Guests: Steve Kornacki, Bernie Sanders
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
OK. Pop quiz, Republican primary pop quiz.
1988, Ronald Reagan has just finished his second term. His vice
president is Poppy Bush, George H.W. Bush, who, of course, wants to be the
next Republican presidential nominee.
But Poppy Bush does still have to win the nomination of the Republican
Party. His main rival for the nomination that year? If it wasn`t going to
be Poppy Bush, who is it going to be? It was going to be Senator Bob Dole,
right? Senator Dole came in second in the Republican primary that year.
So here is your pop quiz -- 1988 Republican presidential primary. Who
won Hawaii and Alaska? Was it Poppy Bush?
MADDOW: No. Ah, so it was Bob Dole.
MADDOW: Actually, neither of them. Actually in Alaska and Hawaii and
Nevada and Washington state, in the Republican nominating contest in 1988,
neither Poppy Bush nor Bob Dole won. It was Pat Robertson. Pat Robertson
the televangelist. Pat Robertson carried those four states in the
Republican primary in 1988.
In Iowa, he beat Poppy Bush but he came in second behind Bob Dole.
Pat Robertson had a bang-up year. He got a speaking spot at the Republican
convention that year. He magnanimously released his delegates to support
the eventual nominee, to support Poppy Bush. And then Mr. Robertson
returned triumphantly to his televangelist college. I`m sorry, to his
televangelist university I should say.
Ten years before he ran for president, televangelist pat Robertson of
the Christian Broadcasting Network, had founded something called the
Christian Broadcasting Network University. Remember when Glenn Beck tried
to do that? Well, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell had the idea first.
Eventually, Pat Robertson would change the name of the Christian
Broadcasting Network University to Regent University, which is what it`s
called now. But at the time of his presidential run, it was still CBNU.
And at that time, the year after Pat Robertson`s presidential run, a
young executive at a company called the American Hospital Supply
Corporation decided that he was going to jump off the corporate merry-go-
round and follow in Pat Robertson`s footsteps, first to the televangelist
university and then into politics.
That man`s name was Bob McDonnell. And in his official biography now
on his Web site as Virginia governor, it is noted that in the mid-1980s,
when Bob McDonnell was in his 30s, he was, quote, "moving rapidly up the
corporate ladder. But something was missing."
That something was Pat Robertson. Specifically, Pat Robertson`s
televangelist school, the year after Mr. Robertson ran for president.
Now, Bob McDonnell was not a kid at this point in his life. He was
married. He had kids of his own. This is a mid-career change undertaken
by an adult.
And at Pat Robertson`s university while Bob McDonnell was in his mid-
30s, he wrote a thesis that was titled, "The Republican Party`s Vision for
the Family : The Compelling Issue of the Decade."
"Leaders," Bob McDonnell argued, "must correct the folklore about the
separation of church and state." He called on, quote, "every level of
government to use public policy to punish, quote, `cohabitators,
homosexuals or fornicators.`"
He says, "Man`s basic nature is inclined toward evil, when the
exercise of liberty takes the shape of pornography, drug abuse or
homosexuality," hey, that`s me, "the government must restrain, punish and
Bob McDonnell said the Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut
which said states can`t criminalize contraception, he said that ruling was
illogical. He then came out raging against, quote, "The perverted notion
of liberty, that each individual should be able to live out his sexual life
in the way he chooses, without interference from the state."
So, that was Bob McDonnell`s vision for what exactly the state should
interfere with in your life and why, while he was at Pat Robertson`s
televangelist university when he was in his mid-30s. Now, of course, Bob
McDonnell these days is being considered as perhaps the top candidate for
the Republican Party`s vice presidential nomination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Romney said McDonnell would be on any
candidate`s short list for vice president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whomever the nominee is, I hope they would choose
Bob McDonnell as their vice presidential candidate.
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: I could be looking at the next running mate
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: Well, let`s not let everybody else
worry about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would be open to it?
MCDONNELL: Look, if somebody called in and said, you could help our
country, help our ticket, I think any of us would think about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy sitting across from me would be a pretty
number two in the ticket, interested?
MCDONNELL: That`s completely up to somebody else.
I think any governor you get a call from a nominee and said, you can
help the party, you can help our country, of course, you`d consider doing
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Bob McDonnell has all but said he would like to be picked for
vice president, please. And his eagerness on the subject is why, even
though he`s governor of Michigan, last night you could find him in
Michigan, on the campaign trail for Mitt Romney, since Michigan`s all
important primary is just a week away.
But when Governor McDonnell does make his way back to Virginia, back
to the state capitol, he can look forward to some decision making. Both
houses of the Virginia legislature have passed legislation that would force
women seeking an abortion in Virginia to have an internal vaginal probe
ultrasound at the direction of the state, that is not medically necessary,
and they`re going to do it against her wishes and even if the doctor
Now, Bob McDonnell has said that he will sign the measure. And that`s
no surprise. When he was in the state legislature in Virginia himself, he
sponsored a bill a lot like this. Two years after he wrote that thesis at
Pat Robertson`s university is when McDonnell started his political career.
