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'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

November 16, 2013
Guest: : Shawna Thomas, Sarah Kliff, Brian Beutler, Robert Costa, Rep.
Steve Cohen, Richard Tisei, Evan McMorris-Santoro, Robert Costa, Susan
Page, Glynnis MacNicol

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: The White House has bought itself some time,
but how much?

At the start of what is a raw miserable rainy Saturday morning here in New
York, we find ourselves thinking about patience, about whether Democrats
will have the fortitude to stick it out and stand behind the president for
however long it takes to get the Affordable Care Act implemented even if
his numbers and if their numbers get worse.

We`re thinking about this week`s culmination of a two decade quest for
three same-sex couples in Hawaii to get married. It was a quest that
kicked off a national debate. It was a lot different back then than it is
today. We`re also thinking about patience among other virtues that takes
to have other people in your personal space.

Roommate, eat all your cereal, leave dishes in the sink, hug the TV in the
living room. We may too also happen to be members of Congress. More on
that in a little while.

And of course, we`re thinking about whether patience is the best strategy
on "Up Against the Clock." Should you wait for the entire question to be
read or should you listen to your gut, buzz in early, and go for that
critical edge against your opponents, another exciting edition of that "Up
Against the Clock" game is ahead.

But first, you probably remember this scene. It was late in the night of
March 21st, 2010, it was a Sunday night. A vote on final passage of the
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obamacare they now call it in
the House of Representatives. This was the decisive vote. It had already
cleared the Senate.

It had survived the last minute controversy over abortion coverage. And
now, finally after decades, after generations of false starts and dead
ends, here was the vote. Will the bill pass and make it to President
Obama`s desk? And yes, it did pass, 219 to 212. You see the final tally
right there. It passed with every single Republican in the chamber. All
178 of them back then voting against it.

It passed with 34 Democrats, some of them blue dog conservative Democrats
who were philosophically opposed to the concept of Obamacare, some of them
just Democrats who were scared of paying a political price for voting for.
It passed with 34 of those Democrats voting no. There was a buzz in the
air in the House chamber that night. National Health Care had been a dream
of the Democratic Party since Harry Truman`s presidency, and that was about
to become reality.

Republicans were excited for a different reason. They`d spent the last
year screaming and shouting about a government takeover of health care,
about socialized medicine, about death panels, and they watched President
Obama`s popularity drop every step of the way. And now, with this, with
the reality of Obamacare, they believe they had the perfect weapon for the
2010 midterm campaign and they were right.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The sounding victory for Republicans on election
night disappointing outcome for Democrats following a bruising campaign
season for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The GOP needed to pick up 39 seats to regain control of
the House. As of right now, they gained 59 and that number is expected to
rise --


KORNACKI: And that number did rise. And the thing is it really didn`t
matter how individual Democrats had voted on Obamacare. Seventeen of those
34 who voted no lost their seats anyway in November 2010. Some of them
didn`t even bother to try. When they looked up and they saw the GOP tidal
wave coming, they stepped aside and they decided to not run for re-lection.

But all those dozens of other Democrats who stood in the House that night
in March, steered down the Republican attacks, the warning of political
suicide, who voted to make the Affordable Care Act a law and who then lost
their jobs and lost their political careers because of it, the day after
that 2010 landslide, Nancy Pelosi said that they were actually OK with
their fates.

For one reason, an interview, she said, well, what they had said to me on
the phone is they are very proud of what they have done. They know, for
example, in passing health care, Wall Street reform and other initiatives,
that they`ve done what is right for the American people, special pride in
the health care bill because it`s so historic.

And one of them said it more, most eloquently, that similar sentiment
expressed by others, she said, if I have to go into another line of work
because I voted to give this opportunity for health care for Americans, so
be it. I`m proud of what I`ve done. That`s the point of what happened in
2010, with Democrats, without the support of a single Republican, an act of
the Affordable Care Act.

That`s the point of what happened when they stuck together, stuck with the
law in the 2011, in 2012, when the new Republican House majority called
dozens, dozens of votes to repeal it. When they stuck together as
Republicans fought it all the way to the Supreme Court, when Republicans
told Americans in the fall of 2012, if you don`t like this law, well,
here`s your chance to get rid of it once and for all. Just vote against
the Democrats. Just vote for us.

The Democrats survived all of that, their law. Obamacare survived all
that. And still, to this day, Republicans continue to oppose that law
uniformly and unanimously. You have to go all the way aback to before the
civil war to the days of the Kansas-Nebraska Act to find the law that once
adopted by Congress and signed by a president was continuously unanimously
attacked, litigated and fought for as long as Republicans have now
attacked, litigated and fought the Affordable Care Act.

And now, well now, Republicans have some new ammunition. They have some
real political ammunition. The former launch of Obamacare was October 1st,
the opening of signups for the exchanges. And since then, the rollout has
been an unmitigated disaster. The website problems were, the website
problems are, bad enough.

The president`s admission that the claim he made in selling the law back in
2010, the promise that everyone who liked their policy could keep their
policy did not end up being accurate. It`s given him and is given this law
a real credibility problem. And you can see in the numbers this week, 39
percent, Obama`s new approval rating in the Quinnipiac poll, the lowest
mark of his entire presidency.

Majority of Americans, 52 percent saying he`s not honest or trustworthy.
That`s another first to his presidency. Only 40 percent approving of
Obamacare and 55 percent disapproving. That`s why this week started was
talk of a Democratic revolt against the White House and its signature law.
Bill Clinton kicked it off. He said the law should be changed to guarantee
that people can keep their current plans if they want.

Democrats started getting on board, not just the usual red state suspects,
the liberals like Dianne Feinstein and Jeff Merkley. House Republicans put
their own bill together. The talk was ramping. Democrats would break in
big numbers. Someway, somehow, the Affordable Care Act was about to be
changed in a serious way, way that might well jeopardizes long-term future.

That was the back drop for what was an amazing spectacle on Thursday
morning. The President of the United States fielding one hostile question
after another, heaping blame on himself, on his team, saying whatever he
could say to take the heat off Congressional Democrats and to keep them
from revolting and killing the law that he and the entire Democratic Party
had already paid such a steep price to enact and maintain.


failure to the rollout the ACA smoothly has put a burden on Democrats,
whether they`re running or not. I also do feel an obligation to everybody
out there who supported this effort. You know, when we don`t do a good job
on the rollout, we`re letting them down.


KORNACKI: And for now, it seems to have worked. The Republican plan
passed the House on Friday. The 39 skittish Democrats went along with it.
Thirty-nine is not a small number, but it is a lot less. Democrats were
fearing earlier in the week. And that Republican bill is going nowhere in
the Senate where a momentum for the plan that Mary Landrieu and Feinstein
and a few other Democrats put together also now seem stalled.

The president has bought himself some time. He`s bought his law some time.
He`s reminded Democrats just how deeply they and their party as a whole are
invested in seeing this law through, in making it work. But while the fix
that Obama announced this week is far less disruptive than anything on the
table in Congress, could it still harm the Affordable Care Act? And how
much time has he and have Democrats really bought themselves?

Here to discuss all of this, we have Sarah Kliff. She`s a health care
policy reporter at the "Washington Post". Robert Costa, he`s the D.C.
editor at the "National View" and a contributor with CNBC`s "Kudlow Report"
and soon he will be heading to the "Washington Post." Congratulations on
that. Brian Beutler, political writer at, NBC News White House
producer, Shawna Thomas.

So, I want to start with what happened in the House yesterday in this vote,
Shawna, because we were hearing predictions Wednesday and Thursday. Fred
Upton who authored this plan in the House that supported the Affordable
Care Act say would essentially have gutted the Affordable Care Act if it
had passed. We`re hearing predictions that maybe 50, 75, 100 Democrats
would break and support this thing.

There might be momentum for the Senate. In that context, 39 seem like a
pretty small number, a pretty imaginable number. I imagine the White House
is happy about this. What happened to bring it about?

SHAWNA THOMAS, NBC NEWS: Well, we had this week happen, which was the
Democrats went to chief of staff, Denis McDonough and behind closed doors
complained and complained loudly and said that if you don`t figure out some
way to do this, we, looking towards 2014, are going to have to support a
bill like this.

We`re going to have to support something, because people on that, or at the
very least, the media is finding all of those stories and they`re on the
front pages and they`re the first story running in the A-block of nightly
news. So, behind closed doors, they were reassured that the White House is
going to do something.

Jay Carney came out before the president did and said sooner or later, the
president is going to say something this week. And so, the president tried
to preempt the Upton plan. And that`s what he did to try to give some of
the Democrats cover.

KORNACKI: So, this -- Sarah, maybe you could explain specifically then
because we have all sorts of different, you know, ideas, of fixes floating
around, but what the president basically did, it`s an administrative fix.
And the idea is that if you already have your plan, you can keep your plan
for a year, for two years. I`ve heard -- explain exactly what the fix is.
And then, also, -- the question is out there. Does this mean anything? Is
it actually implementable?

