UP with STEVE KORNACKI
November 2, 2013
Guest: Rep. Rush Holt, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Fmr. Gov. Christine Todd
Whitman, Dave Weigel, Sen. Bruce Tarr, Tom Davis, Martin Frost, Dave
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: The one month report card on the Obamacare
website. Is it too soon to diagnose long term?
At the start of this first Saturday morning, the first Saturday morning in
November, we`re feeling the excitement. We are counting down to Election
Day 2013. Polls will be opening less than 72 hours from right now.
We`re also learning a whole lot more about what happened behind the scenes
during the last presidential election. Some new juicy details from the new
game change with the 2012 campaign.
One potential contender for 2016 is in a bit of hot water this week for
plagiarism. A story broken by a friend, Rachel Maddow. What exactly did
Rand Paul say? Where was it said before? Most importantly, will there be
any long-term fallout for Rand Paul going forward?
And today, on "Up Against the Clock," very exciting. We inaugurate the
legends division. Our first ever all congressional slate of contestants.
You want to stick around for that.
But first, this weekend marked one full month since the launch of the
Obamacare website on October 1st. And that rollout we can safely say has
been an absolute disaster for the Obama administration both in terms of
image and in terms impact, all for the very simple reason that the website
has not worked.
The driving principle behind the site is to acquaint uninsured Americans
with the various health insurance plans that are now available to them to
entice them to sign up for what is the signature legislative achievement of
this Democratic this president. If the success of that plan depends on
getting young people to sign up, especially young and healthy people to buy
into the system, expand the risk pool and offset the cost of treating older
and sicker Americans.
All that`s true, then it is critically important that the main vehicle for
enrolling new members actually works. Just yesterday, Darrell Issa`s House
Oversight Committee released documents what he says are healthcare.gov will
re-meeting notes allegedly out of the 4.7 million Americans who actually
trapped down the site on its opening day, only six people enrolled on an
insurance plan on that first day.
By day two, according to the Issa documents, 248 actual enrollments have
taken place. The Obama administration has not released its own numbers
yet. The Issa provided numbers. If they stand are incredibly low. Low
numbers also might not be all that unusual. There is some recent precedent
for this. The idea that most people don`t sign up for health insurance
until they`re absolutely forced to and even then at the very last minute.
Under Romneycare in Massachusetts, in many ways, this was the template for
the Affordable Care Act. This is where things stood after one month, 123
people have signed up. In Massachusetts is only one state, there are 34
states now using the federal Obamacare website. But still, 123 people in
the first month. That`s about one-third of one percent. After two months
in Massachusetts, just 2,300 people have enrolled.
It was only after 11 months under the threat of a penalty that was about to
be imposed that more than 36,000 people in Massachusetts, 36,000 people
who`d go on to enroll. Most of them didn`t enroll until that 11-month
mark. So, Obamacare can still work. The penalty that could entice
uninsured Americans to sign up in droves (ph) won`t kick in until the end
of next March. It`s five months from now.
Getting it to work depends on getting the problems ironed out and getting
Americans of all ages signed up for health insurance. The Obama
administration also needs to straighten out the political mess it`s
created. It`s not just the political future of one cabinet secretary
that`s at stake here. This is the fate of the Democratic Party in 2014 and
2016 and beyond. It is tied to whether Obamacare succeeds.
The short term, that means getting the website fixed. In the long term,
that means getting the website fixed, because once Americans who don`t
currently have health insurance are enrolled, what do Republicans then are
you? Do they still push for appeal, taking away this real tangible benefit
that members of the public have now gained and grown to like?
There`s still a chance that Obamacare will fail without Republican
involvement. But what does the GOP aim for next if it doesn`t?
I want to welcome former New Jersey governor and the head of the
Environmental Protection Agency in the George W. Bush administration,
Christine Todd Whitman, Democratic congressman, Hakeem Jeffries, from New
York, Congressman Rush Holt, the Democrat from New Jersey, and MSNBC
contributor, Dave Weigel, also a political report at Slate.com. Thank you
all for joining us today with a heavy New Jersey presence here on the panel
But as we talk about sort of the rollout, the implementation of the
Affordable Care Act, it seems to me there are two separate issues here, and
one just has to do with the basic question of what the administration can
do in terms of getting this website up and running. What are the real
deadlines that they`re up against in terms of, you know, it`s been
problematic that this hasn`t worked for the first month.
At what point does this become a crisis? At what point does this become
something where all this talk about extending deadline, you know, a year
extension -- at what point does that come in? Congressman Holt, I`ll start
with you, where do you think we stand on that sort of timetable right now?
REP. RUSH HOLT, (D) NEW JERSEY: Well, to have an effect by January, you
have to sign up by December, so that if you really want coverage, that`s
the deadline. But if you`re looking at when penalties start to accrue,
then you`ve got a couple more months. So, it is somewhat flexible
deadline. I guess, maybe the insurance deadline is different than the
KORNACKI: So to be clear, the deadlines that we`re looking at January 1st,
people could actually start obtain -- the way that it`s designed right now,
people could actually start obtaining coverage under this. Their coverage
could go into effect January 1st. But it`s not until March 31st that
people need to be signed up for it.
Do you think, Congressman Jeffries, when you look at it, this idea of
delays that`s being put out there, I know there`s a lot of sort of
opponents of this who want to sink it and they`re putting the idea of a
delay out there, but do you think that should be in the conversation here
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES, (D) NEW YORK: Well, I think a lot of it depends on
when the problems with the website can be remedied. It appears that the
administration has set a deadline. I think of November 30th in terms of
making sure that healthcare.gov is up and running, accessible by the
public, everyone who`s interested in being able to review the marketplace
and access health care.
If that is a realistic possibility, that these glitches can be worked out
within the next 30 days, and I think it`s reasonable to move forward into
the current timeline. If for some reason there will be further problems in
getting things remedied as they released the website, then I think the
administration may, at that point in time, have to put on the table a short
KORNACKI: How do you feel about that, because you know, we all knew
October 1st was coming. And it looks like this clearly was not ready for
October 1st. Now, as you are saying, the administration is saying
absolutely around Thanksgiving time, end of November, this is going to be
up and running. Do you have high confidence? Have you talked to them? Do
you have a sense that like, yes, we can take this one to the bank?
JEFFRIES: Well, I know the White House and HHS is incredible focused on
making sure this is correct. Nobody is pleased. The president is not
pleased. Leader Pelosi is not pleased. Democrats aren`t pleased. But, I
think we should take a step back and recognize that this is a fundamentally
landscape authoring piece of legislation that will make a tremendous
difference in the lives of tens of millions of Americans.
And with that in mind, yes, there are short-term problems, but
notwithstanding that fact, I think that if we all put the attention that is
deserved on making it work as opposed to some of my friends on the other
side of the aisle who are concerned with simply making sure that it fails,
in the end, it`s going to be a tremendous thing for America.
KORNACKI: We have one of your friends from the other side of the aisle, so
to speak here. And Governor Whitman, I think that`s an interesting
question to think about here, because Republicans have made obviously a lot
sort of politically in the last few weeks about the problems that
splattered up here, but the longer-term story on this is that from the
minute this was proposed, from the minute that the blueprint for this was
established by the president in 2009, the Republican decision (ph) has been
total and complete opposition to this.
As you look at the role of this, yes, we sort of establish the issues that
exist right now. There`s a possibly, though, that these issues will be
overcome, that the rollout will end up being successful. They will get the
numbers of people into this thing. They need to make a risk pool. This
could still be an effective law. How do you -- as a Republican, do you
think, yes, this all could work and our party needs to change its posture
at some point here?
FMR. GOV. CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN: I thought from the beginning that our
party had the wrong posture, and that I would have said that I`ve been
advising them. Look, it`s a huge reach. It`s a big government program
coming down on people, forcing people to buy insurance that they may come
for coverage they may not want. Say that, that`s fine. You can say that.
But say here`s what we need to change it.
Here`s what we need to make it work, because the average American knew that
our health care system was in need of some help. They`ve seen costs go up
dramatically. There are parts of this law that are absolutely things or
people want, pre-existing condition, coverage for pre-existing condition,
allowing you to keep your children under 21, those kinds of things.
So, to say you`re just going to do away with it doesn`t make a whole lot of
sense. I would have just said, we think this is a big problem, it`s going
too fast. It`s a 2,000 page bill that Nancy Pelosi says we won`t know
what`s in it until they pass it. That doesn`t make any sense to us here.
The changes that we`d like to make and then sit back and let it -- if it`s
going to fail, let it fail of its own accord.
HOLT: Governor, when you mentioned, we have to pass it to find out what`s
in it. I mean, you know that it is a, well, let`s call it a red herring,
WHITMAN: Well, it`s a quote I heard referred to many times, that`s all.
HOLT: We can say that about a transportation bill. We can say that about
any complicated piece of legislation.
HOLT: We have to see how the citizens respond to it. You know, is the
incline of an onramp, is the height of the guardrail good enough to stop
highway debts? Well, we`ll have to see how the drivers respond to it.
KORNACKI: Let me ask you, Dave. I know, you`re covering the Republicans
down on Capitol Hill, too, what is your sense -- again, we were saying
right now, they have been successful at -- it`s pretty easy when the
rollout is, you know, getting rocky and you`re the opposition party that
point to all the problems. But is there a longer term -- are they thinking
in terms of, hey, if three months from now, the enrollment numbers are
actually pretty good on this thing, what are we going to do? Are those
conversations taking place at all?
DAVE WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, I don`t -- maybe I`m not talking the
right people. I don`t think they`ve thought quite that far ahead. They
did couple of months ago. Remember, one of the reasons Ted Cruz would give
for the necessity of defunding Obamacare this year was that come the end of
2014 when subsidies kicked in, it`s going to be popular.
One you learn getting (INAUDIBLE) from the government is you would put in
on paraphrasing that pretty closely, then it`s going to become a popular
law, and they haven`t quite reckoned the hope, and I don`t want to be too
cynical about it, but the hope and expectation is that it was going to
collapse under its own weight.
