UP with STEVE KORNACKI
June 7, 2014
Guest: Mark Jacobson, Evan McMorris-Santoro, John Yarmuth, Henry Barbour,
Rickey Cole, Julia Collins
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Really include every man. Whatever you
think of the deal that President Obama signed off on to win Bowe Bergdahl`s
release last weekend, this much is clear. The White House did not expect
this kind of a backlash. In a new interview with NBC`s Brian Williams,
that aired just last night, this is what the president had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: The five prisoners, part of the
exchange by their resumes, they are professionals. Former high value
assets. The question asked on the cover of "Time" magazine this week, was
it worth it?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact is that we are
ending a war in Afghanistan. We have released both under my administration
and previous administrations a large number of former Taliban fighters.
Some of whom will return to the battlefield.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: It`s now been one week since President Obama stepped out into
the Rose Garden along with Bergdahl`s parents and announced the sergeant
had been released in exchange for five senior Taliban leaders who had been
held for years at Guantanamo. And this was news to the general public and
it was also news to Congress since the administration had cut the deal
without notifying Congress. Doing so, they argued, would have threatened
Bergdahl`s safety. And that announcement last Saturday touched off when he
is now in intense political debate about whether the price that was paid
for Bergdahl`s release is too high and whether it will endanger Americans
still serving in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world and also about
Bergdahl`s conduct as a soldier, the circumstances of his capture in
Afghanistan by the Taliban back in 2009. Controversy was stoked when
soldiers who served with Bergdahl spoke out not to welcome him home, but to
attack him as a deserter whose abandonment of his post and subsequent
capture by the enemy had jeopardized the lives of other American soldiers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn`t matter what his motives were. We all took
an oath and we all had to abide by, you know, orders. You know. And you
don`t just leave your fellow Americans to join somebody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Attacking the deal and attacking Bergdahl and even Bergdahl`s
parents in some cases quickly became a political weapon for Republicans.
Even some who had previously voiced provisional support for the idea of a
prisoner exchange with the Taliban?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I said it twice, depending on a lot of the
details. In other words, do not trade one person for five hard core,
hardest of the hard core murdering war criminals who will clearly reenter
the fight and send them to Qatar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Several Republicans initially sent out messages on Twitter
welcoming Bergdahl home and saluting him for his service only to delete
those messages as his release morphed into a contentions political issue.
As the week progressed, the administration began to offer a more robust
defense of the deal arguing, for instance, that the five Taliban detainees
were eventually going to be released from Guantanamo anyway, so you might
as well get something for them while you can.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIE HARF, U.S. STATE DEPT. SPOKESPERSON: There are three buckets of
people in Guantanamo that remain. There are those who are approved for
transfer, that`s 78. There are about 30 who have been referred for
prosecution in some way. These five are in that middle bucket and were
unlikely - might have been, but unlikely to be added to the group that was
going to be referred for prosecution. So it is quite likely that
eventually in line with our commitment to close Guantanamo Bay they would
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The president also repeated the basic principle that the country
will do whatever it takes to bring every soldier back home, no matter what.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind. We
had a prisoner of war whose health had deteriorated and we were deeply
concerned about and we saw an opportunity and we seized it and I make no
apologies for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Poll released on Thursday found that 39 percent of Americans say
they oppose the deal that freed Bergdahl from the Taliban, while 35 percent
support it. A good chunk of the skepticism has to do with the unanswered
questions about Bergdahl himself. "The New York Times" obtained a
classified 35-page Army report completed two months after his disappearance
back in 2009. That report concluded that he most likely walked away from
his post on his own free will. Stopped short of finding solid evidence
that he intended to permanently desert. Report also quotes his commanders
and squad mates describing his service in positive terms. But now some of
his fellow service members have gone public against him and against his
conduct and blame him for the deaths of other soldiers while they searched
for him, something that is yet to be fully established.
The report also confirms that Bergdahl shipped some of his personal items
home like his computer and his journal before he disappeared from his post.
Bergdahl now faces a military investigation into what exactly happened back
in 2009. Depending on the outcome of that, he could even face a court-
martial. Meanwhile, the political debate roars on here in the United
States with all of this week`s arguing and leaving several big questions
unanswered like if Bergdahl was a deserter does that mean he should have
been left to die in Afghanistan or if the problem is just with the terms of
the deal, five Taliban prisoners for one American, then what terms would be
acceptable and what happened with those Taliban detainees now that they
have been released? Well, joining me now is Mark Jacobson, he`s a senior
adviser to the Truman National Security project. He served in Afghanistan
as director of International Affairs, the NATO International Security
Assistance Force, as an advisor to both General David Petraeus and General
Stanley McChrystal. And MSNBC military analyst and Medal of Honor
recipient Colonel Jack Jacobs. So, thanks for being with us - this
And I guess, we have had a week now to start to digest this and it`s sort
of been an unfolding story. We have a new interview with the president
last night with Brian Williams. I want to just try to make some sense this
sort of one week in, and there were a couple of issues and I want to get -
I`m going to start with a basic one here. We`ve heard so much this week
about the principle of, you know, I`ve heard do you jump off the ship or
you fall off the ship, it doesn`t matter, we are going to turn around the
ship, and we are going to bring you back. So, that principle of you leave
nobody behind. That`s our most fundamental obligation. Was turning down
this deal and letting him stay in Afghanistan ever - or Pakistan, he might
have been kept - was it ever realistically an option? Was it on the table?
MARK JACOBSON, TRUMAN NATL. SECURITY PROJECT: I don`t think so. And I
wouldn`t expect any commander-in-chief to even consider this proposition of
leaving someone behind on the battlefield. There have been suggestions
that well, because of his political views, because of his religion, you
don`t leave people behind because of- there is no Litmus test. I mean I
was talking with someone earlier. My parents freaked out when I went to
Afghanistan both times. If I had been captured. Do I want someone to say,
here is this nice Jewish kid over in Afghanistan, a little bit liberal, not
really sure if we`re going to go get him. Absolutely not. We owe it to
our men and women in uniform to be unequivocal about this bond.
KORNACKI: So, and what do you think of that, Colonel?
COL. JACK JACOBS, MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT: I disagree.
KORNACKI: Do you think leaving him wasn`t an option?
JACOBS: I think leaving him - I think not getting him now was an option.
The assertion that we`re at the end of the war is not correct. It`s not
the end of the war. At the end of wars, we do exchange prisoners. If the
White House thinks we`re at the end of the war, have them tell that to the
30,000 troop who are still in Afghanistan. The 10,000 who are going to be
there for the next two years or more. So, we`re not at the end of the war.
So, that`s - we should take that off the table, because .
KORNACKI: Are you when you`re saying there`s still troops over there, we
are still going to have that force, you know, into the foreseeable future.
Some troops over there, at least. Are you saying basically -- is your
concern with the safety of any Americans who are left over there?
JACOBS: No, my concern is with the rhetoric that we did this because it`s
the end of the war. It`s the end of the war in the White House`s mind.
It`s - they are trying to empty out Guantanamo. I understand those
motivations, but to assert that we went to get this guy, we traded up for
this guy because it`s the end of the war is nonsense. It`s not the end of
KORNACKI: So one of the arguments that`s being made and there was this
sort of classified briefing that was held with senators, I think, on
Wednesday night this week and some of this has leaked. Some dispute
exactly, over what the evidence said. He had Angus King, the senator from
Maine who was saying on this network that they made a pretty good case that
Bergdahl was in danger of dying. If this had gone out any longer. If
you`re going to get him back alive, this was your best chance. You had
Dianne Feinstein coming out yesterday and basically saying she doesn`t
think that`s the case. So, we don`t know exactly, but that issue, though,
of -- that seems to enter into this. Right? I mean if you have credible
evidence, what you think is credible evidence that he`s not likely to live
that much longer, that changes the equation of what`s acceptable or not.
JACOBSON: Regardless of this political battle going on about optics, about
style, and how the White House did this, the military made the
recommendation to the president that they go get him now. And the
president said go get this guy back. And the concern I have over this
debate is that it it`s losing sight of a couple of principles. And one of
them is that the Taliban were going to make a propaganda mess of this no
matter what. And if we had left Bergdahl, who`s to say he doesn`t end up
on one of those beheading videos? I mean .
JACOBSON: This is a real concern.
KORNACKI: That`s my question I have too about what the domestic political
reaction would have been if he`d been - let`s say, OK, this is not a good
deal, this is not the right time, if that had been the conclusion, so the
administration said no deal, right? And then six months from now we find
out that he died, a photograph, a video, something like that comes forward.
The domestic political reaction to that, and just a domestic reaction in
general would have been - why didn`t we get someone else?
JACOBS: But this is a straw man - you say there are only two options. .
To cut a lousy deal, what`s - it`s a lousy deal, to think of that argument
as long as we`re being hypothetical in any case, cut a lousy deal or wait
until he gets his head cut off. And that`s a false dichotomy. And it
wasn`t the military wouldn`t get him at all, I mean the military had a role
in it because they provided security for the exchange, but the military
didn`t go get him. We had tried several times to go get him with military
assets and did not and that`s part of the assertion here. No, it`s really
a question of what the public pronouncements are. What the - I know you
can discount style, but style has a lot to do with this. If you want to
obviate the congressional response to this, which is by and large negative
including people from the president`s own party, the way to do it is to
work with the Congress to get support for this thing. And he may have been
- president may have been advised under those circumstances, look, this is
bad news. The guy`s a bum, let`s say since we are being hypothetical,
don`t do it. OK, I`m not going to do it, but you get off my back about
going to get him publicly. You have got to - if you are the president of
the United States, you`ve got to work with the Congress. You can`t just do
things and expect everybody to think it`s a great deal.
KORNACKI: Well, there`s a couple of issues there. But let me - I kind of
want to - I`m curious about this. Do you - is there any deal that you
think could have been acceptable right now to be exchanging prisoners from
Guantanamo for Bowe Bergdahl?
JACOBS: Sure, but I don`t know what it is. As a matter of fact, the White
House has been working on this deal for two years as a matter of fact. And
everything that they proposed to the Taliban was rejected by the Taliban
because they wanted these five, these specific five guys back. Not the
guys who were in the chain who were about ready to be released. They
wanted these specific five guys back.
