THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
June 27, 2013
Guests: Jeremy Bird, Marc Veasey
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for staying home with
us next hour. Amazing.
I know, it frequently seems as if Congress can`t do anything, but, today,
they did. The United States Senate really did pass an immigration reform
bill. This is huge deal. You could tell this was a huge deal by watching
the way in which they physically cast their votes. Typically when the
Senate votes, they wander around and chat each other up and the place kind
of looks like half a garden party, half a bus depot. But today, Senate
majority leader Harry Reid had the members of the United States Senate stay
formally at their desks and vote from their desks. That is how you know
they think this is a really big vote. This is the eyes of the nation are
upon you stuff.
And also, vice president Biden, as vice president, he is technically the
president of the Senate. He also exercised his right to preside over the
Senate today for this vote. As the Senate passed immigration reform,
which, of course, is one of the administration`s marquee policy goals.
Historic day today. The bill passed. Immigration reform has been stalled
in Congress for almost a decade now. Democrats have been for it all along,
but Republicans just have not being able to get it together. They have
been chaotic about it even when their Republican president, George W. Bush,
tried to champion the issue.
I mean, over a different versions of immigration reform, different
Republicans would support something or maybe even propose something, and
then they would un-support the same idea that they used to like and that
they maybe even proposed. They decide they didn`t like it once a democrat
liked it. It has been a weird saga for the Republicans.
But today, immigration reform passed. It passed by a lot. And that is big
and meaningful news. All the Democrats in the Senate voted for it. And 14
Republicans did as well. Now, that means that most Republicans were still
against it, but enough of them peeled off to make it possible.
Now, who knows if it can pass in the Republican-controlled house. That`s
where it`s heading next. But the reason immigration reform got 14
Republican votes in the Senate, the reason there is even a possibility that
it can pass the Republican-controlled house, is because Republicans are
terrified of the consequences of how badly they lose the Latino vote now.
Republicans just do terrible with Latinos now. This is the Latino vote in
the last election. Yes, guess how that election turned out. I mean, it`s
understandable that Republicans do terrible with Latino voters given where
they are on policy that Latinos care about. But having that many millions
of Americans voting against you as a bloc, having the nation`s fastest
growing minority group voting against you by nearly 3-1, that is an un-
survivable situation for a national party. That is a disaster.
Now, one way to try to fix that is to try to change what you look like to
Latino voters on policy grounds. Try to erase the Republican I hate
immigrants party image that you have earned through the careers of Steve
King and Tom Tancredo and Pat Buchanan and Joe Arpaio and Jan Brewer. That
anti-immigrant image of the party. You can try to change that by trying to
get at least some of your party to support centrist immigration reform,
like what happened today in the United States Senate. That`s one way to do
it. Try to make yourself more attractive to Latino voters by doing
something that Latino voters like.
Or you can do what they do in Texas. Te Republicans are not so much trying
to appeal to Latinos. They are more just trying to make sure Latinos can`t
vote. In 2011, Texas Republicans passed a bill that said you`d no longer
be allowed to vote in Texas unless you could provide documentation that you
never had to show before, and that not everyone in the state has. Governor
Rick Perry signed that voter I.D. bill into law and then the federal
government wrote the state of Texas a nice note about it. Quote "we have
carefully considered the information you have provided about your new voter
I.D. law. including the state`s own estimate that as many as 800,000
registered Texas voters do not have the kind of I.D. that Texas Republicans
wanted to make people show before they`d be allowed to vote."
And it`s not just any 800,000 Texans who don`t have it. Quote "Hispanic
registered voters are more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic registered
voters to lack such identification."
So, under the new Republican voting law in Texas, Hispanics would be twice
as likely to not be allowed to vote, according to the state`s own data.
And so, the federal government said, you know what, Texas, no. You cannot
change your laws in such a way that you, yourself, admit will block
hundreds of thousands of Latinos from ting.
The federal government blocked Texas from going ahead with that. But that
wasn`t all that Texas Republicans were trying to do. After the 2010
census, Texas Republicans created new congressional districts. Quote "with
That`s what a federal court said about the Republicans` new maps. Texas
Republicans took away the seats of minority lawmakers and redrew the
districts of white lawmakers to make those seats easier for the white
people to win and hold on to. In the new maps the court said, the court
noted in the new maps not a single white Texas lawmaker lost his or her
seat to the new maps that were drawn by the Republicans. But black
lawmakers, well, they just had their districts whittled out from under
So, the federal court said no to that redistricting plan as well. Just as
the federal justice department said no to the law that would make Hispanic
voters twice as unlikely to be able to cast a ballot.
