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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

August 22, 2012

Guests: Craig Gilbert, Thanh Tan

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks, man.

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

Behold, a child`s treasury of politicians refusing to answer very
simple questions -- very simple questions about their own records. We`re
not like the other networks. We don`t have a magic wall in particular, we
just have a wall, but you sort of get the idea. Are you ready?

Behold, a child`s treasury. Ha, it works!

All right. This is Mike Coffman. Mike Coffman is a Republican
congressman from the great state of Colorado.

He at one point was flirting with the whole birtherism thing. Mike
Coffman told a group of donors in Colorado in May that he was not sure
where Barack Obama was born, but that Mr. Obama, he said quote, "is just
not an American."

Now, a great reporter from the local NBC affiliate in Denver decided
to ask Mike Coffman about that, right? The questions that the reporter
asks were totally reasonable. Questions, they are question about Mike
Coffman and something Mr. Coffman had done in public.

But Mr. Coffman`s answers to those questions earned him a very proud
place in our child`s treasury of politicians refusing to answer very simple
questions about themselves. Watch.


REPORTER: After your comments about the president, do you feel that
voters are owed a better explanation than just I misspoke?

REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: I think that as I stand by my
statement. That I misspoke and I apologize.

REPORTER: OK, and who are you apologizing to?

COFFMAN: I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.

REPORTER: I apologize -- we talk to you all the time. You`re a very
forthcoming guy. Who`s telling you not to talk?

COFFMAN: I stand by my statement that you have and I misspoke and I

REPORTER: Was it that you thought it would go over well in Elbert
County where folks are conservative and you would never say something like
that in the suburbs?

COFFMAN: I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.

REPORTER: Is there anything that I can ask you that you would answer

COFFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I

REPORTER: Thank you, Congressman.

COFFMAN: Thank you.


MADDOW: That was Republican Congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado,
obviously, he stands by his statement that he misspoke and he apologizes.
Is that clear?

Right around the same time period earlier this year -- yes, I love it
-- a Republican candidate for Congress in Arizona, Jesse Kelly, he earned
his place in the child`s treasury of politicians refusing to answer
questions about himself and he did so in a way that was so amazing that it
made onlookers at the time, his own supporters who were standing right next
to him while he was doing it, it made his own supporters laugh along
audibly as it was happening.

A great local ABC reporter in Arizona was asking Jesse Kelly very
reasonable questions about whether he intended to accept a controversial
endorsement he got from an anti-immigrant group. Listen.


REPORTER: Do you plan on accepting that endorsement this time?

is going to stay focused on lower gas prices, using American energy, lower
taxes, and creating jobs.

REPORTER: Do you plan on accepting that endorsement?

KELLY: Our campaign is going to stay focused on lower taxes, lowering
gas prices using American energy and creating jobs.

REPORTER: Is that a yes or no?

KELLY: Our campaign is going to stay focused on lowering gas prices,
creating jobs, and lowering gas prices using American energy.

REPORTER: All right. So, no comment?

KELLY: Our campaign is going to stay focused on lowering gas prices,
creating jobs, and lowering taxes.

REPORTER: All right. Thanks, Jesse.

KELLY: Thank you.


MADDOW: Thank you. I don`t know if they`re laughing at you, but if
you`re not laughing, by definition, they`re not laughing with you.

Jesse Kelly, ladies and gentlemen. Can you believe he lost that

Yes. Today, we`ve got a couple new entries. Yes. The gentleman
that`s shown right here in the book, his name is Josh Mandel.

Josh Mandel is a Republican running for United States Senate from
Ohio. He`s the guy who`s running against Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown.
Now, Josh Mandel was pressed this week by a very sharp local NBC reporter
in Dayton, Ohio, about whether Mr. Mandel would have supported the auto
bailout -- very specific question.

And Mr. Mandel`s amazing answer earns him a page in the child`s
treasury. This is so great.


REPORTER: He blasted those, including Senator Brown and Republicans
who supported the Wall Street bailout. But refused to say what he would
have done with General Motors.

taking the Dayton area, taking some of the auto plants and former factories
that used to be filled, filling them back up with Dayton area workers to
make pipes and tubes and fittings for new manufacturing jobs here in Miami

REPORTER: Josh Mandel, I appreciate what you`re saying, but would you
have supported the G.M. bailout?

MANDEL: Again, I will do everything I can as United States senator to
protect auto jobs and grow auto jobs. And we`ve talked quite a bit
throughout the state of Ohio about all the great plans we have for
protecting auto jobs here.

REPORTER: You`re not going to answer, are you?

MANDEL: Great seeing you.