KORNACKI: Right. And Mark, I mean do you have a sense - I mean because
right. That`s right. These were higher ranking, you know, detainees.
This is sort of from the Taliban standpoint, this is sort of the cream of
the crop. That`s what they - that`s what they got from there.
JACOBSON: This is one of the challenges. These are not core al Qaeda.
And these are bad people, these are potentially dangerous people. Four of
the five of them, however, are really political figures. They are going
back to a battlefield where they don`t have the same networks. They had
2001 to 2003. Her going back to a battlefield, if they go back to a
battlefield, again, they are in Qatar for at least a year.
KORNACKI: How confident are we they are going to be there for a year?
JACOBSON: I`m pretty confident. This has to do with .
KORNACKI: I think coordinating from their camp - They can communicate.
JACOBSON: We should be so lucky that they call Mullah Omar at home, right?
We should be so lucky. But again, the Qataris have a political incentive
to keep track of these people. I think it`s just fine to be able to kind
of watch the network. And watch who they call, watch who they interact
with. That`s fine. I think that what you also have to look at here is the
Taliban who were released, again, not core al Qaeda, political leaders, are
going back to a different battlefield. It was a bad deal several years
JACOBS: I agree with that. It was a bad deal.
KORNACKI: So, what makes it good now?
JACOBSON: We`re going to lose some of the leverage we have on the Taliban
after we reduce down to the 9,800 U.S. troops next year. And I think this
is the key time to be cutting deals like that to get the last remaining
American prisoner out of Afghanistan.
KORNACKI: Do you want to .
JACOBS: Yeah, I want to go back to your initial discussion, which revolved
around the notion of whether or not we expand any and all efforts to go get
our people. Whether or not we never leave anybody behind. And you had an
interesting analogy there. Somebody falls off the boat and we go get them.
We turn the boat them and go get them. We don`t, actually. You don`t do
anything that would endanger the mission or other people. That`s the rule.
And we have to make a distinction between not leaving anybody back behind
on the battlefield, on the battlefield where I spent plenty of time, by the
way, and where we work very hard to make sure we didn`t leave anybody
behind. In the heat of combat, in the crucible of combat, when you`re with
your buddies, you don`t let anybody .
KORNACKI: But there are - I mean there is a history of - this is not the
first time prisoners have been swapped. I mean we .
JACOBS: No, but at the end of the war. At the end of the war. And it`s
not the end of the war. We have got at least two years to go.
KORNACKI: But Mark is making the point about the leverage in terms of just
plausibly speaking, we have more leverage now, he`s saying, than we would
maybe two years from now.
JACOBS: And what you`re doing, is establishing, you get circumstance, in
which we`re making a calculated estimate of the risk and the reward. And
what you are saying is, that if we`re going to lose leverage over the next
18 months to get the guy back, now is the time to get him.
JACOBSON: But balancing risk is part of war.
JACOBS: That`s correct. That`s correct. And so that`s one part of the
calculation. The other part of the calculation is in order to maintain
that leverage, what are you expending in order to get it done. And if it`s
asymmetrical, then one way or the other, you either do it or don`t do it
based on that calculus. The other thing that`s really interesting here is
the way in which the White House handled the whole thing. And I go back to
the notion that the president of the United States is particularly in
something that has to do with war and peace, really needs to as a minimum
abide by the law, but even if he`s not going to do that for some sort of
reason, then he really has to do a much better job of getting the people at
the other end of Pennsylvania avenue to sign on to what he`s doing.
KORNACKI: No, I mean there`s a whole issue there. And we didn`t get into
here, but I think we have heard plenty about it this week. You know, this
was framed initially, it seemed like the White House was framed and isn`t
expecting this to be seen only as a triumphant moment. Not expecting.
JACOBS: They are tone deaf. They have no idea what other people are
thinking, because they never .
KORNACKI: Well, it`s a - but it`s a tougher sell, too. I mean that`s the
thing. It`s, you know, if somebody who was just decorated combat hero is
freed in the deal like this, I think the country would - the general
attitude in this country would be fair - the general attitude will be a lot
more, this is a great thing for America. It`s a little more complicated we
are talking about somebody who might have deserted. And it`s a tougher
sell to say hey, we get to trade five Taliban to get them, too. But that
doesn`t mean you can`t make the case - it`s just tougher to make the case.
Anyway, a lot more to be said on this, but we`ve got to leave it here. Our
thanks to MSNBC military analyst, Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Jack
Jacobs and to Mark Jacobson from the Truman National Security Project. Our
panel will join us right after this. And the stories that have been - that
have the political world talking this weekend, and there`s brand new video
of Hillary Clinton weighing in on what we just talked about. We will show
it to you next, but first, first, breaking news this morning surrounding
comedian and former "Saturday Night Live" start Tracy Morgan. He`s in
critical condition after a six-vehicle accident on the New Jersey turnpike.
The accident happened around 1:00 a.m. killing one person who was a
passenger in the limo bus that Morgan was riding in putting a total of
seven people in the hospital. Preliminary investigation suggests a tractor
trailer truck came upon slow moving traffic and causing the accident.
Morgan`s vehicle was overturned and he`s being treated in the intensive
care unit at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick. That`s in in
central New Jersey. We`ll have more details on this as it develops.
KORNACKI: We have been talking about all the unanswered questions
surrounding the prisoner exchange for the release of U.S. Sergeant Bowe
Bergdahl. So, it`s no surprise that Hillary Clinton was asked about it
during her first interview for her new book, "Hard Choices." Speaking with
ABC`s Diane Sawyer, the former secretary of state says she stands by
President Obama`s decision while not second guessing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: If you look at what the
factors were going into the decision, of course, there are competing
interests and values. I mean one of our values is we bring everybody home
off the battlefield the best we can. It doesn`t matter how they ended up
in a prisoner of war situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right, joining me to talk about this in the morning is other
top political strategist. We have Suzy Khimm, she`s national policy
reporter with msnbc.com, MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart, he`s also a
columnist of "The Washington Post," and Evan McMorris-Santoro, the White
House reporter with BuzzFeed. So, thanks for being here, guys. And I mean
we were talking about this a little bit at the end of the - I mentioned
this at the end of the first segment. It seems to me, and I don`t know the
reason why and maybe you guys can shed light on it, but I don`t know the
reason why the administration have first seemed to be framing this as,
expecting this would be framed by the media as just, you know, a piece of
good news, you know, triumphant return of the soldier, not anticipating the
story of Bowe Bergdahl and the circumstances of his capture would become an
issue like this. It seems to me maybe the thought is it`s just - it`s such
a tricky sell when you go down that road, to hey, this guy might have
walked off post. There might have been lives in danger looking from in the
last few years. And we just gave up five Taliban guys, five top Taliban
guys to get him. That`s not going to sell very well in the court of public
KORNACKI: But at the same time, it was like, how can you not expect that
that`s going to come out. That`s going to be the story that`s already been
reporting about this. I mean.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, BUZZFEED: Well, I mean the idea that they got the -
caught a little flat footed by this seems to bare out just from what the
White House has said after it happened. They keep changing their story
around quite a bit. You know, right afterwards I talked to some former
White House people and they said, you know, they had this Rose Garden
ceremony. So Bowe Bergdahl could have a discussion of what he went through
and of all the process that he went through before all the political stuff
started, which they expected would be about the five Taliban that were
traded. And then yesterday, though, John Podesta at a breakfast I was at,
said that actually the reason they had this Rose Garden ceremony was
because they wanted to get ahead of controversy that they knew was coming.
I mean this is the controversial decision. So I feel like they are sort of
trying to find their footing because I think that a lot of this had
KORNACKI: I think - right, they are arguing the principle. There`s
something to be said for the principle, absolutely the idea of you leave
nobody behind, but then you`ve got - it almost reminds me invariably we
have these debates about free speech, right? Somebody just says something
that`s terrible, that`s racist or whatever and we say, well, it`s an
absolutely horrible sentiment that they are expressing, but they have the
right to say it. You know, somebody that tests your taste for the First
Amendment, something that tastes your test for the idea of we bring
everybody back. It seems this is that sort of ultimate mix.
SUZY KHIMM, MSNBC.COM: Yeah, it seems like the explanation now that the
White House is trying to say that oh, we were trying to humanize him, we
bring his parents - everyone can relate to a parent suffering. That sort
of thing. But then you have, no, like, oh, actually, no, the parents were
already in Washington. They have, you know, this sort - came together a
little bit ad hoc and maybe there wasn`t the kind of thinking through.
What happened, also you have to keep in mind that there have been - the
administration might have been surprised about the kind of backlash that
there was, considering the fact that there were many Republican as well as
Democratic lawmakers who are actively lobbying for them to bring this guy
home. And to conveniently strike ..
KHIMM: Yeah, I mean you could feel like - well, listen, you know, we have
these prominent voices on the right as well as the left supporting this
guy, so why not?
KORNACKI: That`s the other one. As we say, you know, the White House
didn`t know this stuff was already out there. How this congressman - to
put these tweets out?
KORNACKI: You know, people - then it disappear, you know.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: For me, that is the thing that
makes this entire situation probably the most dispiriting controversies I
have seen in my seven years in Washington. Here you have in front page of
"The Washington Post" today. I wrote about it a couple of days ago where
you had Republicans who were on record demanding that the president do
something, demanding that the president not leave Bowe Bergdahl behind.
Accusing the president of forgetting that he was even there. So this is
just mentioned the Republican lawmakers who scrubbed their tweets of
saying, yay, Bowe Bergdahl is home.
KORNACKI: (INAUDIBLE) the work example.
CAPEHART: Exactly. And I was getting ..
KORNACKI: An actual flipflop.
CAPEHART: Exactly. Exactly. He goes on another network and talks with
Anderson Cooper about the very deal that the president agreed to back in
February where he said, I don`t want to - I don`t think we should give up
these five horrible Taliban guys just for a confidence building measure,
but if we`re going to do it, let`s do it so that we can bring Bowe Bergdahl
home. And now there`s John McCain out there saying that what the president
has done is wrong? That to me is what`s been so reprehensible and it think
that`s what`s got - that`s the thing I think that really has knocked the
White House off kilter. You have got people saying do this. You do it and
now they are beating you about the head with bats all over the place.
