UP with STEVE KORNACKI
November 9, 2014
Guest: Amanda Terkel, Ed Rendell, Katie Packer Gage. Drew Cline, Eliot
Cutler, Dan Malloy, Sara Cliff, Gabriela Domenzain, Lory Montgomery, Sarah
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: So, what`s next? All right, thanks for
getting up with us this morning. We have a lot to talk about at the end of
a week that brought us a change of power, a sea change of power in the
Senate. More details emerging this morning on what each party intends to
do and whether they`ll be able to accomplish it. President Obama is on his
way to Asia at this hour. He arrives today on a tour that will take him to
three countries on a nine-day trip. And also this morning, a diplomatic
win for the administration. Two Americans released from captivity in North
Korea are now back in the United States. We`ll have more on that in just a
minute. But, first this hour, recriminations for both parties in the wake
of the midterm elections this week. Incoming majority leader and incoming
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said all the right things about
wanting to work with Democrats about getting things done across the aisle
with a new session. But right on cue there are signs that his own party
might not let him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The American people have
changed the Senate. So, I think we have an obligation to change the
behavior of the Senate and to begin to function, again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Mitch McConnell on Wednesday, but "The New York Times"
reports this morning that Tea Party conservatives "were baffled by those
remarks. " They feared that McConnell is already playing it too safe and
nice with the White House. They want to keep using the threat of a
government shutdown as the ultimate leverage and they want to dismantle the
Affordable Care Act. The stress, meanwhile, is also showing for the
Democrats with the announcement yesterday that the party is planning an
extensive review of what went wrong in the last two mid-term elections.
They are calling it a top to bottom assessment, so reminiscent of the self-
autopsy that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus famously commissioned for his
party after Mitt Romney`s 2012 defeat. To discuss this, this week`s our
big stories, we have with us our panel this morning, former Pennsylvania
Governor Ed Rendell, political consultant and former advisor to Mitt Romney
Katie Packer Gage, and senior political report for "The Huffington Post"
So, this "Times" story we`re talking about here this morning, about the Tea
Party`s reaction to how Mitch McConnell has reacted to the election was
certainly interesting to me. The Republican leadership for McConnell now
seems to be sending this signal, hey, we might have a, you know, a sort of
perfunctory vote on Obamacare repeal. We don`t actually think that is
going to happen and we want it move on to some other stuff pretty quickly
and now you are hearing the sounds from the Tea Party. Wait, no, we have
this power. We want to use it for an all-out war on Obamacare. Who wins
AMANDA TERKEL: Well, I think, like you said, it was sort of right on cue
that they started objecting immediately and I thought piece from the "Daily
Caller" was sort of an interesting sort of note about this. That Boehner
and McConnell announced their agenda behind the pay wall of "the Wall
Street Journal" which I think angered a lot of activists. Because they
thought that, you know, what McConnell was announcing, things, like let`s
get move forward on trade. These are things that business community wants,
just not things that activists want. So, I think that McConnell and
Boehner will try to push forward so that they show that they can govern,
they are not simply trying to hold up everything. But at the same time,
they are going to get a lot of criticism from their base and a lot of
KORNACKI: I mean the base of the Republican Party, Katie, is that if you
just talk to the base and say, what is your - the number one thing you
would like them to do. Forget about what`s possible, what you would like
them to do, it is repeal Obamacare, isn`t?
KATIE PACKER-GAGE, FMR. MITT ROMNEY ADVISER: Well, certainly, that it`s
something that they heard a lot on the campaign trail from supporters. But
I think the difference between Mitch McConnell and a lot of the other folks
that you are hearing from, is he actually was on the campaign trail this
fall and he heard from voters and beyond just what the base wants. He
heard from people - we want Washington to function. We want the parties to
come together. And, you know, the tone that President Obama struck right
after the election which was very defiant and indicated that he planned to
go it alone in his agenda, I think is in contrast with what voters are
looking for. And I think Mitch McConnell is trying to communicate to the
American people that we as Republicans are not the one striking this tone.
We are willing to work with the other side, we want to govern, we want to
move America forward.
KORNACKI: Well, so, Governor, that`s the sort of mixed signaling here that
confuses me. Because I do - I hear the Republican argument that the
president, especially when it comes to immigration and we can talk a little
bit more about immigration later, but the idea that, oh, if the president
goes ahead and acts alone on this, it`s against defying, it`s against the
spirit of the election. At the same time, if they come out of the gate
with Obamacare repeal, again. This idea of poisoning the well, that`s the
same thing, isn`t it?
FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: Yeah, there - Little bit of a case
of be careful what you wish for. Now that they got control of both Houses
of Congress, I think Mitch McConnell is right. They have got to show the
American people they can do something. And they can`t send them send the
president pieces of legislation that they know he is going to veto. They
can`t send him unreasonable legislation. Look, people may not like the
Affordable Care Act, but they don`t want it repealed. They want it
changed, they want it modified and every poll shows that. Let`s assume for
the moment, you could repeal it, obviously, the president is going to veto
it, but if you did repeal it, 9.5 million people who have health care will
lose health care. Do you want those 9.5 people furious, adamant about
going to the polls November 2016? I don`t think so.]
So, the question is, is there a Republican Party that wants to govern that
wants to do some good for the country. Heaven forbid we focus on what`s
good for the country. And is it a Republican Party that wants to put
itself in a position for 2016 or is it a Republican Party that`s going to
fall on the sword to ideological warfare and turn off the American people?
Now, McConnell has it a little easier than Boehner. Boehner has, for the
most part, held to the Hastert rule. The Hastert rule will prevent passage
of reasonable legislation. You could fashion an immigration bill, not as,
I don`t think the Senate bill was all that liberal, but not as liberal as
the Senate bill. But some - a bill that most Democrats could vote for.
But could you get it to the floor because the Tea Party in the House has
more than a half of the caucus and they can stop it from going to the poll.
KORNACKI: Well, yes, I mean - so, and that`s the question we can talk
about immigration a little bit because that is the immediate question now
in Washington post-election is the president has basically said, look, the
current congress. The sort of the lame duck congress and you have until
the end of the year to act on this bill to pass the Senate is now sitting
there in the House, do it by the end of the year, and I`m not going to act
unilaterally, but otherwise, I will. Is there, I mean, Katie, looking at,
this is a bill that passed with somewhat significant Republican support in
the Senate. And I imagined, everybody tells down there, if it was on the
floor in the House there would be enough Republicans who would vote yes to
pass it. Is there any way that you can see as a Republican this bill, this
Senate bill getting through the House in this lame duck session?
PACKER GAGE: Probably not. But you know, it`s sort of .
KORNACKI: So, what is the .
PACKER GAGE: It`s sort of a false offer that the president is making.
Take a bill that you don`t like or I`m going to do something that you don`t
like. So, whichever you do, you end up with something that .
KORNACKI: But I guess - I mean the thing that I hear is that there are a
number of Republicans who do like it, who do want to vote for it and who do
want to get it passed, but it can`t get to the floor and it can`t get for a
vote. The idea is like, if this thing is actually on the floor. It`s not
a party line vote and it goes down. It`s actually basically every Democrat
votes for it and like half the Republicans vote for it, too.
PACKER GAGE: Well, that`s the way the process works. You know, they are
going to have to win over the hearts and minds of people that have been
elected to represent constituents and that`s the way the process works.
But as a president, you can`t just decide that you`re going to ignore a
whole branch of Congress. That`s the way that our constitution set our
government up and you can`t just ignore that. So, you have to work with
the process that you`ve got and if changes need to be made, then changes
need to be made. But that`s the reality.
TERKEL: I mean I think that, you know, Republicans will have a tough time
getting anything through if they sort of stick to that rule, because
they`re still not going to have the 60 votes in the Senate. So, in order
to get things through the Senate, they`ll have to find some Democrats. And
some of the more moderate Democrats, people like Mark Pryor and we don`t
know really about Mark Begich and Mary Landrieu yet. You know, they lost
TERKEL: So, you`re having now a more conservative caucus. We are also
having a more progressive caucus. And so, if Republicans do want to get
things even to President Obama`s desk, they are going to have to find some
KORNACKI: Also, an issue like immigration, Governor. What would be - I
mean the bill that passed the Senate is ridiculously tough on border
KORNACKI: So, a lot of border security built into there.
RENDELL: Tough on the road to citizenship.
KORNACKI: I say, this is a 13-year path with all sorts of fines and
checkpoints built in. So, if that right now cannot get through, do you see
a compromise that could get through that would actually be acceptable to
Republicans and to immigration activists?
RENDELL: Well, the Senate bill wouldn`t get votes. Even in the lame duck
session. It wouldn`t pass the House, but there was a bill right before the
children smuggling in June. There was a bill that Boehner thought he had
the votes for. That bill was crafted by Republicans in the House. It`s
probably a bill that Democrats in the House and the Senate could support.
That`s the bill they should send to the Senate and send to the president.
I think the president would sign it. It wouldn`t get 100 percent of the
Democratic votes, but it will get a number of Democrat votes.
Look, immigration reform, this is something I know about because eight
years as governor. Both sides will never get 100 percent of what they
want. So, Democrats are not going to get the best and fastest road to
citizenship. Republicans are, you have to concede there is going to have
to be some avenue. Maybe in two steps where people can get a road to
The other issues, the issues about high-tech workers and agricultural
workers, those are relatively easy. Border security, e-verify relatively
easy to do. Both sides have got to swallow a little bit. The question is,
can the Tea Party do that or more importantly, will Boehner just put it on
the floor for a vote?
KORNACKI: And risk that. Yes.
RENDELL: The resident has been criticized for saying, I`ll sign it, but,
guys, it`s only an executive order. It can be superseded by legislation.