MADDOW: Great seeing you. Here`s a very simple question about
yourself -- would you have supported this policy? Yes, it is great seeing
you. What happen --

And then there`s the ongoing controversy this week of course over
Republican Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri and his remarks in the past
few days that rape cannot cause pregnancy. That has turned into a
political nightmare for a whole bunch of conservative politicians who have
cosponsored legislation with Todd Akin about rape and pregnancy. Or who at
least share his political beliefs that if a woman does get pregnant when
she`s raped, the government should force her to give birth against her

So one of the politicians who is kind of in trouble over the Akin
thing is the Republican candidate for Senate in Washington state. His name
is Michael Baumgartner. And he earned his place in our child`s treasury of
politicians refusing to answer very simple questions about themselves and
their records when a local Seattle reporter interviewed him about whether
he really did agree with Todd Akin that rape victims should be forced by
the government to give birth against their will.

Asked about that policy position, which is in fact his policy
position, Washington Republican Senate candidate Mike Baumgartner`s
response was this, and I quote, "Go F yourself." That`s what he said to
the reporter except he did not say F. Mr. Baumgartner put it in print. He
put it in an e-mail.

My favorite part of this entry in our child`s treasury is the
reporter`s response to getting that e-mail from the Senate candidate. The
reporter`s response was, quote, "? Is this really Senator Baumgartner?"

Yes, yes, it was. But he does not want to answer any questions about
how much he is like Todd Akin on that policy.

And of course, neither does the brand new star of our child`s treasury
of politicians refusing to answer very simple questions about themselves
and their records. And that, of course, would be the guy with the dog
eared page, yes, the Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

The Todd Akin controversy this week has earned Paul Ryan a special
place in the child`s treasury because of a local interview that Paul Ryan
just gave to a CBS reporter in Pittsburgh. Now, Paul Ryan as you know has
the exact same position as Todd Akin when it comes to abortion, when it
comes to pregnancy and rape and how much sway the government has over your
decisions in those matters. Both men think that rape victims should be
forced by the government to bear their rapist`s child against their will.

But when Paul Ryan was asked about that position by this local
reporter in Pittsburgh, he did everything he could to not answer for his
own positions. It was amazing.


were outrageous. Over the pale, I don`t know anybody who would agree with
that. Rape is rape, period, end of story.

REPORTER: Ryan like Romney distanced himself from Akin`s remarks, but
he joined Akin in opposing abortions even when a woman has been raped.

Should abortions be available to women who are raped?

RYAN: I`m proud of my pro-life record and I stand by my pro-life
record in Congress. It`s something I`m proud of.

But Mitt Romney is top of the ticket and he will be president and he
will set the policy of the Romney administration.

REPORTER: You sponsored legislation that has the language forcible
rape. What is forcible rape?

RYAN: Rape is rape. Rape is rape, period, end of story.

REPORTER: So that forcible rape language meant nothing to you at the

RYAN: Rape is rape. And there`s no splitting hairs.


MADDOWE: Rape is rape, and there`s no splitting hairs. The problem
for Paul Ryan is that he has been splitting hairs legally on what rape is.
His entire career, he`s been doing that.

Paul Ryan cosponsored a bill last year with Todd Akin to redefine rape
in federal law. It was H.R. 3, the third bill introduced by the Republican
majority when they took control of the House in 2010. That bill initially
tried to redefine what rape is. It created a new category that they called
forcible rape.

Why do you need that new category? You need that new category to
distinguish that kind of rape from other kinds of rape. To single out a
subclass of rape that would allow you to still make a decision on your own
pregnancy while victims of other subtypes of rape would not get that
privilege in Paul Ryan`s America.

Paul Ryan was an original cosponsor of the bill to redefine rape, to
make it harder on rape victims who wanted to get an abortion. As our own
Kelly O`Donnell reported today, Paul Ryan also attempted to redefine rape a
year earlier, offering another piece of legislation that allowed for
abortion in limited circumstances, quote, "Unless the pregnancy is the
result of an act of forcible rape or incest" -- you know, the real kind of
rape, not that fake kind of rape. That doesn`t qualify.

But now, when Paul Ryan is asked about his own record on this, his own
record to redefine what rape is --


REPORTER: You sponsored legislation that has the language forcible
rape. What is forcible rape?

RYAN: Rape is rape. Rape is rape, period, end of story.

REPORTER: So that forcible rape language meant nothing to you at the

RYAN: Rape is rape. And there`s no splitting hairs.


MADDOW: That`s amazing. That -- that is amazing. It`s amazing if
you`re some congressional special election candidate, but when you`re vice
president, I mean, you sponsored legislation to do X. Well, I believe not

But you sponsored legislation to do X? Yes, and I proudly believe not
X. Also, I`m very proud of my record.

There is a broader issue here. This is a test for the American media.
This is a test for the press.