He got elected to the Virginia legislature.
And by the time a decade-and-a-half later, he was running for attorney
general and then governor of the state, a "Washington Post" analysis looked
at that thesis found of the 15 things that were listed in Bob McDonnell`s
televangelist university thesis, about what government should do, of his 15
action points in his anti-fornicator thesis of the 15 action items in that
thesis he wrote for the Pat Robertson`s televangelist university, Mr.
McDonnell had already worked on legislation to address 10 of those 15
points. So, that meant his anti-abortion ultrasound bill and numerous
other anti-abortion measures.
He sponsored four bills to make divorce more difficult in Virginia.
He even co-sponsored legislation that could have made it illegal to swear
in an e-mail that was sent from Virginia. Now, everybody agrees swearing,
very, very bad, right? But a government big enough to be able to regulate
whether you swear in your e-mails? That`s a very specific kind of
Bob McDonnell`s thesis had said that the quote, "trend of working
women" was, quote, "ultimately detrimental to the family."
Once Bob McDonnell got into the state legislature, a long time later,
he voted against the resolution calling for the end of pay discrepancies
between men and women. The resolution essentially said, we think men and
women ought to get paid the same if they do the same work. Bob McDonnell
voted no on that.
By 2009, when Bob McDonnell was running against a Democrat named Craig
Deeds for governor of the state, he referenced his Pat Robertson
televangelist school thesis in an interview, and it had not previously been
publicly discussed. But when he brought up during the campaign, that sent
"The Washington Post" to the school, to go to the school`s library to look
up thesis that Bob McDonnell had started mentioning on the campaign trial.
And in the resulting hullabaloo over punishing fornicators and the
evil of women having jobs, in this is thesis, Bob McDonnell promised that
he did not hold those views anymore.
For example, he told reporters when he was running for governor that
now, he no longer believed that government should discriminate on the basis
of sexual orientation. And now, he no longer believed that government
should ban contraceptives.
Then, of course, Bob McDonnell got elected governor. And one of his
first acts is to move -- to make discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation legal in the state of Virginia. He has just said he didn`t
believe that anymore, he just said that right before the election. But
that is one of the first things he did right after he got elected. We
covered it at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The new governor, McDonnell, still in his first month in
office, went to the trouble of rescinding an executive order concerning
discrimination in state workers.
Thanks to Bob McDonnell`s overt action, his overt order in the case,
you can be asked what your sexual orientation is in a job interview in
Virginia and your answer can legally be the reason you don`t get the job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Apparently, since then, my chair has grown, did you notice
that? Usually just my hair goes like this when we see clips.
Anyway. But that was just the sort of thing that Bob McDonnell could
do by executive order, making sexual orientation discrimination legal in
the state. He could do that just as governor, by signature of his own pen.
Bob McDonnell really started getting what he wanted this year, though,
when Republicans took control of both houses of the Virginia state
legislature. Back when he was at televangelist college, Bob McDonnell had
said that states ought to be able to make contraception illegal, right?
Then in order to get elected governor, once that thesis came to light, he
said he no longer believed that.
But now, now that he is governor and now that Republicans control both
houses of the state legislature, and now thanks to his old buddy with whom
he co-sponsored that "you can`t swear in an e-mail" bill, now as governor,
Bob McDonnell, is about to get his chance.
Bob McDonnell is finally about to get to decide whether or not
Virginia ought to ban contraception, at least hormonal contraception, the
kind that most American women use. That`s thanks to Virginia`s personhood
bill which would ban all abortion in the state and likely the pill as well.
Before he had Republican control of the legislature, the Bob McDonnell
administration had also changed regulations in the state about adoption.
The state approving rules last year allow adoption agencies to discriminate
against couples for being gay, and for much, much more. The new rules on
adoption in Virginia that were brought in under Bob McDonnell, those new
rules reserved the right to discriminate against you in adoptions, not just
on the basis you sexual orientation, but also on the basis of your age,
your gender, your disability, your religion, your political beliefs, your
The McDonnell administration already made that change, right? They
already changed the rules to say you can be blocked from adopting a child
in Virginia because you`re a registered Democrat or because you`re a Jew.
They have already changed those rules.
But now, now that Republicans control the entire state legislature,
Bob McDonnell is going to get a chance to make that essentially permanent,
to sign a version of that new rule into law. So it can`t be reversed by
somebody else`s executive order.
The legislature has passed a bill allowing adoption agencies
explicitly to discriminate against anybody who doesn`t share their
religious beliefs. So, not you could be block forward adopting in Virginia
because you`re gay, but you could be blocked for any reason anybody claims
has anything to do with their religion. Any reason, anybody thinks you
don`t follow their religious beliefs -- no adoption for you.