Remember, the Senate bill went over a year and a half ago. A year and a
half ago and House hasn`t acted. So, for him to do what he`s doing and
say, send me a bill in March, if it`s a good bill, I`ll sign it. The
executive order goes away. It shouldn`t produce all that gut wrenching on
the Republican side.
KORNACKI: Yeah, and yet, I have a feeling it will. Anyway, we`ll be back
after this break. Another aspect of the midterms in just a little bit.
But first, we are learning more about the return of those two Americans
released from captivity in North Korea. Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd
Miller landed at an Air Force base in Washington State late last night.
The release was the result of a secret mission undertaken by James Clapper,
the director of National Intelligence. Be and Miller were serving hard
labor sentences in North Korea. Bae was arrested for leading a tour group
in the North Korean economic zone and Miller was reportedly convicted on an
espionage charge. NBC`s Perry Bacon Jr. joins us live now from the north
lawn of the White House.
So, Perry, what can you tell us the latest about this, sort of a
surprising, but good development overnight, obviously?
BACON: It was. This was an unusual trip, Steve. The U.S. has sent people
abroad in North Korea before to get Americans back and get them released.
But in the past, usually former presidents - like former President Carter
or former President Clinton. This trip was unusual because you had the
acting director of intelligence James Clapper go over to do that. He came,
I`m told with a message from the - a letter from the president, you know,
the president asking to have these two people released. What the
government has emphasized is nothing has changed in election between these
two countries. The U.S. is not - is still very concerned with the nuclear
program with North Korea, this is not a quid pro quo of any kind. But
Obama approved this mission personally last week and then it was some
coordination with the Chinese as well, and a really big push here to make
this release happen.
KORNACKI: All right, Perry Bacon Jr., I think making his debut from the
White House lawn this morning. Certainly, this update - and he will be
back for an encore next hour. Thanks for the information, Perry. We`ll
see you in a little bit.
BACON: Of course, thanks, Steve.
KORNACKI: And we`ll be right back with another important aspect of the
midterms to talk about. That is the gender gap. Maybe did it go off the
table this election and out of the playbook? It was a factor in a way in
Tuesday`s results. We`ll tell you about it.
KORNACKI: There`s a profile in "The L.A. Times" this morning looking at
how Joni Ernst, the senator-elect from Iowa basically rewrote the playbook
for women running for office as a Republican this year. How she didn`t run
explicitly on her gender, although she certainly didn`t ignore it, but very
successfully pivoted to things that supposedly made her seem tough and
independent. Soldier, motorcycle rider, ham castrator, you`re probably
familiar with the list at this point. Earns success, and the success of so
many other Republicans this week, though, does raise the question.
What happened to the war on women? In Colorado, Mark Udall`s ad saying
that Cory Gardner would take women backwards seem to fall flat. In
Arkansas, Mark Pryor took a women proprietor through the state, produced
his own video slamming Tom Cotton for his "insulting view on women", ended
up getting crushed by Cotton. The reverse gender gap seems to be coming
into focus a little bit in this election, showing Republicans with a huge
lead, even bigger than usual among male voters, but women pretty much split
between the parties. Not as much of a gap there certainly as Democrats
were hoping for. So, is the war on women that was so successful for
Democrats as a strategy in 2012 not quite the automatic winner that they
thought it was?
So, Iowa was one example of this, but Colorado is the one that jumps out at
me so much because you had that debate out there where the moderator asked
Mark Udall and said basically, hey, people are calling you Mark Uterus
because you are so focused so much on this issues. The "Denver Post"
refused to endorse him on the grounds that he`d ran "obnoxious single issue
campaign." And it really seems, you know, Democrats looked at what
happened in 2012 and they thought it`s going to happen again in 2014 and it
didn`t materialize this time.
PACKER GAGE: Well, I think that it was a cautionary tale for Democrats
moving forward. They had run successfully on that messaging and, really,
doubled and tripled down on that messaging in most of their competitive
races. And I think what you saw in Colorado, for example, was a place
where they were solely focused on women`s reproductive issues and trying to
paint Cory Gardner as this caveman Republican. But when voters saw Cory,
that`s not what they saw. And so, it was at odds with what they were
seeing for themselves and not only did it not work with women, but we saw
independent men really rejecting this and saying, you know, in a time when
we`re confronted with really significant national security issues are the
only things we`re going to hear about this campaign are birth control and
abortion and, so, you did see a huge gender gap with men and you didn`t see
women sort of getting revved up on the issue.
KORNACKI: Yeah, there is two pieces there. Amanda, on one of them, I
wonder, the point Katie is making there and I`ve heard others sort of say
this more explicitly, though, is the difference between Cory Gardner
winning in Colorado and somebody like Ken Buck losing or Todd Akin or
something like that, is on paper, just in terms of their positions, you`re
not going to find a lot of daylight there. But Cory Gardner didn`t say
anything way out there about rape, he didn`t make any of this sort of far
out, they are easy to characterize and attack comments. Is that really -
is that the difference between the war on women strategy working and not
TERKEL: I think it`s a big part of it. I mean Republicans were a lot
smarter this time, and they went up and they questioned their candidates
and how are you going to respond about rape when someone asked you. And
they were more prepared for that. They didn`t go out there and proactively
talk about these issues which meant that there were fewer gaps. But, you
know, in some way it worked, because a person who had measures that were on
the ballot were rejected, but then the candidates are - the Democrats were
trying to defeat ended up, ended up making it through. But, you know, I
don`t think that this issue is something that necessarily should be dropped
altogether. I mean Mitch McConnell said that he is open to bringing up the
20-week abortion ban pretty soon after he takes over as majority leader.
So, this will come up, but it should not have been the only issue. Mark
Udall is a leader on civil liberties, on privacy intelligence issues, that
could have been a way .
KORNACKI: The torture report that he`s been .
TERKEL: He could have distanced himself from President Obama. It would
have been - it`s an issue that he`s a leader on in Congress and you didn`t
hear about it very much, and I don`t think that was a smart strategy.
KORNACKI: But so, Governor Rendell, as the guy at the table here, let me
ask you .
KORNACKI: But the other side .
KORNACKI: It really is striking when you look at this - Democrats were so
focused on the big margins they got with women, particularly single women
in 2012 and trying to replicate that in 2014. But as Katie is saying, on
the flip side of it, they lost a lot of ground among men in this election.
RENDELL: I think they both made some great points. Number one, they were
not wacko candidates out there. We need wacko candidates badly. That`s
number one. Number two, the women issue is not just about reproductive
rights, it`s about equal pay, it`s about education. It`s about early
childhood. Those are things we should have focused on. And secondly,
women are not single issue voters any more than gun owners are single issue
voters. You have got to appeal on a far broader and we just ran a lousy
campaign, we didn`t nationalize it and sorry, Steve, your question was .
KORNACKI: Well, that`s - I mean - so, in terms of it, it seems like it
triggered a backlash among men. It`s not just the failure to get women out
in those numbers, it`s also losing ground among men. And I think .
RENDELL: The great irony IS, we got clobbered among white working class
men. Blue collar men. Many of whom are laid off, their unemployment has
run out. We want to extend their unemployment and the Republican Party
generally is against it. We want to raise the minimum wage, which would
have an effect of raising wages all the way up the ladder and Republican
Party is against it. We`re for worker safety. The Republican Party says
too much regulation. The irony is, on issue after issue and you made a
great point, a person had got voted down. Minimum wage got voted up.
Candidates who were against minimum wage, for a personhood, got elected.
So, obviously, our problem is not the things that we stand for, the
American people on every exit poll agree with us much more than they do
with the Republicans. But it`s the way we message this campaign and the
Republicans did a great job. You know, an excellent job. But the way we
message. You have got to give the voters, you can`t insult their
intelligence. You can`t run on a single issue.
PACKER GAGE: If you`re in Colorado and you were sitting and watching TV .
PACKER GAGE: throughout the day and you were a working class male white
voter, the only thing you heard from Mark Udall was about reproductive
PACKER GAGE: And so, you know, you can`t blame them for rejecting that at
the end of the day.
KORNACKI: -The saying is, if you looked at Udall`s record, six years in
the Senate, it is kind of baffling. Because in the year where you want to
distance yourself from Obama, he could have done that in some really
compelling ways. And he didn`t do it. It`s just - it`s one of those cases
it seems to me that it is almost like the consultant class in politics
being too smart for themselves. They saw something that worked in 2012 and
they just got addicted to it. And they thought, oh, we just keep doing
this, keep pounding this, and it didn`t work. So, now there was a lesson
out in Colorado in 2012, in 2010. Now, there`s a new lesson out of
Colorado for 2014.
RENDELL: You can`t blame - on the consultants. If you`re a candidate .
KORNACKI: You go along with it.
RENDELL: You have the last say. I rejected a lot of ads that my
consultants wanted to run.
KORNACKI: Yeah, now, that`s right. Mark Udall is certainly a .
RENDELL: And he`s a great guy.
KORNACKI: Certainly has responsibility, as well.
Still ahead, the bluest of blue states. The big blue wall, they call it
the reddest of red states, they are not quite as big red wall. Had the
electoral map change as the result of what we learned from Tuesday`s
midterms, though - we`re going over to the big board to show you, that`s
KORNACKI: So you already know the headline Tuesday was a very big day for
Republicans and it was a very bad day for Democrats, but one of the
questions coming out of that is did the big Republican victory, does the
big Republican victory mean anything in terms of changing the electoral
map? That red state/blue state map that we know so well. Does it portend
any big changes in that as we head into the next big election in 2016? So
we wanted to look a little bit closer at the longer term implications of
what happened on Tuesday. And we are going to do that with our friend
here, the big board. Now what we`re going to start with here, you see this
is called the Democrats blue wall. And what you`re seeing here, there is a
total of 18 states plus the District of Columbia. Every single one of
these states has voted for Democratic presidential candidates for six
straight elections. That takes you all the way back to 1992. Every one of
these states has gone blue in every one of these elections.
