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'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

January 24, 2015

Guest: Shira Springer, Anita Marks, Jordan Schultz, Kellyanne Conway,
Susan Page, Josh Barro, Nancy Giles, Ayman Mohyeldin, E.J. Dionne, David
Maraniss, Leonard Lance, Alan Alba, Nancy Giles, Brian Thompson, Susan


STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: The NFL breaks its silence.

All right. Good morning, thanks for getting up with us in what is shaping
up with a very busy Saturday morning, a very snowy Saturday morning here on
the East Coast. We`ve heard from the NFL now for the first time since the
Patriots deflated football scandal broke. We`ve also heard from Jeb Bush
for the first time since he`s indicated he`s pursuing a run for the
presidency, or at least he`s interested in doing that. By almost everyone,
Jeb is likely to have to run against for the nomination as gathered in Iowa
this morning. Everyone except Jeb. The current president and first lady
also taking off for India not long ago with word of a major change in their
itinerary, something we`ll tell you in a bit.

And sad news to bring you from the world of baseball this morning, all of
that and plenty more in just a little bit on the show. And we begin this
morning with this, with the still unfolding scandal that everyone, sports
fans, non-sports fans like everyone has been talking about all week now.
Scandal that threatens to overshadow next Sunday`s Super Bowl in Arizona.
This is about the New England patriots and the deflated footballs they used
in the first half of last Sunday`s AFC championship game. That`s when they
dismantled the hapless Indianapolis Colts by a score of 45-7.

Well, late yesterday, the NFL finally broke its silence confirming that the
balls the Patriots used in the first half of that game were in fact under-
inflated and that they were then restored to their correct weight for the
second half of the game. The league`s statement does not provide a
timetable for its investigation which then raises serious doubts about
whether this is going to be resolved by the time this Super Bowl kicks off
a week from Sunday. And it says, it interviewed 40 people so far. Well,
cornology here on Monday morning, this was only hours after that Colts
game, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady initially tried to laugh off reports
of an NFL investigation into the deflated balls but then by Wednesday, he
learned that the investigation was no laughing matter with reports leaking
that league had found that 11 of the 12 footballs that the Patriots used in
the game, in the first half of the game were under-inflated by two pounds
per square inch each, a feeding frenzy ensued, and by Thursday, the
Patriots were in full crisis management mode.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No knowledge whatsoever of the situation until Monday
morning. I`ve learned a lot more about this process in the last three days
than I knew or had talked about it in the last 40 years that I`ve coached
in this league.

TOM BRADY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: I`m very comfortable saying that that
nobody did it, as far as I know, I don`t know everything. I also
understand that I, you know, was in the locker room preparing for a game, I
don`t know what happened over the course of the process with the footballs.
I feel like I`ve always played within the rules, I would never do anything
to break the rules. And I believe in fair play, and I respect the league,
and, you know, everything that they`re doing to try to create very
competitive playing field for all the NFL teams.


KORNACKI: Yes, the NFL released a statement about the ongoing
investigation yesterday saying quote, "While the evidence thus far supports
the conclusion that footballs that were under-inflated were used by the
Patriots in the first half, the footballs were properly inflated for the
second half and confirmed that the conclusion of the game to have remained
properly inflated." Patriots outscored the Colts by the way 28 to nothing
in that second half, meaning they actually played better when the under-
inflated balls had been switched out. What`s at stake here for Belichick
and Brady is more than just this year`s Super Bowl, a stake are the
legacies of one of the most successful head coaches and one of the most
successful quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.

This is a pair that`s appeared in five Super Bowls already. Next Sunday
will be the next and it will be the sixth. If won three of them so far.
At the same time though, the Patriots haven`t won the big one in ten years
now since they beat the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005. And as Patriots
haters out there like to point out, and there`s no shortage of them in the
country these days, those three Super Bowl wins came when the Patriots were
videotaping their opponents, play calling signals, a violation of league
rules that led to the so-called spy gate scandal in 2007. So, these play-
offs, this year for the Patriots were supposed to mean redemption, proof
that they could still win when it matters most and something they could
stuff right back in the face of all those critics who still talk about spy
gate. When next Sunday would also tie Belichick and Brady for the most
Super Bowl titles for any coach or quarterback in NFL history. But
instead, here we are, eight days and counting now before their sixth Super
Bowl in 14 years, and all anyone is asking is this, who knew about the
deflated footballs and when did they know it?

So, for more on all of this, I`m joined now by Shira Springer in
Massachusetts, an investigative sports reporter for The Boston Globe. And
here on set with us, we have Anita Marks, she`s a radio host with NBC`s
sports and a former professional football player. And Jordan Schultz, a
sports reporter and columnist with The Huffington Post. Shira, let me
start with you. But I just want to set this up by playing a bigger, you
heard from Belichick the coach in the opening there, I want to play Brady
for a minute. This was Brady at that press conference later in the day on
Thursday, somewhat unusual press conference. But here he is talking about
what he considers the perfect football.


BRADY: When I pick those footballs out, at that point, you know to me,
they`re perfect. I don`t want anyone touching the balls after that. I
don`t want anyone rubbing them. You know, putting any air in, taking any
air out. To me those balls are perfect and that`s what I expect when I
show up on the field.


KORNACKI: So, Shira, if one things jumped out at me about the Brady press
conference, it was the body language. I mean, I was watching that, and it
sounded to me like the voice was almost quivering at times. This was a guy
who was, it almost felt like he was holding back some, you know, show of
emotion. This guy was communicating it seems to me fear, he was scared.
And I know, you know, not all professional athletes are very comfortable in
front of the cameras, but I`ve seen Brady in front of the cameras many time
before, I`ve never seen him like this before.

SHIRA SPRINGER, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Yes, it was a much different Brady on
Thursday evening when he spoke to the press. In a packed press room at
that. He normally is extremely confident, and very articulate, and he
makes interesting points, and this one you really felt that he was
following some sort of talking points memo and that he was very nervous
about saying the wrong thing or giving a wrong impression. He looked
incredibly uncomfortable and more uncomfortable as this 30-minute long
press conference dragged on. And quite frankly by the end of it, it looked
like the Patriots had left him twisting in the wind.

KORNACKI: Well, Anita and Jordan, let me bring you in. And some of the
context of this two this week, we`ve been talking about, I mean, everybody
has gotten this great education about how footballs are selected for NFL
games. I think people are shocked to find out that the league doesn`t have
12 balls that they use. Each team brings its own. There`s all these
rituals for like scuffing up the ball, putting it in the dryer that the
teams do, I think we can show you here, Aaron Rogers, this is, you know,
Green Bay Packers Super Bowl winning quarterback. He talked a few months
ago about how he likes to overinflate the footballs and try to get away
with that. So, here`s under-inflating, over-inflating. There`s
overinflating. I think there was some expectation heading into this Brady
press conference on Thursday. Some were saying with Belichick, but
especially with Brady that he`d acknowledge something about like yes, I
kind of like them softer, maybe I`ve told the team, I don`t know anything
about the weights, but I do like them softer, maybe we under-inflated them,
it was a mistake, I learned from it. I think the absolute flat denial
that both Belichick and Brady offered to this was surprising.

ANITA MARKS, NBC SPORTS RADIO HOST: Well, first and foremost, as you
stated, I played women`s professional football for five years. There is
nothing more important than a quarterback on game day than his footballs.
I mean, to the point where I`m, I made sure I took care of the ball boys to
make sure they`re on the sidelines, they`re feeding me new balls, maybe
every other series. To make sure that I have the balls that I need in
order to play my best football --

KORNACKI: How much --

MARKS: That is weight, that`s the size, it`s the scuffing, it`s the wear
and tear.

KORNACKI: So how sensitive are you to --

MARKS: Extremely, extremely sensitive.

KORNACKI: What degree of deference in air pressure would you notice? Like
this is two pounds off.

MARKS: You would notice. And it`s, it is also slight, but it is. It`s a
better grip. Especially if you have smaller hands. You know, Kurt Warner
had some of the smallest hands in the NFL. So, I will not surprise me if
Kurt Warner liked a softer ball where maybe Russell Wilson has the largest
hands in the NFL. Maybe Aaron Rogers does. So, then your ball needs to be
a little bit more inflated. So, it depends on your hand size, but for me
to sit here and belief that Tom Brady did not know the difference between a
12.5 or 11.5 and know that those balls, keep in mind, those balls were re-
inflated at the half. They knew. They knew.

KORNACKI: Right. And when he has said in the past that he likes them on
the softer side and now he`s saying 12.5, it surprised me, Jordan, to me,
my read on the press conference was, this was an organization that made a
decision that nothing`s going to be proven here. There`s going to be no
smoking gun. Everybody can suspect anything they want, but if we saw stone
wall, if we all say nothing, they`ll never prove anything.

JORDAN SCHULTZ, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, and also they don`t to want to
take a risk before the Super Bowl. To me, that`s another story here.
You`re talking about eight days now. It`s shocking that the NFL did not
send an investigator to Tom Brady in those three days from Sunday`s win
over Indy to Thursday`s press conference. Then the super bowl, you can
imagine how awful it would be if Bill Belichick was suspended, if Tom Brady
was suspended, I mean, there`s other elements of the story as well. I
think what you --

KORNACKI: How does it look though for league if they go and play next


KORNACKI: Patriots win 28-14 and three weeks later, they say, oh, we
completed our investigation --

MARKS: And league still going to make their money. Keep in mind, there`s
a lot of money on the line here.

KORNACKI: They make the money on the Super Bowl but what about, does that
hurt the reputation of the league -- Super Bowl, they have to say, well, by
the way, when we concluded, they did cheat.

SCHULTZ: Yes. I think what also hurts the rendition of the league is
what`s happened during the small -- for Roger Goodell and by the way there
was a complaint about balls in November that it really didn`t follow up
with, and now we`re obviously in the playoffs and we have a massive issue.

