UP with STEVE KORNACKI
October 19, 2014
Guest: Jackie Kucinich, Mercedes Schlapp, Eleanor Clift, Rush Holt, Garry
Trudeau, Richard Norton Smith, James Risen, Sam Wong, Howard Dean
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Only two weeks before the 2014 midterm, so,
why is everyone talking this morning about 2016?
And good morning, thanks for getting up with us this Sunday morning with
only 16 days now to go until the mid-term elections. We`re very excited to
be talking politics this morning with Doonesbury creator, Garry Trudeau,
out now the second season of Alpha House, that`s his Amazon streaming show
about life in the Senate for a group of Republicans who live together.
"New York Times" reporter James Risen is also going to be joining us on the
show this morning to talk national security, government accountability and
freedom of the press. He`s still facing possible prison time for refusing
to name a source. We`re going to talk to him about that. We`re also
learning more this morning about a break in the search for Heather Graham,
that`s the missing UVA student. It`s a news in Galveston this morning
where a health care worker who`d handled the lab specimen from Ebola
patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, has now disembarked from a Carnival cruise
ship. Carnival says that the worker is heading home. You`re looking live
right now at other passengers disembarking from that ship as we speak. The
Coast Guard had shoppered out to the ship yesterday to retrieve her blood
sample. We`re going to be going live to Texas for all the latest on that
in just a little bit. But until then, we`re going to turn to political
chatter that just won`t die. And maybe, maybe now we know that there is a
reason for it. That`s because there is a brand-new "Washington Post"/ABC
News poll out just this morning and it shows that Mitt Romney, at least for
now, is the still the man to beat among 2016 Republican contenders. That
is according to the results of this new pol. It`s 21 percent, it`s almost
double that of second place finisher Jeb Bush. 21 for Romney, 11 for Bush.
You can see Chris Christie all the way back at 6 percent, Rand Paul, the
libertarian favorite at nine percent. Now, if you take Mitt Romney out of
that mix and you pull everybody else, Jeb Bush is the leader, but barely.
It only has 15 percent. Rand Paul right behind him at 12. You see Paul
Ryan - and, again, Christie back at seven percent. So, it is still very
early, obviously, but I think this tells us something about where the
Republican Party is right now or what it is going through right now. It`s
when you talk about it, I`m joined by former spokeswoman for President
George W. Bush, Mercedes Schlapp, "Daily Beast" columnist Eleanor Clift,
Jackie Kucinich of "The Washington Post." Thank you everybody for being
JACKIE KUCINICH, "WASHINGTON POST": Thank you. I don`t know a lot of
people make fun of me and make fun of people who talk about this Romney
scenario. I don`t think it`s - I still would say, if you put the gun to my
head, maybe you bet my money, whatever clich‚ you want, I would say he
doesn`t end up running. I don`t think it is that nuts, that said.
MERCEDES SCHLAPP, FMR. BUSH SPOKESPERSON: I don`t think he is going to be
running. I mean Ann Romney made it very clear that the family is done,
KORNACKI: And she called - but then she called the "Washington Post" the
next day, it seemed to - leave some wiggle room.
SCHLAPP: No, you know, it`s interesting when you look back at the July
2014 poll, that instead of that would be a rematch in the presidential, you
have 2012, that actually Mitt Romney would have won it with the 53 percent.
So, I think he`s enjoying that status of statesman. And I don`t think,
he`s, you know, it`s three times. I mean you don`t want to get in there,
again, and to know that there is not a good chance that he is going to be
able to win. It leaves a party very open.
KORNACKI: So, that`s, when I look at that, what I say, and yeah, I agree -
I don`t think he ends up running because I`m thinking Jeb Bush ends up
running. But what if - you look at the poll right there. What if Jeb Bush
doesn`t run? There`s a huge vacuum there for that sort of establishment
ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: Right. The Romney numbers say more about
the rest of the field than they do about Romney.
CLIFT: I mean I don`t think this is wishing for Romney, per se. It`s
because the rest of the field is so fractured, I think there is no
confidence of main stream Republicans and maybe even Tea Party Republicans
that any of those candidates could actually win. So, as far as Romney is
concerned, I`m sure he is enjoying the status where he`s more welcomed in
the campaign trail this year than President Obama, but how many politicians
have learned the lesson that everybody loves you when you`re undeclared?
Once you get out there, he`ll get beat up, again. And I don`t think his
ego or his wife`s, the whole family, I don`t think they could take it.
KORNACKI: So, I`ll keep pressing the point one more time, I`ll see if
Jackie opy on this. Because so far - so far I will .
KORNACKI: But here`s - I guess what I say is maybe possible is you get to
a scenario where Jeb Bush says no. Republicans look at Chris Christie and
they say, you know, damaged goods, they look at Rand Paul, maybe, you know,
six months from now is really starting to take off and they say we need
somebody. We don`t have Jeb Bush. We don`t have Chris Christie. We are
the establishment at this party. We need somebody to save us. That`s what
I`m wondering about.
JACKIE KUCINICH, THE WASHINGTON POST: I don`t know about that. I think
what Rand Paul - Rand Paul .
KUCINICH: OK, I`m sorry.
KUCINICH: You know, I think a lot - we look at this - also, I think it
said a lot about name recognition, frankly, because you do have this
virtual boy band of Republican contenders. None of which that have emerged
as the standard bear. But it is early and I just - Rand Paul, I think, is
really interesting because he is courting the establishment right now. He
is doing events for establishment candidates and while the Tea Party likes
him and the establishment doesn`t really know whether they can trust him or
not, you see him moving - making moves to gain their trust. And I wonder
if that works out for him.
KORNACKI: All right. So, I have completely struck out on this one.
KORNACKI: But I`m going to keep trying. It`s the World Series .
CLIFT: Three strikes you are out.
KORNACKI: It`s the World Series .
KORNACKI: Three strikes means we`d be shifting new topics.
CLIFT: Third time is the charm.
KORNACKI: Third time is the charm.
CLIFT: I can make the case for Romney, I just don`t think it`s very
KORNACKI: Yeah, know, I mean - I put it out, like I say 20 percent or
something. I just - when we say name recognition, I look at it and I say,
well, Bush is a big name, too. And Romney is running at double Bush right
now. So I say maybe it`s a little bit more.
KUCINICH: It also those because Obama has had such a tough time since 2012
and I think Romney is enjoying particularly, remember, the Russia comment.
I think he`s enjoying being right about some things. And so, that glow is
also making him shinier.
KORNACKI: That could be - I wonder it is early polls among Republicans, if
there`s sort of -and I told you so .
KORNACKI: Quality. That hey, we`ll say - for rounding out - anyway, well,
shifting back to 2014, because there`s an election 16 days from now. Also
one about two years from now. "The New York Times" is reporting this
morning that Democrats believe they are going to need to have huge turnout
among African-American voters in order to retain control of the Senate.
You see the headline right there. And you look at the states where this is
going to be particularly critical. North Carolina, Louisiana, as that goes
to runoff Mary Landrieu especially from New Orleans, Arkansas, there`s a
substantial black vote there. That really didn`t turn out in 2012. It
wasn`t a contested state. Democrats are going to need that to save Mark
It seems like, you know, it`s a question, that old question we have been
asking all year about Democrats, like can they get the base that was there
in 2012 out in 2014?
CLIFT: Well, I think there are real concerns, but then I look at 2012 when
Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, who was Mitt Romney`s pollster was
convinced that Romney was going to win based on the turnout models that he
expected. That African-Americans would be disappointed in the president
that turnout would be low. Young people don`t come out and those models
all turned on their head and you have Neil Newhouse out there now saying
he`s got religion. He is now looking at Democrats and he thinks, you know,
they can get their vote out. I`m looking for the president to do some get
out of the vote efforts. I think it`s a concern, but I wouldn`t sell the
electorate short. I mean if they do get the message that this election is
happening and then it matters and if we can get past the Ebola coverage in
the next two weeks, there could be some surprises.
KORNACKI: So, how do you think of that, Mercedes. Because what Eleanor is
saying about, I mean we all remember in the Republican universe in 2012
they all thought Romney had it until the end and then it was - it was - the
turn out, it was very different than they thought it would be.
KORNACKI: Is there a trap there for you guys this time?
SCHLAPP: Well, let me tell you. You have this Democratic candidates that
are running far away from President Obama because of the disapproval
ratings. So, here`s the problem, they`re not bringing President Obama to
the states because they need to be separated from them in order to even
gain any traction in their votes. So, I think it really hurts the
Democrats at this end. Also, when you`re looking at it, when you look at
his base, the women, Hispanic, young voters they`re also disillusioned with
President Obama and they are not really going out there and really being
supportive of these Democratic candidates. So, it really - it also gets to
the point that for black voters, in particular, the black unemployment rate
remains incredibly high especially among the youth. The black - poverty
rates remain especially high. So, although they relate and inspired by
President Obama, at the end, are they really going to go out and vote for
this Democratic candidate that is separating himself from the president?
KORNACKI: Let me ask you this, because here`s what I`m wondering about.
We`re talking about, you know, if the Obama base does not show up in 2014
like it did in 2012, it`s good news for Republicans. Republicans have a
good year, they`re celebrating.
KORNACKI: Is there not a longer term trap there, though, for the
Republican Party in that - they have then succeeded by not broadening their
KORNACKI: Reinforces .
SCHLAPP: When you even look, let`s say, let`s look at the Gardner race and
Udall race in Colorado. Where the war on women rhetoric is falling flat
and it`s benefitting Gardner. So at the end, really what we`re looking at
here is that the Republicans are doing outreach efforts to African American
community saying, look, look at the situation right now. I mean
unemployment rate remains high and poverty levels remain high and at the
end even for women voters, that they`re also reaching out to and saying,
when you look at Obamacare, women are paying higher premiums in the most
parts and, you know, other segments of the population.
