Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 1/30/2016

Guests:
Symone Sanders, Eric Bodhlert, Maria Hinojosa, Jamilah Lemieux, Karla Holloway, Cornell William Brooks, Victoria E. Arteaga, Boris Epshteyn, Glenn Martin
Transcript:

Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: January 30, 2016
Guest: Symone Sanders, Eric Bodhlert, Maria Hinojosa, Jamilah Lemieux,
Karla Holloway, Cornell William Brooks, Victoria E. Arteaga, Boris
Epshteyn, Glenn Martin


MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry,
and this hour we have eyes on the many presidential hopefuls stumping
across Iowa today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

.giving their last-ditch closing arguments ahead of Monday`s first in the
nation caucus, the very first votes in the contest that will determine the
next President of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

It`s finally real, people, and tomorrow I too will be on the ground in
Iowa, and excited down to my political science nerd toes. So today we`re
going to get into the nitty gritty in both parties.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

But first, the Democrats because the (kray tier) Vermont Socialist that
just about everyone thought was a long shot candidate is now neck and neck
with former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. (The) Democratic Party –
primary, I`m sorry – is no longer just a coronation. According to the
most recent NBC News “Wall Street Journal” Marist poll, Clinton is only
three points ahead of Senator Sanders among likely Iowa Democratic caucus
goers, a lead well within the polls 4.7 margin of error.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

It`s a dead heat and both candidates are feeling the, well, you know, going
all out in their closing arguments to Iowans. Now, by this point, anyone
closing watching the campaign has become accustomed to the message integral
to the Sanders campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

He is the outsider who`s going to up end the political establishment,
whether they like it or not.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two
Democratic visions for regulating Wall Street. One says it`s OK to take
millions from big banks and then tell them what to do. Will they like me?
No. Will they begin to play by the rules if I`m President? You better
believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So here`s one way to think about it. You see, in Bernie
Sanders` world, it`s Bernie versus them and, if he wins, he is in fact
going to win, win, win. But you see, not everyone`s buying it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

“The Washington Post” editorial board for one said this week that Bernie
quote “Is playing the role of the uncorrupted anti-establishment crusader,
but Mr. Sanders is not a brave truth teller. He`s a politician sowing his
own brand of fiction to a slice of the country that eagerly wants to buy
it.” To Sanders that kind of thinking is exactly what he`s running
against.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Here`s Bernie in Iowa on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: That`s in a sense what this campaign is about, that is, people
are telling us – whether it`s “The Washington Post” editorial board or
anybody else – our ideas are too ambitious, can`t happen, it`s too bold.
Really?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: See every time you tell him it`s too bold, it`s too big,
it`s a response that furthers Sanders` image as a rouge outsider who will
continue to represent the (dreams) of the people, even in the face of
powerful opposition. His pitch is they don`t want you to vote for Bernie,
so you definitely should. Actually, you know who Bernie has kind of been
reminding me of lately? The renowned hip-hop producer DJ Khaled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DJ KHALED, HIP-HOP PRODUCER: Do not want you to have a lunch. They don`t
want you to be happy, they don`t want you to enjoy lunch. Well, I`m a
enjoy it. (SHOUTING) They don`t want you to wear a St. Laurent fur. They
don`t want you to break the App Store. They don`t want you to be the
biggest boss in the game. So what we gonna do, is we gonna win more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right, they don`t even want you to have a, a talk
show. See, for those who don`t know who DJ Khaled is, he`s a renowned hip-
hop producer who`s responsible for some of the most memorable hits of the
past decade. He`s collaborated with some of the most popular artists out
there, like Fat Joe, Kanye West, Drake. And he`s perhaps best known for
the hit single “All I Do is Win.” Now we`d play it for you but, you know,
lawsuits. So unlike Khaled, we have to follow at least some of the rules
that “they” lay out for us. Anyway, Khaled has added social media feed
onto his resume and this social media is really (about) – it`s kind of
hilarious and inspirational life advice which he sometimes calls major
cheese on Snapchat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Now maybe he is kidding when he says they don`t want you to eat lunch. But
nevertheless he has established an admirably strong anti-“they” stance.
Khaled never identifies exactly who “they” are, but he indicates that there
is an establishment, a system of power discouraging you from doing
something. So, we, you should challenge the establishment by doing it
anyway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

It`s a message that perhaps can prove useful in this political climate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KHALED: Major (keel lure). They don`t want you to have healthcare. They
don`t want you to have Obamacare. So what we gonna do is care about our
life and get that Obamacare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: See, that kind of sums up the message of Bernie Sanders
who`s caring in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

They don`t want you to vote for him, so you should. Sometimes “they” is
the DNC for not yet adding additional debates to the calendar. Sometimes
“they” is Wall Street or “The Washington Post” or (even) Planned
Parenthood. “They” is money and special interests. “They” is definitely
Hillary Clinton.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

And Bernie`s major key, “they” don`t want you to feel the Bern, so you
should. Joining me now is Maria Hinojosa, Executive Producer and anchor of
“Humanizing America” and NPR`s Latino USA; Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow at
Media Matters for America; and Jamilah Lemieux, who is a Senior Editor for
“Ebony” digital; and Symone Sanders, National Press Secretary for the
Sanders campaign, who joins us from Des Moines, Iowa. So, is Bernie, who I
have said before, spends more time on, you know, being covered by – not
that he`s on there, right? – being covered by sort of world star hip hop
than anybody but except maybe DJ Khalid, is he making this argument? Is
this the closing argument in Iowa, that there`s an establishment that
doesn`t want Sanders, and so that`s in part why voters, caucusers should
choose him?

SYMONE SANDERS, NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY, SANDERS CAMPAIGN: Thank you for
having me this morning, Melissa. I think our closing argument in Iowa is
that, you know, yes, we live in a rigged economy that is kept in place by a
system of corrupt campaign finance, and Bernie doesn`t think that`s right.
Bernie is not participating in that system. Bernie is here for the people,
and that`s what this campaign is about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

So we`re asking people, you know, to come out and caucus on Monday and –
because this campaign is not just about getting Bernie Sanders elected.
This campaign is about every day, hard-working Americans, those people that
deserve that $15 minimum wage, you know, the people that deserve the
healthcare that DJ Khalid was talking about. So that is a part of our
closing argument. We`ve got that enthusiasm, we`ve got the momentum, and
(I`ves) been in the office all weekend. We definitely have a good ground
game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: All right, Symone, hold for me for a second. Eric, so talk
to me, kind of get to the Iowa for, for a minute. Because I actually get
why this argument taps into a kind of oppositional consciousness as, for
example, Lawrence Levine might talk about African-American cultures that
works like, they don`t want you to eat breakfast, you`d better eat that
breakfast. But does it tap – is there an oppositional consciousness in
Iowa caucus-goers? Would – is this a useful argument for closing with
Iowa caucusers?

ERIC BOEHLERT, SENIOR FELLOW, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA: Well, I think
it`s a classic anti-establishment campaign, right? And the Democratic
Party has always been open to that. I mean we`ve never had a primary where
there wasn`t someone from the outside saying, hey, let`s take a different
view, let`s, let`s take this outside Washington, D.C. Now they`ll probably
mention Planned Parenthood. Sometimes when you get into this anti, anti,
anti, you kind of run into trouble.

HARRIS-PERRY: Mm-hmm.

BOEHLERT: I mean if Bernie kind of singled out Planned Parenthood as
they`re against us, any Democrat I think who`s running for national office,
especially after what Planned Parenthood went through this last year,
pointing out them as kind of an opponent – they walked it back and I think
everything`s fine there – but, when you come, become anti-establishment
everything, you do run into a problem. But, yeah, no, this is a perfect –
it makes sense for the Democratic Party, it makes sense for Iowa, and it
makes sense for people who want to have, you know, a larger debate. We`ve
never – quick point. I mean a Democratic primary has been a coronation.
We`ve never had a coronation on any primary. We`re always going to have a
good fight. I mean go back to Bradley-Gore. Everyone thought Gore was
going to walk. Iowa and New Hampshire were dog fights.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, right. I guess what I would say is great, but it
didn`t initially look that way.

BOEHLERT: Yeah, right.

HARRIS-PERRY: And so, Symone, let me come back to you just real quick
though on this point about Planned Parenthood, because there was a moment
that felt like a misstep this week on this kind of oppositional position to
say, oh, no, there are all of these groups against (who) there`s been a
six-figure ad buy by Planned Parenthood nationally for, for Mrs. Clinton.
They have endorsed her campaign, but does that make them an establishment
that is against Mr. Sanders?