SARAH KLIFF, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. There`s a lot of concern among
insurance regulators right now about -- you announced this. You gave us
absolutely no heads up. How do we do this? But to go back to what this
actually is, the president is giving insurance companies the option to
extend the plans for an extra year. So, if you, for example, have a plan
that starts in April 2014, you will now be able to renew that through April
2015. If your insurance regulator says it`s OK and if your insurance
company sides (ph), that`s a good business decision. So, there`s two
really big hurdle.

KORNACKI: But it sound like neither of those things -- I`m seeing reports
from around -- I think I saw one in Rhode Island this morning that says the
insurance commissioner (INAUDIBLE) says, no, we`re not going to do this.
So, it sounds like this is maybe almost like an academic fix.

KLIFF: Yes. There`s three states already, Washington, Vermont, and Rhode
Island, who`ve said it`s way too late in the game to make this change. We
think this is bad for the Affordable Care Act. We weren`t consulted. I
was talking to Washington States insurance commissioner yesterday who was
literally at the gym when this was happening. He had no heads up.

He rushed into his office. There`s an emergency meeting of all the
insurance commissioners yesterday. They were totally taken off guard and
they`re not very sure whether they can make this work or not.

KORNACKI: So explain, Brian, maybe exactly, what people were talking about
here? Are we talking about people who have planes, who are getting
cancellations, this is like a window that popped up after the law was
passed in 2010 and before it went into effect this year. These were plans
that were sold in that time that are considered substandard under the new
law. These are the people we`re talking about here?

BRIAN BEUTLER, SALON.COM: It`s a large group of those people and it`s also
a group of people who had plans prior to the passages of law. But then the
insurance company since the passage of the law have tweaked them, have
raised premiums, or made other changes to the benefits of those plans that
the grandfathering regulations of the law said if you do that to, you know,
beyond a certain extent, those plans are no longer eligible under the
Affordable Care Act.

So, you have -- nobody really knows the exact number, but it`s estimated
between somewhere, I think, three and five million people have been or will
be getting these letters and I think it`s an open question how many of
those people will not get letters in the weeks ahead and will be able to go
back to their insurance companies or the insurance companies go back to
them say, actually, if you want that back, you can have it, but here are
your other options in the exchanges.

KORNACKI: So, that`s the question I have, where did this go from here if
Democrats are not defecting right now and detecting big numbers yesterday,
so this Upton bill doesn`t go anywhere in the senate. If there`s no
momentum on the Senate side for Democrats to pass something and reconcile
with the House. If there`s no legislative fix on the horizon here, what
happens to those people getting cancellation notices right now?

Is this really just the question that they got to get this website up and
running and then these people are fine or is there any other solution for
those people out there?

BEUTLER: Well, I think there`s a huge imperative to open up the
bottlenecks, so there are people -- I mean, a lot of people, I think, will
go back to their insurers and say I want that plan back. And the insurers
will have to say, OK, well, we`re deciding what to do, but if you want it,
here`s your other options and the exchanges.

But if they can`t go on the exchanges, then you have a situation and they
never get that fixed. You have a situation where you might have fewer
people enrolled and got cancelled and that seems like it`s a very untenable
situation. That`s when you might get Democrats, offering Republicans` view
to approve majorities to make big changes to the law.

KORNACKI: And so, Robert, what are Republicans thinking right now in the
wake of that vote yesterday, because again -- Upton was out in the middle
of this week. He seemed to be channeling a lot of optimism on their part
that they`ve sort of broken the Democrats on this. And we see 39 come
across, you only have 34 defections in 2010, 39 on this.

It seems like they didn`t get the kind of defections they were looking for.
Has that changed their thinking about -- what`s their mindset now in the
wake of yesterday?

ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, when I was at the capitol on Friday,
I feel like Republicans are just kind of surprise at how this is all in
fold in. The party has been in disarray since the 2012 election, and they
went through the shutdown and fiscal standoff in the fall where the party
was fighting and fighting each other and how they somehow find themselves
in a politically solid position, actually, climbing in the polls.

And so, this Upton bill, for example, it was really just a messaging bill
that was hopefully going to get some votes, maybe not going to even come to
the floor. They`re just trying to figure out a strategy right now in the
new political climate after the president`s press conference with this new
reality, how to move forward. And I don`t think they really have settled
on what an alternative to offer and really champion in 2014.

They`ve settled on a legislative fix strategy. Right now, they`re stuck at
messaging. But right now, behind the closed doors, they`re trying to come
up with something, the next step.

KORNACKI: OK. We`ll talk a little bit more about that with a member of
Congress. We have Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, who was critical
earlier this week but ended up being one of those votes against the Upton
plan yesterday. He`s going to join us live after this. We`ll talk to him
in a second.



OBAMA: I`m just going to keep on working as hard as I can around the
priorities that the American people care about. And I think it`s
legitimate for them to expect me to have to win back some credibility on
this health care law in particular and on a whole range of these issues in
general. And, you know, that`s on me. I mean, we fumbled the rollout on
this health care law.


KORNACKI: On Thursday, on the eve of that vote in the House on Fred
Upton`s (INAUDIBLE) with 39 Democratic defections, I want to bring in
Democratic congressman, Steve Cohen of Tennessee. He joins us live this
morning from Memphis. Congressman, I appreciate you taking the time.

So, the headline, I guess, coming out of that vote yesterday is the
Democratic revolt that everybody was talking about all week didn`t really
materialize with only 39 defections, but when you look at the fix that the
president`s put forward, we were talking about a little bit in the last
segment, you have state health insurance commissioners right now who are
basically baulking at the idea of implementing this.

You had a meeting of insurers at the White House yesterday. The insurers
walking away saying we`re not sure we really want to, you know, take part
in this so it seems unclear at this moment that this is actually going to
address the problem that created this whole crisis this week. How
confident are you this morning that what the president outlined this week
as an administrative fix is actually going to get the job done?

REP. STEVE COHEN, (D) TENNESSEE: Well, I think the real problem is getting
the website up. And when the website starts to work, people will be able
to see that their insurance will be better and at better rates with going
into the exchanges.

And right now, the people under their policies canceled might not realize
how weak a coverage they have and how much better coverage they can have
and they might desire it. But right now, they really can`t do it in many
states -- the most states --


KORNACKI: It sounds to me, I`m sorry, but it sounds to me like you`re
almost saying yesterday`s vote was almost about -- the administrative fix
is more about buying time to get the website up and running, because that`s
when people getting cancellation notices will really get a good deal and
you don`t want to do anything right now.

That`s going to disrupt the law once the website is up and running. Was
this really just about buying time? Is that the purpose of this
administrative fix?

COHEN: I don`t think it was. I think he was trying to respond to the
outcry of the Democratic caucus. The Democrats who voted for this and the
Democrats, in general, remember member 2010, we lost a lot of our good
friends. We lost our majority in 2010. Now, you quoted someone who said
and who`s valid, it was worth it.

But is it worth it? We`ve had the worst Congress in history going on now
doing nothing and trying to repeal so many of the great things that
American Congress in the past have passed. This effort, the Republican
Congress, we need to get the Democrats back in and we have a slim hope of
getting control in 2014, getting a minimum wage, creating jobs, helping the
environment, getting some things done, and we can`t do that if we`ve got
another 2010 facing us.

Right now, the idea of (INAUDIBLE), you can keep it, that`s going to be a
clause that`s going to come back, and it`s probably going to haunt us in
November of 2014. This was an attempt to get us beyond that, but to help
the Democrats have something they can vote for. The president would like
this fix to work.

But if it doesn`t work, it`s going to be clear, it`s not because of the
Affordable Care Act. It`s because of insurance companies and insurance
regulators and others. It`s not because of the Affordable Care Act.

COSTA: Congressman, Robert Costa here, 39 Democrats voted for the Upton
bill on Friday, but how high could that number has been? How many
Democrats in the cloak room are uneasy right now with this implementation

COHEN: I think a lot. Just about every Democrat is. The rollout has been
horrendous and all of us just are -- can`t understand how that can happen.
We had three years to get it prepared. We can`t understand why there
wasn`t anybody that saw there was going to be -- not going to work and
delayed it. The mood in the caucus this week was really strong.

The message was taken back to the president. The 39 votes, I wasn`t
surprised. Most of them were blue dogs, a lot from California where a lot
of notices have gone out. And they were defensive measures. The bill is
not going to go anywhere. But the mood is very strong. And the fact is,
there`s an underlying problem that the White House really hasn`t shown a
lot of love to Congress, the Democrats in general.

And there`s been belief in the Democratic caucus that the relationship
isn`t what it should be and the Democratic Congress people who`ve gone out
of their way -- out of philosophy and principal but have supported the
president and consisted on philosophy haven`t seen the White House work as
much as they`d like to do.

KORNACKI: Very quickly, to follow up with that, Congressman, because you
had predictions from Fred Upton of 100 defections. Do you think before
President Obama came out and spoke on Thursday, do you think if that vote
had been taken before that, you would have seen a 100 defections from

COHEN: You would have seen a lot more. You know, I don`t know. Of
course, Upton is, you know, putting a lot number on it hoping to attract
people. I have predicted after the second meeting where we knew the picks
was coming, there`d be 20 to 25, I guess I was low balling. But right
before the vote, I asked one of the headcounters, and he said it could be
anywhere from 30 to 70.

