The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/28/08
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith, and thank you.nAnd thank you at home for staying with us for the next hour. A week to go and we are still trying to figure out who’s going to win the election. Tonight: A giant awkward football metaphor.
(voice over): The final week of the campaign barring a very late October surprise, we know what the plays are in both campaign’s play books.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you ready to send us to Washington to shake things up?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’ll veto every single pork barrel bill that comes across my desk.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John McCain’s ridden shotgun as George Bush has driven our economy towards a cliff. And now, he wants to take the wheel and step on the gas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It’s not what plays are McCain and Obama going to make anymore. It’s where are they on the playing field. It turns out they’re fighting it out in North Carolina and Indiana. Republican spending fresh money in Montana and West Virginia. Montana and West Virginia? Does Obama have the ball on the McCain 20-yard line? The governor of midfield, Ed Rendell, joins us from Pennsylvania to talk territory with just seven days left. The divide between the McCain camp and the Sarah Palin camp inside the Republican ticket grows even wider as one of his advisers calls Palin a, quote, “whack job,” end quote. McCain tries to spin it all away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: When two mavericks join up, we don’t agree on everything, but that’s a lot of fun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It sounds like 10 pounds of maverick in a five pound bag. Say, McCain pulls the upset-could these two people actually govern together? Historian Michael Beschloss with the McCain/Palin split into perspective. And “Governor Maverick” takes a familiar shot at Senator Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: It wasn’t just Joe Biden, though. That was confirmed by Madeleine Albright on Tuesday. And, of course, she was stating facts that there would be that testing of someone who is inexperienced, not ready lead. Barack Obama is not ready to be commander-in-chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Governor, is that really what they said about Barack Obama? Madeleine Albright joins us live with her actual thoughts about the competing candidates. All that, plus survival tips for election season stress, and we’re going to (ph) keep it clean for the kids.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
(on camera): After 21 months of campaigning, we’re down to one week left. Looking at the polls, most have Barack Obama well ahead. Pollster.com this afternoon moved Nevada into the lean Obama column. FiveThirtyEight.com does the cumulative thing and says that overall, McCain chance of winning the election is less than 4 percent. But polls and even combinations of polls don’t ultimately tell the tale. They’re sort of like football statistics. Yards gained, penalties, time of possession. They are interesting. They’re fun to talk about but only the final score counts. And predictive and fun as they may be, the stats don’t always match the score. Another way to talk about this contest is to analyze the plays that each team makes day to day. Barack Obama, for example, was in Harrisonburg, Virginia tonight, on day two of his closing argument tour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: In one week, we can choose hope over fear, unity over division, change over the status quo. In one week, we can come together as one nation and one people, and choose our better history. After 21 months of a campaign that’s taken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are one week away from bringing change to America. One week.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Barack Obama in Virginia.
John McCain was in Fayetteville, North Carolina today, making his closing play.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: We can’t spend the next four years as we have just spent much of the last eight hoping for our luck to change at home and abroad. We have to act. We need a new direction and we have to fight for it.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
MCCAIN: And I am convinced that seven days from now, we will win in North Carolina and we will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I love the speeches. Honestly, I love any political speech. But analyzing the rhetoric isn’t really a good way to figure out who’s winning either. If you like Obama, his speeches make you think he is kicking butt, and if you’re a McCain person, he sounds like a fighter, he’s making a great case. So, how to determine where they really stand this late in game? Would you bear with me if I tried to use a football metaphor? Yes, I am going to use a football metaphor. Not Keith Olbermann, paid football expert-me. Thankfully, we have visual aides. OK, here’s the thing about football. It is a territorial game. You’re trying to take your opponent’s territory away and make it your own. You can usually tell who’s winning a football game by where most of the game is being played. Right now, in our football campaign analogy, the Obama McCain ball is being fought at about John McCain’s 25 yard line. And that’s very bad for John McCain. Here’s what I mean: Each team, Republicans and Democrats, has territory and it’s divided, at least in the last two elections at roughly 50/50. And like a football game if you’re playing offense in the other guy’s territory, if you are near the other guy’s goal line, you’re winning. So, here’s how the 2008 field lays out: Obama, the Democrat, his one yard line, the