UP with STEVE KORNACKI
June 16, 2013
Guests: Rick Perlstein, George Zornick, Robert Lovato, Michelle Bernard,
Tom Schaller, Abby Rapoport, Josh Benson
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: President Obama re-entered the fight for
immigration reform on Tuesday in his most forceful message in months on
what may be the biggest legislative priority of his second term.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: My
administration`s done what we can on our own. And we`ve got members of my
administration here who have done outstanding work over the past few years
to try to close up some of the gaps that exist in the system, but the
system`s still broken. And to truly deal with this issue, Congress needs
to act. And that moment is now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Hours after that the Senate voted 82 to 15 to begin debate on
the immigration reform bill. But those 82 yes votes came with a giant
asterisk. Take Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY, MINORITY LEADER: At the risk of stating the
obvious, the bill has serious flaws. I vote to debate it and for the
opportunity to amend it, but in the days ahead, there will need to be major
changes to this bill if it`s going to become law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: On Wednesday Texas Republican John Cornyn offered a
controversial amendment for tougher border security requirements. That
begin to get a support among conservatives. But his GOP colleague John
McCain who helped draft the bipartisan bill called it a poison pill.
Division among Republicans is leading to some division among Democrats
about how far to go to amend the bill to attract even more votes from the
GOP. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer has repeatedly said that he hopes to
get 70 votes for the bill in the Senate in order to build momentum for
passage in the House. But that would require a significant number of
Republican votes and, therefore, significant changes to the legislation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D), NEW YORK: I`ve heard some who say we should not
change -- consider any further changes to the bill. Dare the other side to
vote against it. I reject that approach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Schumer`s approach contrasts sharply with the strategy preferred
by many other leading Democrats who think that clearing the 60-vote
threshold to defeat a filibuster with a handful of Republicans is the best
way forward. On Tuesday, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin told Politico "I
want to get as many volts as we can, but not at the expense of the basic
agreement. When some of my friends announce 70 votes they create an
incentive for Republicans to dream up things that they either needed in
this bill or outside of it. And we need to temper that."
The division among Democrats will soon be tested by a new Republican border
security amendment, it`s in the works. As Florida Senator Marco Rubio made
clear on Thursday:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R ) FLORIDA: We need to improve the border security part
of the bill, so I think you`ll see something, God willing, early next week
so people can start to look at it and, you know, we - a bunch of senators
have been working on it. And a lot of Republicans that want to be
supportive of something but need to be able to go back home and tell people
that they have taken serious steps to ensure this never happens again.
Like I said, it`s going to have to happen. That`s going to have to be in
there or this isn`t going to pass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Right now I`m joined by Michelle Bernard, author of "Moving
America Toward Justice: the Lawyers` Committee for Civil Rights Under Law,
1963-2013," which comes out on Wednesday. And president of the Bernard
Center for Women Politics and Public Policy Rick Perlstein, author of
"Nixonland" and contributor to the "Nation" magazine, George Zornick,
Washington reporter for "The Nation" magazine and Roberto Lovato, co-
founder of Presente.org, Latino political organization. Thanks for joining
You know, I guess we`ll start with this basic dilemma that Democrats are
facing that kind of spilled into public view this week in the Senate where,
you know, it`s 60 votes -- you need 60 votes to beat a filibuster and to
get this bill out of the Senate, but the logic, the Chuck Schumer is sort
of talking about, there is well, if 60 votes gets it out of the Senate, but
if you want to have any chance in the House these days you need to have
your 70-plus, so it`s big overwhelming bipartisan majority, and therefore
sort of isolates the House Republicans, they feel pressured to bring the
bill to vote in the House, you know, even if most of them won`t vote for
it. You know, George, you`re down there, I mean what`s you`re read on the
mood of Democrats in the Senate? How do this sort of the rank and file and
it fall on that question right now?
GEORGE ZORNICK, THENATION.COM: I think the rank and file of not only the
Senate, but the House who are familiar with the way John Boehner works, are
pretty skeptical of this approach by Chuck Schumer. I mean, you know, the
House GOP is going to be isolated no matter what. There are huge pressures
on it from their business donors, from the consultant class, to get
something done. And whether something comes out of the senate with 64
votes, 67, 70, I mean that`s sort of a talking point that, sure, will
influence Boehner a bit, but the point here is that you probably are going
to have to pass it with the majority of Democratic support. And so you
don`t want to send down a bill that`s unacceptable to big chunks of the
Democratic caucus in the House. OK, you got 70 votes, but now you lost a
third of the Democrats in the House and you still can`t get it passed. So,
I think not only, you know, a lot of the people I talk to, but certainly
reformers are really interested in getting a good bill with 62 votes and
the pressure will still be on John Boehner at that point.
KORNACKI: Let`s say they did it with, you know, 60, let`s say - the bare
minimum. So that would require, you know, we`re talking about - this is
like Six Republicans here flipping over and voting for it. I wonder the
reaction, Michelle, what - in the Republican world if something like that
happens, do they feel the kind of pressure that George is talking about or
does that create an opportunity for conservative Republicans to say, hey,
look, this is like six rhinos, this is seven rhinos who joined with the
Democrats to jam an amnesty bill down our throats, does it make it easier
for Republicans to frame the Senate bill that way?
MICHELLE BERNARD, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: The most fundamental thing that we
send these people to Washington to do is just vote. And I think for the
mass majority of the public they sit back and they are asking themselves,
why is it difficult to vote under any circumstances whatsoever? I think
what we`re going to see here, is that at least what we`ve seen in the House
in particular, is that there`s not much that makes anyone feel that they
need to move a bill forward. Everybody wants immigration reform to pass,
but people gun control to pass also. They`re going to do whatever it is
they want to do, whether there`s 60 votes coming out of the Senate or 70.
KORNACKI: But it`s a weird dynamic, because everybody wants immigration
reform to pass. I mean there is a divide in the Republican Party, right?
KORNACKI: There are definitely people in the Republican Party who do not
want immigration reform to pass under any circumstances. There are
Republicans sort of -- I guess Republican leaders, you know, sort of
strategic thinkers who say we have to do this for our future. And then I
think, my sense is there are a lot of Republicans who are looking at this
and saying, yeah, I get for the good of the party that we need to do this,
but I`m also scared of voting it the wrong way in terms of the Republican
universe and getting a primary challenge.
RICK PERLSTEIN, THENATION.COM: Yeah, I`m riveted by how profoundly this
shows the democracy deficit in our country as a whole.
PERLSTEIN: I mean it used to be we needed, you know, a majority, then 60
votes has been institutionalized, now 70, you know, 80, 90, unanimity,
right? And what this comes down to is just to kind of get to the structure
of it, the Republican constituency in the House of Representatives, and so,
gerrymandered. That each seat is a guaranteed Republican seat so the only
election is a primary election. So primaries come from kind of these
motivated base voters who need low turnout primary elections. So every
Republican representative lives in fear for some Tea Party, extremist
challenge and kind of three levels down in the system in the Senate we`re
trying to craft public policy, which they`re not really doing. And the
most extreme possible way. I mean now they`re talking about an amendment
that requires 100 percent operational security. I mean, this kind of
purity. And it`s almost like kabuki. We pretend as if we can solve these
great public problems with a structure that`s so democratically deficient.
KORNACKI: Well, let`s talk about that. You talk about the Cornyn
KORNACKI: And this is border security amendment that John Cornyn, the
Republican from Texas, introduced this week. Let`s play and talk about -
we`ll talk about it in a second. Let`s play him first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R ) TEXAS: The most important difference between my
amendment and the Gang of Eight bill is that my amendment has real border
security triggers in place. While the Gang of Eight bill has no effective
trigger that will guarantee implementation of border security standards
that reach the gang`s own standards of 100 percent\% situational awareness,
90 percent apprehension rate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, there is language, there are goals and benchmarks set in the
Gang of Eight bill, the main bill for border security. The main difference
of what Cornyn is doing here, he`s tying that to the path of citizenship.
He`s basically saying we`re going to set this - these two benchmarks here
right now. 100 percent visibility or awareness of the border and a 90
percent apprehension rate documented. And if that can`t be documented in
ten years, than anybody who`s on this sort of provisional path, eventually
path to citizenship, is cut off. There is no path to citizenship after ten
years. I understand why politically this would be enticing for Republicans
but, Roberto, what is the main objection to that proposal?
ROBERT LOVATO, PRESENTE.ORG: Before anything, happy Father Day to all the
dads, especially my favorite immigrant, dad (inaudible) of my father.
Also, I`m speaking for as a journalist, not as Presente.org`s, not the
official position, but that said, when you look at John Cornyn`s position
and the Republican Party`s position on border enforcement, you`re talking
about, say, mad men. But when you`re talking about the Gang of Eight,
you`re also talking about something that`s not accepted by most Latinos
Presente.org, along with Latino Decisions, the country`s preeminent Latino
polling firm. Poll asked the question that nobody`s asking. What do
Latinos think? Because remember, everybody came to the table, Republican
and Democrat, after the 2012, because of the Latino vote, right? People
were saying, man, we`ve got to -- and that, you know, causes a memo in the
Republican Party national committee and, you know, people are really trying
to get right by Latinos after being really wrong with us for a long time.
So, our polls show that like 81 percent of Latinos reject the approach of
the Gang of Eight. Not even Cornyn. Of putting border enforcement. I
mean if you look at the FBI statistics, like I have, and followed this for
a lot of years, the border has been safe - certifiably safe for year after
year after year. The top ten - ten out of 13 border cities are seeing
decreases in violent crime year after year. And so, it shows the degree of
-- like, of simulation and kind of matrix-like NSA .
KORNACKI: So, what we`re talking about, though, is the base bill, that you
could say the issue of border security, that`s a distraction anyway, and
this is, you know, this is sort of a grand compromise, right? I mean if
you`re going to get any Republican votes you`re going to have to do
something that involves border security. But the jump that Cornyn is
making here with this amendment, and amendment that picked up as we said, a
lot of support among Republicans this week is tying that to the path to
citizenship and saying there will be no path to citizenship. When you -
I`m just curious, it can explain, why always people say that`s a poison
pill, directly to - why is that such a poison pill? Why is that, though,
so far beyond what`s in the bill.
