UP with STEVE KORNACKI
November 23, 2013
Guest: Sasha Issenberg, Michael Beschloss, Jamelle Bouie, Joe Watkins,
Lynn Sweet, John Sides, Joe Watkins, Caroline Rhea, Jamelle Bouie
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: When the master of the Senate became the
president of the United States.
At the start of this brisk Saturday morning in November, we`re seeing some
things in a new light. We`re going to show you a long, lost interview with
Lyndon Johnson conducted in the last weeks, what was actually a miserable
vice presidency for him. We`ll also examine what happened when he became
president 50 years ago this weekend.
What is it that makes us so obsessed with the escapades of a mayor of a
Canadian city, Toronto`s Rob Ford? We`re going to head north of the border
to try to find out. And we are going to be joined by a real live full
blooded Canadian to help us try to make some sense of it.
We`re also going to take a closer look at what the turning points are in
the race for the White House, the things that move polls and change voters
and decide a presidency. They are not all what you might imagine them to
But first, it was never supposed to happen, especially not the way it
happened, but 50 years ago this morning, as Americans woke up in shock, in
mourning, wondering if what they`d experienced the day before had all been
some terrible dream. Lyndon Johnson woke up as president of the United
Before all of the awfulness in Dallas, LBJ`s official vice presidential
schedule had him slated to be in Austin, Texas on November 23rd, 1963. He
would be attending the dedication of a synagogue, instead, though, he was
back in Washington, suddenly, the most powerful man in the world a.
A week of remembrances of John F. Kennedy, a week of reflections about the
impact, the legacy, the meaning of his presidency, culminated in a formal
observance yesterday of the 50th anniversary in commemoration of his
murder, which means half a century ago, at this exact moment, Americans
were wondering exactly what NBCs (INAUDIBLE) was wondering.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the question in the national mind, of course, is
who is Lyndon Johnson?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Well, the answer to that question had changed dramatically just
in those past 24 hours. There`s a lot more complicated than anyone could
have appreciated at the time and maybe a lot more complicated than most
people realize today, because the Lyndon Johnson who awoke on November
22nd, 1963, was vastly different than the one who was frantically sworn in
as president less than 12 hours later.
Vice President Lyndon Johnson had fallen from the heights of power in the
1950s from being what historian Robert Carroll (ph) was dubbed the master
of the Senate, all the way to the margins of power, a man whose three years
as vice president had confirmed for another text and who`d held the same
office, John Nance Garner (ph) had once said, the vice presidency isn`t
worth a warm bucket of spit.
Johnson was a shadow of his former self. Officials in Washington regarded
him as a has been, joking whatever happened to Lyndon Johnson -- Kennedy
(ph) mocked his folksiness. They called him Rufus Cornpone. Only eight
weeks before the assassination, this was the defeated slow moving Lyndon
Johnson dressed in informally in his meeting with a local Houston affiliate
for an interview at his ranch in Texas.
The interviewer was Ray Miller (ph) of KTRC TV, and Johnson replied to his
question with the body language of a man who was just going through the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people thought when you gave up the majority
leadership in the Senate to become vice president, that you would find it a
comedown. How do you find it?
LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I can
imagine why anyone would think that. I don`t think vice presidents should
come down from anything. Only two officers in the land were elected by all
the people, the president and the vice president I have never known any
majority or senator willing to serve as vice president if his people are
willing to elect him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But no one really thought Johnson was the second most powerful
man in Washington then. "Life" magazine profiled the, quote, ""No. 2 man
in Washington." They were talking about the president`s brother, Robert
Kennedy, perhaps LBJ`s most bitter rival in the administration in all of
Washington, in all of politics.
Of course, to call them rivals at that moment to suggest that in the days
before fate made him president, LBJ was in the same league as Bobby Kennedy
when it came to power, the clout, the significance, when it came to having
a political future. Well, that would have been a gross distortion of the
concept of a rivalry. Months later, when he was safely ensconced in the
White House, LBJ spoke of the misery he`d felt as vice president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: I found it was very frustrating to sit there and not able to do
anything in the Senate. Sit in the cabinet and not have any employees
under your jurisdiction here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
JOHNSON: And, I don`t think that anybody would recognize how I felt except
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Johnson had told his mentor, House Speaker Sam Rayburn, quote,
"Being vice president is like being a cut dog." That was who LBJ was in
the months, in the weeks, in the days, in the minutes, in the seconds
before those shots rang out in Dallas. And put the personal indignities
aside, Lyndon Johnson back then pre-Dallas (ph) was also in very serious
A scandal in the secretary of the Senate`s office was unfolding. One that
involved LBJ`s protege, Bobby Baker, the web of graft, illicit sex and
influence pedaling. The Baker`s affair sparked new interest in how the
Johnsons had amass a fortune worth of millions of dollars after 30 years on
a government salary. November 1963, that powder keg was about to blow. On
November 22nd, as JFK`s presidential motorcade was rolling through Dallas.
The editors of "Life" magazine were meeting to delegate assignments in
their investigation to a project titled "Lyndon Johnson`s Money." The
Senate began sniffing around the Baker controversy. Lyndon Johnson`s shelf
life as a national politician seem to be rapidly expiring already.
Talk was beginning that Kennedy was going to bounce him from the 1964
ticket. Once the life story run -- or once that story and life ran, once
all that dirty laundry was aired in the Senate hearing, that decision would
be a no brainer.
Kennedy would jettison LBJ and that would be that. That was LBJs` deepest
fear. It was hardly without merit back then. It was during that Senate
hearing into the Baker affair, though, with the documents, checks, invoices
linking the vice president to some very illicit behavior that someone burst
in to say the president had been shot.
And that radically changed Lyndon Johnson`s life and so many others,
triggered an instant transformation. He wanted to be president all his
life. He knew exactly what he was supposed to do in that moment. He was
calm. He was decisive. He took action. He told every Kennedy aid that he
needed them more than ever, and he needed them more than President Kennedy
He brought in Congressional leaders and governors. He addressed a joint
session of Congress. He settled the country. He began a drive -- term
would have been Kennedy`s stalled legislative program into a reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: No memorial or Asian or eulogy could more eloquently honor
President Kennedy`s memory and the earliest possible passage of the civil
rights bill for which he fought so long.
JOHNSON: It is time now to write the next chapter and to write it in the
books of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: We remember this week`s 50th anniversary for all that was lost
and so much was lost. But it also (INAUDIBLE) in one of the most momentous
consequential periods in American history. It was LBJ who channeled the
grief over JFK`s death, who harnessed his own ability to count votes and
twist arms on Capitol Hill to etch a real civil rights act into law, to see
through the tax bill that had been installed under Kennedy, to push for his
own wildly ambitious war on poverty, and to get his way.
JFK`s death gave way to the LBJ landslide of 1964, one of the most thorough
presidential victories ever amassed and empowered LBJ with extraordinary
super majorities in the House and the Senate, gave us the 89th Congress,
perhaps, the most productive influential legislative session in American
history, a Congress that set a standard for sweeping progressive change
that no future Congress has lived up to.
Kennedy`s tragic death gave rise to what we might today remember as one of
the greatest presidencies in history were it not for a military
entanglement in Southeast Asia, entanglement that would come to eclipse to
erase in many people`s minds what LBJ had achieved on a domestic front.
But all of that downfall was still to come in 1964.
Back then, at the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony, Johnson said,
quote, "These are the most hopeful times in all the years since Christ was
born in Bethlehem." All that began today, 50 years ago today. We`ll
discuss what it means with historian, Michael Beschloss, and we will show a
review and exchange from that previously sealed, I guess you could say,
vice presidential interview right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did you discover you had this flare for politics?
JOHNSON: I don`t know I ever discovered it. I had a flare. I had
(INAUDIBLE) from my earliest memory. I`ve always had it since 4, 5, 6, 7-
years-old. I remember when I was shining shoes in all the shop in Johnson
City (ph) during World War I, it was then my announced ambition to someday
go to the United States senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was vice President Lyndon Johnson eight weeks before he
became president Lyndon Johnson. This footage that NBC News aired 50 years
ago today to help eliminate the American public on its new president. And
here to illuminate us on Lyndon Johnson, we have NBC News presidential
historian, Michael Beschloss, author of numerous books, including "Taking
Charge" on Lyndon Johnson`s ascension to White House.
Michael, thanks for taking a few minutes this morning. So, you know, we
sort of set it up there at the beginning about just how miserable LBJ`s
KORNACKI: So, take us through the transformation that was playing out at
this moment 50 years ago. What changed in LBJ when he became president and
what was his strategy as he became president? What was his strategy for
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, you know, I
thought you just set it up brilliantly, because here, you have LBJ. No one
knew it at the time, but we now know worrying about even being on John
Kennedy`s ticket in 1964, the night before the 22nd of November, the last
real talk between Kennedy and Johnson, they were in this room at the Rice
Hotel in Houston.
And Kennedy basically chewed it out because the factions of the Democratic
Party in Texas were not getting together and Kennedy blamed Johnson, and
Johnson stormed out of the room and he went -- and JFK went to see Jackie
and Jackie said what was that about in those raised voices and JFK said,
oh, that`s just Lyndon. He is in trouble, which really gives you an idea
of his situation just before he became president.
So, the unthinkable happened 50 years ago yesterday, and obviously, the
first thing he has to do was mend the country and make sure they realize
that they`re lucky enough to have someone with 30 years` experience, deep
experience in government, but at the same time, he`s worried about the fact
that he`s gotten information that Lee Oswald, the accused assassin, might
have had close ties with the Soviet government and/or the Cuban government.
