The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/05/12
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: We do play the Davy Crockett every
now and then. That song, you know?
Rachel Maddow, her show starts right now. Rachel, good evening.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: You know, Ed, I know you got the same briefing
that I did when we got these jobs, which was never a funny hat on
SCHULTZ: Yes, that`s OK.
MADDOW: I`m really glad –
SCHULTZ: This proves that New York has everything.
MADDOW: Seriously, you can get that on 15 minutes notice in Queens.
SCHULTZ: There you go.
MADDOW: Thanks, Ed. Thanks, man.
Thanks for staying with us for the next hour.
It is Super Tuesday eve. It`s very exciting. My stocking is hung by
the chimney with care.
It is a very exciting night, the night before Super Tuesday. We`re
already getting news about where to expect the various presidential
campaigns to be tomorrow night. Where a candidate is physically located on
a big election night can sometimes tell you all you need to know where the
campaign thinks they stand in the race.
So, for example, on the night of the Florida primary, while Mitt
Romney and Newt Gingrich were both watching the returns come in from the
state of Florida, where was Ron Paul? He was already campaigning out in
Nevada, because Nevada is a caucus state, Ron Paul has a caucus state
strategy. So, even though it was Florida`s night, him being in Nevada that
night made some sense.
On the night of the voting contest in Colorado, Minnesota and
Missouri, where was Mitt Romney? He was in Colorado. Now, that turned out
to be awkward because him being in Colorado meant that he expected to win
in Colorado and he did not win in Colorado.
And then there was also the matter of him not being able to fill the
room he was in in Colorado.
On the night of Michigan and Arizona while Mitt Romney and Rick
Santorum were both in Michigan awaiting those results, where was Newt
Gingrich? He was in Georgia. Newt Gingrich knowing that he would frankly
tank in Michigan and Arizona, and knowing also that he desperately needs to
win his home state of Georgia in order to make a credible case for staying
in the race.
So, where you are on an election night speaks volumes about your
campaign strategy and expectations.
And tomorrow night, on Super Tuesday, Rick Santorum will watch the
returns come in the Super Tuesday returns – he will be watching those
returns come in from a place called Steubenville, Ohio.
Steubenville, Ohio, is out on the eastern edge of Ohio, out by Rick
Santorum`s home state of Pennsylvania.
And Mr. Santorum being in Steubenville tomorrow night is an
interesting choice. It`s interesting because even if Rick Santorum wins
the state of Ohio tomorrow, Rick Santorum likely cannot win any of
Steubenville`s Ohio available delegates, that`s because Steubenville is one
of three Ohio districts where the Santorum campaign failed to submit the
necessary paperwork to be eligible to win any delegates if Mr. Santorum
does well there. Oops.
In addition to those three districts, there are six other districts in
Ohio where the Santorum campaign has only submitted partial paperwork.
That all means of the 63 delegates that are up for grabs tomorrow night in
Ohio, more than a quarter are unwinnable for Rick Santorum even if he does
great in the state.
Mr. Santorum has the same problem tomorrow in Tennessee, where he
currently has a completely empty slate of delegates. He also had this
problem in New Hampshire.
And looking ahead, Mr. Santorum will have the same problem in
Illinois, where his campaign has failed to submit the required amount of
delegates in four of that state`s congressional districts.
Frankly, Rick Santorum`s campaign is lucky that Mr. Santorum is even
on the ballot at all in the state of Indiana. They had to contest the
findings of the largest county in Indiana because that county had initially
said he had not turned in enough signatures to get on the ballot there.
The Rick Santorum campaign is a mess. The Rick Santorum campaign is
like a Formula 1 race, and everybody is in a Formula 1 car. Rick Santorum
is in a pinewood derby car.
I mean, whatever you think about him as a candidate, his campaign
cannot seem to put its pants on one leg at a time. They can`t do the basic
stuff of running for president. The stuff that has nothing to do with
whether or not you were popular, whether or not you have a lot of money,
just means that you`re together enough to do the logistical paperwork, they
have not been able to do that.
Frankly that makes it more amazing that Mitt Romney is having a hard
time beating this guy.
But in the Republican nominating process, Rick Santorum being a mess
of a campaign has sort of been the least messy of all their messes. In a
normal year, with a normal political party running these things, the big
deal state tomorrow would be Virginia. All eyes would be on Virginia.