LOVATO: The poll that Presente.org did, showed that Latinos don`t want
what is proposed by some, which is legalization without citizenship.
That`s unacceptable by like 86 percent. So, that`s unacceptable because
people have been living here for 10, 15, 20 years with paying taxes, doing
everything they can, jumping through all these hoops. People -- this bill
actually isn`t what Latinos wanted. It`s not what Latinos are asking for.
BERNARD: I would also add, though, that my understanding is that some of
the opposition to this and the reason people call that a poison pill is
that you can never -- if truth be told, you can never, ever guarantee 100
percent border security.
BERNARD: So if you tie the path to legal citizenship to border security,
you`re basically undoing the entire bill because there are many people who
will never get citizenship because the borders will always be porous .
BERNARD: . and there is no way to ensure the .
KORNACKI: Where there`s a will there`s a way, right?
KORNACKI: If you have the administration, a decade from the - we don`t
want to do this, our Congress says, we don`t want to do this, they can say,
oh, it`s 85 percent .
KORNACKI: No more citizenship.
PERLSTEIN: And looking - I mean, beyond the politics in Washington, the
real life at the border, isn`t it the case, Roberto, that there`s been a
record number of shootings of Mexicans crossing the border and even
Mexicans who are still in Mexico? I mean we`re talking about violence at
the border that`s going down in places like El Paso, but it`s probably gone
up in places like Juarez at the hand of border patrol agents.
BERNARD: But also, I think, it`s important to recognize, you know, a lot -
most of the immigration debate has been with regard to Latinos, but there
is - there immigration issues that deal with people who are not of Hispanic
PERLSTEIN: So funny, in my (inaudible) Chicago, it`s Polish illegal
immigrants who, you know, are hardworking and cleaning .
KORNACKI: One in five -one in five .
PERLSTEIN: It kind of shows the racism of the Republican position.
KORNACKI: One in five of the illegal immigrants are - you know
undocumented - term you on this, but one in five are not Hispanic, and here
KORNACKI: I want to just - going to do - we`ll take a quick break, I want
to pick it up, though, on this point of Cornyn because there`s another
possible compromise that`s in the works that`s not quite as hard line as
Cornyn`s. But we want to talk about it after this.
KORNACKI: So, we`ve been talking about John Cornyn`s amendment, you know,
being called a poison pill, an amendment that`s very attractive to
Republican politicians, Republican senators who are worried about the
primary challenge. This is sort of - I think this is a test for them, so
politically they see it, this is the way I have to prove that I`m, you
know, that I`m tough on border security to protect myself from a primary
challenge. So, that`s sort of the challenge for supporters of immigration
reform here. Marco Rubio this week is part of the gang of eight, seemed to
be supportive of Cornyn`s effort, and Greg at "The Washington Post"
reported that the rest of the Gang of Eight gave Marco Rubio an earful over
that. He seemed to change this (inaudible), the week, but let`s listen to
Marco Rubio. This was on Thursday at a - for the cattle call for possible
Republican presidential candidates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: At the essence of our immigration policy is compassion. Is the
idea that not only do we believe that people from all walks of life can
succeed f given the opportunity. We actually want that -- we actually want
to be the place where they succeed. Now, clearly through an orderly
process, through a legal process, through a way that`s measured and good
for our country, but we believe these things. And we`re motivated in that
regard by our compassion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, what it look like is happening now according to the latest
recording is that Rubio and some other Republican senators and some other
members of the Gang of Eight, like Bob Corker, for instance, are working on
a new border security amendment, that would not go as far as John Cornyn`s.
And it`s - it`s unclear exactly what`s going to be - but some of the
reporting that I saw suggested that basically the amendment would take the
power to set the plan for border enforcement away from DHS, away from the
Department of Homeland Security and away from Janet Napolitano, and will
allow Congress to basically set the terms for how this is going to happen
but it would not have that trigger, that path to citizenship trigger. Are
you hearing that, George, is that what seems to be happening now?
ZORNICK: Yeah, it is. And the fundamental question here is can
Republicans agree to a path to citizenship that is more or less
unconditional. Because you have to remember, what you`re asking
undocumented immigrants to do is pay thousands of dollars of fines, learn
the English language, stay employed, pay all the back taxes, pay into
Obamacare, but not receive all of the benefits. So, once you ask them to
do that, and jump through all those hoops, at the end of it there has to be
what is essentially a guaranteed citizenship status. You can`t do that --
have them do that for ten years and then when there`s a Republican
president or Republican Congress say, oh, sorry, never mind. Forget about
that citizenship. So, that`s really the question. And Democrats have made
it clear that that, to them, is a poison pill.
LOVATO: There is - what`s interesting about the debate right now is that
even within the Democrats now they`re starting to divide, right? You have
Chuck Schumer, Chuck - I don`t know a bottom to the abyss Schumer saying
that -- he pretty much will accept whatever gets him 70 votes.
LOVATO: And some folks outside of the bill - outside of the D.C.
discussion have been protesting President Obama for his deportations, there
is a Father`s Day deportation - you know, anti-deportation rallies across
the country in 30 cities -- 20 cities and 30 locations -- 30 different
events. So, Harry Reid and Dick Durbin have now said there is a bottom.
And I think they`re starting to hear the pressure from outside the beltway
which is there`s only so much repression Latinos and other immigrants are
going to take. And that`s the fact that has to be underlined in this.
We`re fed up with 1.7 million. If Barack Obama continues along the path
that he`s on, and he could be the big loser of this. Let`s look at this .
KORNACKI: The line that was drawn sort of legislatively, the line that was
drawn this week was on the Cornyn amendment. And you had even Chuck
Schumer saying we`re not going to go that far. We`re not going to go with
the Cornyn. What`s sort of up in the air right now is this new compromise,
this new potential amendment that`s taking shape that Marco Rubio is
involved in. Is that something that Schumer and other - you know, Harry
Reid, Dick Durbin and other Democrats would also get behind? You know, when
you hear sort of the parameters of that, Rick, what`s your impression of
PERLSTEIN: I mean, what I hear is - I mean Roberto used the word
repression. That sounds like the baseline bill is, you know, pretty darn
repressive. I don`t think I could ever become a citizen under this - you
know, I`m- - you know, if you are not like some sort of spotless angel, you
know, you can`t join the legitimate Democratic citizenship of the United
States? I think that`s absurd. And you know, I think you`re getting to
the point where you`re -- you have to look these Gang of Eight senators in
the eye and say, do you believe we`re a nation of immigrants or not? Do
you believe that immigration enriches our economy, enriches our patrimony
or not? Or are you trying to get, you know, in "Time" magazine, like Chuck
Schumer did this week as the master dealmaker. Do you become the master
dealmaker in Washington by selling out the public policy interest to the
KORNACKI: But I guess the real practical question is I mean, we have been
talking about immigration reform for so long. And we have actually seen it
die in Congress before. We watched it die six or seven years ago. And I -
and Roberto, to hear you talk about all the imperfections of this bill,
they are glaring, absolutely. I mean, we call these things compromises
and, you know, part of compromise is, I mean but there are awful things
that get in these bills. But I wonder at this point, is it something you
would say, sink this bill over, for instance, the -- not the Cornyn
amendment but, you know, what like Rubio .
LOVATO: The overall - yeah, the overall legislation, as Rick said, is very
- very repressive in its essence. The Gang of Eight`s, that bipartisan
consensus, will do nothing, absolutely nothing, to ameliorate the worst
parts of existing immigration policy as far as persecuting, prosecuting,
jailing, deporting, rating, terrorizing, killing immigrants. Nothing
except add $6 billion to increase border enforcement, add more money to
ICE. So, when you get down in the details, it`s not just devils, but
there`s Frankenstein .
KORNACKI: Do you want to see it pass?
LOVATO: In the immigrant community -- I was in a room full of Afro,
Latino immigrants here in the Bronx yesterday. For two days we were in
meetings, I was listening and talking. And people are not used to this,
but they`ve been around this before. And people who would follow this more
closely than all of us are, I sense, kind of ready for either way. If it
passes, we`re ready to accept that. But I`m already starting to hear
people say, well, if this doesn`t pass, we need to start looking for other
solutions. And, you know, a lot of people don`t know that most people in
the United States have been legalized through what they call piecemeal
where you have Haitians, you have Salvadorian TPS, you have deferred, you
know, action like happened with the Dreamers. You have different programs.
Many or some of which are actually right within Barack Obama`s hands right
now to do. And so that`s why I was saying that the stakes are high,
especially for Barack Obama. Not just immigrants. Because he could end
up, by the end of his term, deporting 3.2 million people if nothing is
KORNACKI: Well, we`ll pick it up on - in terms, you know, we have the
question of the Senate, and we touched on the question of the House
earlier, and there are some big questions in terms of even if this gets
through the Senate what happens in the House. And we`ll pick it up on that
KORNACKI: So we want to talk about the second phase of this summer sort of
upcoming, you know, fight over immigration reform is if this - if and when
this gets through the Senate, then the battleground shifts to the house.
John Boehner, speaker, talked about the prospects of immigration reform
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the most important thing you`ll get done this
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: I think immigration
reform is probably at the top of that list.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Signed into law?
BOEHNER: I think by the end of the year, we could have a bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One that passes the House, passes the Senate, signed by
BOEHNER: Yeah, no question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So .
KORNACKI: We`re not sure which - which bill it would be. We`re not sure
how this is going to work. And I mean the Republicans in the House are
still talking, Michelle about, they`re going to have their own bill and
maybe would go through some kind of conference. But I think most people I
talk to in Washington say no, realistically the only way anything gets
through the House is it basically is the Senate bill and the Republicans
make a decision that, you know, maybe 80 percent of us are going to vote
against this, but as a party we want this to go through, so we`re going to
put it on the floor.