But then this week the law that allowed the feds to block those moves in
Texas, that law was gutted by the conservative majority of the Supreme
Court. In gutting the voting rights act this week the Supreme Court also
threw out both of those rulings about Texas. So now, Texas is good to go
with its voter I.D. law that was blocked for being too racist, and with its
new election maps that were blocked for being too racist.
What the Republicans were doing to elections in Texas before, what they
were trying to do was too obviously racist to be legal, until this week.
But now, it`s legal. Now, they can just get away with it so they`re going
We have played this little bit of tape from election night 2008 before.
But yesterday, with yesterday`s court rulings it was kind of like deja vu
all over again, right back to this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: I believe we have got some pictures out of San
Francisco as well. Some of the celebration pouring out in the Castro
district of the city, as it`s known, a place near and dear to your heart.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR, HARDBALL: To me. Certainly me having
written for the papers out there all those years.
MADDOW: That may not all be celebration if it`s in the Castro and we
haven`t got Prop 8.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Prop 8. Oh, yes. That was the moment on election night in 2008
when we here at MSNBC, in covering the election of America`s first black
president covering Barack Obama beating John McCain to win the presidency
of the United States, simultaneously we started to realize that in
California, while that victory at the presidential level was being
celebrated as a civil rights milestone, California also that same night in
that same election on that same ballot voted to take away existing marriage
rights from California same-sex couples.
That whiplash moment, that California, alone, experienced the night
President Obama was first elected, that moment was referenced yesterday.
It was brought up unprompted by one of the plaintiffs in the California
same-sex marriage case that was decided yesterday at the Supreme Court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2008 when we elected the first African-American
president, it was a glorious day, but later that night it was a horrible
night when the returns for Prop 8 came in saying that we were going to be
treated as second-class citizens, and we just could not fathom being
treated like that anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So it was that moment in 2008 when we simultaneously had this
great civil rights advance of electing an African-American president, and
also the civil rights reverse in terms of gay couples in California, that
moment in 2008.
Now, this week, we are essentially having the mirror image of that moment,
thanks to the Supreme Court. With the elation over the Supreme Court
ruling yesterday making this grand step on gay civil rights. That being
celebrated all over the country. While at the same time, the country is
still absorbing the decision by the same court just one day before to take
a sledgehammer to the cornerstone of American civil rights law when they
destroyed the voting rights act.
And, yes, it`s under different rationales and for different structural
reasons and responding to different specific circumstances and cases, but
regardless, like that night in 2008, if you were in California, once again
at the same moment the country is being pulled in two opposite directions
on civil rights. Because of what the court ruled this week, the voting
rights act, today, is dead. It`s gone. Only Congress has the power to
bring it back from the dead, and maybe they will?
But in the meantime, red states that had wanted to change their election
laws in really racially discriminatory ways. But they could not get away
with it because the voting rights act stopped them from doing that before.
Those red states are now charging full steam ahead already as of today with
racially discriminatory voting laws.
I mean, in Texas, the voter I.D. law was called obviously racially
motivated. It was called an attempt to keep whites in power. And that`s
why it was blocked, federally. But with this week`s ruling taking the
justice department out of the mix, Texas is going ahead going ahead with
this law that until this week was too racist to be legal.
But they are doing it. They are doing it, as is Mississippi, as is
Alabama, as is North Carolina. All of these states that had been
restrained from enacting voting laws that were too racist to be allowed
before this week, they`re now going for it. It`s not theoretical, like
they are cleared to go ahead with it, they`re going. It`s already
And so in these red states, all of the states that were fully covered under
section five of the voting rights act, were all Republican-controlled
states. And in these red states, it`s going to be a state-by-state fight
at least for now.
And in Washington, I mean, Republicans in Congress are going to have to
decide what to do. They`re going to have to decide if they want a national
fix for this problem, as President Obama suggested there should be today.
They have to decide if it`s going it be a national fix. In the meantime
before they get around to that, they have to decide whether to side with
what`s going on with the red states now, whether decide with the Republican
Are national Republicans going to take the side of the legislators whose
voter I.D. plan was found to be actually just a way of keeping white people
in power in Texas? Or are they going to be on the other side of that
fight? Republicans in Congress have to decide which side they are going to
take. And in all the other states that have been freed from the voting
rights act, too.
But this is going to be a fight. A state-to-state fight on voting rights
in the short term starting right away. And in the same short term, it`s
going to be a state-by-state fight in the three dozen states in the country
who still do not have marriage equality. And who now must decide whether
or not to keep offering gay people only second-class citizenship even after
this federal ruling.