deepest part of his territory is actually Washington, D.C., that was John Kerry’s widest margin of victory in 2004. So, you can think of what this means for this election. If Obama were defending Washington, D.C. right now against McCain, you would know that Obama was toast. For John McCain, his one yard line would be Utah. That was the reddest of the red vote in 2004. The biggest margin of victory for the Republicans in 2004 was in Utah. It’s as deep in McCain territory as it gets.So, those are the goal lines. Those are the far ends of the field. The middle of the field? The 50-yard line. These are the states that were just one or two points apart last time around. They’re neither Republican territory nor Democratic territory. They’re close. In 2004, these were New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and New Mexico. This is where the game is typically fought. Noses are bloodied, egos are shattered, injuries are sustained. And again this time around, both sides are battling there at midfield, but this is the part that’s important. Here is where it gets grim for John McCain’s side-the rest of the big fights? They are happening on McCain half of the field. They’re all in McCain territory. States that were Republican in 2004, some by a little and some by a lot. Right around John McCain’s metaphorical 40-yard line, states like Florida, Missouri, Virginia-George Bush won all the of those fairly handily four years ago. You don’t want to be fighting on your 40-yard line. But it gets worse, or better-depending on who you’re rooting for. North Carolina and West Virginia, they were won even more handily by the Republicans in 2004. They are deeper in McCain territory. McCain is campaigning now in North Carolina and the Republicans just bought air time in West Virginia. Obama, in other words, is on the march way down the field into McCain territory. And it gets even worse than West Virginia for McCain. He’s fighting for every vote in Indiana now, and there in Montana, where we just learned that the Republicans are being forced to spend fresh money. Montana-a state won by George Bush in 2004 by 20 points. If you go by the margins of victory in the last presidential election. McCain defending Montana from Obama would be like Obama being forced to defend Massachusetts from McCain. The game is being played on John McCain’s end of the field. And even if Barack Obama doesn’t win all those red states, even if he doesn’t score a touchdown, he is, in field goal range and he is nowhere near having to defend his own goal line. The farthest McCain has pushed into Obama territory is about Obama’s 48-yard line-Pennsylvania. The state that went for Kerry by just two points in 2004. What’s important here is that Pennsylvania doesn’t even represent a good shot for McCain. It’s his Hail Mary pass. By most calculations, it’s his must-have. It’s his desperation move for his narrow victory strategy. So that’s where we stand exactly one week out, playing out the last few snaps on Senator McCain side of the field, deep into Senator McCain’s side of the field. Defense, defense, defense, or D with a fence, D with a fence, D with a fence-is not the chant that you want your crowd to take up when you are this far back in your side of the field with time running out. Joining us now is Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. He’s a Barack Obama supporter. Governor Rendell, I hope you will forgive the extended football metaphor. Thank you for joining us tonight.
GOV. ED RENDELL, (D) OBAMA SUPPORTER: Well, for a state like Pennsylvania, a football crazy state, that was terrific. But I do want to warn you, Rachel, every once in a while, those Hail Mary passes do make it.
MADDOW: That’s right. And you have been sounding the alarm publicly and by reports, behind the scenes, to the Obama campaign, telling them that Pennsylvania really shouldn’t be seen as safe for them, that they need to be fighting it down to the very wire in Pennsylvania. Why do you think it might be closer than the polls indicate?
RENDELL: Well, two reasons. Number one, give Senator McCain and Governor Palin a little credit. They lived here. I’m almost thinking of making them pay the state income tax they’ve been here so much, but it does have an effect. It’s reignited the base. The base in Pennsylvania was charged up when Sarah Palin was nominated. It went down when she-her stock went down but it’s been reignited by their presence, they’re really there on the presence. That’s number one. Number two, a little bit of this really deceitful campaign about wealth-sharing. I heard the last part of Keith Olbermann’s show, it’s truly deceitful by both of them and hypocritical, but a little bit of that is catching on in some places among Democratic voters. That’s number two. And number three, I think, most of the undecideds in the state who haven’t made up their mind, or people who we haven’t closed the deal with yet. We’re trying frantically to close the deal in the last seven days. But let’s assume a good portion of those undecided break to Senator McCain. Then this is a six-point election not an 11-point or 12-point election. And in a six-point election going into the last four or five days, you know, you’re nervous. And it was great that Senator Obama came back to Pittsburgh last night and this morning to Philadelphia’s suburbs. We had Hillary Clinton on Friday in Pittsburgh. President Clinton is hitting State College, Harrisburg and Washington County, suburban county around Pittsburgh tomorrow night. And I think that’s going to help, you know, really recharge our base and our message is, don’t be complacent. Don’t believe the polls. Anything can still happen. Get out there and vote. If it’s raining, if the lines are long, stay in those lines. Don’t you dare move. The country’s future is at stake.
