The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/16/12

Guests:
Elizabeth Warren, Chris Gardner
Transcript:

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Yes. And – I mean, she`s been – other people
have been hinting about this prospect for a long time. But I think you`re
right. I think she was directly saying, pick me, pick me.

ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: Exactly.

MADDOW: And the collective yawn today from Republicans was pretty
striking. Anyway, that was a great segment, man. Thank you.

SCHULTZ: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. Thanks for sticking with us for over the course
of this next hour.

In 1996, the Republican nominee for president was, of course, Bob
Dole. After Bob Dole lost the presidential race in 1996 to Bill Clinton,
Mr. Dole became the celebrity spokesmodel for a drug called Viagra.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB DOLE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Courage. Something
shared by countless Americans, those who risk their lives, those who battle
serious illness.

When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I was primarily concerned
with ridding myself for the cancer. But secondly, I was concerned about
possible post-operative side effects like erectile dysfunction, E.D. It`s
often called impotence.

You know, it`s a little embarrassing to talk about E.D. but it`s
important to millions of men and their partners that I decided to talk
about it publicly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was high level Republican Party politics around sex and
genitals and reproduction in 1999, courtesy of the 1996 presidential
nominee Bob Dole.

Thirteen years later, here`s the book end to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: Do you have any concerns about some of
his comments on social issues – on contraception, on women in combat, and
whether or not that would hurt his viability in a general election campaign
would he be the nominee?

FOSTER FRIESS, SANTORUM SUPPORTER: Well, I`m – I get such a chuckle
when these things come out. This contraceptive thing – my gosh, it`s so,
it`s such inexpensive. You know, back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin
for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn`t that
costly.

MITCHELL: Excuse me. I`m just trying to catch my breath from that,
Mr. Friess, frankly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Foster Friess, aka Rick Santorum`s billionaire, in an
interview today with the great Andrea Mitchell, who, God bless her, seems
to have barely survived that exchange with Mr. Friess.

More interesting, though, than his insinuation that any woman who
doesn`t want to get pregnant is a slut not to keep her knees together, was
what Mr. Friess said later in the interview when Andrea kept pressing him
on the issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITCHELL: What about some of Santorum`s views? Don`t you think that
they are outside the mainstream? Isn`t contraception accepted practice
even among most – the majority of Catholics in this country? Aren`t we
going back decades with some of the social issues that he`s espoused?

FRIESS: I don`t – I didn`t realize he said he was against
contraceptives. Has he made that statement?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Yes. Nobody told you? He has made that statement a lot
actually.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the things I will
talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers
of contraception in this country and the whole sexual libertine idea many
in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that`s OK. I mean, you know,
contraception is OK.”

It`s not OK. It`s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is
counter to how things are supposed to be. Again, I know most presidents
don`t talk about those things. And maybe people don`t want us to talk
about those things, but I think it`s – I think it`s important that you are
who you are.

These are important public policy issues. These have profound impact
on the health of our society.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Mr. Santorum also said in 2006 to an interviewer, “I`m not a
believer in birth control and artificial birth control. Again, I think it
goes down the line of being able to do whatever you want to do without
having the responsibility that comes with that.”

The clip you saw there of Rick Santorum talking, that was from this
past year. Rick Santorum talking to a conservative Web site about his
belief that birth control is wrong and how as a president he will make that
a priority of his presidency even if people don`t want to hear him talk
about it.

The second quote there, though, that I read was from further back.
That was actually from this interview that you can see here from August of
2006. August of 2006 was right before Rick Santorum lost his U.S. Senate
seat by 18 points in Pennsylvania. He was the incumbent.

So, yes, Rick Santorum`s billionaire who was talking with Andrea
Mitchell today, Rick Santorum has said he is against birth control. And he
has said that publicly and frequently.

Frankly, it`s part of the reason a lot of people think he lost by 18
points in Pennsylvania back in 2006. That was the last time he was in
public office. But he`s still saying it now when he is asked.

A big part of the reason that 2006 interview is in circulation today
is because a very conservative blogger at “The Washington Post” posted that
interview there at “The Post” today and wrote a column about how
unelectable Rick Santorum is because of his anti-contraception views.

I mean, for all of that aspirin between the knees stuff out of this
guy, Foster Friess, today, actually kind feel bad for him. I mean, did
nobody warn him about this, about his candidate, about Rick Santorum?

If this guy is going to spend his own personal millions of dollars to
try to elect Rick Santorum president, does he not know that this whole
contraception thing might be in the way of Rick Santorum`s election?