You talk to a lot of Republicans who say, I was against the Cruz plan
because I expect this to collapse under its own weight. And they haven`t
really reckoned with what will happen if after a long laborious process,
people end up liking what they`ve got, because a lot of the stories that
latching (ph) on to now and people getting letters canceling theirs plans,
when you dig just a little bit, those were plans that would not have been
graceful (ph) at all in a catastrophic circumstance, right?
These are the plans that sometimes give you -- but I think it`s -- I`m
going to mention a statistic about a lot of people who go bankrupt from
medical bills have that kind of insurance plan. After the sticker shock,
where is off? They don`t quite know what to do. Their hope and
expectation is that this is just going to remain popular. And Democrats, I
think, are panicking a little bit but can see the good things coming down
KORNACKI: And I want to pick that point in a minute, because if you really
take a step back historically, it`s kind of extraordinary here to see it`s
been more than three years now since this passed to see one political party
be unanimously opposed to something. It`s become law over -- you have to
go back -- you really have to go back to almost before the civil war to
find legislation that was that sort of consistently polarized and
We`ll pick that up. And we`re also going to talk to a republican from
Massachusetts where they went through the rollout of the blueprint for
Obamacare, seven years ago, six, seven years ago, a very different, very
bipartisan experience. We`re going to talk to Republicans who are up there
right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Then Governor Mitt Romney,
Democratic legislators, Senator Ted Kennedy, many of the folks who are here
today joined forces to connect the progressive vision of health care for
all with some ideas about markets and competition that had long been
championed by conservatives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was President Obama on Wednesday in Boston, comparing the
Affordable Care Act with some of its early glitches with the bipartisan
health care reform act in Massachusetts that served as its model. It was
passed by then Gov. Mitt Romney who keep paying (ph) the attention of last
year`s election, though, he was also the president`s Republican opponent
Massachusetts Senate minority leader, Republican Bruce Tarr, joins us now
from Boston. He served in the state Senate since 1995, and he supported
that Massachusetts health care law when it passed in 2006. Senator, thank
you for joining us this morning.
I wanted to talk to you and I wanted to talk to you specifically,
Republican for Massachusetts today because the contrast between how the
implementation of what you call Romneycare in Massachusetts and the
implementation of Obamacare at the national level, it`s so striking to me,
because in Massachusettes, this was a bipartisan effort. This was a
Republican government. This was Democratic legislators, Romney and Ted
Can you just talk about what that process was like? And again, like some
of these early glitches, we gave the enrollment statistics from
Massachusetts, it took a long time for people to get enrolled in this. It
sounds like sort of a hopeful model nationally, but can you talk a little
bit about it?
STATE SEN. BRUCE TARR, (R) MASSACHUSETTS: Well, thanks, Steven. Good
morning. It`s great to be with you here from Boston where we`re getting
ready to celebrate the Red Sox victory, but I will tell you a little bit
about the fact that when we started down this path, we actually did it in a
different way than what the federal government has proposed and enacted
with regard to the Affordable Care Act.
Our act was actually based on getting flexibility from the federal
government. So, we tried to put pieces together and great credit goes to
then Governor Romney and then United States Senator Ted Kennedy for
actually going to Washington and saying to the administration we need the
flexibility to be able to use Medicaid in creative ways, for instance, to
be able to insure our population.
And goal at that point was actually to preserve the free market, to
preserve competitive forces, not to say that there would be one health
insurance plan offered by state government, but that state government would
help people afford the private health insurance plans that were in the
So, there was a substantial difference in the environment between trying to
do those kind of things and having what we have in the Affordable Care Act,
which is a set of rules that now are actually impairing our ability to
carry out the Massachusetts Act as we envisioned it when it was passed just
a few years ago.
KORNACKI: But the basics of Romneycare and what he did in Massachusetts is
the blooper. I mean, the guy who basically designed Romneycare, Jonathan
Gruber, from MIT is the guy who basically designed Obamacare at the
national level. His quote, I can`t put it on TV, but he said it`s the same
bleeping thing when he was asked about this.
Because basically, the principle you have up there in Massachusetts is
making private insurance affordable to individuals who don`t now have
insurance and using state subsidies to help pay for it. That`s the same
guiding principle at the federal level. And it`s so striking that
Republicans were in board with that in Massachusetts and not a single one
TARR: Because it was a plan (INAUDIBLE) state, Steve, and one of the
things that we would never do and where we take issue with that statement
by Jon Gruber who I have a lot of respect for, is we would never impose a
medical device tax on an industry that represents about two-and-a-half
percent of our gross domestic product in Massachusetts that`s going to cost
jobs here in Massachusetts.
One of the problems is that what we did in Massachusetts was tailored to
our population. It took advantage of our existing access to health care.
It took advantage of a number of different things, one of them, Steve, was
the fact that we had merged the non-group market with the individual market
to try to spread out risks. What does the federal plan do? Well, it
reduces the number of rating factors we can use to price and evaluate risk
for that pool.
So, it`s undermining what we`re trying to do. And in fact, we`ve pleaded
with the federal government. Our governor, Governor Patrick, has asked the
federal government, give us a waiver so that we can evaluate and price risk
fairly, and yet, we now are going to be forced to use four rating factors
as opposed to 10 and that`s one of the major points of distinction here.
Massachusetts plan worked because it was designed for Massachusetts. We
had expertise, for instance, in pricing risks. We had growth markets in
medical devices. And yet, when we look at what`s happening at the federal
level which claims to be mirrored on what we did here in Massachusetts,
it`s actually impeding our ability to carry out the plan we set out that
has worked so successfully
KORNACKI: I know Governor Patrick has a different version, but I want to
get Congressman Holt. He wants to ask you a question --
HOLT: Senator, thanks for taking time away from the ducks this morning to
join this conversation. I mean, what you`ve just described is the
justification for having the state exchanges that we`ve tried to have all
across the country. What was different in Massachusetts was not that you
have more freedom, it was that you had a commitment to providing standards
for the insurance that is offered and greater coverage for all -- everyone
That -- what`s lacking at the federal level is a wiliness by all parties to
try to do that, to really seek higher standards for insurance so that it`s
worthy of the name health insurance. I mean, it`s easy to come up with a
policy that doesn`t cover anything and it will be cheaper. And what`s
lacking is this determination to see that everyone is covered and you had
that in Massachusetts by all parties and the funding you say you didn`t
have to have a device tax or other taxes. Well, sure, you were getting a
lot of Medicaid money from the federal government. That`s the point.
TARR: Well, there`s no doubt about that we were getting Medicaid money and
having the flexibility to use that in a way that was responsive to our
needs was very important. But unfortunately, one of the prices of that
Medicaid money now is to have some things that in my opinion are very
detrimental to the act that we passed and to be able to continue to move
forward, because one of the things that we did was the relatively easier
things to do here was try to increase coverage.
We now have one of the greatest rates of insurance coverage in the nation.
In fact, we`re at about 98 percent. I don`t know that it will ever get
much higher than that. I don`t know if it can get much higher than that.
But the elusive thing here is always the issue of cost containment and what
are you going to do to truly make things affordable?
And so, the flipside of your argument is that if we continue to mandate
things that people can`t afford, then we`re going to two choices. Either
one, we`re going to have to will increase our subsidies or, two, we`re
going to have to have a safety valve. And in fact, one of the most recent
studies that was released indicates that for males who are non-smokers,
about 30-years-old, they`re going to see a premium increase of about 260
And for females in the same category, it`s going to be close to 200
percent. So, if we continue to mandate things, I agree with you. We don`t
want a -- policies that don`t mean anything when you need because that`s
not right and it`s not fair either. But if we continue to have these kind
of heavy-handed mandates for coverage, then we`re going to price the people
we want to help out of the market.
KORNACKI: We can litigate the differences between the two. We can also
point to cost saving initiatives that exist at the federal level that don`t
exist in the Massachusetts, but I know the providence journal, you know,
not in Massachusetts but close enough, looks at the plan a few months ago
and said there`s actually more cost control in the federal plan on this.
It is a more conservative plan at the federal level because there`s
bungling of payments by medical conditions. I mean, it does not take
place. We go back and forth.
Anyway, State Senator Bruce Tarr, Republican from Massachusetts, I want to
thank you for joining us today. And we will pick this discussion right
here right back after this.
KORNACKI: So, let`s pick up this discussion about where the Affordable
Care Act stands and implementation right now. We were talking about this a
little bit earlier in the show. And Congressman Jeffries, I know you got
into this a little bit about the opposition, the Republican opposition that
has been presented for since the very beginning going back four years. And
I was saying, I can`t think of any law, any major law that`s been passed in
the last century plus that faced that sort of that level of reflexive
partisan opposition when it was being enacted but then after it was
That`s the extraordinary thing here that -- and there was a story from Todd
Purdum in "Politico" yesterday that looked at the measures that Republicans
had been taking since it was enacted to try to sabotage this thing. Can
you think of any parallel to what we`ve seen from Republicans on this?
JEFFRIES: I definitely don`t think there`s any parallel in modern day
American politics to civil discourse. You know, the House Republicans
since they took office in 2011, the terms of the majority have attempted to
delay, defund, or destroy the Affordable Care Act more than 40 times on the
floor of the House of Representatives.
Each time it`s failed, it`s cost the American people more than $50 million
in the context of the latest government shutdown that was brought to us
because of reckless behavior tied to the opposition to the Affordable Care
Act. It costs the American people $24 billion in terms of lost economic
What`s important to note is that the fundamental underpinning of the
Affordable Care Act is a conservative Republican idea first put into the
public domain by the Heritage Foundation in the 1990s because this is a
market based approach. So, they were for it before they were against it in
the context of the Affordable Care Act, because it`s tied to President
KORNACKI: So, governor, yes, governor, I mean, is that really what this
is, because we`ve heard a lot about it was the Heritage Foundation`s plan
from 1989 originally that sort of the basis for Obamacare is the basis for
what we had in Massachusetts, the basis for the national program? Is it
really as simple as Republicans looked at this and said this is the
president`s initiative? We want to oppose him.
We don`t want to -- you know, we don`t want to give him a big success in
his first term and they`ve sort of stuck on that for the last three years?