CLIFT: That`s the same argument that Republicans made in 2012 and it
didn`t work. I don`t see Republicans as an alternative.
KUCINICH: Doesn`t mean that Democrats haven`t been reaching out .
KORNACKI: So you have it - how do they thread that needle then? Take a
state like, you know, Louisiana, Arkansas, Republican overall, but there`s
a big black vote there that President Obama could inspire.
How do they thread that needle, as Democrats?
KUCINICH: They are having Bill Clinton go, they are having Michelle Obama
who has extremely high approval ratings go, they are having John Lewis,
huge ivil rates leader, Jim Clyburn, they had them all out this summer
trying to get the vote out to black churches, in particular. That`s been a
big piece of this turnout model. So, I think they have known this is
coming and so I think that effort is there, it`s just getting them there,
getting them to the polls.
CLIFT: It`s that ground operation. You also have got the voter
suppression efforts and the Republican Party clearly identified on that
SCHLAPP: We have a much more .
CLIFT: Clearly identified .
SCHLAPP: We have a much more energized Republican .
KORNACKI: Now, create to that .
KORNACKI: Well, I was going to say, that was also one of the stories of
2012, was that they ended up being, that might have also increased the
turnout. We`ll see if that - we had that ruling, I know, Texas not a
really battleground state that year, but we had that ruling in Texas the
other day. We`ll see if that creates any sort of national movement. We`re
going to continue our discussion of the politics of the 2014 midterms after
the break of some of the best debate moments. There were a ton of debates
this week. We have a highlight reel for you and we`re going to talk it
over and everything that Florida`s fangate overshadowed. That`s next.
KORNACKI: All right. Still here talking with our panel about news and
politics, just 16 days now before the mid-term election and that, of
course, means the debate season is kicking into high gear. Yesterday we
talked about the Florida Governor Fangate debate that should not overshadow
everything else that has been happening podium to podium including the
prevalence of one man in all these discussions who isn`t on the ballot in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want you to rate on a scale of one to ten, two
people. President Obama and Governor Jindal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Cassidy.
CASSIDY: Obama`s a zero. Obama`s going to go down as one of the worst
presidents in the history of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. How about Governor Jindal?
CASSIDY: The Governor Jindal, he has taken some tough licks. So I give
Governor Jindal right now seven.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maness.
ROB MANESS: Zero and five.
MARY LANDRIEU: I would give Governor Jindal barely a three. I work now
with six governors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, sure.
LANDRIEU: He`s three. And then I would give President Obama a six to
seven. I think he`s had some really tough issues to deal with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right, that, of course, was Tuesday`s Louisiana Senate
debate. Democrat Mary Landrieu, they are running very difficult reelection
race, so, Eleanor Clifton, in the spirit of that question, given what we
just talked about last block about - of Mary Landrieu being - it`s a red
state. She`s got to get President Obama supporters to the polls. How do
you rate her answer to that question?
CLIFT: I think she handled that pretty well. You know, Jindal`s approval
rating is lower than Obama`s in Louisiana. So, taking - giving him a low
number and she was generous. She gave him a three. She - the other one of
the candidates gave Obama zero. She could have given Jindal a zero. So, I
thought it was a generous diplomatic answer.
KORNACKI: It`s bipartisan.
CLIFT: Yeah, and she put enough distance between herself and Obama and she
gave him his due credit. I thought that was - that was good.
KORNACKI: Well, that gets to - I think that`s one of the other factors
here. We talk about how national these mid-term elections are. But this
is what Democrats are counting on - in a lot of these days. Louisiana,
North Carolina, they`re counting on, Mercedes, unpopular Republican
SCHLAPP: That`s right.
KORNACKI: So, the Republicans right there are saying, you are tied to
Obama, you`re tied to Obama. The Democrats are saying, you`re tied to
KORNACKI: You are tied. Right before - in North Carolina.
SCHLAPP: Right. And it goes into sort of the - about what is going on in
the particular state. The local issues. So, when you look at, for
example, in the case of, again, we can look at Colorado where, you know,
you look at Gardner. He goes ahead and starts talking about the issues
like energy, Obamacare and contrary to Udall who gets stock with like Mark
Uterus, where he`s all - he`s talking about his women, you know, the women,
abortion issue. So, I think that it plays, when you look at these states
and you look at Kentucky, for example, as another example. Where Grimes,
she was coming across strong, it was an anti-incumbent wave and all of a
sudden she had all these missteps and in essence what`s happened is that -
McConnell has been able to gain strong ground and up - plus eight points.
KORNACKI: Well, speaking of Kentucky, that`s where Mitch McConnell made a
startling admission this week when it came to the subject of Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would support the continuation of connect?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R ), KENTUCKY: Well, it`s a state decision. It`s a
several states .
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would you support it?
MCCONNELL: Well, it`s fine. Yeah. I think it`s fine to have a website.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, Jackie, the full context here, you people have seen a little
bit Connect is the state program that came up because of Obamacare. So,
the McConnell position here is get rid of Obamacare, root and branch. He
keeps saying that. Root and branch. Well, one of the branches of
Obamacare is this thing called Connect. The Kentucky program which has
insured all these, you know, thousands of Kentuckians and now he`s trying
to say, sure, I`m for this popular program you like but I still hate
Obamacare. Is he - can he pull that off?
KUCINICH: Yeah, he was trying to have it both ways there and I don`t think
it worked out for him in that regard. I mean the fact of the matter is
trying to remove Obamacare from, particularly where it`s popular, they are
going to - Republicans anywhere are going to have a tough time with that
and, you know, probably going to spend a lot of time next year if they take
over the Senate talking about that and making votes that are going to get
KORNACKI: But .
CLIFT: Women`s issues are a key in all of these races. If you can get
enough women to turn out where Democrats can win. And what McConnell is
now doing in Kentucky. He`s claiming that his vote to expel Bob Packwood
for sexual harassment charges almost 20 years ago made him a man ahead of
his times. So, he did vote to expel. He was on the - - he was chairman on
the ethics committee .
KORNACKI: Pretty much - that he votes to expand.
CLIFT: Yeah, but he bottled it up for two years before that, that party.
KORNACKI: Right. Well, that`s right. And - particular Packwood set for
harassment stuff came out in `92 and he was expelled in `95. There was -
but speaking of women`s issues and Mercedes mentioned Colorado a moment
ago. We do want to get Colorado in here, because that issue of - women`s
issue in general have been so prominent there and a debate moderator out in
Colorado this week took a firm stand when questioning Republican Cory
Gardner on that subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You continue to deny that the federal Life at
Conception Act which you sponsor is a personhood billed to end abortion and
we`re not going to debate that here tonight because it`s a fact. Your co-
sponsors say so and your opponents say so and independent fact checkers say
so. So, let`s instead talk about what this entire episode may say about
your judgment more broadly. It would seem that a charitable interpretation
would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you`re wrong and a
less charitable interpretation is that you`re not telling us the truth.
Which is it?
CORY GARDNER: I think again, I do not support the Personhood amendment -
the bill that you`re referring to is simply a statement that I support
KORNACKI: So, Jackie, we were talking about this on the show a little bit
yesterday and this race fascinates me because Democrats have been trying
to do here what they so successfully did in 2012 and in some cases in 2010
as well. And they have a clear vulnerability for Cory Gardner. They`ve
identified when it comes to women`s issues and potentially creating a
pretty big gender gap out there. You saw the exchange right there. It`s
in the Democratic playbook, that`s sort of a dream exchange and yet it`s
not showing up in the polls right now. What is happening there?
KUCINICH: I think there`s dissatisfaction with Obama. I really think
Udall is - is - that is happening to Udall. He`s getting - he`s getting
tie to the president and I think they are so unhappy with the president it
is hurting Markie at all. And they don`t think that he`s done enough to
push back to the president. Also, I mean what end up - why end up saving
Udall is Senator Bennett who is from Colorado that people like.
KORNACKI: The other Democratic senator.
KUCINICH: The only Democratic - yeah, the only Democratic Senator from
Colorado because it seems Coloradans liked what he`s done and he is trying
to have that rub off on Udall and so far we haven`t seen that work.
KORNACKI: Well, but Mercedes was talking about this earlier, Eleanor. So,
if Udall doesn`t succeed in winning of this race, if Udall loses running so
heavily on women`s issues, as he did, is that - is there a cautionary note
there for Democrats going forward?
CLIFT: Well, the cautionary note is you don`t want to be a one-issue
candidate which is what they`re calling him. Also, in Colorado rejected
that personhood amendment once before, I believe. And they`ve retooled it
and I think they`ve done kind of a successful job of getting the public to
think, oh, it really doesn`t matter. So, I`m not sure it`s the weapon it
was the last time out, the second time around.
SCHLAPP: Well, and Gardner has actually been able to be more of, you know,
attract the conservative base, attract the center. He`s been able unify
that base and I think it`s been to his benefit. He`s also talking about a
variety of issues again in Colorado, the energy issues are very important.
So, Obamacare. And it`s going back to Jackie`s point, I mean Obama`s
disapproval rating is at 58 percent in Colorado. Again, hurting Udall and
the fact that there is this trend for anti-it`s anti-incumbent trend right
KORNACKI: Yeah, I know, this is the war, and I think Iowa, as well, the
Democrats I think are particularly worried about just in terms of the
bigger message of Election Day. Because if you lose Kentucky, if you lose
Louisiana, hey, those are red states and you don`t want to lose the states
that Obama carried twice.