SANDERS: Of course not, Melissa, and the Senator clarified his comments on
Rachel Maddow following the days after. And what he was saying, of course
Planned Parenthood itself is not the establishment. The Senator has a
hundred percent pro-choice voting record. He has fought with Planned
Parenthood, he`s fought with NARAL, he stood up for women`s rights, women`s
reproductive rights. So, of course, he wasn`t talking about Planned
Parenthood and, you know, the hard-working folks at Planned Parenthood all
across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

But what he was referring to were Washington-based organizations that vote
one way, and they`re – the people that represent, vote another way. And
we`ve seen that with many of these unions across the country. Lots of
unions have come out and endorsed other candidates in this race. But the
members of these unions across the country are standing with other
candidates. There are hundreds of thousands of union members standing with
Senator Sanders. So, of course, you know, Planned Parenthood is not the
establishment. The Senator was not knocking Planned Parenthood, and I
think people, people see that and they know that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Let me, let me come out for a second. Jamilah, what do you,
what do you make of my claim here around, around Khalid because, you know,
he even did a sort of thing around Jeb Bush. You know, we`ve seen Mr. Bush
is actually speaking live right now in Iowa. You can see him in the corner
there. Hold on one second, I want to listen to DJ Khalid talking to Jeb
Bush and I`m going to let you weigh in on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KHALID: You know I rock with Obama. Obama should (loo). But, Jeb Bush,
seems like you need some advice. I`mma give you the key to success and
motivate you. They don`t want you to win. They don`t want you to have
breakfast. A healthy breakfast of fruit, green apple. That`s the key,
apple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: And then Jeb was kind of funny enough to actually tweet
back, oh, you know, I had my green apple today, right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

And so, you know, it, it felt to me Jamilah like there is this sort of
again this question of running against the establishment does feel like
part of the overall theme of, of this particular election season.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JAMILAH LEMIEUX, SENIOR EDITOR, “EBONY” DIGITAL: Absolutely. I think the
“they” that doesn`t want Jeb Bush to win would be the majority of American
(voters).

HARRIS-PERRY: Democratic and Republic Party (inaudible).

LEMIEUX: Right, the establishment and anti-establishment, we may be
unified on that.

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, no, poor Jeb.

LEMIEUX: Poor Jeb.

HARRIS-PERRY: Jeb, Jeb.

LEMIEUX: And we have to say how do we step away from.

HARRIS-PERRY: Jeb.

LEMIEUX: You know, but this – Senator Sanders does represent something
really interesting. And if we think of President Obama, the infancy of his
candi – of his campaign as anti-establishment, he didn`t speak to a
“they,” right? It wasn`t the idea that other people didn`t want you to
have things. It was imagine a better world. Hope, change, something
different.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

It wasn`t necessarily about being radical or revolutionary, it was just
imagine that we could do something a little bit better than what we`ve done
before. To have someone near eight years later, eight years later, come
forward and say, forget it all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

There`s an establishment. There`s a regime. There needs to be a change.
I want you to be radical. That Sanders has continue to drive forward this
message, and he has not hidden from the word “Socialist,” but kept it
integral to his messaging. It`s something that we certainly haven`t seen
in my lifetime, and really interested to see how voters react to that.

HARRIS-PERRY: So that, so that`s interesting because there have been a lot
of comparisons to the, to the Senator Obama `08 campaign here. But you`re
actually doing a little bit of a different thing because you`re right.
Obama `08 was about, if there was a “they,” it was a kind of historical
“they,” it wasn`t an existing “they.” Stick with us everybody, except I
want to say thank you to Symone Sanders in Des Moines, Iowa, because I know
that you are running up to do all the work of the campaign, rushing. I`m
going to see you again tomorrow because I`ll be on the ground in Des
Moines, and so I`ll get to see you live, along with some of my students
there. Everybody else, stay right there because Hillary Clinton also
thinks that “they” don`t want her to be President, and that`s next. But,
as we go to break, let`s listen in as Jeb Bush talks to his supporters in
Iowa right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. GOV. JEB BUSH, (R) FLORIDA: .in Washington, D.C. And you know the
place that I would first work to change the culture and change direction is
the Department of Veterans Affairs. These men, and many others in this
room, have served this country in an extraordinary way. And the net result
is that they deserve the best care possible, the best care possible. And
today they`re not getting it. The Department of Veterans Affairs, is
employees, a department of 340,000 people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m fighting for everyone
who`s ever been knocked down but refused to be knocked out. I`m going to
fight until every little girl in America knows she can grow up to be
anything she wants, even President of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: That was one of Hillary Clinton`s latest ads, and she
continues to demonstrate that Bernie Sanders is not the only one who can
pitch himself as an outsider. Clinton also seems to have a DJ Khalid-style
“they” argument to make. Perhaps it is a “they” don`t want you to have a
woman as President. So, Maria, I want to ask you a little bit about this
in part because, you know, for me, I am now officially old enough to
remember that the Clintons were outsiders, right, and that they in fact
initially ran – and I really do say “they” at this point – in part
because she was also running as a, you know, they don`t want you to have a
First Lady who is smart, who is, you know, willing to govern alongside, you
know, her partner. That in fact they really did come in in the early `90s
as a, as a different kind of outsider. And I feel sometimes like that has
gotten lost in the description of the Clintons as establishment now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIA HINOJOSA, EXECUTIVE PRODUCE & ANCHOR, “HUMANIZING AMERICA,” “LATINO
USA,” NPR: So I, I`m just watching – I have two millennial Latino voters
in my home.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

HINOJOSO: Right? They know that I, I don`t take a position. I listen to
them, I listen to my husband, and I use them as kind of my guinea pigs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Sorry to reveal, but my daughter eight years ago was a staunch Hillary
supporter. I mean she would take on fights in her, you know, whatever it
was, when she was in middle school.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yep.

HINOJOSO: Because all of her friends were supporting Obama. The other
morning after the debate she calls me up. I don`t know what city I`m in.
She was like, Mom, I get the Bernie thing.

HARRIS-PERRY: Interesting.

HINOJOSO: I get the Bernie thing. And I`m just like, OK.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s interesting.

HINOJOSO: What, what? And I just said, so what did you think? And she
said, he`s talking about money and banks. And I was like, my 17-year-old
daughter who will be voting is talking to me about money in politics in
eight o`clock in the morning after the debate. And so – and I`m, I`m just
kind of judging from them – while they don`t have the history, that memory
of the outsiders, I think something has changed in the sense that, that
being a woman, at least for my daughter, you know, it`s just not enough
right now.

HARRIS-PERRY: So is, is that what that – is that part of what`s happening
around the outsider claim here is that (chu) thinks that the Clinton
campaign may be using a more identity-based outsider claim in this moment,
that an identity-based claim is going to work less well than a kind of
structural policy-based outsider claim.

BOEHLERT: Well, there has been commentary that she did run this kind of
campaign in 2008. She didn`t really talk about being, you know, an
historical figure and things like that.

HARRIS-PERRY: OK.

BOEHLERT: And maybe she should have then. Now she, she`s just more
comfortable now.

HARRIS-PERRY: Mm-hmm.

BOEHLERT: I think this is who she is. Look, when you`re Secretary of
State, when you`ve been on the national stage for a quarter century, it`s
harder to do that outsider thing.

HARRIS-PERRY: Mm-hmm.

BOEHLERT: But, look, when you want to talk about the “they” who don`t want
to, you know, I would say Clinton is a little unusual. She`s running
against Sanders, she`s running against the GOP, which has been advertising
against her, and she`s running against the press. Nobody has to run
against all three.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

She knew this wasn`t going to be a cake walk, and it`s not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So, this, this is perhaps for me the one thing that keeps
making me think that the press, and maybe even Democrats who want to see
kind of a good fight and not a coronation, are overblowing the Sanders
narrative, and it is that during Republican debates they act like only one
person is running. And the very fact that the only person that they`re
ever running against is Hillary Clinton, suggests to me that the only
person they think who is a challenge for them. And in fact right now it is
once again all about the e-mails, right? And so now the discourse emerges
again about the e-mails. And I just wonder like, if, if they only see
Hillary Clinton as a threat, is that, is that either indicative that they
have a piece of information there, or that they are misreading Sanders? In
other words, that they`re underestimating Sanders as a potential threat?

LEMIEUX: You know, I – it`s hard to understand what the GOP strategy is.
That`s fine considering that there are more candidates still in the race
and we could adequately sit – adequately sit.

HARRIS-PERRY: Sure.

LEMIEUX: .and discuss one by one during a two-hour news program.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

LEMIEUX: But the one thing that they do seem clear on is that we are
running against Hillary Clinton.

HARRIS-PERRY: Mm-hmm. That`s the one thing they agree on.

LEMIEUX: That`s the one thing they agree on, and I don`t think that means
that the Sanders narrative is being overblown and that we`re seeing too
much into it. The polling numbers are saying, look, he – he presents, if
nothing else, a threat in New Hampshire and Iowa, and that`s a serious
threat and Iowa changed the course of history just a few years ago.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah.

LEMIEUX: I just wonder if the Clinton campaign entered feeling that this
would be a coronation, feeling you can count on the endorsement of
President Obama, you can count on the people who said, look, the color, the
temperature of the presidency has changed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

We`ve seen a black man, we can certainly imagine a white woman. It should
not be such a great fight for me to get this, I`m qualified.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I just, I want to make one other claim about the
version of `90s outsider, “they” don`t want it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

And it really was that when came in – when Bill Clinton came in and
triangulated in the early `90s, his DJ Khalid argument was they don`t want
you to pick a Democrat who can win. `Cause in `84 and `88 it was a kind of
lefty Democrat who, who won the nomination and then lost in the general.
And he was like, I know I`m to the right of them but, if you pick me, I can
actually win in the generals. And then he did twice, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

And in a certain way, that is the argument, right? The kind of safe
argument that Hillary Clinton is making again and actually is that old-
fashioned one. So she`s saying they just don`t want y`all to have a
Democrat who can win. So it`ll be interesting to see. It`s all very DJ
Khalid. Thank you to Eric Boehlert for coming. Are you, are you going to
Iowa?

BOEHLERT: Not making it out.