I mean, from the prospective of the Supreme Court, we have been pulled in
two opposite directions in these last two days. but from a practical
level, in terms of what happens next, in terms of how we will move forward
or not on both of these issues, we are not being pulled in different
directions in terms of what happens next. On both of these issues, this is
now a fight in the states, especially in the red states, over whether or
not being gay should make you a second-class citizen and over whether or
not our election laws ought to be blatantly racist. It`s going to be both
of those fights in parallel in a lot of the same states, all starting right
These two decisions from the Supreme Court this week pulled us in different
directions, but the fight from here on both of these issues is the same.
It happens on the ground locally, pulling in the same direction in a lot of
the same places toward protected equal civil rights. And sometimes in some
places that`s going to mean pulling together in the courts. We learned
today that gay couples in New Jersey are suing for the right to marry in
New Jersey. They`re going to try for equality in the courts there. Some
people in some places are going to be trying not in the courts but in the
Guess where this is? This is Little Rock, Arkansas, yesterday afternoon.
DOMA is dead. These folks are with a group called the Arkansas initiative
for marriage equality. And yesterday, they got together and they walked
through the streets of Little Rock for the right to marry in that very,
very red state. Voters in Arkansas approved a ban on same-sex marriage in
2004. The vote was overwhelming in Arkansas.
But look at this. In Arkansas, they`re starting a movement to overturn
that ban, a homegrown movement. They have been working on this idea of
marriage rights since the day after the November election 2012. This
march, these Arkansans marched at the gay pride parade in Conway, Arkansas.
If you live in a red state, this is no surprise to you. If you live in a
blue state and you though red states your monolithic, no, say hello to the
complicated unexpected rest of America.
These folks hope to put the Arkansas marriage equality amendment before
they fellow citizens on the 2016 ballot. They want it voted on because
they think they can win. They have worked out the language of the
referendum proposal. They are preparing to collect signatures. In support
of the proposition that the right to marry shall not be abridged or denied
on account of sex or sexual orientation, not even in Arkansas.
We are seeing news like this in Arkansas, in Ohio, in Montana, in North
Dakota, in Michigan, in Wyoming. All these places you wouldn`t necessarily
expect it, but it`s happening at a homegrown grassroots level. This is now
a state-by-state fight in every state for the right to marry. Just as it
is a state-by-state fight in every state for the right to vote.
Yesterday in Texas, a Democratic congressman sued the state of Texas over
the voter I.D. law that until a few days ago was too racist for the federal
government to let it go forward. He is now asking the court to block that
Joining us now is Mark Veasey, he is congressman from Forth Worth, Texas.
He`s a new plaintiff in Veasey versus Texas, Texas governor Rick Perry.
Congressman Veasey, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to have
REP. MARC VEASEY (D), TEXAS: Thank you, Rachel. Thanks for having me on
MADDOW: Let me ask you. Your overall reaction to the idea of the voting
rights act, damage done on civil rights terms this week by the Supreme
Court and how the fight to preserve voting rights in the country moves
forward from here on out.
VEASEY: Well, the thing that I`m doing to preserve voting rights moving
this point forward is I filed a suit in Texas, in Corpus Christi, to make
sure this law is never implemented. As you stated earlier, this law was
found to be discriminatory. And the fact just because section four was
struck down that you would move to make a law that a court has found to be
discriminatory is absolutely nonsense. Ant it sends the wrong message
We are a great state and don`t want to send a message to businesses and
companies and people that are moving to the state of Texas in records
number, mostly Latino and African-American, that discrimination is OK. We
need to stop. I believe this law, this voter I.D. law passed by
Republicans, when I was still in the legislature in 2011, that it`s
discriminatory and violates section two.
MADDOW: Do you think Texas still deserves the kind of special scrutiny it
used to get under the voting rights act? If you could wave a magic wand
and have Congress redesign a new formula to figure out who would have to be
under that kind of special scrutiny from the justice department before they
could change their laws like it used to be, would Texas need to be in cat
VEASEY: Rachel, let me tell you something. For the four terms I was in
the state legislature, I saw some of the worst discrimination as far as
public policy is concerned coming from Republicans trying to implement that
public policy so it would have an adverse impact on African-American and
Latinos when it comes to exercising the right to vote.
Groups like the king street patriots, they are alive and well, and they are
actively trying to make sure that Republicans can continue to win elections
at the expense of African-American and Latino voters. And absolutely Texas
is not in any position to say that we should, can live in a post-section
five world. There is no absolutely no doubt about that.
MADDOW: As a member of Congress now, you have a voice if Congress chooses
to embark on this project. You`ll have a voice in setting the new rules
for who should get special scrutiny. Congress could bring the voting
rights act back from the dead by establishing a new formula for picking
jurisdictions that ought to be subject to the kind of scrutiny that used to
be established by that law. How will you try to make the argument to
Republicans that Congress ought to do that?