And, of course, there`s the ultrasound bill, which Republicans seemed
to have spooked themselves about a little bit. After yesterday`s protest
delayed what was expected to be a final vote on the measure in the house,
Republicans today again delayed that vote.
So here`s the big picture: put yourself in the shoes of Bob McDonnell,
or put yourself in the shoes if you can`t imagine yourself as Bob
McDonnell, put yourselves in the shoes of a Republican political consultant
trying to advise Bob McDonnell about how he can achieve his ambition of
becoming the vice presidential nominee of Republican Party. What would you
tell him about that bill? Would you tell him to sign it?
I mean, think about what he`s got on his desk, or heading to his desk
right now -- the forced ultrasounds, the abortion and contraception ban,
even the adoption rules.
If you want to be the vice presidential nominee for the Republican
Party, as badly as Bob McDonnell plainly does, is stuff like this
radioactive? Or is this exactly what you need because this is what the
Republican Party is looking for in a nominee in 2012?
Joining us now is Meghan McCain, contributor for "The Daily Beast" and
MSNBC. She`s the author of the book, "Dirty, Sexy Politics."
Meghan, it has been too long. It`s good to see you.
MEGHAN MCCAIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you. It`s good to see. I
don`t even know how to follow all that. Great.
MADDOW: I talk too much.
MCCAIN: Hey kids, Republican after all that, it`s crazy.
MADDOW: Well, you have progressive views on some social issues,
particularly on gay rights and stuff. But you`re definitely anti-abortion,
right? Your are pro-life Republican.
MCCAIN: I`m pro-life, yes.
MADDOW: So, when you think about --
MCCAIN: But I`m not pro-vaginal probing. I feel like I have to go on
national television and delineate between the two things. I`m horrified by
the bill as a woman. As a Republican woman, I`m horrified. It scares me
that this can go on, it scares me a woman could be vaginally probed without
consent or doctor`s consent, and I think this is completely radioactive for
Governor McDonnell, and I have no idea why he would even go on any form and
say that he would pass it.
MADDOW: So, that`s -- and the radioactivity of it is the part that I
feel like is a real open question, because I would have thought, you know,
invading against contraception would be radioactive, like that would be a
mistake or something that people would accidentally hint that if they sort
of forgot what audience they were in. But invading against contraception
is now mainstream Republican position this year.
So, I`m --
MCCAIN: This year.
MADDOW: This year.
MADDOW: So, this year, maybe it`s not radioactive. Maybe this is how
you lobby to be vice president.
MCCAIN: I still think it gets -- I think it gets a lot of media
attention, a lot of play on right wing blogs and in the conservative
evangelical movement. But I think when it comes to mainstream, more
moderate Republicans, especially with independents, it`s completely
I mean, Governor McDonnell may get a lot of the evangelical vote if he
passes this, but he will alienate almost every single woman possible,
especially if they are independent voting for him, you know, if he becomes
the vice presidential nominee. But I still think Marco Rubio is still the
number one candidate.
MADDOW: You think so?
MADDOW: Marco Rubio has not ended up being a great candidate, though.
Marco Rubio doesn`t seem to -- I mean, there is a total different
discussion, I`ll book you again. I think Marco Rubio has the Rick Perry
problem, where he`s great on paper but then when he starts talking, people
are like, who is this guy?
MCCAIN: No, I love him.
MADDOW: Really? That`s a whole -- you`re coming back to talk about
MADDOW: But on the subject of the -- on the contraception subject,
let`s talk about this personhood thing. Personhood was -- which says from
the moment of fertilization or conception, a woman is two people. That you
define life that way throughout the state code and that was rejected by
voters twice by more than 40 point margins in Colorado, then they figured
they could get it passed in Mississippi, sure, and it lost by double digit
All of the Republican presidential candidates say they are in favor of
So, Bob McDonnell, this is heading towards his desk, vetoes it. Is
that -- is that a vote to say that the Republican Party ticket will be
roughly to the left of the Mississippi electorate or is that actually
poison? Would he be seen as not pro-life enough?
MCCAIN: I think this is toxic, I think there are some things that hit
the mainstream, I would say moon colonization is the last one. Vaginal
probing is something I had friends texting me about what does this mean?
I`m not into politics, but what does this say?
This is something that will penetrate beyond politics, and I do think
it will make him a completely toxic candidate and apparently end his life-
long dream of being a vice president.
MADDOW: What about the contraception stuff? I mean, personhood is
not just forced ultrasound thing, but we had that big fight about access to
contraception as part -- in terms of health insurance.
But the personhood stuff has failed. A lot of pro-life people have
been against the personhood stuff. A lot of the Mississippi campaign was
women who identify as anti-abortion, pro-life women who were saying, and I
still need to have guaranteed access to the pill.
MCCAIN: I always say the best way to prevent abortions is to supply
birth control. I`m pro-birth control, something that has alienated me with
a lot of pro-lifers. But I`m not an extremist. So --
MADDOW: I think the politics are fascinating and moving so fast it`s
really hard to know where they are going next.