HARRIS-PERRY: Not making it out. Well, yeah, it`s – you know, it`s cold.
OK. And to Maria Hinojoso and Jamilah Lemieux, we are going to be back a
little bit later in the program. But up next, we`re going to go to Iowa
live on the ground as the two-day caucus countdown continues. But as we go
to break, let us take a listen to Senator Marco Rubio as he addresses his
supporters in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And that`s why when I am
President I will lead the effort. We will fix our tax code. We will roll
back regulations. We will save Social Security and Medicare. We will deal
with the national debt. We will fully utilize our energy resources. And,
if we do that, there will be no economy in the world better than ours to
create jobs. We will become the single best place on this planet to start
a business or grow an existing one and create the best-paying jobs the 21st
century economy can provide.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back we`re going to talk about one of these big
political issues that may not be getting a lot of play on the campaign
trail but is central to the question of American politics, the Flint water
crisis.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Wednesday night during Rachel Maddow`s “Crisis in Flint”
town hall, the President of Michigan`s National Action Network succinctly
summed up Flint`s residents` feelings about who is to blame for water that
has been poisoning them for months.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. CHARLE WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK OF MICHIGAN: I
was thinking about what I was going to say on the way here, and I felt
like, Marshawn Lynch. All I got to say is Governor Snyder got to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Now, it`s true that Flint`s Mayor and City Council OK`d the
original decision to switch the City`s water source from the Detroit system
to a yet-to-be-completed pipeline that would bring fresh water from Lake
Huron. So why are Flint citizens blaming the person in charge of the
State? Well, because there is no record that City officials voted to use
the tainted water from the Flint River in the meantime. The final call on
that decision came from Emergency Managers who were handpicked by and
reported to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

And, as the “New York Times” points out this week, in Flint Emergency
Managers not only oversaw the City, effectively seizing legal authority
from the Mayor and City Council, but also pressed to switch the source of
the financially-troubled city`s water supply to save money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Michigan`s Emergency Manager law give an unelected person, appointed by the
Governor, the power to make decisions for financially-challenged
municipalities and school districts, and Flint has been under the control
of six Emergency Managers in the last 13 years. It`s a loss of political
agency that the City`s current Mayor linked directly to the water crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

KAREN WEAVER, MAYOR OF FLINT: Democracy needs to be restored in Flint.
That`s what`s happened, that`s how we got here. We didn`t have a voice, it
was taken.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s not just Flint. According to a 2013 report from “The
Atlantic,” while the cities under Emergency Management together contain
just nine percent of Michigan`s population, they contain notably about half
of the state`s African-American residents. Which means those Michiganders
who are stripped of their political power under the law are more likely to
be economically disadvantaged African-Americans, a reality that made
Michigan`s Emergency Manager policy the target of a federal lawsuit from
the Detroit branch of the NAACP in 2013. The suit claimed that the law
created a disparate impact that violated voting rights and equal protection
under the Fourteenth Amendment and, according to the Detroit NAACP
President, white municipalities that experienced similar financial distress
did not come under similar financial oversight. A judge ruled the lawsuit
could not move forward on technical grounds. But this week the NAACP
continued the fight, and on Wednesday National NAACP President Cornell
William Brooks presented Governor Snyder with a 15-point plan to address
Flint`s water crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

And among the top priorities on that list is a call to repeal Michigan`s
Emergency Manager law. Joining my panel now is Karla Holloway, Professor
of English, Law, and African-American Studies at Duke University.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

And from Washington, D.C,. NAACP President, Cornell William Brooks. Mr.
Brooks, what in the world does democracy have to do with clean and potable
water in Flint, Michigan?

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, NAACP: Democracy has
everything to do with clean water in Flint, Michigan. When we think about
this lead-based Katrina for the citizenry of Flint, it began not with
contamination, but rather with legislation. That is to say Public Act 436,
which provide near dictatorial powers for the Emergency Manager.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

In other words, you have a State official who is able to suspend City
Council meetings, able to suspend City ordinances, able to cancel labor
contracts, able to basically oversee, overrun, if you will, the fiscal and
political civic decisions of a municipality. And, as you so well pointed
out, while nine percent of Michigan`s citizens are under Emergency
Managers, it represents 50 percent of the African-American population, and
well more than that when we consider citizens of color. So the point being
here, this is not merely a catastrophe in environmental terms, it is a
catastrophe in civic terms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

It is precisely because you had an unaccountable, unelected State official
making a disastrous choice not in the best interest of the citizens of
Flint, but rather driven by fiscal concerns, that we have lead in the
bloodstream of, bloodstreams of children. It is a profoundly democratic
question and catastrophe in Flint, Michigan.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, Karla, I want to come to you on this because it feels to
me like in a moment like this it is so easy to go to the symbolism, right?

KARLA HOLLOWAY, PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH, LAW & AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES, DUKE
UNIVERSITY: Yeah.

HARRIS-PERRY: The people of Flint represent – and so I appreciate, for
example, what Mr. Brooks did there with the lead Katrina, right?

HOLLOWAY: Katrina. Certainly.

HARRIS-PERRY: So I both appreciate it and I recognize the danger in it.
Because in each case, in the case of Katrina for my family, for my
neighbors, for all of us who even a decade later have to deal with the, the
City officials who take victory laps around the graves of people a decade
later.

HOLLOWAY: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right? And the same thing in this context of Flint, that,
that here in this place where children have boils on their skin or they are
poisoned by – as Mr. Brooks is saying – the choices made by unelected
folks, that they both are absolute indications of the power of democracy,
but we can also turn them into symbols. And so since that`s your work,
right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLLOWAY: Yeah.

HARRIS-PERRY: Both at the intersection of law and symbols, I was like,
well, I need Karla Holloway at the table.

HOLLOWAY: Well, I`m worried about the symbolism, and I`m worried about the
symbolism precisely because, as soon as this moves out of the news cycle,
we have right here an irreversible neurotoxin in these children`s systems.
So this news cycle will move on, our attention to it will be the same thing
that happened to Katrina. They will become symbols, and yet these
children, and these classrooms, and these families, communities, will be
dealing with this for decades. It will become a structural problem, it
will become a cultural problem, and what I really worry about is the way in
which the victims of this particular incident – I`m holding back from
saying crime – this particular incident will become the kind of
metaphorical reference, rather than real bodies with real problems, like
the boils, that will go on to be things that happen in developing childs`
(brains).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So, Cornell, this is why it was so important for me to take
a moment to focus on this part because, yes, the neuro and physiological,
but also the political, right? That.

BROOKS: That`s right.

HARRIS-PERRY: .that we will both need to establish all of the reparation
necessary for addressing the physical consequences here, but also we`re
going to restore some version of democracy in this space.

BROOKS: That`s right. I mean we can`t ignore, we shouldn`t blink, morally
or otherwise, the human cost and the human toll of this. When you see a
child with a rash on his back, when you see parents who are frightened to
death, the consequences of this crisis for their children, that`s real.
And we cannot lose sight of the humanity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

But focusing on the humanity points to the underlying problem with
democracy. And the fact of the matter is that it is because of this law
that we have this crisis. And if we respond to this democratic crisis with
specific policy reforms. So, for example, we need a victim fund. Just as
was pointed out, this is a generational problem. We have neurotoxins,
which is just another way of saying basically, brain poison in the
bloodstreams of children, which has a consequence in terms of the
developmental progress of children, learning disabilities, behavioral
challenges. And so the point being is we have to have a fund to address
that. Point two, we`ve called upon the Justice Department to look into
investigating and looking for litigatory options to hold this city and
state accountable. Title VI seems like a viable vehicle. In addition to
that, we have called for a real fiscal response here. The point being here
is, when you have advocates talking about billions of dollars in terms of
infrastructure replacement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

.and the Governor calling for in excess of $20 million for a short-term
response, the point being here is responsibility can be measured in money,
and right now what we have is a response that is under-responsive and
irresponsible.

HARRIS-PERRY: Mm-hmm.

BROOKS: We got to step up and address this problem. We have the Federal
delegation, Congressional delegation.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yep.

BROOKS: .talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.

HARRIS-PERRY: And we – and, right, and, and that, and that is an under
response. I`ve got more one this, I promise. I want to say thank you to
Cornell William Brooks in Washington, D.C. When we come back, there are
more folks who are being impacted. There`s also more folks who are
responsible. I am looking at you, Secretary Jeh Johnson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s been four months since the City of Flint began issuing
warnings about lead in the water, three months since the County urged
residents not to drink the water, and weeks since the contamination
prompted State and Federal government to declare a state of emergency. But
up until very recently many in Flint`s communities of undocumented
immigrants were still drinking and bathing in the lead-contaminated water
because they never got the message about its dangers. Flint`s Spanish-only
speakers missed the message because they said it only had been delivered in
English-language-only flyers and media. Many were not able to get bottled
water because, up until recently, water distribution sites required State-
issue ID that undocumented people can apply for under Michigan law.

And deportation fears, Mr. Johnson, have also many some of Flint`s
undocumented immigrants reluctant to open their doors to uniformed National
Guard members who are going house to house with clean water and supplies.
Joining me via Skype from Flint is one of the local advocates who have
helped to step in to provide resources and support for the city`s immigrant
community, Victoria Arteaga is an immigrant – excuse me, immigration
lawyer and memer of – member of Flint`s Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic
church. So nice to have you Miss Arteaga. Can you explain to me this
issue around the State-issued IDs, because isn`t, isn`t clean water an
international human right? It`s not supposed to be tied to citizenship,
right?

VICTORIA E. ARTEAGA, IMMIGRATION LAWYER: Well, we believe that it is.
It`s a right, it`s a human right. Everyone should be able to get clean
water. That`s essential for us.