I mean, when you look at the polling on this, it`s devastating. Greg
Sargent picked up and parsed the crosstabs from CBS/”New York Times” poll
on this out this week when asked about the president`s current plan for
contraception coverage and health insurance, making private health plans
cover the cost of birth control, not only do 66 percent of Americans
support the policy, but 68 percent of moderates do, 64 percent of
independents do, even 50 percent of Republicans do.

Republicans support the president`s policy on birth control even when
asked about the pre-revision policy, even when asked about the original
Obama administration policy, the one that required religiously affiliated
employers like Catholic hospitals and Catholic universities to offer
insurance plans with full contraception coverage – even that pre-revision
plan, huge majority support that, 61 percent of Americans, 64 percent of
moderates, 59 percent of independents. Even among Republicans, 41 percent
in favor of the original policy before it changed. The policy of requiring
religiously affiliated employers to cover contraception in their health
plans.

That polling is not only devastating for a politician like Rick
Santorum who is known more for his anti-gay views and anti-abortion views
and anti-contraception rules than anything else about him. It`s also bad
for any of Republican presidential candidates, all of whom have endorsed
personhood legislation, which would ban not only abortion in all
circumstances, but would likely ban hormonal birth control as well, which
is the kind of birth control most American women use.

It`s also devastating for the vice presidential prospects of
Virginia`s Governor Bob McDonnell. Bob McDonnell is on the way to being
handed a personhood bill in his state, one that explicitly rules out
protection for hormonal birth control. Governor McDonnell has also said
that he will sign Virginia`s mandatory vaginal probe ultrasound bill, which
we`ve been talking about on this show for the last couple of nights, and I
can`t figure out why it isn`t front page news all over the country.

It`s an anti-abortion measure that has passed in Virginia. The state
would order women to have medically unnecessary internal vaginal probe
ultrasounds against their doctor`s wishes and without their consent. Bob
McDonnell says he`ll sign it.

But the public opinion data on issues like these has so far not been
daunting not just to the presidential and vice presidential contenders.
It`s so far not been daunting to Republicans in Congress generally, who
have decided that this is a great election year issue for them.

I mean, back in the late `90s and early 2000s, after Viagra was
approved and insurance companies immediately announced that they`d be
including Viagra in their prescription drug coverage, there were a ton of
laws passed all over the country essentially saying, hey, as if we`re going
to cover Viagra, how about we cover birth control, too?

“The L.A. Times” had a great piece on this today. Viagra gets
approved in 1998. By the year 2000, all over the country, they are making
moves on contraception coverage laws.

The state of Iowa, for example, enacts a mandate that health insurance
drug plans in Iowa cover contraception. It`s the Republican legislature in
Iowa that does this. They overwhelmingly back a contraceptive coverage
mandate in Iowa and there are no exemptions for religious employers of any
kind – even churches in Iowa must cover contraception in their health
insurance prescription drug plans, right? So say the Republicans in the
year 2000.

In Arizona, same deal. They exempted churches themselves but not
church affiliated institutions like universities and hospitals. A
Republican introduces that in Arizona. It passes through the Republican-
controlled legislature and it is signed into law in Arizona by a Republican
and Catholic governor.

In New York state, a mandate that New York health insurance
prescription plans have to cover birth controls not only passes but gets a
bunch of support from Republicans in the legislature. New York`s
Republican Governor George Pataki signs it.

By 2005, news has made its way to Mike Huckabee in Arkansas. And with
Republican co-sponsors, Arkansas under Mike Huckabee passes a law to
require health insurance drug policies to cover contraception. Like in
Arizona and New York and in the Obama administration`s original policy this
year, churches are exempt, but church-affiliated hospitals and universities
are not exempt. That`s what Mike Huckabee signed into law in his state in
2005.

Stick a pin in that for Mike Huckabee for a second. We will be back
to that in just a moment.

But the year after Mike Huckabee does it in 2005, a Massachusetts
governor by the name of Mitt Romney signed the big Massachusetts health
care overhaul which reaffirmed the longstanding mandate in Massachusetts
that health insurance prescription plans – say it with me now – must
cover birth control. Mitt Romney signed that. He now calls essentially
the same rule from the Obama administration an assault on religion. It`s
his own policy.

Mike Huckabee, God bless him, former weight loss guru, no longer
trying to hawk that. Now, he`s just a FOX News personality and he`s trying
now to set off a national campaign under the heading “We are all Catholics
now” lambasting the Obama administration for what he calls, attacking
religious liberty.

Remember what Mike Huckabee signed into law in his state when he was
governor was the same thing that the Obama administration proposed that Mr.
Huckabee is now attacking. Apparently, it`s OK if you are a Republican.