BERNARD: They have got to do something. I absolutely agree, it`s going to
have to be from whatever comes out of the Senate. This has - this is a
huge issue. I mean outside of just the immigration bill itself, it`s a
huge issue about how our democracy works and about governance, period. I
mean if we - if we take a step back and think about all of the immigration
bills that have been passed in states throughout the country over the last
few years, some have been ruled unconstitutional, some have not, but they
basically gave license in Alabama, for example, and in Arizona to - for
police officers to engage in nothing that`s any less than racial profiling
on a state by state basis. And then we have a Republican Party that is
poised to lose election after election after election because of its
mistreatment of communities of color, particularly African-Americans,
particularly Hispanics. Now we have a chance to pass immigration reform
and we`ve got a Republican Party that are saying, we want to reach out to
the Hispanic community. You know, we are at the big tent. We are a nation
of immigrants. However, we`re going to tie citizenship to border -- you
know, to border security and all these other things. It`s a huge, huge
problem. And you have to sit back and say, why is it so difficult to have
-- come up with common sense policy initiatives and just vote and pass it
KORNACKI: Here is - here`s a graphic that I think will explain, it will
answer that question, maybe. If you look at Republicans in the House, Amy
Walter of "The National Journal" calls this the Republicans incentive
problem. Now, these are Republican House districts with the Latino
population of more than 25 percent, OK? 15 - there are only 24 to start
with. 15 of them were carried by Romney by double digits, five of them
were carried by Romney by single digits meaning that there`s a Latino
population there, but there is - there is overwhelmingly Republican white
population that makes it Republican district. There are only four
Republicans in the House, who represent districts with sizeable Hispanic
populations that voted for Obama. In other words, (inaudible) only four
Republicans in the House who we look at like a general election incentive
for individual general election sent in to vote .
PERLSTEIN: But that`s even (inaudible) problem. I mean you can`t look at
this in just kind of rational electoral calculations because remember, the
last time George Bush introduces immigration bill, and it looked like it
was going to pass. And House members were just flooded, by (inaudible) on
their phones, because people like Rush Limbaugh, you know, just opened up
the flood gates. And if you think about how the Republican Party works now
and the caucus in the House, is there the kind of leadership? You talked
about, well, maybe they can say well, 80 percent of you can vote against
it, yet 20 percent to vote for it and, you know, kind of work a back room,
kind of catch and release strategy, that Karl Rove called it, you have
permission to vote against it, but in order for that to happen you need to
have an effective leader, you need to have a disciplined caucus. And if
you look at how when Barack Obama and Boehner got in the room to try and do
a budget deal and Barack Obama assumed that Boehner could sell the deal to
his caucus and it blew up because we have a very undisciplined Republican
Party that is kind of -- well, you could say the tail wags the dog, you
could say the lunatics run the asylum, but you cannot say that it`s
functioning like a rational political party.
ZORNICK: All right, one thing interesting to launch this week on Wednesday
is that Louie Gohmert, Michele Bachmann and Steve King are going to have
what they are terming a Lincoln-Douglas style debate - I`ll tell you .
ZORNICK: And that`s for all day.
KORNACKI: Fred Lincoln? George Douglas?
ZORNICK: And these are - and these are the people, this is the ugly face
of the GOP opposition. This is John Boehner`s problem. Steve King is the
guy who this week when some undocumented students, Dreamers came to his
KORNACKI: Oh, goodness.
ZORNICK: . he tweeted out that he was literally being invaded by illegals,
and it was thanks to Obama. Now, contrast that with the president this
week who stood up on stage with Dreamers, and had them besides - beside
him, it goes to this question that Rick asked, which is do Republicans see
undocumented immigrants, largely Hispanics, as equals? As people who
deserve to be here? Steve King when he said there were illegals invading
his office, gave his answer. So when we see that outside that`s .
KORNACKI: And Lincoln/Douglas debate, but these are - who - it sounds like
you have a bunch of Douglases? Who`s the Lincoln? I don`t know. Thanks
to Roberto Lovato of Presente.org. When Democrats won on civil rights and
lost the south, that`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN F. KENNEDY: This is one country, it has become one country because
all of us and all the people who came here had an equal chance to develop
their talents. We cannot say to ten percent of the population that you
can`t have that right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, that speech got a lot of attention this week. It was
exactly 50 years ago on Tuesday that John F. Kennedy delivered it to a
prime time audience on national television. That`s back when they were
like three channels so anyone who was watching TV that night, saw it.
Kennedy had just ordered the National Guard to help integrate the
University of Alabama and he announced that he was submitting civil rights
legislation to Congress. This week that speech is being remembered as a
moment of presidential courage and leadership. A big step towards ending
legalized racial discrimination in America, and it was. But it also
hastened a seismic political realignment in this country, when it radically
weakened the Democratic Party of JFK and when it transformed the Republican
Party into the intensely conservative, heavily southern political party
that we know today. First thing to remember, is that as inspiring as it
was, that JFK speech didn`t actually do much to budge the civil rights
debate in Congress. There was a broad appetite in America for new laws,
but in Congress there was unrelenting resistance from conservatives from
the South, conservative Democrats from the South and those conservative
southern Democrats had the votes to block civil rights. What Kennedy did
was put an idea on the table. The idea that discrimination in businesses
that serve the public should be outlawed. The public accommodations
clause, it came to be known as. When Kennedy proposed it 50 years ago this
month, everyone thought it was a bargaining chip, it was something he could
eventually take off the table in exchange for getting the South to give in
and allow a watered -down law.
But when Kennedy was murdered five months later, the math changed. His
successor, Lyndon Johnson knew exactly how to channel that public grief
into legislative action. With the nation grieving and LBJ in the White
House, a real civil rights bill, one with the public accommodations clause,
became possible. And on July 2, 1964 LBJ signed one into law. Something
else also happened that month, July 1964. Less than two weeks after the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted, Republicans gathered at the Cow
Palace in San Francisco. Yeah, the arena actually was called the cow
palace. Actually, I think it`s still there. I think there`s a minor
league hockey team that plays there.
Anyway, Republicans gathered at the Cow Palace in July 1964 and they
nominated for president a senator who had sided with the conservative
southern Democrats who had tried to kill civil rights in the Senate, it`s
Barry Goldwater. As a national candidate, Goldwater was a disaster. In
the old confederacy he was a hit. What made this so extraordinary is that
Goldwater actually fared better in the south in 1964 than just about any
Republican candidate since reconstruction had fared. This was a
(inaudible) of moment for the Republican Party that we know today, a
clarifying national election for conservative white southerners who really
began to see the national GOP as their friend. It was a turning point.
This is where Nixon`s southern strategy and Reagan`s infamous visit to
Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1980, in the demise of liberal northern
Republicanism. This is where they all have their roots.
Just look at this - in the 13 presidential elections before 1964, that`s
the elections from 1912 to 1960, if you added up all of the electoral votes
won by each party in the old confederacy, you would get 1,355 for the
Democrats and only 231 for the Republicans, and 54 for third-party
candidates. Now, take the 13 elections since 1964. From that
Goldwater/LBJ race through Obama/Romney last year, add up the electoral
votes for each party and you get the complete opposite. 1,359 for the
Republicans. Only 423 for the Democrats. And 47 for third parties. And
the third party was basically George Wallace, a segregationist Democrat who
ran as independent in 1968. It`s gotten progressively worse for Democrats.
For a while they could win back some of the south by nominating candidates
from the region. Jimmy Carter at the peanut farmer from Plains in 1976 or
Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
For decades after 1964, Democrats kept chasing after Dixie. But the
realignment just wouldn`t stop. By 2000, a native Tennessean, Al Gore,
lost every single state south of the Mason Dixon Line.
This is why a few years ago a political scientist, Tom Schaller, wrote a
book called "Whistling Past Dixie." His argument - it was time for
Democrats to give up on the south and to build a winning coalition
elsewhere. If you look around the south today, that argument seems self-
evident from the presidency to the state houses to the county courthouses,
there is no region in the country as uniformly Republican as the south.
But there is also a twist.
We look at what happened in 2008, that`s when a Democrat, Barack Obama
broke through, and won three old confederacy states, Virginia, North
Carolina and Florida. It was the first time since LBJ in `64 that a
Democrat had won Virginia. It was the first time since Carter in `76 to
the Democrat won North Carolina. And last year in 2012 Obama won two of
those states again and he came awfully close in North Carolina. These
states were winnable for the president because they look different than
they used to. They`re more diverse. There are more young professionals.
And they`re not alone. The "American Prospect" magazine just ran a series
called "The End of the Solid South." The thesis that rapidly changing
demographics will soon make five big southern states serious political
battlegrounds. Not just Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, but also
Georgia and Texas. Among those five states, there are 111 electoral votes.
So, have we arrived at another critical turning point in history? One that
marks the end of the Democratic Party`s retreat in the south and one that
could usher in a new era when being called a liberal and when doing liberal
things won`t mean automatic political death for candidates in the South.
We`ll talk about it next.
KORNACKI: I`m joined now by Tom Schaller, author of "Whistling Past Dixie:
How Democrats Can Win Without the South," professor of political science at
the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Abby Rapoport, staff
writer at "The American Prospect."
And Tom, I - I`ve got to start with you, I mentioned you there in the
intro, you wrote the book that changed I think the way a lot of Democrats
thought about the South and a lot of Democrats, you know, sort of say,
that`s pretty good advice. When you look at that "American Prospect"
series I was just talking about, you look at some of the demographic
changes the South, do you think it`s time to rethink a little bit of what
you said and maybe at least some of the South is now much more fertile for
TOM SCHALLER, AUTHOR "WHISTLING PAST DIXIE": Well, certainly parts of them
with the peripheral rim south, the Florida, the North Carolina, Virginia,
Texas and certainly these states with the significant Latino growth, I mean
will be the states that will come next. But when will they come and how
long will it take? If you read my book I said, look, the Democrats
eventually, if you look at the demographics of the country, will be able to
be competitive again in the South. The question is, do you want your
majorities and your Supreme Court appointments and your presidential
victories and your Senate now or do you want to wait until 2024, 2030? So,
Bob Moser, who is at, I think, behind the series and wrote a book "A Blue
Dixie", sort of a counter to my book, we`ve debated it - and I like and
respect him, and I said, look, you know, if you want to wait 20 years to
have a majority and worry about Supreme Court appointments then, then go
with this strategy, but if you want to win now, win now.