MARKS: That`s another thing, listen, this ball deflate-gate, this didn`t
happen in an AFC championship game. Keep that in mind. This is an AFC
championship game, this is something that`s been happening for a while.

KORNACKI: But it`s probably not just be the Patriots, right? That they`re
doing it --

MARKS: You know, keep in mind, this is another part of the story that I
don`t think is getting enough, it`s not being talked about enough, and that
is you had John Harbaugh, head coach of the Ravens contact Chuck Pagano,
head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, prior to the game and saying, we
think Jason Luck reporter from CBS reported this, we think our key balls,
the kicking balls were --

SCHULTZ: Different.

MARKS: Different. Heads up. So now what we`re seeing, there`s 31 other
coaches in the NFL that I think have had it with the patriots and Bill
Belichick and the fact that they push the envelope, now they`re clueing
each other in.

KORNACKI: They`ve had it with the pats far while.

MARKS: So, this isn`t just an AFC championship situation, I think this is
something that has been going on all season, if not for a few seasons.

KORNACKI: Let me get Shira Springer back in this, I`m sort of the Boston
perspective, I am a Massachusetts guy, I`m a Patriots apologies, I think,
you know, something happened here. I`ll make the case that it`s, you know,
it didn`t add up as much as the people would say. But let me ask you, the
attitude you`re hearing from Boston Sports fans up there, is this whoa we
did something wrong here, we`re embarrassed by this or is it, the whole
league hates us, the whole world hates us, let`s just sort of, you know,
circle the wagons and stick together? So, what`s the mentality of the
Boston Sports fan on this?

SPRINGER: I was going to say, it`s more of the whole world hates us, let`s
circle the wagons. If you look at some of the polls that have been taken
in the area, you see that everyone in New England believes Brady and
Belichick, and those everyone outside of the New England doesn`t. And then
when asked if the Patriots were cheaters, everyone inside New England said
no, and everyone outside said yes, they believe the Patriots are cheaters.
So people here are, as usual, supporting the Patriots and just believe that
this is sour grapes against a team that has a tremendous winning legacy.
And refused to see it any differently.

KORNACKI: And I mean, that`s my question on this too, when I say, it`s
become this thing or either they cheated or they didn`t. If it`s proven
they cheated, everybody will think everything is tainted. But I`m going to
say, if it`s proven that they did something to get the air out of the
balls, does that fall, to me the question is the line between gamesmanship
and outright cheating. Because this is a sport where receivers pretend to
catch balls that hit the ground and they tried to get away with it. They
hold on every play, even though it`s illegal, it`s against the rules, is
that cheating or trying to get a competitive advantage? They hope the rest
don`t see it.

SCHULTZ: Football is interesting. Similar to baseball and that element
where like when you`re stealing signs, is that okay? Is that a competitive
advantage or is that really against the rules? This to me is breaking the
rules, and it is cheating. You know, talking to receivers, we have Donte
Stallworth on yesterday, and he played with Tom Brady, cop passes from him,
and he said it`s hard to know, but he also said that listen, if the balls
are inflated or deflated, does give you a competitive advantage depending
on what your needs are. Also, one final note that I want to make is, there
was a report published in the Wall Street Journal today, Patriots have had
the fewest amount of fumbles Steve in the past five years of the NFL.

KORNACKI: It`s a great running back coach in New England, we`ll talk about
this after. We need a very quickly, final question. So, what do you
think, what happens here? If there`s an investigation and it finds Brady,
you know, knowingly did this, had a role in this, somebody in the
organization, they can pinpoint, what kind of punishment do you think we`ll
be looking at here?

MARKS: Based on what we saw with bounty gate with the New England Saints
and Sean Peyton and of course that coaching crew, I mean, that`s, that`s,
in my opinion, added motivation for players to go and play harder. Right?
That`s not cheating. That`s not cheating. So, if you`re going to suspend
Peyton for an entire season. I think that`s a precedent that I think
cheating is a lot worse. I think you need to suspend Bill Belichick, maybe
an entire season. Maybe Tom Brady for a half, but also keep in mind, Roger
Goodell rules the roost. Roger Craft is one of his biggest owner
supporters, craft, Rooney, Mara, it`s going to be interesting how hard of a
hammer is Goodell going to come down on an owner who is one of his biggest
and strongest and most politically powerful owners.

KORNACKI: Although who also used a lot of capitol seven years ago to get
through that spy gate thing. But I have to say, I listened to it the other
day, my take on that, I believe Belichick, I think Brady had more to say
that he didn`t --


Sure. Absolutely. My thanks to Boston Globe, Shira Springer, Anita Marks
with NBC Sports radio. Jordan Schultz from The Huffington Post, we`ll talk
about this a lot longer, we`ll probably will tomorrow.

But still ahead, I`ve been looking forward to something else all week to
this, the man, the myth, the legend, actor director writer, Mr. Alan Alda
is going to be joining us right here on this set this morning to talk about
going back to sleep. He`s going to explain.

And next, we`ll go live to Iowa where at least eight would-be presidents
are gathering to kiss the ring of one of the republican parties most
outspoken and controversial opponents of immigration.

But before we go, some sad news to report overnight, baseball fans
everywhere getting word that Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks has passed
away. Known simply as Mr. Cub, the hall of fame shortstop was one of the
greatest hitters in the game`s history. And he was beloved by fans for his
unflappable optimism and the joy he brought to the game. It was Ernie
Banks who liked to say, let`s play two. President and Michelle Obama
released a statement this morning saying, quote, "He was beloved by
baseball fans everywhere, including Michelle when she was a girl used to
sit with her dad and watch him play on TV." Ernie Banks, was 83 years old.
Be right back.


KORNACKI: Today, eight likely presidential candidates are in Iowa for the
biggest gathering yet of would-be presidents. Governors Chris Christie of
New Jersey, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, former governors Mike Huckabee and
Rick Perry, Senator Ted Cruz, former Senator Rick Santorum, Dr. Ben Carson
and Carly Fiorina, they are there in Iowa to pay homage to Congressman
Steve King. Best known for his hardline stance on immigration. King is a
controversial figure in the Republican Party and a party that says, it`s
trying to reach more diverse supporters, particularly Latinos, but King
once told a conservative website that for every undocumented immigrant who
is a high school valedictorian, quote, "there`s another hundred out there
who weigh 130 pounds and they`ve got calves and the size of cantaloupes
because they`ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the dessert."
That was the direct quote from Steve King.

And when King learned that Michelle Obama will be sitting with an
undocumented college student at Tuesday night`s State of the Union Address,
he tweeted out this, Obama perverts prosecutorial discretion by inviting a
deportable to sit in place of honor at the State of the Union with the
first lady. I should say the with Alito referring to Justice Samuel Alito
who hasn`t attended a State of the Union speech since 2010 as MSNBC
reports, a group of dreamers, these are young immigrants brought to the
U.S. illegally as children will be protesting the event this weekend in
Iowa. It was that same group in fact who confronted King and Kentucky
Senator Rand Paul back in August. And when Paul heard the conversation
that they were starting, he promptly left the table. Paul by the way is
not attending today`s event. It`s also worth noting that two of the other
most talked about candidates, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney aren`t in Iowa this
weekend. As MSNBC`s Benjy Sarlin reports, King has a list of more than a
dozen republicans who have snubbed him. So, what can we expect? What
shouldn`t we expect in Iowa today?

Well, joining us live from the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, we have Kasie
Hunt, political correspondent for MSNBC. And Kellyanne Conway, GOP
strategist and president of the polling company. Thanks both of you for
joining us. Casey, let me start with you, Jeb Bush made a little bit of
noise about a month ago when he talked about his concept of running for
president. His strategy being, you have to be willing to lose the primary
to win the general election. And look at an event like this, it`s a
lightning rod like Steve King with his name all over it and Jeb Bush is
nowhere to be seen, is that part of that Jeb Bush strategy he outlined?

KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it`s hard not to see it
that way, Steve, but you have to look at it from the other way around which
is to say that this crowd is going to be a crowd of activists in the Iowa
caucuses, the demand to he here is really high, we have about 1,200 people
coming, another 1,000 on the wait list organizers say. But, you know,
think about, if this actually was Jeb Bush`s first trip to Iowa, and there
was an audience of conservatives, many of whom support Steve King and Steve
King`s positions on immigration, this isn`t going to be a place where he`s
going to exactly find a lot of cheering and if you can imagine how people
would react to him having a bad first appearance in Iowa, I think that that
also is part of the calculation. But, you know, I think more broadly, you
know, Jeb versus Mitt is sort of the emerging theme on the establishment
side, and obviously Romney is not here either. And I talked to some close
Romney sources over the course of the last couple of days, and, you know,
they met of course in Utah, and may described the meeting as quote-unquote,
"entrenched," so both men not really moving from where they stood as, you
know, they try to make their decisions.

KORNACKI: Interesting. Interesting tidbit there. Well, Kelly, let`s
start with the headliner, not the candidates, but the man who put this
together, Steve King. We, you know, put some of those quotes up that he`s
put out there, the most controversial quotes. I know I`ve talked to plenty
of republicans, always off the record, but plenty of republicans in sort of
I guess you say the party establishment who just wish this guy would go
away. They wish he wouldn`t talk like this, they wish he wouldn`t open his
mouth and talk about immigration. And yet, here we are looking at all of
these republican or potential republican candidates going out to Iowa to be
seen at his event because he has such support among the conservative
grassroots, but I wonder, do you see a problem there for the party when
national candidates chase somebody like Steve King, chase after his
support, doesn`t that also taint them with some of these things he said?

itself, Steve, as Kasie reported, 1,200 people, about that number on the
waiting list. People were lined up here way before 7:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m. or
so, central time, there`s a lot of interest here for the, really the
imaginations of direct democracy. That these candidates get to come to
this summit and take their case directly to the people. You want to the
win Iowa caucus in either party, you have to invest the shoe leather, you
have to show up. And many people are billing this, including MSNBC I
suppose as the opening kickoff of the 2016 season. I think even those of
us who have a hand in the organization of the summit are surprised at the
demand and the popularity of this summit, how many presidential aspirants
and other opinion leaders, office holders and former office holders are
coming to take the stage today to make their case directly to the people.
Congressman Steve King has never endorsed any republican caucuses. And I
think that`s a real issue of intrigue going into 2016. I bet if you asked
any of the people here if they would like his endorsement, you probably
wouldn`t hear a no in the house, but you might as well ask them.

