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U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, right, shakes hands with Republican challenger Scott Brown on Oct. 21, 2014 in Concord, N.H.

Scott Brown tries to fake his way through a debate

10/22/14 08:43AM

About 20 years ago, there was a great episode of "Cheers," featuring a city councilman who goes to the bar to ask voters for support. "Kevin Fogarty, City Council. I hope I have your vote on election day," he says. Frasier Crane asks, "And why exactly should I vote for you, Mr. Fogarty?"
 
The councilman replies, "Well, because I'm a hard worker, and I take a stand." Crane adds, "On what, exactly?" "The issues of the day," Fogarty replies. "Which are?" Crane asks. "The things that concern you and your family -- the most," the councilman concludes.
 
The folks in the bar thought this was a great answer, failing to notice that the candidate clearly had nothing of substance to say, and was simply faking his way past the questions, hoping no one would notice.
 
The "Cheers" episode came to mind last night watching Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) debate former Sen. Scott Brown (R) in New Hampshire. At one point, for example. moderator Chuck Todd asked about climate change -- Brown believes some of the crisis is "natural" -- and pressed the candidates on how best to reduce carbon emissions.
 
"I'm not going to talk about whether we're going to do something in the future," Brown replied, apparently confused about the purpose of a political campaign.
 
When Todd asked the Republican to explain the metrics he'd use to determine whether the U.S./Mexico border is secure, Brown replied, "You know it's secure when people don't come across it."
 
Remember, border security is one of the issues Brown claims to care the most about.
 
All of which led the challenger to make a striking claim.
Scott Brown's strategy in his New Hampshire Senate campaign has focused on claims that securing the border would prevent Islamic State militants from crossing into the United States. But when asked on Tuesday for evidence, Brown denied he ever made such statements.
 
"With respect, I did not say that -- what I have said is ISIS is real," Brown, a Republican, said during the first televised debate of the New Hampshire Senate race.... "Is there a possibility?" he added. "It's been raised that there are opportunities for people to come through that border. What are their intentions, I'm not sure, but they have made it very clear that they want to plant a flag in the White House."
He added, "I'm not fear mongering."
Democratic candidate Charlie Crist, left, and Republican Gov. Rick Scott shake hands before their live television debate on Oct. 21, 2014 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Florida's Scott on minimum wage: 'How would I know?'

10/22/14 08:00AM

For the second time in five days, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) faced off in a televised debate against former Gov. Charlie Crist (D), and this time, the incumbent didn't hide backstage over the use of an electric fan. Then again, given how the debate went, maybe he should have.
 
The two covered quite a bit of ground over the course of the hour, but one of the more memorable exchanges came on the issue of the minimum wage. Moderator Jake Tapper raised a question of increasing importance in contemporary Republican politics: whether the minimum wage should exist.
TAPPER: Governor Scott, you have said that you oppose raising the minimum wage because you think it would be a job killer. Clarify something for Florida voters, do you support the principle of a minimum wage? Do you support the concept of a minimum wage?
 
SCOTT: Sure.
 
TAPPER: What should it be?
 
SCOTT: How would I know? I mean, the private sector decides wages.
It's amazing to see this issue trip up so many Republican governors. Just over the last week or so, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) stumbled, saying about the minimum wage, "I don't think it serves a purpose." Yesterday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told powerful corporate allies that he's annoyed by the debate itself. "I gotta tell you the truth: I'm tired of hearing about the minimum wage," Christie said. "I really am."
 
But in Florida, Rick Scott seems more confused than his GOP brethren. Asked if he supports the minimum wage on a conceptual level, the governor said, "Sure." But asked what that wage should be, Scott says that's up to the private sector -- in the process making the case against minimum wage on a conceptual level.
 
Given how popular a minimum-wage increase is, and the number of Floridians struggling in low-paying jobs, it's remarkable the governor and his aides didn't have a better response prepared for this perfectly sensible question.

Ebola patient cleared and other headlines

10/22/14 08:00AM

NBC News freelancer declared free of Ebola. (NBC News)

Investigators question Secret Service assignment that sent a "Prowler" unit to handle a private dispute. (AP)

Official autopsy shows Michael Brown had close-range wound to his hand. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

White House Chief of Staff negotiating redaction of CIA torture report. (Huffington Post)

Koch-allied group urges young voters to support weed candidate. (National Journal)

Did Tom Cotton pay more than $300,000 to a group that does not exist? (NY Times)

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'Just show up' becomes key to 2014 debates

'Just show up' becomes key to 2014 debates

10/21/14 11:26PM

Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC's Meet the Press, talks with Rachel Maddow about the odd trend in 2014 debates of candidates threatening not to show up, or, in the case of Kay Hagan in North Carolina, literally giving the platform to her opponent alone. watch

'America's newspaper editor,' Todd on Bradlee

'America's newspaper editor,' Todd on Bradlee

10/21/14 11:25PM

Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC's Meet the Press, reflects on the legacy of Ben Bradlee, former editor of The Washington Post who died tonight, and points out his importance as a role model to editors and producers in the news media today. watch

ISIS claims possession of airdropped weapons

ISIS claims possession of US airdropped weapons

10/21/14 11:22PM

Rachel Maddow reports on a claim made in an ISIS propaganda video that the terrorist group is in possession of weapons dropped by the U.S., meant for Kurdish fighters opposing ISIS. The claim is unconfirmed though the U.S. says part of the drop went... watch

Ahead on the 10/21/14 Maddow show

10/21/14 06:05PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC's Meet the Press
  • Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post
  • Ayman Mohyeldin, NBC News foreign correspondent

After the jump, executive producer Cory Gnazzo with a preview:

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