And the book came out a month before the 2006 election. What happened, the
Democrats picked up 85 percent of their seats, at every late, Senate,
House, and state legislature in a non - outside the South. And at one
point Harry Reid, actually had 50 non-southern senators, out of 56. So he
technically out a majority. And Nancy Pelosi who has always needed a few
House members, but they are basically the black and Latino members from the
South, so she actually had 218 votes at one point in 2007 without a single
white southern Democrat. So, I think the southern strategy has worked in
the short term. And when you look at the accomplishments of 2006 and
winning the House and Senate and that Obama`s election, that`s what gave
you Obamacare. That`s what gave you the stimulus. So, it was basically
non-southern majorities, oftentimes with white Democrats voting against
some of these things, that gave you, those policies, and if you like them,
that`s where you`ve got them from.
KORNACKI: Rick, I wonder, because I mean if you wrote about sort of the --
we talk about 1964. And you wrote about - you wrote a book about Barry
Goldwater`s rise in `64. You wrote "Nixon,"- you know that era, you know
that transformation that kind of played out in the South. Do you see us
reaching sort of a turning point here, the South and its role in American
PERLSTEIN: Yeah. I mean I can`t really speak to the statistics. The
fascinating thing in the discussion is when people talk about the South
turning Democratic. I think a lot of people in their mind think in their
mind the white South, right? But the white South isn`t, you know, what it
once was. I mean, I think people think about this famous line from Bill
Moyers when he - when Lyndon Johnson signed the civil rights bill and he
said, I think we`ve signed away the South for the Republican Party for a
long time. People don`t really understand the other implication of that,
which is that basically we`ve won the loyalty of northern blacks for a long
time. So, you know, it wasn`t always the case that 90 percent of blacks
voted for the Democratic Party. It was more like 60 or 65 or 70 percent of
blacks voted for the Democratic Party. And as the South kind of begins to
look more like America in its racial composition it will probably, yeah,
become more Democratic. But we`re -- you know, we`re not talking about,
you know, the Joe Manchin, although West Virginia is not quite the South,
you know, who kind of put up campaign commercials, you know, shooting, you
know, guns through the Cap and Trade bill, although, well, we`re going to
talk about gun control later and Manchin figures in that. So, I mean
things are a little rejiggered, right? And we need to kind of rethink some
of these assumptions.
KORNACKI: Michelle, I just want to - when you look at sort of the - I
`don`t know, the last 30, 40 years, or 50 years, really, in the trajectory
of the Republican Party, I mean I can remember still when there were -
there was still a fair number of liberal moderate northeastern Republicans
left. But they were, you know, sort of -- as I was growing up, they were
sort of relics and they pretty much all disappeared right now.
KORNACKI: And that was sort of a product of the sort of southernifiction -
- I don`t know if that`s a word, but we will say as it is .
KORNACKI: Southernification ..
BERNARD: It is today.
KORNACKI: . of the Republican Party, and the Republican Party in the
South, I think the stats is like - it`s like 80 percent white, it`s
something like that`s, overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly Southern. What
has that done to the Republican Party - to the national worth?
BERNARD: Well, nationally, I think it`s really hurt the Republican Party,
and all of us, I would say, it probably started when, you know, somebody
decided to have this great Southern strategy. On that not the way that
you used it .
PERLSTEIN: My strategy.
BERNARD: You know, we`ll go back to George Wallace, if we have to go back
that far, but the Southern strategy of yester here has really hurt today`s
Republican Party, the country is fundamentally different, if you look at
the demographics in the country and all 50 states, it is increasingly - it
is increasingly more majority - minority on the state by state basis, and
even in the South, to the extent that people start looking at electoral
politics in the South, if you look at the large numbers of Hispanics and
African-Americans that are eligible to vote, but who have not registered to
vote and who don`t vote and get them engaged in the process, as we see
civil rights issues, for example, becoming more and more important.
Southern politics begins to look a lot different.
PERLSTEIN: But let me be pedantic as the historian, you might get some
kind of dilaterals (ph), Michelle, because Chris Hayes had got in trouble
BERNARD: I know ..
PERLSTEIN: .. for the Democrat .
BERNARD: Well, I know ..
PERLSTEIN: And George Wallace who the Democrat ..
BERNARD: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
PERLSTEIN: But then, it`s important to remember then, in 1964 he wanted to
become a Republican.
PELSTEIN: But then he changes my .
KORNACKI: The southern strategy of Richard Nixon was predicated on win
over the Democrats.
PERLSTEIN: And, by, you know, 1974 and `75 all these conservative
strategists were saying we need to form a new conservative party with
Reagan and Wallace running together .
PERLSTEIN: But then it became completely redundant by 1980-1984 because
the Republicans did become the vehicle for southern, shall we say, old-
KORNACKI: We may have an interesting test of how new the new South is
becoming this fall in Virginia. We want to talk to you about it after
KORNACKI: So, of all the southern states that have changed or are changing
demographically and politically, I think Virginia has changed the most
dramatically. It`s voted for President Obama twice, there is two
Democratic senators right now. And I think what`s happened there, it`s
kind of interesting, because, you know, for a long time the sort of - the
argument in the Democratic Party was, you know, how do we win back, you
know, white southern voters? And Democrats are winning in Virginia. It`s
not because they`re winning back voters they lost. It`s because the
state`s changing really in two ways. It was I think a decade ago it was 74
percent white, now it`s 65 percent white. And Latino population has
doubled. But it`s also been this influx of - of sort of outists - you
know, people generally from a north - the more liberal people from the
north who were there for like defense contracting work, in Northern
Virginia, in the Hampton roads area, that are sort of - the white
population itself is becoming less conservative, more liberal. We sort of
have a test this fall, Abby, you know, we have a Virginia governor`s race,
there is only one or two governors` races this year, and, you know, we sort
of had it tested, because the democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, there
are a lot of issues with him sort of .
ABBY RAPOPORT, THE AMERICAN PROSPECT: What a governor`s race!
If Terry McAuliffe could win in Virginia, boy, that`s - I don`t know if
this says much of Terry - this says a lot about Virginia.
RAPOPORT: Well, yeah, I mean - it`s southern -I actually grew up in kind
of Hampton road area, and I think back to, you know, when we used to think
of Northern Virginia as the sort of liberal bastion that everyone ignored,
you know, sort of - oh, those people up there, and now they are Virginia,
you know, by and large, certainly in terms of the population. I think the
governor`s race is sort of a -- the ultimate test because you have Terry
McAuliffe who is kind of establishment, schmoozy Democrat, and Cuccinelli,
who is very far right, you know, kind of - you know, we talk about
polarization, he is the Republican kind of right - right wing right now, I
think in certain ways. And I think it`s a real, like, choice.
KORNACKI: But Cuccinelli is probably the kind of candidate, maybe, a
generation or two ago that Republican or Democrats when they were
conservatives in the South, could have gotten away with nominating in the
state like Virginia. And I think that the fact that, you know, and again,
this will be the test. We don`t know - maybe Cuccinelli end up winning
this thing and we change our minds about - but it seems like - you know,
this is sort of a test of how much Virginia has changed, and also if the
state is rejecting somebody like Cuccinelli right now.
SCHALLER: Sure. I mean Northern Virginia`s counties are now 15 percent
Asian American, which is the group that we always forget to talk about and
it was actually - there were actually more Asian American legal immigrants
to the country in 2011 than - than Hispanics or Latino. This is the first
time in 30 years that Latinos weren`t number one. And the Asian-American
population though much smaller is actually growing at a faster rate now in
the country. And, you know, Abby`s got a finally reported piece about
Texas. And the thing about the new southern strategy, I didn`t notice it,
and this is not a critique, but you pointed out right at the start of the
segment is that -it`s not any more about how we`re going to convert bubba
back, it`s all about how do we take Latinos, and where there are Asians
Americans, and moving them into Democratic Party, and waiting, getting them
registered now to vote. So even the southern strategy, for Democrats in
just the ten years here, if I may say so, has changed. It`s not some
argument - I was arguing with .
KORNACKI: And that changes ..
SCHALLER: (inaudible), you know ..
SCHALLER: And years ago.
KORNACKI: Wait, I`ve (inaudible).
SCHALLER: I don`t know.
KORNACKI: But that change is - but that change is - there`s interesting
sort of policy implications for that, right? Because the idea of winning
back bubba was let`s move to the right, let`s be conservative. If you look
at, you know, where Latinos are in polling, if you look at where the Asians
who voted for Obama by, you know, three to one margin last year, are -
they`re actually more to the left of sort of the mainstream of the
Democratic Party. So .
PERLSTEIN: I mean quickly, I mean I just have to, you know, say a word for
Terry McAuliffe not being a reincarnation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
PERLSTEIN: I mean I reviewed his memoir for "The New York Times Book
Review and said he was the guy who made the Democratic Party safe from
billionaires. So, I mean, if we`re going to talk about polarization, I`ll
say either candidate is pretty good for the business elites of Virginia,
and not necessarily good for the working class.
KORNACKI: But I mean yeah, the fact that a friend of elite donors who
could run on the Democratic ticket in a state like Virginia and win, I
guess maybe it won`t say much about McAuliffe, but it says about Virginia.
BERNARD: Well, you know when we talk about Virginia, I think not just - if
we`re going to talk about demographics, it`s not just as Hispanics and the
Asian what we should be looking at, but also, I think particularly in
Northern Virginia, the women`s vote is going to be incredibly important.