CLIFT: You know, we`re in a blood feud here in Washington as to which
party is going to take over the Senate. But out - in the countryside, they
don`t really think about that. And they just don`t like Congress and they
want to get rid of whoever is in office.
SCHLAPP: Oh, no.
KUCINICH: In the house, I mean most of the House is going to be re-
elected. So, I mean .
KORNACKI: Obviously, when they hate - when they hate Congress, it means
the Republican voters think the Democrats in Congress are mocking it up,
and the Democratic voters think the Republican, so they all, they all, I
mean, my thanks to Mercedes Schlapp, Eleanor Clift, Jackie Kucinich. I
appreciate you all joining us this morning.
And next, we are going to go live to Texas and for the latest on the
efforts to prevent the spread of Ebola. Some breaking news there this
morning. We`ll have that for you next.
KORNACKI: All right, we are getting live pictures out of Galveston, Texas,
right now, that`s where the cruise ship had docked that is carrying a
passenger - who was carrying a passenger who was suspected of coming into
contact with the Ebola virus. The family of Thomas Eric Duncan is also
today in their last date for mandatory quarantine period in Dallas. For
the very latest on what`s going on there, NBC`s Sarah Dallof is standing by
in Dallas. Sarah?
SARAH DALLOF, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Steve. That ship
slipped in under the cover of darkness to Galveston this morning and
shortly after docking, that passenger and her partner were whisked off
before the other passengers who were expecting to start disembarking
momentarily. Now that lab worker had handled a sample that belonged to
Thomas Eric Duncan, that man here in Dallas who passed away due to the
Ebola virus. Now, officials say no one else on the ship was ever at risk
since this lab worker wasn`t showing any signs or symptoms of Ebola. And
only an infectious person with active symptoms can infect other people.
This lab worker had also self-quarantined along with her partner in her
cabin. Yesterday, a Coast Guard helicopter rendezvoused with the ship to
pick up a blood sample from the lab worker. That was flown to land and it
is rushed to Austin where it is being tested for Ebola.
Now, during the cruise there was a little bit of drama on the seas when
they docked in Belize everyone but the lab worker and her partner were
allowed to disembark and explore the country. And then in Mexico, the ship
was actually refused clearance to dock there, it was a scheduled stop, they
were forced to skip and turn around and head back to the U.S. Now, during
this ordeal passengers were tweeting from the ship, one tweeting, "I hope
we can just go home, not into quarantine." Well, good news Carnival says
that will be the case this morning. There will be no passenger screenings
or quarantines, they will be let off the ship to go home, and that lab
worker and her partner already taken off the ship. They are free to go
home, as well, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. NBC News`s Sarah Dalloff for us in Dallas this
morning, I really appreciate that. Thank you, Sarah.
KORNACKI: Now, first there was I am not a crook, then there was I am not a
witch. We are going to talk about what the new political I am not refrain
seems to be. You probably heard it by now. We`ll tell you about it,
KORNACKI: So, Richard Nixon declared, I am not a crook. Christine
O`Donnell a few decades later declared, I am not a witch. And in this
election cycle it seems that many Republicans are declaring some variation
of, I am not a scientist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: I am not a scientist. I am interested in protecting Kentucky`s
economy. I am interested in having low-cost electricity.
BOBBY JINDAL: I would leave it to the scientists to decide how much, what
that means and what are the consequence.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R ), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`m not qualified to debate
the science over climate change.
PAUL RYAN: I don`t know the answer to that question and I don`t think
science does either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That talking point on climate change was mocked this summer by
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I`m not a
scientist either .
OBAMA: . but I`ve got this guy John Holder. He`s a scientist.
OBAMA: I`ve got a bunch of scientists at NASA and I`ve got a bunch of
scientists at EPA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: New Jersey congressman Rush Holt, who by the way is a scientist,
the rocket scientist had this to say on the floor of the House in May.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RUSH HOLT (R ) NEW JERSEY: Yesterday Speaker Boehner said he was not
qualified to debate the science of climate change, but he was confident
that all plans to deal with climate change would hurt jobs and our economy.
Mr. Speaker, I`m a scientist, but that doesn`t uniquely qualify me to
debate climate change. As members of Congress we rely on the expertise of
others to inform our decision making and I agree with the overwhelming
consensus among scientists. The climate is changing, largely as a result
of human activities and we can and must act now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And joining me now is Democratic Congressman Rush Holt, one of
the very few, maybe only scientists in Congress. You have or had one of
the all-time great political bumper stickers. "My congressman is a rocket
scientist" and I always thought that was one of my favorites.
HOLT: Good to be with you, Steve.
KORNACKI: So, this talking point. I`ve noticed this - McConnell I was
watching the Kentucky debate the other day. McConnell brings this up in
debate whenever climate change comes up. I`ve noticed - it seems to be
increasing in its usage, this is I am not a scientist refrain. What do you
make of that? It seems like obviously a way of avoiding the question.
HOLT: Sure, it`s a dodge.
KORNACKI: Do people buy it, though?
HOLT: I don`t think so. You know, you mentioned this bumper sticker.
When I was elected to Congress some of my constituents knowing that I`m a
physicist, made up - they made it up. My campaign did not make this up and
I started seeing bumper stickers around saying "My congressman is a rocket
scientist" and at first I thought somebody was messing around with my
message. And, you know, any politician doesn`t want that. But it was kind
of cute. But really what it was, it was a call by the constituents for
reasonable thinking. You know, that`s what they were saying. They want
people to think like scientists. Not that they thought a knowledge of
differential equations was going to help me do my job in Congress, but they
believe - and should believe that scientists have a reverence for evidence.
KORNACKI: Well, so.
HOLT: And that`s what is so infuriating and that`s why I think citizens
are disappointed when they hear Ryan and McConnell and Jindal and I think
Shelley Capito, Senate Candidate in West Virginia and just a long list.
Senator Rubio use this, I am not a congressman - I`m not a scientist ruse.
KORNACKI: Right. And people have pointed out when you start talking about
jobs or taxes or whatever, you don`t hear, I`m not an economist. You hear
plenty - you hear plenty of opinions about that. I want to put up on the
screen the latest public opinion polling on this. This is I think from
Gallup a few months ago. And this is basically, humans - are humans mainly
contributing to climate change, to global warming? And you see Democrats
it`s pretty well accepted. Independents right in the middle and
Republicans still running under 50 percent. When you talk, congressman, to
your colleagues in the House, to Republican colleagues in the House, do you
hear something different from them than they say in public on this subject?
HOLT: A little bit, yes. I mean clearly what is happening here is these
are people who know they can`t come out and say there is no climate change
because there`s just too much evidence. They can`t come out and say humans
are not affecting our globe because there`s just too much evidence. So,
they use this dodge and say, well, I`m not a scientist. You know Paul Ryan
isn`t a lawyer, so maybe he shouldn`t on Ways and Means Committee do
anything about tax law. Come on. You know, it`s - we do depend on
expertise of others. And we should have a reverence for evidence. You
know, if you don`t think on the basis of evidence, then you have nothing
but ideology or wishful thinking in its place.
KORNACKI: No, I`m trying to imagine the Congress where you`re only allowed
to vote on something that`s 0in your professional specialty.
KORNACKI: It would be a different place. So, big picture here, I mean we
have been just stalled in this, you know, trying to get the cap and trade
bill through a few years ago, that didn`t work. Everything has been
stalled in Washington, but everything has been stalled in politics when it
comes to climate change. Can you see anything that`s going to change that
in the next few years?
HOLT: Well, sure. Most Americans feel the effects now. Whether it`s
drought, wildfires, floods, super storms. And the evidence is there. It`s
not, I mean, you know, nothing in life is ever absolutely positively
certain. You use probability. Scientists are really comfortable using
probabilities and it is highly likely that humans are changing the climate
and we should do something about it because it will be costly in lives and
dollars and people are feeling that at home now. And so, they won`t allow
people to use the Dodge. But more important beyond climate change, you
know, if you don`t have a reverence for evidence, you only have ideology.
And that`s not a way for us to make decisions about, you know,
international epidemics. To make decisions about kind of anything that`s
KORNACKI: Rush Holt, the rocket scientist congressman. He is retiring
from the House after 16 years, we should say. Thank you for joining us.
One of the good ones. They really appreciate it.
HOLT: Thanks, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right, up next, we will pivot from politics to one of the
morning`s biggest news stories. New developments in the search for a
missing Virginia college student.
And still ahead, Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau right here on the set
talking about all kinds of things. We are very excited about that. Big
morning, we`re juggling a lot. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: All right, as we continue to juggle the latest news and politics
development this morning, there is a sad story to report out of Virginia.
Police in Charlottesville say they have discovered human remains that they
believe to be a UVA student that has been missing since last month.
Authorities are testing those remains to determine if they are Hannah
Graham`s. Police arrested a suspect in her disappearance Jesse Matthew Jr.
a little more than a week later and charged him with abduction with an
intent to defile. The area where the remains were found is near the site
with a body of another college student. Morgan Harrington was found after
she vanished five years ago. Police have said there is a forensic link
between the two cases. Stay with MSNBC for updates on this story. We`ll
be right back with more from the world of politics as I`m joined by Garry
KORNACKI: For more than 40 years now, if you wanted some sharp political
satire in the morning, all you have to do was turn to your newspaper`s
comic page and to the cartoon Doonesbury, which comes from the mind of
Garry Trudeau. Although, if you are a Doonesbury fan, you might be
experiencing some withdrawal symptoms these days. There`s a new one in
today`s papers and in every Sunday paper, but for the rest of the week, for
Mondays through Saturdays, now they are only running classic Doonesbury.