In terms of this kind of rule as federal policy, the same type of
regulation that contraception had to be covered in health insurance
prescription plans was upheld as part of federal employment law. Federal
employment law in the year 2000 – when the Bush administration took office
they had the opportunity to roll that requirement back. They decided not
to. They didn`t even try.

Why would they? It wasn`t a controversial issue.

John Ashcroft – yes, that John Ashcroft – was asked about it in the
Senate at the time. He said as attorney general, he would have no problem
with that rule. He`d defend it.

Republicans have not only been happily living with this policy, they
have been promoting this policy. They have been signing this policy into
law all over the country roughly since Viagra, since Bob Dole on that wind
swept the hallway talking about erectile dysfunction.

But somebody rang a bell somewhere and now, it`s a Republican scandal
apparently. And so, now, even in the face of public polling data that
shows this to be politically suicidal, Republicans are running full tilt
against contraception. Offended by policies they themselves supported
demanding that those policies be rolled back and that we not only carve
away access to contraception for people who work at religiously-affiliated
institutions, but that we let all employers deny access to contraception.

And actually, they are going further now. Actually, they now say that
we should let employers not just deny access to contraception, we should
let employers deny access to anything, and we should thereby get rid of
health insurance as we know it.

That`s what the Roy Blunt legislation would do which Republicans are
trying to move through the Senate now. The Roy blunt legislation says an
employer could opt out of providing anything under health insurance plans
provided they said that their reason for doing so was either a religious
belief or a moral conviction.

One of the Republicans who signed onto support the Blunt amendment is
a Republican freshman senator named Scott Brown from Massachusetts. He`s
being challenged in his re-election effort by our next guest, Elizabeth
Warren, this November.

Senator Brown has tried to cultivate a sense, at least in
Massachusetts, that he is a moderate, which is why a lot of people were
surprised by this move against contraception. Those surprised included
both “The Boston Globe” and “The Boston Herald,” which usually loves
everything he does.

It also led to this rather devastating exchange between Senator Brown
and reporter from the hometown news outlet New England Cable News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Brown, in a letter explaining your signing
onto Missouri senator`s amendment, you said and I quote, “I support a
conscience exemption in health care for Catholics and other people of
faith.” You acknowledge that Senator Blunt`s amendment that you`re
supporting goes far, farther than religious objections, no?

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: No, I don`t. I think it`s in
line with what Senator Kennedy and I have fought for, and I have a history
in the state senate of voting for to allow religious organizations to have
and people to have that conscience exemption, objection exemption.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I don`t see how you`re rejecting the
contention that it goes farther. Elizabeth Warren did say, your likely
opponent, this bill would allow any employer insurance company to refuse to
cover anyone for anything. I read the introduction of this bill today.
And it doesn`t say religious beliefs. It says moral convictions.

So, where is she wrong? It seems that`s a loophole you could drive a
truck through, no?

BROWN: Jim, you know as well as I do that`s a red herring. Bottom
line is if it anything like that happened in Massachusetts, you know,
people would obviously be sued and other types of things, to create these
issues to really take away from the focus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Yes, except, dude, you`re trying to change the law so that
people can`t be sued for – right?

Senator Brown`s likely opponent this November, the creator of Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau and Democratic Senate candidate, Elizabeth
Warren, responded to Senator Brown`s position on this by saying in part, “I
don`t think this will go over well in Massachusetts.”

Elizabeth Warren is our guest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is our guest
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Brown, in a letter explaining your signing
onto Missouri senator`s amendment, you said and I quote, “I support a
conscience exemption in health care for Catholics and other people of
faith.” You acknowledge that Senator Blunt`s amendment that you`re
supporting goes far, farther than religious objections, no?

BROWN: No, I don`t.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I read the introduction of this bill today. And
it doesn`t say religious beliefs. It says moral convictions.

So, where is she wrong? It seems that`s a loophole you could drive a
truck through, no?

BROWN: Jim, you know as well as I do that`s a red herring. Bottom
line is if it anything like that happened in Massachusetts, you know,
people would obviously be sued and other types of things, to create these
issues to really take away from the focus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: As a state senator in Massachusetts, it should be noted that
Scott Brown voted for state level regulations which were exactly the same
policy that he is now criticizing the Obama administration for and
supporting the Roy Blunt legislation to overturn.

Joining us now is Elizabeth Warren. She`s Republican Scott Brown`s
likely Democratic opponent this November. She`s also the creator, of
course, of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Elizabeth Warren, thank you so much for your time. It`s nice to see
you.

ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Oh, it`s good to see
you. Thanks for having me here.

MADDOW: Jim Braude there from New England Cable News was essentially
characterizing your position on this issue to Senator Brown.

So, let me ask you in your own words, what you think Senate
Republicans, including Scott Brown, are trying to do on this contraception
issue right now.

