Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: November 2, 2014
Guest: Sam Wang, Nina Turner, Katon Dawson, Christina Greer, Dorie Clark,
Darnell Moore, Michael Tubbs
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question. Can Democrats
translate an improved economy into Election Day wins?
Plus, shaming as campaign strategy?
And Ohio`s Nina Turner comes to Nerdland.
But first, all politics is local. And for me, that means North Carolina
come on and raise up.
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
The polls close in these midterm elections in two short days. Now, the
midterms have been hard for us in national media. It`s difficult to wrap
our heads around the midterms unless you`re a Steve Kornacki because not
all politics in fact are always local.
But in years like this, all elections are also local. No one could expect
any one person to keep up with all the personalities and issues and
commercials in 435 House races and 36 Senate races and 36 governor`s races,
not to mention the campaigns for more than 6,000 state legislative seats
and nearly 150,000 initiatives. In other words, midterm politics are
complex and they`re disperse and they`re just a whole lot of them.
But some of the stories of the midterms are juicier than others and some
are uniquely consequential on our national stage. North Carolina Senate
race is among those stories. Plus, it`s where I live and where I`m casting
First, some North Carolina context. Now, the shifts in North Carolina
politics over the past few years have been epic. Want a little bit of
evidence? Look at the moral Monday`s movement. At the height of the
movement last year, thousands of people gathered every Monday week after
week at the state legislative building in Raleigh in peaceful protest.
Altogether, more than 900 people were arrested including the leader
reverend William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP. It was and is an
inspiring faith-based progressive movement.
Moral Mondays is also a reaction to a tectonic political shift with the
famously moderate, maybe even progressive in some ways, Southern state of
North Carolina lurch freight when Republicans took control of North
Carolina`s government in all of its forms for the first time in 100 years.
In 2010, national Republican groups poured money into races for the state
legislature seeking to get a Republican majority that could then control
redistricting for U.S. House seats which would then put more Republicans in
Congress. They were joined by local conservative donors, most notably
multimillionaire Art Pope who spent more than $2 million getting 18
Republicans into the statehouse and it worked.
Republicans took over both Houses of the North Carolina general assembly.
National Republicans called it among their greatest successes in a year
where they took over 19 statehouses around the country.
And in 2012, Republican Pat McCrory took the governor`s mansion giving the
Republican legislature of rubber stamp for bill after bill after bill.
This is, if nothing else, a reminder that elections matter.
The 2013 session of the North Carolina legislature was devastating. The
Republican assembly passed the worst voter suppression law in the country
targeting voters who tend to vote Democrat, like African-Americans and
young people. Thousands of people could be effectively disenfranchised by
The assembly also eliminated public financing for judicial elections. As
of today, the candidates for state Supreme Court and outside groups have
spent more than $5 million on those races. The Republican general assembly
refused to give teachers a raise for years and has mercilessly slashed
funding for public education. Governor McCrory I signed new abortion
restrictions which lawmakers hid in citing motorcycle safety bill, even
though McCrory himself had promised he would not sign a law restricting
access to reproductive rights. The legislature refused to expand Medicaid
leaving more than 300,000 on that state`s poorest residents without access
to Medical care.
The Republican assembly cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations and
released corporations from important government oversights allowing for
example duke energy to continue dumping toxic coal ash into unlined ponds,
one of which breached this year, pouring 39,000 tons of coal ash into a
The assembly even repealed the state racial justice act. The thought to
address it African-American men are disproportionately sentenced to death
in the state. The legislature did all that in one session. This brings us
back to the race for the U.S. Senate for North Carolina. Because the man
who led the state legislature when it was working to suppress the vote and
repeal the original justice act and refusing to provide health care for the
poor is the Republican nominee for Senate. And he is running in a dead
heat with incumbent senator Kay Hagan.
The "Real Clear Politics" polling average has Hagan up by just two points.
It`s anyone`s race. And Senator Hagan is, of course, hammering Tillis on
his record in the statehouse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAY HAGAN (D), NORTH CAROLINA: He`s gutted education, killed an equal
pay bill, made college more expensive and said no to health care for
500,000 North Carolinians. And folks, he is campaigning on a promise to
take that destructive agenda to Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Tillis` response is to run not against Hagan but against
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE: Senator Hagan has voted
with President Obama 96 percent of the time. She`s served as a rubber
stamp for President Obama`s failed policies. If you want the same failed
policies of President Obama, you would vote for Kay Hagan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: This is one of the races that could determine the control of
the U.S. Senate, control of the Senate will in turn determine the fate of
major presidential nominations including attorney general Eric Holder`s
replacement and a new leader for the justice department civil rights
division, potentially a Supreme Court justice should there be a vacancy.
This is one of the races that could determine all of that and is neck and
And it`s not just Tillis versus Hagan. It`s the conservative Republican
agenda versus President Obama.
Joining me now is Katon Dawson, national Republican consultant and the
former South Carolina GOP chair, also assistant professor at Fordham
University Christina Greer and Sam Wang, associate professor at the
Princeton neuroscience institute.
It is so nice to have you all here.
Let me just start with you, Sam. It is neck and neck. Do you have
indications based on the work that you`ve been doing about how you expect
this race to turn out?
SAM WANG, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT THE PRINCETON NEUROSCIENCE INSTITUTE:
Right. Well Melissa, if you look over at my Princeton election consortium
website at election.princeton.edu, I would say that it is even closer that
indicated by the "Real Clear Politics" average.
North Carolina is one of half a dozen races. It is one of five races that
is within one point right now. North Carolina is one of them. I think
Tillis has lagged in most surveys. But in fact, has the third party
candidate, Sean Haugh, as the pizza delivery guy has faded a bit. That
could be good for Tillis. And I would say currently, Hagan is favored but
it`s not certain. Polls can be off in either direction. I will say that
if the North Carolina race is won by the Democrat, Kay Hagan, then the
Democrats have a 50/50 shot of retaining the Senate. But if she loses,
then the odds are very much against the Democrats.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So this, to me, as I have been subjected to all of the
campaigning that has occurred as a result of living in North Carolina and
seeing how close this race is, suggests to me that if it is that close,
turnout and enthusiasm will be an enormous part of it. And if I take all
of my ideological baggage out of it, Tillis looks like a better candidate
in the pure connection with the voters who he needs to turn out to vote.
Would you agree with that assessment?
KATON DAWSON, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: One hundred percent. I
think one of the things that the pundits is going to miss is these are
going to be low turnout elections. It is just the president is not on the
ballot. If he was, everything would be different. It is just completely
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. I mean, as we learned in 2010.
DAWSON: There`s going to be a low turnout election and Tillis has been
speaking to the base the entire time. Hagan is spending on outside stuff,
two to one for a while. Took off after him after he caught steam, really
educated electorate, Tillis to his credit and his team`s credit focused on
And what we learned in the last president`s election, when tens thousands -
- ten millions of people didn`t show up to vote in the last one was a base
election. One way, this is no way of elections (INAUDIBLE). It might be a
wave of some Republicans, but they`re not waving either unless you worked
them. So the campaigns are going to be very successful this cycle are
going to have taken a note out of the Barack Obama, George Bush playbook
where it matters talking to your voters. That`s what Tillis has been
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. He certainly seems t have doing it.
And Christina, I guess, part of what has been surprising for me as I`ve
watched Kay Hagan, is there are people talking to Hagan voters but it`s
also not Hagan. So part of, you know, Sam is saying if the Democrats win,
this is at least a 50/50 sign for control in the Senate. I keep thinking
if Hagan wins, somebody needs to write a thank you note to the Moral
Mondays movement because if she wins, it will have more to do with the
activity that social movement, then it would be activity of the campaign.
CHRISTINA GREER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right. They`re
essentially serving as a proxy for her, right? And so, I mean, they`re
putting President Obama on the ballot exactly and they are actually
bringing President Obama back into the conversation, right? She`s
obviously wanted to distance herself as much as possible. So we have to
really respect the grassroots movements that are still very much in effect
across the country, especially in the south. We know this for a fact.
But I agree with Katon, it will be a surely low turnout, right? This is
what happens in unfortunately call them off election years, right? They`re
nonpresidential years, the midterm yeas so we know that people don`t really
see anything sexy about the race, right? But we know that, especially for
Republicans, that`s where all the real action is.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, and Sam, part of the real action, if we go back to
2010, does have to do with reapportionment with the fact that the
(INAUDIBLE) here, these statehouse wins by Republicans meant that there was
a capacity to redraw districts for the U.S. House, but this is a Senate
race. I mean, the borders of North Carolina haven`t change.