Now, the good news for Democrats. Is if you look at the Senate races this
week, all the gains the Republicans made in the Senate, didn`t come in any
of these blue wall states, the only thing they did was Susan Collins,
Republican from Maine, she got re-elected and that was no surprise. Maine
obviously a pretty blue state nationally beyond that. You look at the rest
of these states, Democratic senators where they were up and Democratic
senators survived. The warning sign for Democrats is that at the
gubernatorial level, for instance, Bruce Rauner the Republican, well, that
is not the button I was meaning to press there. You thought I would have
learned this thing by now. Bruce Rauner, the Republican, got elected in
Illinois. That was a Republican gain. Scott Walker held on in Wisconsin,
Schneider held on in Michigan. So you see, even in New England, the
Republican got elected in Massachusetts, in Maryland, a Republican governor
got elected. Paul LePage got reelected governor of Maine.
So, when it comes to governors, Republicans did very well in the blue wall
states. The question is, does that translate into an advantage, a new
advantage for Republicans or a new opportunity for Republicans when it
comes to the presidential race? The good news for Democrats there, is we
haven`t seen much evidence yet that when you win a governorship it
necessarily translates into a state changing at the national level. Voters
a lot of time see a difference between the governor`s race and a race for
president and a race for Senate. That sort of thing. Let`s move on.
Now, I want to look at - maybe a sneak preview just a second ago. If the
Democrats have the big blue wall, that was 2042 electoral votes, the
Republicans have their own red wall. Now, it`s only worth 102 electoral
votes. It`s a little smaller to start with. But these are states that
Republicans have carried in every election presidential going back to 1992.
Not a lot of activity in these states this week in terms of Senate
elections. You do have Alaska where the Republican are going to a long
count out there, but the Republican now leading in that race. Otherwise,
no big surprises here. But if you put these two together and we do that by
pressing this button. If you put these together and we take a look ahead
to 2016. This is interesting. We put now, unfortunately, red becomes pink
on this and blue becomes sky blue, but pretend this is red and blue states.
You look at these are - the big red wall states and the big blue wall
states, and heading into 2016, if you just look at those states gives the
Democrats a pretty good advantage. So, Republicans would need to start
making some end roads maybe into some of those states they won governor
But there`s another development this week to tell you about, and that is as
bad news for Democrats. There`s a lot of the sort of Southern and
Appalachian states where Democrats thought they could still be competitive
under the right circumstances alike. Mark Pryor a well-known name running
in Arkansas with Bill Clinton coming down to campaign for him. They
thought, hey, Arkansas is one of these states that Clinton carried through
the `90s. We could still win it under the right circumstances. Pryor lost
by almost 20 points there. You really start to say, that`s going to become
part of that Republican red wall. Kentucky, Mitch McConnell. For all the
talk about the danger of Mitch McConnell was in, he ended up running -
winning that thing by 16 points. A lot of those counties there, Alison
Grimes didn`t do any better than Barack Obama did in 2012. So, you look at
Kentucky State. That`s probably becoming part of the red wall. The same
thing in West Virginia, it was a Democratic congressman there who had been
in office for 40 years. Nick Rahal spent millions of dollars to try to
hang on and just couldn`t hang on any more. So, and Mary Landrieu in
Louisiana in grave danger.
So, a lot of these states, Southern Appalachian states that voted for
Clinton in the `90s. You probably put Tennessee in that category. It
looks like they are starting to go. You could put Montana, Democrats lost
the Senate seat. You see the Republican share of this starting to grow and
then you start to see a battleground take shape for 2016 and that`s the
best news of Tuesday for Republicans. You`d have to say as if you look at
these battleground states, the ones that are yellow on here.
Republicans won a Senate race in North Carolina, it`s going to be a
contested state in 2016. Republicans won a Senate race in Iowa, that`s a
state they did get - in 2016 and Republicans won a Senate race in Colorado.
Again, another quintessential battleground state. And in Georgia, this is
one Democrats are always talking about getting eventually because of
demographic changes and Democrats thought maybe this is the year we show
the numbers have changed there. Well, Michelle Nunn ran basically at the
exact same level as President Obama. So, again, that`s one where
Republicans can feel good. And even in Virginia, Virginia is a state that
President Obama carried twice, nobody thought the Senate race was going to
be even close there this year with Mark Warner. He was supposed to win
big. We all turned on our TVs on election night. It was said, holy cow,
Mark Werner is in serious trouble. He won that thing by about 16,000
votes, and - so Republicans even made a competitive race out of Virginia.
So, the Republicans when you look at the competitive states here, that`s
the best news for them coming out of Tuesday. They show that in federal
elections and in races for the Senate, they can win or be very competitive
in these states. The only one that got bad news for Republicans this week,
it - is New Hampshire. In this wave, if they couldn`t win that Senate race
in New Hampshire, you start to say that maybe New Hampshire is becoming
more and more part of that blue wall. So, we even - we could put it there
now. New Hampshire State Democrats can feel a little bit better about.
But anyway, that`s a quick look ahead to 2016, based on what happened this
week. We`ll be going back to this map once or twice more the next two
years. But we thought we`d take a look at it right now. We look at the
light colors on it next time, too. But speaking of Scott Brown, the one
Republican who didn`t catch that wave on Tuesday was Scott Brown. Why did
it miss him? We`ll ask that question next.
KORNACKI: The Republican wave that washed out one Senate Democrat after
another on Tuesday seemed to skip one major race. We just talked about it,
but in New Hampshire, the former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown came up
just short against Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen. All around the
country, the polls underestimated support for Republicans lifting one GOP
candidate after another to a surprising win on Tuesday, but not in New
Hampshire. Brown trailed slightly in the polls against Shaheen for the
whole race and he received no last minute boost either. This happening
even as New Hampshire Republicans succeeded in an ousting one of the
state`s two Democratic congresswoman and even as Republicans took control
of the state legislature with a 60-seat swing. So, Republican wave did hit
New Hampshire on Tuesday. But Scott Brown wasn`t riding it. Why was that?
Joining me now is Drew Cline, he is the editorial page editor of the New
Hampshire Union Leader. He joins us from Manchester. So, Drew, thanks for
joining us. I guess, just the basic question. When you look at what
happened in your state and when you look at what happened nationally. I
mean we said early on on election night the two early tests of this
Republican wave are North Carolina and New Hampshire and now we`re into the
returns and we`re saying well, Republicans are going to get North Carolina.
My gosh, they might even get Virginia, but Scott Brown still is going to
lose in New Hampshire. Why with all these Republican succeeding did Brown
come up short in your state?
DREW CLINE, NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER: Yeah, well, I think it`s a point
to point out, like you just did, that the Republican wave did, in fact, hit
New Hampshire. And you saw Republican take their legislature, you saw
Carol-Shea Porter go down in the first. But with Brown, I think what you
saw is a couple of things. The main one being, he got beat by a much
better candidate in a year where the Democratic Party, once again, in New
Hampshire did a master piece of a job turning out their vote and getting
people to the polls. And just running that sort of ground game that New
Hampshire Republicans still haven`t caught up with.
So, if you want to start by addressing the main thing that people
nationally talk about with the Brown Shaheen races. The Capretbagger
claim. Well, that did hurt him. I don`t think there`s any question. When
you saw 52 percent and the exit polls say that he hadn`t lived in New
Hampshire long enough to represent the state, clearly, it hurt him. But
that didn`t kill him in New Hampshire. I think you look at the numbers and
you can see that it wasn`t just the sort of Carpetbagger claim. He did
very well in the southern part of the state where it`s very Republican and
there`s a lot of Massachusetts expats. He did quite well there. But
interestingly, he didn`t do as well as he should have. And he didn`t win
in Rockingham County by the kind of margin you would expect a Republican
candidate to win by. He, in fact, only did statewide about 5,000 votes
better than the gubernatorial nominee who no one even heard of six months
So, why would that be? Partly carpet bagger, partly he got out campaigned
by a Shaheen operation that was absolutely amazing. And when you talk
about the Republican gains in the state house, here`s something important
to remember, they went big in 2010, they also won this year, but they won
by a smaller margin. Let`s look at the U.S. congressional races. Carol
Shea Porter lost even though she got more votes this year than she did in
2010. Like 20 some thousand more votes. Ann Kuster got 25,000 more votes
this year than she got in 2010. And these are both gigantic Republican
wave years. So, if 2010 is the sort of bellwether Tea Party, gigantic
Republican wave, how did Carol Shea Porter and Ann Kuster end up getting
more votes in 2014 than they got that year when this was also supposed to
be this gigantic Republican wave, and it turns out Republicans did win a
lot of races here. I think you can look at the turnout. So, and in New
Hampshire Democratic Party, for example, just as an example of what kind of
operation they have, they had 20 field offices in New Hampshire compared to
seven for the Republican Party.
They had, they had so many outside groups with unions and next game -
climate change and a bunch of other left to center groups getting out the
vote and targeting their voters and they`ve been doing this since late
winter, early spring. And the Republicans just - just weren`t able to
compete with that.
KORNACKI: Quick question, do you think Scott Brown was the best candidate
New Hampshire Republicans could have put up this year or is it somebody
else that could have won?
CLINE: That`s an impossible question to answer. Out of the three who
decided they wanted to run, he was by far the best candidate. I mean the
other two guys would have performed worse. I don`t think anybody thinks
otherwise, except maybe them. But there has always been this problem in
New Hampshire of finding those Republican candidates who will take that
national race. That big statewide race. I mean Republicans got really
lucky in 2010 with an absolutely fabulous candidate Kelly Ayotte. So, it`s
hard to tell. There was something said on the sidelines, we`ll see if they
come out in `16.