KORNACKI: I mean that this is - the politicization of it - it`s not
surprising at all. This is the story of America certainly in this era. At
the same time, it`s - they are all legitimate debate to be had. This is a
tough call .
KORNACKI: This is a tough call for any president to make. When you are
talking about that price, you are talking about the possibility that these
five guys go back and they are linked to something terrible five years from
now. I mean that`s a tough call for any president to make. You know, at
the same time though, when you`re saying five months ago, do it, and then
you change - what happens.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I think part of this is talks about how little the
Afghanistan story was part of our narrative for so long up until now.
Because almost everything about the Bergdahl transfer and swap was in the
media before it happened.
CAPEHART: Since 2011.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: From questions of his desertion all the way through the
deals we made, the names of the guys, and these members of Congress I think
that they just didn`t know.
KORNACKI: It`s the same thing. That when you go back and you look at what
what`s been out there for last three years and this and then you see that
scene in the Rose Garden last week, and you start to say the White House
should have expected this too.
KHIMM: I mean I think it honestly, the fact that has - Afghanistan has
been outside of the minds of so many people, so many people in the media,
you know, and sort of this general debate, it forces us to go through these
hard questions, which aren`t easy to do. Do we - how many resources do we
expend in terms of doing any operation in Afghanistan much less looking for
a guy, you know what is that? The president`s role and authority, should
he have given Congress more of a heads up. You know, they are saying now
that that would have endangered this guy`s life. And sort of blown up the
entire deal, there are sort of various different questions that are all
really difficult, but they`ve got all lumped together into was this good or
was this absolutely - all for the worst thing that could have happened for
America. That`s just not really a sort of helpful way to work through this
genuinely difficult questions.
KORNACKI: The two things I want to hear from the people, I EMAN everybody
has a right to speak out against this and they may be right, but should he
have stayed and died? Would you have been OK, if he stayed and died, and
two, if not if you wanted him out, what terms would you have accepted? If
these terms aren`t good, tell me what the terms are. Because it`s easy to
say, you know, five bad guys, OK, who would you - what would you have done?
Anyway, we have - we have to take a break right here. WE have news on
immigration. Some news overnight. Something very disturbing happening in
Arizona. We will tell you about that. Talk about it, that`s next.
KORNACKI: News out of the southwest this morning where the federal
government said over 400 immigrant children traveling without their parents
to a holding center in Arizona yesterday is in the process of sending over
700 more children today and tomorrow. The Obama administration is planning
to provide lawyers to kids who face possible deportation. They find their
way through the immigration court system. Since October more than 47,000
children have been caught trying to cross the southwest border. That`s a
92 percent increase from the same period last year. All of this comes as
Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte, he is the chairman of the committee
that handles immigration legislation, he is stepping up his criticism of
the Obama administration`s enforcement of immigration laws and slamming
their efforts to help some undocumented immigrants avoid deportation.
Goodlatte has accused the administration of quietly making changes to the
program that stops the removal of the children known as dreamers who were
brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents. This is - the story
overnight and the images that are coming with it, I`m not sure if just saw
that up on the screen, but I saw some this morning of kids with like
aluminum foil blankets over them, just sitting in - sleeping in the
warehouse, very, you know, really disturbing stuff. And it`s sort of I
think really - you look at those pictures and it humanizes sort of the
stakes in this immigration debate.
But, then, of course, we just show the news from Bob Goodlatte. I mean,
listen, if Bob Goodlatte wants to kill immigration reform legislation, he
can. If House Republicans want to kill it, they can. And it seems like no
matter how many stories we get, like that is the story of this immigration
saga for the last two years - right now there`s still no sign it`s going
KORNACKI: Tell me I`m wrong.
KHIMM: It`s interesting how the story goes. I mean I saw - saw it become
the explanation. There`s actually been sort of a surge of folks over the
border now. You know, it`s - Congress has almost got an little bit of a
reprieve in terms of its inaction over immigration because during the
recession when the economy was doing terribly, you know, immigration over
the border generally declined because people weren`t feeling great about
coming here. Now, honestly, I think we`re going to have to sort of face a
lot of these kind of difficult stories and these questions all over again
with even more urgency because the economy is improving here. That
economically driven immigration and that sort of thing is going to sort of
come back now that the economy.
KORNACKI: So, what happens? Like let`s say there`s no congressional
miracle this year, there is no immigration reform legislation that gets
through. So, what happens? I mean what is the future for .
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, the first thing I want to say is I think that this
whole immigration debate is really crazy, because the Republicans kind of
keep like dangling - like keep plugging in it and unplugging. There is no
immigration bill that`s moving. That`s not happening. That`s not a real
thing. They have used this idea of the deportation thing successfully push
the White House to delay their immigration deportation changes on their
own. Yesterday at this aforementioned breakfast I was talking about with
Podesta, he mentioned the same thing. He said, look, if we delay this
process, it will make it more possible that immigration reform. I don`t
know who it is that thinks that this is an actual thing that`s going to
happen. There`s actually immigration reform possible that happened this
year. But they keep sure of mentioning it to sort of force Obama to change
his direction on this. They don`t want to see the deportation shift. They
don`t want to see this stuff happen. In terms of what happens to the
situation now, the administration has had to step in as they have had to do
right along, because Republicans won`t do anything, I mean and they have
had to step in and they`ve had to do interagency task force, they are
trying to - with executive power, to deal with this problem. But right now
we`ve left the entire immigration problem on the shoulders of Obama and
that`s the Republicans .
KHIMM: The state governments that had to deal with this now.
CAPEHART: Yeah. I want to add on something that you said, because you
made an interesting point before which was during the recession,
immigration slowed to a trickle to the United States. But what ramped up
was the number of deportations by the Obama administration.
KORNACKI: Which was a political thing. We want to get the Republicans off
CAPEHART: Talk about good faith effort. We`re enforcing immigration laws,
we are deporting people now. Now you know we`re serious about immigration
so, please, come and do something about immigration reform and right now
for the chairman Goodlatte to say that the president and the administration
isn`t doing anything on immigration, they are soft on immigration is
KHIMM: I mean we passed a multibillion dollar border bill. We have done -
KORNACKI: Well, the Senate bill has this huge - and then it wasn`t enough.
They beefed it up again.
KHIMM: This is what happens when you keep moving the goalpost to the
right. I mean honestly, I don`t think the Obama administration`s
deportation policy is strictly politically motivated in terms of giving
concessions. This has been their policy from the beginning in terms of
deporting folks at a faster rate than even Bush did. You know, they argue
that they are enforcing the existing laws, you know, there`s been sort of a
debate, though, as to whether they are actually abiding by their own
principles of deporting folks just with criminal records, you know,
deporting those right undocumented immigrants as opposed to the wrong ones.
Obviously, everyone kind of - has gotten swept up in this though. I mean I
think this has been the Obama administration`s policy from the very
beginning. From the very beginning.
KORNACKI: We talk about these deferred deportation. The executive action,
sort of, this is becoming the story of the Obama administration right now
in the second term. Is Congress is told, nothing is happening there. So,
what can be done from an executive standpoint? That will be a segue -
something we`ll talk about in a minute. Buzzfeed Evan McMorris-Santoro,
Suzy Khimm, with msnbc.com, Jonathan Capehart from "The Washington Post".
We`ll see you all later in the show.
But first, President Obama takes the most dramatic step, this is that
executive action, the most dramatic step to fight climate change that any
president has ever taken. But can he do it without costing his party the
Senate? We`re going to go to the premier 2014 battleground and we are going
to find out, right after this.
KORNACKI: President Obama made a lot of Democrats happy this week when he
followed through on his promise to use his power to aggressively combat
climate change. But there`s an immediate political question, could making
this push cost Democrats control of the Senate this year?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINA MCCARTHY, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Today EPA is proposing a clean power
plan that will cut carbon pollution from our power sector by using clean
energy sources and cutting energy waste.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was the EPA administrator Gina McCarthy announcing new
regulations that will require power plants to reduce emissions by 30
percent by the year 2030. Then climate change has become a priority issue
for many Democrats particularly with new and alarming reports documenting
the severe toll it is already taking and especially with Congress unwilling
to take any steps on its own. So, there`s a lot of relief and a lot of
satisfaction on the left. But the White House is doing this. But that
relief and satisfaction does not extend to the Democratic candidate and
what may be the closest in most crucial Senate contest this year. Allison
Lundergan Grimes is challenging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in
Kentucky. This is a state where coal has been a way of life for more than
a century. And for McConnell, the new EPA rules are a perfect opening to
tie his opponent to President Obama, whose numbers are already very low in
Kentucky to start with. McConnell`s campaign released a statement this
week that reads, "it is a fact that Allison Lundergan Grimes lined up as a
delegate behind Barack Obama after he announced he would wage a war on
coal. And said nothing as thousands of Kentuckians lost their jobs. Her
belated concern about the war on coal now that she`s a candidate after
helping to ensure it by backing Obama is insulting and transparently
political. Outside pro-McConnell groups are also blasting Grimes and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s determined to destroy coal and to elect liberals
like Allison Grimes. Her campaign is financed by Obama`s anti-coal money -
her record - with silent as Obama attacked coal and she endorsed his
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: President lost in Kentucky by 23 points in 2012 with Mitt Romney
winning all but one of the 30 counties in Kentucky that produced coal. And
then last month`s Democratic primary according to the Lexington Herald
leader, Grimes is actually underperformed in counties that are in coal
country. McConnell had his best numbers in those same counties. Almost
immediately after the new regulations were announced this week, Grimes
sought to distance herself from the White House and to neutralize
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISON LUNDERGANE GRIMES, (D) KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: Mr. President,
Kentucky has lost one-third of our coal jobs in just the last three years.
Now your EPA is targeting Kentucky coal with pie in the sky regulations
that are impossible to achieve. It`s clear you have no idea how this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Grimes campaign manager also went after McConnell saying "while
it is heartening Mitch McConnell turns his eye to coal country every six
years to get reelected, the senior senator`s new bill does - goes far
enough and is inadequate. That is in reference to a bill that Mitch
McConnell introduced this week to try to block many of the EPA`s new rules.