WANG: Right. And there`s a few things going on here. So first off, in
2010, that was obviously a great year for Republicans. And so, people talk
about the pendulum swinging back or some kind of wave from 2008 at the
Senate level. But the level of governors races, there was a big wave for
those guys and they`ve made the most of it by redrawing districts in North
Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and so on.
I would say just in regard to voter energy. I think that voter opinion
does seem to be different in states where there was that strong partisan
sweeping of power where legislatures like in North Carolina went too far.
It was resisting Medicaid, aggressively redistricting. Those things seemed
to have worked in.
So if you look at who is struggling, it is Scott Walker in Michigan. In
Wisconsin, it is people like Rick Scott. And so, I think there is -- and
luckily for Kay Hagan, there`s somebody who represents the state of North
Carolina in the form of Thom Tillis because he is the state government. So
I think that that is a different factor from many races around the country.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to ask you a brain question, Sam, which is really, so
2009 is actually where I see all of this beginning which is in that wake
county school board election. There was enormous outside money that comes
in, they take over the wake county school board, you start seeing re-
segregation activities because they do away with the policy of economic
Those early teeny tiny races in a teeny tiny county ended up meaning sort
of a beginning of a process. But who in the world has time to pay
attention to every race? I mean, I just wonder about like our capacity,
literally our capacity to pay attention to all of those races.
WANG: Sure. It`s like we, as well-known that our social circles can only
be up to a few hundred people at a time. There are famous psychological
findings that we can only remember something like seven things in our
memory at a time. So, it`s just hard to keep track of lots of shiny
And so, I think that as you said before 6,000 legislative races around the
country, it`s hard to keep in mind that the local races matter a lot. And
so, you know, when we`re paying attention to local races, these things
matter much more than I think people realize when they`re watching the
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, that`s where we`re going to go. I want
to talk about some races that matter a lot. Races like the court when we
HARRIS-PERRY: All these conservative laws that North Carolina has passed
are extreme. But they`re not an anomaly. The North Carolina general
assembly was one of 19 state legislatures that flipped the Republican
control in 2010 the way it was orchestrated by a national group, the
Republican state leadership committee, RSLC.
It was all part of a strategy to put Republicans in charge of redistricting
for U.S. House seats. And by doing that, to get more Republicans in
Congress. It`s thanks to those redistricting efforts that road blocking
Republicans are still in the majority, in the U.S. House even though one
million more votes were cast for Democratic House candidates in 2012 than
Now, listen closely because this is why I want you to pay attention to your
local entirely unsexy state and local races.
The Republican state leadership committee, that same group has a new goal
this year, to pat conservatives on to state courts. The group is publicly
pushing more states to elect judges rather than appoint them. And it
doesn`t want the states to publicly finance those elections either. They
want a campaign spending free for all. In fact, that`s exactly what the
North Carolina legislature did in 2013. It eliminated public funding of
judicial elections. And this year more than $5 million have been spent in
campaigns for the state Supreme Court. $1.4 million has been spent by
outside groups, most of it from, you guessed, it, the RSLC, Republican
State Leadership Committee.
Are you guys -- do you have meetings about it Katon? Do you like plan it
in like evil genius kind of way or is this just recognition of what
structures provide spaces for Republicans to open into?
DAWSON: We learned if from the Democrats. Years ago --
HARRIS-PERRY: Probably true.
DAWSON: Years ago, especially in the south, you learn that you can`t --
when redistricting comes and for years and years, we had no control over
it. Some people who were in the business and people even volunteers have
always paid attention. When I became chairman of the political party, I
was shocked how much the base knew about judges much more than I did as a
businessman for 37 years. And you get millions and all of the sudden there
was an outrage over pact of these judges. That was a shocking part. And
they knew it.
So that has been a part of the DNA that we learned from the Democratic
Party in the south of controlling the process. It`s legal.
DAWSON: Actually, have three panels. Panel of judge gas to go check off
on them. We have one Jim Clyburn and we have our democrat congressman. So
I`m saying we learned it from them. We do it pretty well. You plan it.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, it is interesting part of what you said there because it
seems, for Christina, you know, one lesson that we can take is elections
matter. But the other piece of what I`ve sort of been thinking through
here is the help of local parties matters. And part of what happened in
North Carolina is that the state Democratic Party was not in good health.
I mean, they probably did deserve to lose. It it`s just that they lost in
a way that led them to a set of policies that were even worse than what I
think many voters were initially hoping. But they were wanting to throw
the rascals out. They just didn`t have a good alternative to the rascals
from their own ideological perspective.
GREER: I think there are a few things, right? I think, one, the Democrats
have fallen prey to. They are not keeping it current, right? They`re
still celebrating 2008. That was a long time ago. We also know that the
Republicans basically have a triangle offense, right? They`ve got Congress
that are focusing on, they got statehouses that they are focusing on, and
they got judges that they`re focusing on.
You know, Democrats are so excited about, you know, of Hillary in 2016,
they`re waiting for Hillary. The Republicans are just slowly but surely
making sure that all of their local parties are in very solid health.
Because I think in all -- you all, out of all that given up on
presidential, you know, nominee, I mean, they`re pulling out people from
the Ford era and Reagan era, right? So we are sort of --
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re pulling people from the Clinton era. I mean, anybody
got somebody from the 21st century.
GREER: Right, exactly. Please. Right?
So, but I think that, you know, as Democrats, we`re really focused on 2016
as far as the presidency. The Republicans are really focusing on 2016,
2018, to 2020 for all the other races, right? So when Obama was elected in
2008 and Democrats are dancing in the streets, the Republicans were
celebrating because they took over governor races, you know, governor`s
House that sort of could, you know, control the statehouse as well.
DAWSON: (INAUDIBLE) you have to have the redistricting.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Go ahead, please.
GREER: It is redistricting. One poll is that the Supreme Court has not
laid down a clear standard for state level gerrymandering. So Anthony
Kennedy has said, he said mine of dozen subjects. But there is not a clear
standard. And so, that is an area for a strategic move by somebody like
the RSLC can go into a place where there`s not an existing standard for
saying you can`t draw the districts that way. And so, I think that that is
pretty strategic thinking this judicial thing seems to be more of that.
HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me about the judicial thinking for a moment.
Because part of what I want to know is, is there evidence that you get
different outcomes from elected judges versus appointed judges?
WANG: I don`t know about that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because, you know, the argument is, you want to elect judges
because you need more information in the system, right? And so, you want
everyone held accountable.
I just -- I want to play one little commercial from a judge, a judge`s race
in North Carolina because this argument that well, you need more
information so that voters can hold their judges accountable seems like a
good argument until you see some of the actual ads. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Supreme Court justice Robin Hudson sided with the
predators. Hudson sided a child molesters right to privacy and took the
side of the convicted molesters. Justice Robin Hudson, not tough on child
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, you know, like it starts feeling like, wait a
minute, but we want judicial decisions to be careful and case by case and
so as soon as I see something like that, right, you just realize, all this
is going to be harsher sentencing is the only way that the sort of outcome
that you end up with.
WANG: It is a public financing and judicial elections will be a step away
from an independent judiciary.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. It is how it feels to me.
GREER: Well, I mean, the founding fathers initially just wanted, you know,
the court system just to be immune to the whims of public opinion, right?
HARRIS-PERRY: They also wanted the U.S. Senate and the president to be
pretty much immune to it. I mean, the founding fathers were not so sure
about these people, right?
GREER: Only 20 people that they were concerned about at the time. So I
don`t know. I think -- I`m really curious to see after this particular
wave in 2014 how we`ll actually as a party, especially Democrats have to
really start to hopefully wake up and think about the judicial levels on --
WANG: It could work a little bit better for Democrats because anything
that`s a statewide election cannot be broken down by district. And so,
those advantages that are drawn in for redistricting, so any kind of state
level election becomes a state level vote which is why, for instance, the
Tillis/Hagan race carries significance because it is the closest that we
are going to see to our reflection of the will of the voters in North
WANG: And judge elections, you know, as they are in the state level, then
that would be, again, at least the reflection of what people of North
Carolina actually thinks.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s interesting.
Up next, there is a brand new poll out this morning. And we`re going to
let you know how candidates are faring in three key places.
HARRIS-PERRY: According to a new NBC News/Marist poll released this
morning, Republicans do now have a clear path to a majority of in the U.S.
Senate, though that victory could take months due to potential runoff
You see, according to the poll, current Senate minority leader Mitch
McConnell leads democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes by nine
points in Kentucky, 50 to 41 percent among likely voters.
In Georgia, ex-CEO David Perdue, a Republican has a four-point lead over
Democrat Michelle Nunn amongst likely voters for that Senate seat. And
there will be a runoff if neither candidate gets 50 percent of the vote.