WARREN: Well, let`s just start with what the statute says. The
statute says that in effect any employer or any insurance company can
decide that it has a personal, moral objection to providing any kind of
health care coverage for anyone and therefore they`re not going to do it.

So if your employer says, you know, I don`t like that vaccine thing,
I`m just going to have an insurance policy that doesn`t cover it for your
children, or I don`t like the fact that, you know, having cardiovascular
disease because you didn`t exercise enough or eat the right foods when you
were growing up, so I`m just going to exempt all of that from my health
insurance policy, and I`m going to exempt this and this other thing – and,
well, what we`ve got left may be not much but that`s just too bad. You`re
out there on your own now.

MADDOW: Do you think that this is not so much a contraception issue
as it is an effort to undermine the health insurance system or at least to
undermine national health reform?

WARREN: Well, I mean, just look at the words. They start off with
religious and then they add any moral objection by the employer or by the
insurance company, which, you know, is pretty broad and then it is for any
kind of coverage for any kind of person.

So, in effect, this is a kind of – the employer designs the health
insurance system or the insurance company does it and of course I`m sure
there`s no employer or health insurance company that would decide they just
have a moral objection to covering expensive things or costly things. But
that`s certainly what this is an open invitation for.

I mean, really when you read the language, it`s just stunning.

MADDOW: There is state level regulation in Massachusetts that is
essentially exactly the same as the position the Obama administration now
holds, which is that contraception must be covered in prescription drug
coverage. There`s an exemption for religiously affiliated employers.

Senator Brown, as a state senator, voted for that in Massachusetts.
That`s a situation that a lot of critics of the Obama administration are
in, including people like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee and a lot of people
who have supported these things in the past but are suddenly offended by
this policy now.

What do you make of that turnaround?

WARREN: You know, look, this is just a cold political calculation
that they can appeal to the employers and the insurance companies who might
not want to spend money, and at the same time try to stir up some kind of
misinformation among people of good faith, religious people, by calling
this an attack on religion.

And, you know, I think this is why people really hate politics. This
isn`t about trying to find a solution. President Obama found a solution.
He found a place where people of conviction were not going to be put in a
position of supporting health care coverage that covered something that
they had a religious objection to. And at the same time making sure
everyone stayed covered, including that women stayed covered for basic
health care services.

There was – there is a solution on the table. This problem is
solved.

But if you really frame the problem as we want red meat politics, then
that`s what the Blunt amendment is about, and that`s what all of this
stirring around and trying to call this an attack on religion and really
trying to slip in something like the Blunt amendment that says how about a
direct attack on what kind of care people may really need.

MADDOW: I have asked Senator Brown to come on this show multiple
times, including today. So far, he never has. I live and hope.

You are very close with him in polls in Massachusetts now. When
you`re campaigning, what are Massachusetts residents telling you is
important to them? Are you hearing from people who are concerned that
there is a religious liberty infringement here, as they might have heard
from Republicans in Washington? What are you hearing are people`s concerns
around the state?

WARREN: You know, I`m all over the state. That`s part of the fun of
doing this. You get out and you`re in Pittsfield and Salem and lots of
different places.

People want to talk about economic issues. That`s what is principally
in front of them. You know, they recognize that the middle class is
getting slammed and they don`t like what Washington is doing.

But this issue has now heated up suddenly around trying to deny women
access to basic health care coverage, and what I`m suddenly seeing is lots
of people are coming, for example, to our Web site, you know,
ElizabethWarren.com and they are saying, wait a minute, I need to pay
attention. There`s an even bigger threat here.

Senator Brown wants to roll back the clock. He wants to go back to a
time when a handful of men decided what kind of access to health care
coverage women were going to get. He wants to roll back to a time when
it`s the employer who gets to pick and choose who is going to have health
care coverage, and what kind of coverage they`re going to have.

And folks around here really don`t like that. And so, there`s a lot
of activity around this just really in the last, you know, 48 hours.

MADDOW: Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Senate candidate for
Massachusetts – thank you so much for your time. It`s always a real
pleasure to have you here.

WARREN: Thank you. It`s always good to talk with you.

MADDOW: Thank you.

All right. For the record, I have asked Senator Brown yet again to be
a guest on this program. So far, he has never taken us up on that offer.
Usually what happens these days when we ask Senator Brown, is just we don`t
get any response at all.

This time, I am at least hoping that we get told no – instead of just
having to infer no from the senator`s stony silence.

I live in Massachusetts, you know? We have stuff to talk about.
You`re my senator.

Forget it. He`ll never do it.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Be afraid. Be very afraid. A very bad lighting.