We have said it before, but Kentucky is a race that could completely change
the math of the 2014 election. Right now Republicans need to pick up a net
total of six seats if they are going to take back the Senate, and that`s
something that`s very plausible. But if Grimes can beat McConnell, that
number moves to seven. And the GOP`s chances of taking the Senate will
plummet. So the question is whether Democrats in coal country can have
their cake and eat it too. Can they take sweeping action on climate change
in Washington and at the same time not undermine their candidates in a
critical Senate election in a state like Kentucky. Or is losing Kentucky
and possibly the Senate simply the political price that comes with trying
to wean America off carbon. To answer this questions, I`m joined in
Louisville this morning by Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth, he`s a
grime supporter and a supporter of the president`s EPA proposals.
Congressman, I appreciate the time, so, first of all, that just - that fact
at the end there, explain how you from the coal country state of Kentucky,
how can you support President Obama`s war on coal?
REP. JOHN YARMUTH, (D) KENTUCKY: Well, of course, I don`t accept the
premise that this is a war on coal. I think this is a fight for the
environment and for the planet. But what we have seen over the last five
years is an interesting transition. I was part of the group that
negotiated on the Waxman- Markey Bill in 2009, what was also known as the
cap and trade bill to make it much more amenable to Kentucky`s situation
where we get 92 percent of our energy from coal-fired power plants. We did
that in a way that was going to have minimal, if any, impact on Kentucky`s
economy. And Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate killed that bill.
So, now to hear Mitch scream about it is a little disingenuous.
KORNACKI: You said, this new - I mean you said, there, over 90 percent of
the electricity in Kentucky, you know, comes from coal. Jobs-wise, I
think, it`s about 17,000. It`s not as big - it used to be the 17,000 and
still a lot of jobs. Are you saying you don`t worry about the economic
impact that these new rules are going to have?
YARMUTH: No, I don`t really worry too much about the economic impact. I
worry about what`s happening to our coal miners, and but that`s been
happening for 30 years, as we transition from deep mining to mountain top
removal where we just blow up the tops of mountains and scoop the coal out
with bulldozers. We`ve lost about 80 percent of our coal jobs over the
last 30 years, but basically because of mechanization the process and also
because more recently about the low cost of natural gas as an alternative.
So, it`s not EPA that`s cost coal mining jobs in Kentucky. It`s market
forces. And it`s phenomenal to listen to Republicans like Mitch McConnell
who constantly - preach about the free market economy and then when the
free market actually is working as it will, as it will in the energy field,
he complains about regulations, which really haven`t been that much of a
KORNACKI: Although it`s not, I mean, it`s not, just Republicans like Mitch
McConnell, it`s the Democratic nominee in Kentucky, it`s Alison Grimes.
She said this week, Mr. President, stop your war on coal. I mean Mitch
McConnell could have said that. Is she - listen, you are in probably the
most Democratic friendly congressional district in Kentucky. She is trying
to run statewide in Kentucky.
YARMUTH: Exactly right.
KORNACKI: Can you realistically run statewide in Kentucky and say what you
said on the air this morning? Or do you have to say what Alison Grimes
YARMUTH: Yeah, OK.
YARMUTH: No. You have to say what Alison says. And that`s, you know,
that`s perfectly understandable, but when I ..
KORNACKI: Do you think she means it though? Or do you think she is saying
what she has to say to get elected?
YARMUTH: Well, I haven`t talked to her about it. I take her at her word.
And she`s spent more time in eastern Kentucky recently than I have. So she
probably has a lot better assessment of what the people there are thinking.
But, you know, the rules as they came down require Kentucky to reduce our
emissions by only 18 percent over the next 16 years. That`s little more
than one percent a year. We`re decommissioning coal-fired power plants as
we speak. TBA is going eliminate one and replace it with a natural gas
plant. We`ve already decommissioned three or four. So, it`s not going to
be that much of a burden on Kentucky to reach that goal. And EPA actually
took our situation into consideration when they, number one, created the
flexibility to allow us to come up with our own plan and then set our
specific goal at something that would not have a disastrous impact on the
economy. So, I really have a lot of confidence that over the next 16 years
we can reduce our emissions by 18 percent without destroying our economy.
KORNACKI: All right, Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky, if anyone
thought he was running statewide in Kentucky this year, he just took
himself out of the running, I think.
KORNACKI: My thanks for joining us this morning.
YARMUTH: Thanks, Steve.
KORNACKI: There`s good news for Democrats besides a few Senate races this
year. I don`t think they have much to worry about when it comes to this
issue. I`m going to explain why and the panel is going to weigh in, that`s
KORNACKI: All right, back at the table now, Buzzfeed`s Evan McMorris-
Santoro, Suzy Khimm from msnbc.com, Jonathan Capehart with the "Washington
Post." So, an interesting interview there we just had with Democrat from
the coal state of Kentucky saying hey, look, you know, she`s got - Alison
Grimes has got to say it`s a war on coal, it`s the only way she can this
year. Suzy, I - sounds like you had some reactions.
KHIMM: I think, you know, listen, it is a war on coal. You can argue it`s
also a war - you know, a battle for clean energy and alternatives, but it`s
a battle to get us to use less coal and to get us to cut carbon emissions
that way. And there are going to be casualties. I think the congressman
mentioned this just in passing what sort of has been ignored in this entire
war on coal debate. I was in eastern Kentucky last year for a story I did
about the human impact of this on the tens of thousands of coal miners who
have lost their jobs there. This is not just because of Obama`s new
regulations. That`s one part of a much bigger picture, is that congressman
mentioned. But there`s a human toll for this. And, you know, are these
folks going to get new jobs? Are they going to be retrained? I mean I
think this is partly why it really hits home for voters in Kentucky. And
we need to sort of acknowledge the fact that this is going to be a
difficult transition on a human level for a lot of people.
KORNACKI: Well, that`s - I`m always so suspicious in general. I
appreciate the congressman coming on. And - when a president or any
elected official makes a decision like the president made this week, that
the administration made this week, there are going to be winners, there are
going to be losers. There are going to be people who like it, people who
don`t like it. And I think to take a step back and look at the politics of
this, I mean we`re talking about this in the context of 2014. And the
2014, it just so happens that the Democrats` chances of hanging on to the
Senate depend on states like Kentucky, to depend - disproportionally on red
states, you know, West Virginia could be maybe a competitive Senate race.
But when you take a bigger picture view nationally, say, the 2016 election
you take a poll nationally, this is popular what Obama did this week.
Nationally the Democrats have a path to the White House that doesn`t
include a state like Kentucky. So, they can be fine in the big picture.
It just so happens that in 2014 this could cause them a real problem in the
state of Kentucky.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, to be further - the White House really has
insisted this is not a war on coal. I mean Suzy is a great reporter, she`s
KORNACKI: Who`s - What White House is going to declare a war on coal?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I mean their basic argument is that the idea here is
that if the coal plants, you get up to the right emissions, I mean Obama
has embraced the idea of clean coal and sort of all these sort of things,
and maybe environmental movement don`t really believe are real things. But
yeah, I mean that`s part of the conversation. I think that -- look,
politically, it`s interesting because on the one hand it`s not as though
they weren`t going to run against Obama already in the Kentucky race.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I mean what you have going on there, especially in
Kentucky, you have this idea, this weird Obamacare split when McConnell is
like let`s get rid of Obamacare, but keep - keep Obamacare.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, you know, I mean I don`t know that it like the
change of the strategy very much. I mean, you know, whatever Obama does.
KORNACKI: Well, so you look at this race right now, Allison Grimes,
Democrat running in a coal state after this. Can she win still?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yes, if she keeps doing what she`s doing. She`s a
terrific candidate, and she`s running against the president and against
Washington. As Congressman Yarmuth said, she`s doing exactly what she
needs to do. Of course, he can be for what the president is doing. He`s
in a comfortable district. But Alison Lundergan Grimes is running
statewide. She has to criticize the president on the Affordable Care Act.
She has to criticize the president on coal and whether she believes what
she`s saying, well, that`s up to her and her conscience. But if she wants
to become the next senator from Kentucky, she has got to reflect the
interest of people in that state. And I`m kind of uncomfortable with the
whole phrase war on coal, but, you know, as Suzy said, there will be
casualties, people who will lose their jobs. But if only Congress would
pass a comprehensive climate change bill and fund things like alternative
energy, wind, solar, and all sorts of other things, those people who were
losing their jobs in Kentucky could be retrained to be part of the new
KORNACKI: Yeah, this is I mean President Obama`s approval rating in
Kentucky is like 28 percent or something. I mean in a way it`s a miracle
the race is even right now. But I think it`s going to stay even probably
through November. Anyway, here`s a tough one for Democrats. A Republican
facing a grave threat from the Tea Party wants their help. So, did they
throw him a life preserver? Or did they get mischievous? That`s coming
KORNACKI: In January the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, Dawn Zimmer, came
on this show and alleged Chris Christie his administration were holding up
Sandy aid for her city over a massive commercial development project. But
even as she made the charge, she also appealed to Christie for help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAWN ZIMMER, MAYOR OF HOBOKEN: Part of what I`m hoping, comes out of this
by coming forward is to say, governor, please support this rebuild by
designed competition. Come forward and fully support us. Give it your
very direct endorsement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Well, there was a big development on that front this week and
tomorrow morning Dawn Zimmer will come back to this table and talk about it
and tell us what her life has been like and how it`s changed since she came
forward five months ago. Make sure you tune in. You are not going to want
to miss this one.
KORNACKI: Seventeen days -- that is how much time one of the longest-
serving members of the U.S. Senate now has to save himself from becoming
the latest victim of the Tea Party. Mississippi`s Thad Cochran actually
received 1,300 fewer votes in Tuesday`s Republican primary than his Tea
Party challenger, State Senator Chris McDaniel.
Suzy Khimm, Bill Wolff
But a little-known third party -- a third candidate picked off just enough
votes to -- to deny McDaniel an outright majority. And in Mississippi, if
no one gets an outright majority, it triggers a run-off between the top two
So Cochran and McDaniel are going to square off again on June 24, this time
without that little known third candidate on the ballot with them. And the
early expectations are that this is the challenger`s race. This is
McDaniel`s race to
Turnout will be lower in the runoff. And the supporters are more die-hard,
at least, that`s how the thinking goes. But Cochran`s support is soft, the
kind of support that might just melt away now that everyone knows how weak
and how vulnerable he is.