And we`re seeing a lot of ads already in the Washington, metropolitan area
that deal with Ken Cuccinelli and his ideas about women in the workplace,
women`s reproductive rights, and, you know, and I`m someone whose mantra
will always be, all issues are women`s issues, but we`ve seen some very
bizarre things and statements come .
PERLSTEIN: You`re calling these ideas?
BERNARD: Come up about women and women`s role in society from - in the
state of Virginia, and nationwide of - in the last election cycle, and I
think it`s going to be very important and people are going to have to watch
KORNACKI: All right. I want to get to the rest of the south as well
including what has been the great white whale for Democrats, the state of
Texas, after this.
KORNACKI: All right, we`re talking about how demographics are changing the
politics of the South and maybe the politics of America, too. We`re here
with Michelle Bernard of the Bernard Center for Women Politics and Public
Policy, Rick Perlstein of "The Nation" magazine, Tom Schaller, author of
"Whistling Past Dixie" and Abby Rapoport of the "American Prospect."
So, I kind of teased Texas, but before the break there .
PERLSTEIN: Don`t (inaudible) Texas.
KORNACKI: And I mean I was really respectful towards Texas before the
break there, but Abby, you - you wrote about this for "The American
Prospects, " we are talking about. I just want to set this up by putting
up a telling statistic about Texas. These are the states` demographics,
according to the 2010 census. It`s 45 percent white, 38 percent Latinos,
12 percent black and four percent Asian. And you look at that and you say,
I totally get why Democrats are always talking about how immigrants are
going to turn Texas blue, and I start to say, why haven`t they done it
already? Then this is the - this is how voter, the actual turnout pattern,
this is in 2010. We didn`t have numbers for 2012 because they didn`t do an
exit poll in Texas because it wasn`t a battleground, but anyway, in 2010,
this is what it actually turned out whites, 67 percent. Latino, 17, Black,
13, Asians one percent. Abby, what`s going on in Texas?
RAPOPORT: Well, I think one of the things that`s been a real problem in
Texas is you`ve always had this fight over the white vote, right? You
know, which we were eluding to in the rest of the south as well. And
Texas` demographics are changes really rapidly and I don`t think that the
kind of political strategies and political institutions have been able to
really keep up with that shift. So, you`re still talking about, you know,
the 2010 Texas governor`s race was a guy named Bill White, tried to - he
was former mayor of Houston, kind of well-liked with the business
community, is running a race that by all accounts, this is going to be the
race, right? You know, this is the time. And, you know, his campaign was
focused very, very much on, you know, convincing white voters. You know,
when you look at the demographics you`re wondering, well, why? But I think
the other thing to remember, Texas hasn`t built as many political and kind
of civic institutions as a lot of other states. And so you really have
this sort of gap in bringing people into the political process, a real lag.
And you haven`t had in the last, you know, two decades, at least one
decade, a real investment in kind of bringing new folks into the political
KORNACKI: And so now, that`s - that`s s- that is changing now. And I
don`t know if people know the story, but of Jeremy Bird, who was like the
turnout guru for the Obama campaign, has now made Texas his project. What
is he doing there now?
RAPOPORT: Set it in his sights. There`s a group called Battleground
Texas, the executive director is Jen Brown who oversaw the field operation
in Ohio, obviously a success for the Obama campaign, and Jeremy Bird is I
think the senior adviser but founded it. And their idea is largely based
around turnout. It`s saying we are going to go into Texas and we`re going
to mobilize Latino voters and I think convince women, that`s the one group
they`re working on convincing and win the state through that process. And
so they`ve only been in the state really since February. Not very long.
And I think the big question for them, obviously the Obama people do
turnout -- do mobilization better than almost anyone else, the question is,
how long can they be there? Because I think in Texas it`s not a question
of 2014 or really even 2016. It`s a long-term question. But if you invest
for those five or ten years, do you make it happen a lot faster than you
would have if you`re just waiting on the demographic shift and you`re
waiting 20 year plus.
SCHALLER: This is exactly right. And I`m not the only person, but ten
years ago we were having this big debate about the revival of the left and
the Democratic Party. And the question was, and (inaudible) of choices, do
you want to have a conversion strategy where you kind of move voters over
or you`re trying to have a mobilization strategy? And conversion was
always so tempting. We`ve got to get the soccer moms, we`ve got to get the
Nascar dads, we`ve got to get the guys who are in unions but they own guns.
And it`s tempting and alluring because when you`re convertible, it counts
twice: you`re taking one away and adding one. But if you can mobilize a
vote for 50 cents or less on a dollar that takes you to convert a vote,
it`s more efficient, right? And so, there`re whole series of people,
including me and Rui Tagera (ph) and John Judis and others were like - you
know you can do some conversion, but you really need to do mobilization.
And I think Obama proved that you can mobilize to win. You don`t need to
spend all your time trying to get the Nascar dads. Because it is very hard
to convert, and by the way, the people who are easiest to convert, are the
people who are the quickest to go back. And so, mobilization - whatever I
want to think about the southern strategy, I agree completely with what
Jeremy Bird is trying to do, which is to change the first set of numbers s
into the second set of numbers ..
KORNACKI: Well, here`s a stat that I counted a few weeks ago that just
shocked me. It was African American turnout in North Carolina last year.
So, this is a battleground state that was targeted for this mobilization.
And it was 77 percent.
KORNACKI: In Arkansas, which was -- everybody wrote off Arkansas to
Republicans, it was 47 percent. That was the difference of having a
PERLSTEIN: Yeah, what I was going to say, Steve, is as a historian I have
to offer a caveat that I`m always uncomfortable with talking about long-
term demographic trends. I mean - I did a series of posts for "The Nation"
blog, in which I talked about - I think I`d said something like demographic
-- demographic something change is not, you know, Democratic inevitability.
And one of my points was, people`s ideological identifications are not kind
of imprinted on their genes. They can change. And they have changed. And
in the `40s and `50s and into the `60s and even the `70s, people said,
well, how can the Republicans become a majority party when the core of the
Democratic coalition, which was what they called then white ethnics, you
know, Irish people, eastern Europeans, Italians, were a growing share of
the population. In fact, there was a book that came out in 1959 that said
the Democrats were going to be the party of the future because there are so
few WASPs and so many, you know, white ethnics. And, of course, what
happened, was, you know, the white ethnics often became Republicans over
these backlash issues.
And also, you know, there`s a long history in America of immigrant groups,
quote/unquote, becoming white, right? So, there`s nothing to say that,
let`s say we pass comprehensive immigration reform. Let`s say, although it
seems like a miracle at this point, that kind of Hispanic voters are kind
of more and more kind of brought into the kind of mainstream middle class
American community. Maybe that`ll start thinking more like Republicans.
Maybe the Republican Party moderates a little and you have to rewire these
kind of -- kind of reaffied (ph) assumptions about the fact that more
Hispanics always means more Democrats.
RAPOPORT: I think that the problem is you have this intense polarization
going on at the time.
PERLSTEIN: This is true.
RAPOPORT: Right? And so, it`s hard to kind of have your cake and eat it,
too. If you`re the Republicans or if you are the Democrats. I mean I
think the problem often is we talk about the party staying static and
people choosing between these two static parties.
RAPOPORT: You know, if Latinos become the face of the Texas Democratic
Party, excuse me, that will be a very different party than the party it is
right now in terms of issue priority, in terms of who`s being represented
and how. And so I think -- you know, I think you`re right, but the
Republicans as we`ve been seeing on all the all the issues of this show,
you know, today are staking out some pretty hard core positions, you know.
KORNACKI: But here is I want to say. I want to ask Michelle about this.
I want to set this up by playing two clips, though. This is - this is
something interesting, I think a dynamic in Texas. Rick Perry, you might
remember him when he ran for president - you might remember when he ran for
KORNACKI: He was asked about, you know, public schools for children of
illegal immigrants and this was just sort of -surprising response of this
to a national audience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY, (R-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you say that we should
not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason other
than they`ve brought there by no fault of their own, I don`t think you have
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And I was going to play a second clip, but forget it. I`m just
going to play that one. But Michelle, it seems like there`s a politician,
Rick Perry, we look at all these demographics he has to deal in Texas, he`s
been elected a number of times right now. Is there something about - is
there a lesson from Rick Perry there for Republicans?
BERNARD: Well, I`m sorry that statement he made was the most intelligent
statement he made throughout his entire career running for the presidency.
Texas, unlike other states, the Texas Republican Party, to its credit, has
done a much better job than the national Republican Party in reaching out
to Latinos. And trying to -- and trying to get Latinos to become a part of
the state Republican Party. But that being said, the big elephant in the
room is the national Republican Party. And Rick Perry was absolutely
decimated by his Republican cohorts for making that statement. We saw in
the 2012 presidential election statements about, you know, getting people
to self-deport, for example. Horrible racist statements about, you know --
made by, you know, Sheriff Arpaio and another sheriff in North Carolina.
That`s a huge problem for the Republican Party at the national level, and
it`s interesting, because some of the reporting that I have seen will tell
you that right now, if a lot of the Hispanics that were eligible to vote
actually voted in Texas, it would be an almost competitive state. So what
is happening right now in Texas, is fascinating because I think we`re
talking about 36 or 38 electoral votes in the state of Texas. If this
group is successful and Texas can actually become competitive and becomes a
blue state, what does that say for presidential elections year - you know,
every four years going forward .
KORNACKI: What I think of when I (inaudible) - it is California. Because
California used to be - we used to think of California as an extension of
the sun belt and then it became a swing state, right, but it voted
Republican consistently from like `60 to `88. And you had in 1994, you had
proposition 187 in California, you know, Pete Wilson the Republican - got
behind it, the Republican Party got behind it, denying public services to
illegal immigrants, to children of illegal immigrants. And California has
not been competitive since. Abby, you know, do - you sense in Texas, do
Latino voters in Texas, do voters in Texas in general appreciate the
distinction between the rhetoric of like a Rick Perry and the rhetoric of
the national Republican Party?