But this poll still has Perdue coming out on top in that case, 49 percent
to 46 percent. You might think that Louisiana offers hope for Democrats
with incumbent senator Mary Landrieu up on Republican Bill Cassidy and tea
partier Rob Maness in a significant margin. But in a hypothetical runoff
in that state, Landrieu loses to Cassidy by five points among likely
voters. So not necessarily good news for Democrats.
If Republicans do take all three of these states with several others also
in play, the march to gaining the six seats needed for control of the
Senate would be well under way. There`s a lot of information and data to
digest. So for help, we bring in the expert.
Fred Yang, a Democratic pollster from Hart Research, the team that conducts
the NBC News/Marist polls. Nice to have you.
FRED YANG, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Good morning, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: So what do you make of the new polls overall, and especially
this idea that we may be looking at multiple runoffs come Tuesday night?
YANG: Well, I think number one, these three states, Georgia, Louisiana,
Georgia -- Louisiana, Kentucky are the equivalent of road games for the
Democratic Party. These are three states that President Obama lost in 2012
and 2008. It was always going to be a hard task for Democrats to hold
these seats. All three candidates have done really good jobs campaigning.
But, you know, it`s a really tough challenge for Democrats.
I think the other states on the map that are more purple, the Colorado,
Iowa, New Hampshire, even North Carolina, those are very much in play. And
if we can win a couple of those seats, we can still maintain the Senate.
And look, I think a lot of the national polling coming out, including our
poll later on today, will show there`s been an increase in democratic
enthusiasm and interest over the last couple of days. And there`s one
important and, you know, sort of obvious and important fact of politics.
It really does come down on Tuesday to turnout. And there does seem to be
from the national polling a little bit of wind and momentum for Democrats.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So Fred, I have a riddle that I don`t quite
understand. And I`m hoping you can help me with it. It is generally taken
to be a truism of American politics that when economic indicators are up,
that incumbent or at least the party of the president, ought to benefit
And so, we are looking here at falling gas prices so the gas prices are
going down below $3 a gallon this weekend. We`re looking at an
unemployment rate that is pretty substantially down from 2004. And we`re
looking at consumer confidence, which is up, right?
So if I`m looking at all of these kind of economic indicators saying things
are going great and there`s a democrat as president, why aren`t democratic
incumbent at the state level being able to benefit from that?
YANG: Well, I think the short answer and the long answer is that for a lot
of American voters, they are not personally feeling the benefits of the
improved economic situation. I think, politically speaking, the sixth year
of a presidency is always tough regardless of which, you know, party the
president belongs to and the economic situation. You know, there`s this
thing in politics called a six-year itch.
I think, you know, people always want to change. So I think for democratic
incumbent and democratic candidates, the puzzle has been, the challenge has
been this six-year itch. But yes, as you say, juxtaposed with, in that
list, the economic indicators looking better, you know. I think there are
other issues out there that voters are caring about or thinking about as a
vote. Some of them have to be with the economy. I think a lot have to do
with what they perceived as dysfunction in Washington.
HARRIS-PERRY: Fred, hold on for me in a second. Sam, I want to bring you
in on this. In part, I want to go back just for a second to this question
of the will of the people and what happens in runoffs and whether or not
we`re not actually operate as appropriate mechanisms for us understanding
what the preferences are. So if you have -- you have kind of a three-tier
and then you get to two, but then the winner of the two is different than
it would be in the three, is that a reasonable way to understand what
WANG: I will say runoffs are strange animals. It is just the idea that in
Georgia, if there`s a runoff in the Senate race or the governor`s race,
they happen on different dates from each other. The Senate race won`t
happen until January after the new Senate comes in.
But I also want to say that just you`re saying that things are looking
distinctly unfavorable for the Democrats. I should say there are numbers
that are not appreciated. So for instance, Obama`s approval numbers are
negative, but they`re not going down. In fact since summer, his
disapproval numbers have come back three points from summer. It looks like
House Republicans may only gain a handful of seats.
So it is certainly the case that the six-year itch is in effect, but it`s
actually not as itchy as one might suspect based on some of these numbers.
And the Georgia race, that is going to be within a percentage point. That
is going to be a close, close race. I think it`s going to a runoff.
HARRIS-PERRY: So I guess, Christina, let me pull you on this. Because
this still leads me to this question about the way that we do the will of
the people in this country is through elections. But then when you see
artifacts of how we do the elections, right, so what year or even what day,
the notion that if there`s momentum towards or away from the president, I
still, I just kind of left with this big question of so how do we know that
the people, however we define them, got what they wanted in the context of
GREER: Right. And I think that`s the really complicated question. I`m
sure we`ll talk about it in a little bit when it comes to the secretary of
state who often times sets a lot of these rules, right? But I think Sam
alluded to this a few minutes ago where sometimes when a party, especially
the Republican Party, takes it a little too far. We saw this in 2012 when
people were so nervous that Obama might not be re-elected.
When voters actually feel like they`re being assaulted, right, either with
voter I.D. laws or with missing ballots, registration ballots or with what
seems to be draconian laws from the possible Republican secretary of state
on their franchise. Then we actually might see this mobilization that Sam
is talking about that will decrease this gap.
GREER: We saw that in 2012, too where, you know, there are people who just
-- who came out because they really felt like there was a supremacist
society that was working against them.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks to Fred Yang this morning. I appreciate your work
and also thank you to Sam Wang this morning.
Still to come this morning, why Russian politicians are mad at Apple CEO
But first riddle me this. If you have been called one of America`s
craziest governors and one of America`s worst governors and one of
America`s most unpopular governors, what`s the key to getting re-elected?
Stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Still to come this morning, the race in Kentucky, you
probably are not watching. But you should be watching. Because this
political newcomer just might make history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHLEY MILLER (D) KENTUCKY HOUSE CANDIDATE: I don`t think that they really
expected much from my candidacy or from my campaign. I think they just
said, she`s young, she`s brown, she`s never run for office before. She
works for Planned Parenthood. You don`t have to worry about her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, they do need to worry about her. That story is coming
HARRIS-PERRY: (INAUDIBLE) was the word President Obama used to describe
the last midterm election. The one in 2010 when Republicans made gains in
the Senate and took control of the House of Representative and the mid-37
states that held an election for governor, 23 of them Republican. So we
were introduced to a lot of new Republicans -- Scott Walker in Wisconsin,
Rick Scott in Florida, Rick Schneider in Michigan and Tom Corbett in
Pennsylvania, just to name a few.
Yes, 2010 was all about fresh faces in wave elections. But the thing about
winning office in that the next time you run, you are not the new kid
anymore. You have a record that you have to defend. And Tuesday`s
gubernatorial races are anything but certain.
Recent poll show Wisconsin is the top that between Scott Walker and Mary
Burke. Former Florida Republican governor, Charlie Crist, star in
Democratic candidate has a slight edge on incumbent Rick Scott. And in
Michigan, poll show Rick Schneider is vulnerable. In Pennsylvania, most
polls show Tom Corbett down by at least ten points.
When it comes to the governors, looks like voters may be looking to correct
the mistakes of 2010 which brings me to Maine, the land of lobster and
(INAUDIBLE) little coastal town with their picturesque harbor`s Maine, the
state that sends centrist, pragmatic politicians like Susan Collins and
Angus King to the U.S. Senate.
But in 2010, Maine, after 15 years of either an independent or a democratic
governor, in 2010, Maine picked Paul LePage. In January of this year,
"Politico" called Paul LePage quote "America`s craziest governor."
Now, the material for that title began mounting soon after LePage took
office when he declined an invite from the NAACP to attend the Martin
Luther King Day breakfast. This was his response to criticism of that
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. PAUL LEPAGE, MAINE: Tell them to kiss my butt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: What were --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Then there was Paul LePage`s response to the affordable care
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEPAGE: We, the people, have been told there is no choice. You must buy
health insurance or pay the New Gestapo the IRS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So insulting the NAACP, America`s oldest and largest
civil rights organization comparing a part of the U.S. government to Nazis.
Governor LePage was just getting started. He tried to roll back the
state`s environmental laws, including among other things allowing BPA in
bottles saying the worst that could happen is quote "some women may have
On education, Governor LePage advocated a proposal saying quote "if you
want a good education, go to private schools. If you can`t afford it,
tough luck. You can go to the public school."
He has said that President Obama can go to hell. And according to reports,
claimed at that the private meetings that the president quotes "hates white
people." And he later apologized for that remark as well as denying that
he ever even made it. He tried to end same-day voter registration but it
was overturned by popular referendum. He wants to lower the legal age for
children to work to 12 from 16. He has issued a record breaking 179 vetoes
including five that killed bills for Medicaid expansion.