And just about the first thing that Johnson was worrying about inside was
if there`s a piece of information that says that Oswald was acting as an
agent for Cuba or the Soviet Union in killing John Kennedy, Americans are
going to demand that we go to war against the Soviet Union and might kill
40 million people. No one knew it outside LBJ on the 23rd of November 50
years ago, but that`s what was going through his head.
KORNACKI: He was also, you know, terrified I guess politically about what
was going to happen with maybe Bobby Kennedy in 1964 --
KORNACKI: I wonder because that brings us to the first sort of major --
one of the first major legislative pushes he made in advance of the 64
convention. That was civil rights. That was getting civil rights -- how
much of that was -- because LBJ`s reputation, as you know, before becoming
vice president was this, you know, conservative southern senator --
BESCHLOSS: In 1948, he had run almost with White supremacist language.
KORNACKI: Exactly. So, how much of his push for civil rights was this was
the real LBJ who was finally free to be the real LBJ and how much it was, I
don`t want Bobby Kennedy to beat me at the 64 convention?
BESCHLOSS: I think it was genuine. I think he had always wanted to be for
things like civil rights when he ran for the Senate in Texas in 1948. That
was not the way to get elected. So, he now had that ability. But, in case
he didn`t, you know, a new southern president suddenly becoming president
after John Kennedy had been killed in his state, if he wasn`t even more for
--than Kennedy had been for civil rights, he would have been in trouble.
And he also knew that Robert Kennedy would be more likely to challenge him
in some way in 64 as well. But you know, the night that Johnson became
president 50 years ago last night, went back to his house of northwest and
said to his aids, what`s the biggest thing I have to worry about? And they
said, you know, the civil rights bill dragged Kennedy down probably 15, 20
Kennedy might not have been re-elected because of it in 1964. Boss, why
don`t you wait until 1965 so at least you can get re-elected first. And
Johnson to his great credit said, what the hell is this presidency for if I
can`t use it for civil rights?
KORNACKI: Well, that`s interesting. I want to play a clip here. I know
the clip from -- we dug up our producer, Jack Boards (ph), this interview
that LBJ had given a few months before becoming president to Ray Miller in
BESCHLOSS: Which I think is amazing. I think that`s rarely been seen.
KORNACKI: Yes. I hadn`t seen it before, and this is really interesting
passage, I think here where LBJ seems to suggest he`s got some
disagreements with Kennedy`s approach to presidency. Let`s listen to it
and then talk about it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think we`re doing everything we should be doing
to protect and preserve the system (ph)?
JOHNSON: No, not everything. I can`t think of things that I would do that
the other fellow was not doing in the state, to the local or federal level.
I think -- I would call them mistakes. We don`t know to see everything I
like (ph). If we did, we -- the same way. Overall, we`ve got much to be
proud of and very little to be ashamed of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I mean, he`s calling President Kennedy the other fellow, talking
about mistakes there. How different -- what was it about Kennedy`s
approach to the presidency that LBJ disagreed with, that frustrated him and
how different as a president was he than Kennedy?
BESCHLOSS: Well, first of all, on civil rights, what he`s doing there is
trying to make it very clear that if anything he`s more pro-civil rights
than Kennedy is. And also in May, in the spring or actually the spring and
summer -- I guess it was May of 1963, Johnson went to Gettysburg and gave a
speech that was not cleared by the White House. It was way out front of
what Kennedy was saying about civil rights.
It was almost like when Joe Biden came out for marriage equality before
President Obama did. And Kennedy was furious because Johnson had done
this. It was unclear. It made Kennedy look as if he wasn`t as strong as
he should be which it sure did. But the big reservation that Johnson had
was that, you know, he was a Picasso in dealing with Congress.
John Kennedy may have been a very great president, but he was almost a
finger painter compared to Johnson. And Kennedy never used Johnson in
dealing -- getting his program through Congress mainly because Johnson had
the feeling or Kennedy had the feeling you let Johnson, you know, get in
charge of even one area of my legislative program in three minutes, he`s
going to be controlling my whole White House.
KORNACKI: Going through an interesting period, I think, where things in
part to some of the stuff that you brought out, to some of the writing from
Robert Caroll (ph) or other historians where LBJ has been reassessed a
little bit, but when he passed away in early 1973, his legacy had been
completely, totally equipped as domestic legacy by Vietnam.
Can you talk a little bit about how, in his final days, LBJ reckoned with
how his domestic -- his Medicare, the great society civil rights, how that
was being sort of forgotten by history at that point and overwhelmed by
BESCHLOSS: He was deeply upset. He expected to have a large place in
American memory, and he didn`t have it, because 1973 as you say, Steve,
people thought of him as a Vietnam president. They`d almost forgotten the
great society and voting rights and civil rights and the wonderful things
he had done, especially in 1964 and 1965.
So, he died a very unhappy man. But, about a month before then, he had the
symposium on civil rights at the LBJ library, brought a lot of civil rights
leaders in. It was his last public appearance. He had heart pains that
day and was taking nitroglycerin tablets in public just to get through it.
And he ended it by using the same words he had used before Congress which
were, "we shall overcome." So, it was emotional. He never lived to see
the reassessment, but I agree with you, it is now happening today.
KORNACKI: Yes. And people remember how young LBJ actually was when he
died. He was only 64 or 65. I want to thank NBC News presidential
historian, Michael Beschloss, for joining us this morning.
KORNACKI: We appreciate the time.
BESCHLOSS: My pleasure.
KORNACKI: We`re going to move from the 1960 to the present day in just a
minute when the race between the parties not to come in last. That`s next.
KORNACKI: We`ve been talking about the political environment in 1963.
Now, we`re going to fast forward a half century to the present day. And to
help us do that, we`re joined now by Lynn Sweet, she`s the Washington
Bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun Times," Joe Watkins, he`s a republican
strategist, also a former White House aide to President George H.W. Bush,
Sasha Issenberg, he`s is author of "The Victory Lab" and Washington
correspondent for the magazine "Monocle," and Jamelle Bouie, he`s the staff
writer at the DailyBeast.com.
As for what we`re going to talk about, well, there appears to be a common
thread linking the numbers of the week. Congress isn`t ever popular. You
know this one by now, only 11 percent approving of their job performance
right now. The individual parties in Congress aren`t faring much better,
only 21 percent of Americans approve of how Republicans in Congress are
doing their job.
The number for Democrats is 26 percent. That`s down five points from last
month. Meanwhile, over at the White House, the latest polls give Obama
higher approval numbers, but still, the lowest he`s had since he became
president. Asked who they want to have more influence over the country,
Obama or Republicans in Congress, the answer was pretty much a wash.
The holidays fast approaching, the end of 2013 just beyond that and with a
big election year on the horizon, it raises the question of what will the
parties be running on in the 2014 midterms. Can they say, we know, our job
approval numbers are down. We know the American people are unhappy with
us, but please, vote for us anyway because you`re more unhappy with those
That seemed to work for Democrats in Virginia a few weeks ago when voters
rejected the far right, Ken Cuccinelli, more than they embraced Democrat,
Terry McAuliffe. Now, Republicans are convinced they have a winning
negative message of their own, thanks to the Obamacare rollout headaches
where a positive message out there that can work.
So, I guess I`ll throw this open to panel, because you know, if we had this
discussion three weeks ago, I would have been talking about the Virginia
governor`s race, I don`t know if there -- a couple weeks ago and the
fallout from the shutdown and the debt ceiling brinksmanship. They`re
going to say, well, I haven`t seen a Republican brand this poisonous since
impeachment in 1988.
The basis still intent on nominating unelectable candidates. Therefore,
clearly, there`s an advantage here for Democrats. Now, in some of the more
recent polling, we`re seeing that`s at least temporarily neutralized by all
of the health care problems. Is one more permanent than the other?
JAMELLE BOUIE, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: I don`t think there`s particularly
permanent. I think the fact that we saw the Republican gets brand recover
so quickly should tell you that maybe the Democratic brand will recover
just as quickly going forward. The 2014 election, I think, will be fought
on 2014 issues. And one of those 2014 issues will be the Affordable Care
Act, the next rollout, and how it`s going.
But other than that, I`m not sure what we can really say. We should look
to the issues, particularly, the local races. We should see what actual
individual electorates you`re looking at. But on the macropicture, I`m not
sure -- I`m not sure at the point we could say really what`s going on.
KORNACKI: Have we seen the Republican brand just in the past now weeks
bounce back or is it just more that there`s been more negatives for
JOE WATKINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think what this has just been, I
think the administration has had a hard time with the rollout of the
Affordable Care Act and the way they`ve handled it hasn`t been particularly
nimble. All criticism is not bad. I mean, I think the tendency of this
administration has been to say, you know, if we put aside this, we push
back, but all criticism is not bad, especially when it comes from other
Democrats, like President Clinton and others.
So, I think that the administration is smart not to be moved by whatever
the poll numbers say today because we know in politics that poll numbers
are up and sometimes they`re down.
KORNACKI: And they can be up in the same place. So, here`s an example of
trying to make sense of the poll numbers on the issue of health care.
Here`s President Obama`s approval, and this is the CBS News poll this week.
His approval rating on the issue of health care, 32 percent approve, 65
disapprove. Oh, God, that`s a disaster. That`s terrible.
But look at this, same poll, do you want -- Obamacare, is it working?