When you are on television or when you are giving a speech somewhere,
you end up looking a little nutty or at least like you are telling ghost
stories at a campfire if you are lit from below like from your chin or for
you are lit like this, say.

Yes, oops! That`s Rick Santorum speaking in Tacoma, Washington,
earlier this week. He looks like he`s telling ghost stories because this
event was apparently slapped together at the last minute, and there was
nobody around to think about a detail like – will people actually be able
to see Rick Santorum?

The chairman of Washington`s Republican Party in introducing Mr.
Santorum that night took passive aggressive swipes at how disorganized the
Santorum campaign is right now.

(BEGIUN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for coming out here. This was put
together in two days. (INAUDIBLE) called us on Friday and said we have an
event on Monday, can you help us?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Campaigns – most campaigns have people who deal with
logistics part of running a national campaign for presidency. They have
something called advance teams, which go in advance and make sure that
events get run properly. They make sure for example that you can see the
candidate or that there`s a place to go if it starts raining.

Rick Santorum`s campaign doesn`t have that. ABC News reporting this
week on the degree of shoe stringiness of Rick Santorum`s shoestring
operation. Mr. Santorum, for example, has no official headquarters. He
has no pollster. He has no advance staff at all.

And before Monday of this week, three days ago, Rick Santorum had no
press secretary. And this is not a slight against Mr. Santorum. It`s
actually something to be proud of in a way as a lean efficient campaign,
right? Mr. Santorum, even jokes about it on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: We have done this – I would say we`ve done this on
shoestring but that would be insulting shoestrings. We`ve done it the old
fashioned way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: If you are Rick Santorum, this is kind of a point of pride
that you are doing this well with this few resources.

But if you are Mitt Romney, this should bother you. I mean, look at
these numbers. Rick Santorum is beating Mitt Romney in every single
national poll now. And in Michigan, the next big race where Mitt Romney
grew up, where his dad was governor, where he really, really needs a win,
Rick Santorum in the new poll out today by the “Detroit News,” Rick
Santorum is beating Mr. Romney in Michigan.

Now, part of the problem in Michigan maybe that Mr. Romney has
undermined his greatest asset in the state, his sort of home town, sort of
a son of the auto industry thing, with his dad having been both a governor
and car company auto executive there. He may have undermined that asset
with his famous op-ed from 2008. His famous op-ed, “Let Detroit Go
Bankrupt,” in which Mitt Romney that if GM, Ford and Chrysler get bailout
from the federal government, quote, “You can kiss the American automotive
industry goodbye.” Mr. Romney wrote the auto industry`s demise would be
guaranteed by a bailout.

Well, now in another op-ed, this one in “The Detroit News” this week,
Mr. Romney is trying to sort of defend and sort of walk back the whole “Let
Detroit Go Bankrupt” thing. He`s now saying that he still thinks it would
have been right to let the auto industry in America go bankrupt. He also
says that Mr. Obama saving the industry in the short-term actually made
things much worse than they would have been for Detroit.

That was a hard line for Mitt Romney to be toeing a couple lines ago
when he wrote that op-ed. It`s a particularly hard line to be toeing
today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

TV ANCHOR: Full year, General Motors made a record profit, $7.6
billion. In 2011, it made its biggest annual profit in GM`s history, $7.6
billion.

TV ANCHOR: Business is booming for an industry once on life support.

TV ANCHOR: Most profitable year ever in 2011 making $7.6 billion, and
that`s primarily driven by one huge rebound in sales here in North America.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW: Life support seems nice.

So even though things look bad for Mitt Romney in Michigan, we do know
he has a strategy, right, as we discussed on last night`s show – for this
week in terms of ad spending in Michigan, outspending Rick Santorum 29 to
one in Michigan.

Now, the Santorum side today moved that a lot closer, moved that
closer to two to one, with an announcement that the Santorum campaign and
the Santorum zillionaire dark money super PAC would be devoting several
hundred thousand dollars to ad spending in Michigan for Rick Santorum and
against Mitt Romney.

So for now, until there is yet more money spent there, it is no longer
looking like 29 to one in Michigan. It`s at least for now, more like two
to one.

So if you are Mitt Romney, what worries you more? What keeps you up
at night? What makes you up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat in
the dark? Is it the prospect that you might win this nomination and you`ll
be running against President Obama in the general?

I mean, the news on the Democratic side of 2012 politics today was
that today was the deadline for President Obama to make it on the ballot in
Pennsylvania. Did you see this story today? The Obama campaign needed
2,000 signatures to get Mr. Obama on the ballot in Pennsylvania. They
needed 2,000 signatures. They turned in 47,000.