KORNACKI: All right, my thanks to Drew Cline from the New Hampshire Union
Leader for getting up early this morning. I appreciate that.
Person Politico magazine called America`s craziest governor won re-election
this week. One of his opponents will be here to talk about it. That`s
KORNACKI: Politico magazine has called Paul LePage America`s craziest
governor. Maine`s Republican governor says whatever is on his mind there
is no filter there, and that`s led to controversy and so have the deeply
conservative policies that he`s pursued for the last four years. Add to
that the fact that Maine is a blue state. It voted for President Obama by
large margins twice. The fact that LePage won office in 2010 and something
of a fluke. It was a three way race. He won with only 38 percent of the
vote. Put all of that together and it put LePage near the top of the list
of governors that Democrats badly wanted to beat this week. But they
didn`t. When the votes were counted, Paul LePage was re-elected to a
second term on Tuesday.
So, how did he do it? Well, Democrats are saying, it`s another fluke, the
same Independent candidate, Eliot Cutler who nearly beat LePage in 2010 ran
again this time, even as Democrats begged and pleaded with him to step
aside and he finished with eight percent while LePage got 48, the
Democratic candidate got 43. So, did that make the difference? Is Elliot
Cutler the reason the Maine Politico dubbed America`s craziest governor as
getting four more years or is it more complicated than that? He`s here and
we`ll ask him all about it next. We`ll also ask him about something that
Paul LePage said about him in his victory speech that raised some eyebrows.
So stay tuned. Eliot Cutler is here. That`s straight ahead.
KORNACKI: All right, Maine Governor Paul LePage won a second term on
Tuesday. One of his opponents, two-time independent candidate for governor
and we`ll get to that part in a minute. But Eliot Cutler joins us right
now. Eliot, thank you for joining us, by the way, because I know a lot of
people have been trying to ask you questions, I think after this election.
So, well, let me ask you the bottom line question.
We had you on this show back in June or back in July and you said then the
good news is, Paul LePage is not going to win a second term. You said you
think he is going to finish somewhere in the 30s. We put the numbers up
there, he gets the second term. You are still in the race. What happened?
ELIOT CUTLER (I-MAINE, 2014 CANDIDATE FOR GOV.): You know, I think that
there was a layer of fear over the election that was remarkable. I mean,
Democrats were afraid that if they voted for me, they`d really like Paul
LePage. Republicans were afraid that if they voted for me, they like Mike
Michaud and I couldn`t break through that fear. It was that`s problem
number one. Problem number two was money. We were outspent 15 or 20 to
one by the two parties and their affiliates.
KORNACKI: But why - why did LePage won? Because what you seem to be
telling us on the show in June was, or July, I`m going to keep - what date
it was, but you seemed to say, look, it is either going to be me or it`s
going to be Mike Michaud, but it`s not going to be LePage. Put that worry
out of your mind.
CUTLER: I underestimated Paul LePage`s strength, number one, and I
overestimated the potential for a Democratic candidate for Michaud. I mean
I wasn`t Michaud`s problem, Mike Michaud was Michaud`s problem. And, you
know, the Republicans ran a great campaign. The Democrats spent an
enormous amount of money on negative stuff. Maine voters said, wait a
minute, enough of this. And the interesting thing, Steve that we found out
in our polls was that even though people didn`t like Paul LePage`s
temperament, they agreed with him on most issues. They were tired of
Democrats in Maine. Democrats in Maine since 1990 have won two statewide
KORNACKI: Yeah, this is - this is a New England thing. Massachusetts,
Rhode Island candidate, it actually - it is very tough for Democrats to win
gubernatorial elections. But when you look at that number, so in 2010 when
you ran, you actually - you came in second and you nearly beat LePage that
year. Now, this time the numbers are different. But we put them up there,
48, 43, LePage beats Michaud. You finished it eight. When you see that
final result, do you say if I hadn`t been in this race, LePage doesn`t get
CUTLER: No, in fact, I think - at least half of my votes, maybe more would
have gone to LePage. I was at about 21 in our poll, an independent poll
about three weeks before the election. But then an enormous amount of
money flagged it in to the stake, into negative advertising, stoking the
fear. I went down to about 13 or 15, and at that point I said to my
supporters, hey, either if your fears motivate you to vote for someone
else, go ahead and do it. If your conscious motivates you to vote for me,
do so. And that`s so I basically, some people have said, half-conceded.
KORNACKI: Well, yeah, and that was the week before the election and I
think that, a lot of people looking at that weren`t sure what message you
were sending with that. Was it - what was the message you were .
CUTLER: Well, the message was that there were an awful lot of people in
the state of Maine, including me who did not want to vote for either
Michaud oh LePage. Michaud was a weak candidate, and didn`t have a plan
for Maine, he was basically running on a platform of saying I am not Paul
LePage. He was a remade candidate within, you know .
KORNACKI: But do you think that he would be a better governor for the
state of Maine?
KORNACKI: You don`t think .
CUTLER: I didn`t think so --
KORNACKI: Do you think LePage would be a better governor than Mike
CUTLER: No, I think they`re both bad governors for a state that is in
trouble. We - Maine`s economy was declined against the rest - and now for
11 straight years. I don`t think either one of these guys has a plan or
had a plan to do much about it.
KORNACKI: Do you think, there`s another way of looking at your impact on
this race. Because I agree, and I think we can put this on the screen,
that we did an exit poll up there and said if Cutler wasn`t in the race,
who is your vote? And you can see. According to the exit poll, it doesn`t
make a difference.
KORNACKI: People are saying like - if that`s going to cost the race. The
other way of looking at this, though, that people raise - is the fact that
you were there for the entire race. It made it impossible for Democrats.
It made it impossible not so for Democrats, but it made impossible for
people who wanted Paul LePage out as governor to focus on that message and
allow him to sort of skate away while you fought with Michaud.
CUTLER: But that`s the whole fear point, Steve. I don`t think Maine
voters wanted to vote for fear, they wanted to vote positively. And those
who were supporting me. The 21 percent who were supporting me in early
October were saying this is the better way. But when you pour millions.
This is small state, 1.3 million people. When you pour $20 million into
the race in stocking fear and negative stuff, you`re going to get an awful
lot of voting that`s saying, I don`t want this guy and I don`t want that
KORNACKI: Is it true that after 2010 and again, you lost by about two
points in 2010 and that race is independent, I believe you made some
comments in the campaign trail this year that Democrats told you they would
clear the field and make you their nominee in 2014, is that true?
KORNACKI: Why didn`t you do that? Because you`d probably be .
CUTLER: Because I didn`t want to govern as a Democrat and I didn`t want to
govern as a Democrat for the same reasons that unions and everybody, all
the affiliated groups were piling into this campaign. When you take their
money, and I wouldn`t take any pack money from anybody. When you won`t
take their money, they don`t want to be for you. Number one. If you do
take their money, you are beholden to them, and I think that`s part of the
biggest problem we have in Maine politics right now.
KORNACKI: What are the next four years in Maine going to be like now? I
mean one big difference that people saw between Paul LePage and Mike
Michaud, between a Republican and a Democratic governor would be
participation in the Affordable Care Act in terms of expanding Medicaid in
the state and getting access - a lot of poor people in Maine giving access
to health insurance to poor people who don`t have it. They would have had
- they won`t have that with four more years with LePage.
CUTLER: Well, I think that`s the biggest challenge we have in Maine, is
fixing our health care system and persuading the governor to do something
about it. But, you know .
KORNACKI: Is he persuadable?
CUTLER: I think he is. I think most governors when they come into their
last term and they are not going to run again for anything are more
persuadable. I hope they are. I`m going to work on it. The other thing
I`m going to be working on is right choice voting. We had a petition out
there in the polls.
We got tens of thousands of signatures and we`re going to get right choice
voting from Maine on the ballot in the next year.
KORNACKI: One other thing was, at the end of the campaign, Ebola became an
issue. I mean obviously, nationally, but Maine was the state where you had
this nurse who was - who was .
CUTLER: Who is now leaving Maine?
KORNACKI: Right. Right. Well, the governor was trying to do the in-home
quarantine. But to that, in Maine, did that have an impact on the race?
CUTLER: No, I mean people like to talk about it. Reporters like to talk
about it, they ask questions, I think it had zero impact on the race.
KORNACKI: I also want to play, this was Paul LePage in his victory speech.
He mentioned you and let me play the speech and we`ll ask you about this.
CUTLER: Go ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R) MAINE: I will tell you, seriously, I gained a
tremendous amount of respect for one man in this campaign. Eliot Cutler
helped me understand where he`s from. And I`ve grown from that
relationship. In fact, I told him tonight, you should be the attorney
general of the state of Maine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Was that an offer?
CUTLER: I don`t know whether it was an offer. You know, the legislature
is now split almost even between Democrats --
KORNACKI: The legislature picks the attorney general.
CUTLER: The legislature - one of our problems in Maine is that legislature
picks the attorney general, secretary of state and the state treasurer.
First of all, I have no interest of it and I`m not even an active member of
the bar any more. It was a nice thing for him to say. I do want to be
active in Maine and I want to try to help Maine pull out of this 11-year
nose dive. I don`t think that`s the way to do it.
KORNACKI: When Democrats heard that, I know it drove them wild because
there was a moment in one of the debates this year where you actually said,
I don`t have a bromance with Paul LePage.
CUTLER: Well, that`s because we had a high five moment.
KORNACKI: Well, right, and Democrats listening to this, they are saying
wow, this looks like, you know, these guys were kind of buddies.