Well, keep it as only seven percent say yes. It has good things that just
need some changes, 48 percent. Add those two together, you got 55 percent.
You got a majority. Only 43 percent say the law is completely repealed
entirely. So, those numbers are, actually, I think, consistent with what
we`ve been seeing for the last few years.
SASHA ISSENBERG, AUTHOR, "THE VICTORY LAB": Yes. I mean, the news came to
the Republican agenda, right? So, throughout the year, people are joking
about the fact that Republicans who voted, whatever, 40 something times in
the House to repeal Obamacare, and there`s some idea that they were
fighting a long lost war that they should be moving on to other fronts. It
was seen as the sort of quick -- obsession.
Well, it turns out that sort of all of that energy that was spent trying
to, you know, persuade an electorate not just to share their position on
going forward but to care about this as a 2013-2014 issue was well-placed
for reasons entirely outside their control. I mean -- don`t necessarily
show great --
KORNACKI: They almost got lucky.
ISSENBERG: They got lucky. Right.
LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN TIMES: Here is an internal number in that poll you
cited, though, I think is very important. It said many Americans say they
don`t understand how the health care law will affect them. It`s 48 percent
say they do and 48 percent say it`s confusing. And in that number, I put
on the panel for discussion is where the battle will be.
This is not just a matter of getting the website working and getting people
signed up. The place where the Democrats can save themselves here is
getting a redo, which they will do because you always do in this business.
You get to restart things as many times as you want to finally explain it.
If you ask people, you know, probably if you took a poll and said Medicare,
do you like it? You might get the same result, because a lot of people are
confused about it, exactly what it is, who`s covered, isn`t that Medicaid?
So, I think in that poll that 48-48 split is an important number to be
WATKINS: Here`s a challenge, the challenge that this is a federal mandate.
That means that everybody is affected by it. I mean, people are affected
by this. Folks who thought that they weren`t going to be affected by this,
who thought they could actually keep their plan or find out that they can`t
keep their plan.
SWEET: Exactly my point.
KORNACKI: We keep saying, if this website gets up and running, if these
exchanges are up and running, how many people are going to find out if they
have benefits --
SWEET: And the people who lost -- who got those renewal notices can find
alternatives that they are happy with.
KORNACKI: I want to -- go ahead, yes.
BOUIE: So, there`s sort of two competing constituencies here, right? You
have the five million or so Americans who`ve lost or had their health
insurance changes as a result of the Affordable Care Act and then you have,
what, the 40 million or so Americans who just didn`t have health insurance
to begin with.
And so, the question going forward is how many, like whose voice ends up
weighing more? Those five million Americans --
SWEET: May I just say one thing about that? People without -- and we know
some of the answer now in a massive focus group, the people that have
insurance are organized and they speak far louder than the --
KORNACKI: Which is why the story of getting any kind of national health
care plan was like a century long story, because that constituency would
get frightened so easily and it would stop progress. I want to shift gears
little bit. We talked so much about the messages coming out of Virginia.
The other sort of premier swing state in the country is Colorado.
And I want to try to make some sense of interesting developments in that
state in the last few weeks. We`re going to show you what those are and
talk about that when we come back.
KORNACKI: So, I was teasing Colorado before the break to set this up.
This is the presidential result last year, Romney versus Obama in Colorado.
You see, Obama won 51-46. This is sort of -- this is what I think the
second-most mirror-like state in the country when it comes to the national
result. Virginia one of the closest to the actual national result.
Colorado was the second closest. You can see.
So, that`s really sort of -- it makes the state sort of one of the premier
swing states a barometer. We talked about the warning signs for
Republicans in Virginia. They nominated a far right candidate who lost an
election he probably shouldn`t have lost if history means anything. What`s
happening in Colorado now is really interesting, though, because the state
has moved to the competitive sort of blue friendly category in the last
Democratic governor, democratic legislature, and they started doing
Democratic things. They did gun control, they did civil unions, because
getting actual gay marriage is a really complicated process out there. And
they have now, in the last year, been subjected to Democratic State
senators recalled in Colorado over the gun issue, an education funding bill
they put in the ballot.
They lost just a few weeks ago. And now, we have this new numbers here.
John Hickenlooper, Democratic governor, this guy was supposed to be a
rising national star just a year ago. Does he deserve re-election this
week in Colorado? Forty-two percent yes, 49 percent no. Here`s a head-to-
head matchup with him against Tom Tancredo. I mean, you remember this guy.
This is -- a far right candidate, maybe even farther right than Cuccinelli.
And there`s Hickenlooper in a dog fight with Tancredo. So, I`m trying to
make sense of it because from a Democratic standpoint, they got to feel
good about what happened in Virginia. But here, they are pursuing what I
think by any reasonable standards is a Democratic agenda, but it`s not
very, very far left (ph) in Colorado and they`re -- he`s even paying a
price for it.
BOUIE: I think it might be a function of the fact that -- two things, you
have a lot of people who are frustrated generally with politics as a result
of things in the national level, and I think it`s carrying over to sort of
their perception of their state level representatives and elected
officials. I unfortunately don`t know the kind of specifics about
Colorado, so I`m not going to make any broad pronouncements which is
probably, I guess, some bad.
BOUIE: -- should they be making broad --
KORNACKI: Hundreds a year.
BOUIE: But I will say that generally whenever elected officials really
pursue an expense (ph) of agenda, there`s push-back. Even when the public
likes what`s happening, they`re not always, they don`t always approve of
sort of the speed of it or the extent of it and given sort of economic
conditions around the country, there is sort of like a generalized
frustration with that.
KORNACKI: That has been the Republican -- Joe, this is the -- I mean, this
was the Republican calculation when Obama became president, wasn`t it? It
was that economic anxiety is so high, they are going to -- finally
Democrats for the first time in years, have the House, they have the
Senate, they have the white house, they`re going to pursue their agenda
We, as Republicans, just have to say no, just have to obstruct as much as
we can. And all that anxiety and all that frustration is going to be
channeled to us, because we`re a protest vehicle. That`s sort of the story
of 2010. That`s the story of the Republican nationally, isn`t it?
WATKINS: I think what most Republicans would like to be a little more
positive than that and they`d like to say, you know, we are the party of
fiscal responsibility, and certainly, in the 2016 race, there got to be a
much bigger tent in the party has been in 2012 or 2008, and they`re going
to be. But that being said, in 2014, even though all politics are local,
we do have a couple of issue, certainly the one issue of the affordable
care act which is national and which affects people everywhere.
KORNACKI: Is that all the Republicans want to run next year? This week,
you hear Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. Every time we`re asking the
question about anything, they come right back to Obamacare. Obama --
SWEET: Yes. And I know this morning, we`re calling it the Affordable Care
Act instead of Obamacare. So, here`s the thing, Colorado by the way, they
have almost a third of independent voters. So, what you have to consider
in that state is that there`s just a whole restless group out there that go
back and forth.
Obamacare is what the national Republican House political cooperation is
saying is their best issue right now.
KORNACKI: They still think fundamentally --
KORNACKI: -- a negative message.
SWEET: But right now, you have -- let`s just think of a period of time
where people are deciding to run for office right now. It going to be
locked in state by state as we`re starting the campaign cycle and what is
important now in this issue is candidate recruitment.
So, I know this sounds a little technical, but, actually, if you`re a
potential Republican candidate and you have to decide whether to get in or
not, I think having an issue that you think may be strong now that could
last through this cycle could help the party recruit stronger candidates,
even maybe a little more centrist, because that`s more important issue than
just some traditional Tea Party issues.
KORNACKI: OK. We will let that be the last word in this. And then, we
will say this, a television spectacle made for by and about television that
transfixed Americans by the tens of millions. It was a phenomenon a
generation ago, and it is about to become one all over again right here on
this set. I`m going to explain what I mean by that right after this.
KORNACKI: So, about that major television event, we`re going to bring back
to life right here on this show. Do you remember it, back in the 1970s and
1980s, a showdown of the biggest names in primetime broadcast
entertainment, the battle of the network stars. So many bold face name
(ph), such intense competition they can only do it once or twice a year.
Here`s Jen from 1979 with teen ABC, headlined by a pre-Charles in Charge
Willie Aames. He was on (INAUDIBLE) back then, there`s future "airplane"
star Robert Hayes. They were competing against team CBS that was headlined
by one day at a time`s Valerie Bertinelli, and of course, there`s Ed Asner
(ph), TV new grant -- he was the team captain, and finally, the menacing
And look, there`s Robert Conrad, Pappy Boyington from Black Sheep squadron,
and Erin Grey from Buck Rodgers and the 25th century. They swam, they ran,
they barreled through obstacle courses in a grueling high stakes
competition. All of it emceed by the one, the only, Mr. Howard Cosell,
even when he`d been booted from Monday Night Football, even when there were
no Ali fights to call.
He still had battle of the network stars. The last battle aired in 1988,
was never revived until today, because we got our own battle of the MSNBC
network stars here on "Up Against the Clock" and it`s next.
ANNOUNCER: Live from studio 3a in Rockefeller Center`s USA, it`s time for
a special battle of the network stars edition of "Up Against the Clock."
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANNOUNCER: Originally from New York, New York, she played politics for
keeps, this is MSNBC`s own Karen Finney.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANNOUNCER: A Los Angeles native, she`s the most nutritious part of your
weekend morning news diet, this is Alex Witt. You`ve heard of Prince,
you`ve heard of Cher, and now, from Randolph, Massachusetts, MSNBC`s own
one man wonder, it`s "The Cycle`s" Trey.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANNOUNCER: And now the host of "Up Against the clock," Steve Kornacki.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KORNACKI: Thank you, Bill Wolf. Thank you, studio audience. Thank you,
contestants. And thank you everyone tuning in at home for another "Up
Against the Clock." Welcome to a very special edition this morning. It`s
the battle of the network`s stars.