MADDOW: When you talk about undecided voters and people who still haven’t had the deal closed with them, what do you think that undecided voters in Pennsylvania are waiting to hear? They obviously have heard a lot from the candidates. We’ve got all four candidates on both tickets spending a lot of time there. Are they waiting to have their fears assuaged? Are they waiting to hear something positive they haven’t heard yet? What do you think is the right message to reach people who literally aren’t decided?
RENDELL: Well, I think a lot of these people are confused by what has been just a long collection of two months of soft and misinformation about Barack Obama. There’s still people out there who tell me, “Barack Obama is going to raise my taxes.” I said, “No, he isn’t. You make $60,000 a year, he’s going to give you a three times bigger tax cut than John McCain. Look at the Tax Policy Institute report.” But people still believe that stuff. People believe-I look at these McCain rallies in Pennsylvania and he says, “Barack Obama is going to take your wealth.” And I look at the audience, and they don’t have any wealth. They probably got negative net worth because their mortgage is higher than the value of their house right now, they’re earning $45,000 a year and those folks should understand their best hope is Barack Obama. We’ve got to close that deal. What I’m doing on this bus trip is telling our folks, the die-hards, the elected Democrats, the committee people, the message is-we’ve to be getting out to those undecideds. Tell them the truth about taxes. Tell them the truth about spreading the wealth and socialism. And the Republican Party said that Social Security was socialism. That Medicare was socialism. That’s what they, you know, cry about everything. So, we’ve got to get that word out to a lot of people who are still confused. I think they’re more confused than undecided.
MADDOW: It seems like the taxes argument is almost part of-sort of a culture argument that they’re making about Barack Obama in Pennsylvania that they’ve been making for a long time, calling him a socialist. Not just somebody who wants to raise your taxes but calling him a socialist. I see that the McCain/Palin folks are revising the “bitter” comments from back in the primaries.
MADDOW: . taking those out of context and talking about them. What do you make of them trying to bring “bitter” back into this? What do you make of their overall approach to try to say Barack Obama just isn’t one of us?
RENDELL: Well, it’s truly desperation and I don’t think any of that resonates anymore. Right now, Pennsylvanians, I believe, like most Americans, are fixed on the economy. They don’t want to hear name-calling; they don’t want to hear what Joe said four months ago or six years ago. They want to hear about the economy. And if you look at the polls in Pennsylvania, Rachel, it was a two-point race until Wall Street tanked. And then Pennsylvanians look at the performances of John McCain, who was all over the place, like a chicken with his head cut off, firing the head of the SEC which he couldn’t do, suspending his campaign which he didn’t do, not debating which he did do, saying that the economy-the fundamentals of the economy were still strong-they believe that he had no idea what to do. Barack Obama was calm, was poised, laid out a good, terrific recovery plan. I think the Obama rescue plan is brilliant. I don’t think it’s getting enough credit, actually, in the media for the substantive value of it, but the people saw this .They saw the three debates. They saw Obama, again, calm and right on the economy. And that changed it. Because when people are in trouble, economically, they are interested in their budget. They don’t care whether that person’s black, white, blue, green or purple, who’s going to help them get out of their financial problems. And most Pennsylvanians have concluded that it’s Barack Obama. That’s the reason the polls have gone so have widened so much.But now, they’re trying to attack him in every way, including the Ashley Todd fiasco, the McCain campaign launched on that without checking out the facts and, you know, to try to, you know, stir up the animosities among groups. And it’s been a terrible campaign. You know, I’m a Democrat who had deep respect for John McCain in 2000. And I took him at his word in March of this year when he said he was going to run a decent and honorable campaign. Well, this campaign has been anything but decent and anything but honorable. It’s really disappointing. But I think that stuff, you throw it up there often enough, and they’re hoping that it sticks.
MADDOW: Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, I know you’re a very busy man right now, thanks for your time.
RENDELL: Thanks, Rachel. Great football analogy.
MADDOW: Thank you. Working on it all day.
RENDELL: There you go.
MADDOW: With campaign staffers like these, who needs an opposing campaign? John McCain aides, in support of Republicans, have stooped so low as to call Sarah Palin a “whack job” and a diva in the last 72 hours. That’s their own side. Next: Presidential historian Michael Beschloss will join us to talk about how McCain and Palin might actually govern together. Duck and cover. Here’s our first-ever, though, official programming note. I think it’s our first ever one. Be sure to be with us on Thursday. I’m going to Florida on a business trip, a TV business trip to interview Barack Obama. We’ll show you my entire interview here on Thursday night. Very, very exciting. We hope you’ll tune in.