VEASEY: Well, I would say to Republicans that when you look at civil
rights legislation that took place in the 1960s, it took a bipartisan
effort to get those things done, and so what I would tell my colleagues,
both Republicans and Democrats, is let`s come together and let`s be for
fairness. We want people to know that Texas and other states want to do
the right thing when it comes to all of its citizens, and we know that many
of these policies, like the ones trying to be implemented in Texas, are
Rachel, just to drive home just how unfair some of these laws are in Texas,
when it comes to the voter I.D. law that was passed, if you are -- if you
have a concealed handgun license, that will be an acceptable form of I.D.
to vote. But if you are a student and have a state college I.D. or if
you`re a veteran and have a veterans I.D., that would not work. That would
not be acceptable.
VEASEY: So if you have a concealed handgun license and a glock, that`s OK,
but if you have a student I.D. or a disabled veterans I.D., no bueno. It`s
not fair. We need to do the right thing.
MADDOW: Congressman Mark Veasey of Texas. One of the co-complainants in a
new lawsuit challenging Texas` proposed voter I.D. law.
Thank you very much for your time tonight, sir. Please keep us apprised as
this moves forward.
VEASEY: Absolutely. Thank you, Rachel, for having me on.
MADDOW: Thanks very much.
All right, I should note our guest, Mark Veasey of Texas, congressman from
Texas, he is one of the people who recruited the woman named Wendy Davis to
be in the Texas state Senate. Did you hear what Governor Rick Perry said
today about state senator Wendy Davis? It`s on in Texas. We have got that
story coming up.
MADDOW: The fight this week in Texas has been riveting. Senator Wendy
Davis` 11 hour, one-woman stand against the Texas Republican abortion ban
that would close more than 80 percent of the women`s health clinics that
provide abortions in the state. Thousands of people streaming through the
Texas state capitol to cheer Senator Davis on. A big portion of the
country inside and outside of Texas just glued to that story this week.
And the story got even more incredible today. We will have more on that
coming up in the show in a couple minutes.
But n that same subject, in two other states right now, bills have just
gone through the legislature, and are on their way to two other states`
Republican governors for them to decide what to do with them.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
MADDOW: That was the scene at the Ohio statehouse today in Columbus.
Protesters yelling "line item veto, line item veto!" because right now in
Ohio, the only way that surprise brand new last minute adopted in secret
anti-abortion law can be stopped is if they`re line item vetoed by Ohio
governor John Kasich. These are not regular antiabortion bills in Ohio.
No, this time Ohio Republicans decided they didn`t want to debate their
anti-abortion wish lists. So stuck all this stuff into the state`s budget
at the last minute without ever bringing it up for debate. They did it at
the last minute as they passed the final version of the budget last night,
I think probably hoping that nobody would notice. So it`s a forced
medically unnecessary ultrasound that you cannot say no to. It is a forced
lecture from Ohio doctors even if they do not medically agree with the
content of the lecture. It`s defunding Planned Parenthood and other family
planning providers. Reducing women`s access to contraceptives and cancer
screenings and prenatal car. And of course, it`s more trap laws to just
shut down clinics that provide abortions in Ohio.
The Ohio stuff even redefines the word pregnancy for the purpose of Ohio
state law to use it for anti-abortion purposes. And all of this stuff was
not debated. The Republicans just shoved all this stuff into the budget at
the last minute then passed the budget and now the only person who could
change any of it is Ohio governor John Kasich who has until Sunday to
decide and who thus far will not say what he is going to do but does keep
reminding everybody how anti-abortion he is.
So the John Kasich deadline about what to do about all these surprise
antiabortion measures that ended up in the budget is Sunday night. In the
meantime, he`s scheduled a press conference for tomorrow at noon eastern.
We`ll have more on that in tomorrow night`s show depending on what happens
In addition, there`s also what`s happening in North Carolina right now.
What`s happening in North Carolina right now is a little unusual, unheard
of, maybe is the right term here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- 132 (INAUDIBLE) to include instruction in the school
health education program, on their preventable causes of pre-term birth,
including induced abortion as a cause of preterm birth and subsequent
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A bill to be -- what did you say the bill was name was? The bill,
the what? A bill to be entitled, an act to include instruction in the
school health education program on the preventable causes of preterm birth
including induced abortion as a cause of preterm birth and subsequent
pregnancies. That`s the name of it. And in Shouty (ph), all capital
letters as well.