So, going into it, we didn`t know. Thirty-nine wasn`t too bad. You knew
about 15, 20, blue doings were going to vote no. And then, there were --
you know, people that -- one of my colleagues who was beaten in 2010 and
voted for Upton`s fix, she saw what happened and she just had a flashback
to 2010 and a lot of us had that. We don`t want to lose our colleagues.
We don`t want to lose our blue dogs. We want a majority. We want to put
America back to work. We want to create jobs bills.

We want to have an effective Congress that can get things done. This is
somewhat humiliating to be in this Congress, because it is the worst
Congress in history. And the Republicans just want to keep their power.
Boehner wants to keep his speakership, and they don`t want to do anything.

You know, it`s funny, when Upton started his address, he quoted some
presidents over the years in lines that there are no -- suggested this
president will be known for, if you like your insurance, you can keep it.
He quoted Reagan for tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev. He should have
quoted Reagan for, "there you go again," because there they went again.

Forty-six times to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It took us 50
years, some can say 100, starting with Teddy Roosevelt, to pass the
Affordable Care Act, a couple months with the defects which are unfortunate
and wrong with the internet program and the website shouldn`t stop us from
100 years, 50 years --

KORNACKI: Mr. Congressman, we are really short on time, but I want to get
Brian Beutler in here quickly.

BEUTLER: Hi, congressman. Brian Beutler with My question is
looking ahead to January or February, if you have a situation where the
website isn`t working still, if enrollments have been really weak but
cancellations have been really high, can you see a situation where
Democrats give Republicans a veto proof majority for some kind of
legislation that cuts at the real architecture of the law and when will
that happen and how far will Democrats go, delay, delay parts of the law,
outright repeal? What do you see happening?

COHEN: You know, there`s enough Democrats who philosophically are going to
support the president, politically can support the president and
philosophically support the law. I can`t see a veto proof number coming
up. I just don`t see that happening. But you got to remember, we just put
off the budget, we put off the sequester. We didn`t cure that problem. We
put it off. So, you got a real -- some problems coming up in January and
in December with budget numbers and the sequester.

So, there`s a lot of problems that can arise. But, the bottom line is, the
Democrats are going to be vulnerable to Republican attacks on the
Affordable Care Act regardless. I understand why those 39 voted the way
they did, but I think rest of the caucus is pretty strong and will stick
with the president and support him and support the Affordable Care Act.

KORNACKI: All right. Congressman Steve Cohen from Tennessee, I appreciate
the time this Saturday morning. We`ll be right back and pick it up right
after this. Thanks.


KORNACKI: Picking a discussion of where Obamacare implementation stands
after this weekend. Another thing that happened this weekend, Sarah, I was
hoping if you could shed some light on this for us. We got a lot of
numbers out there, a lot of data about enrollment figures. Both sides of
the debate on this are using these numbers to further their agenda, but
let`s put some basic ones on the screen and maybe have you -- it gives some
context to this.

They received, the HHS is saying, 846,184 completed applications. This is
October 1st to November 2nd. Of those, about half a million, 502,000
either selected a plan or were deemed eligible for Medicaid. The vast
majority of those were deemed eligible for Medicaid. It was 106,185 people
who actually selected private insurance plans.

Now, according to the original projections, in that first month, that
number was going to be 500,000. So, they got a fifth of their goal towards
privately enrolled people in the first month. Looking at these numbers,
how do you explain them? Does this signal a problem for the law? How do
you look at them?

KLIFF: It signals a problem for the website, definitely. We know that
pretty much for sure that a lot of people are really trying to buy
insurance. They couldn`t get through the purchase process, and there are a
lot of Medicaid enrollees, but a lot of those were coming in through kind
of different entryways, maybe not through the website necessarily.

And we saw that the state exchanges vastly outperformed the federal
government`s marketplace, 79,000 of those 106,000 people
came in through these 14 state-base marketplaces. Just about a quarter of
all enrollees were coming in through the website that the federal
government built. So, the White House will say, you know, we`re not
worried yet, the website was obviously a huge obstacle.

But we`re expecting or projecting about seven million people should sign up
this year. That`s what the Congressional Budget Office has projected. If
we`re seeing these kind of numbers in November and December, and January
that is very worrisome for the health care law.

KORNACKI: And another piece of concern this week at the start of the week,
the "Washington Post" reporting the White House now is not as iron clad a
promise that this website is going to be up and running by the end of the
month, and when the president was asked about it at his news conference on
Thursday, he said it will be better at the end of the month than it is

It`s going to be better week by week, but what is the sense around the
White House now? When this thing really will be up and running? How much
time do they have to really get this website going?

THOMAS: Well, the thing they keep saying is that they think for the vast
majority of people, that by the end of the month, the website should be
working and there is, we keep asking what is the vast majority on these CMS
calls every day, someone will ask, what does that mean? And you can`t get
a straight answer.

So, around the White House, I think the issue is we need to wait and see as
well by the end of the month. Is it going to be working or is it not? And
one of the things about the Medicaid numbers that you have to understand is
that if people are trying to enroll in Medicaid through that website and
the Medicaid numbers are a big deal for the White House.

This is one of the big things. They think that is a good number for them,
but a lot of that information isn`t making its way to the state Medicaid
offices who are the ones who actually run these plans. So, there are
multiple problems with the website when you start digging deeper and deeper
that make these numbers a little less, even the 400,000 in Medicaid and
make it a little less impressive.

KORNACKI: All right. We`ll pick it up on the other side, too, because I
want to talk about just the spectacle of the Obama press conference this
week in the context of the poll numbers we show this week and what this
means for him and to this law going forward. We`ll talk about that right
after this.


KORNACKI: So, try to look at the immediate politics and the 2014 politics
of Obamacare implementation right now. A couple interesting breakdown to
this vote yesterday in the House. The cook political report, the non-
partisan cook political report which analyzes House races, if you take the
23 Democrats they deemed the most vulnerable in 2014, 21 of them voted for
this that we`re are seeing some of the names on the screen here.

Twenty-one of them voted for the Upton bill yesterday. There was another -
- I don`t know if we can have this. It sort of ranked all the Democrats in
the House according to the percentage of the vote that Obama got in their
district. And you can -- the smaller the share of the Obama vote, the more
-- you can see like all those blues, those are yes votes on Upton.

There is one blue dot up way near 100 percent there, that one blue dash
(ph) from a district that Obama won 80 percent is Gary Peters from Michigan
who`s running for the Senate next year. So, showing some concern of
running state wide in warning to take this kind of vote.

Brian, you were getting at this when you`re talking to the congressman
earlier, given everything we`ve been talking about here, how much patience
and how much time does the White House have right now with -- before more
Democratic defections start?

BEUTLER: I assume it`s going to be the beginning of the year. I mean, the
cancellations happen basically all at once. There was no bottleneck for
cancellations. The enrollments are bottlenecked and stretched out over six
months, right? So, what that means is that you have this huge imbalance
and people who have been newly insured with people who`ve been cancelled.
A lot more have been cancelled than have gotten new insurance through the
Affordable Care Act.

If they open up the bottleneck and the demand is still there and you get
five, six, seven million people in the exchanges before the open enrollment
period closes, then I think that sort of like the political fortunes and
the rhetoric will shift, because, yes, Obama said, if you like your plan,
you can keep it and that wasn`t true.

But now, republicans have been saying, you know, we want to repeal this
law, which will mean taking health care away from 10 million people. And I
don`t think that passing this Upton bill is necessarily going to do them
great, good in the long run, because they`re going to have been on record
saying you shouldn`t pass laws taking away people`s insurance. Well, how
can you support repealing Obamacare if that`s sort of your organizing

KORNACKI: And so, Sarah, so what is like -- the big picture here, because
you have John Boehner who had his press conference this week and he
basically said there`s no way at all possible to make Obamacare work. Is
there a scenario? Can you see a scenario? Not to try to alarm (ph) with
here, but can you see a scenario within the policy of this or Obamacare
just doesn`t work? And we`re five years from now, we say this policy
failed. Is that at all in the mix here?

KLIFF: It would have to be a little bit down the line. The health care
law does include a lot of protections. That`s a lot of -- we have
miserable enrollment this year, let`s say, a horrible scenario for this
year that we get to March, it`s still really hard to use the website, you
know maybe a million people sign up.

There are a lot of safe guards that the Affordable Care Act, including
these policies, basically helping insurance companies out if they`re
getting, you know, very sick, very few consumers. It would really have to
get to 2017. That`s when a lot of those transitional policies run out.
If we get to 2017 and people still aren`t signing up for this, then it`s
really hard to see how this works, but it`s got a pretty long runway we`re
looking at, you know, it`s a few years.

And if you talk to any health care supporter, the mantra right now is it`s
a marathon, it`s not a sprint (ph). You hear that again and again during
the interviews. And they say they`re very focused on the long call and
they do actually have a few years to get this up and running.

KORNACKI: That`s a good perspective to keep -- whenever there`s any kind
of short-term eruption. It could be a long-term eruption, but it can
always be short-term, too. It`s good to keep in my mind (ph).