MADDOW: In the unlikely event that you run into John McCain at a cocktail party any time soon, here’s a tip-don’t bring up Sarah Palin. I mean, you can if you go in for that sort of thing, but it’s already awkward and they are still running mates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “CLOSING BELL”/CNBC)
MCCAIN: We’re not going to agree on every issue but that’s the fun of our relationship and I am so-I can’t tell you the excitement that she has generated and the role model she is. I couldn’t be happier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The phrase “couldn’t be happier” is actually hard to pronounce through clenched teeth. But at least the senator himself is trying. Who’s not even bothering to try? A number of increasingly chatty chatter boxes from inside McCain’s own campaign. First, an anonymous top Republican told Politico.com that Palin was getting antsy, that she was losing confidence in the McCain Team. That she’d, quote, “gone rogue,” and, “She’d like to go more rogue.” Then another unnamed McCain adviser told CNN that Palin was, quote, “a diva,” which is where most folks stopped listening. But the rest of the quote was worse. The same night where they went on to say that Palin, quote, “takes no advice from anyone. She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.” Frankly, that’s scarier than rogue and diva put together. No trusting relationships? Dissing her relationship with her family, with her husband and her five kids? Wow! Then today-believe it or not-it actually got worse. When Mike Allen at Politico.com reported that a McCain adviser called Palin a, quote, “whack job.” So you can add “whack job” to an impressive and growing dis-list (ph), not from the east coast media elite, but from McCain’s own people. Robert Draper added insult to the injury today when he reported for “GQ” magazine’s end of the election blog that, quote, “I’ve heard from one well-placed source that McCain has snubbed her on one long bus ride aboard the Straight Talk Express, to the embarrassment of those sitting nearby.” He also says that McCain, quote, “higher ups described Sarah Palin as knowing nothing about national and international issues.” Still, though, snubbing her on the bus? Isn’t that kind of petty, horrible, eighth grade lunch room drama for a presidential ticket? Can you imagine four years of that kind of drama while they are also in charge of the military, submitting budgets, picking Supreme Court justices? If they did win and I realize that’s against the odds but if they did win, how could McCain and Palin govern together? Have other presidents and vice presidents ever called each other “whack job”? Here to try to talk me down is NBC News presidential historian, Michael Beschloss. Mr. Beschloss, thank you for being here.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Hi, Rachel. It sounds as if you were reading from a deposition in a divorce case. It sounds a bit (ph) close.
MADDOW: Well, this is your chance to Talk Me Down here. I mean, please, tell me there’s tons of precedent for a presidential and vice-presidential candidate going after each other like this, please.
BESCHLOSS: OK. I’ll do my best and I’m not sure how well I’m going to do.
BESCHLOSS: Once a president and a vice president are in office, there’s almost always tension. The president always wants absolute loyalty. Lyndon Johnson was the best example of this. He said he wanted a vice president-I’ve got to clean it up for your show, Rachel. He said, “I want a vice president so loyal he’ll kiss my behind in Macy’s window and say it smells like a rose.” Johnson had a pretty extreme view of loyalty. So you’ve got a president who wants loyalty and all these vice presidents since 1932, they have all wanted to run for president. So, once they’re in office, there are these tensions usually behind the scenes. The difference here is, you usually don’t see this as early as a presidential campaign when the two sides of the ticket are usually trying to put their best feet forward.
MADDOW: If McCain and Palin do win, does history tell us anything about how mutual unappreciation society like this would affect their ability to govern together?
BESCHLOSS: It would be a problem if she, for instance, as vice president, goes into the vice presidency, immediately wanting to run for president. That’s happened before. And when that happens, what goes on is, the vice president begins leaking that he or she disagrees with what the president does, tries to make the vice president look better, makes the president annoyed. Not a very good way to run a country, particularly, in a time of crisis.
MADDOW: Can you tell us who, particularly, in history, would have been the evidence for that so we can go look them up and think about all the bad things they did at president and vice president?
BESCHLOSS: Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. Nixon put Agnew on the ticket feeling that he wasn’t very well qualified. Agnew came in having been plucked out of obscurity, not very grateful to Nixon, in fact, thinking that he should be the next president. And Nixon spent a lot of that presidency trying to undermine Agnew to make sure that Agnew never came close to the presidency either through election or succession. And they didn’t work together and it was a bit of a mess.