MCCAIN: It`s scary as a woman. I`m a young, single woman and I --
the idea of this regressing back in the 1950s, and entering Pleasantville
is quite daunting.
MADDOW: Yes. Meghan, I`m very happy to see you. Will you come back
and talk to me about Marco Rubio?
MCCAIN: Any day.
MADDOW: I promise I won`t (INAUDIBLE) until he said something --
we`ll do on it neutral ground.
MCCAIN: OK. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Thanks, Meghan.
All right. Mitt Romney has two huge advantages going into the
critical Michigan primary. Number one, lots of billionaires want to give
him big checks. Number two, Newt Gingrich, it turns out is a huge Mitt
Romney asset. Trust me, evidence for both matters, that`s next.
MADDOW: Hello, America. Have you met Mitt Romney billionaire?
He`s a casino guy. He lives in Las Vegas. His name is Sheldon
Adelson. He is Mitt Romney`s billionaire.
Now, I know what you`re thinking. Now wait, hold on, I thought the
casino guy was Newt Gingrich`s billionaire. It turns out, not really, sort
of, in the sense that anybody who is keeping Newt Gingrich in the race
right now, by which I mean this guy, this billionaire not only given $11
million to Newt Gingrich already but says he`s about to give another $10
million. He`s even floated the idea in an interview with "Forbes" today
that he might give $100 million to Newt Gingrich.
Anybody who is keeping Newt Gingrich`s campaign alive right now is
Mitt Romney`s best friend. And I can prove it, data. Look at this.
This is the latest that we have out of the state of Washington.
Washington holds their caucus on Saturday, March 3rd, that`s right before
Super Tuesday. Right now, Rick Santorum is leading in the state of
Washington. OK, right?
That`s Rick Santorum on the left there. He leads Mitt Romney 38 to
27. Ron Paul has 15 percent, Newt Gingrich has 12 percent.
But if Newt Gingrich were to quit the race, if Newt Gingrich were to
drop out before the Washington caucus on March 3rd, watch what happens to
Boing! Santorum goes from beating Mitt Romney by 11 points to
trouncing him by 21 points. Santorum gets essentially all of Newt
Gingrich`s supporters there if Newt quits.
Here is the latest out of Michigan. Right now, Rick Santorum leads
Mitt Romney in Michigan 37 to 33. Ron Paul, 15, Newt Gingrich, 10.
But again, take Newt Gingrich out of the equation and watch what
Boing! Rick Santorum takes what was a 4-point lead over Mitt Romney,
and he blows it open in a 9-point lead. Newt Gingrich dropping out kills
Mitt Romney in Michigan.
Now, let`s go to Arizona. Finally a little bit of good news for Mitt
Romney in Arizona, Mitt Romney has a small lead in Arizona right now. He`s
beating Rick Santorum 36 to 33. Newt Gingrich, 16, Ron Paul has nine.
But watch what happens if you take Newt Gingrich out of the picture.
Watch. Oops, hey that`s a reversal. Rick Santorum goes from losing to
Mitt Romney in Arizona by three points, to beating Mitt Romney in Arizona
by 2 points.
So, the next three contests on the Republican side are Michigan,
Arizona and Washington. The latest polling shows that if Newt Gingrich
gets out of the race before those contests, Rick Santorum wins all three.
The continued presence of Newt Gingrich in this race right now is the
only thing keeping the words front-runner and Mitt Romney anywhere near
each other. And that brings us back to the billionaire casino guy.
When Newt Gingrich received his first $5 million injection from the
casino guy last month, Mr. Gingrich supporters spent the money, of course,
going after Mitt Romney. Remember the half hour long "King of Bain"
documentary that they purchased and aired in South Carolina? That was
thanks in large part to Sheldon Adelson`s $5 million.
But according to new reporting from Michael Crowley in "Time"
magazine, and this is fascinating, the casino guy, Sheldon Adelson, was not
all that psyched about how his money got spent there. Mr. Crowley
reporting, quote, Adelson was not thrilled with the Mitt bashing his money
funded in South Carolina.
Sheldon Adelson had famously said he is not a fan of Rick Santorum at
all. He doesn`t want Rick Santorum to be the nominee, but he says it would
be all right with either Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney. And it is now at
least being hinted that any new infusion of cash to Newt Gingrich from
Sheldon Adelson comes with a string attached. And the string attached is,
do not use this money to make Mitt Romney look bad. Go after Rick Santorum
all you want, but leave Mitt Romney alone.
The quote from Mr. Crowley`s reporting, "It is possible that Adelson
is giving on the condition that Gingrich`s camp doesn`t disembowel Romney.
Here`s another $10 million. Spend it on positive ads, spend it slamming
Santorum, especially in Michigan, please, but go easy on Mitt.
Mitt Romney essentially needs two things right now. He desperately
needs Newt Gingrich to stay in the race. So, Mr. Gingrich supporters don`t
flock to Rick Santorum and thereby beat Mr. Romney.