So, is that what wakes you up in the middle of the night if you`re
Mitt Romney, that you might actually get the nomination and have to run
against that? Or is what wakes you up the prospect you might not actually
even get the nomination, because you might lose it to a guy who`s lighting
his speeches under his chin with a flashlight?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: OK. This is a big story. As of last night at 9:00 p.m.
Eastern Time, it looked to us on this show, like the Maine Republican
caucus was in danger of having the results overturned the same way as Iowa
has its results overturned earlier this year.

Remember last month, Mitt Romney was initially declared the winner of
the Iowa caucuses in a very close race where there was no supposedly
provision for a recount. Then just over two weeks later, the Iowa
Republican Party reversed itself and said, oh, sorry, actually, it was Rick
Santorum who won.

Similarly in Maine, this past Saturday night, the chairman of the
Maine Republican Party came out and declared Mitt Romney had won the Maine
caucuses. Like in Iowa, it was a close margin. There were fewer than 200
votes between Mr. Romney and second place finisher, Ron Paul.

Since then, it`s come to light that big swathes of the state of Maine
were not counted in that tally at all. After four days of resisting and
dismissing questions about why entire towns and counties were left out of
the Maine vote when they declared that Mr. Romney had won. Finally today,
the Maine Republican Party has announced that the results of their caucus
are under review. Yes, they are.

So, as of right now, nobody knows who won Maine. Mitt Romney is in
jeopardy of having not just Iowa taken out of his supposed win column this
year, but Maine as well.

In Maine, each county is now re-reporting their results to the state.
That one eastern Maine county that we talked about on last night`s show,
Washington County which postponed caucuses last weekend due to an expected
snowstorm, the state Republican Party says results from that county will
count – will likely at least count toward the state`s total results. They
say they are recommending that this weekend`s caucuses in Washington county
count, which would be a reversal of the state party`s previous position.

And knowing that Ron Paul is fewer than 200 votes behind Mitt Romney
statewide, according to the state Republican Party, and knowing that there
are nearly 7,000 registered Republicans in Washington County, which is
voting this weekend, the Ron Paul campaign, duh, is now organizing its butt
off in Washington County to turn people out for that caucus on Saturday.

Our guest from the “Portland Press Herald” last night said he expects
that Washington County may have turnout this weekend that exceeds the
entire turnout in the whole rest of the state of Maine because now they
know the final results may depend just on them.

But again, the state Republican Party caved today, saying that the
overall results of the Maine caucus are under review and they would like to
include Washington County once they finish voting this weekend.

There are still three big outstanding problems though. First, the
Republican Party of the state says they would like to include the results
from that one county but they`re not saying that they definitely will yet.
That`s still a problem.

Second, the Maine Republican Party is not planning to conduct this
review and announce presumably results until March 10th, which is 3 1/2
weeks from now.

And third, they are still being super dodgy. As we talked about last
night, more than a dozen towns in Waldo County, Maine, held their caucuses
earlier this month, held them in time. They reported their results to the
state party, and then mysteriously, they ended up being recorded as zeros
in the state party`s official tally.

Today, the Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster indicated
that those votes have now been counted but he`s not going to tell what you
they are. He`s refusing to release those numbers to anyone. He said,
quote, “We don`t want anymore drama. I`m not going to restart the fire by
releasing the updated results.”

So, you`re just going to keep the results a secret? I don`t think
that`s going to reduce the drama.

Despite the state chairman saying that to the press today, now it
appears that the secret updated results are going to be released tomorrow.

Now, it should be noted that this is not the Ron Paul campaign asking
for a recount in Maine. The Ron Paul campaign doesn`t really care. They
only care about delegates. Remember, they even say they won Colorado and
Minnesota because they think they got the most delegates there. It doesn`t
matter what the polls said.

The Ron Paul campaign doesn`t necessarily care about poll results at
all. But you know what? The country cares about this stuff, because this
stuff has an effect on the narrative of the race. Coming into Maine, Mitt
Romney lost three state contests including Missouri, which was ridiculous
and didn`t definitely mean anything. But even that one helped shape the
narrative that Mitt Romney was losing, losing and losing again, three in a
row to Rick Santorum.

And after losing three in a row to Rick Santorum, if Mitt Romney lost
the next one in Maine to Ron Paul, that is a national narrative that really
is very important for the presidential race.

Also, had Ron Paul not been contesting Maine hard enough that it was
possible that he might win the state and had there not been fewer than 200
votes between him and Mitt Romney, none of this would be happening in Maine
right now. Now, that said, the Ron Paul campaign although I think they
deserve credit for this being under review now, they don`t help themselves
when they try to make their argument.