MADDOW: Getting back to the fact that this friction has emerged before they are elected, it’s emerged during the campaign. Are-is there precedent-have we ever seen before something like what we are seeing now on the Republican side which is rallies that are larger for the vice-presidential nominee? There appears to be some more enthusiasm, particularly among the base, for Sarah Palin than there is for John McCain. Have we seen anything similar to this in history?
BESCHLOSS: We really have not in modern times, and that’s what makes this is so unusual because John McCain needs her. You know, she has brought enthusiasm into this-the reception of this ticket. But at the same time, obviously, if those reports that you’re talking about are true, he’s getting increasingly annoyed by her. And, you know, the other thing, Rachel, is these McCain aides who are saying that she’s a diva and a whack job, who do they think put Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket? They’re basically casting doubt on the judgment of their own presidential candidate, probably the most important decision he could make, deciding who’s going to be first in the line of succession.
MADDOW: I’m so glad that you said that, so I didn’t have to. That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about this.
BESCHLOSS: I tried to talk you down. I did my best, I promise.
MADDOW: Not at all. Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, it’s always great to have you on the show. Thank you so much.
BESCHLOSS: Same here. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Target the young ones. Thin the herd. That’s what packs of hyenas do to gazelles. It’s also apparently the Republican approach to first-time Democratic-leaning voters. Suppression tactics on college campuses have turned voting into a wild kingdom of misinformation and intimidation. We will have more on that in just a moment.
MADDOW: Sarah Palin says that Madeleine Albright says that Barack Obama is not ready to be commander-in-chief. Did Madeleine Albright really say that? Now, I will know. Albright herself will be here in just a moment to set that record straight. First, though, it’s time for a few underreported holy mackerel stories in today’s news. As the electoral map continues to shift this year, it can sometimes be hard to remember what counts as a swing state anymore. One suggestion for diagnosing swing state status? Now, if you have a landline phone and you’re fed up with robocalls-you probably live in a swing state. About three dozen call center workers in Indiana share your pain. Talking Points Memo reports that call centers in Hobart, Indiana were given scripts to read which they said attacked Obama and Democrats for, in the words of one of the workers, being quote, “against protecting children from danger.” Dozens of workers reportedly thought the script was vile and they walked off the job and lost a day’s pay as a result. Robocalls are very, very cheap. They are somewhat off the radar and that’s made them a popular means of distributing some of the most disgusting attacks in this and other elections. Remember the, John McCain has a black baby accusation that was flung at McCain in the 2000 Republican primary? That was a robocall in South Carolina. Now the guys who ran the Bush campaign against McCain in South Carolina are working for McCain and Palin against Obama. So, surprise, surprise, there is filth on the phone for you. In our second robocall story today, a law in California that prohibits robocalls without a live person introducing the call didn’t stop 100,000 of them from going out on Sunday from the campaign of Republican congressional candidate Zane Starkewolf. He’s made, as far as I can tell, the first row bow sex call in this election. And now I have to issue a viewer warning or at least a listener warning for any kiddos that may be in the room. OK, ready? here it goes.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ROBOCALL: Mike Thompson’s been a bad boy. We all said no to the bailout, but Thompson backed Bush, just like he did with the Patriot Act. Uh. Vote yes for Zane. Paid for by Zane Starkewolf for U.S. Congress.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: The bad boy she’s talking about is Zane’s opponent in California’s First District. Long time Democratic incumbent Mike Thompson. Thompson called the ad a sophomoric and tasteless prank but Zane says he’s not embarrassed. He’s making no apologies. He says, quote, “I take the credit or the blame for the statement that went out today. The unpaid staffer who recorded and submitted the message may have been a little overly enthusiastic in the delivery but I believe it’s good to get enthusiasm back into politics.” Enthusiasm, huh? That’s what you call it?