CUTLER: But you know, people try to fit what they see into what they
think. I mean, that`s how it works. I wasn`t buddy, I was probably, not
probably, I was more critical of Paul LePage in really pointed ways
throughout the course of the campaign than Mike Michaud was. Mike Michaud
was simply - got up there saying I`m not Paul LePage. I was very critical
of the governor and I had a lot of things to say about his failure to
borrow and about his health care policies and on and on and on. There`s no
bromance but I think that what LePage was saying is that at least I came to
the table with some ideas.
KORNACKI: Would you run for office again?
CUTLER: I doubt it very, very much.
KORNACKI: All right. Eliot Cutler, two time candidate for a governor of
Maine, really appreciate it.
CUTLER: Good to be here.
KORNACKI: Thanks for doing that.
CUTLER: Another full hour of news and politics straight ahead. Stay with
KORNACKI: The bright spots for Democrats.
All right, thanks for staying with us this Sunday morning. A lot more to
cover this hour. We`re going to talk about the latest challenge to the
Affordable Care Act. What the Supreme Court will look at, what it could
mean for millions of newly insured Americans. A very serious challenge and
a very surprising challenge. We`ll get into that later this hour.
Newspapers are awash this morning also with stories about how focus is now
shifting to 2016. We took a look at how Hillary Clinton is positioned
coming out of the midterms and today it`s time to tackle the GOP.
But we want to begin this hour with the weekend`s biggest news. President
Obama`s new nominee for attorney general. Yesterday he officially tapped
Loretta Lynch. She`s the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, New York, and NBC`s
Perry Bacon Jr. joins us live from the North Lawn of the White House. So,
Perry, we know the pick now. Any word on what the confirmation process and
time table is going to look like for this?
PERRY BACON, MSNBC: Two things on the timetable, Steve. First, from
talking to White House officials the last couple of days, what they told me
is they will not necessarily demand that Congress take up this nomination
immediately. In other words, the Republicans have said they want to wait
until they have the majority in January, and the White House has said
they`re not going to push that and annoy the Republicans. They`re going to
be okay with waiting in this process.
The second thing is Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, two of the most conservative
members of the Senate, wrote a letter yesterday, and they said part of the
confirmation process for them will be about demanding that Lynch say that
does she support or does she oppose or what exactly are her views on
whatever executive action the president takes on immigration. So, that`s a
clue that the confirmation hearings for Lynch may not just be about her
qualifications, which people generally agree are pretty strong, and maybe
more about her views on immigration and more broadly on executive authority
and how much the president can use it.
KORNACKI: Perry Bacon Jr. live for us at the White House, appreciate that,
thanks a lot.
We are back here now at the big board, actually. We want to illustrate
something that we talk about what a big day Tuesday was, obviously, for
Republicans, but in an election like that, there actually was some good
news for Democrats. It takes a little bit to find it. But we want to take
a look at the map. This is a map, actually this is not the Senate. What
we`re looking at here is the governor`s races, the governorships in this
country. What you see here, not surprisingly after Tuesday, this is a map
that is awash in red, and you look at all these targets the Democrats had
on Tuesday. They thought they could flip blue, they thought they could
take out Rick Scott in Florida, couldn`t do it there. This was the big
prize they wanted. They couldn`t get Scott Walker in Wisconsin. We just
talked about Maine, Paul LePage got re-elected there. They could not hold
off the Republican governor in Michigan, so a lot of missed opportunities
here for Democrats. And even a state like Illinois, Barack Obama`s home
state, Pat Quinn, Democratic governor, not able to win re-election there.
So a lot of bad news for Democrats.
But if you look closely, there are a couple of interesting stories. One of
them was in the state of Colorado. You can look here, John Hickenlooper,
the Democratic incumbent. Now, this is on the same day, on the same
ballot, with the same voters who were throwing Mark Udall, the Democratic
senator out of office, it looks like they re-elected John Hickenlooper, the
governor there. He pursued gun control of course two years ago. There was
a lot of talk that that was going to cost him his job, but he gets re-
elected, and you can look at a state like Alaska. Kind of a crazy race
taking shape there. It`s not a Democrat who`s leading, it`s an independent
who teamed up with a Democrat, who is running as his lieutenant governor.
They look, right now they`re leading, there are still votes to be counted,
but they are leading the Republican incumbent, Sean Parnell. You can find
a bit of a bright spot there for Democrats.
But the most interesting bright spot for Democrats on this board is right
here, the state of Connecticut. Go to southern New England and you take a
look, Dan Malloy. The incumbent Democratic governor defeating Tom Foley,
his Republican challenger, about a 30,000 vote margin there. Now a couple
of interesting things. First of all, this was a rematch. In 2010, these
two candidates squared off and Dan Malloy barely won. The margin was less
than 7,000 votes in 2010. So you can see, actually this looks very close
and was very close, but he expanded his margin. This was a rematch. He
did much better this time around. Dan Malloy had a very you might say he
had an activist agenda in his first term of governor. One of the issues
that he tackled was gun control. You know, Connecticut was the site of the
horrific Sandy Hook massacre in late 2012. In the wake of that, Dan Malloy
pushed through legislature, signed into law a ban on assault weapons in the
state, a limit on high capacity magazines. It really attracted the ire of
the NRA, of the gun industry, there is a firearms industry in Connecticut,
and it is one of the reasons he was in such danger in this election. But
not only did he win. I want to show you the most interesting result from
within the state of Connecticut on Tuesday, and that is the town of
Let`s take a look. This is where Sandy Hook is. This is a Republican
town. This is a small Republican town. You can see in 2010, Dan Malloy
got crushed here 60 to 39, and he lost to Tom Foley. Look at what happened
in 2014. Same candidates, after Newtown, after gun control, basically an
even race in Newtown. There was no other city or town in Connecticut that
swung as dramatically to Dan Malloy than Newtown. It`s hard to believe
that the issue of guns didn`t have an awful lot to do with that. So Dan
Malloy, who passed gun control in the wake of Sandy Hook, withstood an
onslaught from the NRA, wins re-election this week. A very interesting
bright spot for Democrats, and a lot to talk about what he`s done and how
And joining us now to do that from Connecticut, there he is, the governor.
Governor, thank you for taking a few minutes this morning. So if you could
just start on that issue, it really jumps out on me, and that`s why I
flagged it for our viewers. But in Newtown, you had dramatic improvement
from 2010. And I look at that and I say that has everything to do with how
you responded to Sandy Hook.
GOV. DAN MALLOY, D-CONNECTICUT: I think it has a lot to do with it. It
was not just Newtown, it was actually Newtown and the surrounding towns, as
well, including Danberry, and I think there was an appreciation that we
stepped forward and we did the right thing and weren`t afraid to do the
right thing when it came to guns. There are some surveys now having been
published about who voted and why and what generated - or what caused them
to vote. Quite clearly support of the gun legislation was a contributing
factor, particularly amongst women. Women was a group, a demographic that
we went after. We talked not only about guns, but paid sick days, and we
talked about raising the minimum wage, and we talked about our success in
implementing Obamacare, and all of those things led to a very large gap
with respect to our ability to attract women`s votes and the Republicans`
ability to attract male votes. I think in part the Republicans went after
the male vote using guns, and we went after the women`s vote using guns.
KORNACKI: The other interesting thing in Connecticut when we think of gun
control and we think of blue states and we say, well, there`s support for
gun control in blue states. We think of red states and we say maybe not so
much. But I think something that people don`t realize about Connecticut
necessarily is that there is a pretty active firearms industry in the state
of Connecticut. In fact, when you push some of these reforms through, one
of the things you had to be balancing and one of the things you had to be
thinking about was the threats from some of these companies to leave the
state. In fact, one of them, I think it is PTR Industries, a maker of
assault rifles, actually did leave the state for South Carolina. Can you
talk about that in terms of how that weighed your decision and what the
economic impact for Connecticut has been of gun control?
MALLOY: Well, you know, I made it clear that we were going to take
appropriate steps to limit the carnage in our state. And let me point out
using base year `11 to 2013, we`ve seen a 32 percent drop in murders in our
state. And in `14 we`re seeing an even further drop in murders in our
state. But I said to the industry, listen, you`re here. As long as you`re
producing a product that can be legally sold in America, then we want you
to stay. We want your jobs. You know, we`re not making you leave the
state. There are some folks who take this issue to a different level and
they say, well, if you`re going to do universal background checks, we`re
going to leave. Well, I don`t want people to leave. But I do want to keep
babies in schools safe and I want to keep teachers in schools safe, and I
want to keep the streets of Hartford and Bridgeport and New Haven safe. So
there is always I suppose a compromise that has to be made. But when that
compromise has to be made, you go with safety over anything else.
KORNACKI: The other issue on guns is, you know, we looked at the
background checks bill, and it was a little over a year ago in the Senate
where that could not get through the Senate. I think there is no
expectation, given what happened on nationally, that anything having to do
with gun control is going to be getting through the Congress any time soon.
So really, it comes to the statehouses, it comes to places like
Connecticut, where if there are going to be changes, it will have to happen
there. The flip side of that is, one state may have tough gun laws, but
the bordering state may not. So, how big of a concern is that to you when
we leave this to the state-by-state level and you don`t have a simple
MALLOY: Generally speaking, but not universally, those states with the
toughest laws have lower murder rates. That`s a reality. It would be a
lot better if we had universal background checks and a lot better if you
couldn`t go to a gun show and buy a gun or try a gun. The story over the
summer of a child killing the instructor by misusing the gun. But, you
know, I think the states have to have the ability to do what they need to
do, and that`s what we`ve done in Connecticut, and certainly that`s what
has been done elsewhere. New York and Maryland and elsewhere. But, you
know, Congress is dysfunctional, and I think Congress is going to continue
to be dysfunctional. It`s up to us in the states to do the right thing.
Whether it`s on guns or minimum wage or paid sick days or rebuilding the
economy. I think that a lot more of this discussion in positive terms is
going to be taking place in state houses and state capitals than it is in
KORNACKI: You know, one thing I want to ask you, this strikes me when I
look at the results of governors` races from New England. I looked at your
state. You`re the first Democrat to get elected governor there since 1986.