HARRIS-PERRY: So can you talk to me about the deportation fear (a piece)
because, you know, we have been very clear about linking the Emergency
Manager piece back to Mr. Snyder, back to the Governor, a Republican
governor who made choices that, that created this lead poisoning. But I
don`t want to let Secretary – Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and
his deportation sweeps at the behest of the Obama administration that have
struck fear in so many communities, off the hook here because it is part of
my understanding about why at least some groups of children are continuing
to be poisoned in that community because they are too afraid to in fact
accept the help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARTEAGA: Yeah, yeah, it`s been a long-term issue here. Deportation, as we
know, is at an all-time high. A lot of people are afraid to go into public
offices. A lot of people are afraid to step forward. And they`ve had the
experience that, if you step forward, your name is on a list. You don`t
want your name on a list. Another thing here is that they need the IDs in
order to be sure that the people in Flint are getting services. But,
again, that raises the same issue for these folks, that I don`t want my
name on a list.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yep. Maria, let me (inaudible). You know, this is what
fear looks like in the United States of America today, the consequences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HINOJOSA: Yeah, we don`t have – because we don`t talk about it so much.
I mean, we do on Latino USA and in all the ways that we do, but on the
national media, it`s not discussed. So this notion of, you know, people
coming to your home at five o`clock in the morning and banging on the door.
It`s interesting that the people from Michigan – from Flint – were not
opening the door.

HARRIS-PERRY: Mm-hmm.

HINOJOSA: That they knew that they were like, well, we don`t have to open
the door. Because right now of course there`s this misrepresentation of
who is at the door presenting themselves as police, when they`re
Immigration agents. So when we think about living in the United States of
America with this kind of fear, we`re talking about an underground
community. And I was thinking about my notes and I was writing, you know,
underground. This is what an underground community. And I was like
underground railroad, underground. We have to understand that there is an
underground now in this moment in history that is before our eyes. And
actually I think that if, if the good people of Flint knew where their
neighbors were who are undocumented, I believe that they would actually go
and help them. But these are communities of undocumented immigrants in a
community like Flint that are so underground they may not even know where
they are, right? So that`s how deep we`re talking about. And the notion
that you`re afraid to come out of your home? Again, Melissa, I find it
interesting that you said Jeh Johnson.

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh.

HINOJOSA: I`m saying Barack Obama.

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, sure. I, hey. Sure, I`m with.

HINOJOSA: I`m saying Barack Obama, and you know what the simplest thing to
do? Send Michelle Obama to go meet with these families. Something.

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I mean, I mean, maybe – but, look, for me it`s not a
First Lady moment. It, it, it is the Department of Homeland Security
making a decision and I presume that it`s a decision that is coming from
the administration, but I don`t really know. `Cause I have asked Mr.
Johnson repeatedly to be on my TV show, and he will not. So that is why I
keep calling on Mr. Johnson. Any time he would like to sit down with me,
he can. I mean, my, maybe I`m all wrong. But, but I will say, Jamilah, I
want to come back to Maria`s point here that, that this does feel like
potentially a black-brown coalition moment. Because, because I don`t want
the Obama administration`s final year to be marred by a fugitive slave law
around the question of this deportation that leads in the context of Flint
to actual children being actually poisoned by lead because their parents
are too afraid to open the door for clean water.

LEMIEUX: You know what is one of the most terrifying things about this
moment for me is the possibility that a Republican could become the next
President, and that this precedent has been set by a Democrat.

HARRIS-PERRY: Mm-hmm.

LEMIEUX: .that we can come into your house at four or five o`clock in the
morning, while you`re asleep, taking you and your family away. So if a
Democrat is doing that, what happens next when we have candidates that have
said I`m not letting Muslims in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.

LEMIEUX: And I have no problem putting all of you brown people out.
That`s terrifying.

HARRIS-PERRY: Ma`am, Miss Arteaga, can I ask you to speak on that?

ARTEAGA: Well, right now, we, we do know, we all know that deportation is
at an all-time high. That`s a genuine fear for people. If a policeman
knocks on the door and says “Police, water, we`re giving water away,” the
first thing you hear is “police,” and that`s where it stops. But we also
need to be aware that the State, the local authorities are trying very hard
to work with us. It`s, it`s important, it`s essential to everyone that we
get this water. And so we`re getting a lot of support, we`re getting some
written materials from the State that are in Spanish.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

We`re hearing from Catholic charities, from Red Cross, and they are saying,
no, we will not turn anyone away. So those doors are open. The big thing
now is we need to get the word out and we need to find out what`s going to
happen in the future with these folks. Because if you`re undocumented you
don`t have insurance. And you have to look for what insurance you can get
from the insurance – or the agencies that are offering free services.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So I can imagine, Karla, a, an announcement that says we
are, we are in a crisis, right? We are in a situation where, as we were
talking about, irreversible health, neurological damage to children, to
families, and so the Federal government simply saying, you know what, in
fact, we are putting a full stop on deportation for a month.

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, yeah.

HARRIS-PERRY: For six weeks, for eight. For some parents, just say hey,
sometimes things are so bad, the reality of in these communities so serious
that we want to actually tamp down the fear long enough for people to get
help. And then we`ll just get back to our whole Homeland Security
anxieties in 15 minutes.

HOLLOWAY: Everything is in the “and then.” And everything is also in this
power that we have come to see as normative of Emergency Management. This
stuff started in Michigan actually just after I left. I`m a Michigan,
former Michigan resident. I still drink the Vernnor`s. Well, maybe not so
much anymore. But the whole idea of going into black and brown communities
and taking over the financial management, declaring emergency, has now
morphed into what we consider the manufacture of national emergency around
the issue of immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

These patterns of learning to be afraid of ICE agents are now patterns and
rehearsed. I know not to open my door at four or five in the morning
because I know what happened to my neighbor who looked like me, who had the
same skin tone as me. So if this are the things we learn to understand and
remember, even declaring an emergency for this moment until I decide it`s
not an emergency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSS-TALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: And I want to take a listen for a second because what was
interesting to me is that the moderators for Fox News did actually ask a
Flint water crisis question at the GOP debate on Thursday. And I want to
listen to Governor Kasich`s response because I thought it was a smart
response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JOHN KASICH, (R-OH) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People at home are saying
they`ve got a problem. Listen to them. Because most of the time they`re
absolutely correct. So the fact is that we work for the people; the people
don`t work for us, and we have to have an attitude when we`re in government
of servanthood

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So for me this was – I mean, whatever, however you want to
adjudicate his honesty, it was a smart response to say, look, actually the
people have been saying that there was a problem for a long time, even
before the scientists showed up. And that in fact government is meant to
serve the people. And I just thought how long has it been since we`ve
heard someone in elected office say that?

HINOJOSA: You know what concerns me is the kind of institutional impact of
this, right? That you have now a generation of young people, let`s say,
whose parents are immigrants. Because I`m imagining that many of these
young people in Flint were born there. But they are carrying the residual
impact of I don`t want to have anything to do with any law enforcement,
whoever looks like that. And I remember when there were floods in
Colorado, and the same thing happened. People were knocking on their door
to save people, and they were like I`m not opening the door. So it, it`s
now becoming a generational issue because we can`t ignore the fact that
these are children born here who are going to be growing up, looking at law
enforcement as something that is not there. And every law enforcement says
(inaudible).

HARRIS-PERRY: Does that sound familiar, my friend. Thank you to Victoria
Arteaga in Flint, Michigan. Right here in New York, thank you to Jemilah
Lemieux. And Maria and Karla are going to be back in our next hour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Coming up, we`re going to go back live to the campaign trail as the
countdown to the Iowa caucuses continues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: The presidential candidates are spending the final hours
before the Iowa caucuses with a flurry of campaigning across the state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Right now Senator Ted Cruz is scheduled to address supporters in Hubbard,
Iowa. NBC`s Hallie Jackson joins us now. Hallie, does the Cruz campaign
see a pathway to victory in the Iowa caucuses on Monday?

HALLIE JACKSON, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Absolutely, and they see that
pathway to victory, Melissa, through their organization on the ground,
right? Let me give you a sense of where we are. We`re in Ames, and this
is the line of people waiting to get into Senator Cruz` next event. So
we`re going to walk the line as we chat here and kind of show you where
things are happening. From day one, the Cruz campaign has talked about
trying to be successful in Iowa, and doing so by really hitting that ground
game hard. They`ve got thousands of volunteers here. They opened a couple
of dorms, they call them Camp Cruz, to bring people in to try to get out
the vote. As you know it`s going to be all about turnout on Monday night,
and the Cruz campaign feels confident that the people who support the
Senator here in Iowa will end up actually going to the caucuses and
participating, which a question mark in some ways with supporters of some
of the other candidates like maybe a Donald Trump. These potential first-
time caucus goers, they may or may not show up. I want to stop here. This
is like jersey central, Melissa, the folks that are selling. Turn around
here for me, (Cathy), the Cruz jersey. You see you`re seeing these sort of
sported through. And then, you know, the Senator the last push that he`s
making here these last few days is to get out. It`s not just on the
ground, it`s also the retail politicking and the town halls like this one.
This is sort of the pre-event setup. They haven`t actually gotten
everything ready to go yet, but you can see some of the media here setting
up. They`re getting sort of the backdrop ready and all that. So this, you
know, what it looks like before a, before a campaign event. We`ve got more
than 40 of them here in the state today from all of the Republican
candidates in this last big push to Monday night. Melissa.

HARRIS-PERRY: So fun, man, I love the Iowa caucuses. I can`t wait to get
there later tonight. Thank you, Hallie.