Also, Mr. Romney needs the Gingrich camp to please stop attacking him.
So how about killing both of those birds with one $10 million stone? Or
one $100 million stone?
See, I told you he`s Mitt Romney billionaire.
Joining us now is Steve Kornacki, political news editor at Salon.com.
Steve, it`s good to see you again.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Good to be here.
MADDOW: You have been writing about this and looking at this
dynamics. And horse race stuff is not my favorite politics, but I do find
this dynamic to be fascinating. Do you see it this way? Do you think that
is what is going on here is the three-way dynamic?
KORNACKI: Yes. No, absolutely. When you start looking at sort of
the demographics, it gets particularly pronounced when you get beyond these
next three contests and you move to Super Tuesday in the middle of March,
because that`s when this race shifts back to the South, back to the Deep
We`ve seen at least the basis, the foundation for a regional cultural
divide in terms of how the vote has been distributed in the Republican
primary so far where Romney has done sort of well in the coasts more or
less, broadly defined. Santorum has been the candidate of the Midwest, but
Gingrich in South Carolina and in the panhandle region of Florida has done
really well with the sort of white evangelicals down there. And those
evangelicals tend to be more sort of Pentecostals, Southern Baptist.
And I think when you look closely at Pentecostals and Southern
Baptists down in the South, you see, there`s -- we always talk about sort
of resistance to a Mormon candidates in Mitt Romney, that`s going to be
particularly pronounce. But there may also be an issue there for Rick
Santorum, too, in terms of being a Northern, Pennsylvania-born Roman
Catholic. He may not be an ideal outlet for them if they don`t consider
Mitt Romney to be an ideal nominee.
So, it may be that Gingrich, by virtue of his Southern roots, I know
he`s not originally a son of the South. His identity as a Georgian --
MADDOW: And he`s a Catholic convert.
KORNACKI: Right, a late in life Catholic convert. I mean, he isn`t
perfect, too, but he does have the Georgia thing going, maybe the name Newt
has resonance, I don`t know.
But, you know, he did much better than Santorum down there. So, one
of the things that`s interesting about, you know, Santorum going so far to
the right on the social issues the last few days, at least vocally to the
right, is I wonder if he feels that pressure that he needs to prove to sort
of the Southern evangelicals, that Newt Gingrich can be spending a lot of
money here they should not consider him a viable option. They should
consider Santorum one of their own. I think that`s a very live dynamic
MADDOW: So much of the campaign this year has been about
psychologically parsing the individual whims and motivations of specific
billionaires. The post-Citizens United world is a very specific world. We
know them all by their first names.
What do you think the odds are Sheldon Adelson as Newt Gingrich`s
essentially sole funder is keeping Gingrich in the game in order to protect
Mitt Romney`s flank?
KORNACKI: Yes. And it`s one of those we may never know the full
story, because you really have to get in his head for that, but we`ve seen
evidence, clear evidence of outreach, sort of sustained outreach from Mitt
Romney himself and for the people in the Republican establishment who are
sort of, you know, supportive of Romney and who are in touch with Sheldon
Adelson, we`ve seen consistent outreach from them.
And one of the things that I found so interesting, you talk about this
dynamic of the billionaires really holding sway over the process, you can
think back to that debate, it was in Florida where there was a Palestinian
Republican questioner who got up during the debate and put a question to
Mitt Romney basically about the perceived insensitivity of the Republican
Party to Palestinian concern. Romney gave one of the most sort of hard-
line harsh, you know, answers that I`ve seen him give as a candidate, and
again, you have to get in his head for this, but I wonder if the subtext
was that he knew Sheldon Adelson was watching.
MADDOW: The hard-liner of all hard-liners.
KORNACKI: Sheldon Adelson`s issued is Israel. He doesn`t really care
about the social issues. That`s why he doesn`t like, you know, Rick
Santorum particularly. His issue is Israel. And Mitt Romney may know,
hey, look, if I can make Sheldon Adelson comfortable that I`m ultimately
with him on this issue and more comfortable to win, maybe it brings about
what we`re seeing now.
MADDOW: Yes. He supports Newt Gingrich, there`s nothing dishonest
about a support there. But if it has the benefit of helping Mitt Romney in
the end, then it`s so much the better.
MADDOW: It`s fascinating. It`s creepy that we have to try to get
inside one guy`s head to figure it out. But that`s the world we live in.
Steve Kornacki, Salon.com political news editor -- thanks, Steve.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. Senator Bernie Sanders is here for the interview. That is
still ahead. Stay tuned.
MADDOW: Frank Luntz, Republican word guy. He`s guy who tells
Republicans to say like "job creators." Frank Luntz tells Republican:
don`t say government spending, call it waste instead. Frank Luntz is the
one who told Republicans to called health reform a government takeover. So
Republicans call it a government takeover.
According to Frank Luntz the words "climate change" are less
frightening than the words global warming. So, Republicans don`t say
global warming anymore because that`s too scary.