All right. Thanks to Sarah Kliff from the "Washington Post" and Salon`s
Brian Beutler.

The two other panelists and now will become contestants, Robert Costa and
Shawna Thomas. It is time for them to put away their cell phones, close
their Twitter up, and there she is, just off screen (ph), Susan Page,
Washington bureau chief at the "USA Today." She will be facing off against
them at America`s basic cable news must watch trivia event, "Up Against the
Clock. Susan, Robert, and Shawna in a fight for prices, the glory and for
honor. That`s next.





KORNACKI: She was a 19-year-old aspiring actress full of pizzazz when she
appeared on "The Dating Game" back in 1978. Who would guess that 34 years
later, that same contestant would be a two-term governor of Michigan,
delivering one of the more memorable speeches at the 2012 Democratic

Yes, that was and is former two-term Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm.
You know what they say, if you want to see a political star born, just
watch a game show. Well, OK, no one actually says that, but "Up Against
the Clock" is next.



ANNOUNCER: Live from studio 3A in Rockefeller Center, U.S.A. It`s time
for "Up Against the Clock."


ANNOUNCER: Our first contestant, originally from Houston, Texas, home of
the Houston Astrodome, the 8th wonder of the world, but not their -- it`s
Shawna Thomas. From Yardley, Pennsylvania, in beautiful Bucks County, say
hello to Robert Costa, and our returning champion from Wichita, Kansas, for
four-day (ph) winning total $2,200 in cash and pumpkin spice latte, it`s
Susan Page. And now, the host of "Up Against the Clock," Steve Kornacki.


KORNACKI: Oh, thank you, Bill Wolf. Thank you, studio audience, and thank
you to everyone tuning in at home for another "Up Against the Clock." I
think you all know the rules by now. We have three rounds of play, wrong
answers will cost you, and there are a few instant bonuses scattered in
these questions.

Studio audience, as always, I implore you. Please, no outbursts. We don`t
want to needlessly rattle our contestants when they`re up against the
clock. And with that, contestants, welcome. I will ask you, are you ready
to play?


KORNACKI: They look and sound ready to me. This is the 100-point round,
hands on buzzers, please, 100 seconds on the clock, and with this we go.
On Tuesday, Caroline Kennedy was sworn in as the first female U.S.
ambassador --



THOMAS: Japan.

KORNACKI: To Japan. That`s correct. A 100 points for Shawna. Next 100-
point question, the calls for CBS News to commission an independent
investigation --




KORNACKI: Incorrect t. I`ll complete the question. The calls for CBS
News to commission an independent investigation after apologizing for its
Benghazi report were rejoined to this week by what former CBS News star?



THOMAS: Dan Rather.

KORNACKI: Dan Rather joined these calls. That`s correct, Shawna. 100-
point question, HBO announced this week that it will debut in 2014 a new
weekly comedy show hosted by --



COSTA: John Oliver.

KORNACKI: John Oliver will host a new show on HBO. That`s correct. 100-
point question, on Thursday night, two proposals to curtail the ability of
citizens to force recall campaigns cleared one legislative chamber in which
state that was the site of a high-profile recall campaigns --



PAGE: Wisconsin.

KORNACKI: Wisconsin is the state that was the site of a high-profile
recall campaign. That`s correct. This is an instant bonus question. No
risk here, Susan. In that recall campaign in 2012, Governor Scott Walker
retained his seat against the challenge from what Democratic nominee?

PAGE: The mayor of Milwaukee.

KORNACKI: Can you be more specific?

PAGE: Bartlett, Barrett.

KORNACKI: Barrett is correct. Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee.
Another 100 points for Susan. Back with this 100-point question, the
Messianic Bible Institute, a group which aims to hasten the second coming
by converting Jews to Christianity held an event in Irving, Texas Thursday
night --



THOMAS: George W. Bush?

KORNACKI: Headlined by George W. Bush. That is correct. When this Texas
senator announced his bid for a third term at a press conference on Friday



PAGE: Cornyn.

KORNACKI: Cornyn was the guy who announced it. Ted Cruz was not there.
That`s correct. End of the first round, 100 points for Susan at the wire
there, the score after the first round, Shawna 300, Robert 100. Susan 200.
Very close game. The stakes now get higher. This is the 200-point round.
We put a 100 seconds on the clock. Hands on buzzers, please. There`s the
hundred seconds and we go.

When it`s governor signs legislation this coming week, this state will
become the 16th in America --



PAGE: Hawaii.

KORNACKI: Incorrect. This state will become the 16th in American to
legalize sam-sex marriage.


KORNACKI: You`ve already rung (ph) in. I can`t allow that. I`m sorry.
There are rules here. Time. We`ll call time. Illinois. Illinois will
become the 16th state. Back with this, 200-point question. According to
reports this week, Charlie Crist, the former Republican who was seeking the
Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Florida may face a --



COSTA: Bill Nelson.

KORNACKI: May face a primary challenge from Sen. Bill Nelson. That`s
correct. 200 points for Costa. 200-point question, signing a bill that
encourages epi pen availability in schools, President Obama revealed on
Wednesday --



THOMAS: that his daughter has an allergy.

KORNACKI: Be more specific, please.

THOMAS: A peanut allergy?

KORNACKI: That`s correct. Malia is allergic to peanuts. 200 points for

Next question, after the final taped episode aired this week, the A&E
Network refused to confirm or deny reports that it has cancelled a reality
series about this flamboyant former Louisiana governor and convicted felon



PAGE: Edward Edwards. Edwards.

KORNACKI: We will accept Edwards. Edwin Edwards. And 200 points there.
This is an instant bonus question. "Vote for the crook. It`s important"
was a popular bumper sticker among Edwards` backers when he defeated whom
for Louisiana`s governorship in 1991?

PAGE: Duke.

KORNACKI: David Duke, the former klansman (ph). That`s correct. 200 more
points for Susan. 200-point question, a profile in the "New York Times"
this week noted that the wife of this west coast Democratic governor, a
woman who used to be the chief lawyer for the Gap shuns the title of first
lady --



PAGE: The governor of California, Brown.

KORNACKI: Jerry Brown. That`s right. Anne Gust Brown goes by the title
special counsel to the governor, 200 more points for Susan.

End of the round, Shawna at 500, Robert at 300. Susan at 600.

PAGE: Close.

KORNACKI: It is a very close game as we go to the Ph.D. level. This where
champions are crowned. 300 point questions. The game will be decided
here. 100 seconds on the clock and we go with this. 11 hardline house
conservatives, including Michelle Bachman introduced a legislation on
Thursday calling for the impeachment of whom?



COSTA: President Obama.

KORNACKI: Incorrect.



THOMAS: Kathleen Sebelius.

KORNACKI: Incorrect.

PAGE: I got nothing.

KORNACKI: Time. Eric Holder.


KORNACKI: Michael Michaud, a democratic member of Congress who recently
revealed that he`s gay was found to be leading in a poll by two points in a
race for governor of what state?

Time. Maine, the state of Maine. He`s running against Paula Page. This
prominent House Republican and potential 2016 candidate will be the
headline speaker tonight at Iowa Governor Terry Branstad birthday
fundraiser --



COSTA: Paul Ryan.

KORNACKI: Paul Ryan. We expect financial review guy to know that. That`s
correct. 300 points here, Larry Pressler, a former three-term senator who
briefly sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1980 and bolted
from the GOP to endorse Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 announced this week
that he may run as an independent next year for his old Senate seat in what

THOMAS: I know you know this.

PAGE: I know I know this.


PAGE: I knew the previous --

KORNACKI: Time. Correct answer is South Dakota. That was an instant
bonus, a possibility, too. 300-point question, this former senator who
lost his seat to a Tea Party challenger who is also a long-time soybean
farmer will be awarded a presidential medal --



PAGE: Lugar.

KORNACKI: Lugar, the soybean farmer. That`s correct. 300-point question,
this Kentucky Republican with Tea Party support officially filed papers
Friday to challenge Mitch McConnell --



THOMAS: Matt Evan.

KORNACKI: Matt Evan is correct. This week, Senate Republicans blocked
Georgetown University law professor, Nina Pillard`s nomination to serve on
what --



PAGE: D.C. circuit.

KORNACKI: The D.C. circuit is correct. 300 points for Susan. End of the
game. What`s the score? Susan Page 1,200 points. You had defeated Robert
Costa --


KORNACKI: And you are the new reigning champion still.


KORNACKI: You get this mug.

PAGE: Oh my God. This is beautiful. Thank you so much.

KORNACKI: What has she 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.
eastern time.

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: All right. Thank you, Bill. Quite a prize. That mug looks
fantastic. Don`t drink from it. It could be poison from all that --
though. Susan, you have your jackpot bonus question here to that gift
certificate. In the 50 years since JFK`s assassination, rumors and
theories have swirled about whether more than one man has been -- was
involved in the murder, and all of that time, one person was arrested,
changed, and acquitted of conspiracy to kill the president. Who was he?

PAGE: Was it you, Steve?

KORNACKI: It was not me. His name was Clay Shaw (ph).