Paul Ryan`s record on abortion is just about identical to Todd Akin`s
record on abortion, but Paul Ryan not only does not want to talk about
that, he`s trying to rewrite history about it and good on that local
reporter in Pittsburgh for asking about this. I mean, Paul Ryan obviously
needs to continue to be asked about this until he actually gives a straight
answer about it. This is a test for the press.

And some of the press, a lot of local press, actually, has turned out
to be great in asking these questions and doing it in a dogged way. Doing
it in a really hard-nosed way that shows they have done their homework
before the interview.

The conservative Beltway press, on the other hand, not so much.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: There`s been lot of attacks already against
you. But you kind of experienced this beforehand.

What is your relationship with President Obama?

Explain how reforming the tax code would help people.

Do you think Obama wants trillion-plus deficits every year?

Tell us about your foreign policy experience?

Your wife and kids having a good time?

RYAN: They`re doing fine. They like it.

HANNITY: Congressman, great to see you. Thank you so much for your

RYAN: Great.


MADDOW: In the midst of the whole Todd Akin/Paul Ryan rape
controversy, not even a question about Todd Akin or rape when you have Paul
Ryan sitting right there? In that same hour, they dealt with the Paul
Ryan/Todd Akin rape issue using correspondents and other discussants, but
not the actual Paul Ryan.

Why would you ask him about it?

Not everybody in the press has to be that bad at this. Again, this is
what Paul Ryan now says about the issue of rape and pregnancy.


RYAN: Rape is rape. And there`s no splitting hairs.


MADDOW: So we still need a straight answer from Paul Ryan on this.
What about all of the times you personally tried to split hairs on what
constitutes rape? Is there going to be an apology here? Did you not mean
it when you did that in Congress more than once? Have you changed your
mind about it?

But while we`re working on what the appropriate follow-up questions
here need to sound like with Paul Ryan, running for vice president now,
don`t just stop with the splitting hairs about rape nonsense. Oh, there`s


RYAN: His statements were outrageous. Over the pale. I don`t know
anybody who would agree with that.


MADDOW: I don`t know anybody who would agree with that. Todd Akin
said something that nobody has ever espoused. I never heard that. Nobody
believes that. A crazy guy, let`s get rid of him and that will take care
of our problem.

You know, it`s not actually true to characterize Todd Akin in that
way. Todd Akin himself has been citing somebody by name and explaining
where he came up with this cockamamie theory that your body when you`re
raped can distinguish that the sperm in question is from a rapist and
should be rejected as opposed to other sperm. Todd Akin cited an anti-
abortion doctor named John Willke in making this case.

"Think Progress" posted audio from a conservative talk show interview
with Todd Akin today in which he repeatedly references this Dr. Willke by


REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: You know, Dr. Willke has released a
statement and part of his letter, I think he just really stated it clearly.


MADDOW: Who is Dr. Willke who he is citing as his source for the
crazy theory that has captivated all of American politics? Who is Dr.
Willke? It`s Dr. John Willke, a former Romney presidential campaign
surrogate. A guy important enough to Romney that the 2008 Romney campaign
put out a stand-alone solo press release headlining his endorsement.

So Paul Ryan doesn`t know anybody who would agree with Todd Akin`s
comments? He says? Have you talked to your running mate about it?

London`s "Daily Telegraph" newspaper is reporting tonight that this
Dr. Willke, the guy who convinced Todd Akin you can`t get pregnant if
you`re raped -- "The Telegraph" is reporting he says he personally met with
Mitt Romney as recently as this past October. So, not the last time Mitt
Romney ran for president but this time.

From "The Telegraph," quote, Dr. Willke told "The Daily Telegraph"
that he did meet Mr. Romney in a presidential campaign stop in the doctor`s
home town of Cincinnati, Ohio, in October of last year. Local news reports
at the time noted that the candidate held private meetings in the visit.

Here`s the quote from Dr. Willke, "He told me, thank you for your
support. We agree on almost everything. If I`m elected president, I will
make some major pro life pronouncements.," Dr. Willke said that to "The
Daily Telegraph" on Tuesday.

Now, caveats here, this is "The Telegraph,"| which is, (a), the
British press, which is not what it used to be, and (b), it`s "The
Telegraph", which even for the British press is not all that confidence

But it is supposedly not a paraphrased quote but a direct quote from
this person who is very, very important in this national issue and it would
be good to hear directly from the Romney campaign if this is true or if
they`re denying if this took place.

So far, the Romney campaign is refusing to answer any questions about
this. We asked the Romney campaign yesterday whether Mitt Romney has met
with Dr. John Willke to discuss these issues given how important Romney
said he was to the campaign last time he ran.

So far, the campaign has not responded to any of our questions. They
have not said no. They have blanked us.

These are questions that deserve answers. You`re throwing Todd Akin
essentially out of the party for this, but he`s your guy, too?