JACKSON: (inaudible) Sixty hours.

HARRIS-PERRY: I don`t think I`ve the nerve. Thank you to Hallie Jackson
in Ames, Iowa. I also want to say thank you Jemilah and to some of our
other folks who are going to be back in our next hour. But coming up next,
what Donald Trump and Wiz Khalifa have in common. And what a Republican
President might do if President Obama`s criminal justice legacy is on the
table. There`s more in Nerdland at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.

And we`re just two days from the Iowa caucus. The very first votes that
will be cast in the 2016 presidential election.

And we here at MSNBC have our eyes all over that state, with the hottest
ticket right now, actually not in an Iowa caucusers` mitten, but for
Hamilton the critically acclaimed Broadway hip-hop musical about our
Founding Fathers.

We`re talking sold-out seats. It`s an Obama family favorite. Thousands of
fans cursing last weekend`s blizzard for cancelling Saturday`s show,
because this hip-hop romp set in the 18th century has helped to redefine
not only theatre, but also the ways in which we think about politics and
understand our past.

Through hip-hop, we learn about the Federalists on our $10 bill who
famously died after a skirmish with long-time friendly, Vice President
Aaron Burr. The duel that reminded “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda
of old-school rap rivalries. Telling the “New York Times,” quote, it`s a
hip-hop story. It`s Tupac.

Now, the ways in which we slay our opponents now is different than in
Hamilton`s day, but hip-hop beef was everywhere this week on Twitter, in
space, and at the GOP debate.

First, there`s the beef that went super nova on Twitter about the shape of
the planet. Seriously. Rapper B.O.B. decided to propagate the old earth
is flat myth this week with tweets like, “Once you go flat, you never go
back. Where is the curve?”

His tweets drew the attention of world renown astrophysicist and super vest
wearer Neil deGrasse Tyson who promptly debunked the claims on Twitter.
And that`s when things escalated into an actual rap battle!

Here`s B.O.B.`s disk track.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

B.O.B. “FLATLINE”: Neil Tyson need to loosen up his vest, they`ll probably
write that man one hell of a check, flat line, you fooled us for the last
time –

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Tyson`s incredible response was rapped by his nephew.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

“FLAT TO FACT” TYSON, FEAT. NEIL DEGRESSE TYSON: You say the earth is flat
and that you try to disrespect him? I`m bringing facts to combat a silly
theory because B.O.B. has got to know the planet is a sphere G whooah.

To be clear, being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn`t mean
we all can`t still like your music.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Mike drop. So, alongside that feud, there was also the epic
beef between hip-hop heavy hitters Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa, when Wiz
suggested that the new album name “Wave” was a rip-off of Harlem rapper Max
B. Kanye blasted back, as Kanye does, in a mixture of disses and
compliments?

OK, “No one I know has ever listened to one of your albums all the way
through,” he tweeted to Wiz, followed by, “I think you dress cool.
#wizwearscoolpants?”

You know what else we saw buried underneath the beef? There`s the GOP
debate.

OK, minus the hip-hop and the powdered wigs, Senator Ted Cruz on Thursday
challenged his absent opponent ultimate beefer, Donald Trump, to a duel in
front of a live audience. And per Kanye West to Wiz, first came the
insults.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m a maniac. And everyone
on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly. And, Ben, you`re a terrible
surgeon. Now that we`ve gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way –

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: OK. Then that was followed with props.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: I am glad Donald is running. I`m glad he has produced enormous
enthusiasm, and that every Donald Trump voter or potential voter, I hope to
earn your support. I know everyone else on this stage hopes to earn your
support.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: I just love – we see presidential candidates channeling
hip-hop beefing isn`t such a bad idea, because like in the world of hip-
hop, the most important thing to remember in politics, never alienate the
fans.

Joining me now is Boris Epshteyn, who is the Republican strategist and
former communications aide for the McCain-Palin campaigns. Also, Maria
Hinojosa, executive producer and anchor of NPR`s “Latino USA”. Beth Fouhy
who is senior editor here at MSNBC.com. And Elise Jordan, MSNBC political
analyst and former senior adviser for policy for Senator Rand Paul`s
campaign.

So fun to have you all here. I`m sorry for my silly intro. But I really
did see this kind of, like, you know, part of what Ted Cruz had to do was
all – all of them had to do with Mr. Trump gone was to say he`s terrible,
but not that terrible, because I still want his supporters to now want me.

BORIS EPSHTEYN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: And for Trump to not go after him,
because he`s a stupid beefer, right?

HARRIS-PERRY: He really is. No, you really don`t, because you will lose
that one.

EPSHTEYN: You will go down.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

EPSHTEYN: (INAUDIBLE) into ICU.

(LAUGHTER)

ELISE JORDAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: What Trump did the other night was
really basically just a brilliant setup to have everyone go at Ted Cruz.
And he knew there is so much loathing of Ted Cruz up on that stage, and he
by putting Ted in the front runner position, everyone just went for it.

HARRIS-PERRY: In fact, let`s listen to Ted Cruz saying everybody is kind
of beating me up here. Let`s take a listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let`s begin by being
clear what this campaign is about. It`s not about Donald Trump.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I kind of miss Donald Trump. He was
a Teddy bear to me. We always had such a loving relationship in these
debates, and in between and the tweets. I kind of miss him. I wish he was
here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Well, so that wasn`t it. So let`s pause a second and let`s
listen to the one I was calling for initially.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Chris, I would note that the last four questions have been – Rand,
please attack Ted. Marco, please attack Ted. Chris, please attack Ted.
Jeb, please attack Ted.

(BOOS)

CRUZ: Let me just say this –

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS MODERATOR: It is a debate, sir.

CRUZ: No, no, a debate actually is a policy issue. But I will say this –
gosh, if you guys say – ask one more mean question, I may have to leave
the stage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So, was that an error? Was that an enforced error, I`ll
leave if you keep being mean to me?

BETH FOUHY, MSNBC.COM SR. EDITOR: All I can say is that all the Republican
folks I follow on Twitter were eh, like, folks, you`re seeing the real Ted
Cruz here. Hope you know this is what you`re getting if you decide to
elect this guy. Actually, I was noticing, Maria – you`re Maria – to you,
Melissa, about the other beefs that were exposed with Trump not being on
the stage, and I count like five.

Rubio versus Cruz on immigration. Rubio versus Christie, governor versus
senator. You know, senators don`t do anything, according to Christie.
Rand Paul versus Christie, on national security. Rand Paul versus Rubio on
national security. And Jeb versus Rubio, sort of the father and prodigal
son.

A lot of beefs.

EPSHTEYN: And notice no beefs as Kasich. It`s very interesting. Kasich
stayed out of any frontal attack, and he has done some really good work in
New Hampshire. You have seen some polls almost up to 20 percent in there.
Now, Bush is also up to 18 percent. And so the people maybe who are
beefing the least are doing the best with Trump not there.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, it`s – you know, I called two years ago – I just sort
of looking at the field before anything happened, including the Trump
phenomenon. I thought that Kasich just looked strongest on paper
candidate. What you want is a Midwestern governor, right?

And, again, maybe not for the primaries, but come general election time,
you want a Midwestern governor. You want to pair him with somebody like a
Nikki Haley from the south, a woman of color, who – I mean, that ticket is
a really hard one for Democrats to beat.

But it is hard for me to imagine a Kasich – if you just look at sort of
the number of minutes that people had to talk, how in the world would
caucusers or voters have any idea who John Kasich is to vote for him?

EPSHTEYN: Those debates don`t mean as much as we think – they mean a lot.
They mean a lot in terms of voters first getting to know somebody. But
especially in Iowa, it`s hand to hand combat. In Iowa, it`s all about
being out there. Kasich has done that well there, and he`s done very well
in New Hampshire. So is Christie.

JORDAN: But the debate is this last debate, especially, important in the
sense that it is three days before and the debate on immigration. Very
important –

HARRIS-PERRY: It was.

JORDAN: In Iowa.

Also how Rubio and Cruz are really navigating the fine line and how Cruz is
also seeing his lead. He really peaked too early and now has become the
battering ram for the other candidates. And now, he`s trying to set
expectations. Oh, let`s forget about Iowa. We`re going to do really well
in the SEC states.

HINOJOSA: So, my question was, actually, when I was watching Rubio doing
his immigration thing, and I actually tweeted and said, could Marco Rubio
get as many Latino votes as George W. Bush? The way he was speaking, I was
like, I don`t know if he can do this. And what the Republican Party needs
is that. But if you`re – when I was talking to Latinos on the ground,
their response was, this is pushing us even further away. And he`s going
to have to have that Latino vote, like George W. now being held up –

HARRIS-PERRY: But so, Marco Rubio was being – experienced alienating by
the folks that you were –

HINOJOSA: Absolutely, absolutely.

HARRIS-PERRY: Fascinating, because I was thinking, oh, my goodness, he
looks dangerous to me in a general –

HINOJOSA: It`s not to say he doesn`t look presidential. But the way he
was talking about these things was so kind of adamant that that`s the
response I was seeing.

FOUHY: He did say, we are not going to deport 11 million people and came
flat out and said that, which admittedly – Trump has been the guy.

HINOJOSA: We`re kind of holding things down, right? Meanwhile, there is
no resolution. And it`s just like, at this, they`re looking –

EPSHTEYN: The problem of Rubio is no one really knows where he stands. I
as a Republican cannot tell you for sure where Rubio stands on immigration.
You know why? Because I`m not sure he knows where he stands on
immigration. He goes back and forth. And you brought up George W. Bush.