KORNACKI: But you are the champion with a very impressive 1,200 points.
Congratulations, Susan. Shawna and Robert, you will not leave us empty
handed. We have the home edition for you. That`s fun for the wife, for
the kids, for the family, for the people of all ages except those under 12
because the small parts, they could choke on them.

But we want to thank you for playing fun game today. we`ll be back with
another edition next week and we back with the real show right after this.



KORNACKI: Those beautiful shorelines and breathtaking sunsets, Hawaii has
long been a favorite wedding destination, with thousands of brides and
grooms flocking each year to the island, it`s hard for mainlanders to think
of the 50th state without thinking of marriage. And it was there in Hawaii
two decades ago that a new kind of marriage, same sex, first emerged as a
major contested issue in American political life.

To the rest of America, it seemed to come out of nowhere. But in the early
1990s in Hawaii, three young gay lesbian couples said they want to get
married. It seemed like a long short, but there case made it all the way
to the Hawaii Supreme Court. And the ruling from that court was


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Male and female walk in, they`re not married, they want
a license, you give it to them. A male and a male walk in, they want a
license, you won`t give it to them. Are you discriminating against men?

REPORTER: The high court sent the case back to trial. And Hawaii now
could become the first state to recognize same-sex marriages.


KORNACKI: American politics back then, the issue wasn`t an issue. It
wasn`t even an issue. It was more of a fringe idea.

And all of a sudden, with no warning from this distant island chain, here
came news that the Hawaii courts might require a state to issue licenses to
same sex couples. In the possibility, the mere prospect, once they might
begin recognizing same-sex marriages set off a national political uproar.
The fear was that a marriage recognized by one state would have to be
recognized in others, so lawmakers all across the nation, lawmakers from
both parties got busy writing laws to preempt any decision that might come
out of Hawaii`s courts to allow same-sex marriage.


THEN-SEN. JESSE HELMS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Isn`t it a bit disheartening,
Mr. President, that Congress must now clarify the traditional definition of
marriage, but inch by inch, little by little the homosexual lobby has
chipped away at the moral stamina of some of America`s court and a whole
lot of legislators, in order to create a shaky ground that exists today.


KORNACKI: And this played out against the backdrop of an election year, a
presidential election year, 1996 the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined
marriage as the union of one man and one woman sailed through Congress and
was signed that September by Bill Clinton. And individual states set about
adding their own legal and constitutional prohibitions against same sex
marriage. Even Hawaii amended its Constitution, defying its high court and
stopping gay marriage in its tracks.

Almost as quickly as it had sprouted up a as a national issue, gay marriage
pretty much ceased to become one, to be one. Until 10 years ago this
coming Monday, that is when the supreme judicial court in Massachusetts,
the highest court in the state, decreed that gay marriage was legal there,
and that court`s ruling was put into effect months later, in May 2004 when
Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licenses to same sex


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Legally married.

REPORTER: By mid-morning, couples previously denied the opportunity are
now able to say "I do." But the happiness was not embraced by everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the voice of evil.

REPORTER: And here at the statehouse, some Massachusetts lawmakers have
started a process to overturn state marriage by putting it before the
voters in 2006.


KORNACKI: And just like that, the national political battle over gay
marriage was back on, although the idea of gay marriage was about as far
from the main stream as it had be a decade earlier, when those rumblings
from Hawaii were first felt.

An NBC News poll in the spring of 2004 found that 62 percent of Americans
oppose gay marriage, and only 30 percent supported it. Once again, this
was an election year, a presidential election year.

And political operatives like Karl Rove easily recognize the potential
power of the issue. Eleven states put gay marriage bans on a November 2004
ballot, initiatives that might fire up and mobilize those anti-gay voters,
especially the ardently gay marriage among them. To get them to the polls,
and then while they were there -- while they were there at the polls, to
get them to check off President George W. Bush`s name.

And Bush was happy to play along with the strategy. And he even took it a
step further.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Activist courts have left the people
with one recourse. If we are to prevent the meaning marriage to be changed
forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect
marriage in America.


KORNACKI: That proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution never passed,
but it served its political purpose to galvanize the right. In 2004,
solidified a simple lesson, anti-gay marriage referendums were political

By early 2010, 29 states have added bans on gay marriage to their state
constitutions. But that time, the refrain from the right was well-
established. Whenever gay marriage was on the ballot, voters always
rejected it. And then something else happened, the tide of public opinion.
And all the political momentum that goes with it began to change course
with lightning speed.

In August, 2010, CNN released the first poll ever to find majority support
for same-sex marriage. By 2012, the vice president and the United States
announced his support, and President Obama followed suit days later.

On Election Day last year, voters supported initiatives legalizing gay
marriage in Washington, Maryland and Maine. It was a big reversal from
only three years earlier when those same Maine voters repealed a law
authorizing same sex marriage in that state. In the last year, the number
of states recognizing gay marriage has more than doubled.

And then, finally, this week, nearly 20 years after it scared if bejesus
out of a big chunk of the country, Hawaii finally got around to adding its
name to the list of states, 15 of them now, where gay marriage is legal.
It felt almost like a routine and a ho hum event in Hawaii, just another
blue state acknowledging the pace and depth of cultural and political
change, which raises the next big question about gay marriage.

In two decades, it`s going from being a fringe issue to one where there`s
virtually unanimous support in the Democratic Party in blue America. One
blue state after another is legalizing it.

What about Republicans? What about red America? If marriage equality is
going to become a true national reality, the red estates will have to come
around, too. Is that going to start happening any time soon?

Here to talk about it, we have: Evan McMorris Santoro. He`s a White House
reporter for

Robert Costa, he`s a Washington editor for "The National Review".

Susan Page, the reigning up against the clock champion, also known as the
Washington bureau chief for "USA Today." She is back with us.

Former Massachusetts state senator, Richard Tisei. He`s a Republican who
served 26 years in the state legislature there and ran for lieutenant
governor there in 2010. he joins us, too.

And, Richard, I`ll start with you, because your experience, it`s
interesting to me because you are in a blue state. You are openly gay.
You ran for lieutenant governor in 2010.

When you look at your experience as a Republican politician who supports
gay marriage, who is gay, in a state likes Massachusetts, where you welcome
by the party, you ran for Congress, you nearly won a seat in 2012. And
then, you look at the Republican Party outside of Massachusetts. You look
at the attitudes on gay marriage right here, what goes through your mind?
What do you think? What do you think of the Republican Party --

really fast right now historically, if you look at it. And when the court
came out in Massachusetts and made marriage equality legal in our states,
you know, the calls were probably three to one against it. People evolved
over time.

Right now, we just had a primary for John Kerry`s seat, Republican primary,
two out of the three candidates in the primary supported marriage equality.
And 70 percent of the primary voters voted for one of those two candidates,
including the winner.

So I think you just saw the president not too long ago. His position
evolved. It`s happening pretty much around the country. And I think that
the vast -- you know, the train has left the station. The Republican Party
does have to change and the best indicator of what is happening is that in
national polls that have been done, you know, a majority of Republicans
under the age of 40 support marriage equality.

And I think for the long run, you know, that`s where we have to be. We
don`t have to reinvent ourselves as a party, but we have to go back to what
our roots where. We are a party that was founded on the notion of freedom.
We always supported civil rights and expanding civil rights throughout this
party`s history. We lost our way and have to get back to promoting freedom
and liberty.

KORNACKI: If you can talk a little more about your experiences of running
statewide in Massachusetts, of running in the Republican, you know, party
mess, could you still come up against pockets, though, of conservative
voters that know this is something our party doesn`t believe in. What
kinds of conversations you have?

TISEI: The problem in Massachusetts isn`t being gay. That`s no problem at
all. Being a Republican is at issue.

But, you know, I had a lot of support and I think if you explain it to
people the right way, that this is about freedom, it`s about extending our
rights, you have to respect people who are against gay marriage, because
they might have strong religious beliefs. You know, the government
shouldn`t discriminate. And the government should treat everybody equally
and fairly under the law.

I think when you put it in that context, people get it. You know, we`re
pretty fair country and I do think that again in New England, it doesn`t
surprised me, that we were the tourist region in every state and moved
towards the marriage equality because we have a tradition of being pretty
strong libertarian strain.

But I do think what`s going to end up happening in the long run is sort of
what happened with interracial marriage. 1948, California became the first
state. It took 20 years, you be at the en, the Supreme Court in Loving
versus West Virginia ended up ruling the ban unconstitutional.

We are only ten years into this. There is almost going up to 50 percent of
the population living in states with marriage equality. That`s good,
because when people see gay people. I just got married. I understand the
world -- the sky isn`t going to fall, they become much more accepting.
That`s where we are right now.

KORNACKI: Evan, you know, what Richard starts to talk about there, though,
some regional differences definitely pop up when you look at New England
versus when you look at the heart of red state America, when you look in
the south, when you look at -- remember all these primaries last year, Mitt
Romney versus Rick Santorum, states where evangelical Christians were
making up the bulk of the electorate where they -- Romney was too liberal
for them.