KORNACKI: We know the rules. You have three rounds of play. We have
wrong answers that will cost you. There are also a few instant bonuses
scattered in these questions. And studio audience, as always, I beg you,
please, no outburst because contestants deserve and demand absolute
concentration when they`re up against the clock. And with that,
contestants, I`m going to ask you, are you ready to play?
KORNACKI: Let`s get this battle of the stars under way. Let`s put 100
seconds on the clock. Let`s start with the 100-point round and see those
100 seconds on the clock and we go with this.
After their intrafamily dispute was publicly aired this week, Mary Cheney
said that she is not supporting her sister Liz`s campaign to unseat what --
TOURE, MSNBC REPORTER: Mike Enzi.
KORNACKI: Mike Enzi is correct. A 100 points for Toure. After pleading
guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor cocaine possession --
TOURE: Trey Radel.
KORNACKI: Trey Radel is correct. Someone came to play. 100-point
KORNACKI: Among the 16 Americans on whom President Obama bestowed the
presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday was this recently deceased long
serving Hawaii senator.
TOURE: Dan Inouye.
KORNACKI: Daniel Inouye is correct. This is an instant bonus question,
Toure. Obama also awarded the Medal of Freedom to what retired college
TOURE: Dean Smith.
KORNACKI: Dean Smith is correct. A 100 more points for Toure.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC REPORTER: He didn`t hit the buzzer.
KORNACKI: 850,000 or 600,000, the Department of Housing and Urban
Development announced this week that it estimates this many Americans were
homeless in 2013.
KORNACKI: 600,000 is correct. A 100 points for Karen. 100-point tossup,
Rand Paul, whose previous offer of sharing a beer was rebuff proposed this
week to share a fried Twinkie with what prominent governor? Time, Chris
100-point question, this former vice presidential nominee and two-time
presidential hopeful, all around two-timer announced this week he is
opening a new law firm.
FINNEY: John Edwards.
KORNACKI: John Edwards is correct. 100-point question, the grandson of
this former president filed paperwork this week --
TOURE: George Prescott Bush.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. Deduct 100 points in the floor (ph). The grandson
of this former president filed paperwork this week to run for Texas land
ALEX WITT, MSNBC REPORTER: It Is George P. Bush.
TOURE: George Prescott Bush. Yes.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. the grandson of this former --
FINNEY: George Bush.
KORNACKI: Please be more specific.
FINNEY: Herbert walker.
KORNACKI: That`s correct. 100 points for Karen. And that brings --
KORNACKI: -- of the 100-point -- yes, it was the syntax.
KORNACKI: Karen Finney 300 points, Toure 300 points, Alex negative 100
because of the syntax.
We go to the 200-point round. We put 100 seconds on the clock. 200-point
questions, these are a little harder, contestants. And with this we go,
the Senate recessed on Thursday without endorsing a bipartisan plan to give
military prosecutors and not military commanders authority to pursue
military assault -- sexual assault cases in a bill that was crafted by
WITT: Gillibrand is the senator who crafted. That`s correct. 200 points.
We should be talking about expanding Social Security benefits. This
freshman senator declared --
WITT: Senator Warren.
KORNACKI: Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said that in the floor
speech Monday, correct. 200-point question, it was revealed Tuesday that
this motion picture association of America chairman made more than $3
million last year, a far cry from the $174,000 he received as --
FINNEY: Chris Dodd.
KORNACKI: Chris Dodd was the senior senator from Connecticut in 2010.
This is an instant bonus question. Karen, double your points with this.
When Dodd retired from the Senate in 2010, he was replaced by whom?
FINNEY: The guy the White guy with the thing.
FINNEY: Just kidding. Trying to get --
KORNACKI: Time. Correct answer was Richard Blumenthal. Back with this
200-point toss-up question, this former Virginia gubernatorial candidate
who was critically wounded when his own son stabbed him was released from
the hospital on Friday.
FINNEY: Creigh Deeds.
KORNACKI: Creigh Deeds was released from the hospital on Friday. 200
correct. 200-point question, even though it debuted this week with robust
ratings, this show featuring Toronto mayor, Rob Ford, was cancelled by
Canada`s "Sun News" television channel.
WITT: We were just talking about that.
KORNACKI: Time. The answer is "Ford Nation." 200-point question, this
state`s governor signed marriage equality into law.
TOURE: This state, Illinois.
KORNACKI: That`s correct, syntax. 200-point question -- and that brings
us to the end of the round. Karen Finney has moved in --
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
FINNEY: Yes! Girl power, girl power.
KORNACKI: -- Trey at 500. A wide opened battle of the network stars and
it will climax with this, the Ph.D. level, 300-point questions. This is
where we will crown a network star champion. 100 seconds on the clock.
300-point question is this. Three Democratic senators broke with their
party when it changed Senate rules to do away with judicial and executive
branch filibusters on Thursday.
FINNEY: Landrieu, Manchin and -- oh God.
KORNACKI: Time. And I`m going to finish the question. Red state
Democrats Mark Pryor and Joe Manchin were two of them. Which blue state
Democrat was the third?
Time. It was Carl Levin of Michigan. 300-point question, this Tea Party
Republican who many believe cost the GOP a winnable Colorado Senate seat in
2010 is only three points behind Democratic senator, Mark Udall --
WITT: Tancredo (ph).
KORNACKI: Incorrect. In a poll released this week, call time. That was
Ken Buck. 300-point question, this outspoken progressive senator told a
newspaper last weekend that he or she is opened to making a presidential
FINNEY: Bernie Sanders.
KORNACKI: Bernie Sanders is correct. Instant bonus, Karen. Sanders
formally served as the mayor of Vermont`s largest city, name it.
FINNEY: Wait, I didn`t hear --
KORNACKI: Sanders formally served as the mayor of Vermont`s largest city.
KORNACKI: Burlington, home of the Catamounts. That`s Correct. 300 more
points for Karen. 300-point question, President Obama will speak about the
economy next week at the headquarters of what?
KORNACKI: Dreamworks the speaker (ph) next week. 300-point question, one
of the last surviving members of John F. Kennedy`s cabinet who also proved
to be its most enduringly controversial member was this defense secretary
who passed away.
KORNACKI: Robert McNamara passed away in 2009. 300-point question, on
Thursday, it was the nomination of this woman to the D.C. Circuit Court of
TOURE: Patricia Millett.
KORNACKI: Patricia Millett is correct. That ends the round. This is
going to be a close one. Karen Finney with 1000 points --
KORNACKI: Alex Witt with 600. Karen Finney, congratulations.
KORNACKI: We have a prize package for you with a new twist this weekend.
Bill Wolf is here to tell you about it.
FINNEY: All right.
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.
You`ll also get to play in our bonus round for today`s grand prize, a $50
gift certificate to (INAUDIBLE) in Clifton, New Jersey, in the greater
meadowlands area. (INAUDIBLE). Back to you, Steve.
KORNACKI: Look at that, so Karen and Toure will be reunited next Friday on
"The Cycle." But Karen we have some unfinished business here because to
win that roughs cut -- that`s right. You`re off next Friday. To win that
roughs cut, at some point, gift certificate, your jackpot bonus question,
Karen. Bill Clinton became the seventh president in history to receive the
presidential Medal of Freedom this week. Who was the first?
FINNEY: Ah, Roosevelt.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. It was John F. KENNEDY and the --
KORNACKI: But, Karen, we do. We want to congratulate you. We want to
thank Alex Witt and Toure for --
KORNACKI: Alex and Toure, you will not be leaving us empty handed today.
We have --
KORNACKI: -- home edition for you. Remember ages 12 and over only. Small
children have choked on it in the past. So be careful. And we have the
leaderboard. Let`s out Karen`s win in perspective. This is our season of
"Up Against the Clock." The highest score is Karen.
You can see you are as a division winner, you`ll get a star next to your
name there. It`s not up there yet -- that advance graphics. But you will
be back for our tournament of champions because you have won your match
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KORNACKI: Any parting thoughts from our --
FINNEY: My apologies to Senator Blumenthal.
KORNACKI: Richard Blumenthal --
WITT: This was awesome. I have to come back and do it --
WITT: The weekend stars and you can be an honorary weekend.
KORNACKI: Toure, that was -- we have never seen a start to the show as
impressive. You were on a tear in that first round.
KORNACKI: I had to get one. Anyway, we will be here next week. Another
battle for the ages on "Up Against the Clock." I want to thank all of our
network stars for joining us. We will be back with the real show.
KORNACKI: They are supposed to be the huge turning points in the
presidential election, the game changers. You heard that term once or
twice, maybe 12,000 times. In 2012, we had a few of them. There was Mitt
Romney`s 47 percent video, there was the first debate and Bill Clinton`s
grand slam of a convention speech. You remember those big moments.
There were also a lot of moments treated as big moments when they happened.
But they`re looking back now where we can clearly see where lesser moments
were non-moments. They were fake game changers. We can see it now, but
when these events or non-events happened, they were all too often trumpeted
as game changers by journalists, pumped up perhaps to beat the 24-hour
beast of covering a modern presidential campaign.