The Romney campaign has also refused to make Paul Ryan available for
an interview with us, surprise. But for any of my colleagues in the press
who do get an interview with Mr. Ryan, can I suggest asking him about the
rape is rape comment? There`s no need to split hairs. Obviously,
definitely, right? Ask him about that. There`s no explanation for that
that makes sense.

But also ask him about the whole Dr. Willke thing. Really, you have
never heard anyone else espouse this that has no connection to your

And while we`re at it, Paul Ryan also said, quoting from the same
interview he did today, "Nobody is proposing trying to deny birth control
to anybody." We`re going to be dealing with that walk later on in the

But the broader issue here is this. This is a test for the American
press. Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are actively trying to rewrite and
distort their own record on the issue of abortion and rape and pregnancy at
a time when the country is focused like a laser on this issue and the
Republican Party is trying to distance itself from its own members and
their policy positions on this subject.

This is just like the Medicare issue. Paul Ryan said he wants to turn
Medicare into a coupon system. And even when some other people in the
Republican primary had issues with that, at least for a second -- I`m
talking to you, Newt Gingrich -- Mitt Romney said he would sign the Paul
Ryan plan to end Medicare as we know it, he said he would sign it into law.
Voucherizing Medicare, yes, I`d sign it into law.

And now, Mitt Romney and Paul are trying to run for the White House
together by saying they`re the ones who are committed to protecting
Medicare, the guys who committed on tape to ending Medicare.

This is a test of the press. Do you just write down what they say?
Do you report on what these candidates say their record is? Or do you
report that but also compare it to what their actual record is? And then
badger them when there`s a difference between those two accounts?

It`s not what they say. It`s about what they have done. When what
they say is some distance from what they have done, that distance is the

This is what the press is for. This is the good stuff. Time to do
our jobs, everybody.



REPORTER: You sponsored legislation that has the language forcible
rape. What is forcible rape?

RYAN: Rape is rape. Rape is rape, period, end of story.

REPORTER: So that forcible rape language meant nothing to you at the

RYAN: Rape is rape. And there`s no splitting hairs.


MADDOW: That`s what happened today when Pittsburgh political editor
John Delano (ph) asked vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan about
Congressman Ryan`s own record, about his sponsoring a bill with Todd Akin
that would in fact redefine rape, that would -- as it were -- split hairs
about rape.

Paul Ryan we now know had pushed that kind of language before. The
Wisconsin congressman just never got nearly so much attention for it in the
national press.

Well, joining us now, I`m very happy to say, is Craig Gilbert. He`s
the Washington bureau chief of "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" which has
been covering Paul Ryan and his career for a very, very long time, right
from the beginning, in fact.

Mr. Gilbert, thank you very much for joining us.


MADDOW: I know you have covered Congressman Ryan since he got into
Ryan in 1998, and it`s not really what he likes to be known for. He`s
obviously avoiding direct answers on it right now, but from his history,
what can you tell us about his record and his stance on abortion rights?

GILBERT: Yes. Well, he`s always been a social conservative. With a
few exceptions here or there, but I think he`s -- he`s not known for it,
for obvious reasons because of his role on the budget committee, his kind
of preoccupation with budget and fiscal issues. He`d much rather talk
about quantitative easing than about rape and incest exceptions on

So, this is not how he defined himself political and not how he`s
defined in the media, either.

MADDOW: How has he -- I think we`re seeing that in action. The thing
I`m trying to square, I guess, trying to get my head around is how he can
so obviously want that, want that kind of reputation, and really have sort
of earned that reputation in terms of what he has overtly done in talking
about fiscal policy, but why then put yourself on the hard leading edge of
all these antiabortion issues?

I mean, you don`t -- he may have cosponsored the Todd Akin redefining
rape bill with hundreds of other Republican cosponsors, but his other bill
redefining rape, it was him and one other cosponsor. I mean, he`s really
out there almost alone on the issues.

So, why prioritize it when he hasn`t wanted to talk about it?

GILBERT: Well, like he`s a strong social conservative. He`s -- if
you look at, you know, he likes to talk about the three legs of the Reagan
coalition being social conservatism, economic conservatism, and national
security conservatism.

He has positioned himself as pretty conservative in all three
respects, but he`s also, I think he sees economic issues not only as his
particular interest, but I think he also sees economic issues at the portal
for the Republican Party to reach out to moderates as opposed to the other

And he`s talked to me about that, about kind of -- this is our way of
broadening the coalition on economic and fiscal issues as opposed to social
issues. At the same time, you know, he is with just a handful of
exceptions, is among the most conservative members of Congress on social

MADDOW: Ad that, I think, was what makes his long-term history so
interesting, and makes it so important to hear from people who have covered
him for a long time because they`re very clearly, and him refusing to
answer the questions, they actually can`t stay in that position for very
long. He`s going to have to either repudiate his previous record or he`s
going to have to come up with some other explanation for why he`s running
on a ticket that he`s never supported in the past. Something is going to
have to give if they want to try to appeal to moderates and not have this
block it.