Already, the Karl Rove affiliated group, American Crossroads, which had
been aggressively defending Cochran against McDaniel, has decided to
abandon the Senator, leaving Cochran to fend for himself in the run-off.
On Tuesday night, the mood of McDaniel`s campaign headquarters was
STATE. SEN. CHRIS MCDANIEL (R), MISSISSIPPI: This is a historic moment in
this state`s history.
And because of your hard work, because of your dedication, we sit here
tonight leading a 42-year incumbent.
KORNACKI: Meanwhile, Cochran who served in either the Senate or the House
since 1972 didn`t speak publically on Tuesday night, fueling speculation
that he might drop out instead of risking a lopsided defeat in the run-off.
But he`s now back on the campaign trail and vowing to press on.
His campaign still hopes that McDaniel`s baggage or potential baggage will
lead Republican voters to turn away from him. There`s the -- the open
question of the investigation into that bizarre nursing home episode where
McDaniel backers are charged in a conspiracy to publicize and elicit photo
of Cochran`s bedridden wife.
McDaniel vehemently denies any involvement. But the issue hasn`t
completely gone away either. And there`s McDaniel`s own baggage.
He`s spoken to a neo confederate group, the sons of confederate veterans
that advocates secession and as a talk radio host, he`s made more than his
share of tasteless comments.
MCDANIEL: I`ll tell you what`s better. Why don`t we all immigrate south?
Let`s go to Mexico. See, Jeremy`s with me. You know, a dollar bill can
buy a mansion in Mexico.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we have to learn Spanish?
MCDANIEL: Yes, regrettably. You`ll have to learn just enough to ask
where the bathroom is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m still not.
MCDANIEL: Banos, banos. That`s what you say. Do you have a sister? How
do you say that in Spanish, Jeremy? What about "Mamacita?"
"Mamacita" works. I`m an English-speaking Anglo. I have no idea what it
means, actually. But I`ve said it a few times just for, you know, fun.
And I think it basically means, "Hey, hot mama," or, you know, "You`re a
fine-looking young thing."
KORNACKI: Cochran`s team wants Republicans to be thinking about
electability. With Cochran, that argument goes. This is going to be a
safe seat for Republicans in the fall.
But with McDaniel could be in play for Democrats, who this week, nominated
Travis Childers, former Congressman who opposes abortion and voted against
the Affordable Care Act.
But an electability argument in the Mississippi Republican primary might be
a tough sell. After all, this is a state that hasn`t voted for a
democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter carried it and barely
back in 1976.
And the last Democrat sent to the Senate was John Stennis, a conservative
Democrat who generally voted with Republicans. That was all the way back
Cochran is also doing something you don`t see many or -- or any Republicans
doing these days. He`s courting Democrats. Politico`s Alex Burns reports
Cochran`s campaign is trying to expand the electorate for the run-off.
That means playing up the federal money that Cochran has brought back to
Mississippi. And it also means reaching out to voters who don`t normally
take part in Republican primaries, maybe why Cochran decided to talk this
week about voting rights.
Voting rights, he said, has been an issue of great importance in
Mississippi. Mississippi is 37 percent African-American, making it the
state with the largest black population, the largest share of the black
population in America.
While black voters in Mississippi tend to vote almost exclusively for
Democrat, they are free to participate in the Cochran-McDaniel run-off as
long as they didn`t vote in this week`s democratic primary. Does this
strategy have a chance of working for Cochran?
Or is it just going to stir resentment among Republicans and backfire on
him? Well, Henry Barbour is a Republican Strategist who runs the pro-
Cochran super PAC Mississippi conservatives. And he joins us now from
Henry, appreciate the time this morning. So look, an electability argument
from a Republican and Mississippi saying, you`ve got to nominate me.
Otherwise, this race is at risk, going to fall.
I don`t know if I heard that in -- in the last generation or so. That`s a
tough sell in Mississippi. How do you make that argument to Republicans
who are used to winning everything in Mississippi?
HENRY BARBOUR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think people are realizing
here, and are beginning to realize even more that Chris McDaniel is an
embarrassment. He has said so many public statements and bizarre events in
his campaign that people are concerned that, you know, this guy is going to
be an embarrassment in the U.S. Senate.
But more importantly, Steve, people see this as Mississippi`s interest that
Thad Cochran is going to protect versus his outside interest from the very
-- sort of hijack the Tea Party. They don`t care anything about
They`ve got McDaniel saying things like not sure if he would have supported
Katrina relief. He wants to gut our public schools, no federal funding of
education, says it`s unconstitutional.
Eight hundred million dollars for K through 12 education in Mississippi
this year that he says is unconstitutional.
KORNACKI: Does that.
BARBOUR: That`s crazy.
KORNACKI: .is the Republican base, the Tea Party base, because the story
of -- of the Tea Party movement really in Mississippi and nationally has
been it`s been a revolt against the federal government, against federal
It`s the idea that federal government spends too much money. So you know,
I can remember growing from Massachusetts. Ted Kennedy got in trouble in
1994 running against Mitt Romney.
And he came back, the blue state of Massachusetts, and he went to, hey, I -
- I got money for this. I got money for that. It`s Massachusetts.
They loved it. But we`re talking about the Tea Party base of the
Republican Party. And the argument that -- that -- that you guys are
making is, hey, we need the federal money for this.
We need the federal money for that. Has the -- has the conservative
movement sort of created a beast here that -- that you guys can`t contend
with? I mean, do they want to hear that argument?
BARBOUR: Now, look, Chris McDaniel is certainly riding that anti-Obama
wave, but he`s ridden it about as far as he can go. I think his vote is
What you`ve got to understand is Senator Cochran has voted against the
liberal policies of Obama. He voted against the Obamacare a hundred times.
He`s voted against big spending. But he`s going to look out for
Mississippi`s interests for our military bases, for our universities, for
our public schools.
If a hurricane hits us, he`s going to fight for us. He`s not going to be
like Chris McDaniel and try to satisfy the guys who hijacked the Tea Party.
People rightly are concerned about spending. And we get that. And Senator
Cochran has fought against that. But he`s certainly going to fight for our
KORNACKI: So -- so what happens if, look, you know, Cochran lost this
things by 1,300 vote -- didn`t lose it but fell -- finished 1,300 votes
behind the results today?
KORNACKI: What -- what happens if that happens again on June 24? If Chris
McDaniel is the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Mississippi this
year, first of all, do you expect -- I mean, you -- you know all the -- the
-- the sort of national party folks.
Do you expect that they`re going to abandon this race if Chris McDaniel`s
BARBOUR: Well, I don`t know what they`re going to do. I don`t think Chris
McDaniel`s going to be the nominee. I don`t think we`re going to nominate
somebody who would cut $800 million from our public school funding.
I don`t think we`re going to nominate somebody who says he`s a lifelong
Republican but voted in Democrat primary, who says he`s against total
KORNACKI: I -- I -- I don`t mean to interrupt but.
BARBOUR: That`s OK.
KORNACKI: .I`m asking you, though -- I`m asking you, though, if, you know,
if he is the nominee, because he -- he did get more votes on Tuesday night,
if he ends up the nominee, do you want them -- do you want the Republican
Party nationally investing in this race or do you think they`re not going
BARBOUR: I think you -- I think Republicans are going to unite behind our
nominee. Whoever that is, I do think that is. Now, I do think if Chris
McDaniel is our nominee, the Democrats have a chance.
But I will tell you, Democrat voters in Mississippi are scared to death of
Chris McDaniel. And so I guarantee you, there are some of them who are
looking at this June 24 run-off.
And they`re thinking, you know, if we`re going to have a say in who our
U.S. Senator`s going to be, we may want to go think about voting in this.
And remember, Thad Cochran got 700,000 votes the last time he voted.
And there are only about 300,000 votes in the Republican primary. So
that`s 400,000 people who have voted for Cochran before, called them swing
And they`ve got to be looking at this and thinking, I want to have a say in
it who actually - who`s going to represent us and who`s going to represent
KORNACKI: All right. There is the case right there from -- from somebody
supporting Thad Cochran, for Democrats voting for Thad Cochran. I want to
thank Republican Strategist, Henry Barbour, appreciate the time this
That is the perfect segue for his going on on the other side, on the
Democratic side because this race is a real question for Democrats. On the
one hand, if they had to choose between Cochran and McDaniel, as Henry
Barbour was just suggesting there, Democrats would probably rather have
Cochran as their Senator.
They don`t agree with him on much but he will occasionally break with the
Tea Party. The American conservative union recently ranked him as by far
the least conservative Republican Senator up for reelection in 2014. And
as we just mentioned, Cochran also -- also brings some serious federal
money back to Mississippi, a lot more than McDaniel probably would.
So do Democrats in Mississippi throw Cochran a life preserver now? Do they
head to the polls in that run-off and vote for him because the alternative
of actually having McDaniel in the Senate is just too unacceptable to them?
Or we ask this in the tease, do they get mischievous?
Remember, they have a credible candidate of their own, Travis Childers.
And as Politico reported this week, quote, "Within the past two weeks,
private democratic polling is showing the party`s nominee, former
Representative Travis Childers, would start a general elections
statistically tied with McDaniel.
A race against Cochran who is well-liked by independents and many Democrats
would be difficult to the point of futility. So instead of helping
Cochran, should Democrats show up at the polls in 17 days and vote for
McDaniel to give their Party a chance of maybe actually winning in the
There`s a real argument now about whether even the strongest Democratic
candidate could beat a Republican as flawed as McDaniel in Mississippi,
where the electorate is more polarized along racial lines than anywhere
else in America. There`s an argument that there just aren`t enough real
swing voters for any Democrat to win a Senate race in Mississippi, period.
So what are Democrats thinking as they watch Thad Cochran try to fight off
the Tea Party? Well, let`s ask the Chairman of the Mississippi Democratic
Party, Rickey Cole. And he joins us now.
So Mr. Chairman, you just heard Henry Barbour basically making a -- a raw
appeal for Democratic votes for Thad Cochran in this run-off on June 24.
He`s saying, look, you may not like him on everything.
But he`s a lot better than the alternative. What do you say to Democrats
who -- who are thinking about voting on the 24th?
RICKEY COLE, CHAIRMAN OF MISSISSIPPI DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Good morning,
Steve. I believe that a Mississippi Republican running on public education
is about like Haley Barbour doing a Slim Fast commercial. It is going --
it`s going to be quite a stretch.