WHITMAN: Well, it`s a combination. It`s a combination of the
hyperpartisanship we see in Washington that`s been coming for several
decades now, getting worse and worse every decade where every issue is
looked through the partisan polical prism, not the policy prism, not what
we can do to solve this problem but what`s going to get me another vote on
caucus and then those who honestly believe that a program like this from
the federal government this size, which you know, and we said -- you said,
all of the big ones have glitches coming out inevitable.
But they also tend to be a one size fits all, because you`ve got to deal
with the entire nation and for those who believe so strongly that this is a
real overreach by the federal government, that it does hamper people`s
choice, it is requiring people to have, you know, somebody my age to have
maternity coverage, it`s not going to be something I`m going to need.
That`s part of the pushback that you get, then of course the disaster of
the rollout, which really has been a disaster and people trying to get onto
it. And maybe -- and I`m sure, over time, we can work anything out. We do
work things out. But, I think you`re right. There`s just been a basic
now. Now, it` become part of the philosophy. You just will be opposed to
this and I`m not sure that that`s in the best interest of our party.
HOLT: Steve, I remind you to look at the vitriol that was thrown at
Mesdicare in 1965 and for years afterwards. It`s a program that`s loved
now. And as far as rollout, look at Medicare part D, not so many years
ago, most of us Democrats in Congress opposed the way it was done, thinking
that it should be a regular part of Medicare rather than a special --
separate insurance program.
Actually, it`s worked better than I thought it would. I`ll admit that.
But at the time that it was rolled out, there were lots of glitches. The
difference was Democrats many of us, you know, held town meetings and sent
out e-mails to try to make it work even the program we had voted against.
KORNACKI: One of the first stories -- Congressman __, remember running a
story in 2005 or 2006 about the Congressional Black caucus working on the
signups for Medicare part D. A lot of the members have voted against it.
What you just there, though, is sort of what I`m waiting for. That will be
the tell (ph) on this is when a Republican says what you said, this has
actually worked better than I thought.
That`s when you know we have entered a new -- but we have not heard
anything like that yet. But that`s what I`m asking --
KORNACKI: If the enrollments work, be the first Republican, come on this
show and do it. We`d love to have you.
Anyway, the plot to dump Joe Biden, Mitt Romney making fun of Chris
Christie, President Obama getting exasperated with Bill Clinton for about a
year out from the 2012. So, it`s time for the tell-all books. That is
KORNACKI: There`s one thing political junkies love more than the suspense
of a good campaign, it`s the tell-all books that get released after the
campaign, and the 2012 presidential race is turning out to be no exception.
The latest pot boiler is "Double Down" by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann,
the duo behind game change. Their gossipy look at what happened behind the
scenes during the 2008 race for president.
Just some of what they`ve uncovered about 2012 run has been unveiled by a
friend, Jonathan Martin, at the "New York Times," including that the Obama
campaign looked at possibly maybe replacing Vice President Joe Biden with
Hillary Clinton, also that President finds it difficult to spend long
periods of time with President Clinton, not even able to finish 18 rounds
of golf, said Obama about Clinton supposedly, quite, "I like him in doses."
And that Mitt Romney eliminated Chris Christie from consideration as a
potential running mate because of his concerns about his, quote,
"background and health." And the book hasn`t even been released yet. So,
I`m sure there`ll be more -- people will be talking about for the next few
days. I`m always of two minds about books like this.
I remember my all-time favorite campaign book was called "What It Takes" by
Richard Ben Cramer. I don`t know if anybody out there has read it, but it
was sort of the antithesis of game change. It wasn`t gossipy. It was just
the most in-depth of plurative (ph) character study of people who run for
president you`ll ever find.
It`s kind of timeless. It was about 1988, but it could have been about any
year. And this is really so kind of geared towards like just the sort of
what was going on behind the scenes. That said, it is kind of interesting
to me, this Biden-Hillary thing. You heard it from the minute they were
inaugurated in 2009, oh, are they going to replace, you know, Biden with
It never made sense to me, because to me, it would look like a desperation
move. And why would Hillary want that either? You know, because then it
would sort of be on her to win or lose the election. But I don`t know.
Maybe it was real, do we know?
WEIGEL: This is one of those stories that if you`re in Washington or New
York or anywhere, really, especially those kind of centers of iniquity, you
can report the some Democrats want Hillary on the ticket story pretty
easily, you know, (INAUDIBLE) Democratic strategist and they`ll talk about
it. And there are, you know, interests in both camps.
KORNACKI: But the story here is Bill Daley, the white house staff now --
and he`s admitting yes. He`s saying we did poll it. So --
WEIGEL: And Biden is still here and Daley isn`t.
WEIGEL: I think we learn in the book, and I`m just reading -- myself as a
boot leger (ph) yet for this book. But Obama and Biden got closer as the
presidency went on. The flare-ups like the gay marriage flare up in 2012
were pretty minor. Those the kind of things, I think, in the campaign that
never made any sense.
I mean, the last time I think this was done successfully was FDR after he`d
already won two terms, the one vice president. It would have looked
desperate. It does -- the way I think it`s more interesting what we
learned in this book that Biden was trying to kind of run a side game at
some of the donor events he was doing and trying -- this makes a lot of
sense, using the vice president to see more donors, to go more districts.
We don`t hear it in that context is that if you look at his polling, it`s
actually pretty lousy. He`s not covered the same way that Dick Cheney is
covered. But he basically has Obama`s numbers, minus a lot of the kind of
Democratic base support. I mean, he is somebody that if he became serious,
we will look to these polls, Democrats would worry terribly about him
running. And I think he`s been effective in this job, but they`re raising
the national figure. They could never --
KORNACKI: And he seems -- from what I can tell from the reporting and what
I`ve heard from talking to a few people is that he -- Joe Biden clearly has
interest in running for president in 2016. He`s sensitive to the idea that
he`s not sort of taken seriously inside the administration. So, I look at
a revelation like this and I wonder what -- you know, Gov. Whitman, I know,
in 1996, you were sort of -- you were in the veep stakes, you know, that
the rumor milled during this.
You`d been through a little bit of that process of having your name thrown
out there a little bit, but I`m just wondering from a Joe Biden standpoint,
what he must be kind of thinking? What`s kind of going on in the
administration right now just with this news breaking, you know, what he
might be saying?
WHITMAN: That`s a problem. I mean, you always got to be a little
skeptical of gossip. And you know how reporters do it as you talk to one
person, you get a little green, then you go to another and say I`ve heard
and you try to get something that substantiates and keep building it that
way. I would imagine right now the vice president is feeling a little
nervous, a little unhappy.
This can`t be good for him. I mean, it`s not a big deal. It`s a book,
it`s a gossipy book. It`s supposedly what happened. And I`m sure they did
get some verification -- well, we know there was polling done. You can`t
be happy with it, but I don`t know that it`s going to affect his decision
whether or not to run for the presidency.
KORNACKI: So -- is this the kind of book -- did you read game changer?
Are you going to read "Double Down?"
JEFFRIES: Well, you know, I mean, it is an interesting book. I`m not sure
if I`ll have the time to read it.
JEFFRIES: It`s not on the top of the list. However, I do think that as it
relates to Vice President Biden, he is incredibly well-respected as
Congressman Holt knows on the Hill. He`s got relationships on both sides
of the aisle, particularly, in the Senate, but as well as in the Democratic
House side of things. And, you know, it`s a good thing that Vice President
Biden hasn`t been similar in the man in which he`s conducting himself with
I mean, that was a debacle. But Vice President Biden has been a trusted
aid, a useful ally both politically and governmentally. Now, in terms of
what`s going to happen in 2016. I mean, Hillary Clinton`s potential
candidacy daisy will trump everything in all likelihood, but short of her
entering into the race, he`s got as good a chance as anybody.
KORNACKI: Yes. I wouldn`t bet against the sitting vice president,
especially with Hillary Clinton -- anyway, thank you, Congressman Hakeem
Jeffries for joining us.
And up next, what happens when we put two former congressmen and one
current lawmaker together in front of some podiums. Usually, it means
you`re having a debate, but today on "Up Against the Clock," it means
something very different, because we are inaugurating the legends division.
Special edition of America`s fastest grow and abbreviated name for basic
cable Saturday morning politics and/or current events quiz show.
That`s right. Our first all Congressional slate of contestants playing for
the up rolled (ph) cup today will be 12 percent gold in honor of Congress`
approval rating. They will play for it next.
KORNACKI: And here we are with what we are calling the legends division.
Former Congressman Martin Frost of Texas, Tom Davis from Virginia, and
current house member, Rush Holt, who is the only five-time "Jeopardy"
champion in Congress, by the way. He also beat the "Jeopardy" super
computer Watson two years ago.
They are about to face the ultimate test of their political knowledge, our
weekly quiz show, "Up Against the Clock," and they personally assured me
that they put their party politics aside. There`s no red, there`s no blue
here. Just quick thinking, agile buzzer pressing. Good luck, gentlemen.
We want to take up your valuable time as you get ready and you get focus,
you`re going compete for the most coveted price in weekend morning basic
cable game shows. The Congressional cup is "Up Against the Clock", and it
ANNOUNCER: Live from Studio 3A in Rockefeller Center, USA. It`s time for
a special member of Congress edition of "Up Against the Clock."
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANNOUNCER: First, the man who represented the world famous 24th district
of Texas, the twice of American, right between Dallas and Fort Worth from
1979 until 2005, please welcome former congressman, Martin Frost.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANNOUNCER: From Virginia who served (ph) 14 years represented the
commonwealth and celebrated the 11th district, the home of the George Mason
Patriots, the former congressman, Tom Davis.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANNOUNCER: And finally, the only member of congress ever to take on the
Watson super computer and win, from New Jersey -- the man who would beat
the future human resistance to the robot uprising, it`s Congressman Rush
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANNOUNCER: And now, the host of "Up Against the Clock," it`s Steve
KORNACKI: Thank you, Bill Wolf. Thank you, studio audience, and thank you
at home for tuning in for a very special edition of "Up Against the Clock."
Today, the legends division, our first all Congressional group of
contestants. You know the rules by now. Three rounds of play. Wrong
answers will cost you, and there are a few instant bonuses scattered in
And studio audience, as always, I implore you, please, no outburst. Our
contestants deserve and demand absolute concentration when they`re "Up
Against the Clock." And with that, I will ask you, contestants, are you
ready to play?