On party lines the North Carolina house did pass this thing today. In
practical terms it`s a bill that would force school health teachers to lie
to seventh graders about abortion. The state government with this bill
would direct teachers to teach that abortion is a health risk that keeps
women from carrying their future pregnancies to term. So if you have an
abortion now, you`ll never have a baby in the future. And that is not at
all true. That is no true according to the wild eyed feminist wicked dulas
(ph) who make up the American college of obstetricians and gynecologists.
It`s not true.
But the Republicans in the North Carolina legislature want to mandate that
your kids` health teachers at school have to tell it to your kids, anyway,
by law. Party line vote. One of the sure signs of how confident the
Republicans are in this legislation is that even though there was quite a
robust debate on this bill with lawmakers ling up at the microphones six
deep for a turn to speak on it, we cannot comb through the transcript to
tell you what was said at the debate because one of the bill`s Republican
supporters intervened to stop any transcript from being made of the debate.
It was not transcribed. The Republicans decided.
But they passed the bill. The Republicans passed it. And when North
Carolina`s new Republican governor Pat McCrory was elected in November, he
pledged that he would not sign any new anti-abortion legislation as North
Carolina`s governor. But this is on his desk. It`s heading toward his
desk, at least.
All eyes on North Carolina right now to see if that is a campaign promise
that the governor plans to keep in this case.
Regardless of what Republicans say they are working on in governance, if
you look at what they are doing in governance, what they are going to
acrobatic and astonishing lengths to do at all costs wherever in this
country they are in power, it is abortion. Abortion, abortion, abortion is
the top of their list everywhere they hold power.
We will keep you posted on this thing in North Carolina and the thing in
Ohio and the thing in Texas and, and, and everywhere else they`re doing
this because they`re doing it everywhere. This is their number one
priority. Watch this space.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Rick Perry became governor of Texas when
George W. Bush was elected president in 2000. He has been governor of
Texas ever since. Soon Mr. Perry is due to announce whether he`s going to
run again. Again to be Texas governor. Or whether he wants to maybe do
Most of the smart money is on something else. People think he will not run
for governor again because he wants to run for president again instead.
And maybe so. And maybe he will do great this time.
On paper he`s still a great candidate. The problem is that the election
isn`t on paper. Sometimes there`s the talking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why does Texas continue with abstinence education
programs when they don`t seem to be working? In fact, I think we have the
third highest teen pregnancy rate in the country among all the states.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Abstinence works.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we are the third highest teen pregnancy -- we have
the third highest teen pregnancy rate among all states in the country. The
question, the point is, doesn`t seem to be working.
PERRY: The fact of the matter is, it is the best form of -- to teach our
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give me a statistic suggesting it works?
PERRY: And I`m for it. I`m just going to tell you from -- I`m going to
tell you from my own personal life, abstinence works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Texas Governor Rick Perry talking about sex in public never goes
And today he turned those bright lights of his on to the subject of sex and
reproduction and Texas State Senator Wendy Davis.
It really did not go well. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: In Austin, Texas, there`s a nail salon where you can get what I
think are very fancy manicures. I`m extremely not an expert on this
subject. But at this Austin salon, you can get on your nails, for example,
a portrait of Carl Seguin, the cosmologist, or Neil deGrasse Tyson, the
astrophysicist. Also at this nail salon, puns. You`re my butter half.
And now for one day and one day only, you can get Senator Wendy Davis nail
art. If your thumb is one Wendy Davis portrait short of being perfect, now
is your chance to fix that problem.
So yes, there is Wendy Davis nail art in Austin, Texas, right now. The
salon says that half the Wendy Davis nail art proceeds will go to Planned
Also, in Wendy Davis inspired culture news, you should know that the
Internet has already cast the actress Connie Britton in this starring role
of the not yet pitched, not yet written, not yet actual movie about Wendy
Davis` filibuster this week. Mrs. Coach as Senator Davis.
Wendy Davis at least for the moment is a political phenomenon. Texas State
Senator Wendy Davis filibusters her way to Democratic stardom. Texas`
newest political star, Wendy Davis, feminist superhero. Filibuster hero
dares -- dares Texas to draft her for a run at the governorship. Wendy
Davis, folk hero.
The pro-choice caucus in the United States House of Representatives today
put out a statement thanking senator Davis who is, after all, a state
senator, thanking her for her all day, all night filibuster.
And on this show last night, Cecile Richards, the national president of
Planned Parenthood and a completely and totally of Texas politics, Cecile
Richards here last night marveled about what happened with Wendy Davis this
week in Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CECILE RICHARD, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: There were folks
in -- obviously there on the Senate floor, but thousands of people outside
in the rotunda filling the capitol. And it was amazing. It was absolutely
amazing. I have never seen anything like it in all my history of
organizing or as a Texan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now the big question in Democratic politics is, what`s next here?