That`s because these days Garry Trudeau has his hands full with something
else. He`s been tackling political satire in a new form. Writing and
producing the Amazon`s streaming series "Alpha House." The show takes its
inspiration from a real-life D.C. House that`s shared by Senators Chuck
Schumer, Dick Durbin, and revolving casts of other Congressional roommates.
Garry Trudeau took that premise and turned it into a series about a group
of Republican senators living together and struggling together to figure
out how to survive in the Tea Party era GOP. There are some big names in
the show like John Goodman. The season two is set to be made available on
Amazon this coming Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning renters. First of the month.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m good for it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you`re not. You bounced two checks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was during the government shutdown. I refused my
pay and donated it to charity. Remains an option.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I got to sit down with Garry Trudeau this week for an exclusive
interview to talk about this show. The comics clip "Life in Hollywood."
He also told me something very interesting about Elizabeth Warren. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: A rare television appearance for Garry Trudeau. Thank you for
GARY TRUDEAU: I`m thrilled to be here.
KORNACKI: So, it`s an interesting time the way I look at this because you
are starting the second season of this very political television show,
"Alpha House" and it comes at, you know, we`ve got "House of Cards" and
"Scandal" and all the other political shows out there. At the same time, I
was just looking this morning at a new polling data that shows as this
election, the 2014 election gets closer and closer, more and more people
are just tuning out, throwing up their hands saying we don`t want anything
to do with American politics. This is like the lowest interest election
we`ve had maybe in a generation in this country. So, on the one hand,
interest in politics couldn`t be lower and on the other hand, there is all
these political TV shows. What is going on?
GARRY TRUDEAU, "ALPHA HOUSE": I have no idea. I think the ones that are
succeeding are succeeding because they`re so strongly character driven.
We`re the only show that actually mirrors the real world. We parallel the
KORNACKI: President Obama is the president .
TRUDEAU: And Mitch McConnell is the minority leader. So, it`s kind of a
3D version of Doonesbury and - I`m bouncing off of what`s happening in
politics. But at the same time, I think what people come back to our show
in the second season and we hope the audience will grow, of course. It`s
because they care about these guys. We`re trying to make the four most
KORNACKI: Well, yeah, so this is actually - this is what you sort of
chosen to focus on here is Washington in the Republican Party in the era of
the Tea Party. Four Republican politicians, sort of professional
Republican politicians who are trying to figure out how to survive in a
party where the Tea Party is now this rising force.
TRUDEAU: Right. The three of the four characters, there`s establishment
Republicans who were sent to Washington in the pre-Ted Cruz era and so they
find themselves under attack from the right, which is an experience that,
you know, unknown to them. And it causes them to examine their principles
and decide just how much they`re willing to change in order to accommodate
this new political reality. That, to me, is inherently more dramatic than
anything that could possibly happen to the Democrats at this point in time.
So, that`s why I chose four Republicans to put in this House, when, in
fact, the real House that it is modeled after - has four Democrats.
KORNACKI: What kind of feedback do you get from Republicans? Have you
talked to Republican, you know, senators, you know, Republican, you know,
members of Congress who said, wow, you got it or, no, it`s nothing like
TRUDEAU: Well, you know, I don`t have that much direct contact with
Washington. I live in New York and rarely go to Washington. But the
feedback we`ve gotten has been very positive. We`ve had no trouble getting
cameos from both Republicans and Democrats. They seem to enjoy the show no
matter what party they`re from.
KORNACKI: Were there certain Republicans you had in mind when you talk
about sort of the Republican establishment figures who are under siege in
this sort of Tea Party era? Whether certain Senators you have - I watch it
and I think I know who some of these characters roughly are. You know, one
of them .
KORNACKI: One of them being Rubio.
TRUDEAU: Yeah, there is some - there are, obviously, some inspirational
starting points. The Andy Guzman character has some, was motivated in part
by Marco Rubio and part by John Edwards. I mean, in the beginning, when
you`re putting together characters, there are those precedents. But you
very quickly forget them and you just kind of try to, you know, build a
character that`s going to resonate. They`re fictional characters. They`re
KORNACKI: Also, Jonathan Alter, who is part of this show with you and he`s
been on our show a number of times. One of the things he said about you
that he sort of likes and respects the most about you, is politically your-
he says you can sort of see where things are going in politics. And I kind
of wonder, given this story line, given the nature of this show, where do
you see, it`s not just on your show, but in American politics, where do you
see the Republican Party and the Tea Party going because we talk about
we`re just in this era of just sort of gridlock right now in Washington
where there is this purity minded movement that has control of the
Republican Party and all these Republican politicians don`t want to get
swallowed up by it. And so, nothing is really happening right now. Do you
see one side winning out in the longer term battle here?
TRUDEAU: Well, I`m not as good a prognosticator as John gives me credit
for, but I guess if you, if you want to know what I hope, what as opposed
to what I think will happen, I think the chess board will get turned over
in two years. At least that`s, you know, everything that I know about
what`s happening. With the national - the upcoming national election. I
would say, that the Republicans kind of need their Goldwater moment, they
need to lose a lot of states in a big way in order for them to find
themselves moving back towards the center. They don`t have their third way
yet. They don`t have their Clinton yet who is going to lead the party back
towards the center. It has to happen and I think it will only happen if
there is a major upset.
KORNACKI: You say, they need the big loss because a lot of people look to
2012 and they said, well, there it was. They all thought they were going
to win. Karl Rove thought they were still going to win, even after they
called (INAUDIBLE), and they say well, at the very least coming out of
2012, the Republicans are going to look at these results and they`ll do
immigration, if nothing else.
KORNACKI: If nothing else. Nothing for two years. 2012 didn`t do it and
we`re sitting here on the eve of the 2014 election and we are saying,
whatever it is, it looks like it`s going to be a pretty good night for
KORNACKI: It is a question of degree at this point.
KORNACKI: Maybe they lose in 2016. But is there enough Republicans can
lose given how polarized the country is right now, do they have enough of
sort of a permanent toll that they can never lose enough for the Tea Party
TRUDEAU: It`s a good question. I think that one of the things that
happened in the primaries last spring was you saw the incumbents prevailing
because they trimmed their sales so much. Not because the moderate or, you
know, the more centrist conservatives were making such a compelling case.
They got to where they moved to the Tea Party. And if everybody does that,
at some point, there is a tipping point where the party has become too
KORNACKI: So, where do you see going - we talked so much about, as you
said, the Republican story, the drama of the Republican Party right now is
a lot richer, I think - Democratic Party. But there is on the Democratic
side, there`s sort of a lot of talk about the Elizabeth Warren wing, sort
of economic populous wing, a lot of talk about Hillary Clinton gets lump
into sort of the Wall Street wing. We are talking about - that`s fair
enough. So, what do you see - when you look at the Democratic Prty right
now, what do you see?
TRUDEAU: Well, I have to tell you, we have Elizabeth Warren on our show in
the new season.
KORNACKI: You made a cameo (ph) from Elizabeth Warren.
TRUDEAU: Well, it`s more than a cameo. I had, usually that`s what you
want to restrict a politician to, is you want to give them a line, sort of
- moment, just to kind of add to the versamility to the show. I just had a
sense that she was, she had a skillset that, you know, might actually
enable us to do more with it. And she turns out is a pretty good actor.
And so, what we gave her a scene with John Goodman. Which she came on to
the set, that was our rock star moment of this year. Our crew, most of
them live in Queens, working class. They just mobbed her.
KORNACKI: Celebrity treatment.
TRUDEAU: Yes, she got the celebrity treatment and was just so impressive
and. That was kind of a wake up for me. I didn`t realize that she had
that kind of grassroots support.
KORNACKI: I mean that is what was happening. Think back to 2005, 2006.
Barack Obama comes into the Senate and starts going to these events and it
didn`t occur to him until he went out there and that kind of thing you`re
describing happened 10 or 20 times. There is a bigger sort of .
TRUDEAU: He had the pilot program. He was selling a book.
TRUDEAU: So, it enabled him to get out.
KORNACKI: She has got the book now, too.
TRUDEAU: She has got the book out, too, and in fact, that was our hook, we
let her come on with the book and they crossed paths at Jake Tapper`s show
pitching various things.
KORNACKI: But so, I mean she says and everybody around her says she`s not
running in 2016. Does it look to you like on the Democratic side it really
is a Hillary Clinton coronation for the nomination?
TRUDEAU: It does. It does. You know it`s .
KORNACKI: You say that - it sounds like resignation.
TRUDEAU: Well, no, it`s not resignation. I`m actually great admirer of
hers. And for a number of reason that don`t get discussed, but one of them
is what, the impact she made as our secretary of state going to the hundred
some odd countries she went to and every place she went, she made a point
of talking about empowering women. And I don`t think that you can
overestimate the impact it made on all those, some of those countries where
women are so disempowered. And she always made a group of linking up with
some group that was working for women. And, you know, we feel like the
feminist conversation is over. It`s not over. It`s still, we`re still
changing in response to it. It`s the greatest social revolution of our
lifetimes. And I felt that years ago when I was first coming out of
college and I started talking to my feminist friends and I thought, this is
going to change the world. And, so, I tracked it very early in the strip.
I have this character named Jonny Caucus (ph) who is named after the
national - and political caucus.
TRUDEAU: And I was there, I was their first mail member and I thought,
this is the story of our century. This is the story and I think, you know,
her - she embodies it.
