Wisconsin, and that`s why I`m running
for the U.S. Senate.
MADDOW: In terms of your decision to get in here -- seven terms in
the House, why do you think this fight will be better waged by you in the
Senate than where you are now?
BALDWIN: Well, first of all, I have to say that the honor of being
able to represent all of the working families in the state of Wisconsin
would be enormous, and I was exploring whether or not I should run for
reelection to the House or pursue a Senate seat, I had the chance to really
travel the state, got a chance to speak with people all over.
We`re in an epic struggle. This is really, in my mind and many
others, about the survival of the middle class. This is about when we look
at issues like reducing our debt and that`s certainly something we must do
-- it`s about demanding shared sacrifice, not just letting the people who
have had the privilege of climbing the ladder of success stand by the
wayside. We all have to come together to respond to the problems that we
And I think now is the moment, especially given what`s been happening
in my state and people reengaging and understanding that they must speak
out in order to be heard and understanding that they need a strong voice in
the U.S. Senate.
MADDOW: Tammy Baldwin, Democratic congresswoman from Wisconsin and
now a candidate for U.S. Senate in that state -- thank you for your time.
I appreciate you being with us on this night after you`ve announced. Good
BALDWIN: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: OK. So, the answer to the question, hey, Maddow, when are
you going to have one of the Republican presidential candidates on your
show is mere moments from now, finally. Former Louisiana governor and
Republican presidential Buddy Roemer will join us for the interview very,
very soon. The political aisle is reach across-able.
MADDOW: Twenty years and five presidential elections ago, then-Vice
President Dan Quayle was running for reelection alongside then-President
George H.W. Bush. It didn`t work out, the whole reelection thing. But
that`s not mean that Dan Quayle, campaigner, will not be famous forever.
Dan Quayle immortalized for his inadvertent comedic genius.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vice President Dan Quayle has cast a rather
strange spell on American education during a visit to an elementary in
Trenton, New Jersey, on Monday. The vice president gave students a
DAN QUAYLE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Potato.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The boy wrote the word correctly, but Mr. Quayle
wasn`t satisfied until he added an "E."
Quayle was wrong, of course, but claims that was the way it was
spelled on the flash card he was given, so he went with the potato with an
That`s the news with (INAUDIBLE). Back to Brian and Katy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wonder how tomato is spelled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boy, oh, boy, doesn`t that give you confidence?
Let`s go on down to Washington right now, Leonard Scott with two Ts is
standing by with a check of our --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know, when it`s the morning show hosts who are making fun
of you, not David Letterman and the late-night guys, but the really nice,
pleasant, cordial morning show people who are making fun of you, you know
what happened is going on your permanent record.
Five months later George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle, with the E in the
end, lost their bid for reelection to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, also with
an "E" on the end.
And two decades hence, seriously, misspelling potato is just about all
that anyone remembers about old Dan Quayle.
In his vice presidential memoir, which is titled "Standing Firm" and
featured him in a cuddly sweater on the cover, Dan Quayle laid the blame
for his career-defining potato screw up on one specific campaign staffer.
Quote, "`What are we supposed to do?` I asked Keith Nahigian, the advanced
man who prepared this little photo op. `Just sit there and read these
words off some flash cards, and the kids will go up and spell them on the
blackboard,` the staffer said." "Has anyone checked the card?" another
aided asked. "Oh, yes," Nahigian said. "We looked at them and they are
simple words, no big deal."
So, after telling the 6th grader to put an "E" on the end of the word
potato, Mr. Quayle did not realize he had done anything wrong. It was
after the photo op and then after the press conference after the photo-op
that a reporter asked Mr. Quayle how you spell potato.
Quoting from Mr. Quayle`s book again, "I gave him a puzzled look, and
the press started laughing. It wasn`t until that moment that I realized
anything was wrong. None of the staff people had told me."
Wow. What happens to campaign staffers who screw up that badly, who
essentially end a vice president`s career, who end a vice presidency? What
happens to a staffer who does something that bad?
Well, fast forward 20 years, and that staffer becomes Michele
Bachmann`s new presidential campaign manager. Michele Bachmann`s old
campaign manager stepped down last night to be replaced by Keith Nahigian,
the potato guy.
Politico.com today making the connection between the Bachmann campaign
decision and the great Dan Quayle potato fiasco of 1992.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann had been known throughout her national
career before this presidential race as somebody who wasn`t exactly looked
at more as a Dan Quayle, who was looked more of a loose cannon. She was
seen as somebody liable to say anything, including potentially strange or
shocking things with no warning. That`s sort of a big part of why she got
so much cable news face time in the last few years.