MADDOW: Remember way, way back to like, last month, early September. Those were the days. When the Great Depression was a black and white memory. Not a regular op-ed column about next year’s economy. Back in those good old days John McCain was doing his best to make this an election about war and foreign policy. Well, after seven weeks of not achieving that, lurching and struggling to campaign instead on the bad economy, McCain is trying to turn 2008 now back into a national security election. Here he is in Pennsylvania today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: My friends, we’re winning in Iraq. We’ll win in Afghanistan. Thanks to the brave young Americans who are serving, who want to win. You know, just the other day, Senator Biden warned that in his words, he said, mark my words. Senator Obama would be tested with an international crisis. My friends, I’ve been tested. Senator Obama hasn’t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sarah Palin got in on the same action today interrupting Senator McCain in an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: It wasn’t just Joe Biden, though, that was confirmed by Madeleine Albright. And of course he was stating fact that there would be that testing of someone who is inexperienced and not ready to lead as Joe Biden had been telling us all along in the primaries that Barack Obama is not ready to be commander-in-chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Governor Palin has one thing right in that assertion. It’s not just Joe Biden who believes in international crisis will likely confront the next president, whoever he is. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Michael Mullen, says of the transfer of power in Washington, quote, “I think the enemy could well take advantage.” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says quote, “There is always a risk during a transition period. Some people will see it as a more opportune time to strike.” And John McCain’s travel buddy, Joe Lieberman said exactly the same thing about McCain potentially getting elected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, (I) CT: Our enemies will test the new president early. John McCain is ready to take the reins on January 20th, 2009. He doesn’t need any training.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Last week, McCain twisted Joe Biden’s take on everyone else’s basic understanding into an elect me or you’ll die ad that aired in key battleground states. The unintentional hilarity, the way the ad all but satirizes fear mongering is offset by the actual fear mongering. But now the McCain camp is getting more specific but equally hilariously over the top and ridiculous with a recycled ad that tries to scare up votes about Iran, literally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Obama says Iran is a tiny country. Doesn’t pose a serious threat. Terrorism, destroying Israel, those aren’t serious threats. Obama, dangerously unprepared to be president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Scared about Iran? Does the feeling of being scared about Iran make you want to vote for the guy who sang bomb Iran to the tune of a Beach Boy’s song? Joining us now is former secretary of state Madeline Albright. She’s currently serving as a top adviser for Barack Obama on a working group on national security. She is also the author of the book “Memo to the President: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership.” Madame Secretary, thank you very much for being on the show tonight.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Great to be with you, Rachel. Thank you so much for asking me.
MADDOW: Sarah Palin keeps talking about you a lot. In California a couple weeks ago she said this, and I got the quote to make sure I could say it exactly. She said, quote, “I am reading on my Starbucks mocha cup, OK, the quote of the day, it was Madeleine Albright, she said there is a place in hell reserved for women who don’t support other women.” End quote. Now, actually, you said and so did the cup, “There is a place in hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.” She was misquoting you there and now she’s quoting you again saying that you think Barack Obama is inexperienced and not ready to lead. I figured we should give you a chance here to respond to her.
ALBRIGHT: Well, definitely a misquote. I can’t believe it. What I -I actually believe is that Barack Obama is not only prepared but the best possible person to be president at a time when things are so unsettled and America’s reputation is in such bad shape because of the way he approaches issues. His wisdom. His judgment. His clarity. His desire to really know about all of the aspects of a problem. I think we couldn’t do better than to choose somebody that has that kind of a sense about the seriousness of the issues. And so I, you know, yet again, misquoted. What I said is that-and I say it in my book, Rachel, is that the next president can expect the unexpected. There’s a huge agenda of expected issues, of how to fight terrorism and deal with nuclear proliferation and the negative aspects of globalization and energy and environment and the global financial crisis. But I can assure everybody from my own experience, to expect the unexpected. That’s what I said.
MADDOW: Is that-I guess that would be your response then to Senator Biden’s comments about expecting the unexpected? Expecting an early test for the president. Similar comments by Joe Lieberman and others including the chairman of the joint chiefs? It’s not an unusual thing to assert that the next president, generically speaking, whoever it is, will probably be challenged after he’s elected in a way we can’t anticipate exactly now. Is that how you feel about it? Is that what you think Joe Biden meant?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I do think that we just know that there’s something unexpected happens. For instance in my book which I tried very hard to keep up to date, I couldn’t get the Russian invasion of Georgia in there. There are unexpected events that happen and we need a president who can deal, who can multi-task, who does not in any way panic. Who really looks at the issues, summons advisers, makes considered decisions and I believe that Barack Obama is that president.
MADDOW: The ACLU has put out essentially, a guide for the next president, for the first day, the first hundred days and the first year of the next presidency. They are suggesting that the next president issue an executive order unequivocally banning torture as well as extraordinary rendition, and ordering the closure of Gitmo essentially immediately. What are your thoughts on the feasibility of those proposals?