Frank Luntz is a Republican consultant who calls himself a wordsmith.
He is an utterly mainstream figure in Republican politics and his message
is: words matter.
Frank Luntz is not just a guy on FOX. This past Thanksgiving in Iowa,
he hosted a presidential candidates forum in Iowa.
And last night in Michigan, Frank Luntz warmed up the crowd at a
campaign event for Rick Santorum. Reporter Cori Morris (ph) posted this
video of the introduction for the Grand Rapids press.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK LUNTZ, REPUBLICAN PARTY STRATEGIST: I want your forgiveness
because you all might get up in crack jokes. Like when I came in to Grand
Rapids, I stopped in McDonald`s. Did you see they have that new Obama
happy meal? Order anything you want and the guy behind you has to pay for
Or I would stand up here and tell you I actually have a "run, Barack,
run" bumper sticker but put it on the front of my car. That of all the
places Hillary Clinton could choose to live she Chappaqua, New York. Do
you know Chappaqua is Indian for separate bedrooms?
That`s not the normal stuff I do. Can we play the second joke?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Don`t mind me. This is just a normal stuff I do.
Can we just play the second joke again, please?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: I would stand up here and tell you that I actually have a
"run, Barack, run" bumper sticker, but put it on the front of my car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Get it? The "run, Barack, run" sticker is on the front of
his car so it`s like Frank Luntz is trying to run down the resident of the
United States with his car. So says the Republican Party words matter
We have been looking today for any follow-up remarks, any apologies
for example for Mr. Luntz, or for Mr. Santorum, again, whose event that was
-- we have not seen any yet.
MADDOW: If you watched the top of the show and maybe thinking Bob
McDonnell, Virginia`s Republican governor, is not going to be that party`s
vice presidential nominee anymore. So, you`re thinking, I don`t know,
maybe instead it could be Mitch Daniels, the Republican governor in
Indiana? Maybe it could be. I suppose. Maybe if Rick Santorum is the
nominee, he might pick Mitch Daniels -- also maybe not.
In Indiana right now, one of the things going on in Republican
politics is the on-going legal trouble of a man named Charlie White, who`s
the Republican secretary of state. In Indiana, as in most states, that
makes him the top elections official, the guy in charge of elections and
voting and making sure the whole process is by the book and executed with
integrity. Charlie White at least was that guy in Indiana.
Until earlier this month, he was found guilty of six felony charges
including voter fraud. When Charlie White voted in an election in Indiana
m May, it turns out he was registered at his ex-wife`s house even though he
had already moved in with his new fiance across town. So there, finally, a
documented case of voter fraud with an actual conviction.
Only Republicans, that self-appointed voter fraud hawks, are fighting
this thing in Indiana. The day after tomorrow, Charlie White has a
sentencing hearing, and if the judge reduces his six felony convictions to
misdemeanors, then Mitch Daniel, the governor and potential vice
presidential nominee says he might give Charlie White his old job back.
That would be his old job overseeing integrity of Indiana`s voting.
When Charlie White was convicted of voter fraud, the governor
appointed Mr. White`s deputy as secretary of state. But he made sure at
the time to point out that he was making that appointment on a temporary
basis only. He said, quote, "I have chosen not to make a permanent
appointment out of respect for the judge`s authority to lessen the verdict
to a misdemeanor and reinstate the office-holder."
So, Mitch Daniels says the guy maybe gets his job back supervising
state elections if the judge softens the voter fraud charges for which he
has already been convicted. Do as I say, not as I do.
Indiana`s top election official could be a guy convicted of voter
Elsewhere in Indiana Republican politics Senator Dick Lugar is running
for reelection against not just against a Democrat but also a Tea Party
challenger within his own party. And Senator Lugar is having to answer for
the fact that his place of residence in Indiana, the address that`s on
driver`s license is a house that he sold in 1977 and he hasn`t lived in
That`s Mr. Lugar`s the primary challenger there standing in front of
said house in which Dick Lugar does not live. Dick Lugar, as a good
Republican, voted for federal voter ID requirement a few election cycles
ago, one which would presumably prevent him from voting in his home state,
depending on what address is on his driver`s license and how you`re
supposed to qualify to get that. So, do as I say, not as I do.
And in Iowa, the Republican Party has been trying to push through a
bill that would require to you show photo identification in order to vote.
They want that for the whole state, particularly I guess for general
elections in which Democrats and Republicans are both voting and the two
parties are running against each other.
But when Iowa Republicans were running their own election last month,
when only Republicans were voting in the Iowa caucuses, Iowa Republicans
chose not to enforce that rule for themselves. Of course, not, by making
hard for some people to vote, if you know what I mean.
So, do as I say, not as I do. Or it`s OK if you`re a Republican.
If Republicans do have this problem on voting issues, if they purport
to be so concerned about voter fraud but then they don`t live by their own
proposed remedy to the problem when given the chance, what are the chances
that with all these voting laws, these changes that they are trying to push
through, what are the chances they are really for something else?
Today, a group of four U.S. senators sent a letter to the Government
Accountability Office asking for a comprehensive study of just that issue.
One of those senators joins us now for the interview.
It`s Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from the great state of
Vermont, who caucuses with the Democrats.
Senator Sanders, it`s nice to have you here. Thank you for your time
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Why did you request the study on voting law and voter
registration law changes in the states?
SANDERS: Well, it`s clear to me, Rachel, that what right wing
Republicans are doing is trying to suppress the vote. What they are trying
to do and I have to tell you I really think it`s an absolute outrage,
people can have differences of opinion, but to go out of your way to try to
make it harder for poor people, for minorities, for students, for older
people to participate in our democratic process is totally unacceptable to
So, what we want is the General Accountability Office to document such
issues as how extensive is voter fraud in this country? My understanding
is thank goodness it is not a serious problem at all. And I want to use
that study to expose what the Republicans are doing.
Also, we want documentation of exactly how many people would be
impacted by these voter suppression laws.
MADDOW: We have been following a lot of these laws in individual
states as they have been enacted. Today, in fact, was the first election -
- a series of municipal elections in Wisconsin which photo ID was required
in Wisconsin. These things have been going in effect since Republicans won
so many governorships and state legislature seats in the 2010 elections.
I have heard people say that as many as 21 million Americans may not
have the ID that Republicans are trying to require to vote. Do you think
that these laws are so sweeping that they could affect the outcome in
SANDERS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, what you`re talking about is
sometimes we forget, you know, not everybody is middle class. There are a
lot of poor people who do not own cars, who do not have drivers` licenses,
a lot of old people don`t drive as well. They do not have in many cases
And then what the states are doing is making it very, very difficult
and sometimes expensive for poor people, for old people to get to the
places they have to go in order to get these photo IDs.
Very few people I think who study this issue doubt that what the
Republicans are about in this area is simply making it harder for those
people who might vote against them to participate in the political process.
And if I might say, Rachel, this is the other side of what Citizens
United is about. Citizens United is to give billionaires and corporations
the opportunity to buy elections and candidates -- and voter suppression is
the effort to deny those people who will vote against the Republican agenda
the right to participate in the political process.
MADDOW: Because -- I was highlighting the it`s OK if you`re a
Republican, the do as I say, not as I do aspects of this in order to point
out this does not seem to be a universal concern about voter fraud. And
the groups you describe as having the least access to photo IDs, which is
the thing that is being put up as a hurdle to voting in this country tend
to be people that vote Democratic and therefore these changes will benefit
When you look at all these things together, it makes me wonder if you
as a senator, when you talk to your Republican colleagues, when you talk to
Republicans in your home state of Vermont, are there Republicans who are
concerned about how difficult these state law changes are making it to vote
or this is really purely a partisan thing?
SANDERS: I think this is 100 percent partisan. It goes even further
than we`ve talked about. They are trying to create a situation where if
you`re a college student, you can`t use your college ID card to register to
They are trying to roll back same day registration. Eight states have
same day registration where you can register on the day you vote. There
are states that want to repeal that, they want to repeal or move back early
voting which has been very, very successful in getting more people to
The bottom line is that some of us think that in a democratic society,
the goal is to bring as many people as possible into the political process.
It`s very clear what the Republicans want to do is drive as many people,
especially poor people, old people, minorities, out of the political
process. And that is just reprehensible.
MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- thank you for being with
us tonight, sir. It`s nice to see you. Thank you for being here.
SANDERS: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Best new thing in the world, still to come. Stay
MADDOW: I am hypersensitive to visual stimuli. I can`t have moving
images and pictures around me too much or I get distracted and I can`t
concentrate on anything else. That`s why I`m not great with action movies
any time after they started digitizing the explosions. It`s also why my
future career as air traffic controller is not very bright.
But the way it affects me every day to be hypersensitive to visual
stimuli is that when we are prepping this show, what material we have
available to us to make the TV, I have to look at transcripts. I look at
transcripts of things that happen on tape rather than looking at the tape,
I`m not bragging about this. This actually makes me worse at my job
and not better at it. Because sometimes the most important thing going on,
even just in politics news, is not what`s being said at on event and
therefore what makes it into the transcript, but what`s happening visually,
while the words are being said.
Por ejemplo, here`s Mitt Romney speaking in Newton, Ohio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the people I`m
running against, Senator Santorum, goes to Washington, calls himself a
budget hawk. Then after he`s been there a while, he says he`s no longer a
I don`t believe it`s appropriate for us to keep raising the debt
ceiling every year. He voted five times to raise the debt ceiling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So that`s what Mitt Romney said in Ohio. And that was all in
But what is important about that thing that happened in Ohio what was
it looked like. See, that`s Mitt Romney at that event in Newton, Ohio,
while he was giving that speech. Who`s that guy standing next to him at
There he is at the same event. Right, there he is. Same blue shirt,
right? Looking like he might grab Mitt Romney`s belt loop there.