You know, my question is, when do those states -- can those states ever get
to the point where they are OK with gay marriage?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, BUZZFEED.COM: Well, I think that, you know, we are
seeing a state by state fight on this issue across the country. But I
think it`s interesting question actually posed to you on this you mentioned
evolution, right? I think you are right, the momentum is there. It`s
pretty hard to deny that. But we`re going to have an election cycle next
time in 2016 where a Democrat will most likely be in favor of gay marriage,
and it probably likely that a Republican will most likely not be.

How long do you think it will be until we have Republican who supports same
sex marriage on a presidential ticket and how much damage will it do for
the party while you wait for that to happen?

TISEI: Well, it definitely hurts our brand. But, you know what? I think
if you said six months, what a quarter of the Republican caucus and the
United States Senate support and done, which they did just recently, nobody
would have said that that was possible.

So, you know, things are moving pretty quickly. You have the United States
Senate coming out right now. Senator Portman I think and Senator Kirk from
Illinois most recently coming out in favor of marriage equality. So I
wouldn`t be surprised at least if the nominee, you know, is somebody like
Chris Christie who sort of was able to straddle the issue a bit, not in
favor of gay marriage, but certainly didn`t make that one of his key --

KORNACKI: Well, we have -- let`s play -- this was -- Chris Christie --
he`s Democratic opponent in the New Jersey governor`s race, Barbara Buono
saw this as his biggest weakness, the way she could go after him was on gay
marriage. She brought it up in the debate, and this is how he handled the
question last month.

Let`s play that clip.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: If my children came to me and said
that they were gay, I would grab them and hug them an tell them I loved
them, just like I would do with any of my children who came to me with news
that they wanted to give to me that they thought were important enough to
open themselves up in that way. But what I would tell them is that dad
believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. And that`s my


KORNACKI: And, you know, I`m just -- I`m trying to picture that
conversation a parent would have with his kids -- you know, I love you,
take your time. By the way, here`s my legal position. It seems like such
a --


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Actually, I`m sorry, I didn`t mean to cut you off.
That`s actually the opposite of what a lot of Republicans are doing when
their kids come to them and say, I`m gay. They tend to not have the
conversation that says, but I`m still in favor. You know, they -- Dick
Cheney, Rob Portman. Their kids have said to them, I`m gay, well, you
know, I support you and I also support you having more legal rights.

KORNACKI: And Dick Cheney is not on the 2016 radar. I don`t think Rob
Portman is looking for 2016.

My take on Christie is like, honest to God, if you gave him the truth
serum, if you`re sitting here having a conversation off the record, he
doesn`t care. He`s fine with gay marriage. Is this like the sort of
thing, an indicator, you have to say this to survive as a Republican and be
nationally viable still?

ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL REVIEW: I think when you look at someone with Rob
Portman, he`s very close with Christie personally. And if Chris Christie,
let`s say, is the nominee in 2016, I would put Portman near the top of the
list for the vice presidential nomination.

So, I think Christie is trying to finagle a way forward politically where
he doesn`t alienate the base in Iowa and South Carolina. But when it comes
to his presidential nomination, when it comes to having a broader tent,
someone like Portman is right in his party, in Christie`s coalition.

But I think you are right, Christie is not ready to take that final step.
But you`ve got to take him at the benefit of the dad. That`s his position.
I think if you gave him truth serum, he`d probably stick with that.
Knowing Christie, he is pretty candid. So --

KORNACKI: Yes, there is candid in front of the cameras. There`s candid
among, you know, anyway. Go ahead.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I mean, is the public ready to watch the evolution
process? It seems the public -- the American people have made a shift on
this issue. Are they going to be able to sit around and watch another
politician kind of hymn and ha their way through whether or not they
support this or oppose it? You`re going to have all the different ways. I
mean, this is the question I have, how far behind the people are the
Republican Party, nominees right now, and how tough will that be for them -

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: Millions of Americans have made that transition
themselves. You see, it`s not just politicians who transitioned from
thinking gay marriage, that sounds really weird, why not? I mean, that`s a
transition we have seen.

I think the earlier point you made is correct. There`s no way this
Republican Party is nominating a presidential nominee in 2016 who supports
the idea of gay marriage. And I`m sure Chris Christie is aware of that.

And what`s remarkable? And let`s not forget this -- there is no way the
Democratic Party is going to nominate a candidate who opposes it. And that
is a huge shift just 2008.

KORNACKI: Since recently, since 2012 because they were ready to re-
nominate an Obama-Biden ticket that was against gay marriage. And Joe --
we`ll never know the full sequence of events -- Joe Biden shouted off
whatever it was. And then, you know, history kind of changed.

But we have some more stuff. We`ll pick it up on the other side. Take a
break right here.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nineteen ayes, four noes, and two excuse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senate Bill 1, House Draft 1 passes final reading.
Madam clerk.



KORNACKI: So there it was, that was same-sex marriage 20 years after the
rumor started in Hawaii. There it was actually happening this week.

We put up a map in the screen here actually. This map shows you where it
is legal in the United States, Illinois as you may remember from our game
show a few minutes ago. It`s going to become legal there this week. That
will be number 16.

But, you know, what do all of those states have in common? Those are all
blue states, Obama states. And the question we`re trying to get at here is
when does this become a thing in red state America?

One piece of news is Jay Nixon. He is the Democratic governor of Missouri,
a state with a conservative legislature. They refused the Medicaid money,
they refused to set up the health exchanges. The lower in Missouri passed
this gun nullification law.

So, that`s where the Missouri legislature is coming from. So, the
challenge in a red state like that for a gay marriage supporter like Jay
Nixon is to bring them along.

And, Susan, again, we have been talking about the regional differences, I
look at Missouri as sort of emblematic of, you know, heavily influenced by
sort of religious conservativism. At some point, that has to be
compatible, the idea of evangelical conservatives and gay marriage has to
be compatible for this to be a reality in red state America.

PAGE: I think you have to look at different kinds of red states America.
You know, you could see the mountain west, states like Wyoming and Montana,
where there is a strong libertarian tradition, accepting passing, enabling,
you know, legalizing gay marriage, much before you see some of those
Southern states and regionally border southern states, where there is a lot
of religious conservatism accepting it and making it legal.

So I think you are more likely to see it in some red estates than others.
You know, when you look at regional differences in support of gay marriage,
you do find that there is only one region where a majority of Americans now
oppose gay marriage and that is in that Southern Bible Belt part of the
country. That will be the last.

In the absence of a constitutional ruling that`s unconstitutional not to
allow gay marriage, that will surely be the last part of the country to
come along on this issue.

KORNACKI: Is it sort of purely -- is it a religious thing in the
Republican Party? Robert, is that what is driving the opposition at this
point? Is it religious conservatives saying this just violates the Bible?
Is that the basic argument against it at this point?

COSTA: I think Republicans and broadly speaking, when you talk to
Republican voters, especially conservatives, they`re not engaged in the
legal arguments. Religion is an important factor.

I think there is a tradition in the Republican Party that this is the
platform. There is always resistance in the Republican Party to change
that platform. But think most important thing to me is that they`re more
willing now to accept the politician who is pro same-sex marriage than
someone who is pro-choice. So, on the social issue, they`re still sticking
with the traditional Republican position. There is some room of acceptance
for those with a different view on marriage.

TISEI: I think you look at the Republican Party, I mean, the father of the
Republican Party, Barry Goldwater, his philosophy was, get the government
off my back, out of my wallet, away from the bedroom. And younger people
in particular really, you know, understand that philosophy and so it`s easy
I think to get people -- easier to get people to cross over on gay marriage
than it would be abortion.

I would say that the pope coming out recently, Pope Francis saying, who am
I to judge? You know, it`s causing a lot of people from a religious
standpoint to sit and really question about the way that other people are
treated. So, you know, I do think -- again, things are heading in the
right direction. You are not going to get -- those Bible Belt states will
be the last to jump on board. But I think you`re going to see a lot of
progress as time goes on.

KORNACKI: The other issue, we think of this, it`s as simple as a vote
being taken to legalize in the state or state legislature having no vote,
no case (INAUDIBLE). One of the consequences of what happened from the
late `90s on is a bunch of constitutional amendments being passed at the
state level. So, you have states that are like Wisconsin and Virginia, if
you poll the question in these states, there is support for it. There are
constitutional bans in these states.

This requires letting both houses of legislatures in successive sessions to
approve a simple ballot initiatives. There are states right now where
there is the popular support is there, but it is going to take years, maybe
decades because -- more than a decade maybe -- because the constitutional
amendment was put in place when there was a lot of hysteria around this

Richard, you were the first state in Massachusetts where this happened, how
did you avoid that happening in Massachusetts?

TISEI: You know, as soon as the court case came out, it was announced a
constitutional question be put before the legislature, we had to do two
legislative sessions the people that wrote our constitution were really
smart because they realize constitutional rights were important and it
shouldn`t be something that changed in the heat of the moment.

And during that four-year process, by the end of the four years, the state
probably went from 3-to-1 against gay marriage to, you know, more even
split and the legislature ended up defeating that question. So, you know,
I understand and in other states it will take a while, you have that extra
barrier right now of amending the Constitution. It isn`t like passing a

But, you know, having that process is good and it`s going to take a while
to overcome that in individual states. But I`d rather have that system set
up to protect people`s individual rights, constitutional rights than not
have it, because if we ended up, you know, if that wasn`t in place in
Massachusetts, that would have been, that court ruling would have been
repealed, because a lot of Democrats at that point did not support marriage


TISEI: It`s such a foreign policy.