ALBRIGHT: I think they’re all very important. I have said and by the way, Rachel, all former secretaries of state when we assembled about three weeks ago said that we should close Gitmo. I think that is absolutely an essential thing to do. I think it’s very important to ban torture and to have policies that reflect America’s values and get back to who we really are. So I hope that this is very clear. Senator Obama has spoken on all these issues about closing Guantanamo and about the issue of banning torture and renditions and I think that it’s very important to move that direction. What I think is difficult-and I have made this point-I don’t think we should do the kind of the hundred day thing on the next president because there’s so much that has to happen. I think it’s going to take more than a hundred days or a thousand days to undo some of the issues that have brought us such problems in the last eight years. So what I think is important is to really support the president. I hope very much that it’s Barack Obama. And to be able to move ahead to restore America’s authority and our standing in the world so that we can fulfill what is important for the American people.
MADDOW: Former secretary of state, Madelein Albright, her new book “Memo to the President: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership.” Madame Secretary, it’s real pleasure and a real honor to have you on the show. Thank you for joining us.
ALBRIGHT: Good to be with you, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: If you received a flyer telling you that Election Day is Wednesday, November 5th, instead of Tuesday, November 4th, you’re being punked by anti-democratic bottom feeders who are trying to suppress the vote. How to fight back? How about we mock them mercilessly and make them pay?
MADDOW: Well it is that time in the election cycle. Having fought Barack Obama and Washington insiders and the media elite and his own party with mixed results at best, John McCain is fighting the odds. Those darn odds will beat him good. We will.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: We’re a few points down. The pundits wrote us up as they have several times before. I guess I’m old fashioned about these things. I prefer to let the voters weigh in before presuming the outcome. Now let’s go win this election and get this country moving again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So how can McCain beat the “pundints” and the polls and every other leading indicator of his troubles without literally beating them which would hurt him politically? Basically by having a ton of people said that they are voting for Obama not vote and that, for reasoning ranging from apathy to intimidation is a real possibility. Take for example, the state of Virginia where some loveable scamp has hit the streets with this, a flyer announcing a separate election day for Democrats, the day after the real election. I would give this trickster some points to have ambition if he or she had not misspelled the word electoral. And what about that oft dreamt of youth vote? There’s been a rash of creative destruction from voting officials who would prefer to dilute or discourage youth turnout. Students at Virginia Tech were told if they voted locally they could forfeit their scholarships, lose their health insurance or increase their parents’ taxes. In the swing state of Pennsylvania, at Drexel University, a friendly looking note was posted warning students that undercover police officers would be at the polls on Election Day looking to make arrests for outstanding traffic offenses. All utter lies. These are voter suppression tactics and they are all factually incorrect. According to the Supreme Court which has ruled that students can vote where they go to school. If you are a student watching this show right, you can vote where you go to school. It’s the law. Joining us now the Matthew Segal, the executive director for the Student Association for Voter Empowerment. Matthew, thank you very much for coming on the show.
MATTHEW SEGAL, STUDENT ASSOCIATION FOR VOTER EMPOWERMENT: Thank you for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: The generational divide among the electorates could be more stark, younger voters, overwhelmingly favoring Barack Obama. Given the suppression efforts and given the history of young voters, I guess, enthusiasm, not translating into actual votes, apathy, which is what we’ve seen on Election Day, the youth vote has never come out, like, say, the senior vote or the evangelical vote. Do you believe it will different this year?
SEGAL: Young people are going to play a pivotal role this election. First off, there’s every indication based on recent statistics youth voter turnout increased 11 percent among 18 to 29-year-olds from 2000 to 2004, from 2002 to 2006, both midterm elections youth voter turnout increased three percent. Then this recent 2008 season we’ve seen the turnout among youth double, triple and even quadruple in some states. So these enduring problems that we’re facing necessitate sustainable participation and young people are delivering and will continue to deliver for decades to come, I think, now.
MADDOW: Well, your expectation about the youth vote is apparently matched by those who would prefer that it not be true, because we’ve seen this year a raft of voter suppression tactics aimed specifically at students. What do you think the impact is going to be of tactics like those we saw at Drexel or those we saw at Virginia Tech with voters warned in specifically studenty ways that they ought not vote at school?
SEGAL: Sure. Well, first off, it’s hard to quantify how many voters these tactics will disenfranchise. But this gets to the larger issue here, that there are people that have vested interest in seeing students not be able to turn out given perhaps our political persuasion or the political affiliation that many young people tend to suggest .And then there’s also this historical problem of local residents in college towns viewing college students as somehow imposing their viewpoints on them or trying to dilute their votes. But it’s important to state here that college students give valuable contributions to their community. I know from my own experience as a college student that many college students go out into the local communities, volunteer. They do all sorts of area service programs. And we also help the local economy, creating jobs, dining and shopping at local restaurants and businesses. So young people very much care about their communities and they should be able to vote there. And as you pointed out, the Supreme Court affirmed that right in 1979.