I remember when Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen said that Ann Romney
hadn`t work a day in her life, and neither do I, but that remark set off a
cable news firestorm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: The comments that Hilary Rosen
made today certainly have awakened many mama grizzlies across the nation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Romney campaign is already fundraising off of
Rosen`s remarks, by the way, with a low dollar campaign. Donate $6 to get
your, quote, "mom`s drive the economy bumper sticker and send a message to
President Obama," the fundraising email says.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t think it`s a manufactured controversy as some
have called it. These controversies really pick at a scab of something
that`s really pulsing in the American electorate -- a debate about women`s
rights, about women`s role.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KORNACKI: It`s easy to see now that this like so many eruptions like it in
2012 was not a game changer. But where exactly go you draw the line? Is
there even such a thing as a game changer?
Two political scientists who have written a new book believe the concept is
wildly exaggerated and overstated. And they`re not even sure the supposed
big changes of last year, the big game changers of last year, like the 47
percent video, actually moved the polling data that much in the end.
In their new book, "The Gamble", John Sides and Lynn Vavreck argue that
these moments obsessed over by reporters pretty much didn`t matter on
election day. "Instead," they write, "presidential elections on national
conditions, especially the state of the economy, the candidates` efforts to
mobilize and persuade voters."
While it`s easy to ridicule the obvious excesses of campaign journalism and
see the basic point that structural factors do account for a large amount
of what happens in presidential elections, it`s still the question of
whether politics is really a science or an art. If you are truly measure,
to put a number on, to reduce the data, the mishmash of stimuli and
reaction and emotion, and reasoning that leads voters to behave the way
they behave at the polls.
Perhaps the most succinct skeptical take on the limits of political science
was expressed by the blogger Digby. "I remain unconvinced," she wrote,
"that politics can be boiled down to data sets, particularly when we have
such limited data to draw upon. There`s just too psychology, culture, and
heuristics," I believe the word is there, certainly it looks smart on
paper, "involved for me to see it as anything but an art, a dark art much
of the time, but an art nonetheless."
Back here to talk about this, we have Sasha Issenberg. He`s writer and
author of "The Victory Lab."
We have MSNBC`s Karen Finney, former communications director with the
Democratic National Committee, the reigning "Up Against the Clock"
champion, we must say.
Lynn Sweet is back. She`s the Washington bureau chief of "The Chicago Sun-
And we have John Sides, he`s the co-author of that book we were just
talking about, and we are going to be talking about, "The Gamble". He`s
also associate professor of political science at George Washington
And, John, since we sort of built this around the argument that you and Len
are making this book, I`ll give you the first crack at it. The skeptical
take on this and you`ve taken exception to it, is the idea that you guys
are saying campaigns don`t matter, presidential campaigns don`t matter.
Explain exactly what your thesis is. You`re saying they do matter, just
not nearly as much as people think.
JOHN SIDES, AUTHOR: That`s right. What we`re really saying here you have
two well-matched candidates that each have a billion dollars to spend. And
in some sense, their respective campaigns are just cancelling the effects
of the other out. So, in some sense, the campaigns are mattering, both of
them are mattering, at the same time in the same way. And that makes it
hard for either of them to getting that advantage.
If you want to go to other kinds of campaigns, back to the presidential
primaries, for example, down the ballot to congressional races or state
legislative races, those are the kind of races in which I think you can see
campaign effects much more clearly. So, in some sense, we spend time in
general elections looking in the least likely game changes.
KORNACKI: So, let`s -- I want to talk about how this affects all races of
all levels of bout. But let`s start with 2012, a common point of a
discussion here to try to understand what did and didn`t matter from your
perspective and from everybody else`s perspective here, let`s take probably
the highest profile. And I have always hated the term "game changer", it
sounds like a cliche. "Double Down" is another, that`s the title of both
of those books.
But I`m not making a commentary on the books, it`s just, boy, those words
or terms are ever used.
But the biggest game change, for lack of a better word, that everyone talks
about in the 2012 is the 47 percent video of Mitt Romney and Democrats use
that endlessly. It got so much coverage. What is your take on what the
actual effect of that was on President Obama winning last year by about 5
SIDES: If you look at the average of the polls that were in the field in
and around the release of that video, you just didn`t see a lot of
movement. The best we were able determine drilling down into the polling
data that we had at our disposal was some Republican voters who were
supporters of Romney perhaps became temporarily undecided, but they came
right back to Romney after the first debate.
KORNACKI: So, what -- Karen, so when you hear something like that,
somebody`s worked in politics --
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC HOST: Yes.
KORNACKI: I imagine if you had been working for the DNC in 2012, you get
your hands on the 47 take, this is going to be the thing you guys are
doing. How do you respond to that?
FINNEY: You have to keep it all in perspective, you know, working --
having worked with many pollsters. That`s only one piece of the puzzle,
right? My favorite thing about the 2008 election was that every week that
it went on longer and longer than pundits and everybody on the smart people
predicted, it`s human beings we are talking about, people with their
emotions and their gut feeling.
So, you can only measure so much of that. So the 47 percent, I think
things like that, essentially, either reinforce the narrative. So that was
the narrative about Mitt Romney. It reinforced it.
It was words right out of his mouth, just like in, you know, other things
that people say. Remember that it`s a game of inches at this point,
because when you are putting together a presidential campaign strategy and
trying to win, and you`re looking at a state like Ohio, you`re looking
county by county, you`re looking city by city, where are those votes coming
from? I mean, that is the minutia of how you win a presidential.
So, it -- you know, maybe the 47 percent or Barack Obama talking about
arugula in Iowa, it had an impact. But maybe it was only five people.
KORNACKI: Can I say something? It`s almost from a data standpoint
imperceptible but it shows up at a sort of microscopic level, or is it
something you can`t even measure? I guess that`s good.
FINNEY: I think you can`t actually measure. Although -- and I would take
exception with the 47 percent. I think one of the biggest game changers of
2012 was actually all the voter ID laws, because I think the backlash of
that actually brought people out, made people so angry in a visceral way
and in a different way than the 47 percent comment even could. And that`s
why you saw people waiting in line eight or nine hours. I mean, that is a
game changer in my life (ph).
KORNACKI: Well, yes. So, Sasha, you`re somebody who`s really written
about sort of the intersection of data and politics and sort of data driven
mechanics of campaigns. How do you make sense of the argument that John is
SASHA ISSENBERG, AUTHOR: So, John, would have a sort of a remarkable data
set which is all of this panel polling throughout the year. I do think
there is a difference in saying something did not have an immediate effect
on the top level horse race and it did not have an impact on the outcome of
the election. You know, that video you showed that set off the Hilary
Rosen thing, the Chuck Todd clip was him not saying that this was
persuasively change voter`s opinions with the DNC put up bumper sticker and
raising money and list building off of that.
What we know about where our votes come from, through mobilization
registration, a lot of that, the best way to change the electorate is
through -- high volunteer-based contacts. So, if hypothetically the DNC
got new names, so people think they can convert into volunteers or they
raise money through fundraising that they put into field offices with
supported field activity, the downstream effects of that one creating new
votes for Democrats is something the data sets you guys use wouldn`t be
able pick up.
So I think there is a difference between saying, yes, this moved the horse
race in the week following the event and this created a chain of events
that we just don`t have the capacity to measure.
KORNACKI: So, Lynn, how do you -- so how do you, because you have to write
the stories every day about all these events that are happening, whether
it`s the 47 percent, whether it`s Hilary Rosen, whatever the campaigns are
talking about, how do you sort of in your mind brake down, I want to
highlight this, I want to stretch this, should be -- am I overplaying this?
How do you make sense of the day-to-day things you are confronted with --
LYNN SWEET, THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ding, ding, ding, how does it work?
SWEET: Yes. Well, but actually, because I know that, and we all know that
politics, there is only one way to win a campaign, campaigns would only use
one way, everything that my three colleagues here are talking about are the
components of a campaign. So, day to day you look at the story of the day
is, obviously -- you know, 47 percent videotape is there.
Campaigns know that there is many moving objects. You have to look at the
big national picture, a presidential campaign is one in states and counties
and this is a case where what you measure, John is very important because
it`s anything that informs decision makers in campaigns is what they`re
hungry for from yard signs to big polls to speeches and in the end, why
people vote and what motivates, the true undecideds. You know, in a
campaign, first you, you have to make sure your base is locked in. In
presidential, you are plotting over people who, for some reason, can`t make
up their mind with an abundance of information or are persuadable.
And what is imprecise is what these persuadables will react to. And that`s
what it comes down to. So, you may be impacted by commercial. You may be
hit by direct mail. You may be influenced by social media and you may just
go on the web and read every policy paper, because it`s a small number of
people, companies have to be --
KORNACKI: In general, when I read that quote from David (INAUDIBLE) at the
beginning gets that, I think some people see the limits of political
science. And maybe you can speak -- it`s sort of what Len is saying here,
you can look at maybe the data and say I can find no direct correlation in
the polling data between 47 percent and like Romney`s numbers going up or
down at the moment, or people saying in exit polls, this is what motivated
But if you take this as a persuadable voter, the small amount that remained
-- they`re in the election booth on Election Day. They`re trying to go
back and forth between Romney and Obama. And they`re trying to take stock
of just all the assault on their brains from the last six months of living
this campaign. Is this maybe at that point that like this impression of
Romney that`s created by the 47 percent, by these wealth gaps, by that
disastrous foreign trip, did that all sort of congeal in a way that you
can`t measure maybe?