But the Republicans – and this is just the Republicans, it`s them as
a party, them making their own rules and their own decisions, has nothing
to do with Democrats, nothing to do with the state, Republicans only in the
state of Virginia managed to organize a presidential primary this year in
which only two candidates qualified to be on the ballot.
So, in Virginia tomorrow – yes, there are 46 delegates at stake. But
who cares, nobody is contesting it because they can only go to Mitt Romney
or Ron Paul, thanks to the Republican Party screwing up the ballot process
so badly there.
Out of the 13 states that have voted so far, seven of the states had
huge screw-ups in the way they ran their races. And that`s before we have
the huge screw-up in Virginia to expect tomorrow.
Watching the Republicans trying to pick the nominee is like a drunk
trying to get their key in the door. I mean, in Iowa, it was Mitt Romney,
no – I don`t know who won, it was a tie, no, I mean it was Rick Santorum -
- Mitt Romney, Santorum, OK, let`s say Santorum won.
Was it Santorum? It was two weeks ago. I can`t even remember. I
In Florida, Mitt Romney won, he did win, but the state Republican
Party said they wanted their delegates to be winner take all. It turns out
they are not allowed to be winner take all for their delegates. So, now,
Newt Gingrich is contesting Florida`s delegate. He`s trying to get half
Florida`s delegates since he won half the state. Nobody knows at this
point what the outcome of Florida is going to be.
In Nevada, we didn`t know the results for two days after the caucuses
there. And remember in Nevada, the Republicans had caucuses for the whole
state and then they had a whole extra caucus later on after all the other
ones were done. Extra caucus at the Sheldon Adelson school.
In Missouri, part of the reason nobody can say how many states have
voted or how many delegates have been allocated is because Missouri held a
wholly election had no meaning at all. The Missouri primary on February
7th was required by state law which Republicans in Missouri could never
figure out how to change. And so, they held the state law required primary
and it had a Missouri result, but they`re going to pretend that result
didn`t happen. And they`re going to hold a caucus and say that one will
count. And I`m sure that will go smoothly, right?
In Maine, the state Republican chairman declared a final result before
whole swaths of the state had even voted. First, he said those parts of
the state wouldn`t count at all. Then he said, OK, maybe they will count
but it won`t change the results.
In Michigan everybody thought the suspense was going to be over
whether or not Mitt Romney could win in the home state. But it turns out
the suspense in Michigan is whether or not the state Republican Party can
figure out who wins the state`s delegates.
The rules the Michigan Republican Party announced before the voting
essentially said those Michigan results like they had there last Tuesday
would give 15 delegates each to Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. But then
after the results came in, the state Republican Party said, no, no, no.
You misunderstood. Actually we think we`ll give more delegates to Mitt
Romney than we will to Rick Santorum. We know we put out those other rules
but shut up.
That`s why three lonely “We love Rick Santorum” protesters turned out
in Lansing, Michigan, today, to protest the delegate allocation at the
Republican Party state headquarters.
The Santorum campaign is now asking the national Republican Party to
step in and investigate the whole Michigan delegate mess.
In Washington state, which voted this past weekend, Republican Party
officials there in inexplicably locked 1,500 people out in the cold, out of
the caucuses. It happened in Benton County, Washington. Republican
officials first tried to say that all of these people who got locked out of
the caucuses should have been locked out because they turned up late.
Those officials have since apologized to the 1,500 or so voters who were
locked out in the cold. State Republican officials admitting they just
weren`t prepared for them to show up.
But in any case, they`re just going to count the Washington result,
this is the locked out people as being a result for Mitt Romney.
And Mitt Romney did win the Washington caucuses by some distance. But
if you care about who got second place, second place was actually really
close between Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. So, 1,500 people turning out for
the Republican caucuses, and getting locked out in the cold for no reason
might absolutely have made a difference in Washington. But, you`ll never
know, this is how Republicans run things. Sometimes, you get locked and
sometimes you don`t get your vote counted. Good luck.
And, now, of course, tomorrow is Super Tuesday, which should be super
interesting – if not for the eventual results, then at least for the laugh
out loud disasters that Republican Party officials have made at each
subsequent state contest this year.
Now, I don`t know if it has anything to do with the fact the states
have been screwed up and so many of the results have been in question and a
lot of these places nobody really knows who won or whether it meant
anything they did win.
But the biggest Republican organizational problem with their
nominating process this year may not be what`s happened state-by-state,
their inability to get candidates on the ballot, or to let people vote or
to count those votes, or to decide what those votes mean.
The big picture organizational problem may not just be the individual
failure in all these successive states. It may be the big over-aching
problem that the Republicans designed their primary contest this year so
that it basically goes on forever.
Why is it called Super Tuesday? Super Tuesday got the name super in
part because it`s a lot of states voting. Super.
But also because Super Tuesday is supposed to be so many states, so
many delegates, that it is one day that can decide the race. It`s the day
when somebody can clinch the nomination. That`s the way it usually works.
Not this year, though, not for Republicans.
This year, no matter what happens tomorrow night, still nobody
clinches the nomination. As long as somebody has got an eccentric
billionaire writing them checks, the race goes on, even after tomorrow, no
matter what happens. Seriously.
Even the Republicans said they were inspired by the Obama versus
Clinton long primary in which got Democrats very excited and very enthused
about their party and voting in November, the Republican contest this year
is not having an Obama versus Clinton kind of effect on the Republican
Check this out, in a new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll that came
out today, the number of adults who say the Republican nominating process
has given them a less favorable impression of the Republican Party is four
in 10. The number of adults who say the GOP nominating process has given
them more favorable opinion of the Republican Party, is just above one in
10. That is not good for the Republican Party.
The longer this thing goes on, the more people hate Republicans.
Now, this next part from the poll I`m just going to read this verbatim
because if I don`t read it directly, you`re going to think I`m talking
smack. So, let me just read this.
“When asked to describe the GOP nominating battle in a word or phrase,
nearly 70 percent of respondents, including six in 10 independents and even
more than half of Republicans answered with a negative comment. Some
examples of these negative comments from Republicans” – these are just
Republicans, self identified Republicans.
Here are the words Republicans are using to describe the Republican
contest. Ready? Unenthusiastic, discouraged, lesser of two evils,
painful, disappointed, poor choices, concerned, underwhelmed, uninspiring,
and depressed – so say the Republicans.
Right now, Gallup says the favorability rating for the Republican
Party`s likely nominee, Mitt Romney, is 39 percent. At this point in the
race in 2008, John McCain was at 56 percent. At this point in the race in
2000, George W. Bush was at 58 percent. Even poor little Bob Dole at this
point in 1996 was at 49 percent, and that was worrying everyone. Mitt
Romney`s 10 points below that.
If you like Republicans screw stuff up, this long drawn out process of
them trying to choose their nominee this year has been fun to watch.
But has this been more than just a comedy of errors for the
Republicans? Is there a way that Republicans could turn this primary
process and mess it has been this year to their advantage for the general
Joining us now is Steve Kornacki, senior writer with Salon.com.
Steve, thanks for being here. It`s nice to see you.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Sure, you too.
MADDOW: Is there any way for the Republicans to turn what I think has
been a long, drawn out primary mess to their advantage? Is there a way
this works for them?
KORNACKI: Well, I guess the good news that comes out of this at least
looking like right now, is the Republican nominee is not going to be named
Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul or Rick Perry.
KORNACKI: They`re going to get probably their most electable or maybe
least unelectable option, so that helps.
The other thing to look at is, you know, Bill Clinton went through a
meat grinder of a process on the Democratic side back in 1992, the year he
got elected president. His comment coming out of that process, when his
poll numbers were really low, probably about as low as Mitt Romney`s are
right now, is that no one can run for national office in this country and
actually gain votes going through a presidential primary process.
Now, again, his process was particularly damaging, you look at more
recent ones. It wasn`t nearly as bad for them as it was Clinton, as it was
for Romney. But I think the Clinton example really looms large as we look
ahead to the fall, because there were a lot of reasons Bill Clinton turned
that around, but the biggest was the economy.
It was bad early in `92 and it got worse as the year progressed, and I
think that gave him an opportunity to kind of hit the reset button of
spring and summer of that year, and people gave him a fresh look, his
favorability numbers really jumped that summer and into that fall.
