'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, May 10, 2012

Guests: Karen Finney, Frank Phillips

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: That`s awesome, Ed. Thank you, man. I
appreciate. And good luck to you, Kelly.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

In the 2008 presidential campaign, the Republican Party`s vice
presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, had a few instances on the campaign
trail, being interviewed by reporters, where she just sort of famously and
blatantly lost momentary verbal coherence.


the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care
reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping -- it`s got to
be all about job creation too.


MADDOW: When "Saturday Night Live" wanted to satirize that moment of
incoherence in Sarah Palin`s interview with Katie Couric there, "Saturday
Night Live" did not bottom to rewrite the transcript of what Sarah Palin
said at all. They just had Tina Fey say exactly what Sarah Palin had said
-- all of the same words, in the same order, to devastating comedic effect.


TINA FEY, ACTRESS: Ultimately, what the bailout does is help those
that are concerned about the health care reform that is need to help shore
up our economy to help -- it`s got to be all about job creation, too.


MADDOW: Even though Sarah Palin gets all of the credit for having
some really incoherent moments as a candidate in 2008, you know, John
McCain actually had some of those moments too.

Do you remember when George Stephanopoulos at ABC asked John McCain
about gay adoption? Do you remember this moment in 2008? And all of a
sudden, it was like John McCain was high or something, or he was channeling
Miss Teen South Carolina? It was such a strange moment. Do you remember


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Gay adoption, you told "The New
York Times" you were against it, even in cases where the children couldn`t
find another home. But then your staff backtracked a bit. What is your
position request?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: My position is it`s not the reason
why I`m running for president of the United States and I think -- and I
think that two-parent families are best for America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you mean by that, it`s not the reason you`re
running for president of the United States?

MCCAIN: Well, I think it`s important for us to instill family
values, but I think it`s very important that we understand we have other
challenges too. I`m running for president of the United States because I
want to help with family values. And I think that family values are
important when we have two-parent families that are parents -- that are the
traditional family.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But there are several hundred thousand children in
the country who don`t have a home and if a gay couple wants to adopt them,
what`s wrong with that?

MCCAIN: I am for the values that two-parent families, the
traditional family represents.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you`re against gay adoption?

MCCAIN: I am for the values and principles that two-parent families
represent, and I also do point out that many of these decisions are made by
the states, as we all know, and I will do everything I can to encourage
adoption, to encourage all of the things that keeps families together,
including educational opportunities, including a better economy, job

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that our education, like such as in
South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere, like, such as.


MADDOW: My favorite part is when he says, I will do everything to
encourage adoption -- which I am not in favor, the adoption -- Iraq. Yes.
I don`t know.

John McCain asked about his belief that gay people shouldn`t be
allowed to adopt children was amazingly incoherent, even beautifully
incoherent. It was like the verbal equivalent of a splatter painting.

But interestingly, on the exact same policy issue today, we are
having a similar splatter, right now in today`s Republican Party politics.
As you know, two days ago, North Carolina voted to ban gay marriage. One
day ago, President Obama came out personally in favor of same-sex marriage

And then today, the "Washington Post" published this stomach-churning
story about Mitt Romney as an 18-year-old, having rather viciously bullied
gay classmates in high school. One of the victims of Mitt Romney`s
bullying was a kid who was described as a soft-spoken new student one year
behind Romney, perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed

This student came back from spring break one year with, quote,
"bleach blond hair that draped over one eye." According to one of Mr.
Romney`s friend who is now speaking to "The Washington Post," quote,
"Romney wasn`t having it." He quotes Mr. Romney as saying, "He can`t look
like that, that`s just wrong, just look at him." Mitt kept complaining
about these other boy`s look, the friend recalled.

Quote, "A few days later, that friend entered Stevens Hall to find
Mitt Romney marching out of his own room in front of a prep school posse
shouting about their plan to cut student`s hair. They followed him to this
room, tackled him, pinned him to the ground. As the student with his eyes
filling with tears screaming for help, Romney apparently clipped his hair
with a pair of scissors."

This has been kind of an amazing week. I mean, day one, North
Carolina. Day two, the president comes out for same-sex marriage rights.
Day three, we learn that about Mitt Romney`s past.

And so sort of unexpectedly, gay issues and policy around gay rights
have really suddenly moved to the center of presidential campaigning. I
think perhaps in an effort to make himself seem slightly less harshly anti-
gay in light of this new story about himself as a teenager, Mr. Romney went
on the FOX News Channel today to emphasize that he is okay with gay people
having some rights, like, for example, gay people adopting children.


gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, and even
want to adopt a child, in my state, individuals of the same sex are able to
adopt children. In my view, that`s something which people have the right
to do.