In the 10 years since Haley Barbour was elected governor, we fully funded
public education in Mississippi one year. The Republicans oppose funding
for early childhood education.
We don`t have pre-K in Mississippi. They`re for vouchers. They`re for
privatization. They`ve done nothing to help with student loans, the
tremendous cost of student loans for colleges.
So I just don`t think their strategy will sell to democratic voters.
KORNACKI: Do you -- do you want Democrats to go out and vote for -- who
did not vote in your primary this week? Do you want them to go out and
vote for McDaniel so you`ve got a shot at this thing in the fall?
COLE: I -- I don`t think we have a dog in that hunt. Clearly.
KORNACKI: But there`s a -- there`s a big difference for you in McDaniel
and Cochran, isn`t there?
COLE: It`s the difference is in -- in style, not in substance.
KORNACKI: I mean -- I mean, electability. Isn`t there a big electability
that we play -- I mean, we play those radio quotes from -- from McDaniel.
We`ve got the issue of the nursing home.
There`s this whole thing you`re talking about this week about the campaign
workers and maybe an investigation into the -- into the voting place
behavior. You`ve got Democrats telling national publications that they`ve
got -- I`m -- I`m using their words here, one of them saying that the
opposition research amounts to what, kill shot.
It`s a terrible thing to say. But that`s -- that`s one of the things that
was quoted in the press this week. I mean, there`s a huge difference from
an electability standpoint, isn`t there?
COLE: No, that`s the conventional wisdom. But the conventional wisdom in
this race has been wrong so far. Your guest a few minutes ago, Henry
Barbour, said last December that Chris McDaniel would have his head handed
to him in this primary.
We recruited a candidate because we know this is a winnable race. This is
the first competitive Senate race in Mississippi since 1982 in an off year.
President Obama got 563,000 votes in Mississippi.
This election is about three things -- turnout, turnout, turnout. And we
KORNACKI: All right, my thanks to Rickey Cole from Mississippi Democratic
Party. Yes, we are talking about a general election for the U.S. Senate in
Mississippi. When was the last time you`ve heard about that?
Anyway, there is -- well, nice, Phil. He just told us. Anyway, there`s a
new development in the race that took shape overnight. We`re going to tell
you about it.
And we`re going to hear about -- about it from the panel. That`s next.
But first, we do have more details surrounding the car accident that has
left comedian and former Saturday Night Live star, Tracy Morgan, in
critical condition this morning.
We now know that there were six vehicles involved in the accident on the
New Jersey turnpike, two tractor trailers, an SUV, two cars and a limo bus
that Morgan was riding in. That limo bus was overturned and one of its
passengers has died.
The accident happened around 1:00 a.m. overnight and has put a total of
seven people in the hospital. The preliminary investigation suggests a
tractor trailer rear ended Morgan`s vehicle.
Morgan is currently being treated in the intensive care unit at Robert Wood
Johnson Hospital in Central New Jersey. We`ll bring you more details in
this story throughout the day.
KORNACKI: An update now to one of the stranger stories to come out of
Mississippi this week. I alluded to it a minute ago. But the Hinds County
district attorney says, he will investigate how a Chris McDaniel campaign
staffer and two other supporters wound up locked inside the county
courthouse in the middle of the night on election day.
Keep in mind, ballots from that night`s primary were in the courthouse. A
local sheriff did look into the matter before this, though, and said that
no crime was committed.
Back at the table with us, now, BuzzFeed`s Evan McMorris-Santoro, Suzy
Khimm from msnbc.com, Jonathan Capehart from the "Washington Post." This
Mississippi Senate race, just the nursing home break and three people
stranded in a courthouse overnight, I`m listening to Henry Barbour, you
know, Haley Barbour`s nephew fixture in the Republican politics, talking
about all the support that his candidate`s going to get for public
education, for -- for federal money coming back to Mississippi.
KORNACKI: The world is upside-down.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: It`s -- it`s old school southern politics, right? I
mean, that`s -- I mean, I`m from North Carolina.
And I know that every state in the south has that -- has that -- has that
phrase, you know, you don`t know what it`s like down here. Mississippi --
we do things differently down here.
KORNACKI: They`re proving it, aren`t they?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: They do it differently down there. It`s really true.
So I mean, I think that this is -- I mean, what`s interesting about Cochran
is he is running for more of an old-school style campaign.
He`s -- he`s going out and saying what he can actually give to people and
bring to people, which is.
KORNACKI: But they don`t want to shoot that, right?
KORNACKI: People doesn`t want to hear it.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Because he`s right.
KHIMM: What`s so interesting about both of them is that it seems like each
is the -- the almost a character of what the other sort of side wants to
think of it. In terms of, all right, oh, the Tea Party, they associate
with fringe elements, there is all sorts of this sort of weird -- weirdness
that you display.
CAPEHART: I mean.
KIM: It`s like he -- and Thad Cochran is the older man, is unapologetic
establishment. I mean, he`s bringing the pork home, you know, in terms of
federal spending on education, federal spending on food stamps, on
agriculture subsidies, on the stuff that -- and frankly, a lot of those red
states do sort of take up especially in the south in places like
Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky.
But it`s become basically in politics to say that in -- in front of
Republican audiences. So I mean, I think it`s sort of this -- this very
sort of interesting case of this come to extreme.
CAPEHART: I think it`s an old-fashioned, when you put aside the weirdness
and the craziness, this is an old-fashioned fight for power within the
Republican Party. You`ve got the establishment versus the Tea Party folks
who find themselves in nursing homes and getting locked in -- in
But what we`re seeing in Mississippi is the fight within the Republican
Party that we`re seeing all across the country where you`ve got the
establishment figures like Senator Cochran, who are trying to hang on to
their seats in -- in the face of an insurgent force that`s been sweeping
across the Party since 2010.
And what we`re seeing with this particular -- with -- with McDaniel`s and
the craziness that`s happening there is that they will go to any length to
get power. And that`s -- I Didn`t think that that was what the Tea Party
was all about.
KORNACKI: But one of the story lines of the cycle has been how weak and
sort of like comically weak these Tea Party candidates have been. And
McDaniel is just sort of -- because he`s the only racer, they`re really
pouring all their heart and soul into beating Cochran because you know,
they`re guaranteed basically to have no Democrat to really worry about,
that this is another one of these candidates. I mean, this campaign is
I mean, it`s like -- it`s like Keystone.
KORNACKI: It`s true, although the -- the difference, too, is like we --
we`ve talked about these other Tea Party candidates who have -- who have
sort of flamed out in other races and have never really gotten any traction
versus McDaniel. One of the reasons I think is that Cochran is the
exception to what every other incumbent Republican Senator has done the
last couple of years, when they have watched, you know, Bob Bennett lose to
a Tea Party challenger, the convention in Utah.
They lost -- they watched Lugar lose. You know, in Indiana, they said, you
know, I don`t want to be the next one. And so they basically embraced Tea
Party ideology, Tea Party rhetoric.
And so the Tea Party has nothing left to complain about except maybe what
they used to be. But you look at Cochran and again, I mean, it really --
it really strikes me. And I -- I listen to Henry Barbour there.
And I -- I don`t blame him because what else can you do at this point if
you`re Thad Cochran. You need more votes on the 24th. And if the Tea
Party base wasn`t with you in this preliminary election, they`re not going
to be with you three weeks from now.
Do you -- if you can get Democrats to vote, you`ve got to get them to vote.
I think it`s a long shot of a strategy. Maybe it`ll work.
But where else do you go?
CAPEHART: Well, I mean, I think you just answered your question. You`ve
got to do -- if you`re -- if you`re -- if you`re Senator Cochran, you`ve
got to do everything possible to get one more vote than the crazy dude
who`s on the ballot -- on the ballot with you.
And if that means going against everything that Republicans have been
running on, which is they`ve been running against pork, they`ve been
running against food stamps, they`ve been running against -- against the
federal government. And if what -- if doing the opposite is what it will
take to get you back to Washington, then go ahead and do it.
KIM: But the reality is that -- that Republicans, I mean, they may say
they`re against these kind of things. But they voted for this farm bill
with gigantic subsidies to pay agricultural corporations.
And they did cut back on food stamps. But you know, they -- it`s -- it`s
not -- it`s like.
CAPEHART: But they`re not out there with pompoms.
KIM: .no, no, no, they`re not out there with pompoms. But I do think
there`s, I mean, basically, Cochran`s campaign is also relying on the
distinction between, you know, knowing what you say what you do, I mean,
knowing the fact that in reality, whatever kind of Tea Party rhetoric they,
you know, that -- the impact of the Tea Party has had on the Republican
Party, we still do give really big hiccups to a lot of people, corporations
-- including corporations.
And I think -- I think that is the reality the Tea Party has run against.
But it`s not become a reality of Washington.
KORNACKI: Well, Rickey Cole, the Mississippi Democratic Chairman, wouldn`t
say it there, but I`m really curious if Democrats in Mississippi are going
to go out and vote for Chris McDaniel on the 24th because again, if -- if
Thad Cochran is the nominee, I don`t think they`ll beat him in the fall.
I don`t know, they -- I mean, McDaniel could easily win in the fall I
think. But he could lose. I think it is possible he could lose.
My question for Democrats in Mississippi is, I mean, are they going to be -
- are they going to think strategically and cunningly like that? Or that
could backfire, too.
But anyway, I`m curious about that. I want to thank msnbc.com`s Suzy
Khimm. Lindsey Graham was talking about impeachment this week supposedly
because he doesn`t like the beard that got Bowe Bergdahl released.
We will show you what he really might have been up to. That`s next.
KORNACKI: The harshest attack this week on the deal that freed Bowe
Bergdahl from his capture came from Senator Lindsey Graham of South
Carolina, who invoked the "I" word. Graham argued that releasing five
Guantanamo detainees in exchange for Bergdahl will put more Americans at
risk for being kidnapped by terrorists.
He warned that if President Obama would allow the release of any more
detainees, then, quote, "There will be people on our side calling for his
impeachment." Predictably, those comments sparked outrage on the left.
But they also got some heads nodding on the right. And that`s just the
point because to understand at least part of what Graham is up to, you have
to know what`s happening this coming Tuesday.
