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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Chris Hayes, Wendy Davis

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

In what ways is Mitt Romney like an Etch a Sketch?


JOHN FUGELSANG, COMEDIAN: Is there a concern that the pressure from
Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tax too far to the right,
it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Well, I think he hit a reset button
for the fall campaign and everything changes. It`s almost like an Etch a
Sketch, you can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.


MADDOW: This is an Etch a Sketch. Ed has one, I have one. I was
always really bad at this.

Etch a Sketch is made by the Ohio Art Company. It`s an American
company that`s been around since 1908. First in Archbold, Ohio, then in
Bryan, Ohio.

When the company was 40-something years old, in the 1950s, they were
approached by a French engineer who had designed something called a
"Telecran," or "L`Ecran Magique."

Ohio Art bought the "Telecran." They developed it. They renamed it
the Etch a Sketch, and to the delight to people everywhere in the world who
delight in drawing curving lines only bill virtue of great concentration
and exceptional hand/eye coordination, an American toy phenomenon was born.

In the late 1950s until the year 2000, Etch a Sketch was manufactured
by workers in Bryan, Ohio. The workers were in a union. They were paid
the grand sum of about $9 per hour to make the Etch a Sketch. That`s who
made this, until the year 2000 when the Etch a Sketch company outsourced
their work to China.

Instead of 9 bucks an hour, the Chinese workers got paid 24 cents an
hour. They had a minimum work with week of 84 hours per week.

Now, that was bad, even for that part of China. And the workers there
went on strike to try to get the Chinese minimum wage and specifically, to
try to get more meat -- more meat, more protein in their food allotment.
They lost on that and the strike organizers got fired.

Confronted by this "New York Times" article with the facts about how
their product was being made, the Etch a Sketch company basically said they
felt bad about it, but they felt their hand was forced because of price
pressure from their major buyers, including Toys "R" Us. Toys "R" Us, for
the record, is now owned by Bain Capital. So?




MADDOW: So Mitt Romney, like an Etch a Sketch, or as it used to be
called, the Telecran, Mitt Romney, like an Etch a Sketch, speaks French.

Mitt Romney, like an Etch a Sketch, also has a documented history of
firing American workers and sending their jobs to other companies that have
really horrible working conditions.

But most importantly, Mitt Romney, like an Etch a Sketch, has a
history of erasing his old supposed principles when it`s convenient and
writing new ones to meet new political needs. Which is why this Etch a
Sketch gaffe by his campaign today is one of the most, if not the most
significant gaffes of the entire campaign. And which is why Mr. Romney`s
rivals, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, were both out on the campaign
trail today, brandishing made-in-China Etch a Sketches. And which is why
everyone from those Republican candidates to the Democratic Party and
Democratic super PACs are already all over this thing.


a Sketch. He said, you just turn it over and shake it, and then you start
all over.

ROMNEY: I was a severely conservative Republican governor.


something that lasts longer than this. People aren`t stupid.


MADDOW: The Mitt Romney is an Etch a Sketch claim, made by his
campaign today. The claim that the far -- remember the question he was
asked here? It`s the claim that the far right positions Mr. Romney has
taken in the primary can easily just be erased and forgotten and replaced
with whatever they need to be replaced with for the general election. That
is important in this campaign.

I`m not a person who jumps on the gaffe of the moment, but I feel like
this is sort of a watershed thing. That is exactly the criticism that Mr.
Romney`s Republican rivals have thrown against him since he has been
running for president. And I mean, it`s not just this year. They made
this same claim in 2008, when he disavowed so many of his previous
positions, to run as a 2008 model year conservative.

And they have made it this year, as he`s disavowed even those 2008
positions to run as a 2012 poll year conservative. Jon Huntsman made the
accusation early on this year, when he called Mr. Romney a perfectly
lubricated weather vane. Remember that?

I mean, the Etch a Sketch thing today makes exactly the same point,
without the awkwardness of a lubricant reference. And with the added bonus
that the Romney campaign itself admitted it this time.


FEHRNSTROM: He hit a reset button for the fall campaign and
everything changes. It`s almost like an Etch a Sketch. You can kind of
shake it up and we start all over again.


MADDOW: Is this admission by the Romney campaign enough to make Mr.
Romney lose the Republican primary to one of these other guys? Honestly,
probably not. I mean, it is possible. It is possible, never say never,
but the smart money still says no.

Mr. Romney has about half the delegates he needs in order to win the
nomination. And frankly, and more importantly, he`s got the wherewithal to
get the rest of the delegates he needs, mostly because these other three
guys really, obviously do not have the wherewithal to get those delegates
for themselves.

And because of that, the Etch a Sketch moment today may be more
important as a general election matter than it is in the primary. It may
be too late to upend Mr. Romney`s prospects of winning the Republican
nomination, particularly against the kind of competition he`s got.

But how can someone with this reputation win the general election?
Because in the general election, it`s not just a question of whether you
are making yourself seem marginally more or less conservative than you
might really be in order to please the voters of each particular state one
at time, one after the other.

In the general election, it is different. In the general election,
you don`t have to be any one ideological thing in order to win over the
country. But you have to not be a liar.

Here`s how else Mitt Romney is like an Etch a Sketch. It is not just
speaking French, it is not just outsourcing jobs to China, it is not just
fudging his conservatism, it`s fudging everything, all the time. And this
is hard to talk about in the day-to-day news context, because there are
such low expectations for politicians to be truthful, and because the word
"lie" is underused and overused to the on the where everybody`s a little
bit touchy about it.

But the degree to which Mr. Romney lies all the time about all sorts
of stuff and doesn`t care when he gets caught is maybe the single most
notable thing about his campaign. It started in his very first speech, his
kickoff announcement speech this year, he lied.


ROMNEY: When he took office, the economy was in recession, and he
made it worse.


MADDOW: That`s a lie. That is a lie. Oh, Mr. Romney claims, others
say the response from -- no. That`s a lie.

The economy started getting better almost immediately after President
Obama`s Recovery Act became law, his first policies to deal with the
economy, right? But Mitt Romney still says this all the time.


ROMNEY: He did not cause this recession, but he made it worse.

He didn`t create the recession, but he made it worse and longer.

When he took office, the economy was in recession, and he made it


MADDOW: Finally, after Mr. Romney kept saying this over and over
again, an NBC News reporter ask police department Romney why he kept saying
President Obama made the economy worse when President Obama in point of
fact did not make the economy worse.


REPORTER: How can you continue to say that things are worse when they
really aren`t worse?

ROMNEY: I didn`t say that things are worse.


MADDOW: Yes, you did. Mr. Romney lied about the economic record of
the country and when pressed, he lied about his lie.

Mr. Romney also lies easily about himself. Here he is, for example,
at a recent debate, lying about his professional background and why he quit
after one term as Massachusetts governor.


ROMNEY: That would be about me. I was trying to help get the state
into the best shape as I possibly could. Left the world of politics, went
back into business.


MADDOW: "Left the world of politics"? That is a lie. Mr. Romney did
leave the Massachusetts governor`s office in January 2007, but then
literally one month later, he launched his first presidential campaign, in
February of 2007.

He didn`t "leave the world of politics" and go back into business.
That`s a lie. And moreover, that is an unnecessary, unforced, but
apparently very easily told lie for Mr. Romney.

And speaking of Mr. Romney`s one term in Massachusetts, here`s what he
told an Ohio audience recently about taking his Massachusetts-based health
care policy national.


ROMNEY: Early on, we were asked, is what you`ve done in Massachusetts
something you`d have the entire government do, the federal government do?
I`ve said, no, from the very beginning, no. This is designed for our state
and our circumstance.


MADDOW: Again, that is a lie. Mr. Romney said the country should do
what he did in Massachusetts. Here, for example, is an op-ed that he wrote
in "USA Today." Can we zoom in on the headline there? Oh, "President
Obama could learn a thing or two about health care reform from
Massachusetts," so says Mr. Mitt Romney.

Mr. Romney has, in fact, argued repeatedly that he supported a
national health care plan based on what he did in Massachusetts, including,
specifically, the individual mandate that he now decries. He may find this
politically inconvenient now, but that is the truth, and it`s easily
accessible by anybody with the Google.

And he still lies about it, all of the time, over and over again.

This is not a normal amount of politician lying. Mr. Romney lies
about himself, he lies about the president, he lies about policy. He lies
about everything. It is beyond a normal amount of politician lying.


ROMNEY: While we`ve got $15 trillion of debt, he`s said, look, I`m
going to put another $1 trillion of debt for Obamacare.


MADDOW: That is Mitt Romney lying. Every independent estimate,
including analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, which is not a
partisan thing, shows that the president`s health reform law actually cuts
the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Now, you cannot like it for other reasons, but Mr. Romney says all the
time that health reform adds to the deficit when in on point of fact, it
cuts the deficit.

Mitt Romney lies about it, all the time.


ROMNEY: He said he`d cut the deficit in half. He`s doubled it. He`s
doubled it!


MADDOW: Yes, no. Unless Mr. Romney has forgotten what "double"
means, again, he`s lying. When President Obama took office, the deficit
was about $1.3 trillion. Last year it was about $1.29 trillion. This year
it`s on track to be about $1.1 trillion.

You know, if a number is going down, it`s not doubling, it`s going
down. And anybody who says it`s doubling is lying.

Mr. Romney, you said President Obama cut Medicare benefits. That`s a
lie. You said the administration raised corporate tax rates. That`s a

You said President Obama has not signed any trade deals, which would
be news to officials in South Korea and Colombia and Panama, with whom the
president has signed trade deals.

You said Americans are the only people on earth who put our hand over
our heart during the playing of the national anthem. That is not only a
lie, it`s absurd, and it`s weird you would even say it.

What do you do with a candidate for president who lice about even the
stupid stuff?


SANTORUM: I can`t trust him to tell the truth about what he

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said of Mitt Romney, somebody who will lie
to you to get to be president will lie to you when they are president. I
have to ask you, are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re calling Mitt Romney a liar?

GINGRICH: Well, you seem shocked by it, yes.

obtain a job, he`ll be dishonest on the job.


MADDOW: It`s one thing to look at a candidate`s rivals and say, oh,
they`re calling him a liar. That`s one thing we call each other in
politics now, but I sort of feel like these guys meant for us to be taking
it seriously.

For those who follow the 2012 race closely, and perhaps even not so
closely, there are two broad narratives surrounding Mitt Romney. First, he
is an out of touch elitist who got rich by laying off American workers.
Second, he is a world class flip-flopper who`s radically changed his entire
political persona several times.

In both those cases, he is an Etch a Sketch guy, right?

But the shake everything up and invent your own reality side of him
has a more serious implication, he lies all the time, really easily. He
says things that are not true one nerving frequency, arguably more than any
modern candidate for major office, and there are a lot of creeps among

Some dishonesty in national American politics is frankly routine.
It`s too bad, but it`s true. Romney-style dishonesty is a sight to behold.
It`s different. He`s bending the curve.

No matter what your political stripes, Americans deserve better in a
campaign this important. There are enormous differences between the two
major political parties, and the voters will have a clear choice between
the parties` competing visions and policies for 2012.

There`s no reason that the whole country can`t, in this next election,
have a great debate about our collective future. But that only happens
when there are candidates representing the parties who respect Americans
enough to be honest with us.

And at least for now, the man who is most likely to win the Republican
presidential nomination really seems unwilling to do so and untroubled by
it. He seems to think he can get away with routine, almost casual
dishonesty, in part because the rest of us calling somebody a liar either
feels cheap or it feels somehow beneath the level of a presidential

Frankly, it ought to be beneath the level of a presidential campaign.
But what is more radically inappropriate on a systemic, institutional level
for us as Americans, is that a man who may well take the oath of office in
10 months is choosing to get to that podium on a foundation of utterly
unashamed, unprecedented deceit.


MADDOW: We have some breaking news tonight from the world of
Republicans mandating forced transvaginal ultrasounds. In the great state
of Idaho, unexpectedly, that state`s forced ultrasound bill is in political
peril. Now, this had been steaming right ahead. It`s already passed the
state senate. It passed the senate just this week, in fact, on Monday, but
it was not strictly a party line vote, which is maybe why we should have
seen this coming.

Five Republicans defected and voted against the bill, along with all
seven of the Democrats in the Idaho state senate. It was during that final
debate in the senate on Monday that the Republican sponsor of the bill made
himself famous when he said, quote, "Rape and incest was used with as a
reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a one goes into a physician
with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her
marriage. Was this pregnancy caused by perhaps normal relations in her
marriage, or was it truly caused by a rape."

Saying that on the floor of the Idaho state senate made that senator
national famous on the interwebs. He`s the one on the right here, on the
front page headline at "The Huffington Post" for much of yesterday.

Today, protesters gathered in Idaho to demonstrate against the forced
ultrasound bill. Here they are outside the statehouse in Boise. This was
the second big protest against the forced ultrasound bill in the next
couple of weeks, in Boise. Did I mention that?

Inside the statehouse today, anti-abortion activists were performing
ultrasounds on pregnant women before a live audience, under the banner,
voices from the womb.

But tonight, breaking news: "The Spokesman-Review" newspaper is
reporting that the ultrasound bill is either dead or nearly dead. "The
Spokesman-Review" reporting that a committee hearing scheduled for tomorrow
on the bill has been canceled. The chair of the committee telling the
paper, quote, "We are still looking for some more information on the bill
before we proceed, if we do."

Unexpected. This move in Idaho tonight actually follows a little bit
of a pattern that I had not seen coming, but seems to be happening all at
once. A pattern of governors on a whole host of different issues on which
they were becoming nationally famous, backing off from those things --
backing off of things that they could have done because of their huge
electoral majorities after they faced opposition locally and attention

In New Hampshire today, the New Hampshire house, in which the
Republicans have a 189-seat advantage, they have an 189-seat advantage in a
400-seat body, in New Hampshire today, they voted by a huge 211-116 margin
to not repeal New Hampshire`s same-sex marriage law. Same-sex marriage is
still legal in New Hampshire.

And the two-hour debate about repealing marriage equality saw
Republicans lead both the anti-gay marriage position and the pro-gay
marriage position. Talk about a wedge issue.

Also in New Hampshire this week, House Republicans having already
passed a bill through the statehouse that would force doctors under pain of
prison to lie to their patients about cancer. It would force doctors to
give their patients information specified by the state legislature that
contains an inaccurate claim that having an abortion gives you a higher
risk for breast cancer.

Having already passed that directive to doctors, the legislature
realized that maybe they didn`t quite understand what they`d passed or, if
they did, they maybe weren`t sure they meant it. So, now, they have gone
back, they passed this thing through the house and they`ve gone back it and
put it through the committee process again to try to change it up after the
fact, after they already passed it.

Yesterday, that committee voted to take out the felony prison time for
doctors part of the bill. "The Concord Monitor" reporting on the move
noted a sense of Republican discord on the issue. Reporting that after the
vote, quote, "At least 10 to 15 of the committee members, many of them
Republicans, said they will vote against the bill when it reaches the
floor." Quoting one Republican on the committee who voted with the
Republican majority to send the bill back to the f full house for another
vote, as saying, quote, "I just as soon see the thing killed."

"The Chattanooga Times Free Press" is also reporting today that an
anti-abortion bill pending in Tennessee is likely to undergo major changes,
all apparently at the behest of the legislature`s only physician, an anti-
abortion Republican who nevertheless says he will not support this bill
unless, among other things, his fellow legislatures eliminate a provision
that would require the state health department to publish online the names
of doctors who perform abortions in Tennessee. What could possibly go

In Arizona, the newly infamous "tell your boss why you`re on the pill"
legislation is also reportedly being amended by the Republican who
sponsored it. This is a bill who has already passed the house in the state
of Arizona, but nevertheless, "The Arizona Republic" is reporting this week
that the sponsor of the bill is pulling it off the agenda in a senate
committee so she can work on some amendments before it goes up to the full

Also, in Utah this week, the Republican governor there of that
essentially entirely red state, Gary Herbert, he vetoed a bill that would
have essentially banned public schools from teaching about contraception in
sex ed.

In explaining his decision, Governor Herbert said, "If HB 363 were to
become law, parents would no longer have the option. The overwhelming
majority is currently choosing for their children. I`m unwilling to
conclude that the state knows better than Utah`s parents as to what is best
for their children," he said.

With all of this news happening all at once, I think this might
officially be a trend -- Republican lawmakers in the states backing down in
the face of opposition locally and in some cases, very, very unwanted
attention nationally.

Joining us now is Chris Hayes, the host of MSNBC`s weekend morning

Chris, it`s great to have you here tonight.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: It`s awesome to be here.

MADDOW: Have we identified a trend?

HAYES: Yes. So I think there`s an optimistic interpretation of the
set of facts and a pessimistic one. So the optimistic one is the one that
I think you`re saying.

MADDOW: Which is rare, because I`m always the dark --

HAYES: I know! That is true. But I generally agree with this. This
is a position I`ve taken also, which is basically that liberals are winning
the culture war -- broadly construed, viewed over the sort of duration, the
culture war has inverted. That basically the right made tremendous gains,
sort of squeezing every last ounce of juice out of the culture war, until
there was none left.

And now things have reversed. They`ve reversed both because the
victories the right have won have pushed them more extreme, and also
because the culture has changed, particularly that true on gay marriage,

On gay marriage, I think it`s just, you know, we`re going to win on
gay marriage. We`re going to win. It`s a question of how long. There
will be fights along the way, but the trajectory of that to me is very
clear. So, I think that`s the optimistic view and I`m partial to that.

The one caveat, I would say, is that I think particularly in the case
of abortion rights, one way to interpret what`s happening is that the
extremists have already fenced in so much, the only ground that they have
to march forward on is on such extreme ground that no one wants to support
it. So in the case of Mississippi, right, the Mississippi personhood
amendment, which was sort of the beginning of this trend that went down to
defeat last year, there`s only one abortion provider in Mississippi. It`s
like, what battles are they left to fight in Mississippi.

So I think there`s a degree to which the culture war victories that
have already been secured by the right have forced the right into ever more
extreme territory, because they have to keep fighting -- that`s what they
do. And now, they`re facing backlash. But I don`t know sometimes whether
that shows the progress of liberals and progressives in beating them back
or because they`ve gone so far off the map because they`ve won so much.

MADDOW: I think it shows what the value is of having a conservative
movement outside the Republican Party, that pushes the party into untenable
electoral positions. I mean, nobody within the Republican Party would say,
let`s push mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds. But the absolutely
doctrinaire anti-abortion movement will force Republicans to take that
position, knowing that it`s too extreme for them, knowing that it may even
cost them the vice presidency for Bob McDonnell, it may cost them
individual elections.

But those casualties will be on your way toward your incrementally
moving what seems like the center further and further and further to the

HAYES: Right, and so, that`s the other big sort of broad question
about this. Does this move the center further and further to the right,
because it is constant -- and you`ve made this point before? It`s
constantly anchoring the discussion in more and more extreme places. Or
the does the backlash actually invalidate the entire world view that`s
pushing it?

And I actually think --

MADDOW: That`s the most interesting question.

HAYES: And I think on the question particularly of women`s
sovereignty over their own body, women`s self-possession of their
reproductive abilities and their full sexual embodiment, that, actually,
the extremism of the right has provoked a kind of awakening in women who
are not formally particularly political on this issue, into being political
on it, that will be to the great detriment of Republicans. Not just in
the presidential election, but in these local state races and state

I think there, there is absolutely, I think, pretty unequivocal gains,
politically, from sort of revealing just the fundamentally reactionary
nature of the entire world view that brings you these various --

MADDOW: And it is making the left, broadly defined, certainly people
who are concerned about women reproductive issues and sovereignty issues,
as you say, bringing their attention to state legislatures in a way that I
think only the right was doing before.

HAYES: And I think, also, there`s a degree to which they can`t --
it`s harder for them to sneak things past now. I think that`s sort of
changed -- I mean, a part of programs like this, but also just generally
the mobilization I think has actually changed -- it shone a light on places
where there were sort of bills that were getting kind of passed, with not
many people paying attention nationally, except for the activists on the
ground, it`s much harder to do that in this environment. And that is a
huge --

MADDOW: And these legislatures and governors have no idea how to
escape it. I mean, you look --

HAYES: Exactly.

MADDOW: I spent part of the day looking at Mississippi Governor Phil
Bryant`s Facebook page. Like, I was stunned into silence for an hour and a
half, going through all the comments. I mean, the Mississippi governor --
Kansas governor, Sam Brownback, his Facebook page essentially being shut
down, the attention they are getting for these things they`re used to
getting away with, they have no capacity to deal with.

HAYES: No capacity to deal with. And we`ve actually seen this in the
sort of victories that have been accrued from the Komen issue onward have
come in the sort of -- in the midst of a new cycle in which the backlash is
overwhelming to the person who`s sort of trying to push the issue.

MADDOW: They can`t handle the pushback at all. It`s fascinating.

So are you. Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC`s weekend morning show, "UP
WITH CHRIS HAYES," thank you, my friend.

HAYES: Good to see you.

MADDOW: Good to see you. Thank you.

All right. At the angry center of the controversy surrounding the
killing of an unarmed 17-year-old in Florida is a gun law signed by
Governor Jeb Bush. We`ve got details on that, just ahead.


MADDOW: For 40 years, beginning in the late 1960s, the U.S.
government paid for people in a place called Palomares, Spain, to go to the
doctor, to go to the doctor in Madrid. For 40 years, the American
government paid for some Palomarians to travel all the way to Madrid to get
their yearly checkup.

Why did we do that? Because in 1966, the United States accidentally
dropped two nuclear bombs on Palomares, Spain. Actually, we dropped two
nuclear bombs in that general area. One of them did not blow up. One of
them sunk into the Mediterranean. And two of them did what bombs are
supposed to do when they hit the ground. They exploded.

We dropped two nuclear bombs on Spain in 1966 and they exploded.

Now, they did not explode in the mushroom cloud way, the way that we
think of nuclear bombs, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the atomic bomb
test. But they did result in two giant dirty bomb explosions, right in the
middle of the Spanish countryside.

Why did we do this? And furthermore, what, we dropped nuclear bombs
on Spain?

As I said, it was an accident. It happened because a B-52 carrying
those bombs crashed into a tanker while it was in the process of a mid-air
refueling. So, we dropped four nuclear bombs in and around Spain by
accident in 1966 and we paid for the Palomarians to go to the doctor for 40
years thereafter. We shipped the radioactive Spanish soil to South
Carolina and we just waited until the whole thing went away.

And that is so not the only time we have accidentally dropped nuclear
bombs around the world -- and even here at home. I promise. And if you
ever find yourself having dinner with me, this is the kind of thing I will
go on about at length over dessert, which is why not everybody likes to
have dinner with me.

The accidentally dirty bombing Spain story is the kind of thing that I
found myself researching and reading about and obsessing over in my time
away from doing this show and my radio show before this. It is one of the
stories that made me want to write a book. So I did.

I wrote a book. It`s called "Drift." The little green soldier on the
cover, this guy, is the same guy who`s on the cover. See?

Writing makes me crazy, so I didn`t really want to do this at first,
but I realized that there was a story that I was thinking about all the
time, that I found myself reading about and researching in my time away
from the show. I found myself talking about it at home, with friends,
sometimes even giving speeches about it, but it was a story that doesn`t
really fit into the format of a news show on the TV or on the radio.

The story I wanted to tell takes more time than I can give it takes
broadcasting. So I told it as a book. And it came out the way I wanted it
to come out. The book is coming out on the market now.

It`s my first book. It is about politics, it is not about right
versus left, Republican versus Democrat politics. It`s about the politics
of bombers, the politics of using force -- how we decide about starting and
ending wars, how that has changed over the last 30 or 40 years in a way
that I think is a radical departure from the way we used to do it and the
way the Constitution says we`re supposed to do it.

It`s about how we civilians got really separated from the wars our
country is fighting, so much so that when we ended the Iraq war after 8 1/2
years, we civilians barely noticed. It`s also about accidentally dropping
nuclear bombs in tomato fields in Spain.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that my first book is coming out.
It`s called "Drift." You can order it now if you go to We
have a thing there that makes it easy to order. I`m doing a little bit of
book tour going around. It starts on the official release date of Tuesday.

I have been told that it`s pretty much sold out all over the place
already. So, whether or not I get to see you when I`m out traveling,
promoting this book, I hope if you like the show, you will consider reading

This is hard for me to say, but I am proud of this. And I`m glad I
wrote it and I do -- I would like you to read it, please. And if you do
read, with I would like to know what you think. Thanks for indulging.


MADDOW: Yesterday afternoon in Ft. Worth, Texas, somebody threw a bag
filled with six Molotov cocktails against the office door of a Democratic
state senator. Senator Wendy Davis was not at her office at the time of
the attack, but two of her staffers were.

One of the staffers reportedly jumped over the waste-high flames, ran
to the break room, got a fire extinguisher, and put out the blaze. There
was some damage to the building, as you can see here, but thankfully,
nobody was injured.

Senator Davis was kept on lockdown by law enforcement for four hours
at her law office, as a precaution.

A suspect in the firebombing fled the scene and was arrested by police
in a convenience store parking lot a short while after the incident.
Police say the man is 40 years old, he`s homeless, he had visited the
senator`s office at least twice before he allegedly threw the half-dozen
Molotov cocktails.

And while there is no indication that this attack was politically
motivated, Senator Wendy Davis has been in the national spotlight plenty in
recent weeks because of Texas state politics, because of this guy. The man
who was once the front-runner in the Republican presidential primary before
sputtering out in a series of really catastrophic debate performances is,
after all, still the governor of the great state of Texas.

And since Governor Perry has been back from the presidential campaign
trail, he and the Republican state legislature in Texas have made it much,
much, much, much more difficult for low-income women in Texas to get health
care. This is week two of the shutdown of the Texas`s women health program
for the state. And bending over backwards to prevent any Texas women from
getting cancer screenings, breast exams or pap smears from Planned
Parenthood, Texas gave up $35 million in federal support for women`s health
care, those effectively cutting off hundreds of thousands of Texas women
from these services altogether.

State Senator Wendy Davis, the target of this seemingly random if not
just plain crazy firebombing yesterday is one of the many Texans who has
protested the shutdown this month. They got a bus, the Women`s Health
Express, you can see that there. They traveled around from rally to rally,
making their presence and their opposition clear.

At one rally, Senator Davis talked about being a single teenage mom,
having been a single teenage mom, and having had to rely completely on
Planned Parenthood and its subsidized and free health care in an earlier
part of her life.


STATE SEN. WENDY DAVIS (D), TEXAS: I, like so many poor women, relied
on that as my absolutely only source of health care.


MADDOW: There`s no reason to believe that Senator Davis` vocal
opposition to Governor Perry`s agenda, the Republican legislature`s
defunding of women`s health care had anything at all to do with the very
scary attack on her office yesterday.

But since the attack, she has taken care to appear in public, to show
she`s not afraid, to reaffirm her commitment to being front and center on
women`s health care in Texas, and the other issues in which she has taken a
leadership role in the state.


DAVIS: I will continue to stand very strong for the things that I`ve
been working on and believe in. I know our community believes in -- public
education, job creation, and women`s health care.


MADDOW: Joining us tonight for the interview is Democratic Texas
State Senator Wendy Davis.

Senator Davis, thank you for being here tonight. It`s nice to meet

DAVIS: Thank you. Thank you, Rachel. Nice to meet you as well.

MADDOW: Let me begin by asking you how you and your staff are doing
after this attack on your office? I`m glad to know that nobody was
injured, but it does sound like it was scary.

DAVIS: It was. And it really sunk in for us overnight and through
the day today. It certainly reminds us how vulnerable we are in the public
arena and that we have to take extra care and caution in making sure that
we`re as safe as we can be.

MADDOW: With the Gabby Giffords shooting, that tragic incident, not
so far in the distant past, do you think -- see, this is a very different
incident that you went through, we don`t understand the full circumstances
surrounding the suspect in this case. It seems like he may have had mental
health issues. I know he had previous contact with some of your staff.

Do you feel like there is a heightened risk for people who are public
servants, who are politicians, simply because of being known, being seen to
speak out on issues that may bother people for any number of reasons,
whether or not they`re ideologically motivated?

DAVIS: I think that`s definitely the case. And I think it`s
particularly the case in the climate that we`re experiencing, in Texas and
nationwide as well today. As you know, Rachel, it`s been a particularly
emotionally charged climate. You talked earlier in your segment about how
in some ways, that`s led to some important awareness and changes in some
legislation that was heading down a -- what seemed to be a certain path.

Unfortunately, in Texas, legislation has gone down that path, and
beyond that path. And people are backing more and more upset about what
they feel is out of touch with the issues that they care about.

MADDOW: What`s the impact in Texas of these women`s clinics being
shut down all over the state? I mean, this isn`t a proposal in the state,
as you say, this has gone into effect. What`s been the effect on Texas
thus far?

DAVIS: Yes. You know, it came in two stages. In our budget, we had
a $27 billion budget shortfall this session. And most of that was
addressed through cuts in health and human services and cuts in public

On the health and human services side, women`s health care set aside
the women health`s program that is mostly federally funded. But on the
state-funded side of health care for women, we cut our budget from $111
million to about $37 million.


DAVIS: Two hundred and forty-four thousand women that were once
receiving care went down to 60,000 women who could receive care.

And then to add insult to injury, this pernicious amendment was put
into the health care budget bill that excluded Planned Parenthood from
receiving any women`s health program funding.

Of course, the federal response to that was that that is against the
law. We cannot deselect a particular provider. And as a consequence,
we`ve lost our funding entirely and another 130,000 women. So, over
300,000 women in Texas as a consequence of the last legislative session
have lost their health care.

MADDOW: That federal conflict over women`s health funding with Texas,
bending over backwards to cut off planned parenthood and ending up losing
that federal funding because of it, the Texas redistricting law being
blocked by the courts, the Texas voter ID bill, one of the most partisan in
the nation, where you can vote with having an ID for a gun, but not for
having an ID with a student.

I mean, all of these things made into federal cases, being blocked by
the courts. I wonder if it sometimes feels to you like Texas is kind of
seceding. Texas is having a lot of fights with the federal government over
what it`s allowed to do.

DAVIS: No question. And, you know, it`s just part of the political
narrative that those in the far right in the state of Texas believe is
something that there`s an appetite to hear.

The problem, though, it`s really not in keeping with everyday Texans.
And everyday Texans, I think, are growing more and more concerned about
this attempt to disavow the sentiments that they hold so dear -- respecting
women`s rights to make their own decisions is only one example of that.

But you`ve cited a couple of others and I think we`re going to see, as
we`ve started to see, as these issues have risen in the national agenda,
we`re going to start to see reactions, especially from women in Texas who
say, this is not representative of the things that I care about, and I`m
going to make a different choice when I go to the polls and vote in

MADDOW: State Senator Wendy Davis of Texas -- I`ve wanted to meet you
for a long time. I have followed your career from afar. I`m sorry it took
this attack on your office to get you hear, and I`m glad no one was hurt.

Thank you for your time tonight, Senator. Good luck to you.

DAVIS: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Senator Davis, I have to say -- she`s a remarkable
politician. She was a single mom, teenage mother, got herself through high
school, junior college, first in her class at Texas Christian, went to
Harvard Law School, was on the Ft. Wayne City Council. "Texas Monthly"
called her rookie of the year in the state senate.

She`s singlehandedly filibustered the senate into a special session
over funding the schools. She seems to drive Governor Perry nuts.

You look at someone like Senator Davis in Texas and seem to think,
maybe Texas Democrats are not an endangered species.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: The killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida and Governor Jeb
Bush`s "Stand Your Ground" gun law, next.


MADDOW: In the spring of 2005, cable news networks, this one
included, were transfixed by something happening in the state of Florida.
The Florida legislature was on the verge of passing into law a bill that in
fact gave Florida citizens the right to shoot somebody in a public place as
long as the person doing the shooting felt his or her life was in danger.
Now, Florida already had laws on the books that said you could use deadly
force in your own home in a case of self-defense. But if you were in a
public place, you had been required to use all available means to avoid
using that kind of force out in public.

But this new law that was being debated, spring of 2005, said
essentially, don`t worry about the avoiding the use of force things out in
public. Go right ahead. Shoot.

No other state had a law like this at the time. Florida wanted to be
the first. The Florida state rep who wrote the bill was Republican named
Dennis Baxley. In 2005, Mr. Baxley took to networks like this one to
defend his bill.


STATE REP. DENNIS BAXLEY (R). FLORIDA: This is going to be a safer
state because you`re going to have the presumption of law that this state
is behind you, if you`re protecting yourself from deadly attack. This bill
will help stop crime in its tracks.


MADDOW: For proponents of Florida`s bill, like Mr. Baxley there, this
was a matter of allowing people to protect themselves. From another
perspective, it was essentially an open invitation to shoot first and then
claim self-defense later.


BO DIETEL, FMR. NYPD DETECTIVE: If you have a feeling, if you have a
belief that you`re threatened, that you can react and react first, then you
open up a whole Pandora`s Box here. You`ve got to be kept when you pass
these laws.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think it`ll create blood in the street but
some innocent people are going to be hurt.


MADDOW: Some innocent people are going to be hurt.

In the face of a fierce and national public debate about Florida`s
bill, the bill passed the Florida state senate. Then it passed the Florida
house. It was signed into law by the governor of Florida at the time, Jeb
Bush. Jeb Bush called the so-called "Stand Your Ground" law, quote, "A
good common sense anti-crime issue."

Now, former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, is in the news today because
after months of withholding his endorsement, today he finally came out and
officially endorsed Mitt Romney for president. But Jeb Bush is also in the
news today for another reason. He is back in the news for that
controversial bill that he signed into law in 2005.

What you`re looking at right now are pictures from a march tonight in
New York City just a few blocks south of here, a march calling for justice
for Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

Three weeks ago, February 26th, the 17-year-old was walking through
his father`s Florida neighborhood when a local neighborhood watch captain
saw him, called police and told them he suspected Trayvon Martin was up to
no good. He followed Trayvon Martin. He chased him despite the police
dispatcher telling him not to.

And then after a series of events currently in dispute, the
neighborhood watch captain opened fire on the teenager. He opened fire.
That is not in dispute.

Trayvon Martin unarmed but for a bag of candy and an iced tea that he
was carrying, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Jeb Bush`s 2005 law, the "Stand Your Ground" law, was cited by Florida
police as their explanation for why they haven`t arrested the shooter in
this case. That has led to not only these protests but to a sudden change
of heart in Florida among legislators there who went along with Jeb Bush in
passing the law in the first place.

Yesterday, in Tallahassee, a group of Florida Democrats called for
that 2005 law to be reviewed, amended or repealed entirely. Florida`s
controversial and unpopular current Republican governor, Rick Scott, told a
group of demonstrators he would support changes with the "Stand Your
Ground" law if something was found to be wrong with it. Even the bill`s
author, Dennis Baxley, said tonight he may seek changes to the law, his own

When Mitt Romney accepted the endorsement of Jeb Bush today, he
lavished all sorts of praise on Mr. Bush. Mr. Romney saying that Jeb Bush
is synonymous with good government and conservative policies that yield
results. They do, indeed, yield results.

And this is why politics are important, because not only you as a
governor, but everybody in that jurisdiction that you govern had to live
with the results of what you do. Until somebody else comes along to change
it, right? And you have to live with the results of what you did in
governance for the rest of your life and for the rest of your political

And sometimes those results of what you did in governance overshadow
even what is supposed to be your big presidential endorsement day in the


MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today. And it is 100 percent
politics free even though it happened in Washington. Ready?

Something happened at the White House today that was so riveting that
all of our producers dropped everything they were working on to watch.
There happened to be a camera rolling. Look! When this female mallard
duck went on a walk just outside the White House grounds with her
ducklings. See? Mrs. Mallard jumps the concrete barrier and goes inside
the fence on to the White House grounds.

But the babies are too little to follow. The barrier is too high,
mom. I can`t make it.

This is much to the consternation of the tourists watching the
ducklings milling around, all bunched up, they`re not sure what to do.

But what a haul of the Secret Service, they`re here to help. The
Secret Service tries to help, they set up a ramp. They give the ducklings
a makeshift ramp which the ducklings do not use. Then the officers resort
to scooping up the little babies in their tough guy gloved Secret Service
man hands, they lift the ducklings through the fence one by one to reunite
them with mama and receive many loud cheers from the tourists.

And frankly from all of us here at 30 Rock and THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
offices, watching the ducklings drama happened on the live feed. Once safe
on the White House grounds, the whole duck family found a nice little
sheltered spot under a bush and were all happy together.

It has a happy ending. But the spectacle of elite law enforcement
officers making way for ducklings at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- come on!
Melt your frozen heart! Come on. Best new thing in the world today, you
know it is.

That does it for us tonight. We`ll see again tomorrow night. Now,
it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell.


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