RAPOPORT: Well, I think - you think, right, I think definitely the
Republicans in Texas have been much more sensitive to what`s happening in
their state than national Republicans have been. That said, however, you
know, you can look at two things. One is support for schools and support
for Obamacare. And on both of those issues, which poll extremely high with
Latino voters, the Republicans in Texas are about as far to the right as
anyone. I mean you have a state where Rick Perry has basically said, well,
we don`t need to worry about expanding Medicaid. That`s not something
we`re going to deal with. You know, which has been the position of almost
any other Republican governor.
KORNACKI: There is (inaudible)
RAPOPORT: The other thing I would just - I would just add to that is --
well, I mean - Rick, you ..
KORNACKI: All right. I want to think that .
SCHALLER: Because Rick knows as I know, that as the south became more
Democratic, it became associated with the civil rights movement, what
happened to whites in the south, it became more and more Republican. And
the blacker the states, the more Republican - the whites vote. I mean
Mississippi and Alabama .
SCHALLER: . look at the 90 percent votes for McCain, Romney and Bush,
right? So the question is, when we are talking about this before the
segment begin is, will over time, the Democratic, if it happens - and it`s
right - Latinos went to from 67 percent to what - 72 percent, just in
between Obama`s two elections, the increasing identification of Latinos
with the Democratic Party, will that create a next wave of .
KORNACKI: Actually, I`ve seen counties like in east Texas where it almost
feels like that`s already happened.
SCHALLER: So you (inaudible), it won`t be a free vote every time you`re
KORNACKI: I want to thank Tom Schaller, he is the author of "Whistling
Past Dixie, and Abby Rapoport of "The American Prospect," how voting for
the party not the person will likely save a Democratic Senate seat, at
least this year. I`ll explain you next.
KORNACKI: The last time there was a special election for the U.S. Senate
in Massachusetts, Scott Brown stole the show in the final televised debate
with this line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GERGEN: We know from the Clinton experience that if this bill fails,
it could well be another 15 years before we see a health care reform
efforts again in Washington. Are you willing, under those circumstances,
to say, I`m going to be the person, I`m going to sit in Teddy Kennedy`s
seat and I`m going to be the person that is going to block it for another
SCOTT BROWN: Well, with all due respect, it`s not the Kennedy seat, it`s
not the Democratic seat, it`s the people`s seat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: A week after that, Brown defeated Martha Coakley and became the
only Massachusetts Republican since Ed Brooke in 1972 to win the Senate
We are now in the home stretch of another special Senate race in
Massachusetts. The election is nine days away. The final debate will be
on Tuesday. It is possible that the Republican candidate, Gabriel Gomez,
will turn in the kind of debate performance that Scott Brown did three
years ago and then parlay it into an election triumph. It`s possible, but
it`s not likely. It`s now been six weeks since Gomez won the Republican
primary. There is still no evidence that he`s really caught on with the
public or that he`s really capable of catching on with the public. The
Democrat Congressman Ed Markey is leading by around ten points in the
polling average. And in the two debates that have already been held Gomez
has been flattened, really kind of awkward. There has been no people seat
moment. Now that Markey has been that much more impressive, he`s kept a
very low public profile and he isn`t exactly stirring the passions of the
masses. I said, when these race begin the Democrats were taking a gamble
with Markey, he`s been in Congress for 37 years, he`s got a house in the
tony D.C. suburb, these are the kinds of markings of entrenchment an
insider then the voters in Massachusetts occasionally rebel against.
The fact that Markey isn`t leading by a much larger margin is testament to
his vulnerabilities. But still, he`s leading, and he`s led the whole way
and there`s a good chance he`s going to lead all the way to the finish
line. And that is testament to a much bigger trend in American politics,
one that Joe Biden stumbled on in a speech at a fundraiser for Markey this
week. Biden said, quote, "It`s a pretty simple proposition. The United
States of America and the State of Massachusetts does not need another
Republican in the Senate. I`m being straight about this. This is not your
father`s Republican Party. They are not bad guys, they don`t get it."
At the heart of what Biden said there is the basic message that voters from
both parties all message that from both parties all across the country are
taking to heart more than ever. When it comes to elections for the Senate
and the House, vote the party, not the candidate. This is a relatively
recent development in American politics. Generation ago it was common for
voters to split their tickets, to vote for one party`s candidate for
president and the other party`s candidate for Congress. But split-ticket
voting has rapidly declined. Is rapidly declining. Last fall, for
instance, just six percent of Obama and Romney voters supported the
opposite party`s candidate for the House. It was about the same when it
came to the Senate candidates. Party labels used to mean very different
things to very different people. But today they speak to deep geographic
cultural and ethnic divides in our society. More than ever, we`re becoming
a nation of straight-ticket voters. Especially when it comes to federal
office. In a blue state like Massachusetts, that makes it a lot harder for
a Republican like Gabriel Gomez to break through or for a Democrat like Ed
Markey to blow an election.
In fact, Massachusetts is the most dramatic illustration of the trend
toward straight-ticket voting. The state has nine congressional districts
and it had ten for the two decades before the most recent round of
redistricting. And not a single one of those districts has elected a
Republican to the House since 1994. Think about that. There have been 91
individual house elections in Massachusetts in that time, and 91 of them
have been won by Democrats. The last fall Republicans were sure they were
going to end that streak. John Tierney, a Democratic congressman from
north of Boston, was hit with a scandal that would kill most political
careers. His wife and brother-in-law were indicted for running an illegal
offshore gambling business. His wife did time, and his brother-in-law even
went public to say the congressman did know about everything and was "the
biggest liar in the world." To run against Tierney, Republicans nominated
a pro-choice openly gay former state legislator, probably the best
candidate Republicans could find in a state like Massachusetts. Everyone
figured that Tierney was a goner. His own party gave him up for dead. And
when the results were in, Tierney still won.
That`s what happens when voters vote for the party and not the person. It
doesn`t happen always, but it is happening more than ever. It`s a trend
that will probably save a Senate seat for Democrats in Massachusetts next
week, but it`s also a trend that could complicate their chances in other
states in 2014.
I want to talk about another factor in the 2014 elections, a billionaire`s
new tactic on gun control that`s turning Democrats against themselves.
KORNACKI: Friday marked the six-month anniversary of the massacre at Sandy
Hook Elementary in New Town that killed 20 students and six adults. At the
press conference with victims` families the day before that anniversary,
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke in rarely personal terms about his
own experience with gun violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (R-NEVADA), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Those of us who
experience suicide in our lives understand how important it is to remember.
My dad killed himself with a pistol. He was a relatively young man,
especially as I get older, his age doesn`t look so old. We have to
remember what took place in Connecticut, at that little elementary school.
And can never take those names out of our minds
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Today six months after Newtown, on Father`s Day, here`s where we
are. Since Newtown there have been 15 mass shootings, including one
yesterday in Omaha, Nebraska, in which three people were killed and two
critically wounded, this follows a mass shooting in St. Louis on Thursday
and another last week in Santa Monica where a gunman carried 1300 rounds of
ammunition onto a college campus, killed five people in total. 46 Senators
voted in April to block the Manchin/Toomey background checks amendment.
Still, gun control advocates are pushing for action. In conjunction with
Father`s Day, again, today, one Newtown parent, Neil Heslin, who lost a
six-year old son in the shooting, has joined with the group
nofathersday.org to send these cards to members of Congress.
On Tuesday Joe Biden will host a White House event to promote the
administration`s efforts on guns. This will be the first time that even
president or the vice president has held a public event solely dedicated to
the issue since the background checks filibuster. And this past Wednesday,
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent a letter to more than 2,000
Democratic donors asking them not to give money to four Democratic - four
Senate Democrats who voted against background checks. It`s Max Baucus of
Montana, he`s retiring, I`m not sure why he`d want to include him in here,
but anyway. Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas
and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Bloomberg`s group, "Mayors Against
Illegal Guns," also launched a bus tour intended to rally gun control
supporters in 25 states.
This is all spurred talk of a second push in the Senate for background
checks and of potential compromises that could win over some of the
senators who voted no the first time. But at his press conference with
Newtown families on Thursday, Harry Reid seemed to draw a line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I want to be very, very clear, though. In order to be effective,
the bill that passes the Senate must include background checks and not a
watered down version of background checks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Back with us at the table we have Michelle Bernard of the
Bernard Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy. Rick Perlstein of
"The Nation" magazine, George Zornick, also with "The Nation", joining us
now is Josh Benson, co-editor and founder of CapitalNewYork.com, which
covers all things politics, culture and media in New York. And somebody I
have to thank for my career. Josh was my editor for a while, so full
KORNACKI: Full disclosure there. So I`m really interested in this
Bloomberg letter this week. We have already had, you know, Bloomberg
targeting some Democratic Senators, we had Mark Pryor, I think it was last
month - with ads in Arkansas. And now here he`s, you know, basically
saying, let`s shut off the source of money to these Senate Democrats. We
actually - we have a clip. Now, I`ll play it. This is Bloomberg
explaining his strategy, explaining his rationale for doing this. This was
on "Morning Joe" on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: The first thing I`m going to do is get
it through the Senate. Then you focus on the Republicans. I`ve actually
been running more ads against Republicans than against Democrats. Then you
go and you sit down with Boehner and Cantor and the leadership on the
Republican side and the House and say, look, if you want your members to
get re-elected, they should vote with the public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, that was Wednesday, not Thursday, by the way. But, George,
I`m curious what the reaction among Democrats in Washington is. Because it
seems a little complicated to me, because on the one hand he`s now hurting
some of their own, but on the other hand his money helps them in a lot of
ZORNICK: Sure. I mean you see Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer are saying no,
this is a bad idea, which, of course, they have to say. But where the gun
control debate stands now, is that the public is already here. When you
have nine out of ten people supporting background checks. You don`t have
to worry about winning over more members of the public. You have to worry
about winning over members of Congress, that`s what it stands. And so,
that sort of what Bloomberg is trying to do here, is create an
infrastructure for a gun control reform, parallel to what the NRA has
created, because they`ve been the school yard bullies, so to speak. That`s
what Senator Blumenthal has called them for so long. So, you create that
structure, and you create incentives for these members of Congress, who are
really the only ones at this point, standing in the way of reform.