To me, the best candidate on immigration, his brother, Jeb Bush, has been
somewhat consistent, and it`s also the policy that unites the most people.

HARRIS-PERRY: I was going to say, Jeb for the first time – and not – not
that I`m sure he can even maintain this, but without Trump on the stage,
for the first time, it felt like, oh, that`s why he thought he could run.
I mean, again, I still think – it`s fascinating. Not from which in terms
of support for the policies, but you could see what a strong campaigner
George W. is relative to Jeb, just in watching Jeb run this time.

But for the first time, when Trump wasn`t on the stage, you kind of saw Jeb
straighten up a little bit, right?

FOUHY: And I think Rand Paul did really well. I thought all of them –
suddenly it was this is the campaign that would have been.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: And focused on policy instead of these petty insults that we`re
letting – I just feel like the Republican field in general with this –
with the exception of a few candidates like Rand Paul, like Jeb, who have
really gone after Trump, have let Trump get away with just being this
misogynistic jerk. And it`s such a stain on the party that –

HARRIS-PERRY: So this is – I want to talk about my favorite beef of the
night, which is Megyn Kelly, and Trump.

FOUHY: Awesome job.

HARRIS-PERRY: Who did an awesome job. I mean, so awesome, she kept him
from being in the fight for that night.

“The New York Times” just endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. We`re
going to have more on that when we come back. Yes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: If I`m our nominee, I will unite this party and we will defeat
Hillary Clinton and we will turn this country around after the seven years
that is the disaster that is Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: So, that was Marco Rubio, at least trying to turn the fight
external, right? So you point out we saw all of those internal beefs
emerged, especially with Donald Trump off the stage.

But I`ve got to say, I still think it`s weird they keep running against a
two-term, term-limited president. Like, in fact, no matter what happens,
President Obama will be done, because, in fact, the constitution says so.
So we could just move on. Like, I`m not sure that you can say that Hillary
Clinton is the keeper of the Obama legacy. In fact, I think that`s what
we`re battling for right now.

EPSHTEYN: I never thought I would say this so quickly, but I agree with
you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

EPSHTEYN: Marco Rubio came out with that in his opening statement and
first response. I was surprised. I really was. I thought it was way too
strong against the current president. You could talk about the policies.

And I agree with Marco Rubio that the current policies have been
detrimental, but we need to talk about the future. We need to go back to
the Reagan presidency and the Reagan candidacy and talk about the city on
the hill that can be. Not to talk about –

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, you mean rhetorically.

JORDAN: I think that`s nice in theory, but in practice, it polls really
well to attack Barack Obama –

HARRIS-PERRY: As a primary strategy.

JORDAN: Just like it did in 2008, to attack George W. Bush. He`s an
incumbent –

EPSHTEYN: Which Obama did a ton, which Obama did a ton, you`re right.

(CROSSTALK)

FOUHY: I`m sorry. I don`t recall anybody talking about kicking George W.
Bush`s fanny or rear end.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, yes. That was Chris Christie.

FOUHY: That was horrifying.

HARRIS-PERRY: That one was – that was over the top. That was out of
hand.

EPSHTEYN: George W. Bush is called “stupid” a lot.

FOUHY: Not on stage.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Not by candidates.

So I will say, I do think there are two things. I think what pundits and
pollsters and people do is one thing. I think what people who are planning
to be the president of the United States is different. And I do think that
Mr. Christie went over the top. I also think that what Mr. Rubio did there
was not the same thing. Mr. Rubio saying I think his policies are a
disaster is a perfectly – I disagree. But I think it`s fine.

EPSHTEYN: Donald was doing that in 2011.

HINOJOSA: But the tone, I kept feeling like, God, I don`t want to live in
this country any more, the way they`re talking about it. It`s just like,
whoa, there`s nothing hopeful. It was so negative.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: Let me ask if Mr. Trump is – that – because I will agree,
it felt more negative. And I am wondering if that is one of the things
that Trump has brought to the Republican side, is that he does a kind of
like – we`re going to win. It`s not that I have a ton of content. But it
does have a kind of like – well, if I`m president accident we`re going to
win.

EPSHTEYN: We`re going to make it gravy.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Again, it`s just a rhetorical thing out there, but
it – it produces something that –

JORDAN: I feel like he has approached this campaign with such an utter
lack of decency, just in how you treat other human beings. And it`s been
such a trickle down effect, especially with his supporters. Like, I was
shocked to see this article in “Time.” I thought it was awesome. About
the sexism of Trump`s campaign and how many times his supporters called
Megyn Kelly the absolutely worst of worst word.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

JORDAN: And it`s the trickle down and the kind of leader you are. And I
to think it`s really important.

HARRIS-PERRY: She really was very, very strong. She was awesome. I am
running a program, at Wake Forest, where I`m a college professor. My real
job during the week. We`ve got 22 students, both parties, all different,
you know, perspectives, and we watch all of the debates together, and they
live-tweet, go wait to vote.

And they were kind of just – they were just watching her work, and they
were like, this is a little masterful, just sort of watching how she was
managing, questioning those candidates. And you`re right. For wanting to
be in that position and then to have the front-running candidate talk about
her in those ways I think is deeply problematic no matter where you`re
standing.

HINOJOSA: Which is why Iowa women voters are going to be fascinating to
watch. The Trump conversation, specifically now, with this whole situation
with Megyn Kelly, it`s like I want to know the women who were going to vote
for Donald Trump.

EPSHTEYN: Women in Iowa and nationally support Trump in pretty large
numbers, because of his other positions, that he is saying things that
people want to say. Airing concerns that people want to talk about. Not
just immigration.

So, he is not killing himself for women in his feud with Megyn Kelly,
because Megyn Kelly –

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: She`s a controversial person. She can take care of herself.

FOUHY: But the numbers for Trump among women in a general election are
terrible. He is net 36 –

HINOJOSA: Terrible in general.

EPSHTEYN: But for some reason if you look at the numbers of him against
Hillary and him against Bernie, he`s still winning, right? You look at the
head-to-head match-ups in the polls.

JORDAN: It`s so early, though.

I think he did damage to himself. It wasn`t – probably was smarter than
if he had gone and put himself in front of – on stage. But at the same
time, it looked weak. Him doing that veterans event, that was essentially
all about himself. It was – you hear what Trump was talking about when
cutting in –

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes.

JORDAN: The little amount of time I spent watching that on commercial
breaks on the other debate and it was all about Trump. It wasn`t about the
veterans.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: I want to ask you about one big political story on the table
this morning. Once again, Senator Clinton`s e-mails, which have once again
shown up. I`m just wondering, this close to the Iowa caucuses, are they
going to have an effect on what happens?

FOUHY: Here`s what I think is going to have the effect. Hillary Clinton`s
biggest problem when you look at Democratic polling, among Democrats who
generally like her, this is lack of trust. That`s the thing that people
kept expressing. And that`s what in many ways ticks people over to
Sanders.

The specifics of this particular e-mail situation, where did they over-
classify these 22 e-mails, I don`t think people are going to pay attention
to that. But it just reminds people of the trust issue, which has been her
problem, the thing dogging her and is bringing her popularity down, even
among the press.

HARRIS-PERRY: So with the less than 48 hours, just once again –

FOUHY: It`s a reminder of that accountability people have with her.

EPSHTEYN: It`s going to have more of an effect in New Hampshire, than even
Iowa. It`s almost too soon for Iowa. And he may not win Iowa anyway.
What really matters in both Democrat and Republican elections is New
Hampshire.

HARRIS-PERRY: Although – here is my claim in New Hampshire. Iowa I just
don`t think she has time to fight back. But you put Hillary Clinton – you
back baby into a corner, she has a tendency| to do her best when swinging.
So, it will be interesting to see whether New Hampshire gives her lead time
to punch back.

OK, thank you Boris and Maria and to Beth and to Elise. I love this panel.
You all need to come back a lot.

Up next, President Obama`s bold new move, and what Republican candidates
are saying about it – when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: A hot topic is the Republican debate this week that you may
have missed – criminal justice reform, seriously.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we have treated the
drug addicted in our prisons. And we released them into the community.
And our recidivism rate is less than 20 percent.

We don`t want them in and out of the prisons. Give people a chance. We
talked about criminal justice reform. We have enacted it in our state.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, here`s the
problem in this country right now. The problem is that Barack Obama has
made law enforcement the enemy. Hillary Clinton has made law enforcement
the enemy.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we need to do is make
sure the war on drugs is equal protection under the law and that we don`t
unfairly incarcerate another generation of young African-American males. I
think something has to change. I think it`s a big thing that our party
needs to be part of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: President Obama has made it clear that he wants criminal
justice reform to be a lasting part of his legacy – something that would
only happen if his successor is sympathetic to that cause. Because despite
bipartisan support, there are reports that Senator Ted Cruz and others are,
in fact, trying to kill reform legislation in Congress, leading up to the
president once again to take executive action.

And he did just that this week – announcing major reforms to help federal
prisons using solitary confinement, citing research that prolonged periods
without human contact can cause severe and sometimes permanent
psychological harm.

Under the president`s new rules, inmates can no longer be punished with
months in solitary confinement for low-level offenses. No longer can they
be placed in solitary indefinitely with no plans to reintegrate them into
general population. And no longer can juvenile inmates be placed in
solitary for any reason, for any length of time.

Together, these reforms could directly affect more than 10,000 federal
inmates held in solitary on any given day. In his announcement, the
president cited the story of Kalief Browder.