KORNACKI: They look ready to me. Hand on buzzers, please. We`ll start in
the 100-point round with 100 seconds on the clock, and we will begin with
this. This one-time rising Republican star who was rumored to be a
contention for John McCain`s VP slot in 2008 is expected to announce on
Monday that he will run as a Democrat for governor --
HOLT: Governor Crist of Florida.
KORNACKI: Crist. Charlie Crist is correct. He filed paperwork yesterday.
Hundred-point question, it will be, quote, "the end of the Republican Party
if it nominates Ted Cruz for president predicted what top Democrat this
week?" Time. Harry Reid. Harry Reid said that to Rachel Maddow on this
KORNACKI: Hundred-point question, President Obama`s speech touting his
health care law this week was delivered in what iconic Boston venue --
HOLT: Faneuil Hall.
KORNACKI: Faneuil Hall. That is the iconic venue where Mitt Romney also
signed Massachusetts`s health care law in 2006. Hundred-point question,
the second circuit court of appeals on Thursday blocked a series --
HOLT: The prescription contraceptive.
TOM DAVIS, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: The abortion law.
MARTIN FROST, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: No.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. Martin, I can complete the question. It blocked a
series of changes that have been mandated by a federal judge to what
controversial New York City practice?
FROST: Stop and frisk.
KORNACKI: Stop and frisk is correct. Hundred-point question, Donning a
formal tie over his signature red fur, who joined Michelle Obama at the
White House this week to promote the healthy eating habits? Time. Correct
answer is Elmo. Elmo joined the first lady this week.
Hundred-point question, a "Wall Street Journal," op-ed that called
Obamacare a Ponzi scheme and was subsequently amended and corrected
multiple times this week was pinned by what three`s company sit-com star.
Time. The correct answer there was Suzanne Somers. The old pop culture
questions, doubling them up there, brings us to the end of our 100-point
The scores, let`s see. We have martin at 100, Tom at negative 100, and
Rush at 100. Very even match. We go to the 200-point round now. These
questions get a little trickier. Two-hundred point round, we will put 100
seconds on the clock.
Gentleman, we will go with this. According to "Politico," Ted Cruz sought
to improve relations with his Republican Senate colleagues this week by
promising them he will not -
FROST: Run against them in the primary -- not work against them in their
KORNACKI: Be more specific.
FROST: Not support anybody or contribute or support anyone running against
them in the Republican primary.
KORNACKI: We cannot accept that. I`m sorry. I`ll complete the question.
He will try to improve relations with his Republican Senate colleagues by
promising them he will not raise money for which specific group that has
targeted numerous Republican incumbents?
DAVIS: Senate conservatives.
KORNACKI: Senate conservatives, Tom, is Correct. The Jim DeMint Founder
Group. Two-hundred-point question, the Boy Scouts of America selected on
Wednesday which former defense secretary --
KORNACKI: Robert Gates is correct. The new Boy Scouts of American
president. Two-hundred point question, we are going to be on permanent
defense for the foreseeable future is the bleak assessment of a Republican
strategist writing in a memo revealed this week about his party`s prospects
in what major state?
Time. Correct answer is California. California. Two-hundred-point
question, this leader, this world loader was named this week by "Forbes"
magazine as the world`s most powerful person. Time. That was Vladimir
Putin, Vladmir Putin of Russia. Two-hundred-point question, this current
cabinet secretary received a high five from Red Sox center fielder, Jacobi
HOLT: Secretary Kerry.
KORNACKI: John Kerry is correct. He received a high-five during World
Series game six on Wednesday. Instant bonus question, Rush. During his
2004 presidential campaign, Kerry famously mangled the name of the Green
Bay Packers home field calling it what?
HOLT: Calling --
KORNACKI: No penalty for guessing here.
HOLT: Frigid field.
KORNACKI: He called it Lambert Field, it was actually Lambeau Field.
Brings us to the end of the 200-point round. Rush, you have moved ahead
there with 500 points, Tom at 100, Martin at negative 100. However, this
is the Ph.D. round. This is 300-point questions here.
FROST: I got a 200-point question.
KORNACKI: He`s contesting the score. Judges, is he right or wrong? He`s
right. Martin you have been elevated to zero. Tom you have 100. Rush you
have 300. I`m sorry about the mix up there. So to be clear, Rush is up by
200 right now as we enter the 300-point round. Thank you for catching us
on that, Martin.
And we will begin with 100 seconds on the clock with this. If Terry
McAuliffe is elected as governor of Virginia on Tuesday, it will mark the
first time that the party occupying the White House has won the
gubernatorial election in the old dominion --
DAVIS: Since 1973.
KORNACKI: 1973 is the last time. That`s correct. Three hundred points
for Tom. Three-hundred-point question, if Joe Biden had been dropped from
the ticket during the 2012 election, he would have become the first
incumbent vice president --
KORNACKI: Nelson Rockefeller, the last incumbent vice president not to run
with the president. Three-hundred-point question, with Cory Booker joining
Robert Menendez in the Senate, New Jersey this week became the second state
to have a simultaneous non-White Senate delegation. Which was the first?
KORNACKI: Illinois is incorrect. Either of you want to take a guess here.
Call time. The answer is Hawaii. State of Hawaii. Three-hundred-point
question, when Booker was sworn in on Thursday, he also became just the
fourth elected African-American senator in U.S. history, who was the first?
DAVIS: Brooke of Massachusetts.
KORNACKI: Ed Brooke of Massachusetts is correct. Instant bonus. Double
your winnings with this, what future presidential candidate defeated Brooke
in his 1978 re-election campaign?
DAVIS: Paul Tsongas.
KORNACKI: Paul Tsongas from lower Mass (ph) is correct. Three hundred
more points for Tom Davis. Three-hundred-point question, which Republican
congressman on Thursday distribute a book to every Congressional office
entitled "Impeachable Offenses: The Case for Removing Barack Obama From
HOLT: Did I guess that?
KORNACKI: You must --
KORNACKI: He didn`t read it. Call time. The correct answer, Steve
Stockman of Texas. Three-hundred-point question, no seating member of
Congress nominated by a president since 1843 had been blocked from
confirmation until the --
HOLT: Mel Watt.
KORNACKI: Mel Watt. He was blocked this week by the Senate to be the head
of the federal housing finance agency. That is correct. With that, Rush,
it is not enough. You finish with only 300, Martin with 300. The winner
today, Tom Davis, the former congressman from Virginia with 1,000 points.
Congratulations. And Tom, as our winner, we will tell you, Bill Wolf will
tell you, here`s what you`ve won.
ANNOUNCER: As our champion, you`ll have your name printed in exquisite
sharpee on the coveted "Up Against the Clock" gold cup. And you`ll get to
take the trophy home with you and show it off to friends, family, and local
school children for exactly one week. You`ll also receive an appearance
this coming week on MSNBC`s "The Cycle" airing weekdays, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
And you`ll get to play in our jackpot bonus round for today`s grand prize,
a $50 gift certificate to Little Poland, the most authentic eastern
European eating and drinking experience in New York City`s historic east
village. And while you`re there, get a tattoo or a piercing. Back to you,
KORNACKI: Thank you, Bill. Well, that is an exciting prize package.
Congratulations, former Congressman Tom Davis and we have a little
unfinished business for that $50 gift certificate to Little Poland. We
have your jackpot question.
It is this, starting this month, the United States Capital dome will begin
a $60 million restoration project which will cover the dome and scaffolding
two years. This renovation will be the first major overhaul of the capital
since who was president?
DAVIS: Probably Lincoln.
KORNACKI: Lincoln is incorrect. Dwight Eisenhower was the president --
KORNACKI: Now, he knows. Now, he knows.
KORNACKI: -- Little Poland gift certificate. You do win the gold cup. It
was a very impressive comeback in the third round. And Martin and Rush,
you do not leave us empty-handed. You will both receive the home edition,
although, I don`t know if Congressional rules allow you to accept that,
Rush, but we can sneak it to you if you want.
So, congratulations. Thank you for playing. And tom, you are in
contention, perhaps, to play in our tournament of champions in March.
There is the current leader board. This places you with as our fourth
highest of all time, so stay tuned. We may have you back in March for
that. Thank you for playing.
And up next, we`re back with the real show.
KORNACKI: George W.H. Bush was less than a year into his presidency in the
fall of 1989 and the next presidential election, the 1992 election couldn`t
have felt farther away. But it was the first thing and may be the only
thing on the mind of a notorious corner-cutting operative named Lee
Atwater. Atwater had been the mastermind behind Bush`s 1988 victory.
He had been rewarded with the chairmanship of the Republican National
Committee. He was already thinking ahead in 1992 and how to get his boss
re-elected, how to win the White House again, which is why in the fall of
1989, Atwater was keeping a close eye on the state of Arkansas. Everyone
in politics knew its governor, a Democrat named Bill Clinton wanted to run
for president. No one took him that seriously.
He was just one of countless ambitious and relatively obscure politicians
with White House dreams. But Atwater looked at Clinton and saw a threat.
He saw a young telegenic moderate Southerner, the antithesis of Michael
Dukakis and Walter Mondale, the Northern liberals who just led the
Democratic Party to two straight national drubbings, the guy who could win
back exactly the kind of voters who were at the core of the Reagan-Bush
coalition, a guy who could under the right conditions knock off JWH Bush in
1992. And so, Atwater came up with a plan, there would be a governor`s
race in Arkansas in 1990, Clinton would be running for re-election, he
would be hoping to rack up an impressive margin, ready to use it as a
springboard to a national campaign.
To Atwater, this was the perfect opportunity to nip a potentially huge
problem in the bud. So, very quietly, he found a candidate of his own,
Tommy Robinson was his name, he was a loose cannon, he was a former sheriff
known for off color and inflammatory remarks and controversial tactics.
Robinson had won a seat in Congress in the mid1980s as a conservative
Democrat, but in 1989, he abruptly switched parties. He was going to run
for governor of Arkansas in 1990. And this was Lee Atwater`s plan, as
journalists Gene Lyons and Joe Conason later reported he met in the fall of
1989 with Tommy Robinson`s team. And he told them, we`re going to take
Tommy Robinson and use him to throw everything we can think of at Clinton.