SIDES: I`m not sure about it. I mean, it depends on what we are talking
about, I mean, besides psychology, culture and heuristics, which are
longstanding topic of study of sciences. So, I don`t think these things
exactly stand outside of scientific inquiry. If one can think about things
like the voters` impressions s of the candidates, you know, as people, we
can ask questions about those things, too.
And we did in our book. We looked at people`s perception of just -- did
they like Romney? Did they like Obama? Did they think that these
candidates cared about the middle class?
Obama had advantages on those indicators throughout the campaign. Were
those advantages large enough to, you know, constitute his margin of
victory in a national popular vote? No.
So, if Romney closed those gaps, would he have won? Our analysis suggests
In general, I`m sympathetic to the idea that we can`t measure everything,
but I don`t know what the better alternative is. Bill James, the famous
father of sabermetrics in baseball said the alternative to the statistics
is not no statistics, it`s bad statistics.
ISSENBERG: Look, I`m happy that people like Lynn are talking to people
like John about this stuff, but you guys have two very different jobs.
And, you know, you call yourself a campaign reporter, and you call somebody
that does election studies, and I think the difference between looking at
campaigns and elections is really important. This isn`t just semantic,
So, fundamentally the question that runs through your whole book is do
these various things that campaigns or candidates or outside groups do have
a measurable impact that can explain the outcome of an election? It is
more interesting to you if it`s a 2-point race or12-point race because
certain things you measure can either explain the margin or not.
There are all sorts of reasons to write about what happens in a campaign,
what the candidates are saying. What their allies are doing, because it
informs often how they govern whether or not the reason, the stories that
Obama people tell themselves why they won are influencing a lot of
decisions they make in terms of governing. They influence the way that
they see their coalition, where their coalition comes from.
You know, there are a lot of different ways can you have a 58-41 split in
the country, and depending on the story you tell yourself about how you won
and were those votes came from, dramatically changes.
KORNACKI: That`s a question I want to pick up on the other side because
we`ve got to squeeze a break in here. But it`s the question of why --
because we have people from diverse viewpoints here approaching how to read
an election. How do each of you interpret the reason Obama did win last
year by 5 millions? I`ll go ask each of that when we come back.
KORNACKI: So, I remember -- you know, I used to cover politics in New
Jersey. There is this senate race, John Corzine, you know, quasi -- one of
the -- multi-billionaire, whatever he was, running against this congressman
named Bob Franks, a Republican. And it was the year that Al Gore won New
Jersey in a landslide by 17 points and Corzine barely won the election. He
won by like three points despite spending all this money.
And the saying in New Jersey was always that Jon Corzine had won the
election but Bob Franks had won the campaign, because he had come so much
closer as a Republican against that money and all that. I wanted to apply
that question to all of you looking at 2012.
Did Obama win -- is the result that we saw last year the 5 million vote
Obama victory is that a result of Obama winning the campaign? Was it
things that he affirmatively did or was it just the result of structural
factors and, hey, the economy is improving enough and he should have won?
FINNEY: You know what? I think it`s always a combination of both. I want
to go back to one thing we were talking about, because voting is an
emotional experience for people. There is all kind of brain research that
shows it`s not an intellectual experience.
It goes to why -- you know, Democrats say why are people voting against
their economic interest? They`re not. They`re voting for what they
believe is a higher interest, which is their morals and their values.
So, to that point, it`s very hard to truly measure what it is that makes
somebody vote one way or the other. I think for President Obama, that
being said, knowing that people are not legits and hard to measure, they
said, OK, we need to hang the electorate and know where those voters are,
we need to know, like I said, down to -- you know, they would know on a
single street how many people they needed to talk to, exactly what messages
they need for the communicate to those people to get them to pay attention
to or listen to or engage in their campaign. And they had a sophisticated
strategy then, once you sign up for the Web site.
Maybe would you host something, would you -- I mean, again, it`s a very
sophisticated way of going out and finding people knowing that when you can
put a $100,000 ad buy up, but you don`t necessarily know you are swaying
voters. You want to have if science written about this to be able to know
where your voters are.
KORNACKI: Can we put a number on what the grass roots engagement? We hear
so much about Obama`s voter outreach and everything last year. Can we put
a number on what that was worth to Obama last year? Was anybody --
KORNACKI: What was it worth?
SIDES: So we took the county level vote data, we counted up how many field
offices each candidate had in each county, and we looked to see if that was
associated with their vote share because you`re looking for how well Obama
did in 28 and a bunch of other factors. And we found each Obama field
office was probably worth about 2/10 of a point of vote share perhaps, up
to about creating field offices. And at that point, you know --
KORNACKI: What does that translate to nationally? We`re talking about
like a 5 million votes --
FINNEY: The results?
KORNACKI: I`m curious.
SIDES: We did this several, all the political science studies of the
relationship between field offices and county vote share found you are
talking maybe 300,000 votes nationwide.
They`re selling units, right?
ISSENBERG: I was in Obama field offices that are thousands of square feet
and I was in Obama field offices that were size of a closet. If you go on
the Web site, you print out a list of all their field offices and you geo-
code them, and attach with the counties, which are frankly useless
political unit for campaigns in the 21st century, they were very useful for
assigning judges on the 19th. But just because the data is organized, you
guys analyze it. But I don`t think that`s a particularly effective way of
measuring mobilization effort.
SIDES: Let me -- there are many caveats that are attached to that analysis
in the book. Obviously, we don`t have the individual level of data that a
campaign would have when they can actually tell you we contacted that
person this many times. But let me tell you what the Obama campaign would
say in response to this question.
Lynn and I interviewed the number of the most geekiest people in the Obama
campaign. And we`ve asked them of the 4-point national vote margin, much
do you think was attributable to the work that the campaign did. Dan
Wagner, the head of the analytics said, I don`t know. Dave Nickerson (ph),
the political science who was director of experiments, said, I don`t know
that number. Jeremy Berg (ph), who was the national field director, said,
I don`t know that number.
So I think that gives them the point, that`s one of the reasons we pushed
back against game changers. We do the best we can to measure the effects
of the campaign. And Sasha points out, that`s absolutely true, that these
are not perfect ways of measuring things. But at the same time, this is a
very, very difficult question to answer. And I think the fact that the
Obama campaign -- the smart guys will not tells you --
KORNACKI: So, Lynn, you watched it. And you wrote about it every day.
When you looked back at that campaign, and everything you covered in the
final result, what do you think? Why do you think Obama won last year?
SWEET: Because -- I want to follow up on Karen`s point. They had the data
to know how many voters they needed to bring in to make up for their
deficit. So, you use all the information that you have, and you realize we
are behind X in this precinct, or however they want to define it.
So, they have the ability to say -- we`re not going to -- there is no more
persuadables left. The bases are locked in. Our pluses are solid, our
minuses will never go for us. They have the ability much better than
Romney partly because they had their strength in urban areas where you had
an economy to scale to go out and find new ones. Think of customers for
If you need to sell more toothpaste and you have people locked into their
brands and you have one increase sales, you have to go out and find new
SWEET: I think that is a very important point because then you had
something no one else could have. And that I think, you know, Messina was
data-driven from day one. And they knew that was one of their tools at
KORNACKI: But how much of that when we talk about mobilizing people at the
grassroots level, how much of that is dependent on the messages that are
coming through the media to make people, this is a campaign I want to be a
FINNEY: I mean, here`s the thing, having done presidential campaigns, work
in them since about 1992, you have to do all of it. I mean, that is the
reality of modern campaigning today.
You have to knock on doors. You have to do phone calls. You do yard
signs, because for some people, that`s what matters. You have to make sure
you have good data, and good polling, and good research.
And you got to also try to understand what messages are going to move which
voters and where those voters are. And how you -- I mean, you really have
to do everything. And that`s part of what I think the Obama campaign --
KORNACKI: Let me say that the two studies -- that idea of you have to do
everything. You guys, have looked this more from a stricter political
science, do you agree with that? Do you --
ISSENBERG: It`s something we know from field experiments, replicated in
all sorts of settings. Campaigns regularly do not work. So, robocalls do
nothing to increase turnout. OK? We seen this in an infinite number of
studies and smart folks on the left more alert to the value of research
coming out of academia or been involved in some studies now don`t spend
money on robocalls. They might use them to build a crowd for an event or
something else. That`s measurable.
You know, at an individual level we can see, we know the best way to
mobilize a non-voter, turned them into a voter, is a high quality
interaction with the volunteer at their door with a certain type of script.
The challenge is building up, aggregating up all those interactions when
you don`t have the campaign`s information about the number of voters I talk
to, the types of interactions they had, trying to disaggregate from the
total vote share based on the sort of visible outputs of the campaign,
campaign offices, spending, is, you know, is I think to some degree a
I mean, I agree with John, the smartest people I talk to in politics, the
people who see the most data, the most analytically sophisticated are the
ones who have the greatest appreciation for how little we know, and only by
knowing what we do have good science do you realize what the small share of
the things the campaigns do and spend money on, we actually have any
empirical research --
KORNACKI: Let me stand on one final (INAUDIBLE). John, the bottom line
question then, when you look back at 2012, and President Obama winning,
what mattered most and the fact that President Obama won last year?
SIDES: All of the work that a cane does was in a national climate and
context that they cannot change. And if the economy had been slowing down,
if Barack Obama`s approval rating was where it is now versus where it was
in the fall of 2012, he likely would have lost. There is no amount of data
and there`s no amount of field work, there`s no amount of sophistication
that can change that factor.