That`s when Lindsey Graham is due to face South Carolina`s very
conservative Republican electorate in a GOP primary. This is a primary
that Graham has been very concerned about for the last few years.
He`s long been viewed with suspicion on the right for his willingness to
occasionally break with his Party, recall that in 2009, Graham actually
voted for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor`s confirmation. And he
watched him in 2010 as his Republican Senate colleague, Bob Bennett, lost
his career to a Tea Party insurgency.
He watched just the same thing happen to Dick Lugar in 2012. And he`s
watched just the same thing may now be happening to Thad Cochran In
Mississippi. So Lindsey Graham has long known that this primary, the one
coming up on Tuesday, could potentially be a serious problem for him.
And he admitted once that his basic -- well, his basic strategy is for
keeping the Tea Party base at bay. Quote, "Anytime you challenge the
President, Obama, it`s good politics." So Graham said in an interview last
And the good news for Lindsey Graham is that he`s way ahead in the latest
poll. But the catch is that South Carolina is a run-off state.
So if Graham doesn`t get up and over that 50 percent mark on Tuesday, then
one of those challengers will get a one-on-one shot at him in two weeks on
June 24. While Graham would be heavily favored in that run-off, it would
be a serious headache for him.
And Tea Party groups around the country that have so far ignored this race
might suddenly get very interested. In run-offs, things can change very
quickly. And they can be very unpredictable.
So the question is is Lindsey Graham poised to fight the Tea Party off on
Tuesday? Or is his Tea Party headache just getting started? Here to try
and answer what`s in store for him is Jamie Self.
She`s a government and politics reporter with "The State" newspaper in
Jamie, thanks for joining us this morning. So give us the bottom line. We
look at that poll, not close in -- in a traditional sense.
But the number for Lindsey Graham is 50 percent. He`s very close right
now. There are still some undecided. Do you expect he`s going to get over
this thing on Tuesday?
JAMIE SELF, GOVERNMENT & POLTICS REPORTER, "THE STATE": I think that, you
know, we`re looking at 35 percent of the voters who are still undecided.
And the conventional wisdom is that if Graham can pick up just some of
those votes, then he`ll be safe.
You also look at polls in this race and not just the recent one, but
previous ones. And you see that his challengers have really struggled to
sort of break out of that one digit ranking so, you know.
KORNACKI: Yes, he`s -- I mean, he`s -- he`s -- he`s gotten lucky in that -
- or lucky in that -- or -- and lucky is -- is maybe one way of putting it.
I mean, there`s -- there`s a bit of -- there`s a sort of intentional in
terms of his strategy here.
But he didn`t draw a top tier opponent. So he just sort of dodged the
bullet there. And -- and, you know, the national Tea Party groups haven`t
But I wonder about, we -- we have that quote that we read where he
basically said last year, he gave it away last year. Any time you attack
Obama, it`s good politics.
And that seems to be the pattern with Lindsey Graham. He reminds me so
much of what Arlen Specter. Arlen Specter, you know, for -- for every --
every few years, he`d work with Democrats.
He`d annoy the right. Then he`d come up for reelection in Pennsylvania.
And suddenly, he would leave the charge, you know, against Anita Hill on
behalf of Clarence Thomas, for example.
He`d work with Democrats. He`d annoy the right. Then he`d come up for
reelection in Pennsylvania and suddenly he would lead the charge, you know,
against Anita Hill on behalf of Clarence Thomas, for example.
He would always get in good with the right when it mattered most. It just
seem so transparent with Lindsey Graham that that`s what`s going on when he
does something like invoking impeachment this week, it doesn`t seem like
that that -- the transparent nature of this that was registering with
Republicans in South Carolina, is it?
SELF: Well, I think that, you know, this is something that folks talk a
lot about with Senator Graham. You know, another example is his support
for a 20-week abortion ban.
His -- his conservative opponents would say, oh, he`s just pandering. You
know, this is something that he`s doing because he is running for
And Graham`s campaign would say, you know, that`s -- that`s not true. He`s
been a supporter of limiting abortion all along. So you kind of have --
you kind of have that tension there with him.
KORNACKI: Well, I -- I guess that`s that`s the question we`ll be -- we`ll
be watching going forward. If he does clear 50 percent this week, if he
does avoid that run-off, and then Lindsey Graham is going to get six more
years in the Senate, is he going to go back to being a little bit more of a
-- of middle-of-the-road figure who works with Democrats because he`s got a
sort of a six-year -- a new six-year lease on the Senate?
That`s to be determined. I want to thank Jamie Self, reporter with the
state. Thanks for getting up, appreciate it, this morning.
We have had a few celebrity contestants on "Up Against the Clock." But I
can honestly tell you, I have never been as excited as I am about the one
we have today.
It might mean the contestants are going to have to give their answers in
the form of a question, though. We will explain next. And trust me,
you`re not going to want to miss this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the five-day total, ladies and gentlemen, of a
hundred and two thousand, eight hundred and 10 dollars, 10-day total of
$220,610, $314,900, a 19-day total of $410,000. How about that?
KORNACKI: Julia Collins became a fixture in America`s living rooms back in
April when she kicked off what would soon become the second longest winning
streak in the 30-year history of "Jeopardy." Now, since the legendary Ken
Jennings, have we seen anyone with this combination of speed and smart.
She looked unstoppable.
ALEX TREBEK, JEOPARDY! HOST: Julia?
JULIA COLLINS, JEOPARDY! CHAMPION: What is Florence?
COLLINS: What is AA?
COLLINS: Who is Jeep?
TREBEK: Jeep, good.
COLLINS: What are jeans seams?
COLLINS: What is street food?
TREBEK: Street food, good.
KORNACKI: Well, you knew the magic had to stop some time and it finally
did this past Monday when Julia Collins was defeated after reeling off 20
straight wins. But guess what, her retirement as a game show contestant is
coming to an end this morning because Julia Collins -- she went up against
some of the smartest, fastest players in the world on Jeopardy. She walked
away with $428,000.
But can she go "Up Against the Clock?" That`s right, Julia Collins will be
playing in our weekly current events game show, the "Jeopardy" champion
will be taking on two top pundits in a battle for the ages.
And it starts as soon as we come back. So stay right there.
BILL WOLFF, MSNBC: Live from Studio 3A in Rockefeller Center, USA, time
for "Up Against the Clock." Today`s contestants, his sense of style is
well-known to our viewers.
But did you know that he learned to tie a bow tie right here at 30 Rock?
From the great Jean Shallot, this is Jonathan Capehart.
He is a two-time "Up Against the Clock" runner-up whose confidence at three
times is a charm. Welcome back, Evan McMorris-Santoro. And she has spent
months working on her skills buzzing in just off her 20th consecutive win
on actual game show, "Jeopardy", the second longest winning streak of all
time today, this champion competes for the chance to add $50 in tour
winnings, big welcome, Julia Collins.
Right now, the host of "Up Against the Clock," Steve Kornacki.
KORNACKI: Oh, thank you, Bill Wolff. And thank you to everyone out there
tuning in at home. Welcome back for a historic edition of "Up Against the
Julia Collins, we have never had a contestant as decorated as you. You
handled Alex Trebek with mastery. What do you make of this new show you`re
COLLINS: Well, I`m -- I`m intrigued to see how I`ll -- how I`ll do. I
heard you don`t answer in a form of a question?
KORNACKI: Yes. We will penalize you 50 points if you say what is, where
is, or who is. But other than that, we`re excited to have you here.
We really appreciate you doing it. Evan and Jonathan, your chance to go up
against a game show legend.
KORNACKI: They look excited. Let`s get to the rules. Let me take you
through how this works. This is a fast-paced political news and current
We will play for three rounds, each of them 100 seconds long. Questions
are worth a hundred points in the first round, 200 points in the second,
300 in the third.
Contestants take notice, you can ring in any time. But you will be
penalized for wrong answers. Also, there are two special bonus questions
We will explain when they come up. And our contestants will be playing not
just for victory but also for a chance to play in our tournament of
But to qualify contestants, you first have to win today. As always, I will
implore our live studio audience.
KORNACKI: Please no outbursts. Contestants, I will now ask you, put your
hands on your buzzers. Put a hundred seconds on the clock. And the first
round will begin with this.
Hillary Clinton`s latest book, "Hard Choices" will be released this
Tuesday. What is the name of her first book?
CAPEHART: "Living History."
COLLINS: "It Takes a Village."
KORNACKI: "It Takes a Village" is correct. The champion is on the board.
A hundred-point question. Construction equipment giant Caterpillar
announced this week that they are hiring this former Obama administration
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Ray Lahood?
KORNACKI: Ray Lahood is the goal the work for Caterpillar. Correct.
Hundred-point question, President Obama will speak about education and the
rising cost of college on Tuesday on this popular blogging platform that
KORNACKI: Evan, conspicuously lacks a vowel. Correct. Stop the clock.
Evan, good exciting news for you. That was the video bonus trigger
Because you answered it correctly, you will now have a chance to add an
extra hundred points to your score. It`s very simple. We have asked a
celebrity to read a famous political quote.
All you have to do is correctly identify who said it and you`ll get that
extra hundred points. There`s also no penalty for guessing on this.
So please, take a look at the video monitor. Here is legendary Broadway
actress and star of the classic late 1980s/early 1990s, ABC Television
drama "Life Goes On," Patti Lupone.
LUPONE: This week`s "Up Against the Clock" quote of note, asks what mayor
the subject of a 1960 Pulitzer prize and Tony award-winning Broadway
musical famously said, "There is no Democratic or Republican way of
cleaning the streets." Good luck.
KORNACKI: All right, Evan, you heard the question. What`s the answer?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I don`t know. I would say -- I would say, Howie Long
for some reason.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. It was Fiorello Laguardia.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Of course.
CAPEHART: That`s a non-political question.
KORNACKI: No penalty for guessing. No penalty.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: My favorite person. So this is going to be great.
KORNACKI: We`ll put the clock back up on the screen. Hundred-point toss-
it round continues with this. The Republican National Committee announced
Friday that they have raised more than a million dollars from the sales of
yellow, orange, green and blue-striped socks fashioned after this self-
proclaimed -- Evan?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: George H.W. Bush.