Drugs, women, whatever works. We may or may not win, but we will bust him
up so bad, he won`t be able to run again for years.
Now, within months of that, Lee Atwater fell ill. He was diagnosed with a
terminal brain tumor. He was dead a year later. His plan never went into
full effect. The Arkansas Republican primary of 1990, Tommy Robinson lost
to a far more reserved, far more mild mannered candidate, candidate who
didn`t throw any of the stuff at Clinton that Atwater had wanted to throw
at him. Would history have been any different if Lee Atwater had lived?
If his candidate had won that primary, if his plan to stop Bill Clinton had
actually been carried out? We will never know for sure. There is also no
questioning Atwater`s foresight. He saw Bill Clinton as a unique threat to
George H.W. Bush, and he was right. While the strategy he devised was as
low road as they come, the instinct behind it was smart. It`s usually not
that hard to figure out who the other party`s strongest presidential
contenders are, who the biggest threats to your party are long before the
If you can deal with it then, if you can neutralize the threat then, you
will be doing yourself and your party a huge favor down the road, which is
what brings us to the biggest threat that the party currently in power now
faces. His name is Chris Christie, and if you needed any further evidence
that he is the Republican best position by far to win the White House back
for his party in 2016, then just consider the latest NBC News poll, of all
the names surveyed, exactly one Republican has a positive favorable rating.
His name is Chris Christie.
So the threat to Democrats is obvious, and Christie is on the ballot this
year, just three days from today in a blue state that voted for President
Obama by 17 points last year, a blue state that last voted for a Republican
presidential candidate in 1988 that last elected a Republican to the Senate
more than 40 years ago, but there has been no effort by national Democrats
in the New Jersey governors` race, no campaign swings by Obama. No visits
from the Clintons. No big money pouring in from around the country.
They`re not even trying. Christie hasn`t even had to break a sweat here.
He`s going to win and he`s going to win big. And then he`s going to get to
go around the country telling Republicans about how electable he is. How
he and only he is in position to win over blue state America and to win
back the White House.
Of course, there is a reason the White House hasn`t made this a fight.
It`s probably because of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R ), NEW JERSEY: The president has been all over
this. He deserves great credit. I have been on the phone with him like I
said, yesterday personally three times, he gave me his number at the White
House, told me to call him if I needed anything. And he absolutely means
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right.
CHRISTIE: It`s been very good, it`s been very good working with the
president and he and his administration have been coordinating with us
great. It`s been wonderful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Those words uttered at the height of a crisis, that played out
just days before the last year`s election essentially made Chris Christie
the most valuable surrogate for Barack Obama`s re-election campaign. Chris
Christie is important symbol for the White House, a real concrete example
of bipartisan cooperation between Obama and a big-name Republicans. The
kind of example the White house spent so much time and energy searching for
during its first term. They`re not eager to give that up. And of course,
it`s been just as valuable, probably more valuable to Christie. His
leadership during Sandy lifted his poll numbers in New Jersey to
stratospheric heights, by maintaining an alliance with Obama during the
recovery, it`s kept his numbers there.
Sandy is what brought Christie and Obama together. It`s what`s kept the
White House out of the New Jersey election and it`s what as Christie on
course to win a huge victory on Tuesday. What remains to be seen is
whether it will all come back to haunt Democrats three years from now.
Joining us now to talk about this, we have former Virginia congressman and
now reigning up against the clock champion Republican Tom Davis.
KORNACKI: MSNBC contributor and Slate reporter Dave Weigel is still with
us as is former governor Christie Whitman from New Jersey and former Texas
Congressman Democrat Martin Frost, now, also getting a more formal
introduction following his "Up Against the Clock" appearance.
Governor Whitman, I`ll start with you as a resident New Jersey politician
on the panel, I wonder if you could talk about what in the state of New
Jersey, we think of it just as a blue state. You know, you won there in
two very close elections in the 1990s, now, Chris Christie is probably
going to win the thing by more than 20 points on Tuesday. Is this really
something where Sandy, where the alliance with Barack Obama, where
everything that happened a year ago this time just changed his governorship
completely and his appeal in that state?
WHITMAN: Oh, I think it was happening anyway. I mean Chris is a leader.
And he`s taken on big issues. He`s gone after the unions, he`s gone after
improving education, putting money in. He was doing things that people
wanted to see. And the state wasn`t - had not been doing well after our
previous two governors between he and I. And he was starting to get the
state back on track, making it feel good about itself. Sandy just, you
know, catapulted him into the national scene, but as far as New Jerseyans
were concerned, while he took on the big issues, which means it`s going to
be controversial and there are going to be people that push back, he was
clearly a leader, and people are anxious for a leader. That`s what they
are looking for.
KORNACKI: but has it surprised you where the real lack of, I don`t believe
that after Sandy that Christie was going to lose this race. But has it
surprised you the lack of interest that national Democrats have shown in
this race? I think there was like an e-mail message from Obama that went
after Democrats in New Jersey (ph). That might be the entire extend of it.
I was expecting more. I don`t know. Has that surprised you?
WHITMAN: Not really. I mean it was - it`s been evident for quite a while
that Chris was going to be a very, very strong candidate, and
unfortunately, while I have respect for Barbara Buono, because she`s in the
Senate. And she is a public servant, and she has, you know, a good
intention, she`s not a strong candidate at all, and she`s got some very
gaping problems with her association with some of the labor and for some of
the positions that she`s taken that have put her in a place where nobody is
supporting her. And Chris has been very, very smart about meeting with
Democratic mayors, doing things with Democratic mayors. So, they`ll stand
up. I mean I had Democratic mayors who supported me and my reelection. He
has been able to basically sweep the field. And so, there was nobody there
for him. So, it would have been a losing proposition. The president
didn`t want to put his reputation on the line, going out there. And having
the White House try to win and then get smacked and it looked pretty from
early on that they .
KORNACKI: So, yeah, so Congressman Frost - that`s, I get that calculation,
too, if you are in the White House and you`re national Democrat, the more
you make a show of this the more you are going to be embarrassed if you
can`t win or at least come close to winning. But do you think your party
right now, Governor Whitman talks about in the state of New Jersey, that
Democrats who`ve endorsed Christie nationally, the lack of involvement.
Because your party is setting itself up here, where two, three years from
now, you are going to look back and say, jeez, we built Christie up a
little too much?
FMR. REP. MARTIN FROST (D) TEXAS: Oh, I don`t think so. And, of course,
we were saved this time around by the Virginia race. Because we are going
to win in Virginia. The Republicans have a very weak candidate. So, this
election is going to be a draw. You`ll have a Republican win in New
Jersey, you`ll have a Democrat win in Virginia. And it`s off to the next
KORNACKI: But in terms of, Christie, in terms of the image that we show
that NBC poll that shows Christie, is the only Republican poll, and when
you talk about it nationally, as that - it`s like a two to one spread. Two
- 33 to 17. When you look to all of the problems, and we`ve talked so much
about all the problems the Republican Party come in at 2012, it seems to me
like you nominate Christie for president 2016, at least superficially, you
are going to solve a lot of those problems. Isn`t that a concerned
Democrat should be trying to address right now?
FROST: It will be an interesting race. And remember, Steve, that since
World War II, there has been no 12-year presidency by a single party other
than Reagan, Reagan, Bush. Every two years, excuse me, every - after every
two terms, the presidency has gone to the next party. So this is going to
be a contested election. We all know that. It doesn`t make any difference
quite frankly who the Republican candidate is. Christie right now looks
like he is the strongest possibility for them. But the Republicans will
have some momentum going into 2016. We are going to have to nominate a
strong candidate, we`re going to have to work very hard. I think we can
win. But I don`t think anything was to be gained by trying to rough up
Christie at this point.
KORNACKI: So, in terms of what Christie is looking for, coming out - it`s
like - three days from now, we are going to have the election. As I say,
he is probably going to win big. And Wednesday morning, we are going to
start seeing - hearing, we`re going to hear for, I think, three years to
come, that`s Christie and his people going across the country and saying
look what we did in this really, really blue state, Republicans, this is
your ticket to getting back to the White House. Is that going to mean
anything to Republicans?
DAVE WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think it will. And I thought it was
interesting that Governor Whitman referred twice to the labor unions,
referred - starting with Christie being tough on them, and continuing with
Buono being too (INAUDIBLE) them. And in 2010 when Christie was -- his
national reputation was starting to develop, I remember going to Tea Party
events in Virginia and Iowa and people loved Christie because he was taking
on the unions. So he can - as soon as they help elect him, he can get back
to that. But no, if we had been around a similar table in 2007 with
similar case, we would have had this conversation about John McCain,
because John McCain was one of the most popular politicians in America, has
kind of recovered some of that, was somebody that Democrats were fearful of
running against and there is a playbook and one thing we did mention, yeah,
about this game change sequel, Democrats I think they didn`t do it this
time, it was hard to do it this time. Christie just makes many alliances.
(INAUDIBLE) to break into it. There is a little bit of contents they`re
not screaming about yet, that there`s stuff in his record as U.S. attorney
that they can bloody him up with. Not they are going to hurry to do it.
But they have dirt on him they can use.
KORNACKI: Well, yeah, and also, there`s also, Tom, there is what the
Republican process, what`s we saw this with Mitt Romney last year, what was
required of Mitt Romney? What he had to go out there and say the whole
self-deportation thing in 2012 is Mitt Romney trying to beat back
(inaudible) Gingrich in the primary. Does that - that process I don`t
think has changed. Is that going to change the way people see Chris
Christie forcing him to go through that, just to get a nomination?
FMR. REP. TOM DAVIS (R ), VIRGINIA: Well, Christie is from New Jersey, I
think he really gets - remember, I don`t think Romney could have been
reelected governor of Massachusetts. Christie is re-elected as governor of
New Jersey. He understands all these booby traps out there and the
landmines that you face to be viable in the general election. But more to
the point, remember, Obama needed Christie in the closing days of that
campaign when he was up there having a Republican governor with his arm
around him. And I think for that reason alone, Obama and his team, they
couldn`t have done anything to Christie except get their own nose bloody.
Stay out of his race, and now they`ve elevated him.
KORNACKI: When we talk about .