KORNACKI: People in Massachusetts, the big blue state, the big Democratic
state. I`m from there, you are from there. I know a lot of culturally
conservative Democrats in that state, Colorado is another example where
they had to set up for civil unions this year because of the constitutional
in place.

Before we go, though, I want to pick up -- we did talk a little about ENDA.
That`s been in the news recently. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act,
which passed the Senate, which languishes in the House. That`s the story
of every piece of legislation this year, I think.

But, Robert, if you just talk about, what the prospects are of this of ENDA
ever getting a vote in John Boehner`s House, is this the kind of thing
where there can be enough external pressure, he is forced to brake that
Hastert Rule we`re always talking about, put ENDA on the floor and have it
pass that way? Or is there really no hope from this Congress for that

COSTA: If you have hopes, I would, I think they`re pretty dim. John
Boehner I think is just ecstatic that he can talk about Obamacare and there
is some unity on Obamacare. But beyond that, beyond messaging Obamacare,
the state of the House is confused, often incoherent. And I think they`re
just taking it day-by-day.

Boehner may be pressured from the outside, but Boehner`s more important
pressure comes from his right flank.

KORNACKI: I want to thank "USA Today`s" Susan Page, former Massachusetts
State Senator Richard Tisei, a relative of the Razzabonis. The Razzaboni
Market in Mass, it turns out he is related. We just found that out today.

And I want to thank Robert Costa of "The National Review" for joining us

A political show finally gets Washington right -- of course, it`s a comedy.
That is next.


KORNACKI: Ever since "House of Cards" came out in the Netflix, I haven`t
gotten tired of talking about how -- what`s the term for it? How I hated
it! We even did a segment on this a couple weeks ago.


KORNACKI: How does this guy get elected? Who would ever like this guy?
Who would want to vote for this guy? He doesn`t pretend to fake nice guy
thing, doesn`t even pretend to take nice guy thing, just constantly walks
around angry at the world, you know, contempt for everybody around him,
doesn`t even mask. I don`t buy.


KORNACKI: I got a million more explanations like that. But I have made a
new discovery. I found a new show about Capitol Hill that I feel the exact
opposite about.

I`ll tell you what it is, why it rings so true to me. We will explain the
real life inspiration behind it, when we come back.


KORNACKI: There is a nondescript, unremarkable row house in Washington,
just a short walk from the capitol, owned by a man who works there. And to
help him out with the mortgage, he has a few co-workers living with him.

Chad is up to what you would expect. Arguments about keeping the house
clean, a rodent problem, who ate all the cereal?

This isn`t any house near Capitol Hill, it is owned by Democratic
Congressman George Miller of California, a leading house liberal who served
on Capitol Hill for almost 40 years. And those roommates, right now, they
are both senators, Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer, the second and third
highest ranking members of the Democratic leadership. Schumer is the one
who eats all the cereal, usually purchased by others.

The house has been profiled a lot over the years, including by "The New
York Times" in 2007, at the time of a fourth roommate, Congressman Bill
Delahunt from Massachusetts. Leon Panetta used to live there, too, until
he left Congress to work for the Clinton White House and ethics rules said
he could no longer write checks to a congressman.

In that 2007 "Time`s" story, Durbin said everybody in the world says they
will do a television series based on us, but then they realize the story of
four middle aged men with no sex and violence is not going to last two

Somebody who read that article took it as a challenge. Political satirist
of Terry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame figured something out, if we could make
the show fictional, then he could add all the sex and violence he wanted.
He also made the characters as Republicans, not Democrats, and they`re all
senators. And the result is the new comedy, "Alpha House", available
online at Amazon Prime. They are now going to Netflix route and producing
their on original content.

I know, a show for an online prescription site about Capitol Hill, we`ve
seen this before, just like "House of Cards". But there is a twist. I
hated "House of Cards", but I really like this show. I think "Alpha House"
is the anti-"House of Cards". Because I think the show, unlike "House of
Cards", captures the essence of the life of most D.C. politicians.

"House of Cards" would have you believe that they are whip smart schemers
constantly plotting, conniving and backstabbing in a perpetual fight for
status and power and glory. The reality, the D.C. that I knew within I
covered it, a lot of politicians are a bunch of dopes, affable dopes, well-
meaning dopes usually, who don`t quite know how they got there, aren`t sure
why they`re there, they stick around anyway, who try to stick around, for
the same reason most of us stick around wherever it is we work. It`s our
job, it`s who we, it`s what we do.

Anyway, that`s my take. But here to share what they think of this new show
and how D.C. is portrayed on television in general, we have Jonathan Alter
who in addition to being an MSNBC political analyst is an executive
producer of "Alpha House."

We have Glynnis MacNicol. She`s a writer and cofounder of "The List", a
site for women involved in new media.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, he`s a White House reporter for

And NBC News White House producer Shawna Thomas, a prolific live tweeter of
all things television. Been on the show to disagree with me a little bit
before about television.

Jonathan, I`ll talk to you more about the specifics of where the show came
from everything. But I think for an audience that hasn`t seen -- I know
everybody else here has -- the basic premise this I just laid out there,
that is the anti-"House of Cards", is that something, having watched it
that you guys agree with?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: You know, at the risk of never coming on the show again,
I have to say, I like "House of Cards".

KORNACKI: You advance (ph). Done.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: A trap door comes out.

But I also really like this what you are saying is absolutely right. I
didn`t think "House of Cards" is really much of a show about Washington.
It`s much to do sort of, just like a power play, kind of drama playing out
on our stage of power.

But this show, it really does capture this idea of how reactive politicians
are. How much they just don`t think ahead, if things pop up. They have to
run and scramble to deal with them. It`s great. The very cool thing, if
you see, play out, because it`s just as it`s not the story of Washington
that we ever really see.

KORNACKI: So, Jonathan, set it up for us. We got the real life story.
What is the setup for "Alpha House"?

shows, "Scandal", "House of Cards", ours is the only show where Barack
Obama`s president, Mitch McConnell is the Senate minority leader, and I
think you make a great point, our characters play off semi-real situations.
We go to great pains to make it realistic.

So when we have a -- I think it`s episode 5, we have a situation in Senate
Ethics Committee and the Senate Ethics Committee which was chaired by
Senator Carly Armisen (ph) played by Cynthia Nixon has six members. In
real life, it has six members.

Our Senate hideaway, which our Florida senator uses, is painted the same
color as Ted Kennedy`s hideaway.

We went to great pains to make it as realistic as we could so that the
comedy popped out from that.

Now, the setting is that three of our four senators are facing Republican
primary challenges from Tea Party challengers in the 2014 primaries. Our
fourth is laying the ground for the presidential campaign. He`s a kind of
a Marco Rubio-John Edwards type.


KORNACKI: And your show -- this is a good --

ALTER: That`s Bill Murray.

KORNACKI: And Bill Murray makes it right. It`s an unforgettable scene,
very memorable appearance early on. but you are getting the real life
story based on Democrats, to be a Republican in Washington these days is to
be facing this force in a lot of cases -- you just don`t understand, this
Tea Party force, if you accept the premise most of these politicians are
not like the fringes, schemers you see in "House of Cards", what are they
to make it?

ALTER: Well, we also -- I mean, you know, this is not "Meet the Press" or
"UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI". I mean, it is a comedy. So, for instance, our
John Goodman character is a senator from North Carolina. He`s a retired
UNC basketball coach.

KORNACKI: Yes, he`s supposed to be Dean Smith. Dean Smith is a Democrat.

ALTER: Dean Smith is a Democrat.

But all the characters are quite original. They come out of Gary Trudeau`s
head. You know, they`re not strictly based on anybody.

So, he`s cruising to re-election. He finds out that the Duke basketball
coach in our show --

KORNACKI: Mike Krzyzewski.

ALTER: Diggerman Kuzzy (ph) is a Tea Party candidate. And in the later
episodes, you will see them debate. But we have 11 episode, and they`re
going to be -- the first three are available now. They`re going to be
released one a week for eight weeks after this week, and so some people can
see that develop.

KORNACKI: So, how does this compare to the Washington you know, shauna?

SHAWNA THOMAS, NBC NEWS: I kind over like it. I think the way it compared
and the way it showed members of Congress, I don`t think all members of
Congress are kind of boobs. But I think they are real people, and there`s
something very funny in a real person.

So, I was looking at the John Goodman character and I was thinking back to
when I covered the House of Representatives. And there is a high level
House of Representatives members who I walked no a room once and I was you
know made up a little more than I usually dress up.

He was like, you look better than you usually do, which is one of those
things that impressed you who`s a member of Congress, you`re like, you know
what, one, you are kind of hilarious. Two, my mom would be really worried
that someone said that to me. Three, sometimes people are people are real
life and they can be really funny.

ALTER: It`s seen as almost exactly --

THOMAS: That`s terrifying.

ALTER: -- with the aide to John Goodman`s character.