The citizens for responsibility and ethics in Washington ranks LePage in
the top tier of the worst governors in America. He is one of the most
unpopular governors in the country, 43 percent of voters have a favorable
opinion of him while 53 percent have a negative one and all of that is why
this recent story from the "Portland Press Herald" is so fascinating.
Republican governor Paul LePage opened a lead over democratic U.S. rep Mike
Michaud in the closing weeks of the gubernatorial campaign. According to a
Maine Sunday telegram Portland Press Herald poll, the findings mark a
significant shift from previous poll showing both candidates running in a
virtual dead heat. LePage leads 45 percent to 356 percent.
Wondering about the other 20 percent in that poll? Well, four percent are
undecided and 16 percent are for the independent candidate Elliott Cutler.
You see, Elliott Cutler also ran in 2010 when a split vote let LePage win
with just 38 percent of the vote and now with Cutler still in the race,
siphoning off some of the anti-LePage, we take it all back, we`re so very
sorry for what we did in 2010, Paul LePage labeled by various outlets as
either America`s craziest governors or one of the America`s worst governors
or one of the America`s most popular governors.
Take your pick. But Paul LePage may be re-elected governor of Maine. That
HARRIS-PERRY: Prior to the 2010 midterm elections, 27 state legislatures
were controlled by Democrats, 14 by Republicans as eight were split. But,
by the close of November 2nd, 2010, the balance shifted with 26 state
legislatures run by Republicans, 17 under democratic control and only five
And as much as the national media tends to focus on control of Congress, it
is controlled the statehouses that often has a more direct impact on
people`s daily lives. This Tuesday, one of the states to watch will be
Kentucky where Republicans hope to flip the current Democratic chamber by
gaining five seats, just five seats and House could be led by Republicans
for the first time since before the great depression.
Among those hotly contested is an open seat in the 32nd districts. Check
out the nasty politics that MSNBC national reporter Irin Carmon uncovered
in that local race.
IRIN CARMON, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER (voice-over): It`s been 14 years
since the Kentucky state legislature has had a black woman as a member.
Ashley Miller, a 30-year-old nurse practitioners and Democrat running for
state representative in Louisville is trying to change that. It hasn`t
been easy. But then Ashley is used to a challenge.
MILLER: (INAUDIBLE) in the west end. Sometimes we didn`t have electricity
or sometimes we didn`t have food. There were times my dad would like get
food from a dumpster or he would steal it from the local Thornton`s at the
corner so that we could eat.
This is where I lived probably -- well, most of my childhood. When we were
here, my parents were on drugs still. They were both addicted to crack
cocaine. They were both in alcohol pretty heavily. And I think that
intoxicated state-led to a lot of fighting and abuse. My grandmother
actually lived within walking distance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s me. I was small then, wasn`t I?
MILLER: Hey miss thing.
I really credit her and my grandfather for showing me another side of life,
especially for brown people. That`s all I saw around me was poverty. All
I saw was drug abuse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ashley Miller.
CARMON: Ashley paid for college and graduate school by winning beauty
pageants, including Ms. Kentucky 2013 and by modeling. She was a star
basketball player too. These days she`s working on her doctorate while
seeing patients at Planned Parenthood.
MILLER: You know in nursing, we always talked about research-based
practice. And that`s what we want evidence-based practice. Is it possible
that we could have evidence-based legislation? That blew my mind and I got
really excited. So excited about that possibility.
CARMON: With the help of emerge Kentucky, a group that trains women to run
for office, Ashley decided that there was no time like the present. But
her race against a tea party businessman was a quick education in how ugly
politics can get.
OK. So what are we looking at here?
MILLER: We`re looking at a Web site. It`s no longer up. But it changed
my name to Trashily Miller. They basically highlight that there are over
three million abortions provided at Planned Parenthood between 2000 and
2013 not noting that none of the Planned Parenthood in Kentucky provide the
So down here, they label me as a rap model because of my affiliation with
Kentucky-based group (INAUDIBLE) and my appearance on the cover of one of
their mix tapes. I`m not sure why they refer to it as a gangster rap group
because they couldn`t be further from rappers.
CARMON: Her Republican opponent Phil Moffett has denied involvement in the
Web site which many found to be sexist as well as a racist stab whistler
(ph). Moffitt did, however, call Ashley a quote "inappropriate dressed
model of rap artists."
MILLER: I don`t think that they really expected much from my candidacy or
from my campaign. I think they just said, she`s young, she`s brown, she`s
never run for office before, she works for Planned Parenthood. You don`t
have to worry about her.
And you know, after the primary, four months after the primary, they get
polling numbers that`s not what they expected. So now it`s like, my God,
we have to figure out a way to stop this girl. But you can`t negate an
entire year of work by saying one nasty thing or sending out nasty
HARRIS-PERRY: MSNBC national reporter joins me now.
So Irin, this wasn`t just about just one Web site. There were attacks that
went far beyond that. Tell me about the rebel calls.
CARMON: Well, there were also reports, various supporters of Ashley Miller
that they received calls saying are you planning on voting for Ashley
Miller. And if you said yes, they ask would you still vote for her if you
knew that she is involve with Planned Parenthood which kills babies.
And the second part of it that if you knew that in a former version of her
modeling web site, she said she would do to men`s houses and model
lingerie, strongly implying that she`s a sex worker.
Phil Moffett, we reached out to him. He has denied involvement in the robo
calls. We weren`t able to get a copy of them. But I think it`s pretty
clear what they were trying to get across.
HARRIS-PERRY: So I guess part of -- you know, as I look at her and I know
that she was in part recruited by an organization that recruits women to
run. If there are -- if this is precisely the sort of thing that makes it
so difficult to recruit, particularly women, although to recruit really any
kind much new folks to run for office.
CARMON: Right. I think she has gotten a lot of support both from this
group that wants to get women in office and from the Democratic Party
which, as you mentioned, really needs her seat. It was previously held by
a Republican but it is kind of a swing district and it is Louisville. I
think, obviously, there it needs to be a lot of support. If younger people
in particular who may not have as buttoned up of a life history. All of us
are taking selfies and going to parties and so on. And if only people who
had never have any what could be construed as remotely embarrassing photos
of themselves are going to run, it`s going to be a really thin pool.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right, I mean, you know, we are now in a time where
sort of the youth indiscretions of young people in the `60s and `70 s is
now routine for candidates to have. And so, yes, the realities of selfies
will be routine, you know, kind of in ten years. But these kinds of
candidates, someone like Miller who has such a strong kind of connection to
community, might nonetheless have difficulties in a moment like this with
these kinds of narratives.
But then I wonder, going back into what we talked about yesterday and even
some today Christina`s point earlier, if her opponents are seen as
attacking her not on her perspective, her policies, her achievements, but
instead on her person, isn`t that precisely the kind of thing that could
backfire leaving people to say, he can`t say that.
DAWSON: Exact, could backfire and will backfire. We talked about it
yesterday. And when you have a male against a female, especially in the
south, there`s some lines you can`t cross. And if you do, you will be
punished. You will be punished by the female vote. Even a female
Republican will only take so much of attacking a woman.
I see these campaigns. I will guarantee the Kentucky Republican party is
cued in on this one, not because of her, but because of the balance of
power. So then you`ve got the bigger race out there running. You`ve got
the Senate race out there running where you`ve got the finest political
machine in the country, Mitch McConnell, he is good at what he does. No
doubt he spends money. So her fate will be tied into more than just local
But if you do cross that line, and those things, they gone it close, the
robo calls don`t ever sort of move unless it gets nationalized that they`ve
done that. But when you get caught lying, and you can do it on a man, you
get caught lying on a woman in the south, a female voter in the south now
is the larger percentage of voters in Republican primaries, larger voters.
They will punish you en masse.
HARRIS-PERRY: So where do you think, did she have a chance to win?
CARMON: I think it`s definitely going to be a tight race. But I think
that the fundamentals are probably in her favor.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Christina, jus real quick, a sense of whether or not,
when you talk to young women of color, if it`s nervousness about these kind
of attacks that actually keep them from stepping up, raising their hands?
GREER: Right. I mean, these are the conversation that, you know, women
like and groups like higher heights are having conversations about, right?
Where we know for a fact you`ll be labeled as a loose woman if you`re not
married, right? If you had kids, did you have them too young, because you
are haven`t too old? Are they too young right now?
GREER: Are you took educated and lead? Are you elitist, right? So these
are these dog whistles as your report said that really discourage people
from running. But I think, you know, the real important thing to realize
and remember is that not just female voters but African-American voters are
savvy voters, right? And they will punish people who sort of take not only
their vote for granted but their intelligence as well.
HARRIS-PERRY: And their integrity.