WHITMAN: But don`t - one other thing, don`t forget, Chris Christie is very
KORNACKI: He is a pro-life. Right. That`s right.
DAVIS: He`s conservative enough. He`s conservative enough. He`s not
super - he`s not super hard.
KORNACKI: But if you think in a Republican Party.
KORNACKI: If you think in a Republican Party, that abortion is this litmus
test issue, can you speak of that actually - the role? Because I think
that it`s interesting when we talk about a blue state governor. You know
that Chris Christie`s position on abortion is he`s anti-abortion. I know,
we said again, in 1996, you were sort of in the mix with the VP thing,
you`re prochoice, into the extent that sort of made you a non-starter with
a wing of the Republican Party. That doesn`t exist with Christie, maybe?
WHITMAN: It doesn`t - particularly one doesn`t. They still don`t, the
very hard right conservatives, the purist conservatives, he has I think
about the highest negative numbers. That`s where his negative numbers are,
with the very hard right conservatives, but again, if these elections,
these two elections next Tuesday come out the way it looks as if they`re
going to and the Republicans lose Virginia, which traditionally does not
elect a governor, the same party of the sitting president and we lose the
demographics of women and minorities and Chris Christie wins in New Jersey
and he picks up women and minorities, particularly Hispanics and black,
then it`s going to at least be pretty clear to people that if you want to
win on a national scale, you`ve got to appeal to more than just the very
FROST: But the hardliners in the Republican Party don`t care about that.
WHITMAN: I know. That`s a problem.
FROST: They don`t care.
DAVIS: I agree.
FROST: And there is going to be a civil war for the nomination. He`s not
going to walk into the nomination. He may ultimately be the nominee. But
he has got to overcome a lot. And very interesting what happened on gay
rights just recently, a gay marriage, he initially said, oh, no, no, he
doesn`t want it to happen. And then he got out of the way and let it
happen. He got out of the way and let it happen
FROST: And I have a feeling the social conservatives will remember that
KORNACKI: He will try to do what Mitt Romney - is the court that forced
KORNACKI: Crazy liberal courts in those blue states, but we`ll take this -
we`re going to go from this in northern states that poised to elect a
Republican. We will go south to a traditionally red state, now more of a
swing state, poised to let the Democrat Tuesday. That`s ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON: The virtue of political extremism is that once you get
people all torn up and upset, steam coming out of their ears, they will
show up and vote. Will you care as much as they do and show up and vote?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That`s Bill Clinton last Sunday rallying the troops for his
longtime friend Terry McAuliffe who appears to be on track to be elected
governor of Virginia three days from now. Ken Cuccinelli, McAuliffe`s Tea
Party opponent has energized the far right. This turned off women,
independents and swing voters in the process, and for the first time in 40
years, Virginians are poised to elect the governor from the same party as
the president. Equally stunning, Democrats could sweep all three offices
on the ballot in Virginia on Tuesday. Governor, lieutenant governor and
attorney general to add to the two U.S. Senate seats they already control.
If that happens, it will mark the first time since 1969 the dying days of
the Jim Crow South when segregation has led the Democratic Party. The
Democrats have held all five of those offices at once. And how are
Virginia Democrats making all of this party history? With an uninspiring
candidate at the top of their ticket. Calm, as Jonathan Shake described
McAuliffe earlier this year as quote "the Democrats have been dying to vote
against." He`s the consummate Washington insider, a millionaire bungler
who was crushed in the 2009 Democratic primary. Former congressman Tom
Davis, a Republican expressed his exasperation with his party in an
interview with "National Journal" this week. He said this should have been
a slam dunk, Virginia almost always votes against the president`s party.
All we needed was a mammal up there.
Well, fortunately, we happen to have former Congressman Tom Davis, a noted
mammal at the table with us today.
KORNACKI: So, congressman, just - can you tell us, what has happened to
your party and how is your party in Virginia interpreting and processing
what it has seen play out?
DAVIS: Well, first of all, we have gone to a convention nominating
process, which is a very exclusionary process.
KORNACKI: No primary, a convention .
DAVIS: Right. And it brings out the most conservative candidates. So,
you have a very conservative ticket. But what`s happened to Republicans is
they have become the issue. Traditionally in mid-term elections, it`s the
president`s party. And Virginia tends to be a contrary state on that, it
sends a message to Washington. It appears this election is all about the
Republican candidate who is upside down, his negatives for hire than
KORNACKI: So, let begin - just illustrate it a little bit. First of all,
look at the gender gap that exists. I have not seen a race horse this
stark. I mean this is among men, Cuccinelli, this is the "Washington Post"
poll, 45 to 44 among men. Cuccinelli up a point actually. Among women a
24-point lead for Terry McAuliffe among women. And here is a quote. This
is the one of the interviews from that - from that poll that sort of
illustrates where that`s coming from, here`s a woman, a 64-year-old female
voter from Virginia saying "I am not a fan of Terry McAuliffe. I think
he`s kind of a light weight. I would have preferred the stronger
candidate, but if he`s the only Democrat, he gets my vote. The devil
himself would be better on women`s issues than Ken Cuccinelli." Tom, I
guess - I guess, what I`m wondering, though, this to me seems like in
Virginia the ultimate test of what the Tea Party can do to the Republican
Party in a general election in a swing state. Virginia`s the ultimate
swing state, Terry McAuliffe is a very weak Democratic candidate. This is
an off year election. So the turn-out model should favor the Republican.
All these condition exist that should make this, you know, a winnable race
for Republicans. Like you say, the fact that Cuccinelli is going to lose
this, and maybe the whole ticket is going to lose this, is there any sign,
are you hearing any sign from the Republicans of rethinking their strategy,
rethinking that convention and more broadly rethinking the leaning on the
DAVIS: Well, I think, look, the party has become estranged from the
business base at this point. You have the Republican lieutenant governor
not endorsing Cuccinelli. A number of high profile Republicans not
supporting the ticket at this point. So, there is a lot of rethinking.
But remember the party is controlled by the nomination process, which
happens to be convention at this point. A very conservative central
committee. So for all of this I think it`s going to take a few years to
sort out. This is not going to sort out overnight. And look, the election
is not over. You`ve had about five polls in the last week with different
turnout models. This is really all about turnout. The real question is
what`s going to happen in the legislature, do Republican lose an
appreciable number of seats that they`ll hold it. Well, look, these are
different models. Chris Christie in New Jersey, winning in a blue state,
Virginia appears to be in peril.
So it says something about the future of the party?
FROST: Steve, the Republicans in Virginia are very slow learners. A few
years ago, they didn`t want Tom Davis to be their candidate for the United
States senate and so they refused to have a primary which Tom probably
would have won and they had the convention and produced a candidate who
couldn`t win. So what do they do? A few years later, they do exactly the
same thing. The elephant never forgets, but the elephant doesn`t learn
anything. I mean the problem is - and the other thing is that McAuliffe
and Tom and I have difference on this. McAuliffe has won - run a masterful
campaign. He absolutely hammered early on Cuccinelli on women`s issues,
particularly in the Washington, D.C., suburban, Northern Virginia market.
Never let him up off the map. Never let him get any footing. He has run a
KORNACKI: I want to pick up on that point, because that`s the other thing.
Dave, is that, we think of Virginia traditionally. How do you win Virginia
as a Democrat? You`ve got to sway the sort of conservative, you know,
rural voters in state, guns, and then maybe cultural issues. And that sort
of thing. And the Terry McAuliffe campaign really speaks to sort of the
steam coming out of the 2012 election we heard about, how the electorate in
Virginia and nationally is changing. And it`s a lot more liberal on
cultural issues now, and Terry McAuliffe has just - has come out and not
said, hey, don`t worry, I`m not too liberal. It`s - this guy is too
conservative. And that seems to be resonating.
WEIGEL: Here is an F-rating from the NRA, and Republicans are really
optimistic about what they can do to him, forgetting, I think that Barack
Obama and Tim Kaine had F-ratings from NRA and they won the state. Ken
Cuccinelli I saw in North Virginia on Monday, and part of his speech was
about coal, and the war on coal. Who in Northern Virginia .
WEIGEL: . care or thinks. If they think that there is a war on coal, it
does not prefer clean energy to call. If you look at the - where the vote
is shifting. It`s fun to compare a map, fun, I can`t (CROSSTALK), but you
know where I`m coming from.
KORNACKI: I think it`s fun.
WEIGEL: How Democrats, when they would lose Virginia, you know, 20 years
ago, they would take southwest Virginia. They now win the state and get
blown away there. It doesn`t matter. Because people don`t leave there,
like they are moving into Northern Virginia. And I want - in the
convention, case has come up that produced, that convention process
produced probably the worst candidate in North America this year, E.W.
Jackson, who just gave a good speech, won the nomination, then all .
KORNACKI: A lieutenant governor.
WEIGEL: Yes, so I - don`t know. They have to learn something from that.
There is always an tendency to spin. Now, they will probably try to blame
the libertarian for spoiling the vote.
KORNACKI: And I`ve heard that one.
WEIGEL: And the ties to the Johnny (ph), who went to the businessman and
the scandal with Governor McDonnell. But in the Republican convention in
Virginia, of course, also gave us Oliver North 20 years ago. There is a
tradition. But there`s also another race on Tuesday I want to get up,
because I think this has become - these names probably won`t mean anything
to folks out there. But in Alabama, there is a special election, the
Republican primary and a special election in a very Republican district to
replace a member of Congress who just left. So these are the two
candidates. Dean Young and Bradley Byrne. You see up on the screen. Now,
why does this mean to me? Because this is the first test after the
shutdown of sort of the Republican establishment versus the Tea Party win.
Bradley Byrne, a former Democrat, like a lot of former Democrats in Alabama
is involved in the Republican Party, sort of the establishment candidate
and Dean Young the unabashed Tea Party candidate. And this is - there are
national sort of Republican groups that have from both sides that have
poured into this race now in the last week. And this is really a test,
Governor Whitman, I think of where -- if anything has changed in your party
nationally and especially among the base of the party in the wake of the
shutdown, and the disaster that was for Republicans.
WHITMAN: Well, I think as you defined the base today, it probably hasn`t
changed much. Because the base, we are looking at a very small plurality
of people. I mean, is it all going to come down to turnout? The average
voter turnout of primaries in this country is ten percent. So we, by
definition, you leave it to the most partisan who tend to be people who
have single issues. And they tend to be far left or far right. And that`s
really what`s the base problem here is trying to get people to understand a
vote. And you`ve got to start voting in primaries. You`ve got some vote
in these elections. But right now, there are so many Republicans. The
fastest growing demographic on registration is the independent. Not
Republican, not Democrat. Both parties are losing. Republicans are losing
more than Democrats, but it`s happening to the Democrats. Because people
are saying, a pox on both of your houses. I suspect in this kind of a
race, the most energized people will be the Tea Party people.
KORNACKI: And if that happens, that will re-enforce .
FROST: The Republican base in the South is the crazy rank. I mean this is
a Southern state. Of course, the Tea Party candidate is going to run
strong. That`s their base in those states. Now, in other states, you can
argue that the establishment might be able to really mount a campaign
against the Tea Party candidate. It`s awfully hard in a Southern state.
KORNACKI: So let`s. This is one to watch on Tuesday. We`re going to have
Virginia. We`re going to have New Jersey and here New York City. But this
is one to watch. Tom, quickly.
DAVIS: It is an urban district. It`s a Southern district. But it`s an
urban district. So, this is a good test. (INAUDIBLE) was a more modern
establishment candidate before him, Sonny Callahan, before him Jack
Edwards. So, but look. It`s in the South. So it sort of gives the Tea
Party group some advantage.
KORNACKI: But this is so - just folks, keep an eye on this one Tuesday
night. Because this is a very good test about where the Republican Party
is post-shutdown. Anyway, a Ken Cuccinelli campaign event is also causing
problems for another Republican in another state who has designs on
national office. We will tell you who that is after this.
KORNACKI: You may have heard by now, our friends over at the Rachel Maddow
Show discovered something a little unusual about the United States Senator
speech this week, prompting another TV host to do some of his own digging.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT": Oh, oh, just because he and Wikipedia use
the same words, Rand Paul is a plagiarist?
COLBERT: You don`t know that. Maybe Rand Paul wrote the Wikipedia entry
on (INAUDIBLE)? I mean, for Pete`s sake, I don`t know what else they do in
COLBERT: And how dare, Rachel Maddow, how dare you besmirch this man`s
good name? Rand Paul is not a plagiarist. He is the junior United States
senator for Kentucky .
COLBERT: He is the member of the Republican Party, a graduate of the Duke
University School of Medicine, Paul began practicing ophthalmology in
Bowling Green, Kentucky. So show a little bit of respect, Rachel Maddow.
COLBERT: I mean who the hell do you think you are? An American television
host, political commentator and author?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: We are going to talk about the long storied tradition of
political plagiarism. We`re going to try to avoid using Wikipedia. So
stay with us.
KORNACKI: On Monday Senator Rand Paul campaigned with Virginia`s
Republican candidate for governor and joined Ken Cuccinelli at a rally at
Jerry Falwell`s Liberty University in Lynchburg in very red western part of
the state. It`s common practice for a nationally known political figure to
drop in and help a candidate out, especially in the winning days of the
campaign. But one person Rand Paul didn`t help at that Cuccinelli campaign
event was himself. The Tea Party senator apparently lifted several lines
of his speech directly from Wikipedia. That night, our friend Rachel
Maddow reported exclusively that Paul speech took language word for word
from a Wikipedia entry about the 1997 sci-fi film "Gattaca." Why Gattaca,
you ask? Something about genetic testing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R - KY): In the movie Gattaca, in not too distant future,
eugenics is common and DNA plays the primary role in determining your
RACHEL MADDOW, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: The weird thing about that line from
Senator Paul`s speech today "In the not too distant futures eugenics is
common and DNA plays a primary role in determining your social class" is
that that line appears almost verbatim in the Wikipedia entry on Gattaca,
"in the not too distant future, liberal eugenics is common, and DNA plays
the primary role in determining social class."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And on Wednesday, Paul denied any allegations of plagiarism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Well, we borrowed the plot lines from Gattaca. It`s a movie. And I
gave credit to the people who wrote the movie. Nothing I said was not
given attribution to where it came from. I talked about a movie "Gattaca."
It is a copyrighted movie by the screenwriters. And I gave every bit of
credit to where that plot line came from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But as the week went on, the story got worse for Senator Paul.
BuzzFeed discovered that he used lines straight from the Wikipedia page of
another movie, "Stand and Deliver" earlier this year. Politico then found
two more instances of alleged plagiarism in speeches by Paul, one at mass
language from the Associated Press and the other speech the senator gave at
Howard University, in which he appeared to take passages from the magazine
of a social conservative group. By Thursday the adviser to the Senator
told Politico that "going forward, Paul will be more cautious in presenting
and attributing sources." So, I have to say there is - that we have some
interesting examples here from the past.
But when I always think when you think of political plagiarism, I always
think of Joe Biden, Neil Kinnock, the British Labor Party leader in 1987,
sort of appropriating this very inspiring story of how government sort of
helped lift him and lift his family up. You take that - you almost watch
that and say I know why somebody would plagiarize. That is such a good
speech. And now we`re talking about a guy who plagiarized Wikipedia on
"Gattaca" and "Stand and Deliver." I mean, Dave, is this - what is this
going to do - how does this - what`s the fallout here for Rand Paul from
WEIGEL: I honestly think it does helps him, that it came first from this
network. I mean you can go into a Republican rally anywhere in the country
and mention that you were attacked by Rachel Maddow. And they will
applaud. No matter what it`s for. I can see somebody, you know,
weaponizing it later on, but one example of how angry it made Republicans
in the state, Rand Paul is going to speak at the final Cuccinelli rally
before voting on Tuesday. I mean Paul didn`t - I think he - we need to
wait and see, but because this was not a particular author, because the
Wikipedia things were just a bunch of high-minded writers on the Internet,
I don`t think that the basis is going to get very angry about him. It will
be - but the problem with him, it`s not a problem, it`s just - he`s not a
can speech guy. He likes - he likes to rip on things, he likes to put what
he has just learned into. If you look at his filibuster, for example, he
likes to put what he just read.
KORNACKI: Copy and paste what he just read.
WEIGEL: He was given enough credit. But he`s not a guy who repeats the
same line. In this case, it bit him a bit. And I think it`s going to bite
him, if he runs for another office. It`s going to bite him that he loves
FROST: Steve, it`s more than that, though. This is not ready for prime
time stuff. This indicates poor staff work. If he`s going to be a
national candidate, he has got to have good staff and he`s got to be very
careful. And if he uses something from someone else, he needs to properly
attribute it. This guy is not quite ready for prime time.
KORNACKI: I want to share, this is - we`re looking for some past examples
of sort of blatant plagiarism. This was the favorite, my favorite one of
what we came up with. This was an Idaho Republican primary in 2010, the
Tea Party, Republican primary for Congress, and you had this candidate
Vaughn Ward who is running, and this was his announcement speech that was
very similarly to somebody else`s speech. You will see here in a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We stand on the
crossroads of history.
VAUGHN WARD: And we stand on the crossroads of history.
OBAMA: We can make the right choices and meet the challenges that face us.
WARD: I know we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that
lay before us.
OBAMA: If you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same
passion that I do.
WARD: If you feel the same urgency and the same passion that I do.
OBAMA: Then I have no doubts .
WARD: Look, I have no doubts.
OBAMA: The people will rise up in November.
WARD: That our voices will be heard in November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, I mean I love this one, because this is the Tea Party
candidate appropriating Barack Obama`s speech as his own, it`s - just being
incredibly sloppy. He had a whole bunch of different explanations for
this, there were also, it turned out, 15 paragraphs that were lifted from a
Pennsylvania Republican congressman in that same speech. He ended up
losing the primary to Raul Labrador. You might have heard of actually -
winning the primary win and seat. But I mean you guys have been in
politics. Does this - how easy is it for this stuff to happen? I mean you
just hated the speech .
WHITMAN: First of all, there is a real difference between taking an entire
speech or most of a speech and a line or two from a Wikipedia, because that
is ubiquitous. And everybody knows that people get in there, write all
sorts - how do you attribute it? I mean you say, Wikipedia, but you don`t
know who wrote that. So, I think - well, and I don`t - may not agree with
Rand Paul on a lot of things, but this one I think he is being overly
attacked. But it does speak to the speech writers. He doesn`t write all
the speeches. And the speech writers have got to be more careful. But the
time and he gets into trouble in my mind as denying and defending.
KORNACKI: Well, so - look.
WHITMAN: We made a mistake.
KORNACKI: When you - when you - I assume you know, you have been handed
speeches for the House floor for political events. Does it go through your
head like, you know, geez, am I sure this is all original material? Do you
talk to your stuff about that .
DAVIS: When you go so many - I mean we have to give so many speeches,
sometimes, five, six, seven in a day. The candidate doesn`t have to - for
Rand Paul, this is a warning, this is kind of a warning shot. I don`t
think there is any harm in this. You know, after a movie review. But at
the end of the day, he`s going to be under stricter scrutiny. He has got
to have to up his game.
FROST: It also goes to people start checking your bio. When you mistakes
like this, because some candidates have been disqualified because they
claimed to have served in Vietnam when they didn`t, I`m not saying that
Rand Paul has done anything like that. But then it encourages reporters to
start digging in to everything he`s ever put in print to see if it`s true.
KORNACKI: And the other thing, too, is you think, that earlier this year,
remember, Dave, there was the whole controversy with Rand Paul. It was the
southern avenger. That was the guy who`d ghost-written this book. And
Paul wouldn`t just deal with it and disassociate himself. He kept him --
it turned into a much bigger story than it was. There is sort of strains
of that here as well.
WEIGEL: No, he is a very proud guy. And he really does, I`m using this in
defense of him. He`s an interesting member of the Senate. Because as soon
as he`s trying to top that it`s interesting, he plows through - and he
plows through kind of quickly. I mean he tries to gain expertise pretty
fast. But if we talk about him as a presidential candidate or a standard
bearer for libertarianism, that is the kind of thing that mows you down.
That`s when more of the press is interested in you. You`re just -
Congressman Frost is referring to the compounding factor. That happened to
Joe Biden in `87, he just doesn`t credit Neil Kinnock and people look back
into his college records. And that`s the kind of thing - Paul - I think
Paul is a really good libertarian member of the Senate, but once the - with
the presidential level, I don`t know how he survived that.
KORNACKI: Well, if there are like residuals for the writers and directors
of the movie the "Gattaca."
KORNACKI: They owe Rand Paul, because they may have got some Netflix hit -
anyway - it is a lie that is alive again, but now it`s on live support.
Two new twists this week in the saga of the immigration reform. We will
tell you if it`s actually closer to happening now. That`s next.
KORNACKI: After Mitt Romney`s defeat in the 2012 presidential election, in
which, among other demographic failures he took only 27 percent of the
Latino vote, it became clear to national Republican leaders, in a changing
America, you need to reach out beyond the party`s older, wider and more
male base. At least it briefly became clear. In the wake of that
election, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a rising GOP star with Tea Party
appeal and 2016 aspirations became the face of bipartisan immigration
reform. They helped shepherd a bill through the Senate this past June.
In the face of an outcry from the right that bill has languished in the
house since then, Rubio has gotten quieter and quieter until this week they
told a conservative site that he is no longer pushing his own bill that the
House should instead pass a much less ambitious series of piecemeal
reforms. It definitely sounded like the official demise of comprehensive
immigration reform, but then this happened, three House Republicans signed
on this week as co-sponsors of the Democratic bill in the House, the bill
that closely mirrors the Senate`s blue print. But if that will translate
into new meaningful momentum for reform is an open question, more House
Republicans will need to face down the same interparty pressure and put
their name on a Democratic plan. And just putting their names on it may
not be enough, not if House Republican leadership refuses to put the bill
up for a vote.
So try to figure out where we stand here. Martin, what is the status right
now of immigration reform in getting it through any time in the near
FROST: Immigration reform is the meanest, toughest issue Congress ever has
to deal with. It makes Social Security reform look like a walk in the
park. It is hard, hard to pass. And I`m skeptical that they can get
KORNACKI: What makes it so hard? I mean is it as simple as the Republican
base that we keep talking about has its heels dogging on this, and
Republican lawmakers are just scared of the primary challenge that comes
WHITMAN: Well, I think both sides. I mean remember, 2002, the Bush
administration sent am immigration bill up to the House, to the Hill. And
he had a Senate version pass, and a House verse pass. They never even
appointed the conference committee because it was 2002, and everybody -
each side wanted to use it against the other, this issue, in that election.
And real people get hurt. This is what has got to stop. We`ve got to
start thinking about not politics, but policy.
KORNACKI: But we see the story, really, the story - but also, the later in
the Bush administration, the story was - there was a real bipartisan push
for immigration reform that sort of - it was sort of the beginnings of the
Tea Party in hindsight that we saw in 2006.
DAVIS: I was in - in 2006 and `7. We had passed a bill out of each House,
and I guess there was no way to reconcile it. But look, the Democrats held
off on a discharge petition. Now they`re putting it forward, because
Republicans haven`t been able to come up with a product. And you are
finding one Republican, another Republican, another Republican, another
Republican. You will have a few from these swing districts. Republican
moderates were just put out, cut out to dry, left out there on this
government shutdown. They`re paying a price for that. They`ve got to do
some making --
KORNACKI: So, what is the key - what is behind? So we have three
Republicans who sign on with the Democratic plan, which is like the Senate
plan. Is that - how do we read this? Is this just Republicans who want to
be able to tell their local newspaper, oh, yes, see, yeah, I put my name on
it and that`s it - or these are Republicans who are willing to go far and
maybe eventually sign a discharge petition, something like that. How
meaningful is this?
WEIGEL: Well, these are Republicans whose districts are - have enough of a
Hispanic vote to endanger them to fail if they vote or go against this.
They are seen as joining a Republican effort to stop this bill. Jeff Adams
(ph) in California, where there is kind of - there is all - the runoff
primary, so he has ungrateful faith unless he gets Democratic votes. I
don`t see Republicans worrying about them starting a trend. Honestly, the
thing that made me think immigration reform has enough of chance is that
you saw Lindsey Graham come up this week, demand more Benghazi interviews.
And Lindsey Graham used to have his union young and balanced. He needs to
have something he is going after administration, tooth and claw on, while
he`s working on something that`s going to make the administration look
KORNACKI: When he`s about to compromise, he calls for impeachment or is
FROST: Don`t forgive that we went down this road. I was in Congress in
the 1980s, when we passed Simpson and Mazzoli.
KORNACKI: The `86 reform.
FROST: And it was a big flop. And a lot of people remember, what we tried
to legislate on this subject. We had a hard time getting anything passed.
We ultimately got it passed. And it didn`t solve the problem. I think a
lot of - there is a lot of historical memory here, and if I was still in
Congress, I`d be for immigration reform. I think it`s the right thing to
do. I think there is a lot of resistance.
KORNACKI: Well, let`s play - this is what Marco Rubio. We talked about
him, sort of really backing office - big news. Let`s just listen to what
he - this is how he explained it at the start of this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL): I also don`t think it`s realistic to believe
that the House is just going to take up and pass whatever the Democrats and
the Senate are demanding. And so, I think that there are many things on
immigration that we can agree on. And I think we should move on those and
make progress on those issues. And there are a handful that we have no
consensus on in this country yet. And those issues may have to be, you
know, delayed at some point, until we can reach a consensus on how to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVIS: If the House does nothing on this thing, it`s going to come back to
haunt them in the mid-terms. Right now the mid-terms are their oyster.
You are looking around at a great Senate lineup in terms of picking up
Senate seats. You traditionally pick up seats in the House, but if the
House becomes the issue, you will wake the sleeping giant here with the
Hispanic vote and immigrant votes in general. The Republicans at least
have to (inaudible). They I don`t have to get (inaudible), but they have
to pass a work product that`s seen as not anti-immigrant.
KORNACKI: That`s why the Rubio thing seems so significant. Marco Rubio
doesn`t feel safe being associated -- like he sort of took a step out there
at the end - after the last election, where it was like this is where the
party wants to go now, it`s seen the error of its ways. Now Marco Rubio,
you can see the political calculation, I`m going to lead them there. He`s
retreating a year later. That tells me the Republican Party is nowhere --
is not at all different now than it was pre-election 2012. And maybe the
attitudes have hardened, even.
WHITMAN: It`s not a good sign, I agree with you, but on the other hand,
he`s a pragmatist. And if he`s saying, look, we can get some things done
and at least move this forward a little bit, that is better than nothing.
FROST: Remember, Rubio is a young, still inexperienced United States
senator. And there have been a lot of fits and starts during his career so
far. This is a guy who hasn`t quite figured it out.
KORNACKI: And what, today this idea of the piecemeal solution, also is
there any -- would Democrats be interested in that at all at this point? Or
is it we want a comprehensive plan or we want nothing at this point?
WEIGEL: They`re not interested in piecemeal. And when conservatives who
want this bill talk about Rubio, they try to say he was going for a nuance,
he was trying to say that the House needs to move first. I asked him this
on Tuesday. He just said, look, my position is the House needs to move
first. You can`t have the Senate pass a bunch of piecemeal bills and get
to the conference. You need to see what comes out of the House first. But
no, until it is proven completely, I think what they need to see is that
Paul Ryan bails on this. One of the hopes they still maintain is Paul
Ryan, who maybe wants to run for president, who certainly wants to balance
the budget at some point, still wants an immigration bill that is serious
enough to do that. They`re not going to piecemeal yet.
FROST: Members of Congress only want to vote once on this subject. It has
to be a comprehensive bill.
KORNACKI: OK, what do we know now that we did not know last week? Our
panel will tell you right after this.
KORNACKI: Time to find out what our guests know now they didn`t know when
the week began. Governor Whitman, we`ll start with you.
WHITMAN: I didn`t realize Mitt Romney had quite the sense of humor he had.
(inaudible) all the nicknames he gave his potential vice presidential
candidates, that was an eye opener.
KORNACKI: I don`t think Chris Christie would appreciate his sense of
humor, based on some of the things (inaudible).
KORNACKI: Congressman Frost.
FROST: Once again, I want Tom Davis on my trivia team, not against him.
When we teamed up a couple of years ago, we won a trivia contest in
KORNACKI: There you go, and the reigning champion, Congressman?
DAVIS: There`s a series of elections, you know of course about New Jersey
and Virginia, you talked about the Alabama special. There`s a state senate
election in Washington state that is going to determine control of the
state senate. Not partisan control but operational control out there.
Everybody`s going to look for trends about who the winners and losers are,
and everybody will have bragging rights after Tuesday, both parties.
KORNACKI: All right. Dave.
WEIGEL: We know I think that the next Republican move against Obamacare
will be another stab at the navigators. At the end of the week,
Republicans in the House were saying we need to investigate whether these
navigators are a plot by unions to accrue more power. So Republicans will
keep maneuvering for ways to make the implementation of Obamacare hard.
That`s - the lesson they took from this week was not (inaudible).
KORNACKI: And I know, Tom Davis, I am in awe because Rush Holt, I have to
tell you upstairs, we did a little betting odds this morning, Rush Holt,
the five-time Jeopardy champion, the guy who beat Watson, was the big
favorite and you defeated him. So congratulations to you, sir. Thank you
all for playing and for being good sports. Thank you for being on the
show. Thanks to Governor Christie Todd Whitman, former Congressmen Martin
Frost and Tom Davis and Slate`s Dave Weigel. Appreciate you getting up
this morning, and thank you for joining us today for "UP." For tomorrow`s
show, they call him the Jon Stewart of Egypt. What Asam Yusef (ph) tells
us about U.S./Egypt relations and the importance of a free society. Up
next is Melissa Harris-Perry. Today`s MHP, the all-out assault on women
from Texas to Oklahoma to Wisconsin, whose bodies continue to be subject to
control by legislation. And in some pockets of the Republican Party, signs
of a backlash. That and the latest on the fact and fiction when it comes
to Obamacare. That`s next on MHP, and we`ll see you right here tomorrow at
8:00. Thanks for getting up.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copyright 2013 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
UP with STEVE KORNACKI