You`ve won twice now. Hasn`t been since 1986. In Massachusetts we`re
seeing the fifth Republican governor in the last seven times. We just
talked about in Maine, where it`s a blue state otherwise, but they re-
elected a Republican governor. What is it about these blue states, we
think of it as blue America, where it`s so tough for Democrats to win
MALLOY: You know, I think part of that is that New England doesn`t have
this divide that exists in places like Kansas. You know, we don`t hunt
Democrats, right? And we don`t hunt Republicans. We actually try to get
along and work things out.
Minimum wage I had to do without Republican support. Paid sick days I had
to do without Republican support. But go back to the guns issue that was a
bipartisan, ultimately a bipartisan coalition made up of Republicans and
Democrats that allowed that to happen. The guy I was running against said,
actually the two people I was running against, said they were going to
repeal it. I think they made a mistake in taking that tact. But on a lot
of issues, we can actually work together, and I`m happy with that. ACA --
I referenced that earlier, but we had the best implementation of ACA of any
of the 50 states in the nation. You referenced the Supreme Court
challenge. That won`t apply to us. We actually have our own exchange.
We`re doing something right here. Sometimes we can have bipartisan support
on those things, and I`m happy to do that, and sometimes we can`t. I think
on social issues and budgetary issues it is a little harder. On broader
policy issues that might be a little easier here in New England.
KORNACKI: All right, Dan Malloy, the re-elected governor of Connecticut.
Thank you for joining us this morning. Good luck in the second term.
If there hadn`t been an election this week, the story would be hitting
right now like a bombshell. The Supreme Court is getting another shot at
dismantling the Affordable Care Act. We will tell you why that is
happening and what might happen, that`s next.
KORNACKI: So you might feel this week like you`re stuck in some sort of a
time warp and you traveled back to the year 2010. After all, the
Republicans ran the table in the mid-term elections and court rulings are
now threatening the viability of the Affordable Care Act. On Friday, the
Supreme Court said that it will hear a lawsuit that`s aimed at crippling
President Obama`s signature health law. The court challenge targets the
tax credits that make the law viable by helping people afford the cost of
insurance. The argument being made rests on something of a technicality.
Because the law, as written, only specifically allows for the tax credits
to be used in states that set up their own health exchanges, the opponents
claim that they are therefore illegal in the three dozen states that are
relying on the federal government`s exchanges instead of setting up their
own. A successful challenge would mean people receiving subsidies in those
states would no longer get them. That would be a potentially devastating
blow to what has been President Obama`s number one achievement as
According to numbers from the Kaiser Family Foundation, as many as 4.7
million people would lose subsidies right away. That`s money that makes it
possible for them to buy insurance they might not otherwise be able to
For more about the lawsuit, its implications, whether this is going to be
the death knell to Obamacare that Republicans keep hoping for, we have
Sarah Cliff. She is the senior editor at Vox. She is an expert on all of
this. Sarah, thank you for joining us. Let me just start with that. How
- we know it takes four Supreme Court justices to agree to take a case, and
it would take five to go along with this and deal this blow to Obamacare.
Already this has reached a certain threshold of seriousness just in the
court hearing it, right?
SARAH CLIFF, VOX: Definitely. I think the court granting this case was
not for certain. It`s possible there are situations where they could have
looked at this and said it`s not an issue that we`re going to weigh it on.
We`re going to let the lower court ruling stand. The fact - there is this
stuff about the timing and we can get into it or not get into it and it
might get technical. It is definitely bad news for the Affordable Care Act
that the Supreme Court has decided to hear this case, and it means there
are at least four justices, if not more, who think it`s worth digging into
this issue and perhaps reevaluating whether these subsidies should go to,
as you mentioned, about 4.6 million people who are currently getting them.
KORNACKI: And I know the technical details in this can glaze everybody`s
eyes over, but what this comes down to, basically, is the law creates this,
maybe a technicality but a distinction between states that set up their own
exchanges, marketplaces where people can go and buy health care. States --
the intent of the law was that every state would do it on its own, but
there was an option to have the federal government do it for you, and
basically this challenge is saying these subsidies that people receive
should not apply to states where the federal government is doing it.
CLIFF: Right. That`s pretty much it. No one really in a lot of ways
expected to be in this situation when the Affordable Care Act was being
written. There was expectation that all the states would essentially set
up exchanges, maybe one or two wouldn`t get their act together. No one
really anticipated that the states would turn this over to the federal
government because they figured of course states would want control over
this. It was really underestimated how many states would be using
healthcare.gov, and that sets up a situation where this challenge is
incredibly important. You have most of the states on healthcare.gov, most
people who are getting subsidies are in one of these states that will be
affected by the challenge, and it really is a fight over the drafting of
the Affordable Care Act. And the plaintiffs, the folks who have brought
this case, have said, it doesn`t matter what the intent of Congress was,
you did not authorize in this law for subsidies to be given out on
healthcare.gov. Whereas a lot of the congressional staff who I have talked
to said, of course, that`s what we meant, it was sloppy drafting. But the
folks bringing this lawsuit said you can`t decide it`s sloppy drafting
after the fact, you have to stick with the law that you wrote and you`re
not allowed to get subsidies through healthcare.gov.
KORNACKI: If the court goes along with the argument being made here by the
opponents of the law, if they go along with it, can Obamacare, as we know
it, continue to exist?
CLIFF: I don`t think it can. I think it can maybe in some of the states
that are running their own marketplaces, like Governor Malloy was
mentioning, things in Connecticut wouldn`t really change that much. But it
really throws the whole law into disarray. The subsidies are just so
critical to the structure of the law. Again, a lot of the congressional
staffers I talked to have said, of course, we meant for the subsidies to be
in every state. It`s just insane to think about creating a situation where
we require people to buy insurance but didn`t make it affordable. That is
not a world we would ever want to set up through legislation. So, it
really, it could be that we talked a lot about a death spiral during open
enrollment last year. If not enough healthy people sign up, that rates
will really spike. We didn`t see that happen last year, but if you take
out the subsidies, that creates a real risk of a death spiral in these
markets. And it really would be, I don`t think it`s hyperbole to say it
would be very disastrous for Obamacare for this lawsuit to succeed.
KORNACKI: Speaking of that time warp timetable, that day in June in 2012,
we were all waiting for the ruling. I guess we have another one of those
coming up on the calendar now. Sarah Cliff from Vox, really appreciate you
joining us this morning. Thanks very much.
CLIFF: Of course. Thank you.
KORNACKI: The only presumed front-runner in the race for president is
Hillary Clinton. But who in the Republican field is likely to break
through from that ridiculously crowded pack? A race like you`ve never
seen, we`ll get an early preview of the Republican field for 2016, next.
KORNACKI: Mitch McConnell may be on the brink of becoming the next Senate
majority leader, but Kentucky`s other Republican senator, Rand Paul, made
out pretty well in this election, too, and he wasn`t even running. That`s
because in return for supporting McConnell re-election campaign and
campaigning in a state for him, McConnell has now practically endorsed Paul
should Paul decide to run for president. He told the Lexington Harold
Leader this week, quote, "he will be able to count on me" if Paul runs for
president. As for other GOP contenders post-midterm election, New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie`s prospects might have improved this past week. As
head of the Republican Governors Association, he gets to bask in helping to
secure nearly twice as many governorships for Republicans nationwide than
there will be Democratic governors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV.-ELECT LARRY HOGAN, R-MARYLAND: I want to thank Governor Christie for
bringing the cavalry from New Jersey (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Meanwhile, for Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, this year`s
GOP victories could give them a chance to boost their own resumes, but
would they be better served by helping to pass legislation or by trying to
undermine the leadership from the far right? As "Newsweek" put it this
week, how Republicans handle their newly won majority will prove crucial
over the next two years.
No frontrunner among Republicans at the moment. The positioning if not the
actual campaigning begins right now. Our panel is back to talk about it.
We have former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, former Romney adviser
Katie Packer-Gage, and Huffington Post`s Amanda Terkel. The question of
Ted Cruz comes up always, how will Mitch McConnell do as majority leader?
Well, what about Ted Cruz? This is where it comes up to me. If Ted Cruz
is running for president, it seems like the Ted Cruz posture on everything
is one of purity. He always wants to be the voice of conservative purity,
which almost always by definition means the Republican leaders in
Washington are doing something wrong to sell you the base, you the
grassroots, out. That`s why people say he`s going to be such a headache
for Mitch McConnell. That`s what I see. I see maybe Rand Paul has an
incentive to try to move a little more towards the middle, towards the
establishment, because he sees a path there, but someone like Ted Cruz sees
a path only in, hey, these guys are selling you out. You need me in
Washington, Republican base. So I look ahead to the presidential election
and I say it`s going to bleed over into governing for the next two years,
because these guys are going to be campaigning by governing or not
TERKEL: Ted Cruz doesn`t have a brand unless it`s purity and pushing back
on the establishment. Rand Paul has carved out a slightly different brand.
He has been saying that Republicans need to do a better job, for example,
reaching out to African-Americans and he`s been going to urban areas. He
was at Howard University. He`s done things like criminal justice reform,
which is very bipartisan. That is not Ted Cruz`s brand, and Mitch
McConnell is now going to have to deal with this headache of not only he
has the more establishment Republicans, sort of more Tea Party, grassroots
type but he also has these people who are running for president and have
completely their own calculations.
KORNACKI: So, Governor Rendell, Democrat, probably going to be for Hillary
in 2016, if she runs, not much of a stretch there. Who do you look for on
the Republican side and say who do you think you want to face and who do
you think you will face?
RENDELL: Full disclosure. I`m for Ted Cruz for president.