It`s not the only factor that matters in presidential campaigns. When you
look at 2012, you have to say that the primary driver of his success was
the fact that he was an incumbent president running amidst a growing
economy, even a slowly growing economy.
FINNEY: You can`t underestimate though. It`s about a race to 270.
So, it`s also the states that we`re talking about. We haven`t brought in
that factor. That a lot of these things, it`s Florida versus Ohio versus -
- right? Because remember at the end of the day, it`s about getting to the
SIDES: And the states move in the same direction year by year on the
KORNACKI: Yes, there was -- this is a whole another discussion we will do
another time. But there was I think a little of talk after the election of
-- there was a little bit of an imbalance there, where there might be a
slight, at least in 2012 results, a slight advantage for the Democrats now,
at least in 2012 Electoral College, where the tipping point state was not
quite in line. But anyway, we`ve done desegregation, heuristics.
And, now, we`ll take a break from this. My thanks today to Lynn Sweet of
"The Chicago Sun-Times", "The Gambles`" John Sides, writer Sasha Issenberg,
and my weekend MSNBC colleague, "Up Against the Clock" champion, Karen
I am guessing you`ve heard more than a little about a certain Toronto mayor
by now. But why exactly is this story so irresistible to us? We`re going
to try to figure out with a help of a very funny Canadian. That`s next.
KORNACKI: Imagine there is a skillful way for a politician to weave in a
reference to Saddam Hussein in the First Gulf War, something tells me this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROB FORD, TORONTO MAYOR: Folks, reminds me of when I was watching with my
brother when Saddam attacked Kuwait, and President Bush said, "I warn you,
I warn you, I warn you, do not." Well, folks, if you think American style
politics is nasty, you guys have just attacked Kuwait.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford probably didn`t win office based on his
oratory and his probably not going to hold on to his office with tactics
like that this week either. What he has done is win the devoted attention
of the American news media, the lower 48`s obsession with the mayor of
Toronto. What`s all that about? That`s straight ahead.
KORNACKI: To be honest with you, foreign news can be a hard sell in the
news business. Plus, American personnel are involved or a president is
visiting some place overseas, something truly horrific happens, no matter
how worthy they are, it`s hard for stories about other countries, about
international events to resonate with audiences here. And I learned this
as an editor for an online news site, and I`ve learned that in my current
Of course, that doesn`t mean there aren`t any exceptions. An exception
like Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, Canada, a man in charge of the fourth
largest city in North America is big, big news these days in America. He`s
an American obsession, in fact, not for the way he campaigned on an anti-
tax, end the gravy train platform, not for his desire to extend Toronto`s
subways out in the suburbs. But perhaps you and just about everyone else
in the United States have caught with of a certain video that surfaced
during this year in which Rob Ford was allegedly caught on tape smoking
And once when the Toronto police said, yes, we`ve also seen footage of him
smoking crack, the mayor seemed compelled to come clean at a press
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORD: Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine.
REPORTER: When sir?
FORD: But, no -- do I? Am I an addict? No.
Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably
approximately about a year ago.
I answered your question. You asked the question properly, I`ll answer it.
Yes, I`ve made mistakes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And then once again, last week Rob Ford left reporters
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORD: Oh, and the last thing was Olivia Gondek, it says that I wanted to
eat her (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Olivia Gondek, I`ve never said that in my
life to her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God. I know we`re lie right now but I don`t
know if we can, I -- Mayor Ford is speaking as Mayor Ford does very plainly
as he said in council yesterday, he f`ed up. Now, using language we can`t
broadcast on TV, but we just broadcast that on TV -- another unbelievable
day here at Toronto City Council.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I`m not sure we with broadcast that with the bleeps. It`s 8:30
in the morning.
On Monday, the Toronto City Council stripped Ford of most of his power and
gave 60 percent of his budget and staff to the deputy mayor. During that
council meeting, Rob Ford nearly ran over a member of the council, maybe
you have seen the idea. Maybe you heard that Ford has refused to resign.
He was back out in public Thursday drawing more laughs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP_
FORD: We`ve reduced the council and the mayor`s budget by $6.4 million
over four years, and even more in the last three days.
(END VIDEO CLP)
KORNACKI: America used to have its own version of Rob Ford more than 40
years ago, his name was Marion Barry. He was the mayor of Washington,
D.C., who was caught smoking crack.
Just this week, a sitting congressman from Florida pleaded guilty to
cocaine possession. He went off to a treatment rather quietly. The story
certainly got some attention, but not anything like hurricane Rob has
So what is it about Rob Ford`s story that`s been so irresistible to
Americans? Why are we obsessed with every last detail about a municipal
leader from Canada?
Well, here to talk about that is MSNBC`s Toure, co-host of former show "The
CYCLE", Jamelle Bouie of TheDailyBeast.com is back, as is Republican
strategist Joe Watkins, and I am happy to extend a warm welcome to our
resident comedienne expert today. She is actress and comedienne and
natural born Canadian Caroline Rhea.
Thank you for joining us.
And, Caroline, I guess I -- so your native country Canada does not tend to
get too much press coverage in the United States. Now, it clearly is.
As a Canadian, are you happy it`s getting attention or are you embarrassed
that it`s -- for this?
CAROLINE RHEA, ACTRESS & COMEDIAN: You know when I was a kid, we used to
watch the Olympics, I thought bronze was the highest you could get because
I had no idea there was anything beyond. We`re sort of a humble people.
We`re very polite.
And -- I mean, seriously, it will take three hours to get through the door
in Canada, after you, after you, after you, it`s like endless. And
Americans, not that don`t -- you are not knowledgeable in general, but I`ve
had people say to me, oh my God, from Canada, it`s one of our favorite
So, it`s not like a big thing like -- we do have all the oil and gold so
it`s time to suck up. I`m saying, like it`s time to really take care of
us. But this kind of behavior is so un-Canadian.
KORNACKI: Is that what make -- you think is that a part of what makes it,
Americans have that image of Canada, that you`re sort of describing? Is
that what makes things such a --
RHEA: I think this is maybe the first time Canada has been relatable to
the United States. It`s like, oh, this guy is acting like an American.
This is unbelievable.
You know, you guys have the Tea Party. He has the party party. That`s why
The poor man (ph) though -- I mean, only my Canadian instinct. I look at
him and think it`s so embarrassing, I want him to stop talking. But I also
want him to like get some help. Poor guy.
TOURE, MSNBC HOST: Yes.
RHEA: I say poor -- I mean he`s got this whole thing, deny, then lie, then
admit. You know?
KORNACKI: Well, that is a cycle for politicians that Americans can
definitely relate to. Is that why Americans are so fascinated about this?
They are watching a spectacle unfold in a country they don`t expect it to
TOURE: I mean, I think it`s a couple of things. I mean, one thing for
news media folks, like us, it makes us feel like Stewart or like Caroline,
that any time we mention Rob Ford, everybody start laughing.
I mean, this idea if he`s like, you know, I got drunk and we did crack and
I`m sorry. I`m like, wait a minute, how did you get from the drunken --
KORNACKI: Drunken stupor, right.
TOURE: Are you at a bar where people are selling crack. Hey, mayor, I got
crack on me. You know? Do you want to take this up a notch?
Jagermeister? No, I got crack. Like, whoa, slow down.
For Americans, though, it doesn`t make us reflect on anything. It doesn`t
make us like worry about like who are we as a society? What`s going on?
Like Weiner made us wonder about that, Filner made us wonder about that,
you know, Spitzer made us wonder about that. Rob Ford, it doesn`t reflect
on us. So, we can just point and laugh.
But as Caroline getting to --
RHEA: You don`t have to reflect on. I think a lot of people in America
have issues like Rob Ford.
TOURE: No, you are absolutely right, but because we have that divide of
like, he is Canadian, he is from Toronto, then we as Americans don`t have
to take this, what does the say about America?
But there is a serious substance abuse problem that is marking the story.
And we are pointing and laughing pause we don`t take substance abuse and
addiction as seriously as a bipolarism or other sort of things or
depression, and it was other things.
KORNACKI: So, let me bring it back to the game show and there`s a reason
for this, because when I started to ask the question, the game show
earlier, I said, Florida congressman in cocaine, Toure rang on. You knew,
Trey Radel, Florida congressman, you know, pleaded guilty, went off to
treatment after a cocaine bust. It certainly got enough attention that you
knew it on the tip of your tongue and I most people did.
But Americans, Jamelle, are not nearly as interested in the spectacle of
Trey Radel as they are in Rob Ford.
JAMELLE BOUIE, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: Well, I think in fairness because there
isn`t as much of a spectacle of Radel, like he was arrested for cocaine
possession. He promptly was like, yes, I was arrested of a cocaine
possession, it`s a terrible thing. I think those of us that knew more
about him found it a little funny because earlier he had called himself,
not earlier this week, but earlier this year he talks of a hip hop
Republican. So, it`s sort of funny that he was arrested of cocaine
TOURE: What does that mean?
BOUIE: There`s just no spectacle there. I think with Rob Ford, for all of
the legitimate issues of substance abuse that are there, he is just a
spectacle of a kind that we haven`t even really seen in the United States
in a while.
RHEA: Oh, yes you have.
KORNACKI: Who is the American Rob Ford?
RHEA: I mean there are elements of -- Chris Christie when he`s in a bad
JOE WATKINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh, no. No.
WATKINS: He`s a Joe six-pack guy. This is a guy that drives himself to
KORNACKI: More than a six-pack.