Have you seen anything in his career to give you any sense of how
amenable he will be to the idea of repudiating his previous position,
giving up for example his opinions on rape that the Romney campaign at
large appears not to share?

GILBERT: I think he understood when he got selected there would be
issues where he`d have to conform to the position of Mitt Romney. So you
know, the campaign is going to be full of these awkward moments where his
historic position is not the same as Mitt Romney`s position. In some cases
where Mitt Romney`s position obviously has changed over the years and Paul
Ryan`s hasn`t.

It`s awkward on a couple issues. One, this is not the set of issues
he wants to be talking about. Two, his position may be different from Mitt
Romney`s and three, it may be an issue where Mitt Romney himself has
shifted his position over the years.

MADDOW: I know this has come up in some general election campaigns
that he`s been in in the past with his Democratic opponents trying to raise
this. There`s lots more here to learn about Paul Ryan and to talk about.

Craig Gilbert, Washington bureau chief from "The Milwaukee Sentinel" -
- I hope you`ll come back and join us again for more of this discussion. I
really appreciate your time.

GILBERT: Thanks, anytime.

MADDOW: Thank you.

GILBERT: All right, if you think the day is coming when Americans
will have to leave the country in order to get something they`re supposedly
able to legally get here, if you think that is something that`s sort of far
fetched, if you think that`s something we use as hyperbole but it doesn`t
happen, it`s really happening. It`s happening in the American South, and
that amazing story is coming up.


MADDOW: There is one other element of what Congressman Paul Ryan is
going through right now that has not gotten a ton of attention but it
strikes me as strange. At first I thought he had misspoken, but he said it
again almost verbatim on the Romney-Ryan campaign plane today. so,
apparently, this was not a misstatement. This is part of a standard canned
rehearsed argument.

And if that is the case, it`s a very strange argument for somebody
running for what he is running for. Watch this.


REPORTER: Should abortions be available to women who are raped?

RYAN: Well, look, I am proud of my pro-life record and I stand by my
pro-life record in congress. It`s something I`m proud of, but Mitt Romney
is the top of the ticket and Mitt Romney will be president and he will set
the policy of the Romney administration.


MADDOW: Mr. Ryan further clarified on the campaign plane when he
reiterated the same point and further clarified while he would include rape
victims among the American women he would force to give birth against their
will, Mr. Romney would not include rape victims in that, but it is a weird
answer, though, right? I mean, his answer is essentially, you know, he is
running for president, not me.

I mean, Paul Ryan`s argument there, as a candidate for vice president,
is I realize my position sounds a little crazy, but don`t worry about that.
I`m only trying to be vice president. And what are the chances that a vice
president will ever be president? Don`t worry about my policies, I`m just
some guy.

See, this kind of thing is why this story is not going away. It`s not
going away in politics and it`s not going away in the reel real world and
in real people`s lives. That story is ahead.


MADDOW: Big news from the vice presidential campaign trail today --
big, big policy news from congressman and presumptive vice presidential
nominee Paul Ryan.


RYAN: Nobody is proposing to deny birth control to anybody.


MADDOW: That is a new position for Congressman Ryan. And frankly,
it`s a new position for the Republican Party. Until this week, until they
got saddled with Mr. Legitimate Rape and have tried to make a big show of
rejecting him, the Republican Party in general and Paul Ryan specifically
had been quite open in their efforts to roll back access to birth control.
They did not used to deny that this is what they were doing.

Back in February, Paul Ryan was among the chorus of Republicans
inveighing against the new health insurance rules that required insurance
to cover contraception. Rules like that in state law had been a huge
practical part of women`s contraception in 28 states. The new federal rule
essentially made it national.

When Mr. Ryan was asked at the time on "Meet the Press" if he thought
his own party, Republicans, were maybe focusing too much on birth control
and opposing this new rule to make birth control more accessible, his
answer was no. Republicans in the Senate tried and failed to overturn the
birth control insurance rule. House Republicans were also planning to do
that until they got cold feet on the issue.

House Republicans including Paul Ryan did of course vote to repeal the
entire health reform law, birth control and all. They did that twice for
good measure. Along with more than 30 separate votes to repeal, defund, or
knock out portions of the law.

Paul Ryan has also voted multiple times to defund Planned Parenthood,
one of the largest providers of contraception services and it his budget
would eliminate for all Title 10 family planning programs all together.
Not just Planned Parenthood, everything.

But Paul Ryan has not just spend spent his time in Congress trying to
roll back access to birth control. He also sponsored a bill that would
declare all first fertilized eggs in the United States to be people, which
would have the effect of banning the most popular birth control that
American women use.


RYAN: Nobody is proposing to deny birth control to anybody.