You may remember Kalief`s story. He was accused of stealing a backpack and
he was held in jail on Rikers Island here in New York for three years
without a trial, starting when he was just 16. He spent two of those years
in solitary. His family says caused lasting effects, even after his
release including paranoia and panic attacks. Last year at the age of 22,
Kalief took his own life.

Now, his story clearly struck a chord with the president. We have to note
the new rules for federal prisons would not have kept Kalief out of
solitary at Rikers, which is a city jail, nor will they affect the
estimated 70,000 to 90,000 state inmates held on any given day.

Joining me is Glenn Martin, president and founder of Just Leadership USA,
Karla Holloway, professor of English law and African-American studies at
Duke University, and MSNBC`s own chief legal correspondent, Ari Melber.

So, Glenn, we just noted that it wouldn`t have kept Kalief out. But
obviously the president has control over what he has control over. And so,
I`m wondering, how impactful this might be for ultimately moving some of
those city and state jails and prisons.

GLENN MARTIN, PRES. & FOUNDER, JUST LEADERSHIP USA: Well, first of all, I
think for our president, this is about his values, right? Ninety-five
percent of people who go to prison return home at some point. So, this is
about safe communities. This is about human dignity.

I`m glad he actually used the Kalief Browder case to set the context for
his order, because you can juxtapose his actions and inaction of our local
leaders, particularly our progressive mayor, Bill de Blasio in New York
City. The hope, however, is that by the president announcing something so
courageous and so significant, that our local leaders see the cover they
need, if you will, to decide to do something.

The fact of the matter, as you mentioned, 70,000 to 90,000 people are
incarcerated in cells for 22 hours a day on the local level, and we need to
do something about that. Again, these people are returning home. I mean,
I spent time in solitary confinement.

I would urge listeners who want to know what it`s like to find the
smallest, darkest closet in their home, lock themselves in there, find
three of their most insensitive neighbors to take care of them and spend a
few weeks there, it`s a horrible situation.

HARRIS-PERRY: That point about people coming home feels to me like an
important political point. But I don`t want to lose the very first piece
you started with, which is the moral piece in and of itself, which is the
humanity piece.

HOLLOWAY,: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: That even if you never went home, it matters how we treat
human beings, right? And it matters constitutionally. We actually said
who we`re going to be as a nation, but even if you`re never going home, it
matters how we treat human beings.

And, in fact, part of it was so valuable to me about this moment, the
president didn`t just do this and is walk away or do it quietly on a
Monday. He – the administration, Valerie Jarrett, they got on NPR, they
wrote a “Washington Post” op-ed about it. They really stood behind this as
a meaningful and relative –

HOLLOWAY: And the president went to a jail. You know, he let his body be
seen. The chiefs – the commander in chief of the United States in a
prison.

So, this story actually started earlier, with Obama`s humanity coming
through. And he told a story – Kalief`s story. You know, what more
perfect victim, except that, you know, he was a victim, finally, of the
system, than a boy and a backpack, you know, who was – and if parents want
to think about this, we put children on a time-out stool for maybe – if
you`re 2 years old, two minutes.

We are doing this to children whom the most interesting line in this case
to me is when Justice Kennedy said in his decision, children are
constitutionally different. And you know – the way I play with words,
constitutionally, as in the Constitution, the 8th Amendment kind of thing,
or constitutionally their body.

So, at some point, we are being allowed to think exactly of that question,
and the ethics, and the ideas of recidivism, and who do they come back as.
Because I have had some experience with that, as well. And what does our -
- what do the ways in which we treat children in prison say about us as
human beings. And I`m thinking our language of treating a child in prison
is just oxymoronic.

HARRIS-PERRY: How we treat a child in prison.

HOLLOWAY: Exactly.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there is so much here.
Jurisprudential, you`re talking about how the court looks at the rights of
minors, which is both as less and more. Less in the speech context –
children have less rights to have free speech in school. More, though, in
these physical contexts under the law.

This week, the Supreme Court also ruled, saying that these life sentences
given to minors should be more appealable, because it is so grave to take
someone who is 16 and write off the rest of their life. They haven`t even
entered into the adult system in any meaningful way.

You think about the ethics of what you`re talking about and treatment. And
you talked about having lived this, which is something that a lot of people
watching around this table may not know. A victim, a prisoner of our
enemy`s treatment, John McCain, right? Who we all know as a hero, who went
through that.

He said – I`m quoting him, that the hardest thing he went through, wasn`t
the physical torture. It was the solitary confinement.

So, if we think about your point – put aside the fact that in Mr.
Browder`s case, he was never convicted of anything.

HARRIS-PERRY: Or even tried!

MELBER: So, this thing that John McCain called torture is what the state
of New York, which is not the most conservative place – sometimes we like
to write this off, oh, it`s worse in the South and the data show it – this
is something where the state of New York, blue New York, that`s how he was
treated as a minor by something John McCain calls torture before he ever
got his rights of due process. So, that humanity that is being broken down
there through that system, you have to say, what is it about a system that
used to take something as perhaps with people who are really bad, you have
some notion of retributive justice.

What we call in the law, the part of it, that isn`t for policy, that isn`t
for deterrence, is just to say someone did something so terrible, we`re
just punishing them, even if it affects nothing else. How is it we got
from that end point over here that, is supposed to be the worst thing, and
are meeting that out to innocent minors?

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: OK. When we come back, I want to push back against even
that idea, because I`m going to go back to 1996, where we used to call
these innocent minors super predators.

HOLLOWAY: Super predators.

HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back.

MELBER: Yes.

HOLLOWAY: Yes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: As 2016 contenders continue to stake out their positions on
criminal justice reform, the Supreme Court gave hope this week to some
inmates serving life sentences who were sentenced when they were juveniles,
as Ari was just reminding us, the court had already ruled that mandatory
life without parole for juveniles is unconstitutional, but now, they
decided that that ruling applies retroactively. Approximately, 1,000
inmates can now appeal for resentencing and release from the imprisonment
in which they have spent their entire adult lives.

And as we`re preparing for this, Glenn, I was reminded – and it goes to
what you were saying, okay, maybe we think there are some groups of people
who are so bad, we do think, OK, for this group there is something internal
or inherent. It reminds me that in 1996, back when first Clinton was
president – the only Clinton I guess who actually has been president –
OK, when Bill Clinton was president, there was this January 21st, 1996,
super predators arrive, right?

And it is that story about these kids, 10 and 11 in Chicago, who killed an
8-year-old. And literally, the sentence – the sentence says, right, it
wouldn`t be a problem if Illinois`s special 30-bed kiddy prison weren`t
still under construction. It just – reports it like if only the kiddy
prison were ready for them!

HOLLOWAY: The kiddy prison.

HARRIS-PERRY: If only it were ready for them, because that is kind of the
obvious way that these super predators ought to be dealt with.

MARTIN: And let`s be honest. Super predators are all wrapped up in dog
whistle politics.

HARRIS-PERRY: I don`t think this is dog whistle. It`s just like black
kids on the South Side are going to grow up and kill you. We need a kiddy
prison for them.

MARTIN: We live in a country where we`re willing to recycle everything
except our children. And here is an opportunity for children, particularly
in the states of Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Michigan, which decided not to
retroactively apply the court`s decision, to have a chance to get parole at
some point. I`m shocked we`re having this conversation.

We live in a country where if you go back 50 years, we were doing something
quite different. The blacker and browner our prison system has become, the
more punitive. And that punitiveness hasn`t been relegated to our criminal
justice system. It`s seeping out into our health care, into our education
system and elsewhere.

So, we should be asking the question, what does it mean not to these kids
necessarily to give them this opportunity. What does it mean to us as a
country? Like why are we doing this? Are we just more punitive than any
other country and why? I think that`s the question.

HARRIS-PERRY: That to me is why it is so powerful for President Obama to
be pulling back. Like even if he can`t fix it everywhere, that for 20
years later for him to even just make the moral public discursive argument,
we don`t – like, full stop. We don`t put children in solitary because
they are kids. They are not super predators.

We`re not just waiting for the 30-bed kiddy prison. No, no, no. They`re
children, constitutionally different.

HOLLOWAY: He`s trying to restore some of the humanity of the population we
have labeled other and different enough so that we don`t have to worry
about them. We don`t do all children like this.

There is a teenager in Texas, was it, an affluent teenager who gets a lot
different treatment in the system and there are children all over the
country who get very different treatment, and I`m glad you mentioned not
only in prisons, but in – their access to and in mental health facilities,
in schools, whether or not they go to the alternative school for a minor
infraction. So, we have such a practice –

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS-PERRY: – just poisoned an entire city of children with lead, and
we know the lead is likely to a whole set of behavioral practices here
which we have criminalized in this country.

HOLLOWAY: Here is my prediction about that entire city of children. That
that narrative is going to shift very quickly to why aren`t these
children`s parents taking better care of themselves, giving them better
nutrition, you know, or expecting, you know, they came out of that lead
poisoning era, so we better build a school for them.

MELBER: Well, I think what you`re talk about also, and you mentioned Ethan
Couch, who was called the affluenza defendant. You`re talking about the
difference between stigma and policy. If you want a policy that says, oh,
we deal with substance abuse that relates to harm, really gravely and
seriously, that would be a policy.

We don`t even do that. Ethan Couch was a minor, so it fits in the
conversation that way. But he used alcohol and then got in a car and
crashed and four people were killed. OK?