KORNACKI: You are also, while you`re doing "Alpha House" you are on -
pretty much on extended leave from Doonesbury. You are doing this Sunday .
TRUDEAU: I`m doing this Sundays.
TRUDEAU: Right. And what we announced last February was that I was
stepping aside from the daily strip and that I would be returning to it
after the life of the show. So, we have to see how the show plays out.
We`ll probably know whether the show is picked up in fairly quick fashion.
KORNACKI: Do you miss it? Do you miss having a daily outlet for you -
something in the news .
TRUDEAU: I guess - I don`t. But you know, I did trade one kind of
pressure for another. Before it was all self-imposed. I just had to meet
a weekly deadline and I was the only one who suffered, if I came too close.
I`ve now gone from a life of being by myself in my studio to having 120
teammates. It`s a very different kind of responsibility. And I was doing
a lot more writing of the show than I had anticipated. So, I was really
playing, you know, I had both roles. I have this both the producer and the
writer of it. So, that is a different kind of pressure. But the day-to-
day pressure of the strip I can`t say I miss a lot.
KORNACKI: Will you go back to it? Are you confident you will eventually
go back to it day-to-day?
TRUDEAU: I don`t know. I don`t know
KORNACKI: Do you hear from a lot of fans right now, so, who miss it?
TRUDEAU: Well, what we`ve sent out what we call classics, Doonesbury
classics. And a particularly long-time readers seem to be enjoying
revisiting the characters.
TRUDEAU: And we tried to strip away the minutia of everyday politics from
the classic strips. We just mostly do the ones that had to do with
character development. When I did retrospective of the strip a couple of
years ago, it was called Doonesbury 40. And it was 40 years of the strip.
I took out almost all of that stuff. It is a huge book, but I took out
most of the political, you know, ephemeral events and no one seemed to
notice because they really want to revisit that for the characters. Not
because they want to relive Watergate.
KORNACKI: Right. Right. All right. Garry Trudeau, second season "Alpha
House" for coming by today, I appreciate it.
TRUDEAU: Thank you.
KORNACKI: And that second season of "Alpha House" start streaming this
Friday on Amazon. So, plan ahead for your binge watching. All right
another full hour of news and politics straight ahead. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: No end in sight in the war on terrorism.
Thanks for staying with us. We`re in the middle of a busy Sunday morning
here. Dr. Howard Dean, MD, he`s going to be on to talk about efforts to
contain the spread of Ebola here in the United States. Pulitzer Prize
winning reporter James Risen is also standing by to discuss national
security, government accountability, and freedom of the press. Plus, we
have a snazzy new toy that will help us try to figure out what is going to
happen in the late-night hours of election night and maybe in the days,
weeks and even months after. It`s like the world`s biggest iPad.
But we`ll begin this hour with the latest developments in America`s newest
de facto war. With U.S. military forces conducting at least 15 air strikes
this weekend against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. This is the latest in
what have now been weeks of strikes in Syria. Two months now since they
began in Iraq. President Obama is the fourth consecutive U.S. president to
authorize military action in Iraq, and with this new open-ended campaign
against ISIS, the next president, whoever he or she is, is likely to become
the fifth. One writer exploring the United States` justifications for and
conduct during its military campaigns is a "New York Times" James Risen,
who won a Pulitzer Prize for revealing the NSA`s warrantless wiretapping
program under the Bush administration. His new book, "Pay Any Price:
Greed, Power and Endless War" deals with what he says are the profound
consequences of how we, our government, how presidents from both parties
have responded to the threat of terrorism since 9/11.
There is another element to James Risen`s story, too, though, because James
Risen himself is part of that story, part of that response. In 2006, he
revealed a botched CIA scheme to disrupt Iran`s nuclear program with flawed
blueprints, and the government is now prosecuting the former CIA agent,
Jeffrey Sterling, the person it believes provided that information to
Risen, and a legal battle is playing out about whether Risen could be
forced to testify. The case went to the Supreme Court this June and Risen
lost, and now the Justice Department has to decide whether it will subpoena
Risen as a witness in Sterling`s trial, and what to do if Risen then
refuses to cooperate, which is what he is saying he will do.
No one knows what will happen here. According to the New York Times
earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder told a group of
journalists, quote, "as long as I`m attorney general, no reporter who is
doing his job is going to go to jail. As long as I`m attorney general,
someone who is doing their job is not going to get prosecuted." But Justice
Department officials also stress those comments were not about any
particular case and were general in nature. And Risen`s status is still
very much in limbo. Will he be called? Will he be prosecuted and will he
face jail time? The case of James Risen has become a major test of press
freedom in the war on terror era.
James Risen joins us now from Washington. Thank you for taking the time
this morning. I want to talk about your case at the end, but I want to
talk about the book. The world you`re talking about, the country you`re
talking about, America in the post-9/11 era. You are talking a lot here
about the consequences, a lot of unintended consequences of the open-ended
war that was launched on 9/11. What do you think is the most significant
consequence that we living here in America day-to-day, what is the most
significant consequence of what our country has been doing overseas in our
JAMES RISEN, NEW YORK TIMES: I think one of the things that is so hard for
people here to realize is that we are -- have been at continuous war for 13
years. And really in an era when -- the first era when we had a classified
war. Basically, the entire war on terror has been conducted in secret, and
no one in the United States is allowed to know the full extent of what
we`ve been doing for 13 years. And that`s really why I wrote this book is
in order to try to show that secrecy, that the government has used secrecy
in order to allow for, you know, really a whole string of abuses and
bizarre and unintended consequences to develop. And it shows that really,
in my opinion, that secrecy only leads to abuse by the government, and that
we have to have a more open discussion of the war on terror. And really,
have a more skeptical eye towards it if we`re going to continue to do this.
KORNACKI: Do you think, do you think our country, do you think Americans
want that discussion? Or do you think they`re happy with the secrecy
because they don`t want to think about it?
RISEN: That would be pretty sad if Americans want to continue the longest
continuous period of war in their history and not to even think about it.
What I like to say is that what Dick Cheney, when Dick Cheney said the
gloves come off, what he really meant was we were deregulating national
security. We were taking off all the rules and regulations we have had on
the way we conduct foreign policy and national security. And at the same
time, we poured hundreds of billions of dollars into this, and we have had
essentially like a national security crisis. Kind of like the banking
crisis, where we`ve deregulated a large enterprise and poured hundreds of
billions of dollars into it at the same time. And we`ve done it in secret.
And if that`s not a lot like the banking crisis, I don`t know what is.
Yet, no one is really thinking about it in those terms or talking about it,
because the government has clamped -- stamped top secret on virtually
KORNACKI: The broad defense I think of the system that you`re talking
about in this book, you`re talking about in this show today. The broad
defense would be this, everybody can remember or most people can remember
9/11, they can remember watching the towers fall, they can remember
watching the Pentagon, they can remember the death toll. We commemorate it
every year in this country. What a horrible, traumatic event that was for
the whole country, what an awful tragedy it was, and since 9/11, there
hasn`t been anything like that in this country, so, therefore, this has
RISEN: Yeah, that`s the argument that the government likes to use. I
think what happened was after 9/11, we started out on a kind of a search
for justice or a search for retribution or whatever you want to say that we
were trying to do on 9/11. Today it`s become a search for cash and power
and status for a whole class of people who have followed the gold rush that
has happened in Washington. I mean, Washington, this has been really one
of the largest transfers of wealth in American history. We`ve had about $4
trillion poured into the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the larger war on
terror, and the whole class of people began to realize that if you wanted
to make money in the post-9/11 world, you came to Washington. You called
yourself a counterterrorism expert, and you began to claim that you know
how to find Osama bin Laden or you know how to stop al Qaeda.
So we`ve had this dramatic increase in a whole mercenary class that is now
becoming a permanent part of a national security state. And I think that
is something that the American people have to begin to think about. Is
that something we really want, to have kind of a mercenary class that feeds
off unending war and makes sure that the United States never stops finding
new threat to go after?
KORNACKI: I want to ask you in the time we have left here about your case,
about this CIA leaks case. As we said, the Department of Justice,
President Obama`s Department of Justice has to make a decision here about
whether they are going to call you and if you say no, what they`re going to
do. This has been playing out for a while. The president weighed in over
the summer when the events in Ferguson were unfolding a while back. He
weighed in, and there were journalists who were taken into custody during
that, and he spoke out about that, and a lot of people thought it was a
little ironic, given your case, what he was saying. I want to play what he
said and have you respond to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying
or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs. And report
to the American people on what they see on the ground. Put simply, we all
need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in
positions of authority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: James, what is your reaction when you hear that?
RISEN: Well, I think Obama`s record on press freedom speaks for itself.
He`s prosecuted and jailed and targeted more whistle-blowers and
journalists than all previous presidents combined, and I think he is the
greatest enemy of press freedom that we`ve had in a generation. And I
think it`s -- I don`t quite understand how the United States, which has
been a model of press freedom throughout our history, wants to go down the
road of having -- losing that status and allowing dictators around the
world to crack down on reporters and journalists and be able to say, well,
if the United States does it, why can`t we?
KORNACKI: All right, my thanks to James Risen, author of "Pay Any Price"
for joining me this morning. And again, his case, this is a very important
case when it comes to the subject of press freedom, especially at this
point in our history. Appreciate you taking the time this morning. Thank
you very much.
RISEN: Thanks for having me.
KORNACKI: We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: Turning now to efforts to contain the Ebola crisis. Earlier
this morning, a cruise ship carrying a lab technician who handled samples
from Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan arrived in Galveston, Texas. That is
where NBC`s Kerry Sanders is standing by live with more. Kerry, what is
the latest there?
KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. That is the cruise ship
over my shoulder. It`s the Carnival cruise ship "Magic" came in just
before sunrise here this morning. 4,000 passengers onboard, but really,
all the attention on one passenger who had been in isolation. This is a
woman who worked in the lab and actually handled some of the samples, some
of the bodily fluids from Thomas Eric Duncan. He is the Ebola patient who
came to the United States and died.
The good news this morning is that the passengers have been told that that
passenger, who was in isolation here, who worked in the lab, had her blood
tested and it came back negative. It`s been some anxious moments, though,
for those onboard. 4,000 passengers, 1,400 crew members who had been at
sea here for seven days on what they thought was an escape from the real
world on a vacation, but instead, when then they heard that one of the
passengers had worked closely with Ebola products or bodily fluids, things
kind of changed. Some people say it was always in the back of their mind,
even though they had a pretty good feeling that things would turn out okay.
Perhaps the most troubling, passengers say, was when the cruise ship was
headed to Cozumel in Mexico, and the Mexican government told them the ship
could not come ashore. That to them told them maybe it was a little more
But the end of the story here is, those passengers who went on that cruise
are being told they can get off and continue with their lives. They`re not
going to be in isolation, there is no quarantines, and that the end of this
cruise is a happy one. Turns out, that the hashtag that some of the people
onboard had been calling this, the Ebola cruise, was wrong. It`s the no
Ebola cruise. Steve.
KORNACKI: That`s some good news there. Thanks to Kerry Sanders for
joining us from Galveston. That is a giant cruise ship, too. I`ve never
actually been on one of those, but just looking at that shot, that is
gigantic. Anyway, thank you, Kerry. We will discuss the medical and
political implications of Ebola when we come back. We`ll be joined by
former DNC chairman, former Vermont governor, presidential candidate, you
know him, he is also a physician, Howard Dean. He`s next.
KORNACKI: As NBC`s Kerry Sanders just reported from the cruise terminal in
Galveston, Texas, the blood sample of that isolated Carnival passenger has
come back negative. The government`s slow, if not botched response to the
Ebola crisis here in the U.S. has come under the microscope this week. It
is even threatening to have an impact on the upcoming midterms. And when
it comes to discussing what is going, there is no one I`d rather talk to
about it than our next guest, because before he was the chairman of the
Democratic Party, before he was the governor of Vermont, before he ran for
president, Dr. Howard Dean was also a doctor in Vermont. So Howard Dean
joins us now from Vermont. I appreciate you taking the time this morning.
So I guess I`ll start with this. There was a story in "New York Times"
yesterday that got a lot of attention. It was one of these sort of insider
accounts of how the president has been dealing with the Ebola crisis.
Basically, this "New York times" account basically says people around Obama
are saying he was seething mad with the response of the government, with -
of his government, of the CDC, and basically when he found out that that
passenger had traveled by plane from Ohio, who should not have been on
there, it sort of changed his approach on that. Should he be seething mad?
Should we be seething mad at how the government responded to this?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: I don`t think so. Especially the
federal government. I think the hospital response in Texas was not so
great. To refuse to admit a middle-aged man with 103 temperature, an eight
out of ten abdominal pain, leaving aside the fact that he actually told
someone he had been in West Africa and that somehow didn`t get
communicated. That was a major screw up, there is no question about that.
On the other hand, there is a fair amount of hysteria probably fanned by
the Republicans for election purposes. For example, I`d like to know more
details about this guy that Kerry reported on from Galveston. If he was
properly gowned up, handling a blood sample, there is no excuse for not
letting them -- the ship dock or any of this hysteria. If that`s not the
case, then there is, obviously, another breakdown.
The bottom line is this, Steve, the CDC, I think, is on top of this. They
understand that all these patients should be taken care of in one of the
four centers in America that really know how to do this well, and that is
now the case, as to my understanding. Omaha has one. The CDC in Atlanta
has one. And Bethesda, the NIH has one. That`s where these patients
should be. There is also another one apparently in Montana, which doesn`t
KORNACKI: I think there`s a total of like nine. Do you think we have
enough? I mean, there`s only a couple of cases right now, but if we were to
get 15, 20, do we have enough? Are we prepared enough do you think on that
DEAN: I think we are. I think, first of all, it`s unlikely. This is not
as contagious a disease as the press is making out and as some of the whack
jobs in the Republicans are talking about ISIS coming across with Ebola,
the Mexican border. You really have to question the sanity of some of
these people who were elected to office.
So, it`s not how it goes. The biggest glaring mistake I think the federal
government has made, we`re not clear who did this, is the nurse that flew
on the Frontier Airlines flight should not have done that. And she
apparently got permission from a federal official. I`d like to know more
about that. But I think one mid-level federal official making a mistake is
not a total collapse on the part of the federal government. By and large,
I think the CDC has done a good job.
KORNACKI: Let me ask you this. There is this intersection of politics
with the midterm elections barely a little over two weeks away and this,
and whether or not we like it, the politics will get tangled up in this.
The thing that has been jumping out at me is this. We listen to the health
experts, and they say this idea of a travel ban, of trying to restrict
people from West Africa coming into the United States and travel between
the two. This idea, actually, they say, is counterproductive. At the same
time, this has been the refrain. It started with Republicans saying why
isn`t there a travel ban? Why isn`t there a travel ban? Late this week it
sort of verged into Democrats. Democrats are now saying the same thing.
Especially these red state Democrats that are up this year. If this
reaches a point, we were talking about this on the show yesterday, if this
reaches a point where the politics of this almost necessitate the
administration to impose some kind of travel ban, how much -- how much
trouble is that going to cause, just given what the health professionals
are saying about this?
DEAN: It is going to cause a lot of trouble if we do it. It`s not a
terrible thing, it`s just not smart. Here`s why. First of all, the travel
ban will almost certainly be ineffective. Don`t forget, there are no
direct flights from West Africa from these three countries to the United
States. None. Nigeria and Senegal are now off the list. There are now
only three countries on the list that have an Ebola epidemic right now, and
none of them have direct flights to the United States, which means they`ve
got to go through someplace else, which means that now you have two travel
bans. You are going to have a travel ban for anybody from Europe. This is
going to be hard. It`s hard to enforce.
Secondly, this is the most important thing I`m going to say in this
appearance. If we don`t snuff out Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and
Guinea, we have an enormous problem for the world. The real problem is not
in the United States. The real problem is in West Africa. This is not
going to go away unless we can get our resources over there and stop it.
Otherwise it will be (inaudible) of infection for the whole world, and that
will cause a problem.
Suppose this gets into another country without the kind of sanitation and
public health that we have here. Suppose this gets into Asia, suppose this
gets into some of the other African countries. Suppose this gets into
Ukraine or someplace where there is a war going on. Then we have a problem
that is a worldwide major epidemic of a deadly virus. So it behooves us to
make sure that we can travel back and forth to West Africa with people who
know what they`re doing to stop this epidemic.
KORNACKI: Howard Dean, former Vermont governor, Dr. Howard Dean. We
appreciate you taking some time this morning. Thank you very much.
DEAN: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Up next, it is like geek Christmas morning here at "UP." I get
to break out a new toy for election night now. A little more than two
weeks away. I`ll show you what that is, next.
KORNACKI: OK. 16 days now until the election. Which means 16 days until
we finally found out the answer to the biggest political question of 2014.
Will the Democrats hang on to the U.S. Senate or will the Republicans take
it over? But, actually, we admit it, because maybe we won`t know the answer
to that 16 days from now, because there is a chance, there is a chance that
the drama will only be starting on the night of November 4th and won`t be
resolved for days, for weeks, and maybe not even until next year. We are
going to show you why, we`re going to use this map to show you why.
This is what the Senate battleground looks like right now. These are the
11 states. You see them in yellow here, where there is some real suspense
about what is going to happen on election night.
You probably know the basics here. If Republicans get to 51, they`ll
control the Senate. The Democrats only need to get to 50, because Joe
Biden is the vice president, who would break any tie. Now, there is a
million different scenarios for what could possibly happen on election
night. But for our purposes, we`ll try to narrow down the battleground a
little bit here, just to show you how much longer this could go past
We`re taking the RealClearPolitics polling averages in these 11
battleground states, and let`s see, let`s go through a few of them right
now where somebody seems to be ahead by, I don`t want to say a big amount,
but a fairly significant amount. New Hampshire, here is the perfect
example. The average of all the polls in New Hampshire. This isn`t just
one poll where you have got the margin of error and there is a little bit
of uncertainty. This is the average of every poll, and it shows Jeanne
Shaheen running 3.5 points ahead of Republican Scott Brown. So Scott Brown
could certainly still win this race, but for our purposes right now, where
we`re just trying to narrow this battleground a little bit, we`re going to
say New Hampshire is going blue right now, just in this moment. Consider
this a Sunday morning exercise.
Same thing in North Carolina. A little closer in the average, but Hagan
has consistently led. The Democratic incumbent there. She`s consistently
led Thom Tillis the Republican. A point and a half in North Carolina.
Arkansas, a more significant lead here. Again, in the polling average,
nearly four points for the challenger. This would be a Republican pickup,
Tom Cotton over the incumbent, Mark Pryor.
You move on to Kentucky. Again, a fairly substantial lead there in the
average of all polls for Mitch McConnell, nearly four points over Alison
Grimes, so again we`re saying in our academic exercise here, we`re saying
we`re going to make Kentucky red.