Michele Bachmann`s reputation has not been born out during this
presidential campaign, by and large. It`s been a message discipline
campaign. A message discipline attributed largely to her veteran campaign
staff led by this man, Ed Rollins. That message discipline is a big part
of why Michele Bachmann was seen to have done so well in the first major
Now that Ed Rollins is out as Michele Bachmann`s campaign manager and
Mr. Potato with an "E" is in, the first great unknown of tomorrow`s
Republican presidential debate is -- will we see the same disciplined
candidate, the same disciplined Michele Bachmann of the very recent past or
a version of Michele Bachmann 1.0, the cable news celebrity Michele
Bachmann we all loved for so many years? Or will we get something
altogether new now that she has a new campaign senior staff? That`s
The second great question, the second great unknown of tomorrow`s
debate is whether or not the new front-runner, Texas Governor Rick Perry
will even be there. Right now, Governor Perry is back home in Texas
dealing with his state`s ongoing wildfire crisis. A spokesman for his
campaign telling NBC News that the plan as of this evening is for the
governor to attend tomorrow`s debate. But that, of course, could change at
The third great unknown for tomorrow night`s Republican debate is
whether or not a Republican candidate for the nomination who is not on that
stage tomorrow can still affect the race. Are Republican primary voters
still looking for someone else? As the race is starting to look more than
ever like a Romney versus Perry matchup, does that lead yet for more room
in the field?
One of the candidates who is trying to shake up that field will join
us next for the interview.
MADDOW: I have been so looking forward to this.
Joining us tonight for the interview is Republican presidential
candidate and former governor of Louisiana, Buddy Roemer. He`s not one of
the eight candidates expected to be on stage tomorrow night for the NBC
New/"Politico" debate, but we are very happy to have him with us on this
Governor, I can`t tell you how happy I am to have you here.
BUDDY ROEMER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Me too, I`m honored to be
MADDOW: I want to ask you the big obvious question and you can tell
me if you think it`s rude and tell me if you don`t want to answer.
ROEMER: All right.
MADDOW: Jon Huntsman nationwide is polling at 1 percent, 1 percent, 1
percent when he`s lucky. How did he get this blessing as a candidate to be
taken seriously as a contender with numbers like that and you did not get
that same blessing?
ROEMER: I had the same number, slightly better, 1 percent and 2
percent over the last two weeks. I don`t know the answer.
My suspicion is it might have to do with money and my approach to it.
I could be wrong, Rachel. I`ve been out of politics for 20 years. I`ve
been a happy man in Louisiana building a small bank about $1 billion worth.
We help jobs get created out in the real world, that`s what I do, I`m a
jobs guy, not a lawyer, not a politician.
But I`m the only guy running who was a congressman and a governor.
And I know this business, and I`m concerned about America, so I entered
four weeks ago. I have slowly crept up to my 1 percent and 2 percent.
I will add to that over time, but here`s my difference, $100 limit, no
PAC money, no super PAC money, and I fully disclose every penny that I
I`ve had all 50 states participate, Guam and Puerto Rico, I don`t know
what`s wrong with those guys, but they are helping me. So, I am building.
I will get on a debate, Rachel. It will happen. My issues are jobs
and the corruptive power of big money in campaigns. Those are my two
No one else talks about it, no one else cares about it. I want a
president with passion about jobs, and that`s what I expect from Mr. Obama
the day after tomorrow. That`s what I`m looking for. Not a specific plan,
but I want passion for jobs.
This country`s in trouble. I don`t see it in the Republican Party. I
don`t see it in the presidency. I`m concerned, that`s why I`m running.
MADDOW: After 20 years or so out of politics, why jump back in at the
presidential level? Why try to get back into politics without national
name recognition, without a national base?
ROEMER: That`s a good question, and I never really thought of it that
way. And maybe the game passed me by. It used to be that I built my
political career, and I served in the constitutional convention, I wrote a
Constitution with the help of others, Congress for four terms, and
governor, that I would build it slowly over time on the issues. I`m an
issues wonk, I like it. I like how to improve the country.
I have found since I`ve come back in the last couple of months, and
I`ve been doing this for about seven months, exploratory, and now running,
that the pace has picked up. I like that, I`m getting up to speed in that.
But it`s so television-oriented.
Rachel, it used to be -- I won the governor`s race in Louisiana with
no PAC money, with a limit. I spent $1 million, the guy that I beat spend
$16 million, but I did it with newspaper support, newspapers were so
important then. They are less important now.