RENDELL: By the way, Ted Cruz in a crowded field is not to be discounted,
because in a crowded field you can win primaries with 23 percent, 24
percent of the vote. That`s where that purity comes in.
I think the toughest candidate and the best candidate they would field both
from a standpoint of governing and the general election is Jeb Bush. No
question. I think the country would be well served if it was Jeb Bush
versus Hillary Clinton. Can Jeb Bush run given his position on
immigration, given his position on common core, which he started and we as
governors thought was a great idea. We all signed on. I was head of the
NGA. But it`s a crowded field and anything can happen. Ted Cruz can be
undermined by Rick Santorum if he runs again. It`s a wide-open race.
There`s no way to foretell it. But Ted Cruz sees that path, getting 23
percent, 24 percent and winnowing the field down to two, and then winning
that head to head, which is what Santorum did, but lost the head to head.
PACKER-GAGE: And that`s the limit for somebody like a Ted Cruz. They can
only ever get to second place. Because, you know, once you get down to a
head-to-head matchup, the money will flow to a candidate that can actually
win in a general election, and the voters flow that way. Republican
voters, even Tea Party voters within the Republican Party, want to win
general elections. They understand that their agenda goes nowhere if
Democrats are governing.
RENDELL: Santorum came awfully close. Just a few thousand votes in
KORNACKI: If he had pulled off -
KORNACKI: But when you look at the idea of the establishment, you know,
whoever emerges as the establishment candidate versus Ted Cruz or whoever
it happens to be.
PACKER-GAGE: I don`t want to call it the establishment candidate. I want
to call it the candidate that has a shot of winning a general election.
KORNACKI: I`m going fewer syllables here. Establishment for the purposes
of what you`re saying. But it`s always clear, it always has been clear in
the past who that is going to be. You knew it was going to be McCain in
`08 and maybe Giuliani, you knew Romney in `12, you knew Dole back in the
`90s, and you look at this Republican field right now. Governor Rendell
mentions Jeb Bush. And I`m not even sure, I`m not sure how much Jeb Bush
wants to run. That`s one of my concerns when I look at him. But the
second thing is, if you go beyond Jeb Bush, who is it? Christie has got
some damaged good issues right now. Is it Kasich in Ohio, is it Scott
Walker? I can`t see who, you know, who they can coalesce around, who are
you looking at?
PACKER-GAGE: I think that you`re going to see this of more of a bracket
type of situation, where you have candidates like Ted Cruz and Mike
Huckabee and Rick Santorum that are sort of running for a certain piece of
the pie. You have got Rand Paul that probably has a bye for several states
in sort of his unique bracket, and then you`ve got candidates that are, you
know, like the ones you`re talking about.
I think by the time voters start casting ballots, I think Christie is going
to be in a very, very strong situation. You know, if Jeb Bush decides to
run, of course, he immediately becomes a significant frontrunner. You
know, I think a lot of these governors will start looking at this, because
it`s a very wide open field.
KORNACKI: Do you think there`s an appetite among the Republican base for
Jeb Bush? I think the donor class is excited about him. But do you think
the base is? He hasn`t run for office in more than ten years.
PACKER-GAGE: I think people get excited when campaigns begin, and right
now it`s all just talk and it`s mostly in studios like this where this is
happening, and I think once campaigns begin in earnest, that`s when you`ll
start to see some enthusiasm. When voters hear from a candidate like Jeb
Bush, there will be enthusiasm for him, the same way there is for Chris
Christie. I mean, he still charges up a room, and that`s going to be very
helpful to him in places like Iowa and New Hampshire.
KORNACKI: We`ll see when he starts yelling at everyone. What that idea of
Jeb Bush as the strongest possible Republican. Do you agree with that?
TERKEL: I think Jeb Bush obviously is a strong candidate, especially in a
general election. I think Scott Walker, also, he has now survived three
elections in four years. His race against Mary Burke was not nearly as
close as the polls showed it was going to be. And he is unquestionably
conservative. He has support from the Tea Party and the grassroots, but he
also, when you talk to him and you see him speak, he doesn`t seem to come
off as extreme. He has that Midwestern niceness. And I think that could
play better perhaps around the country than Chris Christie yelling at
somebody at a town hall to sit down and shut up.
RENDELL: Don`t forget John Kasich.
KORNACKI: That`s the one I keep saying.
RENDELL: Kasich won by 20 points in Ohio, which is maybe the pivotal
state. He has got congressional experience.
KORNACKI: It helped that his opponent had some issues, shall we say.
RENDELL: But still. By the way, Steve, I hate to correct you, but you
talk about Democratic bright spots, you forgot Pennsylvania.
KORNACKI: Oh my goodness.
KORNACKI: The one Republican governor.
RENDELL: Tom Wolf as governor, and Tom Wolf is someone who should be, not
watched for national office, but watched as an opinion maker. He is a
businessman, he is a moderate, he`s going to be a great governor, won by
ten points in a wave election.
KORNACKI: It was such a bygone conclusion - foregone conclusion from the
beginning. I wasn`t even thinking. There I am in Alaska saying, yes,
look, a bright spot. Yes.
KORNACKI: It was such, it was one of those, all the races we never paid
attention to Pennsylvania. Wolf was ahead by 10, 20 points the whole way.
But yes, that was actually the single biggest pickup for Democrats when it
came to governorships. So thank you for destroying my last segment.
KORNACKI: Thanks to Amanda Terkel and Governor Ed Rendell for joining us,
and Katie, we`ll talk to you in just a little bit.
Up next, Obama`s ultimatum to Congress. That`s ahead.
KORNACKI: On Wednesday, President Obama set the clock ticking. A dramatic
countdown to the president taking executive action on one of the biggest
remaining priorities of his presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Before the end of the year, we`re going to take whatever lawful
actions that I can take that I believe will improve the functioning of our
immigration system. And at the same time I`ll be reaching out to both
Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and other Republicans, as well as Democratic
leaders, to find out how it is that they want to proceed, and if they want
to get a bill done, whether it`s during the lame duck or next year. I am
eager to see what they have to offer. What I`m not going to do is just
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The Republican leadership didn`t take kindly to President
Obama`s plan. A plan that sources say could offer safe harbor to a few
million undocumented immigrants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: I think that the president choosing to do a lot of things
unilaterally on immigration would be a big mistake. It`s an issue that
most of my members want to address legislatively.
BOEHNER: I made clear to the president that if he acts unilaterally on his
own, outside of his authority, he will poison the well, and there will be
no chance for immigration reform moving in this Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And by Friday, the president and congressional Republicans were
exchanging ultimatums face to face. A working lunch at the White House
where immigration was on the menu. Republicans digging in on their
position that executive action on immigration would torpedo any prospect of
working with the president, not just on immigration reform, but on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, R-CALIFORNIA, MAJORITY LEADER: We also expressed to
him if more executive actions are taken, that would make it difficult for
us to always work together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, is there any way that the two parties can come to the table
and make some kind of a deal before the end of the year? And what does this
current battle say about the longer term prospects of immigration reform?
Joining me to help answer those questions, we have Democratic consultant
Gabriela Domenzain, former director of Hispanic press for the Obama 2012
campaign. And still with us, Republican consultant Katie Packer-Gage.
So, Gabby, let me start with you because I think we all have a sense of
what`s going to play out here for the next month or so, and that is as the
end of the year draws near, let`s assume nothing happens in the House on
the legislation that is already there. We get closer to the deadline, the
Republicans ratchet up the rhetoric you just heard right there. Maybe even
have some editorial boards weighing in saying maybe Obama should delay it
as a sign of good faith, and we`ve been down this road before where he had
said at the start of this summer by the end of the summer he`ll act. He
delayed that. When you look at this right now, how confident are you that
when we get to the end of the year, if that`s what`s going on, he will,
indeed, issue an executive order?
GABRIELA DOMENZAIN, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: I`m taking the president on his
third promise, which he is going to act before the end of the year. What I
find most baffling about this, Steve, is that all of a sudden after this
election people are acting as if there is a different reality in Congress.
Congress and the Republican House has had six years to work with the
president on this. The president has done everything in his power to reach
out to Republicans. All the groups on the right that need to be at the
table to give Republicans political cover for this are at the table. But
then all of a sudden, it`s as if it`s a surprise that the president was
going to act. We knew he was going to act in March. He said he was going
to act in March by the end of the summer. They had more time to consider
something, and, again, if they want to do something, they can do their
jobs. But in the meantime, it`s a system that both parties agree need
fixing. We have a bipartisan legislation in the Senate that Speaker
Boehner can just allow a vote on, and this needs to be done.
KORNACKI: So, Katie, what happens if that scenario we just laid out comes
to be? There is no action in Congress in the next two months, and at the
end of the year the president issues this executive order. We don`t know
the exact parameters, but he issues something along the lines of what has
been talked about so far. Politically then, new Republican Senate, bigger
Republican majority in the House, and what does that mean going forward for
PACKER-GAGE: I take the Republican leadership at their word, that this
would poison the well. If President Obama wanted to act and own this, he
could have done something prior to the elections. He could have issued an
executive order prior to the election. He chose not to do that because he
was already incredibly unpopular and didn`t want this to be a referendum on
another policy position of his. But I don`t know that I`ve ever seen a
president that took such a shellacking on Election Day, and then 24 hours
later basically thumbed his nose at the people that are part of the system
of checks and balances in our constitution. The Congress. Which was
elected resoundingly by the American people on Tuesday, largely rejecting
this president and his policies, and he basically just said I don`t care,
I`m going to go my own way. I think it`s important for the White House to
strike a different tone, to be conciliatory and to work with the leaders
that have been elected, and look for areas where they can find common
ground. And I think that`s going to be really important over the next
couple of months.