MADDOW: OK, this is confusing. Remember when there was that
kerfuffle about Hilary Rosen talking about Mr. Romney`s wife not working
for money and therefore not being a great adviser for him on women and the
economy. When that happened, a group called the Catholic League attacked
Hilary Rosen they said for not having her own children, because Hilary
Rosen`s children are adopted, Hilary Rosen is gay.

At the time, an RNC spokesman stood up to respond to that, sort of
defended Hilary Rosen having adopted children. But, of course, because
Hilary Rosen is gay, Hilary Rosen adopting children is against the
Republican Party`s stated position on whether or not gay people should have
the right to adopt children.

So when challenged on whether or not that`s what his tweet meant, a
change in position from the Republican Party, the Republican Party
spokesman then had to take it back and say, no, no, no, I was being nice to
her personally, but we`re still against it as a matter of policy.

Now Mitt Romney`s trying to make it clear that he would allow gay
people to adopt kids, although when he was governor of Massachusetts, he
did support legislation to let some adoption agencies ban gay people from
adopting kids in Massachusetts.

So this is all clear as mud, right? And to make it all even muddier,
at one point Mr. Romney just kind of came out against gay people having can
kids, full stop. Not specifically adopting kids, but he was against the
idea of gay couples having kids, generally.


ROMNEY: Today, same-sex couples are marrying, under the law, in
Massachusetts. Some are actually having children born to them. We`ve been
asked to change their birth certificates to remove the phrase "mother" and
"father" and replace it with parent "A" and parent "B." It`s not right on
paper. It`s not right in fact.


MADDOW: It`s not right.

So Mr. Romney has the advantage of not sounding like Miss Teen South
Carolina when he is totally incoherent about his own beliefs and policy
positions. But it should be noted that he is just as incoherent as John
McCain was on this exact subject in 2008.

But, you know, from this distance, looking back on John McCain in
2008, spacing out and losing the thread on this issue, I actually think
that maybe the more important parallel here is what McCain said to try to
get out of this mess, right at the beginning. Watch.


STEPHANOPOULOS: What is your position?

MCCAIN: My position is it`s not the reason why I`m running for
president of the United States.


MADDOW: It`s not why I`m running. In other words, yes, I believe
this thing. Yes, it is my policy position. But I would not like to talk
about it.

I would rather talk about some focus group-tested talking point that
I can`t remember right now, but not about this.

Mitt Romney used almost the exact same effort to get away from this,
to get away from this issue, to get away from something he didn`t want to
talk about. He used almost the exact same thing that John McCain did
there, when he, Mitt Romney, blew up yesterday at a reporter in Colorado.

The reporter has been asked him about things like same-sex marriage
and the criminalization of marijuana and some other issues.


ROMNEY: We do marriage. We do marijuana. I`m not running on
marriage and marijuana. Those are state issues, right?

REPORTER: Thank you.

ROMNEY: Aren`t they? Really?

REPORTER: Yes. Well, they could be federal issues.


MADDOW: And, in fact, they would be federal issues, taking issue
with the reporter`s questions. I mean, part of the issue with Mitt Romney
on gay rights issues is that he wants an amendment to the federal United
States Constitution to make the U.S. Constitution anti-gay marriage. To
take away marriage rights with, even in states that have decided to
recognize those rights.

So if you can get married right now in Iowa or Vermont, because Iowa
and Vermont decided at the state level that you can do that, even if you`re
a same-sex couple, Mitt Romney as president would take that right away.
Mitt Romney would say, no, federally, I`m going to take that right away.
We`re going to change the U.S. Constitution to ban your state from being
allowed to decide that.

So factually when he says, oh, this is a state issue, factually he is
wrong that he should not be asked about this, because to him, it is not a
state issue.

But even more interestingly, even though this is his policy, even
though this is what he is pledging to do as president, Mitt Romney doesn`t
want to be asked about this. He doesn`t want to talk about it. This isn`t
what he wants to spent his days discussing.

In other words, yes, I believe this thing, yes, it is my policy
position, but I do not want to talk about it. This is the same thing that
John McCain did back in 2008. It`s the same thing that one of Mr. Romney`s
potential running mates, Governor Bob McDonnell, governor ultrasound of
Virginia, is doing right now in trying to get out of people calling him
governor ultrasound.

I mean, yes, Bob McDonnell signed that law to force Virginia woman to
have medically unnecessary ultrasounds by order of the state government and
yes, he introduced 35 anti-abortion bills while he was in the state
legislator, but he does not want you to think of that as something that he
does or that he focuses on.


GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: You know, I think, listen, that
was one bill out of a thousand that we passed. It was all focused on jobs
and economic development, education, and a number of other things. That`s
my agenda.


MADDOW: That part of my -- it`s just a part -- one thing.