KORNACKI: Well, let me ask you too. Do you agree with what Kasie was
saying, if Jeb Bush, especially with his immigration track record, was in
that, in that room today talking to that crowd, would that be a chilling
reception for Jeb Bush?

CONWAY: It`s hard to tell. I actually think it`s a wide open race here in
Iowa for the first time on the republican side in quite a while including
2012 where you had Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum basically weighing the
Iowa caucus in the same night? But it seems to be wide open, I say that
right now, Mr. undecided is leading the pack. There`s a lot of excitement
in this room for Dr. Ben Carson who`s never held office on people look at
that as a liability, other see as an asset. You`ve got some of these
beltway favorites like Senator Ted Cruz will be here. And then you`ve got
the governors who, will try to show that they have a record of
accomplishment in their respective states that they can take all the way to
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But I think the one thing that you`ll see today
is a lack of fear to run against Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton and all
of Clinton candidacy would mean. And that is saying something because we
know if she runs, she will have all the kings horses, all the kings men,
the money machine, a lot of media public frankly helping her along. And
for these people to take the stage and even consider running against such a
juggernaut in 2016 tells you how committed they are to providing an
alternative point of view.

KORNACKI: Well, this is interesting strategically of course, the
republicans want to play the underdog rules against the big Clinton
machine, we see that taking shape there. But Kasie, let me ask you about
one of the other high profiles attendees today. Chris Christie, it`s been
explained to me that the Christie strategy as it relates to Steve King, is
you know, Christie sees himself as messages electability in a lot of ways
and you would say, maybe Steve King is a little incompatible with that, but
he has a relationship with Steve King that goes back a number of years, a
friendly, personal relationship. And the strategy that`s been outlined to
me is one of neutralizing Steve King. Not that you`re going to win him
over, but they`re going to keep him from saying, hey guys, Chris Christie
is way too liberal, Chris Christie is a rhino, is that the game they`re
playing here?

HUNT: Look, I think Chris Christie actually of all of the candidates who
are here today stands to benefit the most. And I think, you know, watching
Steve King`s planned introduction of Chris Christie will tell you a lot.
And as you point out, they do have a friendly personal relationship, and if
King does in fact, you know, introduce him sort of warmly to this crowd,
that`s going to go a long way. And I`ve talked to a lot of people since I
landed here in Iowa a few days ago that, you know, who say that Chris
Christie is so far being chronically underestimated here. He has one of
the best consultants in the state working for him as a key advisor to the
Governor Terry Branstad, he also is somebody who is viewed in some ways as

And that in some ways is what this represents today. Maybe this isn`t
quite his crowd, but that doesn`t mean that he`s afraid to show up and talk
to them. And I`ve also talked to a couple of people who sort of dispute
this idea that his brash personality isn`t Iowa nice enough if that makes
sense. At least not with his caucus electorate who are really looking for
somebody who`s going to as Kellyanne was saying, aggressively take it to
Hillary Clinton. So, I think the reception that he receives here today
will tell us a lot about how much they plan to play in Iowa as a potential
Christie campaign.

KORNACKI: I think you`re totally right about that, and I think it`s also a
test of sort of the basic calculation of the Christie campaign, which is
that, he has got this power of personality where he can walk in the room of
people who are not his natural allies and they think he can win them over
with that personality and get them to start sort of rationalizing a way,
well, I can live with this, I can live with that because they want to be
with him. I know, the Christie people think he has a very unique skill
there. I`ve seen that a little bit in New Jersey, I tend to agree,
interesting to see how that plays out today. Keeping a close eye there,
we`ll have more tomorrow but my thanks to republican strategist Kellyanne
Conway, MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt for joining us this morning, I really appreciate

And still ahead this morning, the White House is reactions to the Israeli
prime minister`s plan to visit Congress. And here`s a hint, there`s not
going to be a red carpet for Benjamin Netanyahu. But up first, President
Obama is under fire for those interviews he did with YouTube stars. I`m
going to get someone who explain the green lipstick to me too I think,
that`s next.


KORNACKI: Thirty six hours later, people are still talking about President
Obama`s interviews on Thursday with YouTube stars.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some old media comedian saying, you know, Obama
shouldn`t go on Ellen or the view or Colbert. It`s got a good sense of
humor that`s a political asset, but it just seemed beneath the dignity of
the office to be hanging out with some of these YouTubers.


KORNACKI: And if you remember, President Obama also got some beneath the
dignity of the office blowback last year for appearing with comedian Zach
Galifianakis on his mock interview show, between two firms. And the people
who host, wonder why the show is called that, and you see the two ferns
there. And the people who host this YouTube channels, maybe more
influential than you actually think, together they have more than 13
million subscribers. Their videos have been viewed more than 1.7 billion
times. Those are numbers most TV networks would love to have. So, it
raises the questions. Are interviews like this actually beneath the
dignity of the office as Howard Kurtz claims or with President Obama just
ahead of the curve and recognizing how people get their news these days?

Well, joining us to talk about this is our panel this morning. We have
Susan Page, Washington Bureau chief at USA Today, Josh Barro, host of the
MSNBC shift web show "Three Cents," correspondent with "The Upshot" at The
New York Times. And Nancy Giles who`s a contributor to CBS Sunday Morning.
So, I always, this is just a topic that`s always fascinating to me, the
concept of where the dignity of the presidency, where that line is, I
remember George Bush senior criticized Bill Clinton as a candidate for
going on Arsenio Hall.


KORNACKI: And they said this White House would never do that. It`s
beneath our dignity, there is a line somewhere. Right?

GILES: Sort of but Nixon was on laugh in, you know, saying, suck it to me,
right? And when you look at the numbers of followers, those YouTube, I`m
going to start wearing green lipstick. I obviously --

KORNACKI: Do you know what the deal with that is by the way?

GILES: I don`t know but it looks bad. African-American woman, please,
please. But no, this is the future, people are getting information now
from all different kinds of sources, I think people even didn`t like
presidential candidates advertising and doing commercials when it all
began. I think that`s right.

JOSH BARRO, MSNBC SHIFT HOST, "THREE CENTS": Right. Yes, they said that
the I like ad campaign that Dwight Eisenhower ran was, I don`t know if they
used the specific phase beneath the dignity of the presidency, but people
said, you shouldn`t be selling the presidency like soap. This is soap.
I`d be interested to find out what the earliest instances of somebody
saying that some method of using the media to communicate to the public was

KORNACKI: Wasn`t that McKinley did the front porch campaign? Because he
didn`t want to offer himself as a candidate?

BARRO: Right.

KORNACKI: If you had a question you could come to him and ask him a
question about how he would govern but he wasn`t going to go out there and
promise you and, you know, make all sorts of, you know, speeches, of course

BARRO: There were a number of them.

KORNACKI: I think you`re against William Jennings Brian, I think maybe he
just didn`t want to compete with that.

beneath the dignity of office, if he put on the green lipstick.

GILES: That would go too far.

PAGE: Thank you. But the only I have, I don`t know, many problem with him
reaching to anybody he wants, and this is a rate where not only reach
people but to reach on people who can be hard to reach. The only thing I
would say is that, he also has an obligation to talk to more traditional
media. The reporters who cover him every day who know the issues the best,
who asked the most obnoxious questions and press on them. And as long as
he is also being accessible, the question like that, he does not do that
enough. And look at what he did after the State of the Union which would
been a natural time to talk to a place like say, USA Today. So, as long as

GILES: Coincidentally.

KORNACKI: To pick an outlet.

PAGE: Coincidentally. Yes. So, that`s what I would say though. I
disagree with my good friend Howie on this, but I do think he has an
obligation to do both kinds of things.

GILES: But I will say this, that the press conference that he had where he
asked only female reporters. I thought that was such a great way --

PAGE: I`m for that.

USA today seems to be where you`re making the case here. But anyway, does
anybody know these YouTube stars?

GILES: I had never heard of them.

BARRO: They`re all these ads in The New York subway for Bethany Mota. But
these numbers are remarkable to me, and it reflects the fact that as
someone who works in cable news, the unfortunate fact that it`s very
difficult to get young people to watch traditional television. So, I think
there`s a little bit of a conflict of interest when somebody like Howard
Kurtz is out there basically saying, well, don`t use these new channels,
use the old channels. And I think that`s a bias that actually a lot of us
in media fall into because we work at these traditional outlets, we feel
like things ought to be channeled through us. Now I agree that the
President can`t ignore these channels, it would be great if he did more
traditional media interviews. But I think you have to meet the audience
halfway and understand a lot of people are not reading newspapers or not
watching the --

KORNACKI: I mean, somebody`s questions --

GILES: They were decent questions.

PAGE: Well, you know, it`s the Town Hall debates that we have in the
presidential campaign, often puts them more on the spot than reporters can
do. Because it`s harder to just filibuster citizen who is standing up and
asking a question. Even in not the most complicated way about something
that`s really on their mind.

GILES: That`s true, yes.

KORNACKI: I disagree with both of you. That`s for another time. I don`t
like the Town Hall debates, I think it`s a forced thing.

GILES: I feel that we more about like the White House correspondents
dinner and that kind of cozy relationship the President politics have.