KORNACKI: What is your take, Glynnis?

GLYNNIS MACNICOL, THELIST: I can see how this appeals to you. I know how
frustrated you are with "House of Cards" and "The West Wing" that they
didn`t represent any reality that was going on in Washington. But I would
say when you mention "Veep" and "Scandal" and "House of Cards" and this
show now, they also represent this deep cynicism we seem to have about D.C.
And this is just another angle that we`re taking with it.

ALTER: So, OK, let me address that a little bit because, obviously, there
is some cynicism that what this actually does, it humanizes these
Republicans, I think that`s what`s going to happen for people who watch all
that 11 episodes of our first season, Democrats are going to say, you know,
those four senators, those are the only Republicans I really like.

I think it has a little bit of the effect of detoxifying things, because
you do see as real human beings, or as real as they can be, in a comedy
and, you know, there are actually -- I mean without giving too much away --
you know, some pushback against the Tea Party by a couple of our
characters. And that is a little bit if not inspiring, it`s at least
encouraging of what some Republicans maybe will go through.

So there is nothing that is -- you know, Gary has said on many occasions
when talking about Doonesbury and satire in general, that you cannot be
totally cynical and do satire. There is some idealism that is in there

KORNACKI: But I think -- we`ll pick this up when we come back -- I think
it helps us explain -- you know, some kind of vote comes up in the House or
the Senate, and we are all baffled. This is the most common sense, 90
percent support, there`s 95 percent support, why won`t any of them budge.
I think this gets -- this illuminates what`s really behind that, what`s
really driving that in real thing. I`ll pick up on that point just after



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what Jon Stewart said, that conservative
people aren`t necessarily stupid, but stupid people do tend to be
conservative, that was then. Nowadays, stupid and stupid mutant cousins,
crazy and evil are all just left of your party. I`ll see you in committee.


KORNACKI: That is a scene from Amazon`s "Alpha House".

You know, just -- I have my own, I cover Congress for the House for a year
and I remember just one episode sort of stands out in my mind when they had
a vote. I forgot what the vote was about and there was some confusion
among the people in the speakers lobby about what the vote had been about.
And this Republican congressman, you may or may not use it, I won`t use his
name because I think he is representative of a lot of congressman. He came
off the floor, has a smile on his face and he`s smooching with his friends,
and a couple reporters went up to him and asked, what exactly was that you
voted on? He looks at this and goes, I have no f-ing idea.

I think there`s a certain like -- I`m not defending it. I`m not say, wow,
this is inspiring or anything. But I think that`s the average member of
Congress. I think that`s really what Washington is.

ALTER: Well, who`s going to read all these bills. I mean, think if you are
a member of Congress, are you reading all 2,000 pages of Obamacare?

KORNACKI: What else should you be doing? If I could say that.

ALTER: They`re not.

MACNICOL: I think let`s just go back to the fact that this is a television
show, not technically television, but a show that`s supposed to be

ALTER: It is television, new television, online --

MACNICOL: A new television show. So, I understand the relief, certainly
from covering "The Newsroom", it was so sort of misguided of coverage of
how the media works. That`s relief of seeing something that covers the way
D.C. works, so specifically and accurately.

But the other question is, do we want to know how dysfunctional Washington,
D.C. is? Is that actually entertaining or is that just, like, so
exhausting? No one actually knows what they`re doing?

ALTER: Not to get too defensive about this show, even if you don`t like
politics, it`s very entertaining. I mean, there is a lot of domestic
issues that come up. By domestic, I mean, involving the housekeeper, you
know, and the character cooking and things that are genuinely related to
internal things.

Now it works on a few different levels. When a character mentioned Rand
Paul or Ted Cruz the scene is still funny even if you don`t though who Rand
Paul and Ted Cruz are. If you do you know what they represent, it`s funny
at a different level.

KORNACKI: Yes, I don`t know. When I`m watching it -- I watched the --
actually watched one, there`s three episodes available for free right now,
I watched one of them. I`m watching the John Goodman character, the
retired North Carolina basketball coach, conservative Republican senator.

I get the sense from the guy, the show is trying to communicate is that if
there he is, asleep at his seat. What the show is trying to communicate is
that the guy doesn`t have a bad heart, you know, you may disagree with him
completely on the issues, but when he casts all these vote, maybe this is
not to defend Washington, when he casts all these votes that might if
you`re liberal offend you, it`s not coming from a place where he thought it
all out. I want to screw this group, I want to screw that group. It`s
more he`s an affable dope who doesn`t quite understand --

ALTER: He`s going to go through a more inspiring conversion.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: They`re not so affable like that.

My favorite is the guy running for president who is literally in bed with
his super PAC.

ALTER: But they`re not coordinating.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Right, right. That`s right not coordinating.

I think like there are stuff like that, like little sort of nuggets of how
things work. I think you are right as a general entertainment show. I
would say anybody should watch the show. But I think there is great stuff
it digs up about how Washington works right now. It`s very cool.

THOMAS: Well, Washington works like -- it`s about running for re-election,
like the votes that he`s taking, you know, he doesn`t know if they`re
coming from a (INAUDIBLE), he doesn`t, but there are certain things he
needs to do to actually win especially now he is primaried by a Tea Party
character. And that can be a funny situation, but it`s also the situation
that every house member of Congress is in right now.

ALTER: Yes. That`s why we`ve tried to situate it in something real. And
also the other thing people should understand is that, as Gary Trudeau
says, he doesn`t like jokes. So, it`s not set up jokes, set up jokes, the
humor grows out of the situation.

KORNACKI: Did you guys -- are there particular members of Congress who you
guys talked with and almost use like as consultants for this?

THOMAS: I`m so staying away from this part of the conversation.

ALTER: So I did talk to several members of Congress in the course of this,
and one, and it`s come out already, Chuck Schumer has a cameo in an episode
in the middle of the season because both he and the character played by
Clark Johnson, a senator from Pennsylvania, some people might remember
Clark from "The Wire" and other things he`s been in, he likes to be a match
maker among the staff. And Schumer is the match maker. So you`re going to
see them interact a little on that score.

But I did also talk to a number of others, and, you know, we tried to --
unless we needed to depart in order to make it from, you know, the truth,
in order to make it funny, we tried to root it as much in reality as we
could. So, you know, if we have something about the mohair subsidy, there
is a mohair subsidy. And what`s always bothered me about a lot of
Hollywood depictions of Washington is that they make things up when they
don`t have to.


ALTER: They`re not making it up to be funny. They`re making it up out of
ignorance. So, we try to avoid that.

KORNACKI: The one piece of drama, and I haven`t seen it this far yet, but
you have Durbin and Schumer living together today and for years. And, of
course, Durbin and Schumer both kind of have their eyes on succeeding Harry
Reid someday as majority leader. Maybe a little tension in the house
having to do with that.

But anyway, what do we know now that we didn`t know last week? Our panel
gives us answers after this.


KORNACKI: Time to find out what our guests know now they didn`t know when
the week began.

Jonathan, we start with you.

ALTER : I know not enough people know that the show, I`m going to plug
here, is first three episodes are free and after that if you subscribe to
Amazon Prime the whole season, 11 episodes, are free, released every Friday
for the next eight weeks.

KORNACKI: Amazon house, "Alpha House" Amazon. Check it out.


MACNICOL: Speaking of streaming shows and accuracy, the first four seasons
of "Law and Order" on Netflix, and they provide an accurate depiction of
New York City in the early `90s, which following the de Blasio election
seems to be what some are scared we`re going back to.

KORNACKI: The first 48 seasons of that.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Religious conservatives are starting to look to Russia
for the next tactics of how they`re going to fight on the gay rights area.
You need to go to, read Jay Lester Feder. He`s doing a lot of
reporting on this. And it`s really, really fascinating stuff.

KORNACKI: All right. Shawna?

THOMAS: And if you need a laugh after this week of health care bad news,, they do movies in real life. They recreated the
famous scene from "When Harry Met Sally" with multiple women doing that
scene in Katz Deli. It is hilarious. Improveverywhere is run by my friend
Charlie Todd. Check it out.

KORNACKI: I love Improveverywhere.

I`m going to plug something I`m doing later. This afternoon, New
Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers University, I`m doing -- I`m moderating a
panel with three former New Jersey governors, Brendan Byrne, Jim Florio,
Christine Todd Whitman, talking about the governorship and the media. If
you`re in the area, stop by and check it out.

My thanks to Jonathan Alter, Glynnis MacNicol, Evan McMorris-Santoro and
Shawna Thomas for getting UP.

And join us tomorrow for a special two-hour edition of UP. It has been 50
years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We`ll look
back at how that day unfolded in Dallas on television and in Washington.
Panel includes Robert MacNeil, who was then NBC`s correspondent and was
with the president on November 22nd, as well as former JFK White House
aide, and former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford. It`s a big anniversary, it`s
a big show, we hope you tune in.

But coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY". The birthday party invite
that is the envy for any politician who wants to be president. It`s the
hottest political event going on and it happens tonight.

Plus, going on offense in the ongoing all-out assault on women. Democrats
shift tactics.

Melissa Harris-Perry, she is next.

And we will see you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.




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