My panel will be back in the next hour. But I want to thank MSNBC`s John
Groet, who is the producer that Irin worked with on her report.
Up next, Nina Turner is back in Nerdland and the confusion in the key
More Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. And with Election
Day just two days away, more than 15 million voters have already cast
ballots in the 33 states and the District of Columbia where early voting is
allowed. But many of those millions have also found themselves voting
according to new rules in states where changes to voting laws have
restricted the opportunities available to vote in advance of Election Day.
And in few states have those new rules had more of a profound impact than
in Ohio. Republican-backed cuts to early voting in the state first passed
in February have spent the year winding their way through courts. In late
September, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling upholding the law, then
during the first week of October, a final appeals court ruling settled the
issue at least for this election year.
The court`s ruling have allowed Ohio`s new restrictions on early voting to
be in effect for the state`s voters first went to the polls on October 7th.
Which means in the current election, Ohioans have had a week shaved off of
the early voting period. It also means the elimination during the early
voting window of all but one single Sunday to vote. And that day is today.
The cutback in early voting has been especially acute for African-
Americans who have traditionally used Sundays for souls to the polls drive
to get congregates out to vote after church. In 2008, African-American
voters in Ohio took full advantage of early voting casting ballots at
nearly twice the rate of white Ohioans. And that gap between African-
Americans and white early voters only grew wider in 2012. Today, Ohio
religious leaders will be making the most of their one single Sunday by
urging and assisting their congregations to get out and vote.
At the table with me this morning, national republican consultant Katon
Dawson. Professor of Political Science at Fordham University Christina
Greer. And MSNBC national reporter Irin Carmon. And joining me now from
Cleveland, is someone who is been not only a vocal opponent against cuts to
early voting but also someone whose name is near the top of the Ohio`s
ballot. State senator and democratic candidate for Ohio Secretary of State
It`s nice to have you this morning, Nina. And I do want to start by noting
that we did invite John Houston to be on the show this morning and he
declined. But can you tell me what you`re seeing and hearing today on the
only Sunday of early voting. What is it that seems to matter most getting
STATE SEN. NINA TURNER (D), OHIO: It was good to be with you, Professor.
You know, souls to the polls is very important in the state of Ohio as you
noted the stats in terms of the African-American vote. And about 56
percent using my county, Cuyahoga County, in 2008, 56 percent of African-
Americans in our county utilized that opportunity, although they only make
up about 28 percent of the population. Souls to the polls is huge, it`s a
big communal effort all across the state. And we would not have this
Sunday but for Judge Peter, economists that mandated again through the
courts mandated that the republicans give the voters of this great state
back those three days. So, thank God for Judge Peter economist. So, a lot
of souls will be going to the polls across the great state of Ohio and they
will be able to vote from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. today.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Nina, I want to talk to you a little bit about your own
race. Because your own race and your own race seem to have gotten
connected this week. Let me play a little bit of these two versions of a
John Houston attack ad and then ask you a bit about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Worst of all, Nina Turner voted against a ban of our
kids` texting and driving. Worst of all, Nina Turner voted against a ban
of our kids texting and driving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, if you`re in another room and you can`t see it, and then
you just heard the same ad twice. But if you`re actually looking at our
television set, what you saw was the same language and you but first in
front of a group of primarily white state legislatures and then the second
time in front of predominantly black African-American students. And you`ve
had something to say about this, this week.
TURNER: I did, Professor. It is the dog whistle, it`s what you were
talking about in the earlier segment. There are subliminal messages that
the republicans understand if they use against candidates of color,
particularly African-American candidates and then you overlay my gender,
they are trying to tap into stereotypes that people respond to. They know
exactly what they`re doing. It is racism, it is sexism. Which is our
previous guest is enduring. A lot of women of color, African-American and
also African-American males, I mean, in 2010 when my colleague
Representative Boyce was running, his opponent used, called him a Muslim.
Now, he didn`t do that by accident. It shouldn`t matter. I mean,
Representative Boyce is a Christian, but if he were a Muslim, it should not
matter because this is about religious freedom in this nation.
But his opponent used that against him very strategically to amp-up a
certain group of people to paint him as the other. And all Americans
should be concerned when stereotypes are used to paint somebody as the
other to stoke those fears. It is wrong. It was wrong when it happened in
this country decades and decades ago and it is especially wrong now.
Because we are a nation of progress. And Professor, I have been the type
of public servant where I stand up for all people regardless of their
social economic status, their gender, their sexual orientation, their
ethnicity that we the people deserve to have elected officials running for
office that will lift people and not take them down. But see, my opponent
is a discouraged, you know, candidate running for office and he will do
anything to try to win this office.
HARRIS-PERRY: You want to tell us why you voted against the ban on texting
TURNER: Well, you know, Professor, at the time I was in that committee and
I had some concerns about racial profiling. Oh, my, imagine that. We
debated that issue and it was not corrected. So, yes, I do not agree that
anybody should be texting while driving. But in that particular bill I
thought that we had an opportunity to do something to make sure that we
decrease racial profiling through that bill. And because that bill did not
accomplish that, among other things, I voted against the bill.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hold on for one just second, Nina. Christina, I want to
come to you for a second. Because, you know, here we are looking at Ohio,
a place where we`ve seen massive packages, not unlike the ones we saw
coming out of North Carolina. And so, part of what I wonder is, how long
is it going to take us to know whether or not voter suppression is actually
suppressive? Right? In other words, as you said in 2012, there was a lot
of these kind of shenanigans, but for the most part, the courts turned it
back. Where there was massive voter turnout that seem to overwhelm it.
Will we know at the end of Tuesday night or will we not know until the end
of 2016? At what point can say, OK, we have evidence that these tactics
are in fact suppressive?
TURNER: Well, we need to continue to have social scientists such as
yourself and other organizations, the Brennan Institute continue to study
these issues. The thing about it is that people continue to try to push to
exercise that right to vote. So, they`ll continue to try to jump over
those hurdles. But just because somebody has jumped over the hurdle
doesn`t mean that the hurdle has not been made higher. And that is the
thing that we have to look at. In Ohio, the voters of this state have less
voting opportunities than they did and the Republican Party in Ohio and all
across this country has strategically used tactics that have a
disproportionately negative impact on communities of color, on poor voters,
on homeless voters. And this is by design, Professor. And nobody should
want to go back to those days where only certain groups of people could
Our democracy is stronger the more people who vote. And so just because
you don`t see water hoses or barking dogs does not mean that the impact of
cutting golden week, the impact of shaving off hours here and days there,
those shavings have a global impact on working classmen and women. Those
shavings have an impact on African-American voters, Latino voters, poor
voters, homeless voters. At what point do we say as a nation that this
democracy is stronger the more people who vote and that we are a country of
progress and not regression and stop elected officials that run for office
from stopping people from voting. It is un-American.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Right. Thank you to Nina Turner in Cleveland, Ohio on
the one and only souls to the polls Sunday. Thank you for joining us.
TURNER: Thank you, Professor.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, we`ll talk about some more of those
shenanigans and what difference they`re making.
HARRIS-PERRY: As voters in Kentucky prepare to go to the polls on Election
Day, they are finding their candidates for the U.S. Senate on not only
opposite sides of the ballot but also opposite sides of a lawsuit. At
issue is a mailer with a disclosure saying it was paid for by the state
Republican Party. It was sent to voters. It bears this ominous title.
Election violation notice. The fine print warns about, quote, "Possible
fraud being perpetuated on citizens across Kentucky" with an admonition
that you are at risk of acting on fraudulent information. The mailer goes
on to allege that fraudulent information comes from democratic candidate
Allison Lundergan-Grimes. On Friday, Grimes campaign fight back with a
lawsuit citing illegal voter intimidation tactics. And the lawsuits just
keep on flying. East in Georgia whose most closely watched races are a
neck and neck contest for the governor seat and a U.S. Senate race.
They could be decisive in determining the fate of the Senate`s democratic
majority. The dispute is over more than 40,000 voter registrations. Many
of them from young people and people of color that were submitted by the
New Georgia project, a voter registration organization whose lawsuit
claims all of those newly registered voters were nowhere to be found on the
rolls. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp denied the allegations
calling the claims, quote, "absolutely false." And on Tuesday, he scored a
victory when a state judge declined to act in the dispute saying the
plaintiffs failed to prove the state violated the law.
Joining me now from Atlanta is MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt who
has been following all the political developments on the ground in Georgia.
Kasie, what is turnout like and what is polling telling us right now about
early voting in Georgia?
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Hey Melissa. You`re
right in that minority voters are really the whole ball game here for
democrats. And the state as a whole is really the place where they can
prove that they can expand the electorate. So, the state is changing
demographically much the way the rest of the country is. It`s becoming
more urban. There are more African-American voters and more Hispanic
voters. So, at this point, early voting turnout among African-Americans is
a little bit over 33 percent. Now, if it were to stay there, Michelle Nunn
could potentially win this race outright with the 50 percent of the vote.
But both sides acknowledge that that`s not likely to be the case. That
turnout is going to come down from there. Now, we just did a poll, NBC
News, that came out this morning that shows that David Perdue is leading
Michelle Nunn. That assumes that about 29 percent of the electorate is
going to be African-Americans. So, the question for democrats is whether
they can drive that number up. At this point, they feel good about it.
But both sides are also preparing for a runoff. And that will happen if
neither candidate gets 50 percent.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Kasie Hunt in Atlanta, Georgia. Stay warm out
Katon, so when people are getting mailers that say voter fraud and you
might -- I mean, that is an intimidation tactic, isn`t it?
DAWSON: We call it a negative campaign alert. You put it out. It`s good
politics. I can`t tell you whether that -- I read it, I looked at it. It
HARRIS-PERRY: It will work to do what? So, this is interesting to me.
So, it will work to convince people that Grimes is saying things that are
untrue and therefore change or it will work to scare people away from the
DAWSON: I don`t know the universe it was mailed after, but I suspect a lot
of that universe was a republican soft loader. That`s what I suspect to
get out the vote to. It is you need to go vote. Negative stuff going on.
HARRIS-PERRY: So what if, and I also don`t know exactly the universe.
Because obviously the mailers are targeted.
DAWSON: I suspect, I`ve been there, I suspect I know the universe --
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So, if it goes to soft GOP voters, what if you
found out it was going to primarily democratic households. Because then
that would suggest that it`s a different goal behind it, right?
DAWSON: When I saw it, I said that`s heading to the republican soft voter
saying, look, this thing is wrong. We need you. We need you now. We need
to go vote.
GREER: Well, you know, currently in the state of New York, I mean, we have
a voter going out from the -- mailer going out from the Democratic Party
saying that you need to vote. We can`t tell you who to vote for. But we
will find out if you don`t vote and if you don`t vote, we`re going to ask
you why not.
HARRIS-PERRY: The democrats?
GREER: The democrats are doing that. So, I mean, this is also in their
defense trying to drum up as they`ve explained it, trying to drum up more
people to actually go to the polls. So, we`re seeing this not just in
highly contested states but we`re also seeing this when a governor wants to
get re-elected and possibly think about 2016.
CARMON: I think that it`s a very particular context operating in Kentucky.
Yes we do not know a part from a few households in Eastern Kentucky that
received it, who is getting those. But we do know that Kentucky has an
extremely high rate of felon disenfranchisement that disproportionately
affect African-Americans. I believe it`s nearly one in four Kentucky black
voters cannot vote due you to their laws being extremely strict. It`s
triple the national rate. And so, if an African-American receives this and
it`s in the known universe of the world, the people can lose their voting
rights. It is possible. It`s not an unheard of thing. I could see that
creating a very misleading impression and intimidating people because they
may not know if they have the right to vote.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so this, you know, so part of the challenge, I think, on
the question of whether or not tactics like this are suppressive, right?
It goes back in part to what I was talking about before. So, in Atlanta,
excuse me, in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal and constitution is saying that
the African-American share of early ballots is up 13 percent over 2010,
right? So, you see this increase over the last midterm. Although
certainly not at the rate of the 2008 or 2012. And the Times Picayune out
of New Orleans is saying that Louisiana early voting is also up
substantially up over 2010. Although certainly again not where it was in
the presidential election years of `08 and 2012. So, on the one hand, we
have what feel like efforts to be suppressive, but then we have what appear
to be behaviors that are doing exactly the opposite. That are responding
by showing up in higher numbers. What are we to do with information like
GREER: Well, I think, you know, I think a lot of strategists are of two
mind. Right? On the one hand we know that the work of the Georgia
project, the work of organizations like project south in Georgia and
Atlanta specifically in moving outward, actually really are mobilizing
people. Right? And so, they`re feeling the weight of sort of forces
especially the secretary of state working against them. So, that will
motivate them to come out. That`s on the positive side. On the negative
side, we do know that some people actually feel so disenfranchised, so
disaffected, so beaten down because it does feel like the entire state is
trying to make sure that they actually don`t participate in any way, shape
or form. So, hopefully, the latter is not true. But I do think that we
can`t discount the number of grassroots organizations that are in Georgia
that are saying, if they`re going to throw out 40,000 ballots, then we just
need to make sure that we get 80,000, to make sure it`s not a conversation.
And we saw that in 2012.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Katon, I wonder if, you know, when I hear you say that
looks like good politics. I wonder, is it all fair in love and war in the
midterms? Like, you know, that it`s one thing to be sitting here in a
television studio and talking about democracy and what is good and bad for
voters. But that there are actually people who professionally get paid to
get other people elected and their job is to do what you have to do within
the constraints of law, ethics be damned right. The whole question of big
democracy is for academics and pundits. You have to get your people
DAWSON: You do. And I like Melissa what you`re looking at right now is a
midterm. And the thing we`ve talked about today is the importance of the
African-American vote. Every democrat has got their hat hung on it.
DAWSON: You`ve got the president who has been elected twice. I lived it
in 2006 with George Bush. The six-year itch is right. The President is
the key to moving the African-American vote. Because they got his back.
But he`s not on the ballot. So, there`s a dicey mix here. When you`re in
the room with guys like me that will get people elected to office and we
like to win.
DAWSON: But there`s some more ethical, incredible, more integrity, but you
got to do what it takes when you represent a candidate. You need to stay
within the laws. Obviously, we had a Supreme Court that checked off in
Ohio, we had an appellate court that check off, we have a judge that check
off. So, we had to -- now I don`t know who had lawyers, who spent all the
money, but when it comes to fish or cut bait time, my side, your side, we
were paying attention when a Barack Obama beat our brains out twice. OK?
We were paying attention in North Carolina last section about how to move
the vote. So, you`re watching us now as republicans doing our job quietly,
doing what we need to do to elect our people. That`s what they are is for.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Katon Dawson and to Irin Carmon. Christina
Greer is going to stick around a little bit. But we can`t let Katon go
without first offering him a little bit of congratulations on the birth of
his new granddaughter. Sidney. Hey, Sidney.
DAWSON: There we go.
HARRIS-PERRY: Katon, we`re thrilled for you and your whole family. I hope
that`s the last gift you get. Not a big win on Tuesday. A nice grand baby
there. Still to come, how Apple`s CEO had everyone talking this week
without so much as a new products.
HARRIS-PERRY: On this day in 2004, two southern states enshrined in their
constitutions optical to equality that remain in place to this day, ten
years later. Mississippi became one of 11 states to pass a constitutional
amendment banning same-sex marriage. Eighty six percent of Mississippi
voters supported Amendment 1 which declared that marriage may take place
and may be valid under the laws of this state only between a man and a
woman. Now, historically Mississippi has polled the lowest in public
support for same sex marriage. But there`s a chance for a change, just a
few weeks ago, two same sex couples filed the first federal challenge to
Mississippi`s ban on gay marriage. But the scenario may not be so hopeful
in Alabama. We`re on this same day back in 2004, voters rejected an
amendment to erase language from the state constitution that harkened back
to Alabama`s explicitly racist past.
Amendment 2 sought the removal of language that said Alabama did not
guarantee a right to public education. And the removal of the section of
the Alabama constitution that reads "Separate schools shall be provided for
white and colored children and no child of either race shall be permitted
to attend a school of the other race." Leaving opponents of the amendment
insisted they had no problem with removing the passage about separate
schools. They said, the real problem was guaranteeing the right to a
public education. Because that could open the door for new taxes. No
matter the reason, Amendment 2 went down in defeat and the state where
Governor George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door to stop black
students from enrolling at a University of Alabama where Wallace once
famously declared, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation
forever, made sure at least on paper that his words rang true. To this
day, Alabama`s constitution calls for separate schools for white and
colored children because voters rejected an amendment to change the
language and instead, let Alabama`s past overshadow its future on this day,
November 2nd, 2004.
HARRIS-PERRY: Apple`s CEO Tim Cook, is gay. In an essay he penned for
Bloomberg Business Week, Cook writes, "For years I`ve been open with many
people about my sexual orientation, plenty of colleagues at Apple know I`m
gay. It doesn`t seem to make a difference in a way they treat me. While I
have never denied my sexuality, I haven`t publicly acknowledged it either
until now. So, let me be clear, I`m proud to be gay and I consider being
gay among the greatest gifts God has given me." Cook`s sexuality has been
a topic of speculation for quite some time. Out Magazine named him the
most influential gay person in the world in its annual power list not once,
not twice but three times. The announcement gives Cook the distinction of
being the first and only openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 Company. Now, as
you might expect, praise flat it in from many of Cook`s famous friends.
Former President Bill Clinton tweeted, "From one son of the south and
sports fanatic to another, my hat is off to you." Mark Zuckerberg said,
"Congratulations from Facebook. Thank you, Tim, for showing what it means
to be a real courageous and authentic leader." But of course, you can`t
please everyone. There are those who would have preferred Cook keep quiet
and they let everyone know about it. Conservative radio host Brian Fisher
from the American Family Association tweeted, "Apple`s CEO comes out as
gay. What it means, most protected celebrated person, you can be in
today`s America is a homosexual." Vitaly Milonov who is a Russian lawmaker
and the inspiration for many of Russian, the brutal anti-gay laws also
chimed in. He wants to ban Cook from entering the country. He is quoted
as saying, "What could he bring us, the Ebola virus, AIDS, gonorrhea? They
all have unseemly ties over there. Ban him for life."
Joining me now to discuss Cook`s big announcement are author and Duke
University Adjunct Professor Dorie Clark. She`s written about Cook`s
coming out for the Harvard business review. Also on our panel is Fordham
University Professor Christina Greer and co-founder of "You Belong" and co-
managing editor of the feminist wire, Darnell Moore.
I want to start with you. Because on the one hand, yes, Tim Cook is gay.
Right? But on the other hand, like when he says oh, no one treats me any
differently, I`m thinking you`re the CEO of Apple. You know, like where
you`re structurally positioned is so different than for the vast majority
of people, gay or not.
DARNELL MOORE, CO-FOUNDER, "YOU BELONG": Sure. So, first, I think it`s
important to acknowledge how courageous it might have been for him to --
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Legitimately, yes. Yes.
MOORE: We did that part. We did that part. But, you know, Cook is of a
particular demographic. He`s a white gender conforming gay male.
HARRIS-PERRY: Who runs Apple?
MOORE: Who is wealthy?
HARRIS-PERRY: More than wealthy.
MOORE: Yes. So like here is a demographic that is most likely to be
employed, most likely to lead economically viable lives, most likely to be
alive. Not killed like transgender women are. So, what happens when we
focus on a singular narrative like this? It obscures the realities of so
many folk, the poor, the LGBT poor, young people, women, transgender
individuals. And so, in so many ways it`s harmful to uplift this singular
narrative without recognizing that so many folk outside of that demographic
are impacted in different ways.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. And so Dorie, so this was my push/pull. Right. On
the one hand, I do think there is something legitimately valuable because
it can get a whole conversation started in ways that only because he is the
Apple CEO, because he controls that space, he can then get us talking. On
the other hand, there are 29 states in this country where it is at least
presumably possible, although not always acted on. At least possible,
legal to fire someone who did what Tim Cook did, which was to come out at
work. How do we reconcile that?
DORIE CLARK, AUTHOR, "REINVENTING YOU": Well, it is a huge irony, Melissa.
Because now, we have more states where gay marriage is allowed than we do
states where it`s safe to be out at work. So, you literally have places
where you can go and tell your co-workers you`ve gotten married and they
say, oh, congratulations, you`re fired.
HARRIS-PERRY: You`re fired. Right.
CLARK: So, Tim Cook is clearly in a privileged position. He runs Apple
which has a long-standing history of being a very progressive, pro-equality
company. It is a significant move, nonetheless, of course, because he`s
the first -- heretofore only out Fortune 500 CEO. So, it starts the dialog
in quarters of power where it really is not being talked about.
HARRIS-PERRY: Christina, I always feel like one of my challenges, when I
am talking often with African-American groups about the need for allied
coalitional work is some anxiety about the deployment of civil rights
discourse in the context of talking about civil rights. Now, I actually
think it is a misplaced anxiety often. But it is one that exists. And so,
we saw Tim Cook in this letter say, to use the language of Martin Luther
King and to say, I think in a beautifully written sentence but one that`s
like, you know, what you have to do if you have to help other people. He
says, the urgent question is, what are you doing for others? I often
challenge myself with that question. I come to realize that my desire for
personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more
important and that he led me to today. And yet, so I feel that on one hand
he`s trying to make that connection but I also know that`s going to push
back from many African-Americans like man, your blues ain`t like mine.
GREER: Right. And so, as someone considers yourself an ally and as
someone who is use to people invoking Martin Luther King when necessary or
convenient, right? Then there are many ways you can be an ally. Right?
And I think everyone is good for something. So if you want to evoke Martin
Luther King, if you recognize that your privileged space allows you to
actually come out, which is huge, right, then donate to organizations like
fierce. Right? Donate to organizations like Color of Change. Donate to
organizations across the country that are helping as Darnell says, LGBT
Youth of Color. Poor LGBT individuals all across the country. It`s like
you have the resources.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I don`t actually know what Tim Cook`s donations look
like. Right? So, I mean, I just simply don`t know. But he didn`t -- he`s
also getting highlight in that moment, right, that these are --
GREER: But moving forward, right?
GREER: And so you can do it privately or you can say, if you really want
to start a larger discourse, say I am actually committed to making sure
that youth, you know, maybe he`s from a great family, not great family, it
doesn`t matter. To make sure you have the best sort of young life as a guy
lesbian, transgender person.
HARRIS-PERRY: Darnell, I wanted to ask you a little bit about the
excitement of Bill Clinton. Because for me there is a rich irony in Mr.
"Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell," President DOMA being like, oh, hats off. And I`m
like excuse me. Public policy. And so part of what I want to do here is
it`s not just Tim Cook who`s making a set of choices but how the response
is to Tim Cook tell us something about which clear bodies are appropriate
and which once are silence.
MOORE: Yes, which clear bodies matter to us?
MOORE: So, you know, even thinking about Tim Cook in terms of workplace.
Here it was celebrating someone for being for brick and a sort of steel of
heterosexism. You know, hetero normativity and the business world.
Right? But Dorian as pointed out, like one percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs
are black, four percent are women. Right? And if we`re not looking at
heterosexism alongside with and alongside of sexism and gender inequity and
racial supremacy within institutional ways, then we`re not going to forward
the type of policies that can impact the most marginalized. You know, so
what happens is, we center, those who are closest to the power like the Tim
Cook, obscure the fact that so many other clear bodies are put to the edges
of the margin. That`s where policy needs to go. But this moment doesn`t
allow us to get there.
HARRIS-PERRY: And Dorian, but it could potentially. Right? Because I
guess, for me, look, the closet is not a privilege. Right? I mean, simply
is not. And to frame it as such I think is troubling. On the other hand,
your point about people of color and women, there is a moment when you come
out as black, you don`t come out as black. Over the most part, there are
moments when you come out as black at work. So, he gets to a certain level
and then can reveal identity. And although the closet is not a privilege,
it nonetheless may provide a masking opportunity that allows his other
relative privileges of whiteness and maleness to operate and tell you --
until he`s in a place and say now this.
CLARK: I think that`s true. But one of the things that the research
actually points to is the fact that being either closeted or what is known
as covering, which is basically downplaying aspects of your identity, so if
you`re a gay person, that would mean maybe, you know, you`re sort of out
but you`re not bringing your partner to work. There`s great research done
by Deloitte University and the Center for Inclusion. And it shows that
actually what happens when people are covering and the Center for Talent
Innovation Studies backs this up as well. You are less effective at work.
It takes a psychological toll on you. And so, now I actually think that
Tim Cook is in a position to be an even better CEO because he can
concentrate on doing his job and not managing his identity.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, man. I love that. Maybe he can fix some of those
little quirks in the iPhone.
CLARK: That`s right.
HARRIS-PERRY: Come out of the closet, fix my damn iPhone. All right.
Thank you to Dorie Clark and to Christian Greer and to Darnell More. I
appreciate you all being here. You can also read Darnell`s new column on
Cook`s coming out and whether or not he thinks that`s progress. You`ll
find it on Iris Show site and MHPShow.com. Up next, our letter of the
HARRIS-PERRY: If you have not cast your vote early, then you have two more
days. Two more days to gather information. Weighing the relevant facts to
make informed decisions. And to make those decisions, we as voters depend
on candidates to explain their positions and choices. But in this midterm
election, there`s one candidate who`s been trying to hide some information
and trying to distract with irrelevant bits of information. And that less
than forthcoming incumbent is getting my letter this week.
Dear Ohio Governor John Kasich, it`s me, Melissa. I couldn`t help but
notice when last month, the negotiations for a public debate between you
and Challenger Ed Fitzgerald fell apart. Marking the first time in nearly
three decades that Ohio voters did not get a chance to hear a debate
between the candidates for the state`s highest office. Your campaign
spokeswoman said you would be seeking other additional avenues to discuss
your accomplishments and answer whatever direct tough questions people may
have. Well, you were asked one of those direct tough questions last week.
In an endorsement interview with the Cleveland plain dealer by your
opponent, Mr. Fitzgerald.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Why was it important to have a piece of legislation that
literally imposed a gag rule on rape crisis counselors?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. Governor, there`s your direct question. What`s you
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Would you like to answer that Governor?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Do you have a question?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay, just to be clear, Governor, that was you not
answering. But ignoring the question. Of someone sitting next to you. I
mean, actually pretending the question did not happen. It`s not a trivial
question either. In fact, it`s one I bet many Ohio voters would like to
hear your answer to. That legislation, Mr. Fitzgerald referenced is the
budget bill you signed into law last June, a budget bill that included some
of the country`s most stringent and regressive restrictions on women`s
ability to exercise their reproductive rights and some of the worse of
those restrictions are about information. Like the new provision that says
funding for services for pregnant women can only go to an entity that is
not involved in or associated with abortion activities, including providing
abortion counseling or referrals to abortion clinics, performing abortion-
related medical procedures or engaging in pro-abortion advertising.
That provision is likely to strip public funding from Planned Parenthood in
the state. Even though no public funds are ever used for abortion, this
law means that there may soon be no public funding for critical services
like cancer screenings either. Just because Planned Parenthood provides
information about abortion. It also means that rape crisis centers are
legally barred from providing women with information about abortion or they
also are liable to lose all state funding. And that`s just the beginning,
isn`t it, Governor? Because the bill also has a provision requiring a
doctor search for the presence of a fetal heartbeat and then, quote,
"inform the pregnant woman in writing that the unborn human individual the
pregnant woman is carrying has a fetal heartbeat."
And inform the pregnant woman of the statistical probability of bringing
the unborn human individual possessing a detectible fetal heartbeat to
term. So, Governor, you signed into law provisions that restrict the
information women need to make decisions while requiring that they receive
medically unnecessary information after they have already made a decision.
For all your meddling in the kind of information that women can get or must
get, you don`t seem to think your constituents need any information from
you about why you made the choice to support that bill. Before the bill
came to your desk last year, you responded to a question about the
provision saying, "I`ll examine the language, keeping in mind that I`m pro-
life." And after you signed the bill, you made no mention of those
provisions and didn`t take questions from reporters. Then last week you
were asked in person to justify your signature on that bill to explain why
it`s good public policy to deny women information about their reproductive
choices and you didn`t.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: I think everybody here knows that I`m pro-
life. What we focus on and I`ve always focused on is the issue of life,
prenatal, postnatal, early childhood, sleep for babies, trying to drive
down infant mortality. Let`s focus on the life issue. At the end of the
day, I`m going to do what I think is a pro-life, you know, looking, being
in the position of being pro-life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, governor, that`s not an answer and that`s not
acceptable. Perhaps you should spend less time worrying about the medical
information, the people of Ohio receive from their doctors and more time
focused on providing them the political information they need to make an
informed decision about your bid for reelection. Sincerely, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: I admit it. As a professor, I try to indoctrinate my
students. Not with ideology or partisanship but I do try to convince them
that civic participation is critically important. So, I`ve been reminding
them during this election that it is important to vote. And yet voting is
still basically the brushing your teeth of democracy. I mean, I certainly
appreciate you do it, but I`m not impressed. If you really want to make a
change, you might have to roll up your sleeves and get involved in local
activism. You might have to pressure the powers that be to implement the
will of the people through collective action or community organizing. And
maybe you should also think about running for office. That`s the lesson
one young Stanford graduate learned when he returned to his home city of
Stockton, California. A city plagued by poverty and violent crime to
campaign for city council and just 22-years-old.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL TUBBS, CITY COUNCILMAN, STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA: My name is Michael
Tubbs (ph). I`m running for city council.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We basically already exhausted all of the likely voters.
This election will be won or lost if we turn people out who don`t vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Have you voted, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Another voter needs a ride.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Where?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Two twenty seven.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The polls are only open for two more hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Councilman Michael Tubbs and his grass roots campaign for
the city council are the subject of a new documentary, "True Son" which
premiered the Tribeca film festival this year, he`s currently playing in
select New York and L.A. Theaters. And he joins me now. All right. So,
TUBBS: That`s an excellent question. Actually, in 2010, my cousin was
murdered on Halloween in Stockton and he was one of 55 homicides that year.
And at that point, I just got done working on Google, I was at the White
House as an intern. And I felt almost a sense of survivors` guilt. And I
had a very good trajectory going for me. But people back home that I knew
about were dying literally. So I thought one day I will run for office.
And then my senior year, kind of problems intensified. That`s where we`re
going through bankruptcy, that`s when we had back to back years of record
homicides, and then in the moment of inspiration, our craziness or a
mixture of both, I decided, you know, what? That`s the worst that could
happen? We could start the narrative and conversation as to what do you
want our community to look like in 10 years, 15 years, 20 years from now.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, when you asked that question, what`s the worst that
could happen? Actually a couple of weeks ago, something not so fun did, in
fact, happen. And that is, you were pulled over for a DUI. So talk to me
about how in that moment having made that decision to become a public
person, to hold the public trust. How do you account for and manage that?
TUBBS: Again, that was a horrible mistake. Most embarrassing thing ever.
And I`ve apologized profusely several times. But I think over the past
week, it`s also been kind of a great lesson. I`m just being really
transparent, especially with the young people I work with. The importance
of making the right choices 100 percent of the time. That all it takes,
one mistake. One I think I`m good. It could undermine and get rid of all
of the stuff. All the good you`ve done. So, it`s been tough for myself
and my family. But I think I`m growing as a leader from it.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s an interesting point. Let me play. Because you`re
talking about this idea of sort of the decisions and how tough the
circumstances are and then therefore the decisions that people have to make
within them. Let`s take just another little piece of the documentary here
and take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There`s been 23 homicides in Stockton this year so
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: People are dying in broad daylight. People are being
shot in parks.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Stockton was ranked by Forbes Magazine as the worst city
in the United States of America.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I watched on the news and I really thought it was a joke
but it wasn`t. When they came and foreclosed on city hall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Okay. So you`re facing those kinds of challenges. You`re
22, you`re still making -- you were at the time, 22 years old, still making
some mistakes of your own. What do you see as the role that you can play
in addressing those kinds of questions?
TUBBS: And that`s the role I am playing. So, I think part of it, age is
actually a blessing, because the average age in the county is 26-years-old.
I`m 24. And especially in regarding homicide, 92 percent of all the
homicides in the past 28 years in the city have been young men of color,
young men that look like me, young men I went to school with or played
basketball with. So, I feel really blessed when I went to Stanford at the
policy background, but to bridge that out with lived experience, coming
from poverty, representing the rough neighborhoods that I grew up in, and
bringing those things to the table. So, we`ve done a lot of work and
police chief and I worked together establishing office advice prevention.
It`s really institutionalize best practices.
We have our Boys and Men of Color Alliance before -- initiatives. Getting
the community focused on how to help the least of this and help them reach
for potential. We`re doing a huge amount of work. We started the --
coalition which is bringing all the nonprofits, all the players and all
leaders around the common goal. How do we prove (INAUDIBLE). So, I think
I don`t know everything for sure. And I have a lot to learn, but I do
think being in City Council is giving me an opportunity to kind of use what
I`ve been blessed with in a way that really energizing my community.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I appreciate you offering the model that, again,
voting is fantastic. But sometimes you`ve got to go ahead and make the
decision to run for office. And, look, you ran and you actually won now.
You`re in that position to make a change. Thank you for that. Thank you
Stockton, California City Councilman Mr. Tubbs.
And that is our show for today. Thank you at home for watching. I`m going
to see you next Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern. But right now, it`s time for
preview with "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hi, Alex.
ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": That was a very
impressive interview. Thank you very much. I liked that. Everyone, we
have the final push, as you know it. New poll numbers may tell us where
the election is headed on Tuesday. We`re going to show them to you. Plus
-- get reports from three critical battleground states.
New details about the final moment before the Virgin spaceship crash. Why
investigators say could take a year to find out what went wrong?
Down to the wire, the final hours before Nik Wallenda`s latest stunt. This
one over the Chicago River. And who was that on Alpha house? Yep, ahah!
The show`s executive producer joins me to talk about what`s next for the
show, plus, what will happen Tuesday in the midterms. Don`t go anywhere,
I`ll be right back.
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