And then that brings you to Colorado, another Republican challenger here
who is ahead by three points in the polling average. Now, right now
Democrats this weekend have began promoting some of their own polling,
saying that Udall is basically tied, maybe even slightly ahead in this
race, but in the average of all the public polls, the nonpartisan polls
that had been taken in this race, you have Cory Gardner ahead by an average
of three points. So again, this very volatile race right here, but for our
purposes right now, we`ll put this one as a red state on election night.
Let`s see what happens when we apply these assumptions and we try to narrow
the battlefield a little bit. That would make New Hampshire blue. That
was Maine. Maine is going to stay in Susan Collins` camp. We`re going to
make New Hampshire blue. There we go. We`re going to make North Carolina
blue, OK, and then we`ll make a couple red here, we`re saying seeing
Kentucky, McConnell seems to be surviving right now. Could change. For
right now we`ll make it red, same thing in Arkansas and the same thing in
Now, that would bring us to this situation, 47 for Republicans, 45 for the
Democrats, and it would leave this is what the battlefield would then look
like. Six unassigned seats.
This is where things start to get interesting. Let`s think ahead to
election night and think how things might be playing out here. Again,
we`re trying to get to 51 for the Republicans and 50 for the Democrats.
Now, right now, South Dakota is a big wildcard here. This is a crazy
three-way race. Mike Rounds the Republican, Larry Pressler the
independent, Rick Weiland, the Democrat, a very fluid race, but still, if
you look at the polling average there, Rounds the Republican continues to
lead. This is a big wild card, but we`re going to tentatively move it over
to the Republican side right here. Still look at this and you see another
one, Iowa. This is Jonie Ernst the Republican, Bruce Braley, the Democrat.
This is a Democratic seat. Tom Harkin`s retiring. Very narrow, very
narrow race right now, but Ernest has had a small lead for the last month.
So, again, if we move that tentatively into the Republican side, we could
be looking at something like this on election night, 49 for the
Republicans. Now, they`re getting close.
Now, think about what would happen late on election night. Look at all of
these states and consider that in Georgia, Georgia is a runoff state. The
winner in November has to get 50 percent or there is a runoff, and this
seems to happen in Georgia fairly frequently. Both candidates will get
close to 50, and a third-party candidate, usually a libertarian, will grab
3 or 4 percent and force a runoff, which would be a month later. Right now
that is what the polls are telling us is going to happen in Georgia. That
is where Michelle Nunn is running against the Republican, David Perdue.
Louisiana, this is another runoff state. They have a jungle primary in
Louisiana. Everybody, either party, runs in the same ballot together. If
nobody gets 50 percent, they have a runoff. It does not look like Mary
Landrieu, the incumbent, will get to 50. Doesn`t look like any of the
Republicans are going to get to 50 on election day. That will force the
runoff. The runoff in Louisiana will be December 6th, and then that will
Now, Alaska is a state that takes a long time. Very kind of remote state,
rural state. Takes a long time to get the results in from Alaska usually.
In 2008, in fact, when Mark Begich, the Democrat who now represents Alaska
was elected, it wasn`t until about two weeks after election day that the
Republican Ted Stevens actually conceded in that race. It could be a long
time to get results in Alaska.
And then Kansas, of course, Kansas is the most suspenseful state I think on
the map this year. Pat Roberts, the Republican incumbent, Greg Orman the
independent challenger, no Democrat in that race, remember. Polls there
are basically dead even right now. So, there`s a lot of possibilities
here. Republicans need to win two of these if they want to get to 51. So,
let`s say that Begich will lose in Alaska. He is trailing in the polls
there. Alaska is a very tough state to poll. But he is trailing. It`s a
very Republican state. He won by the smallest possible margin in 2008 in
the best possible circumstances. Worse climate for a Democrat now. So, if
they were to get, if the Republicans were to take that let`s say late at
night on election night, that would put them at 50 and they would be one
But then look at all the suspense. Let`s say there is runoff in Georgia.
The runoff in Georgia is not until January of 2015, January 6th of next
year. The Louisiana runoff, not until December of this year, December
2014. And then Kansas, let`s say Pat Roberts does not win in Kansas. If
Greg Orman the independent wins there, then at any moment he could say, I`m
going to caucus with the Republicans, that would give them 51. But what
Greg Orman is probably going to do, if this is the scenario that plays out
on election night, is he`s going to wait. He`ll wait to see what happens
in Louisiana and wait to see what happens in Georgia, because let`s say in
the Louisiana runoff, that Mary Landrieu survives. She has been taken the
runoffs before and she has survived in 2002. Let`s say that were to
happen. That would give the Democrats 46 and now, remember, there is two
independents right now also, Angus King from Maine and Bernie Sanders from
Vermont who caucus with the Democrats. That would put the Democrats at 48.
Then you go to Georgia. Early January. Let`s say the Democrats were to
win that. Michelle Nunn were to beat David Perdue. David Perdue has
become very vulnerable because of his comments on outsourcing and his
record on outsourcing. So let`s say Michelle Nunn, the Democrat, wins
Georgia, Democratic pickup. That`s 47. You add in those two independents
that I just mentioned, 49. And now look where we are. It`s next January,
the Senate`s reconvening, they have just held the runoff in Georgia, the
Democrats are one seat away, the Republicans are one seat away, and then
that`s when Greg Orman has his dream scenario. Both parties are depending
on him, both parties are begging with him, pleading with him, offering him
anything. Does he go with the Republicans, gives them 51, gives them the
majority. Does he go with the Democrats? Gives them 50. Gives them the
majority. Joe Biden breaks the tie. That is the scenario. That is one of
the scenarios. Again, there is about 20 million of them right now. But
that`s one of the scenarios where November 4th, the big suspenseful
climatic election night is just the beginning. Or maybe it will be a short
election night. Anyway, we thought that we`d share that with you. A lot
more of these to come in the next few weeks.
KORNACKI: All right, we just ran through one of the 28 gazillion
hypothetical scenarios that are out there about what might actually be
happening on election night, because in reality, we`re not sure. This
really is the most suspenseful election we`ve had in a long time. We don`t
actually know what is going to happen. Once upon a time, you would look at
a poll though if you did want to know what was happening in an election,
and it would be pretty obvious who was ahead, who was behind, if it was
dead even. There might be a couple of polls taken during a campaign,
they`d all be pretty good benchmarks for how things were going.
But then a few years ago we started getting a lot of polls. Suddenly,
everybody was out here taking polls on every race all the time, and
sometimes coming up with wildly conflicting results. Just think back two
years ago to this exact time. There was a poll two years ago this October
that showed Mitt Romney moving into the lead, pulling ahead of President
Obama by two points. Momentum for Romney. And then the next day, there
was one that put Obama ahead by two points. So because there were so many
polls, people started to combine them all, to average them together. The
polling average, it is a smarter way to understand exactly where a race
stands at any given moment.
But then some really smart people decided they would take it a step
further. They started using all of this polling data, but also adding in
demographic information, historical trends, other variables in order to
create their own unique formulas. These are formulas that are designed to
forecast how elections are going to turn out.
Nate Silver is probably the most famous for doing this. "Huffington Post"
does it, too. The "Washington Post, "the New York Times," they have their
own formulas. They are the meteorologists of politics. They forecast how
elections are going to turn out.
Someone else who is doing this is Sam Wong. He is a neuroscientist and
professor at Princeton, and about a decade ago he started creating his own
election forecasting model. In 2012 he really made a name for himself. He
correctly predicted all 33 Senate races that year. It was better than even
Nate Silver did. Wong and Silver have sparred in a heated rivalry in
recent weeks. Silver`s called Wong`s methodology wrong and his predictions
deceptive. Wong has said, "I guess when you`re the king of the nerds, you
have to be willing to engage in a little trash talk." This war of words
has erupted over Silver`s objections to Wong`s forecasting model. Some are
calling this the great nerd fight of 2014. For the record right now
neither Silver`s nor Wong`s forecasts are that bullish on the Democrats`
chances of hanging on to the Senate. Wong currently puts the odds of the
Democrats ending up with 50 or more seats at 30 percent.
So, where does that number come from? Is it likely to change? What is the
great nerd fight of 2014 all about anyway? Here to tell us is Sam Wong. He
is, excuse me, a neuroscientist at Princeton and runs the Princeton
Election Consortium. Thank you for joining us this morning, I appreciate
SAM WONG, PRINCETON ELECTION CONSORTIUM: Thank you, Steve, for having me
KORNACKI: So let`s start with this bottom line number. In the segment
before this, I was running through all sorts of scenarios. But so 50 or
more for Democrats, 50 with Joe Biden breaking the tie there, magic number.
You are currently putting that at 30 percent probability, if I`m reading
WONG: Yes. So the important thing to think about there in that segment,
you identified the knife edge states perfectly, the states that are
extremely close. But there are tremendous uncertainties involved, and I
think -- let`s just talk about the intuition of probability. 70 percent
probability of Republicans taking over is like a 70 percent forecast of
rain. In other words, you might want to take out an umbrella, but, in
fact, you might be ready to not use the umbrella in the end. So, those six
states that you identified, it turns out the history of polling, polling
medians which we use at election.princeton.edu or polling averages at
RealClearPolitics, the odds of all six of those frontrunners winning who
are currently in the lead by three points or less, the odds are 200-1
against all six of the frontrunners.
KORNACKI: You are saying there is likely to be a surprise?
WONG: What I`m saying is just those six states, there`s 64 possibilities.
You add in one or two more states that could go either way. We`re talking
about 256 possibilities, and so there are lots of combinations. When I
calculate that probability that you just talked about, that takes into
account all the possibilities, but midterm polling is actually remarkably
bad compared with presidential years. And it`s possible for all the polls
to be off by up to three points in either direction. So, I would say that
there is a huge amount of suspense.