Yes, I believe this thing. Yes, it is my policy position, but I do
not want to talk about it. That`s how Republicans have dealt with the
whole war on women issue broadly as well. The criticism has not caused
them to change any of their policies. They`re going great guns with anti-
abortion legislation, still going great guns with anti-contraception
legislation, they`re still against the Fair Pay Act, they`re still against
the Paycheck Fairness Act, for Equal Pay for Women.

Those are still their beliefs. Those are their policy positions, but
they do not want to talk about it.


introduced in state legislatures in Congress across this country since then
to take away women`s health -- reproductive health. There`s just no
question that whether the Republicans want to call it a war, and I don`t
particularly love that word, there is a concerted effort to change settled
policy in the area of contraceptive rights, in the area of health care

When men have medical issues, they`re medical. When women have
medical issues, they`re political. That is going to be a huge issue in
this campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are all distractions from the real
issues. Let`s look at the policy. Let`s look at the real issues that face
all Americans, including women. And it is. It`s the economy.


MADDOW: But what about all of those policies, about women and the
economy? Those are a distraction?

In other words, yes, I believe this thing. Yes, it is my policy
position. But I do not want to talk about it. John Boehner in Congress
today ran into this one so hard I thought he was going to break something.

After President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage
yesterday, but before we found out that Mitt Romney as an 18-year-old led a
chasing mob to hold down a younger classmate as they cut off his hair and
while he cried and screamed for help -- in that brief interlude in this
last news cycle, at 11:30 p.m. last night, literally in the dead of night,
in Washington, in Congress, House Republicans are working on a pair of
bills related to the Defense Department, bills about the Pentagon budget.

And they decided that their contribution to this news cycle that is
unexpectedly all about gay issues in politics would be to add two anti-gay
amendments to this defense bill they`re working on. One amendment to try
to block gay soldiers from allowed to get married and to protect people who
discriminate against gay troops. That`s nice. And another amendment to
further their support for the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, which the
Obama administration says is unconstitutional.

These are defense bills. And this was the middle of the night last
night. It`s almost like the Republicans saw President Obama doing
something kind of nice for gay people with his comments in the afternoon,
and they decided that they therefore needed to stick it to gay people in

What can we do with that, what is it, a defense bill? What can we do
in a defense bill that might hurt gay people? It hurts gay soldiers? I
don`t care. Let`s get `em anyway!

At one point, the debate over these defense bills, because they have
been hijacked to become an anti-gay thing by House Republicans, at one
point, the debate devolved into a bitter fight over whether or not
Leviticus should be considered part of the bible, given that it is actually
in the Old Testament.


REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: I would like to say that if
you read Leviticus 20:13, you will see in there this issue of, they are to
be put to death. If a man has actual relations with a man, as one does
with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be
put to death --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Sanchez, that is the Old Testament.

SANCHEZ: It`s the Bible!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the Old Testament.

SANCHEZ: It`s the Bible!


MADDOW: So now we have to fight about whether the Old Testament
counts as part of -- this is what is happening in the Republican-controlled
House right now. This is what House Republicans are spending their time
on. All of this anti-gay right stuff.

The reason Leviticus is being discussed in a bill -- discussion about
a defense bill is because the Republicans are putting anti-gay rights
amendments in the defense bill. Asked to comment on the sudden reemergence
of anti-gay issues in the House, the leadership of House Republicans, the
speaker of the House, John Boehner, said he didn`t want to talk about it.


REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, on gay marriage, Leader Pelosi and several
other Democrats say you`re on the wrong side of history on this issue. Do
you think that this is a civil rights issue?

marriage is the union of one man and one woman. And the president and the
Democrats can talk about all this all they want. But the fact is, the
American people are focused on our economy and they`re asking a question,
where are the jobs?

The president can talk about it all he wants. I`m going to stay
focused on what the American people want us to stay focused on, and that`s

REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, a top Romney adviser said this morning that
they plan to make the marriage a campaign issue and that they`re also going
to push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Do you agree
on that?

BOEHNER: I`m going to stay focused on jobs.


MADDOW: In other words, what Republicans are working on, what the
Republican presidential campaign says it`s going to campaign on, what the
policies are that Republicans are pursuing in the Republican-controlled
House of Representatives, what they are staying up all night in congress to
hammer home, even in the middle of something totally unrelated, what they
are focused on and can`t let go is making anti-gay policy -- working hard
to make gay people`s lives harder in this country, rolling back gay rights.

That is the policy they plainly believe in. That is what they`re
working on. But that is not what they want to talk about.

I mean, I don`t want to copy Bill Maher and say new rule, but new
rule. If you don`t want to talk about it, don`t do it. If you don`t want
to run for office on the basis of one particular political stand, then when
you run for office, don`t take that political stand.

If you endorse a policy that is a controversial policy, you are going
to get asked about it. You are going to have to explain it. You might
even become known for it, even if it`s not in your talking points that your
focus groups told you what you ought to be heard saying on the campaign
trail today.