KORNACKI: What kind of effect, do you think, it has - I mean this may be
just like sort of spin on their part, but I hear when the Democrats, like
Mark Pryor gets here, Mark Begich gets here, where they say, hey, it`s the
billionaire New York City mayor, this is going to help me with my
constituents because I`m, you know, the guy in the rural state being
attacked by the big city guy. Do you think this has an effect?
PERLSTEIN: Well, money is the mother as micro-politics. But look, I mean
we`re talking about, you know, nine out of ten Americans. And you don`t
become a billionaire by being stupid. Bloomberg knows how to negotiate. I
mean, in my home city of Chicago, people were saying, well, the Chicago`s
teachers union shouldn`t be calling the strike that might hurt Barack Obama
right before the election. Well, guess what? They won the strike, right?
And he knows how to negotiate. He`s placing pressure where there`s
actually pressure to be placed. And to hear Harry Reid on the one side
give this incredibly emotional speech about his father being -- committing
suicide with a gun and then hearing him out of the other side of his mouth
to say, don`t put pressure on these people publicly to Bloomberg, but why
isn`t he publicly saying to the Mark Begich`s of the world and the
Democratic senators don`t go against nine out of ten of your constituents?
I think that it`s kind of sad.
KORNACKI: What I wonder is, and Michelle, this is - this makes me curious,
I get on the one hand the idea of put pressure on like Pryor in Arkansas,
right? And I also say well, Pryor has in his past voted against the NRA.
He voted for the assault weapons ban reauthorization like in 2004, so he
has broken with them before. If you take out Mark Pryor you`re going to
replace him with a Republican who almost certainly is never going to vote
against the NRA. So are you - are you actually helping the cause by
punishing the man? I get the idea of doing it, but are you actually
hurting yourself in the long run?
BERNARD: See, I`m the contrarian on this. I don`t think that he is
hurting himself in the long run because there -- if -- the only way that
these people are going to actually do something is if they are motivated by
self-interest. It`s very peculiar that we`re talking about the fact that
all of these children could be slaughtered and these Democrats and
Republicans voted against the bill, but when you start talking about what`s
going to impact their ability to be re-elected, which is money, all of a
sudden there is a little bit of chatter. And so, in the long run, he`s
doing the absolute right thing. This as we talked about governance in an
earlier segment. This is an enormous issue about governance and how we get
our members of Congress to do what we elect them to do.
PERLSTEIN: Yes. And really quickly, why is it bad for the Democratic
Party to say, we need to build the Democratic Party brand in a way that`s
going to help these senators get elected in the future by being seen as on
the side of an issue that nine out of ten people agree with us with. Why
aren`t the people like the Mark Pryors being seen as harming their
electoral prospects by making a position - like, you know, there was Max
Baucus, he said I have to do this for the - because like the people of my
state want it, even though even in his state it was 70 percent that was for
BERNARD: I mean it`s almost as if the only way that members of Congress
who vote against this bill will feel the pain of every parent whose child
was slaughtered, and you talked about, you know, living in Chicago, all of
the African-American children that are killed on a daily basis in the city
of Chicago alone because of gun violence, may be the only way members of
Congress feel the same pain that their families feel, as if they actually
lose an election because they`re not voting the way their constituents want
them to vote. And for that, I think Michael Bloomberg should be applauded.
KORNACKI: All right, I want to pick up a little bit on the pressure that
Bloomberg is getting from Chuck Schumer, there is an interesting
relationship sort of in New York with these two national figures from New
York. And we`ll get to that right after this.
KORNACKI: So, the reason that Chuck Schumer and other top Democrats in
Washington are, you know, apprehensive, to say the least, about what Mike
Bloomberg is doing, is their Senate majority is really at risk in 2014 and
it`s really dependent in 2014 on a lot of, you know, less blue states, more
red states. Somebody like Pryor in Arkansas. And Schumer basically said
publicly this week that he wishes that Mike Bloomberg would think about
this in terms of if you have a Democratic Senate you`re much more likely to
get some kind of gun legislation than if you have a Republican Senate. I
wonder what somebody like Mike Bloomberg thinks when he hears a message
like that, Josh.
JOSH BENSON, CAPITALNEWYORK.COM: Well, they`re both saying things that are
true. And these are two guys who talk pretty regularly and they are both
playing their assigned roles. The central premise of Chuck Schumer`s
politically existence that a Democratic majority is good for the country,
and necessary for the country, including to achieve the political goals
that he set out to achieve, like gun control, background checks in
particular. But the thing about Mike Bloomberg is if anyone can play a
lawn game, that`s him. If anyone can brush off the concerns being
expressed by Chuck Schumer, it is also him because he`s probably never
going to run for anything again and he has a zillion dollars. So, what
Schumer and the Democrats are saying is quite correct. The Bloombergism on
gun control in practice is going to be a lot more sloppy than it is in
theory. If they actually get a scalp with Pryor, that is going to set the
cause back for sure, and it`s going to set it back for a while, and that
applies generally to anything that causes the Republicans to be closer to
taking over the majority in the Senate. But what a lobby is supposed to be
in Bloomberg`s mind -- Bloomberg, by the way, who basically doesn`t believe
in political parties and extrapolates what he sees as the useless role of
parties in the municipal elections to .
BENSON: The national political landscape, if that`s the idea that you`ve
got to be consistent on the issue and punish people wherever you can, he`s
going to do that. One other way -- I`ll shut up for a second. One other
way I think it`s going to be more complicated to use your word before over
the long term, is that you could argue that Bloomberg and his group is
always going to be in a position to put more pressure on Democrats than
Republicans. And so the idea -- what they`ve said is, this cycle there
happened to be a lot of vulnerable Democrats. The four that they`ve chosen
are not -- let`s not count Baucus, but the ones they`ve chosen as just -
this organic function of the fact that`s where the money is and that`s
But clearly they`re going to be in a position to move the Democratic
constituencies more than the Republican constituencies forever.
KORNACKI: And the other thing, I think George is right, the Republicans --
part of this is essentially because Republicans have kind of got in the
past from some of this, because this never got to the floor in the House
and you didn`t have hundreds of House Republicans forced to vote on this.
ZORNICK: Right. I mean that`s true, but I think, you know, Bloomberg is
playing -- the mantra down in D.C. is that it`s not about the first vote,
it`s about the last vote. What happens when you keep pushing like this?
And I think one thing that Bloomberg may say here, while he is playing the
lawn game, is that he`s not really trying to defeat Mark Pryor. He`s not
really trying to defeat some of these Democrats. He`s trying to put the
fear of God into them. So that now you have a year and a half before the
midterm, you get them to switch their position to something that isn`t
actually that scary, that nine out of ten of their constituents back, it
gets through the Senate at least, and then we do get to the House and we
see what happens with these Republicans. Either they - they - either
Boehner lets it pass with Democratic votes and you hammer the Republicans
who voted against it. Or it fails. And you have the Republicans who voted
against it. So I think that`s sort of the strategy here.
KORNACKI: Well, and it`s - we should put - there was an interesting
development, that was a little under the radar this week in Nevada, and I`m
obviously trying to say this right, Nevada, not Nevada. But in Nevada, the
Republican Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed a bill that made it through the
legislature this year, background checks bill in Nevada. And Bloomberg`s
group, "Mayors Against the Illegal Guns" was heavily involved in the
campaign to get this enacted. Now, you could say it was sort of a success
for them that they got this through to legislature and maybe this gives
them a new target, you know, for the upcoming election with Sandoval
running for re-election in Nevada but this is also -- you know, in the end,
they ran the same thing at the state level, you know, in sort of a pro-gun
state that they ran in the Senate in Nevada.
PERLSTEIN: Yeah, I mean it`s really important to understand that
Republican voters and Republican politicians are not necessarily
persuadable on this issue by these kind of arguments that we`ve been
seeing, this very heart-rending cards that these folks have been sending to
their congressmen and their senators about how awful it is to lose a
father. Don`t work the same way because this is an issue, in which the
mindset is completely different. I mean a liberal looks at a card like
this and says, isn`t it awful these school shootings that keep on
happening. Let`s bring those to the forefront because that helps us and
makes people want more gun control. But if you think like a conservative
and you think in terms of good people and evil people, the predominance of
the evil people makes you want less gun control and more guns. And if the
bad guys have a machine gun you need a .
KORNACKI: The good guy with the gun needs the bad guy with the gun .
KORNACKI: And so every active violence actually makes it more necessary.
PERLSTEIN: It`s very, very and very important for liberals to understand
this. And I hear this all the time, is it going to take ten more school
shootings, 100 more school shootings, 1,000 school shootings before people
realize how dangerous guns are? No. The more school shootings make people
KORNACKI: So, what .
PERLSTEIN: More attached to .
KORNACKI: If that won`t do it, what will?
PERLSTEIN: Mobilizing Democrats. See, it has to be a part -yeah, it has
to be a party line.
BERNARD: I guess it is mobilizing people who believe in gun control. I
mean, and maybe goes back into the conversation we had earlier in the show
today about, you know, building the party, building demographics, going
out, mobilizing voters, getting people who are eligible to vote, but are
not voting or not registered to vote to do so, because something has to
give. This is an enormous problem on gun control, on immigration, on
virtually every single issue that we`re dealing with as a nation. Congress
is at a standstill. I mean it is ludicrous to hear an argument that says
you are - don`t, you know, Mayor Bloomberg, please don`t do this because
we`re better off with a Democratic majority in the Senate than a Republican
majority, but the Democratic Senate didn`t do anything either so you`re
basically saying, let`s stand for the status quo.
KORNACKI: Well, if anything on guns is going to happen before the next
election, if anything in response to Sandy Hook is going to happen before
the election, it`s going to have to involve some of these red state
Democrats who voted no and it`s going to have to involve some Republicans
in the Senate. And we`re going to talk about what it would take, what it
might take, what it could possibly take to get those people on board to get
this through the Senate, into law before the next elections. Next.
KORNACKI: I want to talk about what`s next to congressman. I actually want
to pick up on something that we were talking about at the end of the last
discussion. And the idea that if nothing is going to really convince
Republicans in Congress to move in big numbers on this, and this becomes an
issue, it is the question of getting Democrats into office to, you know, to
be the gun control party, basically. Josh, it strikes me that Bloomberg is
sort of working at cross-purposes with himself here. Not just on the
question of guns, but this is a guy who has - he throws lots of money
around on other issues. Like on climate change, for instance. The things
like backing Scott Brown in Massachusetts last year over Elizabeth Warren.
If you look at that strictly from the issue of guns, Elizabeth Warren would
be the better candidate from a gun control standpoint, than Scott Brown,
but it was Scott Brown who Bloomberg was throwing his money behind.
BENSON: Right. So, Bloomberg and his aides argued forcefully against the
idea that he was doing a silly thing there in any way by opposing the
candidate who was going to be much better on gun control in the whole. And
he said it explicitly, he went around talking about Scott Brown and saying,
he was a good guy, he did the right thing on this one amendment that would
have allowed guns - people to carry guns, reciprocal reciprocity here, and
essentially said someone needs to have his back for having done the right
thing. So, again, this was a neat dismissal of partisan politics. But
we`re going to come up against that again and again because, again, he`s
also committed to supporting Pat Toomey in the future, who`s a very
conservative Republican, who does not agree with the Bloomberg world view
on most things. And in fact, on guns, doesn`t agree with most of what the
KORNACKI: Right. Background checks are probably the most you`re going to
get out of Pat Toomey on guns. Right.
BENSON: So, it`s a really - it`s a really sticky thing. Once you`re
talking about how transactionally you want to be about it, what you want to
be rewarding in the short term as opposed to what you want to be rewarding
in the long term. It`s actually not possible to ignore parties entirely.
But with Bloomberg, I think the idea, again, is right now he has to do, as
you said, what he has to do is put the fear of god in people. And for that
matter you could argue that from the gun control perspective, the very best
thing that could happen, the very best outcome for this cycle is that they
don`t quite get a scalp but they may get -- everyone they`re targeting
almost loses .
ZORNICK: Yeah, you remember never, never behave that way again.
KORNACKI: They`re in their heads. And it`s - we`ll see if this kind of
threat is in the heads of members of the Congress, of the Senate. There`s
this talk now of reviving the background checks bill and maybe making
further concessions, you know, exceptions for rural states, exceptions for
individual transfers. It just gets to the point, where it`s like is the
point just to get something through or I mean could something meaningful
still get through right now?
BERNARD: I hope so. I mean even with all of the amendments that we`re
hearing about, I think there is -- it is absolutely possible for something,
for some sort of meaningful legislation to get through. And quite frankly,
I think they have to do it. Just for matters of self-preservation. And at
least pretending to do what they are elected to do, that something will get
PERLSTEIN: It`s a landslide issue. And this is like one of these
questions, I talked about the democracy deficit in the first segment.
Whether we have a functional responsive democracy, this is one of the -
that litmus test issues.
KORNACKI: Well, George, Richard Blumenthal, senator from Connecticut, you
know, Newtown state, talked about winning over some of the people voted no
on background checks, and the way he phrased it is, in terms of making more
concessions is, "We have to give them a commendable way to change their
ZORNICK: This is the way politics works, right, I mean? Kelly Ayotte
cannot just change her mind and vote yes on the same - exact same bill that
she voted no on. That`s just -- politicians do not do that.
ZORNICK: So, the idea here is to make - and Blumenthal is very - he used
this word, cosmetic .
ZORNICK: One cosmetic change would be actually the rural exemption thing.
It says, if you don`t live within 150, I think, the - was last time, 150
miles of a licensed gun dealer, background check giver, then don`t worry
about it. Well, I did a little research and I looked and I found, I went
way out on the peninsula of Alaska .
ZORNICK: I found this little town, and I just randomly picked it, and it
was still within 150 miles of a licensed gun dealer.
KORNACKI: Thank you.
ZORNICK: Hopefully there is no Republicans watching.
But that`s a cosmetic change. That`s something that senators in rural
states can go back and say, hey, we won this exemption for you, rural
brothers, but in practice it`s not a big concession.
BERNARD: I think they`re talking about person-to-person exemptions as the
KORNACKI: There like the father sells it to - or gives it to the son.
PERLSTEIN: Because no sons are mentally ill.
KORNACKI: That raises all the other issues about mental health and
everything else. Anyway, what should we know looking forward? My answers
KORNACKI: So, what should we know looking forward? We should know that
the NFL still has no plans to change the name of the Washington Redskins.
The bipartisan group of ten legislators wrote to NFL commissioner Roger
Goodell requesting that the name, which really is a slur, finally be
changed. But this week we learned that Goodell wrote back to these members
on June 5th, defending the name. He wrote, quote, "For the team`s millions
of fans and customers who represent one of America`s most ethnically and
geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands
for strength, courage, pride and respect." Goodell and Redskins` owner Dan
Snyder have staunchly defended the team`s name publicly. But according to
Think Progress, Republican pollster Frank Luntz held the focus group out
the team`s name this week. NFL denies any connection to (inaudible) work,
the Redskins didn`t respond to Think Progress`s request for comment. We
should know that the Washington City paper, weekly newspaper in D.C., has
already decided to refer to the team just as the Pigskins. So, we should
just go with that probably.
Like many defeated primary candidates before him, we should know that Rick
Santorum doesn`t think the party`s ultimate nominee ran the best campaign.
On Thursday, Santorum told the crowd at the Faith and Freedom Coalition
conference that Romney missed a major opportunity with Obama`s "You didn`t
build that" comment. Santorum said that trotting out business owner after
business owner at the Republican convention to mock the president`s comment
made the party look completely out of touch. Santorum said, quote, "one
after another they talked about the business they have built. But not a
single - not a single factory worker went out there. Not a single janitor,
waitress or person who worked in that company. We didn`t care about them.
You know what, they built that company, too. And we should have had them
on that stage."
And finally, we should know that 90-year-old Texas Republican Congressman
Ralph Hall really enjoyed his time at a recent event for the LGBT political
action committee Victory Fund. That is until he realized where he was.
Hall is a staunch defender of the Defense of Marriage Act and attended the
June 5th fundraiser due to some kind of scheduling error. He initially
believed he was at an event to honor a fellow congressman. Justin Snow, a
political reporter for the LGBT magazine "Metro Weekly" spotted Hall at the
event and tweeted this picture writing, quote, "GOP Representative Ralph
Hall," a DOMA supporter wandered into Victory Fund Pride reception. He
seems to be lost. When he realized he was in the wrong room, Hall bolted.
And he said many of those in attendance probably were surprised to see me
walk in but were not surprised to see me leave quickly.
Want to find out what my guests think we should know going forward. I
start with you, Michelle.
BERNARD: So, 50 years ago this week John F. Kennedy invited 244 lawyers to
meet with him in the East Room of the White House and asked those lawyers
to help him take the battle for civil rights out of the streets into the
courts. It was an absolutely radical notion to get lawyers across the
country to help defend the civil rights of African-Americans in the south,
in the court system. And on that day the lawyers committee for civil
rights under law was born. It`s one of the most important civil rights
organizations in the nation`s history and they will be celebrating their
50th anniversary this week.
KORNACKI: All right, Rick?
PERLSTEIN: Well, we should know it`s Father`s Day and that Roger Goodell`s
father was a great liberal Republican senator who should be rolling over in
his grave, if that was hateful comments of the commissioner. I`d also like
to mention that my own father is in hospital recovering from surgery and
we`re all thinking about our families today with love.
KORNACKI: All right. George.
ZORNICK: I think what people should really know this week is that Congress
is ready to put foodstamps on the chopping block. The house is going to
take up the Farm Bill this week. They are already - that the bill that
came out of the Agriculture Committee proposed cutting $20 billion from
food stamps, which would throw 2 million people off the program at a time
when dependence on it is at a record high. It would cost 280,000 jobs.
Unfortunately, a bill came from the Senate that`s already cutting $4
billion passed by some Democrats who should have known better, I think.
So, there`s going to be a debate about how much to cut and I think people
need to watch that and stay on top of it.
KORNACKI: OK. Josh.
BENSON: The Justice Department, Eric Holder have just raised the stakes in
what we have that`s as close to a debate about gun control in the New York
City mayor`s race, there is, which is about the police department`s "Stop
and Frisk" tactic. There`s a federal judge that`s going to be making a
decision about whether the program violates the law and the Justice
Department has stipulated an outside monitor will be put in if the judge
finds, in fact, that has happened. And that`s going to have - that stands
to have a profound impact on how the police go about their business.
KORNACKI: Definitely. And happy Father`s Day I should say, too. I look
at my dad, he`s about 20 feet away. So, I`ll go have lunch with him after
this. Anyway, I want to thank Michelle Bernard of the Bernard Center for
Women, Politics and Public Policy, author Rick Perlstein of "The Nation",
George Zornick of "The Nation" and Josh Benson of CapitalNewYork.com.
Thanks for getting up and thank you for joining us. We`ll be back next
weekend Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 A.M. Eastern time talking about next
week`s special election to fill John Kerry`s Senate seat. Will Democrats
avoid another Scott Brown surprise this time around?
Coming up next is Melissa Harris-Perry. On today`s MHP the Supreme Court
is on the precipice of a monumental shift in this country`s ongoing
struggle for civil rights. How the Roberts` court could undo decades of
progress, and what can be done about it. That`s Melissa Harris-Perry
coming up next. And we`ll see you next week right here on UP.
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