So, I`m learning kind of the new game, and that`s why I`ve slowly
begun to build. I`m in New Hampshire. I rest my case in New Hampshire,
it`s like I`m running for governor there. My limited funds will also be
I mean, if I can get 1 million people to give me $10, I`ll spend it in
New Hampshire. We`ll win the Republican nomination and revolutionize
politics in this country.
It`s all about the money. It`s about the big checks and special
interests, Rachel, and it`s Democrat and Republican. I see no difference.
MADDOW: And on the issue of campaign finance -- I mean, we have seen
a gradual change over the course of a generation until the last couple of
years where that gradual change has gone off a cliff.
MADDOW: Five Supreme Court decisions that have dismantled the meager
campaign finance laws that we had. Are you, and is anybody, structurally
incapable of making a campaign finance case at the national level, because
by definition, you can`t raise the money to make the case against big
ROEMER: We`ll see. It`s a dilemma.
I mean, I would have a rule that lobbyists registered with the federal
government could not give a check to a candidate. I would have a rule that
you`d have a 48-hour reporting period, not 90 or 150 days, Rachel. Let`s
know where the money`s coming from.
I would have a rule that PACs could give no more than individuals,
whatever the limit is, $1,000, $2,500.
I would have a rule there`d be no super PACs.
I would have a rule that there would be criminal penalties for
violation of these rules that does not abrogate the close Supreme Court
vote 5-4 that money is speech.
As a conservative I believe money is speech. But you can`t yell fire
in a crowded theater incorrectly. There can be broad limits and I think
the Supreme Court has said it.
Now, one final point. Conservatives like myself have argued for full
disclosure, sun light. Liberals, like yourself, often argue for limits on
giving. Right now, we have neither. We have the worst of both worlds.
We have Mitt Romney taking $1 million check in a super PAC and not
disclosing it to anybody until forced to. We have campaign chiefs of
staff, in Mr. Obama`s case and in several other candidates` case, who are
running the so-called independent PACs. I mean, it is -- it is morally
wrong in my mind and hurtful to the American politics.
OK, if we have no limits, let`s have full disclosure. Now we have
MADDOW: I would say, sir, that whether or not you have a chance of
winning the nomination of the structural constraints you are under, the
fact that you are running has you on places like "The Daily Show" and this
show and other shows across the country talking about this and embarrassing
everybody else who will engage on the subject. And for that, I
ROEMER: I`m a proud Republican, but I`m a prouder American. This is
about America, Rachel. Something`s wrong in our system, and it`s special
Unfair trade with China, I love to talk about it all day. Now, that`s
a jobs program the president ought to stand for. He ought to protect
American jobs. I`d support him if he did. Nobody else is doing it.
MADDOW: Buddy Roemer, Republican presidential candidate, former
governor of Louisiana -- sir, will you come back during this campaign?
MADDOW: Thank you. It`s great to have you here.
ROEMER: Thanks, Rachel. Good to see you.
MADDOW: We will be right back.
MADDOW: Late last night, a very interesting convoy of cars was seen
leaving the nation of Libya, crossing the border into Niger. First, it was
a reported to be a convoy of more than 200 vehicles, then more than a dozen
pickup trucks. And then, finally, fewer than 10 vehicles carrying lots of
money, along with people loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, people like his security
chief, as well as other, quote, "heavyweight political military and media
officials and officers."
But as far as U.S. national security officials say they can tell,
neither Gadhafi himself nor any Gadhafi family member was part of that very
interesting convoy. Niger`s foreign minister has now said the same thing.
But it may not be that way for long.
"Reuters" reporting tonight a Libyan official says Gadhafi was last
tracked heading toward the Niger border about three days ago. Why would he
be heading toward Niger? It`s possible that Niger might not be his final
destination. To the west of Niger and accessible through it is Burkina
Faso. Burkina Faso today offered asylum to Moammar Gadhafi.
Regardless of where and when Gadhafi is eventually found, Libya is
already starting to act as a de facto post-Gadhafi country.
We will be right back.
MADDOW: Programming note, tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, MSNBC will
be the one and only place you can see the Republican candidates debate from
the Reagan Library. NBC News and "Politico" putting on the debate.
As soon as it`s over, I will be anchoring MSNBC`s post-debate coverage
from here in New York, along with Ed and Chris and Lawrence and all your
other MSNBC pals. That`s from right after the debate, until about midnight
Eastern. We`ll see you then starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.
But "THE ED SHOW" starts right now.
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