KORNACKI: My problem with the Town Hall debates is I often get the
impression that the idea is you`re going to get a question that a random
person. You know, this is the question I really care about. I think when
you get is sometimes a random person is suddenly in the spotlight, and
comes up with a question that they didn`t really want to ask but they want
to sound smart and they want to say, you know.

PAGE: Reporters do that too.

KORNACKI: Good point, you put me in my place.

All right. Next we have more with the round table. Some big changes, some
surprising changes potentially coming to a very old Senate tradition.
We`re going to talk about that on the other side.


KORNACKI: All right. This was huge news when it happened in April, and
now it is on its way to the Supreme Court. The justices announcing
yesterday that they`ve decided to take an Oklahoma lethal injection case.
As the state which had that botched execution back then, now justices will
decide whether three drug cocktail used in that state is constitutional.
Or whether it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. So, remember this
story from back, back in the spring and just absolutely terrible story. It
brought to the surface all these issues too about these states having to
come up with all these drug combinations, maybe in some cases having
trouble getting the drugs and then therefore you don`t have what you need
and then these terrible problems ensue. I guess also in the bigger sense
though, this gets the debate over the death penalty. And this is when
people say cruel and unusual punishment, stories like this is what they`re
talking about.

GILES: Absolutely. I mean, you know, it`s one of those issues that to it
seems to me it`s not just black or white. I`m against the death penalty,
but then once I started meeting my new nieces and nephews and I remember
thinking if anybody hurt them, grr. But the idea of these lethal
injections and just the horrible nature of it, and I don`t know. Also, I
don`t know whether what the state is looking for is a quiet way to kill
people. You know, there`s that aspect of it. So, yuck.

PAGE: Did you see this court seeming to express increasing schism about
capital punishment. I mean, clearly there are four justices who are
willing to talk about this, that`s what they needed to take this case. But
last year they had a case where they expanded the consideration has to be
given to the IQ of someone you`re going to execute. They made it little
harder to execute people who are right on the borderline of being eligible
for execution. So maybe there`s a kind of shift that we see quietly going
under way with this court on when this kind of punishment is acceptable.

BARRO: Well, I think the interesting thing we`re seeing in the story is
that there`s a change in the facts on the ground of execution that as it`s
gotten written out of acceptable society. Basically, the reason that
states are having these problems with this execution is that a lot of
companies, especially in Europe, have been prevent, have not been shipping
products in European countries, have been taking steps to make sure it
would be more difficult for U.S. states to put their execution protocols
into place. So, maybe, I mean, you could have an idea where like,
execution could be constitutional, but there`s no constitutional way to do
it in the United States anymore.

PAGE: Yes.

BARRO: Because the tools have been taken away. And I think that reflects
that, you know, there`s been this judgment that this is something that
shouldn`t be in the hands of the state to do --

KORNACKI: It does, that the thing that always strikes me about it though
is like, you`ll have the story of did we, was an innocent man killed here?

GILES: Absolutely.

KORNACKI: And there`s a case in Georgia a couple years ago, it`s like,
this looks really suspicious, and your reaction is whoa, I don`t want the
death penalty at all. Then a story, I remember this awful one in
Connecticut a couple of years ago where this family was held hostage in its
own home, the mother was killed, the daughters were killed, the father came
home. The father has become the leading death penalty proponent in the
state of Connecticut, you know, got that on the books up there, and the
support, you saw these in the polls in Connecticut, in New England State,
you know, a lot of entire death penalty tradition and when that happened
and he spoke out, support for the death --


He doubles, the emotions on both sides of this. Anyway, remember when I
think we wanted to tell you about, hurry me along here. We got a lot of
show today. Remember when republicans were blasting Senate democrats were
eliminating the 60 votes threshold for certain presidential nominees. Not
long ago, well now, a GOP controls the chamber and we`re getting word that
leading Senate republicans are embracing those changes and maybe even want
to go further. This is Politico reporting that republican leadership is
considering a new plan to abolish filibusters, this time for Supreme Court
nominees, the interesting thing there is if they do that now and President
Obama has a nominee in the next two years, would it need 60 votes to get
that nominee confirmed? Could be a favor for President Obama at least in
the short term? Interesting developments there. Anyway, my thanks to the
panel this morning. We`re going to see you later in the show. And still
ahead on the show, Sesame Street throwing shade at the Patriots? We`ll
show you some very funny video.

And next, what could steal headlines from the Patriots in New England at a
moment like this? Well, here`s a hint with, something you see on the
ground every day on New England this time of year. But we`ll go live to
Massachusetts, a big storm brewing, stay with us.


KORNACKI: Millions in the northeast are waking up this morning to a nasty
wintery mix or what they might call a winter wonderland, a result of a
nor`easter now making its way up the east coast. The overnight snowfall
follows the biggest winter storm of the year that blanketed New Mexico and
Texas earlier this week.

MSNBC`s Chris Pollone joins us live from Andover, Massachusetts. Chris,
snow and hard up there, tell us what that to expect in New England today.

CHRIS POLLONE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Steve, this is the first real big
snowstorm of the season from people here just north of Boston. So far to
give you some perspective, Boston is only has about five inches of snow so
far this year. Usually by this time they have about 17 inches. So this
will get them up a little bit closer to the normal range. Right now we`ve
got a heavy, wet snow falling, it`s been falling since about 5:00, 5:30
this morning and it`s been piling up pretty quickly. And we probably have
nearly two inches of snow here on the ground as I take a look behind me and
most of the roads here throughout Andover got snow-covered quickly. I was
talking to a driver who came here on I-495 and she said that that
interstate highway that kind of forms a semicircle around the Boston area
was completely snow-covered. We have heard of a few jackknife trucks, but
so far, no injuries and people are slowly going about their business on a
Saturday. Luckily, no commute today. So Boston should handle this just

KORNACKI: All right. MSNBC Chris Pollone in Andover, Massachusetts,
hometown of Jay Leno by the way. Still ahead, still trying to get my head
around that fact that Hawkeye Pierce, otherwise known as Alan Alda is going
to be here this morning, to talk about sleep. Maybe I`m asleep, maybe this
is just a dream, I don`t know, stay tuned, we`ll find out.

And next, travel plans are being changed this morning so President Obama
can pay respects to the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, details on
that, next.


KORNACKI: The President and First Lady are on their way to India at this
hour. They departed Andrews Air Force Base earlier this morning. Didn`t
make it out of town quietly though. Indian officials were the first to
report that President Obama would not be visiting the Taj Mahal as planned
on Tuesday, that`s the last day of his trip. The White House then
confirmed that instead he will be traveling to Riyadh to pay his respects
to the Saudi Royal family, this following the death of King Abdullah.

Here to talk about this as well as some other major stories making
headlines in the Middle East this morning. I want to bring in Ayman
Mohyeldin, he`s the foreign correspondent with NBC News and MSNBC
contributor E.J. Dionne, columnist with "The Washington Post."

So, Ayman Mohyeldin, let me start with you. In just on King Abdullah`s
death, and I think more broadly, the U.S. and its relationship with Saudi
Arabia because the obituaries for Abdullah talk about how he was a more of
a moderating influence. He tried to modernize Saudi society in some ways.


KORNACKI: At the same time, the story of Saudi Arabia really is an
alliance between that family, between that Saudi royal family and religious
fundamentalists, and when the United States looks at, I think Americans
look at Saudi Arabia, we say, well, we know our government has this
alliance with the royal family, we also know that all the 9/11 hijackers
came from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is producing a lot of violent
jihadists. So, tell us about the nature of the society and the American
relationship with it.

MOHYELDIN: Yes, I mean, there`s a few points here, one is, when you`re
talking about Saudi Arabia`s progress, I think it`s best not to compare
Saudi Arabia to other countries in the world. I think what you do is
measure where Saudi Arabia was when King Abdullah took charge of the
country over the past 20 years. He`s been the king for ten, effective
ruler for 20. In the course of its 20 years, he`s tried to push the
country in a certain direction which is to open up the economy a little bit
to try to fight a little bit of the corruption. To try to kind of open up
educational opportunities for women particularly higher educational
opportunities, but by no means has the country gone in the direction where
a lot of the international community wants to see Saudi Arabia go.

KORNACKI: I mean, there`s still stonings taking place, there`s a
journalist from flogged the other day.

MOHYELDIN: Yes. Absolutely. And the human rights record is abysmal. I
mean, they have public executions, they have stonings, lashing against the
blogger who was just a secular blogger. There`s all kinds of problems with
Saudi Arabia from a kind of religious socio-conservative perspective and
that is, you know, women can`t even drive, can`t travel. There`s all kinds
of problems. But when people talk about this particular king being a
reformer, they`re not talking about him like really kind of revolutionizing
the country, they`re talking about where he took the country in his 20
years at the helm and bringing it into the World Trade Organization for
example. But the other point that you`re talking about, I mean, he also
introduced the 2002 Arab peace proposal which was a bit of a bold
initiative for an Arab leader to try to offer a comprehensive peace
agreement --

KORNACKI: Peace agreements with Palestinians situations. Right.

MOHYELDIN: Yes, comprehensive peace deal that would effectively end that
ongoing conflict. That obviously didn`t work out, but it gives you a sense
of his status in the region and what he was capable of pushing through.
But also on a different note, the thing about his death is not so much
about this king, but it`s about who is now in line to become a successor in
the kingdom. What we`ve seen is that we are now nearing the end of the
original children of the founder of Saudi Arabia. Why that`s so important
is because yes, the country has traditionally been very stable in its
succession plans, they`ve been very clear about it, they`ve been very good
at it. But now for the first time, we are seeing a possibility that a
grandson of the founder of Saudi Arabia is going to helm that country. And
that`s where the divisions are going to start to emerge.

KORNACKI: That`s interesting. E.J. Dionne, I want to bring you into this,
other things making headlines too, a busy week of news in the Middle East,
that`s a new thing, but, so there`s this. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli
Prime minister invited to address the U.S. Congress by John Boehner,
apparently the White House was completely cut out of this. The White House
is furious about this, all sorts of headlines about that this week. Here
you have one from Haaretz, a senior U.S. official saying that he spat in
our face. Publicly. And that`s no way to behave. They`re talking about
Benjamin Netanyahu there. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama
has a year and a half left in his presidency, actually it`s two years and
there will be a price. So that relationship between President Obama and
Benjamin Netanyahu, we know it`s been strained for a while. The White
House now saying to the press apparently there is going to be a price to
pay. How does this play out in terms of Iran, in terms of the Palestinians
and Israelis, just in terms of that relationship between Netanyahu and

E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it`s a mess. I`d be remised by the
Steve if I didn`t say you were my favorite political commentator this week
for reciting the words, I am a Patriot`s apologist in these very troubled

KORNACKI: We stand together E.J. from --

DIONNE: Yes. We do stick together. It`s really tough out there. Um, you
know, this is a strange and terrible thing, I think, that, the leader of
the opposition party, the President, inviting a foreign leader to speak
against our president`s policies, now yes, America has a special
relationship with Israel, lots of Americans have special feelings toward
Israel, that`s all true, but here you`re going to have, Mr. Netanyahu,
coming in, basically because he opposes the negotiations that President
Obama is undertaking with Iran on their nuclear program. He thinks
President Obama`s too soft on Iran, Israel, and the Saudis, I think
underneath it all are worried that President Obama`s trying over the long
run to create a new relationship with Iran. And so, not only will this
create problems, especially if Netanyahu`s reelected, but I think this
creates a real problem with John Boehner over the long run between the
President and John Boehner. A deeper problem.

KORNACKI: Yeah, it was extraordinary move to have that sort of split
showing up publicly like that. Anyway, a lot more I wanted to get to here.
Unfortunately, we went a little longer. We got to get to the reset at the
end of the hour.

My thanks to NBC`s Ayman Mohyeldin, contributor from MSNBC E.J. Dionne for
getting up this morning. I really appreciate the story for the short
segment there. Another full hour though of news and politics.

Plus, Alan Alda, all of that next hour, stay with us.


KORNACKI: Obama`s best speech ever?


KORNACKI: And thanks for staying with us this Saturday morning. Lots more
to get to this hour, including the fallout, both good and bad from the
president`s State of the Union Address this week.

Also, did Sesame Street actually weigh in on the Patriot`s scandal?

And as we`ve been telling you, Alan Alda, he`s on the hunt for a few good
scientists. Still can`t quite believe it, but Hawkeye Pierce is going to
be here on this set. That`s just minutes from now.

But we to want begin this hour with this morning`s still unfolding news
that President Obama is skipping his visit to the Taj Mahal on Tuesday.
It`s the last day of his state visit to India. He`s on his way there right
now, in fact. He`s going to skipping that visit to the Taj Mahal, though,
in order to pay his respects to the new Saudi King in Riyadh.

NBC`s Kristen Welker live this morning at the White House.

So, Kristen Welker, what`s going on with this change of plans?

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: Hey, Steve, good morning.

Well, you`re right. Look, this was just a few hours ago that the White
House made the announcement that President Obama is going to cut his India
trip short and travel to Saudi Arabia to pay his respects after the death
of King Abdullah. The president is expected to meet with the new Saudi
king, King Salman, while he`s in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Now, Vice President Biden, as you`ll recall, was initially leaded to state
the delegation. However, in a statement, White House Press Secretary Josh
Earnest says, quote, "As the presidents and vice president`s travel
schedules became clearer, we determined that the window in the vice
president would be on the ground in Riyadh coincided with the president`s
departure from India. Accordingly, we adjusted the schedule.

Now, the president will again meet with King Salman, but also Saudi
officials. He`s going to offer his condolences on behalf of the American
people, according to the White House. Important to point out, Steve, it`s
pretty uncommon for President Obama to cut his travel plans short, but the
decision was made in this case in part, of course, because Saudi Arabia is
one of America`s closest allies in the region and key partner in the fight
against ISIS.

Now this change means as you said that the president is going to skip his
plans to visit the Taj Mahal in India, but -- and this is an important but
-- he`s still going to hold bilateral talks with the prime minister there.

Now, of course, all of this comes amidst deep instability in Yemen after
opposition forces essentially ousted the pro-American president there. So,
it raises a lot of questions about U.S. foreign policy in the region, also
the fight against ISIS and AQAP -- Steve.

KORNACKI: All right. NBC`s Kristen Welker, live for us in the North Lawn
of the White House, thanks, Kristen. Appreciate that.

And turning now to the biggest speech of the week and what one long time
journalist says is the best speech that Barack Obama has ever delivered.
He`ll be here to tell us why he thinks that in just a moment.

But, first, let`s set the scene. President Obama walked into the Capitol
on Tuesday night, a confident man intent on telling Congress and the
country that America`s economy is now bouncing back strongly on his watch.


our goals were misguided, or too ambitious, that we would crush jobs and
explode deficits. Instead, we`ve seen the fastest economic growth in over
a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled,
and health care inflation at it`s lowest rate in 50 years.



KORNACKI: The president pressed for ambitious agenda for his last two
years in office. And notably absent were vows to the Republican landslide
in the midterm election just two months ago. He was relaxed, he was
confident to his critics, maybe even a little cocky.


OBAMA: I have no more campaigns to run.


My only agenda -- I know because I won both of them.



KORNACKI: One thing was clear, this is not a president who`s ready to fade
from the political stage and take a back seat during the supposed lame duck
years of his presidency.

And that speech spurred Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss,
who`s written extensively about President Obama`s life, to tweet this,
"Obama`s best speech. Period."

Talk about why he was that moved, I`m joined by David Maraniss, associate
editor at "The Washington Post" and author of "Barack Obama: The Story."

David, thanks for joining us.

So, Barack Obama makes the speech of the Democratic convention in 2004 that
basically makes him president four years later. He gives that speech on
race in Philadelphia --


KORNACKI: -- at the height of the 2008 campaign. You watched this on
Tuesday night and you said, better than all those, better than everything

MARANISS: Well, I`ve tweeted stranger tweets before, but sometimes, I
tweet a little bit to provoke. But in many ways I thought it was his best
speech. `04 certainly was the speech that set him up, but it was easier in
a sense, no one knew him at that point, he had a great story to tell that
was unknown to the public. And he had a riff that caught.

The Philly speech was fraught with danger, talking about race in a time
when his campaign in 2008 was on edge. And -- but it was one dimensional.
Very deep, but one dimensional.

I would say that his two acceptance speeches are pretty much forgettable.
I don`t think I could recite one line from either of those.

KORNACKI: So, what made this one stand out?

MARANISS: This speech was the full Obama. It included -- he took credit
for what he`s done, which he hasn`t often done very well. He set a marker
for what he would not do, with the Republicans, sort of putting that line
in the sand. He offered many, sort of Clintonian policies that moved him
into the middle to a certain extent.

And then he, he -- it wasn`t a laundry list litany. He did many things
including sort of his going back to the riff from `04, after all that he`s
gone through endured over the six years to go back to that took a certain
amount of chutzpah.

And at the end, of course, twice we saw his sort of basketball trash
talking. The first of which I thought worked very well, the second was
right on the line.

But when you put it altogether, it was President Obama at his most
confident and actually cohesive and clear. That`s not to say that all the
policies made sense or that his, sort of eliting parts of the troubles in
the Middle East was the right thing to do, but as a speech, I thought it
was right up there.

KORNACKI: All right. Yes, as you say, those two ad lib lines, basketball
trash talk, those are the two biggest things a lot of people talk away with
is. Certainly some funny moments there.

My thanks to Obama biographer, David Maraniss, though, for joining us this
morning. Appreciate that.

And we to want look at what might have been the strangest moment in Barack
Obama`s speech. The one moment out of all those times when the audience
burst into applause, and all those standing ovations, the one moment when
it was the Republicans who were cheering the president on, and when it was
the Democrats who were sitting on their hands and frowning.

That moment had to do with the issue of trade, and with President Obama`s
request that Congress give them fast track authority to negotiate two trade
deals. One with 10 Pacific nations, another with the European Union.

A fast track authority means that whatever the president negotiates,
Congress would then have to give a simple up or down vote on it. No
changes, no amendments, just a yes or no vote on what the president brings
them from his negotiations. Critics are calling this NAFTA on steroids,
the president tried to address their concerns on Tuesday.


OBAMA: Look, I am, I am the first one to admit, I`m the first one to admit
that past trade deals haven`t lived up to the hype, and that`s why we`ve
gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. But 95 percent
of the world`s customers live outside our borders. We can`t close
ourselves off from those opportunities.


KORNACKI: Republicans loved that moment so much that Wisconsin Congressman
Paul Ryan went on "MORNING JOE" the next day to say this --


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: I agree with every word he said in the
speech with respect to trade and Asia and getting in there and helping
write the rules instead of China writing the rule. He`s in the middle of
negotiating a trade agreement with Asian nations, representing 40 percent
of global GDP. This means more jobs for America. This means more exports
for us. This is something we had to get on top of us and I agree with him
on that.


KORANCKI: All right. And joining me now talk about it is one of those
Republicans who was cheering the president on there, Republican Congressman
Leonard Lance of New Jersey.

And I should point out that we also plan to have a Democratic Congresswoman
Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut on to represent the Democrats who are upset
with the president though there. Unfortunately, the nor`easter prevented
her from getting to the studio and joining us this morning, though.

But my thanks to Congressman Lance for being here. Let me start with, fast
track authority -- giving the president this power to negotiate and then
present to Congress something for an up/down vote. It takes Congress out
of this process in a big way. It gives the president a lot of power.

And I see these Republicans advocating it, and I say, this is the same
group of House Republicans who are trying to sue the president for
overstepping his executive power for asserting too much power, and now you
want to give him more of it?

REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), NEW YORK: Fast track requires constitutional
action by the Congress, and I think that`s the difference, Steve.

But we want to see what the negotiations produce before we agree to it, but
I tend to agree with Paul Ryan. And the Republican Party by in large
believes in free trade because it will create American jobs at American
standards, and this is important to our economy, for example, to the
agricultural sector of our economy, to open that, for example, in Japan.

KORNACKI: So, let me put up -- actually we have a quote, I think from
Congresswoman DeLauro, again, couldn`t be on the show unfortunately. I
think we have a quote from her here.

Here we go, these are some of her objections. She said, "I don`t believe
we ought to give up our constitutional authority to review these agreements
and this particular agreement goes well beyond any of the trade agreements
we`ve had in the past."

So, what she`s talking about there is, you say, there is still a
constitutional role, but if he comes back with something, if you`re on the
Democratic side for instance, Congresswoman DeLauro is, and says, wait a
minute, this doesn`t do enough to protect wages here in the United States,
this doesn`t do enough to protect environmental standards here in the
United States, we to want have the good benefits of trade, but we want some
protections. And, you know, you`re powerless as Congress to do anything
about that.

LANCE: I think we want to see what the agreement contains, and the trade
representative, Mr. Froman, is working hard on that issue. And the
president promised in the State of the Union speech that these issues would
be addressed. And we want them addressed as well. But I do believe
ultimately in free trade, and I am hope that we can reach that end point.

KORNACKI: Well, so, big business is very much for this. We`re reading all
sorts of stories about the big corporate lobby really starting to engage to
try to get Congress to give the president this kind of approval. At the
same time, unions don`t like this.

Give you an example here, one of the -- one of the concerns I think here is
this concept about the race to the bottom. The race to the bottom when it
comes to wages for workers in this country. We had a report the other day
that out of all the good economic signs we`ve had the last few months,
median income in this country is actually down. So, people really

And I think workers might look at this and unions might look at this and
say, well, if you enter this arrangement with the Asian countries, you`re
basically putting the American worker in a way, in competition with workers
in Vietnam. And how can that not do anything but precipitate a race to the
bottom when it comes to the basic living conditions and wages for those

LANCE: We don`t favor a race to the bottom, and we want to make sure that
standards are increased in Asia and in Europe as well.

And let me say that we think that this will create more American jobs. And
the president and his negotiators are working on this issue.

And regarding lobbyists, if it`s opened up at the congressional level, I
think there will be a great deal of lobbying and it`ll be a thousand cuts
and death by that. And I think that`s one of the challenges, and this
authority has been granted in the past in 2002, with a Republican
president, and now, it is a Democratic president who is asking for it. And
we want to work cooperatively with President Obama and with his
administration if possible.

KORNACKI: And, John Boehner says, as he`s indicated, there are going to be
Republican deflections on this. There`s an element sort of I think to the
Tea Party doesn`t like this idea, doesn`t like the idea of big
international agreements. You`re going to need -- Republicans are going to
need a number of Democratic votes on this. Do you think you`re going to be
able to come up with enough Democrats who say this is OK?

LANCE: Absolutely, it`s going to have to be bipartisan. And Republicans
have not signed up for this without first seeing what is in the agreement.
We haven`t said yes, we are open to the possibility, but yes, this --

KORNACKI: I just mean to give him the authority. You`re going need
Democratic votes to give him the authority.

LANCE: Absolutely. And this has to be bipartisan, and the president has
to be able to produce Democratic votes. This is not something that`s going
to occur exclusively with Republican votes.

KORNACKI: OK. Well, we`re always saying do they ever do anything together
in Washington? Here it is, this is a perspective action, some Democrats
are happy, some Republicans are. Very interesting situation. My thanks to
Congressman Leonard Lance, though, from New Jersey for taking a few minutes
this morning.

Still ahead, Alan Alda is now in the building and he`s looking far few good
scientists. He`s going to explain that to you. In just a few minutes, and
next, you keep hearing that Mitt Romney wants to run for president again
and you keep asking why, we`re going to show you the encouraging numbers
that he`s seen. That`s next.


KORNACKI: All right. So, you keep hearing that Mitt Romney is interested
in running for president again, for the third time. And you probably keep
asking the question, why? What does he think is going to be different this
time? What is he seeing that would make him think that?

So, we said, let`s go to the big board, let`s look at the numbers and let`s
see if we can come up with an answer. And I think we can. Let me take you
through it. So, right now, these are sort of new numbers. These are from
the NBC News, wall street journal poll. They tested what`s your opinion of
three of the big names in the mix, Hillary Clinton, 45 positive, 37

Doing pretty good there. We know Hillary sort of the front runner early
on. Now, take a look at this, Mitt Romney, 27 positive, 40 negative. Not
a very good number.

A discouraging number, but if you`re Mitt Romney and you`re hearing
everybody tell you, get out of the way, it`s Jeb Bush`s turn, Jeb Bush is
going to bring this party around. Well, look at this, Jeb Bush, 19
positive, 32 negative. It was even worse than Romney.

So, if you`re Mitt Romney, you`re saying, well, I`m not doing great, but
why do I have to get out for a guy who`s doing even worse than me. And
there are more like this that Romney could be looking at right now.

Take a look at this one, head to head, Hillary Clinton versus Romney,
Hillary Clinton versus Bush. Well, Democrats are happy. She`s beating
both of them. If you`re Romney, you`re saying I`m down 15, push is down
13. It`s not like he`s even. And I`m getting blown out.

So, if you`re Romney you`re saying, he can`t say he`s more electable than
me, not with numbers like this.

Keep going, there`s more, among Republicans, Republican voters, what`s your
view of Romney, what`s your view of Bush? Romney 52-15, that`s a 37 point
spread, positive. Bush, 37-15, that`s only a 22 point spread. Romney
right now more popular among Republicans than Jeb Bush.

Here`s even more interesting things, among Tea Party Republicans, the most
conservative element of the Republican Party, Romney 52-18 positive, Jeb
Bush, 29-20. Mitt Romney might look and say, if Jeb Bush runs, there`s
room to the right of Jeb Bush for me.

And now, take a look at this, this is a chart we`ve shown a few times,
every time that polls have matched up, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush in the same
poll of National Republicans, every time, Mitt Romney has beaten Jeb Bush.
This in the last few months, 11 points here, nine points here, five points
here, eight points here. And you see Christie behind both of them.

So, again, it makes sense actually, if you`re Mitt Romney, yes, you`ve run
twice, lost, yes, probably have an uphill fight against Hillary Clinton.
But if you`re looking at the Republican nomination and hearing Republicans
say oh the big Jeb Bush juggernaut`s coming, you can look at these numbers
and you could reasonably say, why not me? So, that`s the logic behind it,
thanks to the big board.

Up next, if ever there were a person who need to learn more about sleep,
it`s probably me. "Scientific American Frontiers" one and only, Alan Alda


KORNACKI: Alan Alda, we`re going to talk about your big project, big
challenge for 11-year-olds and scientists. We`ll talk about it on the
other side.

ALDA: That`s great. Thank you.


KORNACKI: He is an icon of stage, screen, and television. Millions still
know him at Army Sergeant Hawkeye Pierce from the hit show "MASH". That
was one of the most watched shows in television history. Or how about the
senator he played in Martin Scorsese`s film about Howard Hughes, "The
Aviator", got an Oscar nomination back in 2005.

Those are just two of the many memorable roles he`s played in the career
that has spanned decades and also included a 15-year run hosting the
acclaimed PBS series "Scientific American Frontiers". That was a show that
opened many American`s eyes to the wonders and possibilities of scientific

And also, the path to a whole new career for Alan Alda. He has now created
the Alan Alda Center for communicating science at Stony Brook University on
Long Island. Its mission is to train the next generation of American
scientists about how to communicate about their work, well, basically, to
people like me, people without PhDs, people better at history in school
than molecular biology and chemistry.

And he is here today with a new challenge for scientists all around the
world, a competition that`s going to be judged by 11-year-olds. Here to
explain all of this, I am really pleased, really excited to welcome up Alan

Thank you so much for being here. Welcome.

ALDA: Great to see you. Hi.

KORNACKI: So, so much I want to talk about. Let`s start with this
competition here, this is the "Flame Challenge".

ALDA: It`s called "The Flame Challenge" because the first year it would
challenge scientists to explain what a flame is so that 11-year-olds could
understand it and be delighted by the explanation. Each year, we change
the challenge. This year, the challenge is, what is sleep?

And that question came from the kids themselves, 11-year-olds all around
the country and around the world. So, what were you going to asked me?

KORNACKI: Yes. So, identify the problem here it sounds like. This
challenge, and this program you run is basically that scientists do all
this incredible work, and yet, to explain that, to get that across to
people, you have to speak in maybe a less scientific language. So, that`s
what you`re trying to address here.

ALDA: You know, we don`t want them to be less accurate. We want them to
be more accessible to the people who don`t have, as you said a second ago,
don`t have the same training that they have, don`t have doctorates in
whatever field they`re in. How do you explain to somebody and not dumb it
down, not make it inaccurate, but get them to understand it. That`s --
that`s the challenge.

KORNACKI: What are some of the keys to that?

ALDA: Well one of the keys is to understand who you`re talking to. What -
- how do they think? What language do they use? I mean, I wouldn`t speak
to you in Chinese. Unless I thought you could understand me.


ALDA: To get in the same wavelength, get on the same wavelength with the
person you`re communicating with is really the basis of it. And that`s why
at the center for communicating science, we actually train scientists with
improvisation, games and exercises because not to turn them into comedians,
but to turn them into people who can focus on the other person, make eye
contact with them, and see what`s going on in their head while they`re
talking to them and finding out if the they`re getting it, if they`re
following it.

KORNACKI: What`s the experience like? Do they, do they get, do they get
what you`re saying and that connect with it or just scientists who can`t

ALDA: That`s the stereotype about scientists, they`re distant and cold and
to want talk in numbers. They actually crave this human contact that we
help them get. And they`re very happy to get up to the next stage of
communication where they look people in the eye and talk their language.

It`s really -- now, it`s -- for "The Flame Challenge", scientists have
until February 13th to enter the contest. I hope they will. The wonderful
thing about this is while they try to explain what sleep is to kids, either
show a video or through a short written piece, the kids are either going to
get it or not. And the scientists are going to be judged by the kids.

KORNACKI: That`s a great idea.

ALDA: It turns out to be a great teaching experience, great learning
experience for the kids because they -- they get the responsibility now of
saying, that`s a good explanation, but it could be a little better, you

KORNACKI: Your thoughts?

right around that time when you`re about 11, everything seems to be open
and available and you can start to learn it. But I can remember right
around then, things like science and other things became this like science
with the capital S, and we do share improvisation, I was with the tour
company and Alan Alda was one of the founders in the beginning.

And improv isn`t just about comedy, as you were saying. It`s a real way to
learn to communicate. And the idea of learning science that way is so

ALDA: And that, that connection that you get in improv is so liberating.
Didn`t it change you as a person?

GILES: Well, it`s great because it`s all about listening and communicating
and responding to what you`re getting right then at the moment. That`s
scientific in a way.

ALDA: You know this intimate tone that can develop when two people are in
the same space together, they`re really paying attention to each other,
that intimate tone opens the door to understanding difficult things.

KORNACKI: Well, I`m trying to think of this challenge. So the idea of
explaining sleep. And I`m not -- obviously, I am not strong in my
scientific background, how would I explain that to anybody? Is that
something you could explain?

GILES: Close your eyes and you see darkness and maybe you`re breathing
slows down and I don`t know what I would say after that.

ALDA: What`s it good for? How come, we all want to know this, and 11-
year-olds who are very curious people and won`t take a simple answer on the
surface that, you know, that doesn`t really explain it, they won`t take
that for granted.

They want to know things like, why do we need sleep? Why do we get sick
and get hallucinations if we don`t get enough sleep?

KORNACKI: I remember being a kid and thinking, what a waste the concept of
sleep was, eight hours out of the day. One third of the day, I can`t do
anything. I want to watch TV, I want to do this other stuff.

ALDA: When you realize that one-third of our lives is spent unconscious,
why? What do we go through that for? You know, it`s a very interesting
thing. Scientists can make a video that demonstrates it.

We`ve seen all kinds of winning videos, if you go to the Web site,,, you can see the winning entries
from past years and the imagination that they put into it and the different
ways they`ve approached it are so interesting. You can get tips about how
to make yours better.

KORNACKI: What kind of interest? Is this international competition? Is
this growing?

ALDA: International. We have scientists from all over the world, sending
in entries. We have classrooms signed up by their teachers. I hope
teachers will sign up more classrooms now. Last year we had 27,000 kids,
everywhere, all over the United States from South America, Belgium, China,
we had them from everywhere. The first year, we had an aboriginal class
from Australia. It was really exciting.

GILES: Where were you when I failed my physics regions?

ALDA: I didn`t do well in school either with chemistry. And now, I`m
hungry for that and I want to understand it.

KORNACKI: OK. So the flame challenge and the challenge this year for
scientists around the world is to explain sleep and do it in a way that 11-
year-olds can understand. I`m actually very interested now because hosting
a very, very early morning show on the weekend, I have newfound
appreciation for sleep.

Anyway, I want to thank our special guests today, actor Alan Alda, great to
have you here. Thank you.

GILES: Thank you.

KORNACKI: Nancy Giles also for joining us as well.

And still ahead, why the word of the day on Sesame Street yesterday should
have maybe been a coincidence, but maybe wasn`t. We`ll explain that.

And up next is your morning looking like this? What`s in store this
afternoon? Some nasty weather out there. We`ll find out all about it
right after this.


KORNACKI: Thanks for staying with us this Saturday morning.

If you live in the Northeast, it`s a perfect morning to spend at home in
front of the television. A nor`easter is blanketing the East Coast with
snow. This is the first major winter storm of the New Year. Forecasters
say New England will be hit the hardest with as many as eight inches snow
falling in parts of Massachusetts. Rhode Island and Connecticut, this was
Hartford earlier this morning.

Stay tuned for updates here on MSNBC throughout the day.

And coming up next, is President Clinton headed to the big screen? It`s
topic might come up in our "Up Against the Clock" tournament of champions.
That`s the only clue our contestants are getting.

The round one continues, the extravaganza tournament is next.


ANNOUNCER: Live from Studio 3A in Rockefeller Center, it`s time for a
special tournament of champions edition of America`s first cable news
political game show, "Up Against the Clock".

He tied for the season`s high score, but he`s ready to break away from the
pack, say hello to Josh Barro.

You`ve seen his buzzer speed, but wait until you see this Jersey Shore
resident`s fist pump, it`s Brian Thompson.

She met her husband on a campaign bus, and her political knowledge is like
a Mack truck, please welcome, Susan Page.

And now, the host of "Up Against the Clock", the never under-inflated,
Steve Kornacki!

KORNACKI: Oh, thank you, Jim Cutler. Thank you, studio audience. Thank
you for everybody tuning in at home for another exciting tournament edition
of "Up Against the Clock".

Today, we continue to narrow the field down to those final three who will
play for the world championship, just two weeks from today.

With us today, three contestants, Josh Barro, Brian Thompson, Susan Page,
all of them to be here today had to win their qualifying contest, and then
be approved by our selection committee, a very rigorous process.
Congratulations to all of you for making it this far. But only one of you
will advance to the finals.

Just to quickly go over rules for the studio audience and anybody joining
us for the first time. This is a very simple fast-paced current events and
politics news quiz. Three rounds, 100 points in the first, 200 in the
second, 300 in the third, they get harder as we go along, the contestants
can ring at any time. A caution to them, you will be penalized for wrong
answers. Take that into account.

And because this is tournament play, we are supersizing the rounds today,
it will be 105 seconds long instead of the usual 100. So, contestants, I
hope you carbo-loaded today. With that, I will warn the studio audience,
as always, please no outbursts, contestants require absolute concentration
when they`re "Up Against the Clock".

And with that, contestants, I will ask you, are you ready to play?


KORNACKI: They are ready.

Let`s put those 105 seconds on the clock. I have in my hands, the 100-
point questions and the 100-point round begins with this. Damage was done
this week to one of the world`s most famous archaeological --



BRIAN THOMPSON: It was the statue tomb of King Tutankhamen.

KORNACKI: King Tut, we`ll take it, 100 points for Brian. He`s on the

A hundred-point tossup. After interviewing President Obama on Thursday,
YouTube star Glozell Green presented him with this, her trademark gift.



PAGE: Green lipstick.

KORNACKI: Green lipstick, it is. Susan ties Brian.

A hundred-point tossup question, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch this week
that he would like to strike up the same kind of cross-partisan
relationship he enjoyed with the late Senator Ted Kennedy with this current



PAGE: No Child Left Behind education or revision.

KORNACKI: Incorrect -- with this current Massachusetts senator.



JOSH BARRO: Elizabeth Warren.

KORNACKI: Elizabeth Warren, 100 points for Josh.

And stop the clock, exciting news for you, Josh. Not only did you get 100
points for successfully answering that question, but you have triggered our
quote of note video bonus here. Here`s how it works. For an additional
100 points, this is risk-free, by the way. A special celebrity guest will
read to you a famous political quote. If you can identify who said that
quote, we will double your score, give you an extra 100 points.

So, please, direct your attention to our video monitor, and Mr. Alan Alda.


ALDA: Hi, I`m Alan Alda with this week`s "Up Against the Clock" quote of

Which Korean War era president supposedly once said, always be sincere,
even if you don`t mean it?

Good luck.


KORNACKI: Extra 100 points.

BARRO: Truman.

KORNACKI: Truman it is. He said that with confidence. Double scored 200.

Put the clock back in motion. We return with this 100 point toss up
question, on Thursday, a vote to impose a smoking ban in many places passed
unanimously in this city near the mouth of the Mississippi River.



BARRO: New Orleans.

KORNACKI: New Orleans did that; 100 points for Josh.

A hundred-point toss up. The Senate rejected two amendments this week that
explicitly linked climate change to what?



BARRO: Human activity.

KORNACKI: Human activity is correct.

A hundred-point tossup. There were at least five Republican responses to
the president`s State of the Union Address on Tuesday, yet only one of them
had this person`s rebuttal outtakes accidentally posted --



BARRO: Ted Cruz.

KORNACKI: Ted Cruz`s outtakes post on the YouTube, 100 points for Josh.
He takes the early lead.

A hundred-point toss up.

In her State of the Union response on Tuesday night, Iowa Senator Joni
Ernst said in order to keep her shoes dry as a child --



THOMPSON: Bread bags.

KORNACKI: Her mother would cover them with bread bags. Brian is on the

A hundred-point toss up. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe was released
from the hospital this week --



THOMPSON: Falling off a horse in Europe.

KORNACKI: A horse was what we were looking for. That`s enough
information, and this brings us to the end of the round. Brian getting to
300 with the late answer, Josh in the lead at 500. Susan taking a chance
with the early ring in, she trailed after the first round.

But good news for you, Susan, you can make up ground quickly as we move to
the 200 point round. These questions are twice as hard. They are twice as
valuable. A lot happen when we start the second round. So, let`s put the
clock on the board.

And we`ll begin with this. On Thursday, the field to replace retiring
California Senator Barbara Boxer narrowed --



PAGE: When Tom Steyer said he wouldn`t run.

KORNACKI: When Tom Steyer said he would not run. Two hundred points for
Susan. What did that tell you?

Two hundred-point tossup. Whisked away to a secret location, this cabinet
secretary --



BARRO: Anthony Foxx.