MADDOW: I went through all the NBC/ “Wall Street Journal”
favorability numbers, over a long period of time, to sort of crunching
those numbers, seeing if there are patterns. And over the past year, we`ve
seen Mitt Romney`s favorability – sorry, with Mitt Romney`s favorability
numbers, the number of people who don`t have an opinion has dropped by
about 15 percent. And the number of people with an unfavorable opinion of
him has gone up by about 15 percent.
Is that inevitable? Is that case that Bill Clinton was making
inevitable, that as people get to know you, a pretty good proportion of
them are going to get to know you because they don`t like you?
KORNACKI: I mean, that`s part of it. But I think part of problem
here for Romney is the sort of the basic unspoken proposition of the Romney
candidacy for Republicans at the outset of this process was, hey, the
economy is in terrible shape, people want to blame Obama, we just need to
put somebody up who`s harmless enough, who sort of the – you know, a blank
slate and people will vote for him because, hey, he`s competent enough.
That`s basically the thing about Romney. The pitch is not that he has
a great personality, he`s got a great plan. It`s just he`ll be good enough
And the problem is two things have happened, one is that the economy
in the last five, six months has really started to sort of show some signs
of life. So, that`s hurt the Republicans. But the second part is, the
Republican brand itself, because of the Tea Party, because of Republicans
how they handled congressional majority, because of the actions of
Republican governors in some major states around the country, because of
the birth control, the social stuff we`ve seen for the last month, the
Republican label right now is really in as bad shape as it`s been since the
Clinton impeachment in the late 1990s.
This is a profoundly unpopular party right now. So, if you sort of
have this sort of, I don`t know, blank empty vehicle like Mitt Romney, that
gets attached to him. It gets attached to him more than it would a guy
like Clinton who had a lot of personality.
Clinton did not have to deal with the brand poisoning that I think
Romney has to deal with.
MADDOW: And is that also inevitable that we`re seeing the generic
idea of the Republican Party get less and less attractive to the country as
the primary goes on? Is there a way to have the primary not necessarily in
the way that makes you love everybody who`s in it, but that makes you like
the party? Didn`t that happen with Democrats in `08?
KORNACKI: Right. That`s the thing. I think this process is sort of
exposed in a way what the Republican Party has become and sort of who makes
up the Republican Party. And it`s forced Romney to move so far to the
right on so many issues. It`s given him no room to sort of come back to
I don`t even know if he`s going to be able to do that the way a normal
nominee would in the fall campaign because again, this base is really
holding the feet to the fire, in a way we haven`t seen before.
MADDOW: I will say that A, I think that is true, and B, the specific
issue how he fumbled the Rush Limbaugh birth control apology stuff is the
subject of our next segment.
So, thank you very much. Steve Kornacki, senior writer with
Salon.com, thanks a lot.
MADDOW: We`ve got that coming up.
Plus, Lilly Ledbetter is here for the interview tonight. Stay with
MADDOW: The conservative magazine called “The National Review” today
posted online an interview with the guy who people used to think might be
the vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party this year. Not many
people think that about him anymore.
And in this new interview, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell complains
about the reasons why. Asked about the overrule your doctor state-mandated
ultrasound bill that Governor McDonnell says he will sign and which will
forever change the initials V.P. next to his name from vice president to
vaginal probe. Governor McDonnell complains in this interview that this
frankly is just getting too much attention. He blames the press saying if
you read the papers, you have no idea what`s going on.
He also says the idea he focused on divisive social issues is, quote,
These protest scenes that we`re showing here are from the state
capital in Virginia this weekend where a crowd estimated at 850 people
turned out to protest governor ultrasound and this new bill he still says
he will sign.
And yes, those are police in SWAT-team style riot gear on the scene as
these protesters are arrested.
Anybody could understand why Governor McDonnell would no longer want
to be associated with the forced ultrasound cause that he has so long
supported. Now, that it`s getting attention and it turns out it`s really,
really unpopular, especially in his home state.
But if you want to put something like this behind you, you have to do
more than tell people to stop caring about it.
Governor, this is your agenda, people care, Virginians seem to be mad
about it. This is your legacy even if you don`t want it to be your legacy.
Like Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, radio talk show host Rush
Limbaugh is also having trouble getting away from people`s outrage against
him. He`s failure to escape that outrage is, in fact, now bringing some of
it down on presidential candidate Mitt Romney. And that story is next.