MADDOW: And of course we see some disproportionate impact of voter suppression efforts that are more broadly targeted on students, things like requiring a voter ID. I think the Rock the Vote poll found 19 percent of young voters don’t have a government ID that has their current address, so students may be disproportionately affected by that.
SEGAL: Isn’t that amazing?
MADDOW: It’s incredible and it’s hard to believe that it is unintentional. Let me ask you about something in 2004, though, Matthew. There is an extent to which some of this-some of the biggest problems for students feel like precincts simply being unprepared for high turnout. Either they don’t believe that students are going to turn out or they really don’t make preparation for a lot of students to turn out. You became an activist after waiting in line all day to vote in 2004, didn’t you?
SEGAL: Sure. Yeah, well, actually, at my alma mater, Kenyon College, there were two voting machines allocated for 1,300 registered voters, one of which broke down which created disastrously long lines. Ten hours. Our final voter finished voting at 4:04 a.m. on November 3 after many networks called it for President Bush. And that created a devastating situation for first-time voters in that area. And one of my biggest anxieties this election is that with this incredible influx in student turnout, there might not be enough ballots or machines allocated to accommodate the turnout, which will result in long lines again. So it’s so imperative that the precincts are equipped with emergency ballots or provisional ballots, which every voter has an unconditional right to, to make sure that these long lines don’t disenfranchise young people and all Americans. Although, if you can avoid being forced into a provisional ballot situation, you should.
MADDOW: But as a last resort. Matthew Segal, executive director for the Student Association for Voter Empowerment. Matthew, thanks very much for joining us tonight.
SEGAL: It’s great to be here. Thanks and congrats on your new show.
MADDOW: Thank you. Coming up next I’ll going to get just enough pop culture from my friend Kent Jones. Is the election making you crazy? Join the club.
MADDOW: Now it’s time for “Just Enough” with my friend Kent Jones, who force feeds me just enough pop culture so I can be allowed out in public. Hi, Kent, what have you got?
KENT JONES, POP CULTURIST: Hi, Rachel. Well, you know, this has been a long, long, long campaign season. I think we’re all getting a little frazzled. The Associated Press asked some psychologists for their advice on how to deal with election stress. Here’s what they said. Check these out. One, step away from the computer, TV and newspaper and avoid vicious political arguments.
MADDOW: I’m completely against that. For all of the obvious reasons. Definitely, I mean, A, I can’t lead by example on any of those things but I also deeply enjoy deeply vicious political arguments.
JONES: Once in a while, it’s nice.
MADDOW: Every day.
JONES: The second one, be proactive instead of powerless by volunteering or otherwise making your voice heard.
MADDOW: I’m in favor of that. That seems sort of innocuous.
JONES: Go do something. Don’t sit by and be passive.
MADDOW: You can also do that while on the computer, watching TV or reading the newspaper.
JONES: Exactly. Here’s number three. Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising. Hmm. Well, I’m one half of those three, I think. Maybe a quarter of the three.
MADDOW: The official dinner of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW staff has now become beer. I think that we would not be achieving that one.
JONES: It’s the breakfast, lunch and dinner of champions.
MADDOW: It’s kind of like bread. It’s just more tiring.
JONES: Number four is realize that no candidate is as good or as bad as you might imagine.
MADDOW: Yes, sometimes they’re much, much worse.
JONES: Much worse, exactly.
MADDOW: I sort of think about-I mean, candidates are complicated. I sort of think about it with Supreme Court justices like David Souter, he was a pleasant surprise but Scalia, who could have thought he would that evil, who could have thought he would be that mean-spirited in his bad politics. It can get worse.
JONES: And the last one, when all else fails, change the subject.
It’s a great time to go into nature. Go camping.
MADDOW: Yeah. Only if you’ve already done your early voting.
MADDOW: As far as I’m concerned.
JONES: Do that first.
MADDOW: Thank you, Kent. I appreciate that. I don’t feel better at all but I’m glad to know what other people are doing to make themselves feel better.
All right and thank you for watching tonight. We’ll see you tomorrow night. Until then you can e-mail us firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>. You can check out our new full length podcast, the entire show. Go to iTunes or to rachel.msnbc.com. You can also hear me at 6:00 p.m. Eastern coast to coast on Air America Radio. And a reminder on Thursday I’m going to Florida to interview the actual Barack Obama. We will show you my entire interview here Thursday night. COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN starts right now. Good night.
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Transcription Copyright 2008 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user’s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC’s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of