KORNACKI: Anthony Foxx is the designated survivor.

Stop the clock. Stop the clock because, Josh, you have triggered our use
it or lose it bonus question. Here`s how it works -- because you
successfully answered that question and told that Transportation Secretary
Anthony Foxx was the designated survivor at the State of the Union Address
on Tuesday, I have in my hands a follow-up question that is somehow related
to the one I just asked you.

Now, you can hear that question and try to answer it and if you do, you`ll
get an extra 200 points. But if you`re wrong, you`ll lose 200 points or
you can pass.

Josh, I have the bonus question, will you use it?

BARRO: I will use it.

KORNACKI: He`ll use it. So, here it is, your related question: prior to
becoming transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx was the mayor of what city?

BARRO: Charlotte.

KORNACKI: Charlotte, North Carolina. He knew that one, 200 more points
for Josh, opening up a bit of a lead there.

The clock goes back in motion with this, federal judge this week ruled that
so-called DREAMers in this Western state can keep their --



THOMPSON: Arizona.

KORNACKI: Arizona, they can keep their driver`s license, 200 points for

Expressing interest in a run for Congress from Iowa this week was Gary
KroegerS who more than 30 years ago portrayed ex-Vice President Walter
Mondale as cast member on what weekend comedy show?






THOMPSON: "Saturday Night Live".

KORNACKI: "Saturday Night Live", 200 points for Brian. Catching up there.

Two hundred-point tossup. A proposal to raise the gas tax in exchange for
an income tax cut was floated this week by this governor of South Carolina.



BARRO: Nikki Haley.

KORNACKI: Nikki Haley floated that, 200 points to Josh.

Two hundred-point tossup. After an incident that occurred during training
camp, the U.S. women`s national team suspended this soccer goalie for 30



THOMPSON: Solo Hope -- Hope Solo, Hope Solo.

KORNACKI: Hope Solo, we`ll accept that. Two hundred for Brian.

THOMPSON: I was thinking the last name first.

KORNACKI: Two hundred point tossup. After initially not confirming his
specific whereabouts on an overseas trip --



BARRO: Nathan Deal.

KORNACKI: Incorrect.

It was revealed that the governor of this state went to the U.K. for an
economic development --



THOMPSON: Georgia.

KORNACKI: Georgia, and Brian moves into the lead.

Two hundred-point tossup. Talking about this guest ahead of his
inauguration on Wednesday, new Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said I`m not
quite as mean, I haven`t told anybody to sit down and shut up.



BARRO: Chris Christie?

KORNACKI: Yes, he said that about Chris Christie. He gets that at the
wire. Tie at the end of round two, 1,100 for Josh, 1,100 for Brian. Susan
a little bit behind.

But, again, even easier to catch up now because we have 300-point round,
PhD level, the round of champions, the hardest possible questions, the most
valuable possible questions. Very suspenseful, we`ll dim the lights for
dramatic effect.

That trip to the finals will be decided in the next 105 seconds. I know
how much time is in this game.

The clock is on the board, the cards are in my hand, we begin the third
round with this -- a young woman from this state was sentenced in federal
court on Friday after she was convicted of trying to aid Islamic state
militants in Syria.



THOMPSON: California.

KORNACKI: Incorrect.

The correct answer is Colorado. That was in Colorado.

Three hundred-point question. It was recorded this week that the release
of a documentary about Bill Clinton is stalled due to disagreements about
control between the former president and this --


PAGE: Scorsese.

KORNACKI: Is Martin Scorsese, legendary director.

Three hundred for Susan.

Three hundred-point toss up -- giving a speech at American University this
week, famous political offspring called herself Darth Vader`s daughter.



PAGE: Mary Cheney.

KORNACKI: Mary Cheney said it about her father Dick Cheney.

Three hundred-point tossup. With his visit to Idaho this week, Barack
Obama has now been --



PAGE: Been to 47 states, not including South Carolina, South Dakota and

KORNACKI: Name one of them. She named three, 300 points for Susan.

Three hundred points for Susan.

Three hundred-point tossup.

PAGE: Wouldn`t that be 900.

KORNACKI: With estimated net worth of $2 billion, "Forbes" magazine this
week said that the richest elected official in America is Bill Haslam, the
governor of what state?



BARRO: Tennessee.

KORNACKI: Tennessee, three hundred for Josh.

Three hundred-point tossup, shattering January box office records last
weekend was the movie "American Sniper" which is directed by Clint Eastwood
who back in the 1980s served as the elected mayor --



BARRO: Carmel.

KORNACKI: Of Carmel, California. Three hundred points for Josh.

Three hundred-point tossup. On his final night as the governor of Maryland
this week, Martin O`Malley attended the State of the Union Address in
Washington, D.C. as the guest of this former first daughter of the city of



PAGE: Nancy Pelosi.

KORNACKI: Nancy Pelosi, daughter of a former mayor, 300 for Susan.

Three hundred point tossup. Demonstrators were arrested inside the Supreme
Court on Wednesday when they interrupted --



PAGE: Arguments to protest the fifth anniversary of United -- Citizens

KORNACKI: Citizens United. She got 300 points.

Three hundred-point tossup. Claiming the school failed to provide them
with meaningful educational, two former college athletes sued this SEC
powerhouse university this week.



THOMPSON: Florida State.

KORNACKI: Incorrect.

Josh or Susan? Susan for the win?

Time, it was University of North Carolina.

Josh with a 200-point margin over Susan, wins the game with 1,700 points.
Advances to the championship.

And, Josh, not only that, but if you are successful two beaks from now in
the championship, you will win the grand prize for the season which we are
going to tell you all about right now.

ANNOUNCER: With your victory today, you earn a spot on contestants` row,
in the "Up Against the Clock" tournament of champions title game, putting
you one step closer to earning this season`s grand prize, an unforgettable
night at the ballpark.

Yes. That`s right. We`ll send you and three of your closest friends on a
free New York City subway ride, to historic MCU Stadium in Brooklyn, home
of the New York Mets single-a short season minor league affiliate, the
Brooklyn Cyclones.

But wait. There`s more. You`ll also be personally escorted to the
pitcher`s mound before the game by Sandy the Seagull, the official Brooklyn
Cyclones` mascot, where you throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

All of this could be yours, but only if you`re smart enough, fast enough,
and tough enough to win the "Up Against the Clock" championship.

KORNACKI: All right. And there is your bracket, Josh Barro, Jessica
Taylor in the championship. One more game there, Sam Stein, Evan McMorris-
Santoro, Jamelle Bouie, one of them will join them in the championship
game. That coming up two weeks from now.

Congratulations, Josh. Our thanks to the Brooklyn Cyclones as well for

And up next, the top headlines and also Muppets that are catching our eye
this morning. That`s next.


KORNACKI: And back here on the set "USA Today", Susan Page, from the "New
York Times" and, excuse me from "The New York Times", Josh Barro, MSNBC`s
Josh Barro, and NBC 4 New York`s Brian Thompson, all just recovering from
the heated competition.

Josh, again, congratulations on that.

BARRO: Thanks. I`m still waiting for my copy of "Cocoon", by the way.

KORNACKI: "Cocoon 2: The Return".

BARRO: Yes. Sorry.

KORNACKI: With a forged autograph from Wilford Brimley. We`ll get our
prizes department on that as soon as the show is over.

Let`s catch up right now with some other news stories buzzing this morning
in the "Catching Up" segment. Here`s one, we have some sound here, people
asking was this a coin dense or not that on Sesame Street yesterday they
re-aired an old episode with this word of the day.


ELMO: What`s the word on the street?


ELMO: What does the word "inflate" mean?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: It`s when you fill something with air.


KORNACKI: A show spokesperson telling "The Huffington Post", it was a

PAGE: Right.

KORNACKI: I don`t think I buy that.

THOMPSON: Did they follow it up the next day with the word "cheat"?

KORNACKI: Yes, I think their statement is about as believable as Tom
Brady. I`ll put it that way. What else do we have here? We`ve got some
other headlines, this is interesting.

NBC News saying that at Davos, the rich and powerful are paying $43 for
hotdogs. So, 43 hotdog with pickers and fried onions, this is in the Swiss
ski town. The price of the Swiss franc shot up last week. I guess that
made things more important. I guess the hotdog would normally be 26 bucks
or something, much more reasonable. I never go to these things.

THOMPSON: What`s the discount without the fried onions on top?

KORNACKI: Yes, maybe you get under 50 bucks. Ever been to these?

BARRO: The best thing about Switzerland being expensive is you get to go
on social media and complain to everybody back in the United States about
how expensive everything is in Switzerland right now.

KORNACKI: When you`re really bragging that you`re in Switzerland, right.

BARRO: Yes, exactly.

KORNACKI: Other news this morning, ABC News, never saw this one coming.
Sarah Palin on 2016, of course, she`s interested in the race. Palin being
interviewed and saying, she`s interested in the race, she can`t wait for
new energy, when she asked about Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. She`s in Iowa
for this event, this Iowa Freedom Summit we talked about earlier. So --

THOMPSON: Is she going to be at front of the Republican candidate Conga
line or at the back of the Conga line?

KORNACKI: I think she`s next to Trump wherever it is. I think at this

BARRO: I think she`s at the book-signing table. She`s very interested in
pretending to run for president in order to sell books and get speaking

PAGE: She`s not alone in that general strategy.

KORNACKI: The other thing is it works. It`s worked well for her.

My thanks to Susan Page, Josh Barro, Brian Thompson, for the quick catching
up segment.

Thank you for joining us today for UP, and join us again tomorrow morning,
Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. I will talk to Republican Senator John Hoeven
from North Dakota about the expected vote on the controversial Keystone

In the meantime, if you didn`t have enough of "Up Against the Clock", play
the online version and do it at our Facebook page.

And coming up next is Melissa Harris Perry.

Thanks for getting UP. We`ll see you tomorrow.


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