Who is that? Who is that guy? That`s Ohio Senator Rob Portman.
While Mitt Romney is laying in to Rick Santorum in Ohio for voting to
raise the ceiling, like he`s also doing in his ads, like he`s doing in all
of his speeches against Rick Santorum, while Mitt Romney is going hog wild
on how awful it was to raise the debt ceiling, he`s standing there with his
endorser, Ohio Senator Rob Portman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: We have in Washington a malady that affects so many there,
not your senator, but many others, that somehow think it`s OK to spend
money that they don`t have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Not your senator. Ha, ha. Other senators. Senator Portman,
ha, ha, would never do a thing like voting to raise the debt ceiling.
Quote, "As Mitt Romney slammed GOP rival Rick Santorum for repeatedly
voting to raise the debt ceiling on Tuesday, he was standing alongside
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio who also cast several ballots to raise the cap
on the nation`s debt."
Quote, "Portman during his time in the Senate and the House repeatedly
voted to raise the debt ceiling, most recently in August."
Here`s a statement from Senator Portman`s office at the time. He
called the debt ceiling vote a step in the right direction. "I support the
agreement," he said.
And before Rob Portman was a senator for Ohio, Rob Portman -- what was
his previous job? George W. Bush`s budget director -- George W. Bush who
raised the debt ceiling seven times. Which Mitt Romney never complained
Presidents inevitably raise the debt ceiling. Republicans do it.
Democrats do it. George W. Bush did it. Ronald Reagan did it. Mitt
Romney has never seen it as a scandal before.
Now, though, he`s try to make a scandal about it, hoping nobody can
bear to look at the pictures while we are also listening to him talk.
And how about you, Senator Portman? You`re just going to go to appear
at that event with Mitt Romney, with a big smile on your face and you`re
not going to peep while your candidate lies about your record? Really,
Senator Portman? You`re happy to take credit for something you didn`t do?
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world. Last May, when Rick Santorum`s
presidential candidacy was a crazy long shot, just a glean in the eye of
Foster Friess, we here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW had the foresight to snap
up a piece of Santorum-related Internet real estate.
This was a headline to the story in the "Sarasota Herald Tribune" last
May, recounting an anecdote Rick Santorum told about how early in his
political career, he was going door to door and he found himself in a
little old lady`s living room with an incontinent dog in his lap and how he
then got up and with a giant dog pee stain on his pants, he kept right on
Now, we found it so hard to believe that Rick Santorum would tell this
anecdote about himself, particularly given the problem he has what comes up
as the first entry when we Google the word Santorum. We found it so hard
to believe he was telling a urine-related anecdote about himself and his
pants on the campaign trail that we had the journalist in question place us
his audio tape from the event over the phone just to verify Rick Santorum
really did tell the dog peeing on him story, that he thought the mental
image of a pee-covered Rick Santorum pair of pants could somehow make him
seem more presidential.
Once that he journalist convinced us that it really happened, we
decided to seize the opportunity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And to help you out so no one takes it -- no one else takes
it and does something rude with it, we, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, have
purchased and safely thereby taken off the market
dogpeecantstopsantorum.com. Today`s "Sarasota Herald Tribune" headline
about Rick Santorum`s new stump speech, dogpeecantsantorum.com will now
live forever as a redirect to our Web site.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We still own that URL to this day. If you type
dogpeecantstopsantorum.com into a web browser, it will take you to the
And it turns out we were smart to grab that because this weekend that
piece of Internet real estate suddenly got way more valuable, because we
now have video proof that Rick Santorum really does tell the dog pee can`t
stop me story on the campaign trail. Here he is Saturday night, Lincoln
Day dinner, Akron, Ohio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She hands me a glass of
water, the dog jumps up and hops in my lap. OK. Fine. So, I pet the dog,
have a sip or two of water. We`re chatting.
The next thing I know, there is a warm sensation on my lap. And I --
and I jump up and on my tan pants is a huge wet spot where you don`t want a
huge wet spot. And so, I jumped up to look at it and she was aghast. She
reached for my pants and said, let me dry that off.
I backed away and said, no, that will be fine. She goes, let me get a
Heaven forbid. She goes, I said, no, thank you very much. I start to
move out the door. She goes, take your pants off, I`ll put them in the
That was the last I heard from her because I was out the door. So,
now, I`m walking down the sidewalk at the end of the sidewalk -- I`m two
hours into my walk, I`m a mile at least from where my car is, it`s still
lots of daylight left. What do you do? Undeterred, I soldiered on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So what did we pay for the URL, 15 bucks? Cheap at 10 times
the price. Dogpeecantstopsantorum.com. Tell your friends. Best new thing
in the world today. It`s finally worth something.
And, Mr. Santorum, we will renew the offer. If you want the URL for
yourself, if you want dog pee can`t stop Santorum to go to something that
you want, just call. I would be happy to give it to you for free. You can
use it for whatever you want.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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