MADDOW: Except you and almost all of the Republicans in Congress
right now. Except all of the things, you have proposed and sponsored that
would restrict access to birth control or just plain criminalize it, except
for all of that, yes, nobody is proposing to deny birth control to anybody.

I have a follow up question.

Now that he`s trying to become vice president, Paul Ryan does not want
you to remember his record on birth control or abortion. And honestly, I
don`t think that either party wanted this to be the center of the fight
this year, but Republicans put these issues at the center of their policy
agenda in the states. And in Congress for the last two years, and then
they picked a guy to be their vice presidential nominee who is one of the
party`s true hard liners on these issues.

So, I don`t think Democrats particularly wanted to run on abortion
rights and defending access to contraception, I mean, I don`t think this
administration is afraid of it. I think they`ve been better on it than
most Democrats have been, but you can see when they`re out on the campaign
trail, they would rather be talking about the economy.

Same thing with the Republicans, they would rather be talking about
the economy or welfare or whatever.

But none of them expected to be campaigning on abortion and birth
control the week before the conventions. But this is not going away. This
is a political fight that now can`t be avoided because it is an actual
thing that has been dragged right up to the top and right into the center
of what is supposed to be mainstream politics.

It`s not a theoretical thing. The Republican vice presidential
nominee really did sponsor a bill designed to ban hormonal birth control
and he did it just last year. And Republicans in the states really have in
the last two years enacted more restrictions on abortion rights at any time
since Roe v. Wade became law.

And it`s having a real impact in people`s lives. It`s not just a
talking point that they want to shut down the government rather than
funding Planned Parenthood, that`s a thing that happened. And last year,
Republicans in eight years moved to disqualify at least some family plans
from the funding. Three states have done it this year.

It`s not something to make points about. It`s really happening and
having a real and in some cases devastating on the ground effect on real
American lives.

Earlier this month, the "Texas Tribune" published a stomach churning
story about American women leaving the country. American women crossing
the border to go to pharmacies in Mexico to buy a drug they hope will end
their unwanted pregnancies.

These pharmacies they visit are largely unregulated. You`re talking
to the license pharmacists. You`re just talking to a guy who works at the
counter. And so, without a doctor`s supervision and without qualified
medical advice, women are often not getting proper instructions on how to
use the drug they`re buying there, a drug that requires a prescription in
the United States and that is not prescribed here on its own for abortions.

One Texas clinic director telling the "Texas Tribune" that her
clinic`s patients have often ingested the drug in varying amounts. Some
would take an entire bottle within days. Based on what friends and family
had told them.

One Mexican pharmacist who is unlicensed and untrained and still
allowed to sell the drug over the counter said he had heard of girls
hemorrhaging after taking the pills. "I have tried my best to explain the
consequences but there`s only so much I can do."

Another person who works at the pharmacy saying, quote, "It sells,
that`s the problem. I don`t tell them how to take it. I`d say, you might
have problems later."

You probably heard the term back-alley abortions. When abortion was
legal in the United States -- excuse me, when abortion was illegal in the
United States in the years before the Roe v. Wade decision, abortions were
obviously still sought by American women, and they were still provided to
American women. But by and large, they had to be performed secretly. It
was illegal.

Here`s a photo from that era. The caption provided by the "Associated
Press" reads, "Still dazed, the client of an abortion doctor is being
carried out of the raided apartment for the hospital. Detectives surprised
the doctor in the midst of an illegal operation being performed on a
kitchen table."

This is what illegal abortion was in this country. If you were lucky,
it was an actual doctor with real training and equipment operating on you
even if it was, say, on a kitchen table before the police rescued you and
dragged you to the hospital.

But there`s a reason why the coat hanger is the symbol of the era of
illegal abortion in this country, because a lot of abortions happening at
that time were not even as safe as the kitchen table operation.

In 1930, illegal abortion was listed as the official cause of death
for almost 2,700 American women, seven women a day, about a fifth of the
overall maternal death rate in this country in that year. And in the days
of back alley coat hanger abortions, thousands of women died, thousands of
American women died because they did not have access to safe abortion. It
was illegal but that did not stop it.

Now, the new coat hanger can be pharmaceutical. A drug you have to
get in another country with no doctor`s advice, with rumor and good luck
with your advice on dosage. The new back alley is across the border where
Texas women are resorting to unregulated pharmacies in Mexico to do what
Americans technically have the right to get here from a doctor.

That`s what the climate is like in Texas right now -- a story about
women crossing the border and risking their lives and health in unregulated
pharmacies was reported in the "Texas Tribune" a week and a half ago.

Texas deeply cut family planning programs last year for low income
women and, of course, they instituted forced ultrasounds, where not only
does the state government force ant woman who wants to have an abortion to
have a medically unnecessarily ultrasound against her will. The government
also forces her to do that a day in advance of when she`s allowed to get an
abortion. If you can`t handle that, make Mexico? Take your chances.

On top of those existing restrictions and what we already know about
their impact in Texas. Just in the last 24 hours, a federal appeals court
has now okayed the state of Texas`s plan to cut all state funding from
Planned Parenthood clinics. This had been blocked by an injunction. It`s
been cleared.

Clinics that provide health and family planning services to nearly
half of the 130,000 patients enrolled in a program to provide health and
family planning services to low income women. This is a state where access
to reproductive health care is already so dire that women are seeking
abortions from off-label drugs they are getting from unlicensed,
unregulated pharmacies in Mexico.

And now tens of thousands of women who still did have access to birth
control and family planning services are getting cut off from those
services in the last 24 hours.

Joining us now for the interview is Thanh Tan. She`s a reporter for
"The Texas Tribune". She has been reporting on women going to Mexico to
purchase medicine for medical abortions.

Thanh, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

I have been following your reporting closely. It`s great to have you


MADDOW: Let me ask you if I got anything wrong in trying to summarize
your reporting correctly there. Did I get any major factual things wrong?

TAN: Well, I`m not sure if I want to correct you. I don`t think
there`s need for that. I will clarify, though, that right now, Planned
Parenthood clinics that are part of the women`s health program are still in
the program.

The state is trying to figure out a way with the attorney general to
figure out a date for when they can cut off Planned Parenthood. So there
are tens of thousands of women who may be confused right now, but Planned
Parenthood is still officially part of the program until the state excludes
them officially. And we`re waiting to find out more information about

MADDOW: Thank you for clarifying that.

And in terms of the legal fight over that, obviously, the state has
its own process for what`s going to happen with the funding and how it`s
going to go to the clinics and the clinic`s patients.

But do you know what may happen next in the legal fight over this?
This happened at a relatively high level court today. Do we know if
there`s going to be further appeals?

TAN: Well, we know that there are two cases that were going on.
Planned Parenthood had filed a lawsuit last spring after Governor Perry
announced that the state was going to go it alone, was going to forego
federal funding in order to enforce the state`s rules which have long
excluded abortion providers and abortion affiliates.

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit last spring to try to stay in the
program, and they were audible to get an injunction from a district judge
here. The state went to the federal court and was able to get another
injunctions which was lifting basically the lower court`s order, and that
has been in place and Planned Parenthood has been able to stay in this
program over the last couple months.

Now, a lot of people were wondering when the appeals court was going
to weigh in on this, and yesterday they did. And they have told the state
that, you know, you can legally ban Planned Parenthood from this program
while we wait for a district court to provide or to hold a hearing on this
matter some time in the fall, probably October.

MADDOW: When you did the reporting that led to the story that I
summarized in detail here about women crossing the border from Texas to
Mexico and accessing these unregulated pharmacies, when you talk to health
care providers in south Texas about seeing women who have done that, seeing
them in aftermath of them having essentially self medicated, to try to give
themselves abortions, were health care providers describing that as
something there`s an uptick in, is it something they have always seen?

TAN: Well, it`s hard to track the numbers on this just because not
everybody reports when they have tried to use these pills. The health
providers I talked to said that anecdotally, they have noticed in the last
year or so, that more women seem to be using alternate means of trying to
have an abortion, whether that is taking herbal pills, or whether that is
in one case a doctor told me last week that a woman chugged a six-pack of
hot beer thinking it would make her throw up.

Or as I reported in the story, there are women who are either crossing
the border or having their friends or their family members get this Cytotec
or this misoprostol for them so that they can try it at home and try to
self induce an abortion in the privacy of their own home. And the thing is
that we only her about the reports, the public reports here because the
abortion providers have told us that they`re seeing this in their clinics.

We don`t know how much this may be happening out there in the real
world, but we do know that there has been extensive research that has been
done on the issue of misoprostol use and a few studies have shown that it`s
very common, it`s commonly used in countries where abortions is not legal
or is not widely available, and it`s used in Latin America often as well.

Because of that proximity to Mexico, you have a lot of people here in
Texas, especially in the border area, who are perhaps resorting to this

MADDOW: Thanh Tan, reporter for "The Texas Tribune," thank you so
much for joining us tonight and for your reporting on this. I have not
seen other reporting on this phenomena in the country, but I have a feeling
what you have done is going to spark people into looking into if this is
happening in other places.

So, congratulations on the work and thanks for joining us.

TAN: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. So if contesting a tough election is just too
hard, why not try to get your opponent thrown off the ballot? It`s
happening all over, and there are surprising culprits. That`s next.