Last night our own beloved Chris Hayes put the question of Wendy Davis`
political future to Wendy Davis herself. And unlike most politicians, she
actually answered the question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC`S "ALL IN": Your state has not elected a statewide
Democrat for quite some time. Are you going to run for governor?
STATE SEN. WENDY DAVIS (D), TEXAS: You know, I would be lying if I told
you that I hadn`t had aspirations to run for a statewide office. I love
this state and it`s been an incredible opportunity to represent it in the
Texas Senate. I think the real story will be, will the sentiment of people
hold? Will they demonstrate their desire for new leadership in this state?
If yesterday was any indication, I think chances are pretty good that
that`s going to be the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If he had not been on notice before, Texas Governor Rick Perry is
now on notice. About 15 hours about Wendy Davis proclaimed her aspirations
to run for statewide office, Governor Perry found himself in front of a
microphone and a camera and an antiabortion audience that gave him a
standing ovation when he tried to mansplain the true meaning of Wendy
Davis` own family.
Trying to mansplain that history to Wendy Davis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: Even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born
into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman. She
was a teenage mother, herself. She managed to eventually graduate from
Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate.
It`s just unfortunate that she hasn`t learned from her own example that
every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that
every life matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You got that, Senator Davis, about your own life and what you need
to learn from it? Isn`t it nice that you managed to get through law
In case you think Rick Perry has not meant to judge Wendy Davis and her
life in uncomfortably personal terms, if you`re expecting maybe an apology
or something, here he was on Dallas` NBC affiliate a few minutes later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: She didn`t come from particularly good circumstances. What if her
mom had said, you know, I just can`t do this, I don`t want to do this. At
that particular point in time, I think it becomes very personal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: To all of this, Wendy Davis had a reply.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVIS: I would just say that it really demeans the office that he holds to
make a personal statement like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So this happened today. Rick Perry clearly thinks that Wendy
Davis could be his opponent should he choose to run for re-election as
governor. And Wendy Davis seems like she`d be a formidable candidate,
particularly given the fundraising power of her new national profile.
Also Wendy Davis could be out of her current job in time for the governor`s
race. The Supreme Court getting the Voting Rights Act this week allows
Texan Republicans to redraw the congressional district map in a way that
targets Wendy Davis essentially out of her seat. But they cannot
redistrict Democratic voters clear out of the state entirely.
So could Wendy Davis` rocketing popularity on her side of the aisle sustain
her through a run for governor? Does this moment in Texas Democratic
politics mean that the longtime Democratic pipe dream of Texas turning blue
is actually sort of at least a little on its way?
Joining us now for the interview is a man who would know. He`s a former
Obama campaign field director who`s working on the grassroots effort to
transform Texas from a red state into a blue state. His name is Jeremy
Bird, he`s a senior adviser from Battleground Texas.
Mr. Bird, it`s good to have you here.
JEREMY BIRD, BATTLEGROUND TEXAS SENIOR ADVISER: Rachel, thanks for having
MADDOW: So watching a New York City TV show talk about Texas politics in
this moment in abortion and Rick Perry politics, what are we missing? What
are we misunderstanding about Texas politics?
BIRD: Well, Look, I think -- I think what we saw this week was three
things that have been really going on in Texas for a long time. One, if
you look at that gallery, if you look at those people that are there, you
see a groundswell of support. And these folks are all across the state,
254 counties. And they have been organizing for a long time. And I think
you see a huge group of folks that are ready to go.
The second thing that you saw is there`s a great bench of Democratic folks,
Wendy Davis, obviously, Senator Davis, her colleagues in the Senate. When
you look at some of the mayors across the state of Texas, when you look at
some of the congressmen and women you had on your show earlier tonight.
You see a bench of truly inspiring leaders down there and the third thing
you see is Republican extremism. They have gone so far to the right. They
have continued to alienate women voters, Hispanic voters, African-American
voters, Asian voters. Voters all across the state of Texas.
And you see that on the national scale which you`ve talked about today, but
you see it in Texas I think in more stark terms than you see anywhere else.
MADDOW: It seems like what Texas Republicans have done with the power that
they have had in the state for so long is that they have used the power
that they`ve got to structurally change the state electorally in a way that
means that Democrats will never have a chance.
BIRD: Well, what they`ve tried to do, and you see this with
gerrymandering, is they`ve tried to make elections not matter.