Doug Wead, a senior adviser to Mr. Paul appeared on this show on
Tuesday night. He said that Washington County, this county that postponed
their votes and is going to vote this weekend, he said that Washington
County was won by Ron Paul in 2008, and he also said that the fact that
Washington county wasn`t apparently going to be counted this year was a
conspiracy against Ron Paul because Washington was the only county that Mr.
Paul carried in Maine in 2008.

Facts are though that Ron Paul did not win Washington County in 2008.
John McCain won the county.

Doug Wead also said that the caucuses in Washington County had been
postponed in the first place because that county`s Romney supporting
Republican chairman didn`t want the state to tally up Washington County as
a Ron Paul in the state`s results. And so, that`s why they suspended the
caucus and put it off for a week.

That county`s chairman joins us tonight for the interview. He is in
fact a Mitt Romney but he says the decision to delay Washington County`s
vote until this upcoming weekend had absolutely nothing to do with
politics.

Joining us now for the interview is Chris Gardner. He`s the chairman
of the Republican Party in Washington County, Maine.

Mr. Gardner, we`re really happy to have you here. Thank you for
joining us.

CHRIS GARDNER, WASHINGTON COUNTY, MAINE, GOP CHAIRMAN: Thank you for
having me on this evening, Rachel.

MADDOW: First, let me say, congratulations in that it looks like the
state Republican Party is leaning toward counting the results of your
caucus this weekend in the state`s official results. I imagine you must be
happy about that.

GARDNER: Yes, we`re pleased. We – right from the beginning, we were
hopeful and really believed that once all of the facts and circumstances
around this come out, we had the utmost faith that the party was going to
do the right thing. It just took a few days for that process to work
itself out.

MADDOW: When you informed the state party that you and the other
Republican caucus officials in your area had decided to postpone the
caucuses in Washington County because you expected that snowstorm, did you
– did you get any indication from them that the county might not count at
that point?

GARDNER: Well, unfortunately, with that conversation there was a
little bit of confusion. When we called the state party headquarters to
make sure that we kept ourselves, you know, in line with party rules, we
told them that, of course, we were going to choose to postpone and again
that was a group decision by all of the different caucus callers because in
Maine, we don`t caucus by county. We caucus by town. And each and every
town had a choice of go and no go and they all chose to postpone on the
idea of public safety.

And when we put that out to the party, they told us, of course, our
numbers wouldn`t be included in the national reveal obviously. We wouldn`t
have had our vote by that point in time. But unfortunately, it was not
made clear to us that our vote would somehow be left out of the count
entirely.

And once that announcement was made Saturday night, we were immediate
to bring attention to that and the party was receptive from the beginning
to hear us out. And I`m glad that it`s turning out the way that it is.

MADDOW: So, just to be clear, you thought that on Saturday night,
they`d say something right like, I`m making up a number, about 86 percent
of the state has reported and at this point Mitt Romney is in the lead but
these are not conclusive results. We haven`t had full results from the
state. You thought they`d say something like that?

GARDNER: Yes. I mean, that was probably what we were most
anticipating. And we certainly knew that our numbers would not be there.
We had no idea what the rest of the state`s holes were going to be. But we
weren`t anticipating a final call, if you will.

You know, certainly, there may have been enough precincts in there
could have been a projection on behalf of the state. But, you know, we
were surprised to hear the state was calling the total as final.

MADDOW: It is probably not an exaggeration to say that the eyes of
the political world or at least the political country are going to be on
Washington County, Maine, this weekend, which I imagine is boast exciting
and a little nerve-wracking. We had a guest from the “Portland Press
Herald” last night say that the turnout will probably be a lot higher than
it usually would be in Washington County because the county has essentially
been told, if you meet a certain threshold, you can flip the results in the
state. Here`s the threshold you need to meet.

What are you expecting in terms of turnout? And are you guys prepared
for it?

GARDNER: Well, we certainly understand that with all of the attention
that has been surrounding this, that we can probably count on seeing
numbers that perhaps we haven`t seen in the past. But, you know, trying to
make a projection on that right now would probably be foolhardy on our
behalf because we won`t know until the people show up. We have made all of
the allowances that`s possible and reasonable for a small county like ours
to tally the votes.

And, you know, we`re looking forward to a great event. For what it is
for Washington County, you`re absolutely right. For as much of the
narrative is that our votes wouldn`t count, now with this attention, our
votes will count more now than perhaps they ever would have. So, you know,
we`re looking forward to a great event.

MADDOW: Mr. Gardner, I realize that it was a real pain to get to a
camera in order to be on our show tonight.

GARDNER: Understood.

MADDOW: For which I am very grateful you took the time and willing to
talk to us about it. And I got to say, my only advice for this weekend is
pack granola bars in case you are there longer than you think you would be,
and book an overflow room because you guys might be swamped.