So what is the policy response? I would say legally, right, you`re looking
at manslaughter, which is a serious charge, where your act caused this
death, even if it wasn`t your original intention. He didn`t get charged in
jail with manslaughter. He didn`t get any jail time whatsoever. And yet
you`re telling me stories about people who weren`t even charged.

HOLLOWAY: Backpack.

HARRIS-PERRY: With a theft, who are spending years in solitary. So the
connective tissue here is how does that happen and one is state laws and
that conversation.

The other way is stigma. Somehow because it was alcohol and his profile
and his situation, that triggers all sorts of different societal responses
then, whether it was different.

I`m sorry, from a policy perspective, if I`m just as a lawyer measuring it
out, if you`re using crack cocaine, alone – on the stoop, that might be
negative for you and your community, and we should work on that. But the
fact that the law right now punishes that more than drinking alcohol and
causing someone`s death, I would tell you as a lawyer, that`s not
defensible on policy. So something else is happening.

HOLLOWAY: You`re right.

MELBER: Something with stigma, something with discrimination.

HARRIS-PERRY: And you know, it`s always – this kind of thing happens in
public discourse where what we say is, let`s go throw the affluenza teen in
jail. And I want to pause and say, no, no, no. Our goal is not to become
more punitive.

That if we are going to start asking for a world that sees – wanting to
become less – I want to say thank you to Glenn Martin always for helping
us think through these questions.

MARTIN: Thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: And also, the reminder that over the four years we have been
talking to each other, how much has happened? Who knows?

And to Karla Holloway, and also Ari Melber.

Let me tell you a couple of things about, Ari, I want to make sure you do
not miss tomorrow`s MHP show, because I`m getting on a plane, if Jeh
Johnson will let me, and I`m going fly to Iowa, and Ari is going to stay
here in New York at this table. We`re going to host in two different
places together. We`re going to take a look in part at Ari`s exclusive
interview with a death row inmate in California who is now fighting for his
life.

Also, when we come back, I have many, many feelings about Cam Newton.
We`re going to talk about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: With the Super Bowl only eight days away, it seems all eyes
are on this guy, Cam Newton. Quarterback of the Super Bowl-bound Carolina
Panthers.

He`s also the favorite to win the NFL`s MVP Award, and if he gets that, and
leads Carolina to victory next Sunday, he will be the second player in
history to clinch a college national championship, the Heisman trophy, the
MVP Award, and the Super Bowl. Which is basically way of saying Cam Newton
has been having a kind of great season. Become the sixth African-American
quarterback in 50 years to start in the Super Bowl, the greatest stage in
American sports awaits.

But that isn`t the only reason he`s in the spotlight these days. Turns
out, the quarterback is as polarizing as he is popular, because when Cam
scores, he dances. And his moves scandalized one of Tennessee Titans`
observers who wrote an open letter to Cam Newton after giving a close-up
view of his game, complaining about, quote, “the chest puff, the pelvic
thrusts, the arrogant struts and the in-your-face taunting.”

She wasn`t the only one. Former Bears` linebacker, Brian Urlacher, is not
a fan. This week, he contrasted Cam with his Super Bowl rival, Denver
Broncos` quarterback, Peyton Manning. “I don`t like it when guys celebrate
with dances and stuff. You know who I like, the way he celebrates, is
Peyton. He kind of gives the guy a handshake and goes back to the
sidelines. I think that`s a great celebration right there.”

Cam Newton, he is not Peyton Manning, or Tom Brady. In fact, he is not
like most of the quarterbacks embraced by the public for their leadership
and intellect on the field.

Now, let me just clear this up real quick. I do live in North Carolina
now. But I am no bandwagon-jumping Panthers fan. The New Orleans Saints
will forever have my football loving heart.

But Cam – I like cam, because he is unapologetically himself, whether he
is dabbing or handing off the touchdown ball to the kid in the crowd, or
describing his team`s strategy with an excellent Southern food metaphor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAM NEWTON, CAROLINA PANTHERS: I said it then, I`m going to say it now.
It`s a process. It wasn`t going to be – what did I say? Instant grits,
quick grits. It`s going to be a process like long cooked collard greens,
you know what I`m saying? I think those collard greens are brewing right
now. You can smell it from a mile away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: Grits and collard greens in one sentence. I mean, when
asked why he faces criticism where others don`t, Cam Newton does not mince
words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: I said it since day one. You know, I`m an African-American
quarterback that may scare a lot of people, because they – they haven`t
seen nothing that they could compare me to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS-PERRY: The very notion of Cam Newton being unapologetically black
in a position historically reserve for white men makes him the Serena
Williams of football. Like Serena, Cam is met with defiance when he plays,
when he expresses an emotion, and especially when he wins.

But he just keeps on dancing and charming and leading – and that in itself
is a kind of defiance. And what`s Cam`s response to all the haters – if
you don`t like me dancing in the end zone, then just try to keep me out of
it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS-PERRY: The presidential candidates are making a mad dash across the
Hawkeye State, with just two days before the Iowa caucuses. Just this
morning, “The New York Times” endorsed Hillary Clinton, and she`s set to
hold her first event of the busy day in about an hour, and just as the
controversy over her emails is hitting up again.

NBC`s Kristen Welker is following the Clinton campaign and joins us now
from Ames, Iowa.

Kristen, is the Clinton campaign concern or are they just, you know,
dabbing in the snow?

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: Well, I think that they are in full go mode,
Melissa. Look, they acknowledge that this latest email issue isn`t coming
at an ideal time, with just two days before the all important caucuses. At
the same time, they say, look, we are calling for the State Department to
release those 22 emails that were marked as top secret they say. They were
marked as top secret after they were sent. They underscore the fact that
Secretary Clinton never sent or received any emails that were marked as
classified at the time.

And right now, what they`re focused on, Melissa, is moving beyond that
latest issue and trying to focus on their ground game, getting people out
to caucus, because that`s, of course, going to make the difference. This
race is razor type.

Take a look at our latest NBC News/”Wall Street Journal”/Marist poll, which
was just released. Clinton leads here 48 percent to 45 percent. So, that
is a very close margin. And again, it`s all going to depend on the
turnout.

Later today, Secretary Clinton will be joined here in Ames with Gabby
Giffords, who is going to argue that she is the toughest candidate to take
on the NRA.

As you pointed out, Melissa, today, she was also endorsed by “The New York
Times”. “The New York Times” saying that she would be the best candidate
for the Democratic nomination. They praised Sanders for some of his policy
positions, but they conclude this, Melissa, let me read you a little
snippet. They say, quote, “In the end, Mr. Sanders does not have the
breadth of experience or policy ideas that Mrs. Clinton offers.”

She`s picking up another big endorsement today from 28 African-American
ministers. She met with some of them when she was in Philadelphia earlier
this week.

Getting that type of support could be critical for getting out African-
American voters in states like South Carolina, where they make up a large
majority of the Democratic primary voters there. So, she`s getting some
big endorsements on this day where she`s trying to close in the deal and,
again, this will all come down to turnout. Secretary Clinton, Bernie
Sanders have their teams on the ground knocking on doors, reminding people
to come out and caucus on Monday – Melissa.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Kristen Welker in Ames, Iowa.

Senator Bernie Sanders is also courting voters as he tries to close that
gap with Hillary Clinton in Iowa. He is set to address Iowa supporters in
just a few minutes.

NBC`s Kasie Hunt joins us now from Manchester, Iowa.

Kasie, what is Sanders` message as we count down to those very first
caucuses?

KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Melissa, good morning.

Bernie Sanders in the final stretch here, and you can feel the energy at
many of his events, this one here in Manchester definitely on the smaller
side. But, frankly, most of his events here in Iowa in the final stretch
are marked by huge and very excited crowds. He and Hillary Clinton held
competing events just a few miles apart from each other in Dubuque, Iowa,
last night.

Bernie Sanders drawing upwards of 1,100 people while Hillary Clinton only
drew about 500. Sanders closing message hits on many of these themes we`ve
been hearing from him all the way along talking about fairness. He has
backed off a little bit on the attacks on Hillary Clinton over the course
of the past 24 hours. Some of his sharpest critiques came earlier in the
week. Yesterday, he focused largely on corporations, talking about
Walmart, the Walton family.

Sanders is really – you can see it in the candidate himself. You can feel
it with the team here on the ground. They`re at the point where they`re
feeling like they have a shot at this, and that is frankly farther along
than anyone expected they would be when Sanders first started doing this
campaign. I went back and looked at what some of the pundits have to say
about him early on. People called him frosty, they called him a loon.
They said, oh, he is 57, but he looks 91.

I asked Sanders about all of those comments when I talked to him a day or
so ago. He laughed. He said, you know, I said at the time don`t
underestimate me, and that is still my message to Iowans today. Don`t
underestimate me.

So, today, he has a full slate of campaign events, and it`s going to be
capped with a huge rally in Iowa City. Of course, one of the key areas for
him to get students out, there`s going to be performances by the band
Vampire Weekend and others. Something of a sendoff for him as we head into
Monday – Melissa.

HARRIS-PERRY: Nothing like Iowa.

Thank you to Kasie Hunt in Manchester, Iowa.

That is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m going
to see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. I`m going to be in Iowa
as we count down the final hours before the first vote of 2016 are cast.
It`s all going to happen soon.

Be sure to watch MSNBC`s primetime coverage of the final day before the
Iowa caucuses tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

But coming up right now, “WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT”. Alex is going to talk
to the national press secretary for the Hillary Clinton campaign. And
among the topics, the new developments in the e-mail controversy and the
polls that show it`s a dead heat in cold Iowa.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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