It`s been true all year on abortion rights. It`s been true on policy
affecting women broadly. It`s been very much true about gay rights right
now and all these other things that Republicans are working on feverishly
and putting right at the top of their agenda and prioritizing when they
actually go to work and do the work of politicians.

It is central to how they are campaigning and how they are governing
and what they are proposing to change about the country and what they are
actively working to change about the country, but they do not want to be
known for it. They just want to do it. They don`t want to have to discuss

Luckily, they don`t get to decide how the free press covers them.

Joining us now is Karen Finney, MSNBC political analyst and columnist
for "The Hill". She`s a former communications director for the Democratic

Karen, it`s good to see you. Thank you for being here.


MADDOW: You know, I understand why politicians want to do this.
Obviously, people want to talk about the thing that focus groups the best,
the thing that puts them in the best light at every opportunity.

Is this actually something where the aggressiveness of the press
determines whether or not they get away with it?

FINNEY: Absolutely. And here`s the thing -- I mean, you know, this
-- what they don`t want you to know is that the far right has really taken
over the Republican Party. That`s why, instead of while they campaigned
on, we`re going to get in there and focus on jobs, and instead, what are
they doing, they`re holding hearings on women`s access to contraception and
health care with no women in it. They`ve had all this time. I would love
for each one of them have to give us an accounting for how they spent their
time and how much of their time they`ve spent trying to create one job,

They don`t want you to know that what this is really all about is
sucking up to the right wing. They want to be able to go home and tell
their base, hey, we voted against those gays and we voted against those
women. We -- this is what we voted for.

But like you say, they know that the majority of America does not
accept that agenda and it does not focus group well, and it does not poll
test well. So that`s not what they want to talk about. So, they`ll smile
in your face and say the phrase that they think you want to hear.

MADDOW: See, I feel like when John McCain started doing this,
started doing this in 2008, even no more skillfully than Sarah Palin was
doing it, saying, yes those are my positions, but it`s not what I would
like to talk about what is my message of the day today, when he was doing
that in 2008, I felt like it didn`t make much of an impact in terms of what
he was able to talk about. People just kept asking him questions about
whatever they seemed newsworthy.

This year, I feel like it`s not just happening at the presidential
level, it`s happening all down the ticket, it`s happening with politicians
at every level -- and I wonder if it is a more fruitful strategy now,
because we sort of have two different publics. We have a conservative
public that gets all of its information from conservative media, that is
totally insulated from the rest of the media.

And then we have everybody else, who gets some stuff from the liberal
media, but mostly things from the mainstream media. Can you get away from
this -- get away with this more if you can count on talking to an insulated
public that isn`t going to do anything that you don`t want them to know?

FINNEY: Well, I think you can, in a sense -- and this is something
I`ve said for a long time -- in gerrymandered congressional districts,
absolutely. That`s how we got the Tea Party, right? But in a national
election, and this was the lesson that John McCain learned, he had to go so
far to the right during the primary -- I mean, remember, this is the guy
who was a co-sponsor of immigration legislation that he then in the general
election ended up saying he wouldn`t vote for. Right?

That`s how much he contorted himself to try to appeal to the right
wing. And I think, you know, with Mitt Romney, I think his career has been
set on telling people what he thinks they want to hear, the majority of
Americans poll show happened to believe that that`s what he does, and
that`s again what I think we`re seeing happen here, right, is that they`ve
said, we`re going to do these things, but we`re going to talk about the
things that we think people want to hear and talk about, because we know
that a majority of Americans actually know somebody who`s gay and think
it`s probably OK to make a commitment to the person that you love and don`t
really care -- you know, if two people of the same sex get married.

Just in the same way that, you know, at one point in this country,
people thought that my parents shouldn`t have been married and now people
realize that that`s ridiculous, right?

So what they don`t want to face is the fact that things are changing.
But they still have to appeal to this very far right wing base to get
elected. They rely on them in a national election. That`s part of what`s

The second piece, though, Rachel, that I think is really important is
don`t forget what`s happening at the state level. It`s not a mistake that
these Republican-controlled legislatures, thanks to ALEC and other groups,
is where you`re seeing anti-union, anti-woman, stand your ground, voter ID,
anti-immigrant, harsh, you know, let`s codify racial profiling legislation
popping up.

But that`s not what they campaigned on. They campaigned on creating

MADDOW: I think that you`re right, and I think it`s important to
point that out. And I actually think it will be interesting to see how
much success the Democratic Party has at the national level, tying national
Republican politicians to what the party has done in the states. I think
that`s a communications challenge for the Democratic Party. I`ll be
interested to see if they can pull it off.

Karen Finney, former communications director for the DNC, MSNBC
political analyst, columnist for "The Hill" -- Karen, thanks very much for
being here. I appreciate it.

FINNEY: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. For the life of them, Republicans say they do
not understand what the rest of the country is saying about them. It is
made up. It is just a distraction. That`s coming up.


MADDOW: Not quite a year ago, the voters of the Cherokee Nation
based on the U.S. state of Oklahoma, they elected a new principal chief,
the highest elected office in the Cherokee government. The new chief, Bill
John Baker, defeated a three-term incumbent by just 11 votes out of more
than 15,000 votes cast. It was a really, really close race.

But Bill John Baker won, and now as principal chief Bill John Baker,
he is running the Cherokee nation.

At the time of the election that made him principal chief, one of the
issues that got raised was that Mr. Baker was of mixed ancestry. Chief
Baker is, in fact, 1/32 Cherokee. That makes him Cherokee, the same as
other Cherokee leaders who also have a mixed ancestry.

And as you can see here that Bill John Baker, that 1/32 Cherokee,
Bill John Baker, is now the dually elected, dually serving principal chief
of Cherokee Nation.

In another election happening 1,600 miles away from Oklahoma, in
Massachusetts, Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts is locked in
a virtual tie to hold on to his seat against his Democratic challenger,
Elizabeth Warren. Last month, Boston`s conservative tabloid, the "Boston
Herald," published this headline, "Harvard Flaw." school once touted Liz`s
Native American routes as proof of faculty diversity.

The accusation here was that Elizabeth Warren was somehow wrongly
considered to be Native American? She was maybe wrongly listed as having
Native American heritage in law school directories and someone, maybe her,
maybe the school, somehow wrongly benefited from that wrongful impression,
that wrongful, spurious thing that she supposedly did.

The "Boston Herald" described it as "Elizabeth Warren`s avowed Native
American heritage, which the candidate rarely if ever discusses on the
campaign trail, was once touted by embattled Harvard law school, officials
who cited her claim as proof their faculty`s diversity." Warren`s claim,
which surfaced yesterday, after a "Boston Herald" inquiry, put the
candidate in an awkward position last night scrambled, but failed to
produce documents proving her lineage.

So the implication here is that Elizabeth Warren is faking being
Native American. That is being implied.

The day this article appeared in "The Herald," Senator Brown`s
campaign manager demanded that Elizabeth Warren apologize for letting
Harvard describe her of being as Native American ancestry. Scott Brown`s
manager said it was a hypocritical sham and a, quote, "insult to all
Americans who have suffered real discrimination and mistreatment."

A reporter last week asked candidate Scott Brown himself, Senator
Scott Brown himself, about this issue. His response amounted to, who, me?
Asking about Elizabeth Warren`s ethnicity. Me?


REPORTER: Senator, do you feel in any way that she`s unqualified,
that maybe she got that position at Harvard because she didn`t meet the --
that`s the suggestion, isn`t it, from the Native American --

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: You guys are asking a lot of
questions and I`m learning about it as you are. And you`ve asked a lot of
questions and she should answer them.

REPORTER: But your campaign manager also sent out a press release
this morning sort of urging us to ask those questions, so --

BROWN: I think you should.


MADDOW: I think you should ask those questions, because I`m not
asking them. I`m just following along here, with my campaign, telling you
to ask these questions, and then denying that any of this is coming from

That has actually changed in a hurry. On Tuesday, Tuesday of this
week, Senator Brown personally demanded that Elizabeth Warren release her
job applications. So first it was Scott Brown`s campaign manager floating
the story, testing it out. Then it was Scott Brown himself saying he was
just listening into this media frenzy he had nothing to do, but he liked.

And now this week, Senator Brown is all in, how dare Elizabeth Warren
call herself Native American. What a scam.

It turns out Elizabeth Warren is Native American. She`s from
Oklahoma. She is 1/32 Cherokee. She appears to be exactly as Cherokee as
the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Bill John Baker. Elizabeth
Warren is exactly as Cherokee as the guy who heads the Cherokee nation.

And actually, because she may have ancestry from the Delaware tribe
as well, it is conceivable she has more native heritage than he does.

So the outrage from the Scott Brown campaign is that it is somehow
despicable and awful and a scandal that Elizabeth Warren says she is part
Native American. Elizabeth Warren is part Native American. This is a

I live in Massachusetts. Remember, there was that whole thing for a
while, where Scott Brown was raising money from conservatives around the
country by saying that I was going to run against him for Senate? Yes.

I am used to weird Massachusetts politics. I am used to weird,
sleazy Scott Brown politics. But this is actually really truly weird.

I mean, the Scott Brown campaign has gone all in on this story that
it is offensive that Native American -- that Elizabeth Warren says she is
Native American, even though she is, in fact, Native American. It`s the
center of their campaign now.

If you don`t believe me, consider this. This week an ethics
complaint was filed against Scott Brown, a complaint that he had a Senate
staffer working on his campaign on the taxpayers` dime. Now, whatever you
think about the complaint, this was Scott Brown`s complaint to this ethics
complaint being filed against him. Ready?

The response was, quote, "This complaint has about as much
credibility as Elizabeth Warren`s claim to be a Native American."

But Elizabeth Warren is Native American. She is as Cherokee as the
guy who is the principal chief of the Cherokee nation, which in Scott
Brown`s calculation, would, I guess, make this complaint about his campaign
ethics totally valid.

This is the weirdest political attack of 2012 so far. I`m sure it`s
going to get weirder, but this is really, really weird.

Joining us now is Frank Phillips, who is the state house chief for
the "Boston Globe."

Mr. Phillips, thank you very much for being here tonight. It`s nice
to see you.

FRANK PHILLIPS, BOSTON GLOBE: It`s great to see you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Are you surprised that Senator Brown has gone this far in
attacking Elizabeth Warren on this? Do you see any political risk for him
in doing this?

PHILLIPS: Yes, I do. I think we`re all surprised that he came out
and did it himself. It`s always been generated from within his circles and
the Republican circles. They were really driving this story, hoping that
they were going to get to the very important part of the electorate that
the two are battling over, and those are the so-called Reagan Democrats,
who particularly don`t like affirmative action and diversity in the
workplace, and see that as a -- and he`s using that to highlight her and
her use of the Native American, and implying that she got her jobs.

And you`re right, it is -- it`s going to be a little difficult for
him to keep going along these lines without touching the third rail.

MADDOW: Well, because it seems like the two -- I mean, I guess there
are two third rails here. I guess that makes one of them a fourth rail.
It`s either that it is somehow scandalous itself that she is Native
American, which just seems very, very strange, almost crazy to be used as a
political attack.

But then the other side of it, if you follow the, as you said, the
sort of affirmative action critique there, his critique is that she is not
qualified to have the jobs that she has had, because she is a woman, and
because she is part Native American. Challenging her credentials as an
academic, as somebody who has done what she`s done in her career seems
almost as radioactive, I guess, as a political tactic, doesn`t it?

PHILLIPS: Well, it`s all part of what they`re trying to do is
separate her from the Democratic electorate, the conservative and
independents, that she is not one of us, she`s Native American from
Oklahoma. That brings that home. She`s from Harvard, Cambridge. They`re
not part of us.

And it`s effective. Whether it is going to be determinative and
whether we`ll be talking about this in the fall is really unclear, and I
don`t think we will be. This campaign is full of gotchas. The Democrats
are doing much the same things to him. I think even that small little
ethics violation, claim of ethics violation is really kind of silly.

This is -- we`re an intelligent electorate here in Massachusetts, as
you know, Rachel. And this doesn`t -- this whole campaign is just gotten
into a lot of he did this and she did that. And all the major issues that
we`re supposed to be debating here, all the intellectual firepower we are
here in Massachusetts, none of the major economic issues facing the nation,
the two wars that we`re fighting, all the issues of China and the
inequality in pay, it isn`t even really on the radar.

And here we are talking about Native Americans and whether he used a
video camera that he shouldn`t have used or he`s touting Fenway Park when
he tried to, you know, tried to move it out to Foxborough, another town
outside of Boston. It`s just, it`s a lot of silliness. And maybe they
should all get back to doing that.

Now, listen, I`m the reporter who loves gotcha stuff. So people
maybe think I`m having a nervous breakdown here, but I do appreciate, you
know, a good debate. And we`re not seeing it in this campaign.

MADDOW: Yes, and seeing the ping-pong silly stuff and the gotcha
stuff happening in this campaign was depressing, but maybe not surprising.

But I was surprised to see Scott Brown himself grabbing hold of this
Native American issue.

PHILLIPS: I think you`re very right on that. I think you have
something there. He`s in dangerous territory when he gets out there and
questions her credentials and that`s going to be a problem if he goes too
far with that.

MADDOW: Frank Phillips, "The Boston Globe" statehouse bureau chief,
I really, really appreciate the ability to talk to you about this stuff.
Thanks very much for being here.

PHILLIPS: It`s a pleasure. Thank you, thank you.

MADDOW: So this was a big day in non-apologies. I will explain in
just a moment.


MADDOW: When confronted with something that for which you really
should apologize, what do you do? Do you express remorse? Do you deny
your can culpability? Do you laugh nervously?

An extremely prominent politician, an extremely prominent politician
is now going with all three, all at once. Deny it, be remorseful, laugh
nervously. That is coming up and it`s all on tape.


MADDOW: "The Washington Post" made a decision today to not run their
story about Mitt Romney today, in the physical newsprint paper edition of
"The Post." They posted it online, but it will not be in the paper until
tomorrow. "The Post" apparently wanted to avoid juxtaposing their front-
page story about President Obama endorsing same-sex couples to marry about
their new blockbuster story about an 18-year-old Mitt Romney leading a
cheering mob that chased down and held down a closeted gay student and Mr.
Romney forcibly holding down that student and cutting off his hair with
scissors, because Mr. Romney objected to what the boy looked like.

Mr. Romney is not disputing that the incident happened back when he
was a teenager, and in the story he`s quoted as saying, "He can`t look like
that, that`s wrong. Just look at him." Mr. Romney told that to a close
friend in his dorm. That friend a few days later, quote, "Entered their
dorm to find Romney out of his own room, ahead of a prep school posse,
shouting about their plan to cut the younger student`s hair."

Mr. Romney`s friend followed them to a nearby room where they came
upon the younger student, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As the
younger student, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Mitt
Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

One man who is joined in having restraining the boy that they
attacked, told "The Post," quote, "To this day it troubles me, what a
senseless, stupid, idiotic thing to do."

A childhood friend of Mr. Romney who saw it all happen that day told
"The Post," quote, "It was vicious."

Even though the incident was confirmed to "The Washington Post" by
five different students who were at school with Romney, his campaign
spokesperson initially responded to the story today by saying it was a lie.
She said, "The stories seem exaggerated and off base and governor Romney
has no memory of participating in these incidents."

Mr. Romney himself later said he did not contest that the incidents
had happened, but that he didn`t remember anything about them. He didn`t
remember anything about them, but he somehow definitely remembers that he
did not think the kid in question, who was attacked, was gay. Nor did he
think that about another closeted kid he is reported to have bullied, by
shouting "Atta girl" whenever the student would say something in class.


BRIAN KILMEADE: A prank that could have gone down in high school
with a guy named John Lauber, who they say that you and a couple of your
friends with, who this guy was thought to be homosexual, cut his hair.
Pinned him down and cut his hair.

Do you remember any of this?

ROMNEY: You know, I don`t remember that incident. And I`ll tell
you, I certainly don`t believe that I or -- I can`t speak for other people,
of course -- but thought the fella was homosexual. That was the farthest
thing from our minds back in the 1960s.

So that was not the case. But as to actually and play that back, I
don`t remember them all, but again, high school days, and I did stupid
things, and I`m afraid I`ve got to say sorry for it.

KILMEADE: They also point out an incident in English class with this
guy, Gary Hummel, who says he was a closeted gay student at the time, and
when he would talk out, a young Mitt Romney would yell, "Atta girl," do you
think that happened?

ROMNEY: Well, I really can`t remember that. You know, there are a
lot of times, my guess is, at a boys` school, where other boys do something
and people say, hey, atta girl. But as this person indicated, he was
closeted. I had no idea that he was gay, and I can`t speak to that even

But as to the teasing or the taunts that go on in high school, that`s
a long time ago. For me, it`s about, what, 48 years ago? So if there`s
anything that I said that was offensive to somebody, with I`m very deeply
sorry about it.


MADDOW: If you don`t remember anything about it, how do you remember
that you definitely didn`t attack him because he was gay? How do you
remember that you definitely didn`t think he was gay if you don`t remember
anything about it? You remember that exculpatory thing but you remember
nothing else?

And there`s one other thing, but what is the part of this that is so


KILMEADE: Do you remember any of this?

ROMNEY: You know, I don`t -- I don`t remember that incident.

KILMEADE: A young Mitt Romney would yell, "Atta girl," do you think
that happened?

ROMNEY: Well, I really can`t remember that. Again, if there was
anything that I said that was offensive to anyone, certainly I`m sorry.


MADDOW: Nobody is laughing with him here. It`s not like everybody
involved is laughing in the conversation. He`s just laughing alone.

He was like this about the dog thing too. Do you remember?


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: I have a yellow Lab named Winston. I would
no sooner put him in a kennel on the roof of my car than I would one of my
children. Question, what were you thinking?

ROMNEY: This is a completely airtight kennel and mounted on the top
of our car. He climbed up there regularly, enjoyed himself. He was in a
kennel at home a great deal of time as well.

We loved the dog. It was where he was comfortable. And we had five
kids inside the car. My guess is, he liked it a lot more in his kennel
than he would have liked it inside.

WALLACE: Well, I got to tell you, Massachusetts law and dog lovers,
and I`m one of them, take this seriously, Massachusetts prohibits carrying
an animal on top of a car, even in a kennel, as cruel and inhuman. Do you
really think there`s nothing wrong?

ROMNEY: I wasn`t familiar with that, in terms of Massachusetts law.
Loved my dog. We`ve had a lot of dogs over the years.


MADDOW: Mr. Romney thought this too was hilarious. The interviewer
there from FOX actually has to insist, seriously, governor, seriously,
nobody else is laughing in this conversation. This is kind of creepy. Can
we be serious about this?

I remember the humorous story Mr. Romney volunteered when he was
campaigning in the Midwest this year?


ROMNEY: I have a few connections with the state of Wisconsin. One
of the most humorous, I think, relates to my father. You may remember that
my father, George Romney, was president of an automobile company called
American Motors.

As the president of the company, he decided to close the factory in
Michigan and move all the production to Wisconsin.


MADDOW: Remember, this is what he is volunteering as a humorous
story about his dad closing down a factory in Michigan.


ROMNEY: They had a high school band that was leading each of the
candidates, and his band did not know how to play the Michigan fight song.
It only knew how to play the Wisconsin fight song. So every time they
would start playing "On with Wisconsin, on Wisconsin," my dad`s political
people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop, because they
didn`t want people in Michigan to be reminded that my dad mad moved
production to Wisconsin.


MADDOW: Which is hilarious. See, the punch line is about shutting
down the factory and putting all those people out of work in Michigan and
people being angry about it. See, it`s hilarious.


ROMNEY: My dad had moved production to Wisconsin. Again, if there`s
anything I said that was offensive.

WALLACE: What were you thinking?

KILMEADE: Do you remember any of this?

ROMNEY: You know, I don`t remember.

KILMEADE: A young Mitt Romney would yell "Atta girl," do you think
that happened?

ROMNEY: I can`t remember.


MADDOW: Mr. Romney, Republican presidential de facto nominee, gets
asked a question about a disturbing character issue, hilarity ensues, for
him. Get it?


MADDOW: We have an amazing closing story tonight about how people
sign in when they visit the White House. It is an amazing -- sorry. I
have to correct myself.

The group PolitiFact just called. I am told the story is not
amazing. It is mostly amazing. First, they listed it as partly amazing,
and we got upgraded from partly amazing to mostly amazing because we pushed
back against their initial ruling, but it is totally worth sticking around

That`s according to me. PolitiFact may disagree. You should judge
for yourself.


MADDOW: OK. Back in February, I said the ostensible fact-checking
Web site PolitiFact was dead.


MADDOW: I think PolitiFact is giving up. This is so bad. This is
so egregiously bad that if they do not correct this one I think we can
safely assume that PolitiFact, for all intents and purpose, is dead. They
are over. They are over and out.


MADDOW: I`m here to rate my own statement false. PolitiFact has not
only not dead, PolitiFact continues what can only be its real mission which
is to supplant actual fact-checking, to sully the whole concept of fact-
checking as a meaningless brand and thereby change the meaning of the word
fact in the English language.

Political lives after death like a zombie eating our national brains.

Case in point: from this week, PolitiFact, the fact to be checked.
Antiabortion groups says Obama White House screams unborn babies. Said
antiabortion group this week claimed, quote, "The director of the White
House Visitor`s Office, Ellie Shafer, today distributed an email newsletter
which gives detailed instructions on how to register an unborn child, a
baby that has not been born as Shafer as puts it, into the security system
that is employed to arrange White House tours." Quotes here saying, "Crazy
as it must sound you must include the baby in the overall count of guests
in the tour."

Now, this generated much excitement on the right, including at the
conservative Web site funded by Rick Santorum`s billionaire Foster Friess.
They headlined the story, "White House: abortion okay but visitor must
register unborn children."

Also, there was the "Washington Examiner" which started its piece by
saying, "you can`t make this stuff up."

Actually, yes, you can. PolitiFact did the calling on this. They
called the White House to figure out what the policy in question here was.
They got the following response from a spokesperson from the Secret

Quote, "This refers to a pregnant woman providing information for a
tour in the future that will include the new family member. So, for
example, when a 7 month pregnant woman is providing information for a tour
that is four months in the future there is a place holder for the new

So the White House Visitor`s Office is not in fact counting one
pregnant woman as two visitors. The baby does not count as a second guest
until the baby is born.

PolitiFact says the National Right to Life quote here, the National
Right to Life had wildly misconstrued the White House e-mail here.

So, PolitiFact found this fact. They checked this fact. They found
this fact to be false. They said it was wildly false, in fact.

PolitiFact`s rating here? They called it mostly false.

Mostly? You can get something, quote, "wildly wrong" and still be
only mostly wrong about it. What does it take to get a false on
PolitiFact? False as in you got it wrong? False as in you really wanted
the White House to be doing something that the White House was not actually
doing? So, when you said they were doing it you were -- wrong.

You said something wrong, false. Is it true, PolitiFact, or is it
false? Oh, you found it false. So, your rating is mostly something?

PolitiFact, God bless you. You are not dead, but every time your
trademark truth-o-meter points at something, something dies in this
country. Go away, PolitiFact. Don`t go away mad. Just go away.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
great night.


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