Good luck, sir.

GARDNER: Thank you very much.

MADDOW: Thank you.

Chris Gardner, chairman of Washington County, Maine, Republican Party.
I`m telling you, it`s going to be awesome watching that this weekend, to
see how that county reacts to now their critical position on whether or not
Mitt Romney actually won the state of Maine. Amazing.

All right. Reminder that right after our show, on “THE LAST WORD”
tonight, Lawrence is going to be interviewing Foster Friess, the guy who
just hours ago told Andrea Mitchell about the heretofore unknown
prophylactic benefit of aspirin between your knees. Yes.

And here, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey shows off his patented
blend of furious and confused. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: We have some serious breaking news for you tonight. There
has been a shooting at the Glenn M. Anderson Federal Building in Long
Beach, California, this evening. The “Los Angeles Times” is reporting that
two people have been shot, at least one of them fatally. “The Times”
reporting that at least one victim was a federal law enforcement officer,
though it`s not clear from which agency.

This particular federal building houses customs and immigration
agents, among other federal employees. Again, what we know at this hour is
one person dead and one other person shot and wounded at a federal building
in Long Beach, California, this evening. We will be updating this story as
we`re able. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Before last week, six states plus Washington, D.C., allowed
same-sex couples to be legally married. And last week, Washington state
legalized it, too.

Then today, just hours ago, the New Jersey state legislature passed
its same-sex marriage bill by a vote of 42 to 33. The New Jersey bill
already passed the state senate. So, it`s passed both sides of the
legislature. That means the bill is on its way out of the state
legislature, going to the governor`s desk.

Chris Christie, New Jersey`s Republican governor and potential
Republican vice presidential nominee. Now, there`s not much speculation
about what Chris Christie is going to do when the gay marriage bill reaches
his desk. He`s been saying for weeks now that he will veto it immediately.
The governor says he prefers that in New Jersey, civil rights like these be
put up to a popular vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Rather than having stalemate and
deadlock on this issue, which is inevitably where it will lead, if they
pass the legislation and send it to me, because I will not sign it, it will
be vetoed – let`s let the people of New Jersey decide what`s right for the
state. Let`s put the question of same-sex marriage on the ballot this
fall, in the hands of the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Governor Christie then went on to explain why he thinks this
law passed by the legislature should be vetoed by him and put to a
referendum instead. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: The fact of the matter is that I think people would have
been happy to have a referendum, you know, on civil rights rather than
fighting and dying in the streets in the South.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Seriously? I mean, yeah, some people would have been happy
to put African-American civil rights up for a popular vote in the South,
but the people who would have been happy with that were not the people who
were sitting in at the lunch counters, if you know what I mean.

A few days after making that mind-blowingly bad argument to put
minority rights up for a majority vote, which is the antithesis of the
whole idea of rights being enshrined inalienably in our Constitution – a
few days later, Governor Christie tried to explain himself – sort of.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: What I said was, juxtaposed against a civil rights
movement, where there was not an option for them, because the political
climate in the South in that period of time would not have permitted a
referendum to have any chance of passage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Governor Christie is generally credited with being a smart
guy. He never did make any sense of this. Maybe what he meant to say was
that in the civil rights area, a referendum on black civil rights never
would have passed by popular vote, and it was, therefore, right and just
and appropriate that those rights had to be guaranteed through the courts
and legislative process instead. If that`s what he meant to say and it
just came out wrong, OK.

But whatever Chris Christie meant to say about civil rights, what he
has decided to do today in New Jersey is to veto a civil rights bill passed
by the legislature and to put it up for a majority vote instead. Rights be
damned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: As we continue to watch for further details on that shooting
at the federal building in Long Beach, California, tonight, we have yet
further breaking news this hour of a very different kind. But it is also
very bad news.

The intrepid and eloquent “New York Times” reporter Anthony Shadid has
died today, unexpectedly. Mr. Shadid was a correspondent for “The Times.”
He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for his work on the American
invasion of Iraq and the subsequent occupation. He won another Pulitzer in
2010 for his Iraq reporting.

Anthony Shadid had been reporting for “The Times” in eastern Syria
today when he died, unexpectedly, apparently of an asthma attack. He
reported brilliantly across the Middle East for nearly two decades for both
“The Times” and for “The Washington Post.” He`s an American of Lebanese
descent. He was fluent in Arabic.

Apparently, he was carried out of Syria today, bodily carried out of
is Syria and into Turkey by “New York Times” photographer, Tyler Hicks, who
was reporting with him in Syria. Other details and the exact location of
his passing are not yet known. Mr. Shadid is survived by his wife and his
two children. He was just 43 years old.

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell. Good
night.

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

Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>