KORNACKI: Gabby, I mean, it is, politically speaking for the president,
just in terms of dealing with the next Congress, he really is in a jam
here, because he made a commitment and he made a promise to people like you
who are calling for this, he`s made that commitment, and at the same time,
he has the Republicans, who like it or not, he will have to deal with for
the next two years, basically saying, look, you go and do this and you are
not getting compromise from us on anything. Is there any way around this
you can see?
DOMENZAIN: When have they compromised on anything? I mean, the Senate bill
is the perfect example. It`s a bipartisan bill that passed with 68 votes.
Speaker Boehner could very well say Republicans are also for this, because
they are. So, again, where is this cooperation coming from out of thin
air? Republicans keep on moving the target and using the Latino community
as this volleyball, which, they`re sick of. One of the things that I
thought was really interesting from Election Day, which obviously
Republicans have to think of is considering the presidential election, is
that the number one Latino voter priority now is immigration. That wasn`t
the case in 2012. So, they can`t just live in a vacuum where all of their
previous poisoning of the well on the Republican side, even though the
president has made every single advance, doesn`t exist. It`s not a blank
KORNACKI: The other thing, looking at these election results and one of
the things we were talking about this year were a lot of these swing
states, a lot of these swing districts in the house. A lot of them don`t
have heavy Latino population so it was tough to draw any conclusions. We
did get some interesting exit poll results. I want to put some up on the
screen. This is in Georgia, a state with a growing Latino population, and
this is according to the exit polls down there in the race for governor,
and the Republican who won with just over 50 percent of the vote, in the
exit polls got 47 percent of Hispanic vote. In the Senate race there in
Georgia, this is Michelle Nunn, David Purdue. The Republicans there who
won overall with 53 percent gets 42 percent of the Hispanic vote. Gabby, I
looked at some similar numbers from Colorado where Cory Gardner was
running, did this surprise you?
DOMENZAIN: It was really depressing. Also Florida, the I-4 corridor which
is obviously dependent on the Latino vote, went to the Republican
candidate. In Colorado, as you said, it was 20 of the 21 districts with
the most Latino votes went to the Republicans. It`s not only did this
affect the Latino vote, but instead of being the 11 percent of the vote
that we should be, we were 8 percent. So, this is, this is no longer an
issue that either party can say, oh, it`s not the top priority for Latino
voters. So, the president has to keep his promise. I do think he will.
But Republicans, if they don`t get this off the table and finally provide a
solution to fix our broken immigration system, there is absolutely no level
playing field for them to try to convince Hispanic voters, who they need
for the presidency that they are worth even looking at.
KORNACKI: My thanks to Katie Packer-Gage, Gabby Domenzain for joining us
this morning. Appreciate that. Be right back with some news.
KORNACKI: One of the American nurses who contracted Ebola while caring for
a patient at a Dallas hospital was out and about last night, having been
cured of the disease and released from a DC area hospital late last month.
Nina Pham was attending last night`s big football game in Fort Worth
between the TCU Hornfrogs and the Kansas State Wildcats. Our Dallas
affiliate KXAS TV caught up with Pham and asked how she felt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NINA PHAM, NURSE: Overwhelmed by the outpouring and love, and I just love
my Hornfrog family so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How have you adjusted being kind of back in a normal
PHAM: It`s an everyday process. But I have everyone`s support, and that
just means the world to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most people are wondering, how are you feeling?
PHAM: I`m feeling good right now, yeah, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: TCU won that game, by the way, a crushing result for Kansas
State Wildcat fans like me.
Meanwhile, we now know what nurse Kaci Hickox plans to do after the 21-day
incubation period for Ebola expires. Hickox, as you may recall, has been
fighting efforts by the New Jersey and Maine governments to keep her in
mandatory quarantines. All tests have come back negative so far. Her 21
days is up next week, and Hickox says she plans to leave Maine, moving from
her home state as soon as possible. We`ll be right back with more on the
week in politics.
KORNACKI: A working lunch at the White House reportedly turned combative
on Friday over the issue of immigration. Something we discussed just a few
minutes ago with top Republicans telling President Obama that if he goes
ahead and issues an executive order, then he`d better not be counting on
their cooperation for anything. At the same time, Republican leaders spent
much of the week emphasizing their plans to work with the president. House
Speaker John Boehner and the soon to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell penned an op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal" on Thursday laying
out some of their goals, like authorizing the Keystone pipeline, scaling
back regulation, expanding charter schools. McConnell also tried to head
off any talk of another government shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: There will be no government shutdown. I want to first look for
areas that we can agree on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: More details on the GOP`s coming agenda from Lori Montgomery and
Robert Costa of the Washington Post, including an apparent plan to continue
pressing for Obamacare repeal. But, only quote, "in the background," with
trade deals and tax reform his other priorities. The goal for McConnell
and Boehner, unifying Republicans, picking up support from some Democratic
lawmakers, and putting pressure on Obama to compromise or risk drawing his
own charges of intransigence. So will their strategy work? Can they their
own party together? Is there any prospect there will be any more
bipartisan cooperation in the next two years than we have seen in the last
four, that is to say, none. Joining me now, Washington Post reporter Lori
Montgomery. Thank you for taking a few minutes this morning. So you did
some good reporting this week on what Republicans would like to do now they
will have the Senate and a bigger majority in the House. When you look at
the agenda they`re talking about, do you see any potential common ground in
terms of what President Obama would be willing to sign?
LORI MONTGOMERY, WASHINGTON POST: That`s kind of what we don`t know yet.
Right now the concept of compromise really means looking reasonable for
Republicans, not shooting ourselves in the foot, and passing some things
they can get Democratic votes on. Right off the bat, they`re going to try
to pass some things that they know a significant number of Democrats will
support, like repealing the medical device tax maybe, the Keystone pipeline
approval. Those are not necessarily things the White House wants to sign,
but they`re at least reasonable things to send the White House that will
look bipartisan. A bigger question is going to be more over the long run.
The president would like to have fast track trade authority. Can
Republicans deliver that? The president says he wants corporate tax
reform. Can -- is there a magic system that Republicans could deliver
that? We don`t really know that yet.
KORNACKI: Are there any indications, obviously it`s very early, but the
word is compromise, so areas there maybe things that might ultimately be
acceptable to the White House. Are there things that the Republicans have
been against that don`t rise to that level? That this is just a crime
against conservatism, like maybe raising the minimum wage or something.
Are there some indications of things that can be traded for from the White
MONTGOMERY: I think we`ll know more about that when they get back next
week. They are not even back yet. The election was last week, they will
be here on Wednesday. They will start to meet, they will elect leaders in
the House. The new chairmen will sort of take their place in the Senate,
figure out how they will staff up, and we`ll start to get a sense of where
people want to go in the lame duck, and then in January, I think, you`ll
really start to see Mitch McConnell, in particular, begin to lay out the
agenda and where they want to go.
A huge question is, does McConnell really want to do tax reform? He says
he does, the White House says they do, but we really don`t know how
strongly anyone feels about that.
KORNACKI: On this issue of Obamacare repeal, you guys are reporting this
week it is something they will continue to pursue, but in the background.
I take that to mean tell me if I`m wrong, take that to mean there is an
obligatory vote on it early on, it goes nowhere, they can`t get it through
the Senate because they don`t have the 60 votes for the filibuster, and
they kind of leave it alone. That`s what the leadership would like to do,
is that something that the rank and file will go for?
MONTGOMERY: You know, there are two different Republican parties and we`re
going to see which one comes out on top. The leadership obviously wants to
be more reasonable. They know they have to vote against the vote to repeal
the Affordable Care Act, but there are other lesser issues they can work on
like changing the definition of a full-time worker from 30 hours to 40
hours for the purposes of the employer mandate for providing insurance
coverage, that make more sense. You can get Democratic votes for that type
of thing. You can challenge the White House on that, but for repeal, their
argument is perfectly rational. They don`t have the votes to override a
veto on repeal of Obamacare. So I think the leadership would very much
like to make their statement vote and move on to more reasonable things. I
think in the Senate, there will be support for that. You have to remember,
24 Republicans are up in 2016. They want to put some points on the board
KORNACKI: Yeah, some of those - it`s a mirror image of what we just saw, a
lot of those Republicans are up in blue states, this year the story was
Democrats in red states. What about this, we talked about this a minute
ago, this threat that Republican leaders are basically putting out there,
saying, President Obama, if you go ahead with this executive order on
immigration, which is something the president promised to his supporters,
if he goes ahead and does that, the idea of compromise is basically off the
table on everything. How real is that threat?
MONTGOMERY: That is also a good question. I do think it would damage
whatever remaining shred of good feeling there is between Congress and the
White House. You know, I think it would be very difficult to negotiate,
for example, a tax deal if he proceeds with the immigration executive
order. On the other hand, you know, there are those who are saying we
should not pass a budget in the lame duck through the end of next year,
because we should threaten to shut down the government if the president
does an executive order, and nobody wants to do that. I think everybody
has got to feel out where their majorities really are and figure out, you
know, this is a game of tactics. At this point, you know we have just seen
the election end, people have to get back to Washington and start charting
KORNACKI: It is going to be, I mean this is, we have had Republicans
versus Obama on Capitol Hill. But there is this new wrinkle to it now
where Republicans will also control the Senate, so there is that
possibility of stuff actually getting to his desk now and having to make
some decisions. It will be interesting to see, but Lori Montgomery from
the Washington Post, appreciate you taking a few minutes this morning.
MONTGOMERY: Thank you for having me.
KORNACKI: Thank you as well for all of you joining us this week. We`ll be
back next weekend, as always, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern
time. You can visit our Facebook page. Also, if you want to play along
with the exciting home edition of our game show, "Up against the clock," in
the meantime Melissa Harris-Perry is next. We`ll see you here next week,
here on UP.
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