MADDOW: Hey, programming note -- actually, a couple of them. First,
I want to tell you that on tomorrow`s show, we have a special report on
what the voting rights people say may be the sleeper issue that has them
the most worried this year about whether or not people are actually going
to be able to vote on Election Day. It is a technique of voter
intimidation that is associated, historically, with one specific area of
the country, but we`ve got a report tomorrow on it spreading in a way that
could be very important in November. It`s an exclusive on tomorrow night`s
show that we are already working on. That`s ahead.

Oh, and also, I will be on David Letterman tonight. But we`ll be
right back.


MADDOW: OK. One of the sideshows this year and really amped up anti-
Obama hysteria in right-wing politics has been this raft of efforts to try
to keep President Obama off the ballot in some American states this
November, even though he is the president of the United States.

There was the Arizona Republican secretary of state who threatened to
keep President Obama off the ballot unless the state of Hawaii sent proof -
- and no, I mean real proof -- that the president`s supposed birth
certificate was authentic.

There was also the lawsuit earlier this year in Alabama. The guy that
was suing who asked the judge in his case to postpone proceedings until he
could get some further legal assistance from -- yes, the birther celebrity
lawyer/dentist, Orly Taitz. Shockingly, the judge refused to wait for Miss
Taitz and threw the case out.

Dr. Taitz, Esquire is embroiled herself right now in another effort to
get President Obama off the ballot in Indiana. That effort is apparently
not going all that well, but I`m sure she will keep trying.

So the birther stuff has mostly, I think, now been channeled into
Donald Trump`s hair and into more or less palpably insane efforts to keep
the president`s name off the ballot in November.

But there has been a new development in this particular filed of
crazy. Now, there is an effort to keep Mitt Romney off the ballot in the
state of Washington. And lest you think this is a case of the left going
after the right the way the right has been going after the left, it`s not.
It`s not the left. It`s not Democrats who are trying to keep Mitt Romney
off the ballot.

The challenge to Mr. Romney in Washington state is actually coming
from the right. And here`s why. Or at least, here`s how -- in 2010, when
Democratic U.S. Senator Patty Murray won re-election in Washington, her
Republican opponent was a guy who looks like Rick Lazio there, but isn`t.
Dino Rossi. Technically, though, the Republican Party of Washington never
actually nominated Dino Rossi to be their nominee.

Republicans didn`t actually nominate anyone for the senate race that
year. And that`s because, essentially, the Republican Party in Washington
decided they were going to stay neutral in a primary fight between that
guy, Dino Rossi, and this guy, a Sarah Palin-endorsed Tea Party guy. Dino
Rossi, ultimately, beat the Tea Party guy in a statewide primary. That is
how Dino Rossi earned his way on to the ballot to earn the right to lose to
Patty Murray in the general election.

But the Republican Party never technically nominated him for the seat.
The Republican Party never technically nominated anyone. And it turns out
that`s really important. Because the rules in Washington state say, if you
want to be considered an official major party in the state, and thereby
earn the right to have your candidates on the ballot, just by asking,
because after all, you`re a major party, in order to qualify for that,
you`ve got to have your party`s official candidates running and winning at
least 5 percent of the vote, in a whole bunch of statewide contests,
including the one for U.S. senator.

Technically, the Republicans did not have a candidate for U.S. senator
in 2010. They never technically nominated Dino Rossi. And so,
technically, the Republican Party is no longer a major party in Washington
state, which means, technically, they are not allowed to have their
presidential nominee on the ballot in November, just by asking.

The Republicans, because they aren`t a major party, will have to do
what all the other minor parties have to do, which means they have to hold
a minor party convention. They have to collect a thousand signatures, and
most importantly, they have to have done all that, they have to have done
the convention and collecting all the signatures weeks ago. The deadline
is long past, and they did not do any of that.

So the libertarian party in the state of Washington filed a lawsuit
last week, saying the Republicans blew it, by chickening out of a fight
between Dino Rossi and the guy endorsed by Sarah Palin, the Republicans
messed up the requirement that they as a party have an official candidate
on the ballot in that Senate race.

And by messing that up that requirement, the lawsuit says the
Republicans messed this up too. They messed up their status as a major
party. They thereby messed up getting Mitt Romney on the Washington state
ballot for president. If the lawsuit succeeds, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
might have to run as written-in candidates in Washington state.

And look, nobody expects Mitt Romney and pall Ryan to have any chance
in heck at winning Washington state. So it probably, in the long run, does
not matter whether Romney is on the ballot or not. And at or after
tomorrow morning`s superior court hearing on this case, some judge in
Washington state, I`m sure, will find a way to put Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan
on the ballot, despite the Republicans really seeming to screw this thing
up, according to the rules.

But for every Republican who delighted in Orly Taitz and Arizona
secretary of state and all these birthers, trying to kick President Obama
off the ballot, you can file this one under medicine, comma, taste of your
own. And for the libertarians, as always, you can file this one neener-
neener. It`s complicated, though. They file everything under neener-

It`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a great


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