KORNACKI: That`s something I want to ask you about. I was reading this
from I think a pollster the other day, who was saying this is now possible
in this era. I wonder what you think of this. Everybody is doing these
polling averages now. They`re not paying as much attention to one
individual poll. They want to combine them together. You guys are
factoring in averages. Is there now an incentive and are you seeing junk
polls that are being put out intentionally to skew the averages?
WONG: That is a great question. First thing I`ll say is the apparent
agreement between the upshot (ph) Washington Post 538 and now the Princeton
Election Consortium, the agreement is driven in large part by the fact that
we`re using the same polling data. If the polls are off by a few points,
we`ll all be wrong in the same direction.
So to your question about junk polling, I think it`s important to have good
statistical methods to try to address that. We use the median, which
doesn`t even involve arithmetics, so if you take all the polls and put them
in a row and just take the value that is in the center, right? So if you
have a range of polls for say for North Carolina Senate and you arrange
them in order and you take the middle one, that`s more resistant to these
junky polls than taking the average. I think it`s really important to keep
in mind that, for instance, anyone who is leading by three points or less
right now, there is a one in three chance that that person will end up
losing on election night.
KORNACKI: Have you seen, now, over, maybe a month or two ago the story
with you and this whole Nate Silver thing was erupting. Your bottom line
number, that 30 percent number I just gave, was a lot higher for Democrats
back then, and it was the most optimistic for them out there, and that`s
why it was getting a lot of attention, I think. Have you seen national
conditions change or conditions in these individual states change in a way
that hurts them in the last month or so?
WONG: The way I would put it is when you`re one or two months out from the
elections, these predictions are highly assumption dependent, and if you
look at what Nate Silver was saying and what I was saying, we were only
different by about two seats. And so remember that in 2012, he called two
races incorrectly on election eve, and I got them all right. So those two
missed calls, who knows who will make those missed calls, him or me or
neither of us. But two little missed calls this year could make a huge
difference. So the difference between us is not that great, but with
Senate control right on the knife edge, these differences start looking
KORNACKI: What is of all the Senate races right now, the battlegrounds,
what is the toughest to predict right now?
WONG: Oh, gosh, I think Iowa is really tough to predict. Individual
voters in Iowa are 100 times as powerful as voters in my home state, New
Jersey, and that`s going to be, you know, it looks like it is going to be
won by just--
KORNACKI: 100 times more powerful than what?
WONG: One way to quantify this thing is I have this little thing I
calculated called Jersey votes. Which is how powerful are voters in
influencing the control of the Senate? If you calculate, as we do at
election.princeton.edu, if you calculate how powerful an Iowa voter is,
those voters, each one of them is 100 times is as powerful in influencing
the balance of the Senate than my vote.
KORNACKI: Because there is suspense in Iowa and New Jersey is a safe blue
WONG: Right. So people in Minnesota, where Al Franken is going to win.
What they should do is vote, if they like, and then get down to Iowa. That
would be a smart move for them if they really cared about the outcome.
KORNACKI: This is the same thing as the presidential race. 42 states
pretty much off limits, go to those eight that really matter.
WONG: This year there is a record number of states that are on the edge.
Usually three or four races are within 3 points. This year the polls are
showing something like half a dozen.
KORNACKI: There`s more apathy out there, I feel, than there has been in
the past, but the suspense this year is higher than we`ve seen in any
recent election. Anyway, thanks to Princeton University`s Sam Wong and
hope to have you back before the election, and probably after, too.
Appreciate you being on this morning.
Keeping up with the same-sex marriage map and the latest battleground in
the culture wars. That`s ahead.
KORNACKI: We just talked about how Kansas and South Dakota are in play
this year. That`s something we would have never thought was likely last
year, and it wasn`t that long ago you would have thought it was impossible
that same-sex couples would be getting married in Arizona, and yet this
week same-sex couples were applying for marriage licenses in that state.
The amazing pace of that change is so fast these days, it`s hard to keep up
with. It looks like Wyoming could be next. A federal judge struck down
its ban late Friday. The ruling is on hold for now as state officials
Ahead of that ruling, in a debate this week, Wyoming`s Republican governor,
Matt Mead, was asked what he would do if the court ruled his way. His
response was this, quote, "the answer is no, I don`t think we should appeal
the ruling." That`s the Republican governor of Wyoming, up for re-election
in a little more than two weeks in a very red state, seeming to give up on
the fight against same-sex marriage.
Here`s the map. Just two weeks ago, we were telling you about same-sex
marriage rights reaching half the states. Now they`re active in almost
two-thirds of the states, 32 of them in all, and there are three states on
deck where federal circuit courts have declared marriage bans
unconstitutional. So you have some Republicans, like the governor of
Wyoming, who seem to be backing off. You have other Republicans, like Mike
Huckabee, who at the same time are saying they want to fight this to the
end. And this fight within the Republican Party can be traced back in many
ways 50 years, to the 1964 convention in San Francisco. That`s where
conservative Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater was nominated with Republican
governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, was literally shouted down on the
floor. Liberal to moderate Republican voices like Rockefeller`s have been
drowned out over the years, drowned out by those like Ronald Reagan, who
said in his 1980 inaugural address famously that government is not the
solution to our problem, government is the problem. Of course today
Reagan`s policies might be seen as too moderate for some in the Republican
Party. Some would say he could be Nelson Rockefeller today.
Nelson Rockefeller believed in the government`s ability to solve problems
for its citizens. He was an activist Republican, his own brand of
Republicanism, literally Rockefeller Republicanism it was called. So how
do those Republicans fit into today`s party? Are they even left? Joining me
now is the renowned presidential historian, Richard Norton Smith, he is the
author of the new book "On His Own Terms: the Life of Nelson Rockefeller"
that lands in bookstores on Tuesday. Richard, thank you for taking the
time this morning.
This is one of the refrains people hear in politics without even knowing
necessarily much about Nelson Rockefeller. We hear about the old
Rockefeller Republicans, they`re all gone, they`re extinct, they are
leaving the party right now. Tell us a little about what that term means.
What does the term "Rockefeller Republican" mean to you?
RICHARD NORTON SMITH, AUTHOR: In a nutshell, it had two components.
Fiscal responsibility, the idea that everything began with a strong,
vibrant, private sector, and social liberalism. So that, for example,
Nelson Rockefeller in his time was ahead of the curve on civil rights, not
only in terms of other Republicans but of the Kennedy administration. He
was close personally to Dr. King. He financially supported King at
critical moments like the Birmingham crusade, and of course later on, he
helped organize and pay for Dr. King`s funeral.
But then you jump several years later, the issue of abortion. Nelson
Rockefeller`s arguments in favor of in effect abortion on demand, which is
what the New York legislature came up with in 1970, were cited by the
justices in the Roe v. Wade case. So that element of social liberalism,
you know, obviously there`s an element of surmise (ph). I have enough
trouble trying to understand the past without predicting the future, but
you can draw a line from the `60s to the modern era, and you can envision
where Rockefeller Republicans would be on issues like gay rights. However,
it`s also -- to be fair, let`s be fair to Barry Goldwater. There is a
libertarian streak in the Republican Party. Remember, before his death,
Senator Goldwater became an outspoken champion of gay rights. He just
couldn`t bring the religious right and more traditional conservatives with
KORNACKI: Yeah, no, and that`s very interesting. Especially Barry
Goldwater late in his life was a very interesting -- he was always an
interesting character, but he was really interesting late in his life. It
wasn`t just gay rights, it was a whole slew of cultural issues, and he was
very outspoken in his objection to where the religious right, the rise of
the evangelical right, was taking the Republican Party. That`s what I`m
kind of curious about then. We look at Nelson Rockefeller, governor of New
York for 14 years, vice president of the United States, tried a bunch of
times to become president. We`re basically saying we hear now that that
wing of the Republican Party is extinct, that it`s been overtaken by those
Christian evangelical conservatives from the South. Do you share that
SMITH: I don`t think it`s extinct, nothing is extinct. I share the
cyclical view. The fact of the matter is, that -- before there were
Rockefeller Republicans, there were Eisenhower Republicans and Theodore
Roosevelt Republicans. In other words, there is that school of what one
might call progressive conservatism that believes that particularly when
income inequality, social inequalities, does that sound familiar? Does that
sound contemporary? When they become too great, it is the role of the
conservative, it`s the role of those who are the greatest advocates of the
private sector to rethink, if you will, to be imaginative, to be assertive,
to come up with programs that narrow those gaps. Otherwise, as Rockefeller
said, as FDR said, you run the risk of revolution.
KORNACKI: You know, it`s so interesting too when you think back to Nelson
Rockefeller`s time, the governor of New York. And you remember Republicans
competed for New York. They competed for big blue states, big states with
urban centers. It doesn`t seem like that happens anymore.
SMITH: In the early 1960s, Nelson Rockefeller traveled around the country
and very proudly pointed out the fact if you look at the numbers, New York
State was the second most Republican state in America. After Kansas.
Republicans controlled both houses of the legislature, they had a majority
of House members, they had both Senate seats, and of course they had a
sitting governor. It doesn`t get much more Republican than that.
KORNACKI: It`s amazing. And now it doesn`t get much more Democratic than
KORNACKI: And the whole northeast. You can go to my state of
Massachusetts, similar thing. You don`t see the Bill Weld Republicans that
My thanks to Richard Norton Smith. His new book comes out Tuesday. Thank
you for joining us. We`re going to be back next weekend, Saturday, Sunday
morning 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. Coming up next, Melissa Harris-Perry.
We`ll see you next week here on "UP." Thank you for joining us.
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI