UP with STEVE KORNACKI
July 26, 2014
Guest: Robert Costa, Lynn Sweet, Nate Cohn, Helen Prejean, Stony Hoyer,
Blake Zeff, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Peter Henning, Ron Nielsen
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": A very brief pause
in the fighting in Gaza.
And good morning from our nation`s capital, we`re here for a special
edition of UP live from Washington, DC this weekend. We have some exciting
guests and exciting interviews coming up for you. But first we start with
the biggest news that happened overnight. That means the latest on the
fighting in Gaza. That`s where Hamas and Israel have now agreed to a
temporary pause in violence.
A 12-hour limited cease-fire is now in effect through 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Time this afternoon. People in Gaza have been using the hours they have to
collect their belongings. It`s not a truce, actually. Secretary of State
John Kerry has promised that he and other diplomats will keep trying. And
according to reports, Kerry had initially proposed a seven-day cease-fire.
But that proposal wasn`t accepted. He`s in Paris today to continue
negotiations for a more permanent end to the violence. He told the
"Associated Press" that a more permanent cease-fire quote can be achieved
if we work through some of the issues that are important for the parties.
With us this morning to talk about this and everything else in the news, we
have CNBC political reporter for the Washington Post, Robert Costa. Lynn
Sweet is the Washington Bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times." And my
colleague Chuck Todd, hosts of the daily rundown in NBC News, political
director also the chief White House correspondent. Welcome to all of you.
And Chuck, we`ll just start specifically I think on this news in Gaza with
the 12-hour cease-fire and John Kerry looking for something bigger here.
Is there still optimism on the part of the White House that they can
achieve something wrong within 12 hours?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, there was skepticism last
night. I ran into Susan Rice at the end of the evening and she was, the
12-hour cease-fire. She was like well if they can get that, great. But
she was skeptical that they could get the 12 hours. So this is a positive
step if they can complete the 12 hours. There was even skepticism that it
would last the full time. But the question is, does this turn into a week.
And Israel at this point it appears wants to finish the military job. They
want to finish dealing with the tunnels and they may want to do more.
There`s been some hints that they want to completely demilitarize Hamas and
the Gaza strip in some form or another. And if they want to do that, then
you`re going to see continuations of sort of dragging on negotiations while
they finish their -- finish their operation. Which has been the m.o. with
Israel every time there has been this sort of hot flashes.
KORNACKI: It buys more time. All right. So, we`ll keep tuned to that.
And turning now to the other big story this morning, this weekend, the
crisis at the border. And it doesn`t seem to be much hope at the White
House. The administration is going to get all of the funds from Congress.
They say they need to deal with the rush of undocumented immigrants who
have come to the U.S. in recent months. The White House has requested $3.7
billion. In a private meeting yesterday, Republicans in Congress seem to
rally around a framework for a very scaled-back plan, to cost less than $1
That`s basically a quarter of what the President has been looking for. One
Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who will become the republican whip
next week, described it as a narrow package that will send more to the
border as well as make changes to the 2008 law that made it difficult to
deport children from Central America. And that law was intended to protect
children from sex trafficking.
So Robert, I`ll start with you. I mean, the Republicans had their meeting
yesterday. The House Republicans had their meeting. The public signals
that are being sent from that are they say they`re confident they can all
get on the same page and get something, you know, south of $1 billion next
week. I guess the first question is, we always have the question of you
know, the far right of the Republican Party, anything that deals with it,
is it too much for them. Is there, how confident are Republicans that they
can get something in the next week?
ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: The package just keeps getting smaller
and smaller, I was at the capital on Wednesday and John Boehner comes out
with this $1.5 billion proposal for the border crisis. And what happened
an hour before that meeting on Wednesday, Ted Cruz met with House
conservatives. He told them to take a hard-line approach. A couple of
days later on Friday, that number from $1.5 billion goes to under a
billion. Now the house republican package is likely to be under that
KORNACKI: Is that billion-dollar figure significant in any way or is it
symbolic that they want to say they kept it under billion and that`s --
COSTA: It`s symbolic. Because when you talk to house conservatives
specially, they don`t even want to spend that much money at all on the
border. They think the problem is really the President`s policies. His
executive actions about children coming up from Central America. And so
they want to spend as little as possible. And that leaves the White House
in a tough position, because they`re at the $3.7 billion number and there`s
really no room for compromise, conservatives are moving away from it.
KORNACKI: The other question, Lynn, it raises is the Republicans are
intent on making changes to that 2008 law. And the White House way back
when this was all starting seemed to be signaling that there was openness
on their part to having a compromise. The Republicans get the changes to
the 2008 law, the White House gets the money it`s looking for. Since then
Democrats have come out basically unanimously and said absolutely not on
this question of changing the 2008 law. So, it raises the question of even
if Republicans can all get together on this, and pass something with those
changes, could the White House accept that?
LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, and this is where the Democrats have
some trouble on their left flank. Because that`s where they`re vulnerable
just as the Tea Party can influence the Republicans. So, this is a tough
one, because that was going to be a trade. I think when it comes to the
money though, even Republicans have to realize that there are more
contracts for more kids to be cared for that have been coming up in the
pipeline. Now this has gotten our attention just most recently.
But an increasing number of kids and increasing costs of their care has
been going on for a bit of time. I think that the money as you guys have
been talking about, there will be something put on the plate. This 2008
law is very tough. I understand the policy, but the politics now are too
complex, especially to sort out by the end of next week before Congress
goes home for the summer.
KORNACKI: The other, the other elements quickly among the record here
though, Republicans apparently also looking for basically using the
National Guard, sending in the National Guard that might be part of this.
There also might be a separate resolution that`s attached to this.
Republicans express their displeasure at the deferred action program the
President instituted a couple of years ago, some of the elements here. But
Chuck, can you see anything coming out here?
TODD: Well look in some ways, and I`ve talked to some folks close to the
White House who say they did this to themselves. They sort of handed the
Republicans a wedge, a way to wedge the Democrats here. Because the White
House does want to change the 2008 law. They`re still for this. Now, they
just don`t want to say it out loud.
KORNACKI: Did they not know that Democrats were all going to be against
TODD: They did not think it was going to be this unanimous. They knew
there was going to be a split. They knew there was going to be, you know,
they expected this to be OK, they were going to lose about half of the
Democrats. But that was in fact, look at Nancy Pelosi, watching her on
this when it first comes out. She seems to be agreeable to it. She hears
from her left flank that it`s more problematic than she thought. And then
she ends up, she goes with her conference, too, she`s just like Boehner,
she`s very mindful of the base in that respect and all of a sudden she
shifts her position.
Right now the whole focus of the White House is, can they get Dianne
Feinstein to agree to an amendment of the 2008 law? Some form of it.
Maybe that`s how this compromise happens. But at this point, the White
House has given up on getting anything before the recess. The House is
going to pass something so they can`t be accused of not doing anything at
this point. The Senate now, what`s funny here is there was a real Senate
compromise coming together.
But now a whole bunch of Republicans want to back out, because they don`t
want to be left hanging in the wind if House conservatives are able to
narrow what they`ve done. So I think realistically, you`re going to see,
the White House going to get its money, they`re just going to get it in the
continuing resolution in September. It`s going to get buried somewhere in
there. It`s not happening now.
SWEET: We`re in a dangerous period where lawmakers are going home, it
seems innocent. When we say they can go home. But they`re not out of
trouble. We know from that famous summer of `09 when the Tea Party
movement caught the Democratic Party asleep. That you go home, these
lawmakers have town halls. The last thing they want to do is to have to
start defending a spending program that they can`t even know --
COSTA: Look, handful of primaries. These guys got handful of primaries.
TODD: Pat Roberts, if he`s voting for -- let`s say he voted for the
supplemental. That could be enough to tip him. And that would be a
They can`t mess around with the August recess.
KORNACKI: The story we seem to have is how does the primary psychology
affect these lawmakers.
SWEET: Right. It`s a more dangerous time than you think.
KORNACKI: So, let`s get on. We also have reaction right now to the number
two, we`ll have reaction from the number two democrat in the House, that`s
Steny Hoyer, the democratic whip. Two of these emerging republican border
plane we`ve been talking about. We`ve have that for you later in the show.
We`re also going to speak to him about our next story. That is where the
Republicans in Congress are planning to impeach President Obama. A move
here that actually might surprise you. Because it is now the White House
that`s actively promoting the idea of a republican-led impeachment push.
The idea being that House Speaker John Boehner`s plan to sue the President
for supposed executive overreach will ultimately lead to an effort to
remove him from office. Now, our own Lynn Sweet, quote, "The White House
senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer saying the lawsuit has opened the door for some
Republicans to consider impeachment at some point in the future." Now,
Boehner insists there are no plans to impeach the President.
Many House Republicans agree fear of an impeachment could hurt them in
November`s elections. And Boehner`s spokesman meanwhile accuses Pfeiffer
of playing political games with this. So, the context of this two is also,
there was a poll that came out yesterday, I think we have this that
overall, this was a CNN poll, overall 65 percent of Americans say they
don`t want impeachment push. But 57 percent of republican voters say they
COSTA: Boehner is in such a tough position. Because when you stake out
these meetings he has with House Republicans every week, he`s always
hearing from conservatives in the House that the President, because of
what he`s doing on the executive actions, deserves to be impeached. Not
from a large majority of the conference, but from a vocal few. And this
really influences what he feels he can do, what he feels his political
capital is within the House.
And so he`s trying to assuage them in some ways by suing the President, but
it`s never enough for the conservatives in the House. And the question, is
this going to hurt some of these Republicans in the Philadelphia suburbs or
the swing districts, where maybe a lawsuit can become as a White House
hopes, connected to impeachment and become a political problem.
KORNACKI: So, and Lynn, you wrote about this morning, also I think a lot
of people were sort of, were surprised that Dan Pfeiffer and the White
House, I mean, clearly, they see that the politics of an impeachment push
would work in their favor the way it did for a Clinton White House back in
the `90s. But I think people are still surprised they`re sort of actively
flirting with it like that.
SWEET: So, just to set the scene, I`m at a reporters breakfast yesterday
that the "Christian Science Monitor" sponsors and Pfeiffer is talking about
this and that and all of a sudden he`s invoking Sarah Palin, who they
usually ignore. Well you know she said something, we`ve got to take
action. She`s talking about impeachment, Chuck, we`ve got to take her, so
yes, we`re taking this seriously. So, yes, you figure, maybe that`s a one-
off, maybe he was just going there, though Dan Pfeiffer is not a rogue
here, he watches the rogues. So, a few hours later at the White House
briefing, Josh Earnest kept it going. And say, well, you know, impeachment
procedure cannot just be done by anyone. It can only start in the House.
It has to be with the blessings of House leaders. That would be John
Boehner. John Boehner says he doesn`t want to do it.
KORNACKI: He says, he doesn`t, I wonder --
SWEET: So let me spit this out, because it`s so remarkable at the
briefing. So, when pressed, who are the republican leaders, who want this,
meaning to me in the House, elected people, Josh Earnest says, Sarah Palin.
KORNACKI: I get, like the White House suddenly wants to be quoting Sarah
Palin. But I wonder to, I mean, chuck, there is so much talk. What Sarah
Palin is channeling is sort of a spirit of a big chunk of the republican
base. Is there anything from John Boehner`s position, just knowing how
poisonous the prospect of impeachment is to Republicans sort of
electorally? Is there anything more he could be doing to shut that down
when it comes to the base or is this is a situation where the more he says,
the more he risks --
TODD: Well, this is where I think this lawsuit was sort of, he thought
this lawsuit was going to calm everybody down. That he thought this
lawsuit was going to be the replacement for impeachment. For all the
impeachment chatter. Because it is, it`s a small group. But they are very
vocal, they want to do this. So, he thought well maybe this will satisfy
everybody. I wonder if it actually has had the reverse effect.
KORNACKI: It whetted the appetite.
TODD: It whetted the appetite and it`s brought it in. The White House has
been giddy about this from the very beginning. And you can actually see it
in the President himself. The President I think has been, you can see that
the presidency is been weighing on him, he seems down and out, all of this
stuff. And then this lawsuit happened. And you saw him, he enjoys events
again. And he`s like wanting this, yes, so sue me. You know, they`re
suing me because they don`t want to do their job.
And I`ll tell you, House Republicans, they can`t get this border deal done.
They can`t get this veterans deal done, but they can get a lawsuit passed?
Right? I mean they`re walking on dangerous ground here. This is a weird
election cycle. This is not 2010. This is not 1994. I know we`re going
to talk about it later.
TODD: And I think they`ve got to be careful. And Democrats smell blood.
They see an opportunity to totally somehow rally the democratic base in a
way that they haven`t been able to do.
KORNACKI: Yes. You have set it up, we`re going to talk about that in a
little bit. We`re also going to talk about, you know, whether it`s no
immigration, whether it`s potentially nothing on the border. That sort of
state of D.C. gridlock we`ve been talking about since 2011. We have some
great Washington people here, so we`re going to try to diagnose that and
(INAUDIBLE) what could actually cure some of these gridlocks?
We`re going to take a break, we`ll talk about that, when we come back.
KORNACKI: All right. Given the current stalemate in Washington, D.C.,
yesterday something of a minor miracle took place here. The House passed
legislation approved by the Senate and President Obama says he will sign
it. This is something that will make a difference in people`s everyday
lives, it`s the cell phone unlocking bill that will allow you to take your
mobile device and use it with another carrier. This example of bipartisan
cooperation is definitely the exception that proves the rule.
As we`ve seen with immigration, and maybe even the border now, we`ve had
divided government since the 2010 mid-terms, democratic White House,
republican house and almost nothing actually gets done these days. Charlie
Cook writing in the "National Journal" says quote, "In the new political
order, nothing is more important than either winning or holding a majority.
Rationales of the other party is so wrong-headed, if not evil, if it were
to prevail then the immediate future at least of the republic would be
endangered. So anything that prevents the other party from capturing or
holding majority is justified, even necessary. Now unexpectedly, the
result is gridlock."
So what are the sources, what are the solutions for gridlock in our
nation`s capital? I bring this up because I think we have three people
here who have covered this, who lived this sort of day to day. And it`s
been sort of the story of the Obama presidency. Right? It was the first
two years, Democrats had big majorities in the House, big majorities in the
Senate. Probably the most productive Congress, whatever you thought of it
since the great society days. And since 2011, republican house, democratic
White House, really nothing happens. Is it as simple as it`s divided
government and that`s the reality or are there other things going on here?
COSTA: Well, looking at just House Republicans for example, I think there
really is a hesitancy in the House GOP to engage with the president
directly. They have complicated Boehner`s political life by telling him
he`s not really able to go to the White House and cut deals or negotiate at
all. They`re very much into this idea of regular order, of processing
bills through committee. Very slowly taking things to the floor and that
has thrown a wrench in the political process. It`s cut Boehner off from
talking with the president. I think that`s one of the core problems at
least on Capitol Hill.
KORNACKI: Is that a source -- is that something that you can go even
further down the line? Is that a problem with the republican base, has
sort of defined itself just in opposition to the idea of Obama, to the idea
of President Obama. And therefore, any kind of compromise, any kind of
communication within risk, you`re being sort of, you`re not part of the
TODD: But it`s just not that, I mean, you know, the best example I like to
use is tax reform. And it`s sort of what I think has happened here is the
leadership on both, in both parties has too much power over committee
chairman. And if so, let`s go to 1985-1986, Bob Packwood, republican
Senate finance chair, Dan Rostenkowski, Democratic House and Ways and
Means, they wanted to do tax reform, they worked with the White House.
They didn`t need the leadership`s blessings to do that. Leadership didn`t
cut them off at the knees.
Two years ago, Max Baucus, Democratic Senate Finance, republican Dave Camp,
House Ways and Means, they wanted to do this and leadership cut them both
off at the knees. Harry Reid said no, you`re not going to do this. John
Boehner said, no it can`t because the base wasn`t going to be happy. So
it`s not just that House Republicans don`t negotiate with the President.
You don`t have republican committee chairman working with democratic Senate
chairman. Where you actually could start the process of legislating. That
back and forth.
Then it sort of organically gross. We have changed the way leadership
works. So, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, they`re the chairman of every
committee now. They act that way. They decide what gets talked about,
what doesn`t. That`s why I think that is sort of among the -- there`s a
lot of causes. I think that`s a bigger one that we don`t talk about.
KORNACKI: I wonder if part of that, too, is if you look at the House side
in particular. I guess it could apply to McConnell and the Senate, but
definitely on the House side. We`re always talking about John Boehner, and
you know, the republican base doesn`t trust him. He was, you know, not a
Tea Party guy, he`s a lifer. They`re always waiting for the moment he`s
going to sell him out. Has that clinched his ability to be a speaker in a
way that a republican speaker who is trusted more by the base might have
SWEET: You know, I went through all the years of covering Denny Hastert.
Who just never had to have that kind of worry because he was the leader, he
was trusted. And he had a republican president. So that clearly helped
most. But not all the time. What`s interesting is that they`re a by-
product of this is that for some of the younger, newer members, they`re
trying to have a variety of coalitions, the no-labels caucus, the
bipartisanness, the bipartisan not. But it`s hard for them to get anything
but a niche issue, like you mentioned the cell phone. You know you have to
find these baby issues where you can strip ideology and have a populist,
but not pointed populist cause, like cell phones.
KORNACKI: Right. I mean, on the scale of concerns.
SWEET: So, I think that`s the point. I mean, so this is kind of heavy
symbolism here. Because what unites us? It`s this thing. OK? And so if
we can take this metaphor, they need more iPhone issues where you know,
everyone, it doesn`t matter your sex, your race, your gender, your
religion, you want to use your iPhone where you want to use it. So I want
to put it this on the table now. They need stuff like this to be able to
bypass the gridlock. The problem is these problems are big, they`re
important. And they don`t have to be solved in the timely way. As much as
we think they do. And things can fester and they will pass the election
for all this.
KORNACKI: One thing I do want to bring up to, we were talking about this a
little bit in the break. One of the criticisms of the White House, and you
hear this from some Democrats down here sort of more privately, is a
president in a White House that maybe doesn`t engage with Congress on a
more personal level the way other presidents have.
TODD: But they invited him to watch the movie "Lincoln." I`m sorry. And
that`s always what irks me. Every time I`ll bring this up, I`ll have
somebody at the White House, you don`t understand, we invite him -- it`s
not about social events, show me the list, show the lunch, private lunch
schedule that you`ve had with the President over the last three years and
tell me you`ve met with all 300 senators, tell me that every single senator
has had a one-on-one lunch at least at some point with the President of the
United States, why wouldn`t you do that?
KORNACKI: But do you think that could in this air -- we talk about the Tea
Party, I mean, we have the thing on impeachment, do you think that could
break through it?
TODD: Let`s try. I mean, my point is has he really -- they did the
dinners. And you know what? It was working for a while. I`ll give you an
example, Wisconsin republican Ron Johnson, and Denis McDonough, the chief
of staff, actually struck up an interesting bond. Ron Johnson was making
regular visits to the White House. They were, you know, they were trading
business at the time they were trading some budget proposals, he`s really
wants to tackle entitlement reform. Denis McDonough was taking a lot of
time and frankly you saw Ron Johnson sort of rhetoric, he sort of -- it
does work. But then they just -- sort of abruptly stopped.
SWEET: Right. And it`s not just one dinner. This is what all of these --
Obama White House has not gotten. They think it`s just optics, because
what isn`t sometimes in their world. But you don`t know what you`re
missing unless you try. And it`s not just a matter of playing golf, which
is what a lot of people complain about. It`s about talking business. It`s
about having time so you can maybe find stuff it might be smaller, where
you could do it. And we brought up Paul Ryan, when we were talking here
during the break. What a perfect example, there`s no stature gap in the
way the President might feel with you know people he might not regard as
worthy of his time. Budget committee chairman, ran for vice president,
probably is going to be Ways and Means when his, in the next Congress
chairman. Serious policy guy.
KORNACKI: Right. So you`re saying an opportunity there --
SWEET: Bring him up. Right. Because he --
KORNACKI: No, it`s interesting to hear because I`ve heard the criticism.
You hear it even from Democrats sometimes privately down here. And they
say they wish that the White House was more engaged at that level. And I
do wonder just in this era, we talk about the polarization if it has
Obama`s name, Republicans are against it.
TODD: They all believe, I think both sides read too much of their twitter
feeds. I feel like they actually believe the stereotype about the other.
TODD: Too much and they don`t, they read a twitter feed rather than
saying, pick up the phone or you know, have a communication.
KORNACKI: I`ve got to say, they`re reading too much of the twitter feed
they can apply to journalists sometimes. I`ve been guilty of that myself.
By the way, thanks to Robert Costa of the Washington Post, Lynn Sweet
Chicago Sun-Times." Still ahead, some mid-term republican wave that
everyone has been expecting. Looking more like a ripple.
But next, breaking news this morning out of Libya. We`ll be back with that
right after this.
KORNACKI: Breaking news out of Libya this hour. U.S. officials tell NBC
News that all 158 people who work at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli have now
been evacuated. This because of increased militant violence. Being driven
toward the Tunisian border, which is about 100 miles from Tripoli. Once
they reached an undisclosed location, they`re expected to board commercial
airliners. U.S. officials say, there has been no direct threat of attack
against the embassy, but a rapid-response U.S. military team is flying into
the region by helicopter to respond to any threat that might emerge. We`ll
keep you posted on this story as we find out more. We`ll be right back
KORNACKI: The last two midterm elections have been wave elections. In
2006, Democrats won back 30 House seats and six in the Senate. Gaining
control of both chambers, this was in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the
Iraq war. And in 2010 of course, Republicans struck back with the wave of
their own, campaigning hard against the newly passed Affordable Care Act
picking up 63 seats in the House and six more in the Senate. So when you
consider that the President`s party almost always loses seats in mid-term
elections, you also consider the rocky roll-out of the new health care
exchange that`s been ripe for republican exploitation and President Obama`s
low overall approval ratings, when you consider all of that, it might look
like 2014 has the makings of another wave election, another republican wave
But now just over 100 days until Election Day, it`s not quite how things
are looking. At least right now. Under the headline good-bye to the
republican wave, Nate Cohn writes in the "New York Times " this week quote,
"democratic incumbents in red republican states who would be all but doomed
in republican wave appear doggedly competitive in places where Mitt Romney
won by as much as 24 points in 2012. The light blue democratic states in
purple, presidential battleground states like Colorado, Iowa, Michigan,
Minnesota and New Hampshire all seem to be heading toward tight races or
democratic wins, as one would expect in a fairly neutral year."
Cohn also makes clear that it`s still early and a dramatic shift towards
the GOP could still emerge in the fall. But so far does not seem to be
Joining me at the table now is Nate Cohn of the "New York Times," a new
site "The Upshot" and still with us, NBC news political director Chuck
So, I thought this would be a perfect occasion to just sort of take the big
picture of you of the Senate battleground this year. We know Republicans
with 45 seats right now. They need to get the 51. Joe Biden could break
any 50-50 ties. They need a net gain of six seats. We split the sort of
democratic seats into three different categories, the democratic-held seats
and then we have a category of potentially republican-held seats. But all
know the story of this election, a lot more democratic seats up for grab
So, we thought we would just go through each category and then get you to
weigh in. And we`ll start with this, we`re calling this sort of -- in the
bag for the GOP for lack of a better term. These are three democratic held
seats with a democratic incumbents have retired, leaving office and where
is this South Dakota, Montana, and West Virginia. Now democrats will make
a case they could still make West Virginia competitive will see.
South Dakota certainly looks like a stretch. Montana this week, the
appointed democratic incumbent there, Joan Walsh, he`s been making some
rumblings about being competitive got caught in a plagiarism scandal.
We`re going say that`s off the map for right now until we see anything
else. So, we`ll put those aside. It looks like three republican pick-ups
there. Now let`s get to the heart of this, this is what we`re calling, the
endangered democratic incumbents. And put that map out there, you see
Colorado, Arkansas, and North Carolina, Alaska, Louisiana, we threw New
Hampshire in there, we`ll get to that in a second. Let`s debate whether
where it belongs. But this is the heart of where the battle for the Senate
is going to be decided. There are states where Republicans believe they
can take out democratic incumbents.
And Nate, let`s start with you, you`re looking at these states in
particular right now, when you`re saying where`s the republican wave and
you`re saying, you`re not seeing it in these states.
NATE COHN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Not yet, in states like Louisiana and
Arkansas where Romney won by nearly or more than 20 points, it looks like a
still a competitive race, and that`s not what you would have seen in 2010
where Blanche Lincoln is already down by more than 10 points. Or in 2006
when Rick Santorum was already down 15 points. Or Lincoln Chafee was down
10 points and he had an approval rating in the 60s in Rhode Island. And
all these race still seems competitive to me. North Carolina if anything
the polls may be trending back towards Hagan. Although I think the poll in
this fairly do via south there and it`s hard to say that with any
certainty. Colorado`s looks like a tight race. Maybe a slight Udall lead
again. That`s what we were expecting in -- and we were just talking before
we came on about whether New Hampshire belongs. I don`t really think it
does. I think the state looks like it`s not materializing for the
KORNACKI: Yes. He has been pretty ahead often in double digits over Scott
Brown. Chuck, when you look at this -- the one that surprised me the most
at the start of the cycle Republicans thought we`re going to get this
democrat incumbent in Arkansas.
KORNACKI: I thought prior in Arkansas, it`s got to be a goner. Is that
the one that surprised you the most?
TODD: Well, it would be that and I would say to a lesser extent, Landrieu.
A little bit. But I think a few things have happened here. You know,
number one, let`s remember, voters don`t have amnesia, they know they`ve
voted for change, three of the last four cycles. OK. If they`re throwing
the `08 presidential cycle. So, there isn`t that sense of, they`re angry,
but they`re thinking boy, it didn`t work. We voted for change here, maybe
we didn`t like it. We voted for change here, didn`t like it. So, you have
And we saw some turn-out data that came out this week about the primary.
That`s another thing about wave elections. Wave elections usually have a
higher turn-out. We appear to be headed for a lower turn-out. And a lower
turn-out just, you don`t get a wave election. Now, look at Arkansas in
particular. I think there was a lot of thought that Tom Cotton was going
to be this tremendous candidate. He`s not a bad candidate, he`s not just
as good as I think some Republicans thought he would be at this point in
time and Mark Pryor, really is a terrific retail politician. Cotton, not
I think some of these candidates, I think that Republicans overall did a
good job recruiting. There`s no great candidates that they have found.
They found a lot of good candidates, but the democratic campaigns have been
very good in these red states. The irony is that the four red states that
we`ve been talking about, the incumbents for 18 months, Carolina,
Louisiana, Arkansas and Alaska, both for Democrats are stronger today than
they were six months ago. The irony is that places like Colorado and Iowa,
actually the Democrats are weaker there than they were six months ago. We
have sort of an interesting little thing that`s changing.
KORNACKI: Yes. We`ll talk about Iowa in a second. Colorado is an
interesting one to me. We have I think we can put it up here, the latest
poll on this, this is about a week old Udall up a point over Cory Gardner,
the republican congressman challenging him, 44-43. And Chuck`s saying,
that`s also been a surprise, Republicans doing better there I think than
people expected. What is the reason for that?
COHN: Well, first, that`s a state where the Republicans really did
nominate a good candidate and where they weren`t initially expected to.
That was a race where they thought maybe Ken Buck would run another
Now we have Gardner, and that`s a much more serious candidacy than I think
people anticipated. I think the polling in Iowa, in Colorado is a little
split. You know, NBC/Maris showed Udall have seven if I recalled -- have
Udall down two. This is also a state where there`s a long record of the
polls underestimating democratic support. So whatever the polls say, my
sort of instinct is to have my finger, you know, tilted towards the
democratic side there. So I think Udall probably still has an edge.
KORNACKI: All right. We have two more categories we want to get to.
Including we got to slip a break in here. But the interesting one here is
all of the vulnerable democratic seats but there are also two vulnerable
republican seats. One of them in the news this week because of a primary
run-off, we`ll get do that right after this.
KORNACKI: All right. Back looking at the 2014 Senate map with two numbers
and Senate math experts here. So, we have two more categories we`re going
to quickly run through here. Throw me in that list, too. But we`ll start
in big ten country, we`re calling these competitive open seats, so we`ve
got two here. These are democratic-held seats right now. Tom Harkin is
retiring, Carl Levin is retiring, Michigan, Iowa. It looks like Michigan,
there were some early signs that Republicans would be competitive there.
Maybe not as much now.
But Iowa -- I want to focus on Iowa here for a minute Chuck, because Iowa
is one where I think when the cycle started people were saying Republicans
are not going to have a good strong candidate there. They`ve got Joni
Ernst, everybody knows her from the hog castration ad. She`s running
against Bruce Braley and Bruce Braley made a big mistake in this video
talking to trial lawyers, he didn`t think he was getting filmed.
KORNACKI: And it looks like that`s -- because these races is dead even on
TODD: It is. He`s been a stumbling, stumbler and a bumbler and somehow
the FCC now has shaken up the campaign team. They made him bring in
different consultants and this and that. And look, organizationally, Iowa
Democrats are still the dominant force in Iowa, they`re just so much better
on the ground, that`s why they`ve won so many close elections of
presidentials where it`s still a very, you know, sometimes we forget, it`s
a very competitive state.
It`s just that the Iowa Democrats over the last decade have been so good at
organizing. They have made it seem like it, like somehow it`s more like
Michigan. Because it`s not. But I think you could make an argument that
the single most vulnerable democratic seat now in the competitive
landscape, x-out the other three, is actually Iowa. I mean, would you
rather be Bruce Braley or Mark Pryor right now? I might argue, you`d
rather be Mark Pryor. Because he`s a better candidate. Braley has been a
terrible candidate. Now, Joni Ernst has had to take a lot of conservative
positions. So, let`s see what the false like. But boy, she`s get Terry
Brand said that`s going to win in a walk. But the top of the ticket and
there`s going to be a ton of outside money and Braley is not as likable.
KORNACKI: And Iowa is one of the few states that we talk about the
polarization, Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley is now, how about that?
TODD: You know, they came in together. They both came in in `74 in the
house. Both were in Watergate babies, I didn`t realize this until Harkin
reminded me of this, I`m doing my exit interview series for August. And he
says, hey, Grassley is a Watergate baby, too. But you know, Harkin`s
theory on this whole reason why, he says, you know, Iowans are fiscally
conservative and socially progressive. So, they`ve decided to always have
one senator, one of each.
KORNACKI: That`s an interesting way to look at it. So Nate, I want to get
to the last category here. Because this is, you know, Democrats these are
sort of the Senate savers potentially for Democrats, where even if things
go wrong in a lot of these other races we`ve been talking about, there`s
this last category of two seats right now with republican-held seats,
Kentucky and Georgia where Democrats actually have a chance. Kentucky, we
all know Mitch McConnell, you know the endangered 30-year republican
incumbent. Republican leader. Georgia, the Republicans had their run-off
this week, David Purdue is now going to be their candidate. Sam Nunn`s
daughter, Michelle running against him. This poll is now that have her
ahead. Pi single digits a lot of people suspicious because of the divisive
republican primary. But when you look at those two states, do you see one
as a stronger pick-up opportunity for Democrats than the other?
COHN: If I had to pick and I think there`s a fair debate to be had, I
would choose Georgia. I think that it would basically be unprecedented for
Mitch McConnell to lose, there`s never been a republican incumbent who has
lost re-election when a democratic president has been in power. In such a
KORNACKI: It voted for Romney by 23 points.
COHN: It`s never happened. Or it doesn`t mean it can`t. But you just
don`t see candidates lose in the situation very often. His approval
ratings have been terrible. But on the other hand, I would wonder whether
the old democratic pathway to victory in Kentucky, which generally goes
through big margins and heavily unionize the parts of coal country still
holds up. I think you see that in the recent presidential elections as
well as in the Senate results where, you know, Mitch McConnell did much
better in coal country in 2008, even then among -- did in 2004, and Bill
Clinton did in `96.
In Georgia I think it`s the opposite. Where the demographic changes so
massive that a candidate who can even begin to cobble together the
traditional democratic coalition of white southerners really has a shot to
win. The demographic change in Georgia is bigger than North Carolina, it`s
bigger than Nevada, it`s bigger than Texas, it`s bigger than any other
state. The nonwhite share of the electorate there has increased all the
way to 39 percents in 2012. It will be nearly as high in 2014. And we can
seriously talk about Michelle Nunn winning with you know, 30, 29 percent of
the white vote. That`s a target that would have allowed Max Cleland to win
easily in 2002.
COHN: And you know -- can she do as well as Cleland?
KORNACKI: So demographically Georgia makes a better target. Especially as
we go forward than Kentucky. But I guess the question in Kentucky is after
30 years of McConnell, he`s so Washingtonized sort of in this rural state.
Is there enough McConnell fatigue to override all this?
TODD: Well, here`s the thing. I want to see how effective Democrats are
at making McConnell own Washington. OK. That is going to be, you know,
McConnell is trying to make her own Obama. Her game plan is to make him
own Washington. And do you get that, that there is a swing republican
vote, a moderate republican vote, sort of the country club republican, are
they sort of turned off enough by McConnell to actually vote for her?
Look, I`m skeptical, too. My issue with both of these races is I see how
both Nunn and Grimes get to 47 percent. Maybe 48. I can`t figure out how
they get over the top.
How they, Nate brought up the coal issue. There is, so now she`s got to
win Jefferson County, which is Louisville and Fayette, Lexington by margins
that we`ve never seen before. Marge Ardo (ph) I think had a 50,000 vote
margin or something like that in, I`m talking about the `04 race. The one
I like to look at. There`s a gigantic margin out of Jefferson. He got to
49 percent overall. Can she beat him? He has at the record I think for a
Senate candidate, for democratic senate candidate out of Jefferson. She`s
got to beat him to overcome the coal issue at this point. With Nunn, don`t
forget there`s a weird run-off issue in Georgia. They both may not hit to
KORNACKI: Right. We could be talking about control of the Senate on
TODD: With both Georgia and Louisiana.
TODD: But by the way, I haven`t decided if that`s a good thing or a bad
thing for us.
KORNACKI: I`m going with good thing.
TODD: Do you think it`s good? Oh my god.
KORNACKI: That`s the interesting thing, I mean, for Democrats we talk
about all these other races, it is very plausible to see Republicans
getting to that 51. But if you add these two and Democrats can pick off
Georgia or Kentucky.
TODD: By the way, very quickly on the wave issue, it doesn`t have to be a
wave for Republicans to pick up the Senate. And that is an important point
to get out there. Just because Nate and I agree with Nate, we`re not
seeing a wave. That doesn`t mean Republicans can`t win the Senate in a
KORNACKI: Well, there are still -- we`re talking about a lot of republican
states here, for Democrats that`s the nature of the year.
But anyway, I want to thank Nate Cohn of the "New York Times," NBC News and
MSNBC host Chuck Todd, I appreciate you both for being here. Those are fun
More now on this morning`s breaking news out of Libya. Secretary of State
John Kerry is commenting this hour on the destabilizing situation there.
It has prompted the evacuation of all 158 Americans at the U.S. Embassy in
Tripoli. Fighting has intensified in recent days between feuding militias.
Just a few minutes ago, Secretary of State John Kerry described it as quote
free-wheeling violence. He called on the people of Libya to turn to the
political process to work out a solution. We`ll have more on the story as
it continues to develop. Right back after this.
KORNACKI: One hour and 57 minutes, that`s how long it took the state of
Arizona to put to death convicted murderer Joseph Wood on Wednesday.
Arizona "Republic" reported that Wood gasped more than 600 times, the
veteran reporter wrote, quote, "He gulped like a fish on land. The
movement was like a piston. The mouth opened, the chest rose, the stomach
convulsed." The Arizona Department of Corrections maintains that Wood did
not suffer. A string of prolonged executions in recent months has put the
death penalty back in the spotlight.
A botched execution in Oklahoma in April ended after 40 minutes when
Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack. Witnesses say, Lockett clinched
his jaw and jerked his body when he received the lethal injection.
Independent a autopsy later revealed they failed to put the needle
administering the drugs into a vein. Since pharmaceutical companies
stopped supplying the drugs most commonly used in lethal injections in 2011
states have been experimenting with new combinations and with troubling
Since the American Medical Association as a policy against their doctors
conducting executions, the procedures are carried out by personnel with no
medical training. So these high-profile missteps spark a new national
conversation about the death penalty and how it`s carried out in a country
whose constitution has a ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Here to discuss the impact of these recent executions is Sister Helen
Prejean, a ministry against the death penalty and the author of "Dead Man
Walking: The Eyewitness Account Of The Death Penalty That Sparked a
National Debate" which is recently been updated with a 20th anniversary
So, Sister Helen, I appreciate you joining us. I just wonder, as we say
this is the third time this year that something like this is happening and
every time it happened, I think the stories just give everybody, whatever
they think of the death penalty certainly gives them pause as they read
these stories. At the same time we still see polling out there that shows
about 60 percent of Americans say they support capital punishment. They
support the idea of the death penalty. Do you think this is the kind of
instance, the incident that`s going to change those numbers at all?
SISTER HELEN PREJEAN, AUTHOR, "DEAD MAN WALKING": Yes, I do and that
polling that shows 60 percent of people support the death penalty. When
they`re given the alternative of life without parole, there`s a majority
now that favors ending the death penalty. In favor of life without parole.
And yes, it`s going to affect people. Because they see there`s just really
no easy humane way to kill a human being. And the whole reason behind it
is, there`s no transparency in this process. And I lay that straight in
the laps of the Supreme Court of the United States. Who has turned over
killing to the states. Does not demand at all that either the drugs be
known, where they come from or the expertise of the executioners. It`s a
And they`re experimenting with different ways to kill people because of
course there`s no way to do a test of which drugs you can use to kill human
beings. I believe we`ve been trying to mask death and it`s been
nontransparent from the very beginning. I`ve accompanied six people to
execution. It`s done behind prison walls, people hear about the execution,
it`s usually compared to the crime of the person, said oh look, terrible
crime, deserves to die. My whole ministry, my whole campaign has been to
help bring the American people close to this thing, and just say, do we as
a nation have to take our citizens and let the government decide that some
could die, much less to have a hidden, nontransparent process by which the
killing takes place?
KORNACKI: I do wonder though, you know, you mention what the other side
might say to this. I mean this is an instance where the family of this
man`s victims, the man who was put to death in Arizona this week, they were
there, they were watching it. And I should say, they have a different
interpretation of what happened. They said they didn`t think he was
suffering. They said they thought it was snoring, that`s what they, you
know, sort of said on the record about this. And they also say that they
believe that this was, him being put to death compared to the suffering
that their loved one experienced and the pain that they felt for the last,
you know, really 20, 25 years, that they thought this brought some closure
to them. Watching this, what do you say to the families of victims who
feel that way?
PREJEAN: I have been with these families, many times. Anybody who has
lost a loved one to terrible violence, and offered the chance for the
person who killed their loved one to be killed by the state, I can well
understand that they say it gives them closure. But the death penalty is
about us. People do terrible crimes. Yes, when you compare the two
deaths, it was much more terrible what he did to his two victims, not just
one. But this is about us. It`s about who we are as a nation. And the
standards to which we hold ourselves. When you go to do this comparison
thing, oh, but look what they did in their crime, people do terrible
They kill each other in terrible ways. But this is about us. It`s also
Justice Scalia has said, well, I`ll take a death by lethal injection as an
enviable death next to what they did to their victim. But where does that
leave us? We`re one of the few nations in the world that still gives our
government the option to kill some of our citizens and to decide which
crimes we`re going to do it for. I mean -- that`s where the discussion
needs to happen. And we`re looking at it in a new way in this country.
I`m in California right now. Where they, they spent $2 billion for 13
executions. And the average waiting time is 20 years. For the execution
to happen when you have a broken system and it`s time to end it.
KORNACKI: And as we said, this is the third time we`ve been, we`ve had
headlines this year like this and you look at the reality of how these are
carried out and the restrictions the states are coming up against. Sadly,
this is not the last time I think we`re going to see a story like this and
it`s a conversation that will continue.
KORNACKI: My thanks to Sister Helen Prejean with the Ministry Against the
Death Penalty. I appreciate the time this morning.
And still ahead, we`re going to dive into the investigation surrounding New
York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: It`s nothing quite like waiting until the last minute to get
something done. With their August vacation fast approaching, Congressional
Republicans say they are working to address the crisis of tens of thousands
of undocumented immigrants from Central America flooding to the U.S. Their
plan would include sending National Guard troops to the border. Increasing
the number of immigration judges. And changing the law to speed up how
long it takes to send migrant children back to their native countries.
The bill would cost less will than $1 billion they are saying, and that
would make it less than a third of the $3.7 billion the President Obama has
requested. There are questions about whether Republicans can all get on
the same page in this. There are also questions about whether any
Democrats will go for any of this. So we`re hearing Washington, D.C. this
weekends, that means yesterday I went to the capital and spoke with Steny
Hoyer, he`s the second ranking democrat in the House, spoke with him about
whether there will really be any action on the border before Congress takes
its August vacation. And also asked him about his relationship with John
Boehner, his fall`s mid-term elections and what his biggest regret is from
the Obama era. Take a look.
KORNACKI: Do you think potentially there is room for compromise there by
the end of next week?
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MINORITY WHIP: Well first of all, I have heard
that compromise talks about. I don`t think those funds are sufficient to
do with how Rodgers has says they need. The republican chairman of the
appropriations committee. What we need to do in my view, however, is meet
the immediate challenge of processing these folks who have come across the
borders, many of whom are children. Treat them in a humane way. And
consistent with law.
Secondly, what we need to do is then determine exactly what the status of
legislation is, have hearings and consider in a way that will give time to
reflect on what ought to be done. Now, we could immediately of course come
to what is a bipartisan agreement from the Senate, and bipartisan agreement
frankly in the house on border security. In a comprehensive immigration
reform bill. Which is exactly what we ought to do. And which we have, the
Republicans have refused to do. Notwithstanding a majority of the American
KORNACKI: It seems though like the conversation is almost -- in a way
devolved for the last year, about comprehensive immigration reform. Passed
the Senate, can it pass the house? We`ve had that whole drama. But now
we`re dealing with the specific crisis on the border and the looming
deadline of Congress going on its August recess and that coming up very
quickly. How optimistic are you that something will be agreed to before
that August recess, specifically to address the border crisis right now.
HOYER: Well, I think if the Republicans allow themselves to deal with the
immediate challenge, and that is to fund the resources necessary to deal
with the challenge, and not get mired in an ideological debate or
substantive debate, on which there have been no hearings and no ability to
reflect, then I think we`ll do it. My understanding is though, today
they`re going to say there`s a possibility of doing it. Why? Because as
usual the Republican Party is a deeply divided party.
I think we could get the votes for a response to the immediate challenge
that the administration has requested. Now, there may be a difference on
the number. Frankly, I think under a billion dollars is clearly
insufficient funds to do the job that is required to do. Not
ideologically, not by Democrats and Republicans. Simply by the
requirements of the law.
KORNACKI: The other, item in the news today is the administration
apparently now is considering essentially setting up shop in Honduras. But
the idea of processing potential applicants for refugee status. Children
in Honduras, making the determination there. Are they eligible for refugee
status in the United States? Saying they would potentially over the next
few years, bring in like 1750, I think with the estimate who could maybe
come to the United States, is that something you support, that concept?
HOYER: I think that certainly makes a lot of sense. So we don`t have
people coming across a long stretch of desert, and dangerous area.
Subjecting themselves to being abused.
KORNACKI: Do you think we would be flooded, if we made it that easy, hey,
you know, you can go downtown --
HOYER: I don`t think --
KORNACKI: We compared to taking the trek across the desert you`re talking
HOYER: As opposed to having them in our country and processing them in a
year, which would take a long time as well. I think it`s preferable to say
at the beginning, after all Vice President Biden has been down there,
president has made it very clear, Mr. Katera has made it very clear this
morning, who`s been a big advocate of immigration reform and of the
immigration community -- don`t come. Because you won`t necessarily be able
KORNACKI: Have they --
HOYER: Do you understand what I`m saying? It`s better to say no there
than to say no here. It`s more efficient, more effective and it will
preclude additional danger to young people.
KORNACKI: Well, I take that point and it gets to one of the criticisms I
think Republicans have leveled at the administration on this. Which is to
say obviously they`ve been critics of the deferred action program for two
years, the President implemented that. But one of the criticisms or one of
the suggestions has been that whatever side you`re on, whether you think it
was a good thing or bad thing, did it have the effect, the unintended
effect of telling people, telling minors in this Central American
countries, that you know, sort of a mixed message. If you come to the
United States, it`s OK to turn yourself over to the border agent because
you`re going to be given a home here. Did that message get sent because of
deferred action, even unintentionally?
HOYER: No, the answer is I don`t think so. What deferred action said if
you were here before 2007, that would apply. If you came as a child and
you didn`t --
KORNACKI: I mean, I know that`s what it said in the text. But did it have
the effect, like a game of telephone, right? It almost gets --
HOYER: I could argue that one of the effects was when the Republicans said
no we`re not going to do immigration reform, yes, we think the system is
broken. So, people thinking the system was broken and there would be no
avenue, have chosen this avenue, which is not the right avenue to go, to
simply show up and come across and be processed and many sent back. Most
sent back in my view. So that I think the right thing to do would be to
adopt an immigration reform system that has a system that is working and
that would encourage people to participate in a system that was working,
not, not to avoid a system that was broken.
KORNACKI: Something jump at me though, on the way over here today, there`s
a new poll out that finds that overall survey of Americans on this
question of impeachment, overwhelmingly they`re against it, this is not a
mainstream issue. If you survey Republicans, 57 percent of Republicans say
they would like President Obama to be impeached. And I consider that
finding in light of sort of the lawsuit that Republicans, that Speaker
Boehner pursuing right now against the President. And I just wonder, do
you think this is heading to a point where Republicans are going to feel a
pressure from their base to impeach this President?
HOYER: If they do, they will lose, the American public will think that is
a totally political bad policy to pursue and further reflection of the
radical nature of the Republican Party. And of the Republican Party that
is focused solely on politics. Not on the, on the welfare of the country
at large. They, they impeached President Clinton. That seems to be a
modus operandi, at some point in time to move forward on an impeachment
process on a democratic president. The American people didn`t think it was
a good idea then, they don`t think it`s a good idea now.
A suit against the president, which is now going to be on the calendar, in
just the few short days that we have left, they`re going to take up time
about suing the president. Which their own witnesses say is problematic at
very best. They`re wasting time on politics and confrontation. And while
57 percent of the Republicans may think that`s a good idea, 70 to 80
percent of the American people think it`s a lousy idea.
KORNACKI: We`ve been in this building for a while. John Boehner has been
in the building for a while. You`ve seen him before there was a Tea Party,
before there was a President Obama. You know him I think better than most
people do. There`s a perception of him that the real John Boehner is
somebody the public hasn`t seen. That he`s sort of, he`s scared of his
conference, scared of the republican conference revolting against him.
He`s doing the Tea Party`s bidding. But the real John Boehner would like
to do other things legislatively. Is that your read on him?
HOYER: Well, I don`t know about the real John Boehner. John and I have
had the opportunity to, the speaker and I have had an opportunity to work
together in times past. After all, this John Boehner, was the one who when
George Bush proposed no child left behind, worked with George Miller from
California and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Senator Kennedy.
KORNACKI: Don`t say that too loud around here, the Tea Party might revolt
against him, right?
HOYER: Well, it was a time when we got things done. When we did work
together. John Boehner was the chairman of the committee. Republicans
were in charge. But they had frankly, in large number of Republicans who
were focused on productive work in the Congress of the United States. As
opposed to opposition for opposition`s sake. As opposed to those who
simply believe government is bad, and therefore, anything we allow it to do
will be negative in its effect. The American public don`t believe that.
They understand that government has to be a positive effect. Not that
government is perfect. Not that they like everything it does. But they
know that they need to have a government that is working well, if their
country is going to succeed.
KORNACKI: We`ve seen such a difference between since President Obama came
to office, those first two years in a flurry of legislative activity that`s
happening here, health care reform, stimulus. And then basically the
minute the Republicans took over and we had a split government, everything
just sort of stopped. When you look back at first two years, the big
majority you guys had in the House and the Senate, the White House, all the
momentum, what is the one thing you look back and say, I wish no -- had
happened in the four years since we had done when he had these majorities.
HOYER: Like, we had a very productive Congress very frankly. I think the
Affordable Care Act, which I think is going to prove to be a landmark piece
of legislation, which is going to facilitate millions and millions of
Americans accessing affordable quality health care.
KORNACKI: Sure. And actually, the most productive Congress is the great
society. But is there something you look at now, saying, wow, knowing the
gridlock we faced after that, I wish we had made this as a priority?
HOYER: Well, one of the things I think I wish we had done, and you asked
me to reflect back, is I wish in the recovery act, and reinvestment act,
that we had taken a very large sum of money and not spent it frankly in
some of the ways we did. Mainly tax cuts that nobody really knew they got.
And invested that in infrastructure. Because what I think that would have
done, it would have helped build the economy, created jobs, and would still
be a force for job creation today.
That would, if you ask me, one thing that I would have done differently.
That would have been one of them. But I will tell you this that, on so
many different fronts, we turned around an economy that could have gone
into a depression. And it didn`t go into a depression. And we, we did
that after a republican-led Congress rejected President Bush`s proposal to
staunch the economic decline that was occurring. So that I think that we
did some tough things. We did some things that were not understood very
And I think that frankly, our republican colleagues failed to work with us
in any way. Unlike stark difference than the democratic Congress
responding to a republican president who said that the country is in
crisis, we need to respond, two-thirds of the Democrats responded.
Supporting George Bush`s policy. And in my opinion, kept us out of a
depression. And got us started back up to recovery.
KORNACKI: Well that gets me to one other thing I wanted to ask you about,
the long-term political reward potentially for Democrats, whether it`s from
health care, whether it`s from the economy. Continues to rebound and
people feel that more. People look at the 2014 elections and they just
look at, they look at history and, you know, the White House party gaining
since in the mid-term. It`s tough no matter what to gain the number you
need almost seems prohibitive. But I wonder, do you look at this as sort
of a longer game. That 2014 is about surviving, doing better than
expected? And 2016 may be the climate is different, maybe Hillary Clinton
is leading the ticket, is that really the target for the Democrats in terms
of getting the House back?
HOYER: We`re going to survive and I have no worry about that, and I
frankly think we`re going to do better as you point out than expected. And
I think we can take back the House.
KORNACKI: In 2014?
HOYER: In 2014. Two reasons. One, we have some extraordinarily good
candidates around the country. More than two reasons. Secondly, we`re
out-raising the Republicans. So even though we`re the minority party,
we`re out-raising in terms of dollars received than our republican
counterparts and the Republican Campaign Committee. By a pretty good
amount. I mean, we have almost $9 million more on hand than the
Republicans have. Now that`s in the scheme of the independent expenditures
that may not seem like a lot, but that`s real money that can be spent on
hard accomplishments in terms of TV and ground game.
That`s going to be important. Good candidates, raising money. And
thirdly, very frankly, my experience over the last three or four years is
been Republicans have a penchant for self-destruction. They have a
penchant for doing things to the American public say, why are they doing
that? They shut down the government. Now it wasn`t a mistake, it was a
policy of shutting down the government. The American public thought that
Furthermore, if you go issue by issue, comprehensive immigration reform,
minimum wage, jobs legislation, violence against women, just go through a
litany of issues, 65 to 70 percent of the American people agree with the
democratic position. So you put good candidates, good message, and
resources together, I think we have an excellent opportunity. Now, you say
historically, which I think you`re correct on that. Historically if you
look at the stretch of history, the sixth year of a president is not a
great year for the incumbent party. But do you know frankly in 1998, we
picked up seats.
KORNACKI: Five. You need 17. You got five and you were rejoicing, right?
HOYER: Well, if we picked up five and I think we`re going to pick up
significantly more than five, I think that would be doing better than many
people expect. Which is what your hypothesis was.
HOYER: We`re going to do better than people expect.
KORNACKI: So, I got one more question and I`m going to demand an answer on
HOYER: I could have avoided answering the other questions. I missed an
KORNACKI: But there was a report today that it looks like Democrats in
their 2016 convention may be close to narrowing this to Brooklyn or
Philadelphia. Also in the running, Phoenix, Birmingham, Columbus, Ohio.
So, five cities there, your party with the next national convention, where
do you want to go in two years?
HOYER: You may demand an answer, I`m not going to give you one. I would
love to go to a nice, quiet place. But --
KORNACKI: You`re saying no Brooklyn, then?
HOYER: No, Brooklyn, I was born in New York City, so I`m a fan of the
city. Brooklyn is a vibrant, growing place, it`s not your grandfather`s
Brooklyn as they would say. So it would be a vibrant place to have a
convention. The other cities as well each send a message. But I think
that the DNC will make that determination. What is important is not so
much where we are, as what we say. Not so much where we are, but who we
nominate. Not so much where we are, but the vision that we present to the
KORNACKI: I`m going to put you down for Philadelphia.
KORNACKI: Well so much for getting an answer on that last one, anyway.
Coming up the latest from this morning`s breaking news out of Libya, the
scandal brewing on the New York side of the George Washington Bridge.
We`ll tell you all about that straight ahead.
KORNACKI: We are hearing more from the Pentagon this hour, about the
evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Libya. Due to increased militia violence
in recent days, all 158 Americans have been relocated. Including the
marine who provides security. Defense Department says the marines also
secured the evacuation and the convoy trip to Tunisia. The U.S. military
response fourth provided air cover during the drive. Secretary of State
John Kerry told reporters in Paris a little while ago that Turkey also
removed 700 of its personnel from Libya, so rapidly developing story, we`ll
bring you more on it just as soon as we get it.
For now though, we want to turn to a developing political scandal in the
northeast. It involves a governor who appears larger than life, Governor
who wants to brag about a lopsided re-election victory and has clear white
house aspirations. And his future is now clouded by federal investigators
and no, I`m not talking about Chris Christie. I`m talking about New York`s
democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. In a new investigation by "The New York
Times" that looks at last year`s highly publicized attempt by Cuomo to
clean up corruption in state government. The "Times" reports may have been
thwarted by the governor`s office, if not by the governor himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Trust is everything to me, that`s why for
all we`ve accomplished to fix state government, our job is not done until
we`ve cleaned up the legislative corruption in Albany. So I am appointing
a new independent commission. Led by top law enforcement officials from
all across this great state. To investigate and prosecute wrongdoing. The
politicians in Albany won`t like it, but I work for the people and I won`t
stop fighting until we all have a government that we can trust.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Cuomo depicted the commission he described in that re-election
ad as far-reaching and untouchable. With a mandate to look into anyone in
state government, anyone including Cuomo, the governor himself. But the
commission`s work ended abruptly this spring amidst rumors of problems and
now, a three month examinations by the New York Times published this week
claims that Governor Cuomo`s office deeply compromised the panel`s work.
Some cases by having subpoenas withdrawn with the panel targeted groups
with ties to Cuomo, or some of his supporters. In numerous instances, if
there was even the slightest connections to the governor, if investigators
said, even knowingly looked into a group tied to Cuomo, unknowingly a new
group tied to Cuomo, his aides put a stop to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW" HOST: Basically Cuomo formed a commission
promising -- you can even look at me. And then when they looked at him, he
said -- are you looking at me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Is Barbara Bartoletti, a special advisor of the commissioner
alleged to the "Times" quote, "we created with all this fanfare and the
governor was going to clean up Albany. It became surely a vehicle for the
governor to get legislation, another notch for his re-election campaign.
That was it." For the governor`s part, his office told the "Times" that
the commission was created by and reported to the governor and therefore,
he could not be accused of interfering with it. On Wednesday night, the
U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York said his office will
attempt to pick up one when the commission`s investigations left off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PREET BHARARA, U.S. ATTY.., NEW YORK SOUTHERN DISTRICT: We understood that
the commission was being shut down and our interest above all other
interests is make sure that the job is getting done. Because we`re the
people who do our jobs. And so, we asked for and received, voluntarily
were offered all the documents that have been collected by that commission
so that the work could continue. Because if other people weren`t going to
do it then we would do it. And that`s our main mission.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So you`re doing it.
BHARARA: We`re doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Governor stated mission in creating this commission was to root
out corruption. Instead, his office is now focused of charges that it
corrupted that commission into non-existence.
Joining me now to help piece all this together is Blake Zeff, he`s a
politics editor at Salon.com and a former strategist for the New York State
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, also a spokesman for Hillary Clinton`s
presidential campaign. And Peter Henning is in Detroit, he`s a professor
at Wayne State Law School and a former federal prosecutor in the Justice
Department`s fraud division. So, Blake, you`ve been all over this. You`ve
had some great reporting on this and I think start maybe just by helping us
understand so this commission is set up, the supposedly independent
Cuomo has said to everybody who will listen. They can investigate anybody,
they can investigate me, we just want to root out corruption, he also puts
ads on the air paid for by his re-election campaign. Touting this
incredible independent investigation. And then they start getting a little
close to him and this, this report certificate basically showing how he got
the thing killed. What was it specifically that this commission was
looking at that was making him so uncomfortable?
BLAKE ZEFF, SALON.COM COLUMNIST: That`s exactly right, Steve. There
basically have been three different characterizations of this commission by
Cuomo and his team since it was initiated. At first, he said this was a
totally independent commission, they can look at me, they can look at
anybody, that`s how he sold it to the public. Then when there started to
be questions a couple of months ago about possible interference by his team
into subpoenas and things like that, he said, whoa, whoa, whoa, I can`t
interfere with it it`s impossible for me to interfere with this, it`s my
commission, I can do whatever I want with it. Then, after "The New York
Times" story hit earlier this week, there was a shuttle shift to a third
characterization by team Cuomo.
Which was not only, is it impossible for him to interfere with the
commission because it`s his own commission. Now he`s saying it actually
would have been totally impossible for them to have investigated the
executive branch, meaning himself. Because it wouldn`t have passed the
last test. It would have been a conflict of interest, he claims. Well the
problem with that is that his own father, Mario Cuomo in 1987 impaneled a
very similar type of commission, also a Moreland commission that actually
looked into Governor Mario Cuomo`s dealings. That sort of puts a hole in
the current Cuomo defense. As to what they were uncomfortable with the
panel looking at, this was subpoenas into a couple of allies and associates
of the governor.
For example, the media firm for which he placed ads, there was subpoenas
placed to that company. There was another organization called the real
estate firm better New York, organization. This was a very, very big donor
to the Governor`s re-election campaign. So there were a couple of
associates like this. There was something called a committee to save New
York. This was a essentially kind of like a third-party group that was,
that existed to support the governor`s policies. When there was talk of
getting them a subpoena, allegedly the governor`s associates intervened as
well. So there`s a lot here to unpack.
KORNACKI: Well, so Peter, and the question hanging over all this is what
makes this such an interesting story on top of everything, Blake just
talked about is, the U.S. attorney, for the southern district of New York
has all the records now from this commission. This commission that`s been
disbanded. And the question everybody is asking, you know, from the
standpoint of a federal prosecutor who might be looking into this, who
might be concerned with how all of this went down, is there potentially
anything here that the federal prosecutor might be able to find that he
PETER HENNING, WAYNE STATE ATTORNEY: Well, what you have going on here,
and this is a rather strange situation, you have the United States attorney
announcing an investigation. Normally, prosecutors try to keep everything
on the down low and not let anything be known. But Preet Bharara steps in
and says my office is going to look at this -- can federal prosecutors
build a corruption case? The answer to that is yes, because you have some
very powerful federal laws, most important ones are being the mail and wire
fraud statutes. If there were any kick-backs, any type of skimming, or
diversion of funds, then federal prosecutors can bring a case.
And of course, in this current environment, they`re going to look
everywhere. So can there be a federal case? The answer to that is
absolutely. We`ve seen any number of them, including here in Detroit. We
had a former mayor sent away for 28 years, led by the U.S. Department of
Justice. So something will develop here. Now whether actual prosecutions
come about, that`s going to be a different question.
KORNACKI: And Blake, tell us a little bit for a national audience here, I
mean, we know Andrew Cuomo`s name obviously governor of a big state, the
son as you say of Mario Cuomo, a legend in democratic politics. But this
is somebody with clear national aspirations. Who if you look at the polls
right now, he`s running for re-election this year, he`s well on his way it
seems to winning a pretty lopsided re-election victory this year. But
clearly you`ve written, you know, he`s had some public events that have
been canceled the last few days, a governor who has exerted a lot of I
think control over his message, over his public availability. How much has
this rattled him and people around him? These revelations?
ZEFF: Yes. It`s clear that they feel the fire here. Because source in
the office actually, you know, revealed to us that he was supposed to
attend a Bronx County democratic dinner on Wednesday night. Mysteriously
at the last minute, did not show up. There were a series of events on
Thursday he was going to do before the public schedule went out. They
never ended up on the public schedule, he did not do them. There was some
speculation he might speak to the, you know, so-called scandal on Friday,
yesterday, in order to get comments in the weekend papers, so there would
be last read, that didn`t happen. Clearly they`re laying low.
You don`t do that if you feel very confident about the way the story is
unfolding. That said, it`s very important to say what you just said, which
is, there`s no one who is suggesting that he is about to lose re-election.
He`s got a democratic primary opponent who Cuomo is in the process of
trying to kick off the ballot due to a residency requirement. It remains
to be seen whether he can do that. And then his republican opponent in the
general election is someone of very little funds and Chris Christie, who
heads the Republican Governors Association, which is supposed to support
republican gubernatorial candidates has said, he`s not going to support
this guy, because it`s quote-unquote, "a lost cause." So, it`s a big
uphill battle for both of Cuomo`s democratic primary challenger as well as
his republican general election challenger as well.
KORNACKI: But as you wrote this week and as we just talked about with
Peter, I mean, would the federal prosecutor involved now and looking around
it almost becomes immaterial whether he survives in by what margin this
fall politically. Because the big question here is whether something is
going to happen legally. Whether that`s an actual case it was pursued or
it`s just a damning or scathing report or something along those lines. So,
this is very much a to be continued story followed. We`re going to keep a
close eye on. Thanks though now, for now Blake Zeff of Salon.com and Peter
Henning of Wayne State University. I appreciate the time.
He`s been called, quote, "the most intriguing republican to watch for in
2016," it`s by a top adviser to President Obama. But another prominent
democrat says don`t be fooled. We will talk to her and tell you who
they`re talking about, that`s next.
KORNACKI: In the past year, Rand Paul, Kentucky`s junior republican
senator has been aggressively taking his case to constituencies that do not
traditionally vote for Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: How many of you if I would have said who do
you think the founders of the NAACP are, do you think they were Republicans
or Democrats, would anybody in here know they were all Republicans?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes.
PAUL: All right, all right, you know more than I know. And OK, I don`t
mean that to be insulting. I don`t know what you know. And, you know, I
mean, I`m trying to find out what the connection is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That visit to Howard University didn`t go so well for Senator
Paul. But since then, he`s honed his pitch. In March he travelled to the
liberal bastion that is the UC Berkeley campus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: You may be a republican. Or a democrat or a libertarian. I`m not
here to tell you what to be. I am here to tell you, though, that your
rights, especially your right to privacy, is under assault.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And yesterday, Rand Paul took his message directly to African-
American voters with a visit to the National Urban League Conference in
Cincinnati. It wasn`t a large crowd, the room was less than half full. It
didn`t appear to be an enthusiastic audience, either. But the crowd did
respond well when Senator Paul offered policy initiatives like this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Today I`m announcing legislation that will be introduced today, that
eliminates any disparity between crack and powdered cocaine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Can Rand Paul find some daylight between Democrats and black
voters? Or is this just a familiar story with a new title character?
Joining me now to discuss, we have Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-
Blake, also serves as a secretary of the Democratic National Committee.
She also wrote an op-ed yesterday saying that Paul has a lot of work to do
to earn black voters` trust and here in the studio is NBC News political
reporter Kasie Hunt and interviewed Senator Paul after his speech
MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), BALTIMORE: So, Mayor, I`ll start with
you. Obviously, you had a very skeptical take on this outreach that you
published. But I do note, you know, Mitt Romney wouldn`t go to the
National Urban League when he was running for president in 2012. Rand Paul
has showed up there and he showed up at other events like this. We played
the clip their on the sort of sentencing disparities, he`s made that a
major point of emphasis. He also talked yesterday about maybe a new
federal voting rights act in response to the Supreme Court last year. He
does seem to be separating himself at least in some ways from parts of the
republican platform that African-American voters have had trouble with. Do
you give him credit for that at least?
I certainly applaud his presence. I think there`s something to be said
just for showing up. We`ve seen in the past, the Republican Party refuse
to even acknowledge that African-American voters exist. So, I do give him
credit for that. The challenge is when you show up and try to shine a
light on policies that you think would appeal to African-American voters,
while basically ignoring the fact that so many of the things that you stand
for are against our interests.
KORNACKI: So now, we have Casey Hunt here. And Casey, you know, you
interviewed Rand Paul. We talk about Rand Paul and African-American
voters, I think the start of that relationship, everybody looks back to an
interview that Rand Paul did on this network back in 2010 with Rachel
Maddow, where he seemed to be saying he had issues with the public
accommodation`s close of the civil rights act. Let`s play it and talk to
you about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You noted in your speech, you support the civil rights
act. But specifically, do you think that private businesses should be
allowed to discriminate based on race?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So you`ve changed from when you said before you were
concerned about that.
PAUL: I never said before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now Kasie, that was a more direct and emphatic answer, I can
remember that exchange with Rachel Maddow. He does seemed to have changed
his approach on this one.
KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, and I think, you know, part
of what you`re seeing in this overall broad outreach is, he`s trying to
walk back some of the things that he has said in the past. And a lot of
that comes out of sort of the roots of libertarianism. I mean, he`s
basically saying, we shouldn`t infringe on private business`s rights, so
that`s what he was saying in 2010, when he first made these initial
comments. And it`s pretty clear that now he feels he has to be very
aggressive in pushing back. But I mean, it sort of highlights his
challenge here, right?
I mean, to have to go up to an audience like this and say, I support the
civil rights act. Is not necessarily something that even most Republicans
would have to do. You know, that said, I mean, he`s taking quite a few
risks in doing the series of speeches, whether it`s Howard University,
Berkeley, whether it`s the urban league and to some extent, you know, you
have to applaud him for that especially at this stage of the potential, you
KORNACKI: Is it because he comes into this with so much credibility on the
right, that he is, the way like the face of the Tea Party, the Tea Party
was so excited about Ron Paul, about Rand Paul. Does that give him more
maneuvering room here? Is that what we`re seeing?
HUNT: I think if anything, it`s that he realizes that he might not be the
same type of, you know, he doesn`t necessarily fit the same mold as many of
the other republican candidates. And if he`s going to have a path in 2016,
it is going to be because he brings unconventional voters to his side. And
I think that`s part of what you`re seeing, especially with students. Young
people, people whose, where his privacy message in particular resonates.
And he brought that up at the urban league in fact.
I mean, he talks about how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was tracked by the
FBI. And how that parallels what we`re seeing now with the NSA`s
collection of data. So he`s trying to bring his particularly message on
that to a wider audience. In some ways it does resonate. I talked to some
people who brought that up.
KORNACKI: So, Mayor, you give him credit for the outreach. It is, I think
it`s a sustained thing at this point. You can say whatever you think of
the message, the outreach does seem to be real. But I wonder if you had a
chance to talk to him right now and say, these are the issues I want to be,
I want on your radar, if you`re serious about this, these are the issues
you should be serious about, what would you tell him?
BLAKE: I would say of course we have concerns about privacy as Americans,
but we also have concerns about minimum wage, and families, particularly
female head of households being able to provide for their families. You
know, the facts of the matter is, he doesn`t support minimum wage increase.
He`s soft on income wage equality. He wants to roll back Obama-care.
Which is providing quality health care for African-American families. He
has to acknowledge the breadth of his stances and not just pick and choose
the ones that he thinks are going to play in certain audiences. He can`t
run away from his track record.
KORNACKI: Well so, and Casey, you did, the context for all of this
obviously is Rand Paul running in 2016. You did ask him. An interesting
answer here but you asked him about 2016. A quick clip, let`s play it for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Are you the 2016 front-runner right now?
PAUL: Don`t know. But it`s better than being last place at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And I wonder if, you know, who could you really call a front-
runner at this point in the republican side. When you look at Rand Paul,
where -- is there a sense where this is going? The mayor just outlined
some issues, minimum wage is one that comes right to my mind. I can`t
imagine Rand Paul or almost any republican, I guess Mitt Romney has touched
that Rand Paul certainly doesn`t seem interested in touching that. But
where is this going with Rand Paul? Is there a bigger game plan here in
terms of where this outreach is heading?
HUNT: Well, I was struck a little by it. You know, he sort of went
farther than many people do in acknowledging the sort of dance that
everyone plays in years before the 2016 contest comes up and sort of openly
acknowledged yes, this is, you know, kind of what I`m doing. But I think,
you know, he is ahead of some of these other Republicans in his sort of
outreach on the ground in these early states. He has a little bit of a
network left over from when his father ran. He`s making a significant
effort there, grassroots type of organizing.
So you know, that said, I think the big question hovering over Rand`s
potential candidacy or excuse me, Senator Paul`s potential candidacy is
simply the fact. You know, how long is it going to take before the
republican establishment sort of rises up, you know, unites behind
somebody else and decides that it`s time this not go forward. There`s a
lot of anxiety among you know, republican establishments figures about
what, what a Paul candidacy would mean. Whether it`s on issues like
Israel, there`s still a lot of sort of skepticism there or whether it`s you
know, if he`s capable of winning a general election. And if they nominate
somebody like Senator Paul. Whether they would be able to beat somebody
like Hillary Clinton.
KORNACKI: I think they could get away with calling him Rand. There`s
certain politics -- Hillary Clinton, they call her Hillary. Rudy Giuliani
was Rudy. Anyway, my thanks to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, I
appreciate the time. And Kasie Hunt with NBC News, good interview with
Senator Paul, Rand, whatever you want to call him. And still ahead, why I
refuse to be rationale about what is -- about the biggest news story of the
week. That`s straight ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The fact that we`ve had a cluster of incidents does not
materially affect the fact that our skies and the skies around the world
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: According to an MIT statistician, your chances of being
killed in a plane crash anywhere in the world are roughly one in four
million. But in North America and Europe, that drops to one in 25 million.
That means you could go 60,000 years flying every day before a fatal crash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: One in 25 million? Well after three crashes in one week, I
still don`t like those odds. The intervention I need to talk me out of my
fear of flying? That`s next.
KORNACKI: Bad weather is being is cited this morning as the most likely
cause for the crash of that air Algeria flight in Mali this week that
killed all 118 people on board. It does not appear that an attacker
brought down the plane unlike the Malaysia Airlines tragedy in Eastern
Ukraine. In 10 people, survived the crash of a trans-Asian jetliner in
Taiwan. These are all obviously horrible tragedies that`s been in the news
lately. There are also though tragedies that for a certain segment of
people serve to re-awake a very primal fear and I`m one of those people. I
have a fear of flying. Plan my vacations based on how far Amtrak will take
I once drove 1100 miles from Louisville, Kentucky, to Denver in about 20
hours. I did get on plane for work about two years ago, this was at the
height of the 2012 presidential election. But it wasn`t a pleasant
experience for me. And I don`t plan on repeating it any time soon. If
ever. For me, for many other people like me, the statistics simply don`t
matter. I don`t care that I`m more likely to die driving on my way to the
airport that I am on the plane. I don`t care that there is only one
accident for every 2.4 million flights. But I do care that in just one
week there were three major airplane disasters. Makes me and other people
like me want to guarantee that we will never be on any plane that crashes
even if that means never flying agin.
Joining me now is Captain Ron Nielsen, he`s a retired U.S. Air Force pilot.
And he has turned his career towards curing people like me, helping us
overcome our fear of flying.
Captain, thank you for joining us. So, I was telling you during the break,
honestly the way I look at this is I have flown 13 times in my life, and I
am 13 for 13. And as I say in baseball, if you go 13 for 13, it`s
unbelievable heading streak, the chances are you`re going to go 13 for 14.
In flying you go 13 for 14, that`s the one that kills you. So, I think
chancing with flying anymore.
CAPT. RON NIELSEN, U.S. AIR FORCE PILOT (RET.): Why mess with success,
KORNACKI: Yes. I`m still here.
NIELSEN: And you know, you`ve captured everything about fear of flying,
Steve. It is a state of mind. It`s a habit of thinking. And you just got
stuck with what some people get stuck with, and that is the part of our
brain that keeps us alive under threatening situations has just hijacked
the rationale part of it and it doesn`t --
KORNACKI: What are you -- the things that I always hear they always tell
me, well, look at the odds, right? You`re more safe in a car. You know,
I`ve been in two car accidents in my life, and I walked away from them.
There was a huge dent in the driver`s side door, and I walked away. And I
say, you know, if I`m in one airplane crash, I`m not walking away.
NIELSEN: Yes. It`s not about the odds. Rationale thinking never gets
anybody through an irrational problem. So, what you have to do is you have
to literally change the way you think about it. Now, it does help to learn
some of the facts to dispel myths that there are about flying. And some
people have rather read that. I see people as catastrophic thinkers and
catastrophic feelers. And the thinking, you know, what was that sound?
What`s that noise? The pilots, are they not drinking today, whatever it
is? And then the other part, and that`s one way that the brain operates.
It will think, have a thought, that forms a fear, and then grow with that.
The other way is, we could have something go wrong automatically. The
brain actually senses danger, you know, and things happen. So, it might
notice that my palms are getting sweaty, my heart is starting to race. And
it says, hey, we don`t know what the heck is going on down there, but we`re
going to jump in the fray, and we`re going to get you ready in case you
have to fight or flee.
KORNACKI: It`s just a lack of control. When I`m driving a car, I got the
wheel. I got the brake. I can speed up, I can slow down. I know things
can happen. Horrible things happen in the car. But in the plane, it`s
just, you`re sitting there, everything is going fine, and then one second
like the snap of a finger totally no control over it, everything goes
wrong. And I just -- I imagine my last thought being like I could have
NIELSEN: Well, control is an illusion, and the biggest control freaks on
the airplane are sitting up in the two front seats in the cockpit. That`s
why a lot of pilots got to be pilots is because they were control freaks.
So, you and I are sitting here. We have the solution that we`re in control
right now. But some catastrophic thing could happen in the building. Not
very likely, obviously, but --
KORNACKI: Hey, you got me looking around.
NIELSEN: Right. I try to tell the truth, you know? There will be other
accidents in the future. There will be other fatal -- did you know that 95
percent of all airplane passengers that were involved in irrigation
accidents in history survived?
KORNACKI: I don`t know. Those are statistics.
NIELSEN: Yes, right.
KORNACKI: Well, we only got three minutes. I can`t say I`m cured yet, but
is it a good dialogue.
NIELSEN: You got to want to.
KORNACKI: You really have to want to. Yes. No, no, I mean, I have talked
to enough, and I got the response I got there are a lot of people out there
with feelings I know. My thanks to Captain Ron Nielsen with
FearlessFlight.com. I appreciate that. The latest from Libya, that`s
KORNACKI: More now on this morning`s breaking news out of Libya. Today`s
evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, all 158 Americans there. It was
accompanied by the release of a new travel warning by the State Department
that urged Americans who are already in Libya to leave immediately. MSNBC
will keep an eye on the developments for now though. Thank you for joining
us today for UP. And joining us tomorrow, Sunday morning at 8:00, we`ll
still be here live in Washington D.C.
And coming up next is Melissa Harris-Perry. So, please stick around
because Nerve Land is next. Thanks for getting up.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copyright 2014 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
UP with STEVE KORNACKI