KORNACKI: George H.W. Bush is the sock-man president, correct. A hundred-
point question here. A column published by Reuters this week urged First
Lady Michelle Obama to follow in Hillary Clinton`s footsteps and to run for
the Senate in 2016 in Illinois against this incumbent Republican.
COLLINS: Mark Kirk?
KORNACKI: Mark Kirk is correct. That`ll be quite a race. Hundred-point
question. A press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron on
Thursday, President Obama referred to the sport of soccer as this.
KORNACKI: He called it football, correct. Hundred-point question.
Lindsey Graham suggested this week that if more detainees were released
from Guantanamo, Republicans may make Barack Obama the third president to
be impeached -- Evan?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Oh, impeached. I thought it was going to be.
KORNACKI: Incorrect. I`ll finish the question. Name of the first
president to be impeached.
CAPEHART: Andrew Johnson.
KORNACKI: Andrew Johnson is correct. Hundred-point question -- oh, that
brings us to the end of the first round. Jonathan, out of negative to a
Evan and Julia, tied for the lead at 200, though. This is a close game,
ladies and gentlemen. And the stakes are about to get higher because I
have here he 200-point questions.
This is the 200-point round. We`re going to put a hundred seconds on the
clock. And there they are. And we go with this.
A story this week about President Obama described a budding friendship with
this seven-time NBA all-star and former Miami Heat center.
COLLINS: Shaquille O`Neal.
CAPEHART: Lebron James?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I don`t know.
KORNACKI: No guess? It`s Alonzo Mourning. Two-hundred-point question, on
Thursday, Oklahoma joined Indiana and became the second state to drop the
education standards and no -- Evan?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Common Core.
KORNACKI: Common Core is correct. Two hundred points for Evan. Two-
hundred-point question here, President Obama`s trip to Europe this week
included a meeting with Petro Poroshenko, who is the recently elected
President of what country?
KORNACKI: Ukraine is correct. Two-hundred-point question, it was reported
this week that before setting out to run in a heavily Hispanic
Congressional district, 34-year-old Scott Fisler legally adopted --
CAPEHART: Cesar Chavez.
KORNACKI: He legally adopted Cesar Chavez` name, correct. Two hundred
points for Jonathan. In a bipartisan vote of 78 to 1that`s correct.
In a vote of 78 to 17 on Thursday, the Senate confirmed -- Jonathan?
CAPEHART: Oh, oh.
KORNACKI: Time. The Senate confirmed whom as the new -- Evan?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Sylvia Burwell.
KORNACKI: Sylvia Burwell is the new HHS Secretary. And stop the clock
because Evan --that is the use it or lose it bonus question.
It means you have a chance to double what you`ve just won, to scoop up an
additional 200 points. This is not a risk-free question, though. Here is
I have here a follow-up question to the one you just answered. It is
related in some way. It is worth 200 extra points if you answer it
But if you`re wrong, you will lose those 200 points that you`ve just won.
Or you can pass. You won`t lose any points.
CAPEHART: You`ve got a lot of points, Evan.
KORNACKI: But you also won`t be gaining any. So it`s your choice, Evan.
I have the follow-up question. I have the follow-up question here.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: You know, I got -- I -- I got this far. I`ve got to go
for it. I`m going to do it.
KORNACKI: You`re going to go for it?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Why am I doing it?
Julia, I should be doing it, right?
COLLINS: Go for the lock.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Then, OK. All right, all right, I`ve got to do it.
KORNACKI: This is -- you want to go over here? So that is your -- that is
your final answer?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: I`m doing it.
KORNACKI: All right, for Sylvia Matthews Burwell who is the newly
confirmed Secretary of Health and Human Services, hails from what state?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: West Virginia.
KORNACKI: West Virginia is correct. Two hundred points for Evan McMorris-
Santoro. Put the clock back up on the board, Evan with a thousand points.
Now, we pick it up with this. Dunkin` Donuts, which commemorated National
Donut Day yesterday by offering a free donut with a purchase of a beverage
is headquartered in what New England state?
KORNACKI: Massachusetts -- second straight state question for Evan. Two-
hundred point question, by finishing second in California`s jungle primary
for governor, Republican Neel Kashkari this week won the right to face off
in November against which Democrat?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Jerry Brown.
KORNACKI: Jerry Brown is correct. Two hundred-point -- oh, that`s the end
of the round. Evan on a tear, 1,400 points, Julia at zero, Jonathan at
Good news for the two opponents of Evan, though. This is the 300-point
round. You can make this gap up in a hurry. Let`s see if they can.
Let`s put a hundred seconds on the board. Let`s dim the lights. Get the
dramatic music ready because the third and final round begins with this.
Thad Cochran who is currently fighting for his political life in a run-off
ran for the Republican Party`s top leadership position in the Senate in
1996 but lost to this other Mississippi Senator?
CAPEHART: Haley Barbour.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Frank Luntz?
KORNACKI: Frank Luntz, correct. Three-hundred-point question. Annette
Bosworth turns herself in for arrest for filing false nominating petition,
a mere 24 hours after losing Tuesday`s Republican U.S. Senate primary in
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: South Dakota?
KORNACKI: Correct. Three hundred points for Evan. Three hundred points,
supposedly winning 88.7 percent of the vote, this notorious tyrant was
declared reelected this week as his country leader.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Bashar al-Assad.
KORNACKI: Assad is correct. Evan running away with his three-hundred
point question. What is the name of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl`s hometown?
Time, in Idaho. Three-hundred-point question. Joining with the
incorporated area around its nearby international airport, the city of
Seattle this week raised its minimum wage to what value?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Fifteen dollars.
KORNACKI: Fifteen dollars an hour is correct. Three-hundred-point
question. The state of Iowa will, for the first time in its history, be
represented by a woman in the U.S. Senate if this newly minted Republican
nominee -- Evan?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Joni Ernst.
KORNACKI: I had a feeling he`d be right. Three hundred points. The
Department of Labor announced yesterday the unemployment rate held steady
in May at what level?
CAPEHART: Six point three percent.
KORNACKI: Six point three percent, correct. Three-hundred point question,
in -- if California Chrome wins the Belmont Stakes later today, horse
racing will have its first triple-crown winner since 1978. That is the
same year that the first popularly elected African-American Senator was
defeated for reelection. Name him.
CAPEHART: Oh, can we name the state?
KORNACKI: No, we already did that one. We will call time. Correct answer
is Ed Brook of.
KORNACKI: Massachusetts. Evan McMorris-Santoro.
KORNACKI: .a world record for "Up Against the Clock," 2,900 points,
defeating Julia Collins and Jonathan Capehart. That is a shockingly
Congratulations, Evan. Bill Wolff is going to tell you what you won.
WOLFF: As our champion, your name will be engraved using the finest
sharpie ink on the all-new resistant "Up Against the Clock" gold cup.
You`ll also receive a DVD copy of the classic 1988 film "Cocoon 2: The
Return," personally autographed by Wilford Brimley.
And you`ll get to play in our jackpot round for today`s grand prize, a $50
gift certificate to Quick Deal foodcart, Midtown Manhattan, the only street
meat vendor in the greater 45th St. area, operated by a former chef of the
Russian Tea Room.
I had it for lunch today. Delicious. Enjoy the meal and
congratulations. Back to you, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right, thank you, Bill Wolff.
Evan, you got a chance here at some street vendor food and a copy of
"Cocoon 2" with a forged autograph of Wilford Brimley. I have your bonus
question right here.
And it is this. Friday was the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The allied
invasion began with the landing at Normandy, France. Name two of the five
English names of the Normandy beaches.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Sword and Gold.
KORNACKI: We`ll accept that. Evan, you have won the bonus. What a day
for you. We are pleased to present our official giant fake check to you.
Evan McMorris-Santoro, 2,900 points, street vendor food, forged Wilford
Brimley autograph. And you defeated the 20-time "Jeopardy" champion.
What an amazing performance. Congratulations to you.
Julia, thank you so much for playing. Thank you so much for being a good
sport. We really appreciate it.
Jonathan, you as well. We`ll be right back after this. We will talk about
what just happened with our contestants. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: All right. We are back.
Julia Collins, I -- I got to -- I can`t thank you enough for -- for doing
this. I mean, I -- it goes without saying, incredibly impressive
performance by Evan.
At the same time, I think we all know that to win 20 straight times on
"Jeopardy," the breadth of knowledge required to do that is still -- is
still -- it`s something I couldn`t, you know -- I would -- I would kind of
collapse on "Jeopardy." But I`m just curious, though, tell us your best
COLLINS: Oh, boy. You know, I answered the question. It was somebody
something something and then the answer was what is getting shot in the
face by Dick Cheney. And that was -- that was a high point.
KORNACKI: It was the correct -- the correct answer.
COLLINS: Oh, that was definitely right.
KORNACKI: Evan, you have now defeated -- you`ve now defeated somebody that
almost nobody could defeat at a game show. How do you feel right now?
You`re eating a cruller, that`s.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: This is a victory cruller. Listen, I`ll just say that I
think that having Julia on and seeing her performance on "Jeopardy," look,
it really made me step up my game.
I mean, honestly, she`s -- you`re really good at "Jeopardy."
COLLINS: Well, thanks.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: .which is a thing -- I`ve been at home so many times
watching "Jeopardy," pretending like I could do it. And then you see
somebody kill it like that, you know, like.
KORNACKI: Actually, Jonathan and Evan, yesterday, I announced on Twitter
you were going to be the -- you`re going to be celebrity contestants.
They were both saying, they were having their doubts about competing.
CAPEHART: Well, I was correct.
KORNACKI: Anyway, I -- I want to thank Evan McMorris-Santoro, the new "Up
Against the Clock" champion, Julia Collins -- she will always be a 20-time
Congratulations on that. And Jonathan Capehart, thank you so much for
joining us this morning. We appreciate it. And thank you for joining us
today for "Up." Tomorrow, Sunday at 8, we have a special exclusive
interview you will not want to miss.
It is five months after she appeared in this program, making allegations
that Chris Christie, the administration withheld Sandy funds for her city.
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer will be back, has awarded money to rebuild.
She`s here to talk about that and about life after coming forward against
the governor and his administration. Don`t go anywhere now because up next
is "MHP": Are leaders within the Democratic Party trying to thwart the
And if yes, what is the motive? That is ahead, next on "MHP".
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