BIRD: Right. And they`ve tried to take it to where people`s vote doesn`t
count. And so what you have -- you look at the 2012 election, for example,
you have three million Latinos in Texas who didn`t vote. You have barely
half of the population voting. The eligible population voting. And that
doesn`t just happen overnight. It happens with a systemic attempt to make
people think that their vote doesn`t matter. To continue to
gerrymandering, to continue to try to make districts that aren`t
And they`ve done that systemically over time. And what we have to do is go
back to those voters all across the valley. In Harris County, in Dallas,
all across this state. And talk to people about why their vote does
matter. And there are specific races that they can`t gerrymander. At the
county level. At the mayoral level. We need to win those local elections.
Continue to turn more and more of those counties blue.
And over time we can actually have an impact statewide and have some
elections that we can win and start to change the state.
MADDOW: When you say go talk to those voters, what does that mean in terms
of investments, in terms of resources, in terms of the kind of operation
that you`re trying to mount?
BIRD: Yes, so it needs to be Texas size. And we have to go everywhere.
We have to go to rural areas, we have to go to the suburbs.
MADDOW: Go how, though? Go in what way? Holding meetings? Knocking on
people`s doors? I mean, what`s your effort?
BIRD: All of it, organizing. So basically we have to go to a couple of
key things. One is registration. There are at least 2.2 million
unregistered Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asian Americans in Texas
today that we need to put on the voter rolls. Put a registration form in
front of them and say, get out there and vote.
Over the last couple of weeks, couple of months actually, Battleground
Texas, our folks on the ground have trained about 2,000 folks. In Texas
they make you go to the county clerk, the county registrar to get trained
before you can go register somebody in Texas.
We`ve been starting to train those folks. We`ve got to go talk to people
about that, get them on the rolls. Then once they`re on the rolls, we`ve
got to get them to turn out. We`ve got to go to their doors, we`ve got to
call them on the phone, we have to have a digital outreach program. We`ve
got to find them wherever they are, talk about the importance of the
And do exactly what we saw this week, when people how important their vote
is, and what it means for issues that matter to them, they`ll start turning
MADDOW: If Rick Perry runs for re-election, can any Democrat beat him? Or
does he have it locked up next time around?
BIRD: Well, look, you see what Rick Perry has done recently. And I think
the interesting thing is not just this week, but the entire session, the
legislative session was filled up with the debate around the $5 million
that Rick Perry and Republican extremists in Texas took away from local
BIRD: Right? And I think that voters in Texas are starting to really see
that. They`re starting to see their leaders -- Rick Perry, Ted Cruz --
against immigration reform, against public funding of education, against
health insurance reform, against all these things that Hispanic voters and
other voters in Texas think are good for their families. And I think
they`re getting tired of it and so I think whether Rick Perry runs again or
somebody else runs, we`ve got to draw that contrast, get those folks
registered and turn them out.
If the people who are in Texas vote, we can win, but it`s about actually
changing the electorate and making it look more like the population.
MADDOW: You speak like a man in the middle of a fight. You are not
talking about the fight, you are fighting it which makes me feel like this
effort is more alive than I had previously realized.
Jeremy Bird, former Obama campaign field director. Senior adviser for
Battleground Texas. I have a feeling we will be speaking again.
Thanks very much.
BIRD: I look forward to it. Thank you. Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: On "NIGHTLY NEWS" tonight on NBC, investigative reporter Michael
Isikoff just dropped a bombshell. An exclusive report.
Michael Isikoff is now reporting that the man who just stepped out as vice
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General James Cartwright. So
one of the highest ranking members of the U.S. military who just retired.
General Cartwright has reportedly been notified that he is the target of a
criminal investigation. The Justice Department is reportedly investigating
him in conjunction with a highly sensitive leak, that led to a "New York
Now President Obama had covertly ordered a cyber attack on the Iranian
nuclear program. An Operation called Olympic Games that started under
George W. Bush that was escalated by President Obama, including the Stuxnet
attack on the Iranian nuclear centrifuges. It was reported in that story
that General Cartwright oversaw that operation, that cyberwar operation.
But now, as of tonight, breaking news, Michael Isikoff is reporting that
General Cartwright is the target of a criminal investigation into whether
or not he was the leak behind that story. This is rather stunning news,
especially if it means that this general is potentially going to be
arrested in conjunction with this case. We don`t know whether that`s the
case, but we are being told that he has been told he is the target of this
criminal investigation. We will keep you posted.
MADDOW: Do you want to know who is really happy that we`re right in the
middle of a really busy news cycle right now? This guy, Governor
Ultrasound. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell of the great state of
Virginia. He is having a rotten few weeks with every day bringing new bad
news about this corruption scandal that he`s in.
Two things seem to be saving Governor Ultrasound from perhaps becoming
former Governor Ultrasound these days. One thing is the amount of other
compelling stuff in the news that`s just squeezing him out of it.