RHEA: He gives his constituents his home phone number. A politician
hasn`t given out his phone number --
RHEA: There you go.
TOURE: Are you referencing to Marion Barry was smart because we -- in
America, we have some understanding of people doing powder cocaine. But
when you do crack, that takes it to a whole other level.
RHEA: All right. So, the problem is the difference between powder crack?
TOURE: We made a difference in America.
BOUIE: You made a really insightful point. Crack in the United States is
coded -- it`s a black drug in the United States.
BOUIE: There is something I think basking --
TOURE: In a working class problem white or black.
WATKINS: Joe six-pack guy taking a word with less (ph) drug.
BOUIE: Right. If Rob Ford were doing meth, there would be a spectacle,
but I think -- I`m not sure it would inspire the same kind of spectacle
just because for Americans, there is something particular about a white man
TOURE: But to what you said, Radel handled it properly, and that he
admitted and he got away from the cameras, and immediately went through
treatment. Rob Ford keeps saying dumb things, there is new comments every
tame he gets in front of a microphone, so where I`m like, how did he not
become a national spectacle a year ago?
BOUIE: What`s fascinating is a poll just came out this morning showing Rob
Ford at 42 percent approval among Torontonians.
KORNACKI: Yes, we asked earlier --
RHEA: Torontonians that were surveyed. Most Torontonians were like, I
don`t want to answer a survey about Rob Ford. Anyway, go ahead.
BOUIE: But I think -- I mean, I think there is something, he said he would
run for re-election. There is something a little appealing about a guy who
will put out his public problems so forthrightly.
RHEA: He`s not forthright. He`s denied it. Until he denies until it`s
made public. You are absolutely right there is nothing to worry about.
TOURE: You didn`t ask for a right question. You asked me if I`m a crack
addict. No, I`m not. Ask me the right question.
KORNACKI: He came up -- he also gave the ultimate qualifier, which is like
I may have been in a drunken stupor, in which all bets are off.
KORNACKI: But the other thing we say is like, we mentioned reelection.
Marion Barry got busted in 1990. In 1994, Marion Barry came back and won
the mayoralty of Washington, D.C.
I want to turn this around and talk a little bit more about -- I will try
to understand Rob Ford from the perspective of Canadians. What do they see
in him in? Fortunately, I have a Canadian here. And we`re going to talk
to her right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORD: This is nothing more than a coup d`etat, and if you don`t know what
a coup d`etat means, it means that you are overruling a government and some
people said this is a democracy. What`s happening here today is not a
democratic process. It`s a dictatorship process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Mayor Rob Ford. We can play those all morning.
So, but, Caroline, Jamelle start to get into the polling that says still at
42 percent turnout, the fact that he continues as not the most well-spoken
guy to begin with, even without all this. So, tell us a little about what
is it about Toronto that made them elect, somebody with very conservative
platform, not a well-spoken guy. We think it`s the fourth largest city in
What do we need to know about Toronto that explains --
RHEA: He`s going to will hide behind the voter`s mind, of all the
KORNACKI: Speak for Canada.
RHEA: Speak for Canada yet again.
First of all, in that clip, when he said if you don`t know what coup
d`etat, I`m going to say, neither do I. But I think I have pronounced it
correctly. So I`m going to go for two bonus points in this.
You know, Canada is -- Toronto is pretty much the wealthiest financial
city. And I think this is like the anti-establishment vote, instead of
the, you know, repressed Canadian. This is, you now, for the people that
felt unrepresented. So --
KORNACKI: So is it like a Tea Party of Torontonians?
RHEA: He`s from (INAUDIBLE). Isn`t that funny? There is coke in his
name. Al lright. There are little puns funny to make.
Also, I want to see the headline, if he lived in America it would be cue
wait, W-A-I-T. I`ve got to cancelled on that W-E-I-G-H-T.
KORNACKI: You think "The New York Post".
KORNACKI: What do you think, again, speak for all of Canada here.
RHEA: OK, no pressure at all.
KORNACKI: The fact that Americans are making such a big deal about this
and Canadians are perpetually ignored by Americans.
RHEA: We were ignored this whole time. I feel there are psychics all over
the world and Chris Farley is trying to come through now, biggest
opportunity I can`t play this guy. He -- I just think the Canadians, I
think we want it to go away. I mean, that`s what Canadians do. They don`t
really want to, like -- I don`t know if it`s obsessive like it is here.
I don`t know who is speaking for America in my particular seat right,
representing all of America and Canada right now. I feel so bad every time
you show a picture of him. I really do. I haven`t said in a long time,
but I feel like he`s the biggest loser contestant I mean, in lots of ways.
He seems like a tragic physical.
TOURE: I mean, talking about biggest loser, right? I mean, back -- we
should talk about intervention, right? There should be folks who are -- he
says he is getting help for his drinking thing. But I mean, I don`t know
if they are doing that as political cover.
But I mean, there should be -- as mayor, he has this sort of cover, right,
that you can bolster around him in that we don`t have to jump, you don`t
have to force him. He needs an intervention. He needs to stop talking to
reporters. He needs to stop drink. He just needs to go away for a little
KORNACKI: That is something we have seen here, we have seen with
politicians in the United States who have gotten into, I think of like
Anthony Weiner, who they start talking, and can`t stop talking, and they
create this -- they become the butt of a joke, and they don`t get it and
they keep talking and they keep giving fodder. That`s something we hear --
we see that a lot.
TOURE: He`s trying to move forward, right? And we keep bringing it back.
Rob Ford, it`s not -- he keeps bringing it there. He won`t stop talking!
Coup d`etats and all this.
KORNACKI: Caroline was talking about, what -- he wishes it would go away,
she doesn`t like this. Who -- are there politicians like that in the
United States who we look at, like, I don`t want this politician
representing our country to the rest of the world? I mean, who`s the Rob
Ford of America?
RHEA: You know what, the prime minister just commented on it sort of like
-- I think he`s quite -- Canadians are easily embarrassed. I think that`s
sort of is. Like there was a member of parliament -- this is years ago,
called the prime minister a liar and they said you will refrain from doing
that. So, in her final comments, she said "pants on fire."
That`s comedian politics to me, that we are so subtle about it. This guy
could be American, don`t you think?
WATKINS: Very much so. He`s totally unscripted. He says what he thinks.
That`s why we are watching every word that he says and each word that comes
is more incredible than the word before for it.
I think he`s an original. I think the reason we`re so transfixed into this
because this guy is an original, not necessarily in the best sense of the
word but he really is authentic and original. I mean, there`s nobody else
like him anywhere, certainly not in Canada.
BOUIE: So, Rob ford is a populous figure and I think Americans are
unaccustomed to seeing this sort of like Canadian conservative populism.
That`s what drove his political star. If he stays in office, that`s what
will keep him in office, and then that for me as a political analyst,
that`s really fascinating to watch.
TOURE: In some level, there`s a little Paul LePage.
KORNACKI: Paul LePage, OK, that`s you know, the governor of Maine. That`s
an interesting one. Google Paul LePage and you`ll see a lot of very, very
interesting statements that could rival Rob Ford.
What do we know now that we didn`t last week? Our answers right after
KORNACKI: It`s time to find out what our guests know that they didn`t know
when the week began.
And, Joe, we`re going to start with you.
WATKINS: Yes, I didn`t know about the knockout game. This is a horrible
game that we`ve been hearing about where young people just go after
somebody and just sucker punch them basically and see if they can knock
them out. You know, it`s a terrible thing. It needs to stop.
I`m sure somebody`s probably going to use the old LL Cool J song, "I`m
going to knock you out," remember that song? For those of you old enough.
WATKINS: "Mama Said Knock You Out." So, it`s going to probably going to,
you know, popularize the game more. But it needs to stop.
KORNACKI: Those are really scary stuff.
RHEA: I didn`t know how beautiful your teeth were before I was on this
show. I have a 5-year-old. Now, I have to save so much money for
orthodonture because my daughter has a little space. She`s adorable.
But now, I want her to have teeth like Steve. Also, I`m horrified by that.
And I didn`t know I was an expert on Canada. Neither did anyone else.
TOURE: OK. You`ve made me extraordinarily self-conscious about my own
RHEA: Oh, I love your teeth. Wow.
TOURE: I`m going to try to go on.
I did not know that the word filibuster came from a Dutch word that related
to pirates. So, it used to be related to people who stole treasure. Now,
it`s related to people who steal time and power.
RHEA: So, is a filibuster an arggh? A little pirate joke. Arrgh!
BOUIE: I did not know that the Affordable Care Act had slowed health care
-- oh, health care spending growth in the United States has slowed to its
lowest growth in years, probably due in large part to Obamacare. I think
it`s important to recognize the law has the a ton of moving parts and one
of them is this cost control mechanism that is getting sort of problems
with insurance for these 5 million people, but this is a big and important
part of what the law is trying to do.
KORNACKI: All right. Try adding the pirate sound at the end to that one.
RHEA: Obamacare arggh!
KORNACKI: Joe Watkins, comedian Caroline Rhea, Toure, and Jamelle Bouie,
thanks for getting UP this morning.
Thank you for joining us today. Tune in tomorrow at 8:00. Brian
Schweitzer, the very colorful Democrat who used to be governor of the red
state of Montana, will join us. He`ll bring his branding iron with him.
There`s so much I want to ask him about.
But up next, today, a particularly good one for all of you LBJ junkies out
there. Melissa Harris-Perry with more on how 50 years later, we are still
in the era of Lyndon Johnson. That is next.
Thank you for getting UP.
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