Immigration reform, gay marriage, the Voting Rights Act. Right? The other
thing, though, is that every new Bob McDonnell corruption scandal
development seems to get published sometime right around midnight.
It`s been a weird thing about this scandal but the Bob McDonnell bad news
headlines always seem to come out when people are asleep.
This is the latest one, you see this one? "Donor bought Rolex watch for
the Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell." The donor who reportedly bought that
bling for Governor McDonnell is this guy, Jonnie Williams. The FBI right
now is investigating the governor`s relationship with this Virginia
businessman. They`re reportedly looking into whether there was in effect
bribery taking place inside the governor`s mansion. Whether there was quid
pro quo where this guy was giving Bob McDonnell money and gifts in exchange
for preferential treatment from the state.
That question at this point, incredibly, comes down to this. Maybe not
this exact Rolex, although that would be so awesome. But it comes down to
why that wealthy businessman gave the governor of Virginia a $6,000 Rolex
that we don`t have a picture of. It`s a gift that was never disclosed.
The donor is the head of a Virginia based company that makes health
products. They make health products that have to do with tobacco, which is
a little strange for a health company but they are a health product
company. And in the summer of 2011, Bob McDonnell`s wife, the first lady
of Virginia, she arranged a meeting between that donor and an official from
the Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
It`s kind of a score, right? That sort of meeting is a big deal for a
health product company. And that meeting arranged by Governor McDonnell`s
wife, that is where the Rolex watch comes in.
See, the donor, Jonnie Williams, quote, "bought the watch at the urging of
Maureen McDonnell, who admired his Williams` own Rolex and suggested that
he buy her a similar one that she could give to her husband. Her proposal
occurred moments before the meeting she had arranged for him, with the
state health official.
So before you go into this meeting that I set up for you with the state
health department for your health company, I must say that`s a mighty fine
Rolex you have there on your wrist, my husband would sure love a Rolex like
that. Anyway, have fun in the meeting that I just arranged for you.
The donor went into that meeting, and then two weeks later, Governor Bob
McDonnell finds himself with a shiny new Rolex. Engraved with the
inscription, "71st Governor of Virginia," Tada. It`s a gift from Jonnie
Bob McDonnell has insisted that this big money donor has never received any
special treatment from the administration. But that claim is taking a
serious beating now given this drip, drip, drip of details that keep coming
out almost every day now -- or almost every night now.
On Tuesday, the "Richmond Times Dispatch" reported on a New York City
shopping spree that Bob McDonnell`s wife went on, courtesy of the health
product CEO guy. Quote, "During the trip, Miss McDonnell spent time at the
Manhattan showroom of famed designer Oscar Dela Renta, where she tried on a
suede jacket that cost at least $10,000. Jonnie Williams put the garment
on his tab. Mr. Williams also bought the first lady two -- Mr. Williams
also bought the first lady two pairs of designer shoes, a Louis Vuitton
leather handbag, and a designer dress."
That shopping spree happened in the spring of 2011. Just a few months
later, Bob McDonnell opened up the governor`s mansion for that CEO to mark
the formal launch of one of his new health products.
Yes, no special treatment there. Neither of those gifts, neither the Rolex
nor the shopping spree were ever disclosed to the public by Governor
McDonnell. And they did not have to be because Jonnie Williams is
considered to be a friend of the family. But the details here reek.
The details here smell really bad if Bob McDonnell ever expects to have any
kind of future in politics ever again. In June 2011, the governor`s wife
flew down to Florida to personally tout the potential health benefits of
this donor`s new magic tobacco pill. Three days later, that donor cut a
$15,000 check to pay for the catering of Bob McDonnell`s daughter`s
Star Scientific, the company at the center of this, is not only under
federal investigation for securities fraud, they`re also currently in
litigation with the state of Virginia over a $700,000 tax bill.
And yet, that company`s CEO has been lavishing the governor with all sorts
of gifts including a trip to his lake house which Bob McDonnell borrowed
the donor`s Ferrari for a drive back to the state capitol. The Rolex, the
Ferrari, the New York City shopping spree, these are all details that have
come out just in the last few weeks as this investigation into the governor
continues to heat up.
Bob McDonnell is not only under federal for his dealings with this donor.
He`s also under state investigation over the gifts that he has received,
and a federal grand jury has apparently been impaneled, although the
details are sort of murky in terms of what they`re looking into.
At some point, the news cycle is going to slow down enough to realize that
what`s happening at Virginia right now is jaw-dropping.
Governor Ultrasound, good luck to you, sir. You are going to need it. Now
it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Have a great night.
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