MADDOW: I was late to work today. And it was because I had a really
nice lunch. I had a nice lunch with this guy. That`s me and conservative
columnist Cal Thomas, who I met today in person for the first time. We had
a really nice lunch. I feel OK talking about this publicly because Mr.
Thomas wrote a column about the fact we were going to do this, so everybody
who cares about us having lunch knows about it already.
The reason we met today is because Mr. Thomas made a comment about me
at CPAC this year, an insulting comment and he felt bad once he said it.
He called me the following morning and he apologized to me. His apology
was really contrite and really kind. He then went a step further and wrote
about it publicly, apologizing again in print in an unqualified totally
He said, quote, “I had embarrassed myself and was a bad example to
those who read my column and expect better from me.”
An apology like that is a really easy to accept. I mean, if you
believe people screw up and that apologizing is the right way to deal with
the screw-up, then it`s very simple. When you are confronted with a
sincere uncomplicated apology, it is the easiest thing in the world to
A good apology, a real apology essentially erases the mistake. I
mean, you don`t forget it happened, but you really do forgive it. It`s not
hard, you move on, you learn from the experience. And you sometimes get a
nice lunch with a big tall conservative guy who turns out to be very nice
and very funny.
Anyway, a sincere apology I have always felt is like magic. It really
does make bad things go away. That said, an insincere apology or bad
apology does not work the same kind of magic – which is why conservative
radio host Rush Limbaugh is still in the news today, still losing major
advertisers – at least nine at last count.
And, today, for the first time, losing radio stations that carried his
program. “The Huffington Post” reporting tonight on two radio stations
announcing plans to drop Mr. Limbaugh`s program. And he`s now facing the
possibility that he could be dropped from Armed Forces Radio, which is a
really important place to be if you are in political talk radio.
All this is part of the continuing fallout from Mr. Limbaugh attacking
a Georgetown University law student as a slut and a prostitute and somebody
who ought to put her sex tapes on line – someone who advocate forward
insurance coverage for contraception because she was a morally despicable
person and a shame to her family.
Mr. Limbaugh made those attacks over three days during his show last
week. Then, over the weekend, he issued a statement which had the word
apologize in it but which also said that he was just trying to make a joke
and that people were wrong to care about what he said in the first place,
and that it wasn`t meant as a personal attack, and he said that his overall
argument, frankly, was still true.
Mr. Limbaugh then went back on the radio again today and said that the
only reason he attacked this lawsuit in the first place is because he was
possessed by the left, that the values of the American left wing made him
say these awful things. And furthermore, the only thing he really
apologized for were two specific words, the words slut and prostitute,
words that he used against the law student, he presumably meant all the
rest of it.
When you apologize like that, there is no magic. Nothing gets better.
And so, the pressure is continuing today on Mr. Limbaugh`s remaining
advertisers. And now that the first two stations have dropped his program,
expect further pressure on other stations around the country, particularly
where he is not very well-rated, to drop his program as well.
Beyond Mr. Limbaugh`s profit margin, however, it seems that the
biggest political impact of his failed attempt at a sort of apology may be
on the Republican presidential race. Here was how Mitt Romney answered
when he was asked on Friday about Mr. Limbaugh`s comments.
Remember, this was before Rush Limbaugh apologized, sort of, about
what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ll just say this, which is
it`s not the language I would have used.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s not the language he would have used? Like he wouldn`t
have said slut or prostitute, but other than that you were cool with it?
Mitt Romney is giving the same caliber of apology for Rush Limbaugh
that Rush Limbaugh did. And remember, what Rush Limbaugh said, among other
things, that this young woman was a slut and prostitute who couldn`t afford
contraception because she had too much sex, because in Rush Limbaugh`s
mind, the more sex you have, the more birth control pills you must take or
The only problem Mitt Romney has with all that is that he wouldn`t
have used that specific language but the rest of it is OK?
This started off as a Rush Limbaugh problem. Still is a Rush Limbaugh
problem, it`s not getting any better for him.
But it is now also a Mitt Romney for president problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rush Limbaugh, who is obviously a prominent radio
personality, does he have some power within the Republican Party?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Sure, absolutely. He has influence
because he has a strong conservative base. I know that. But those
statements were unacceptable, in every way, and should be condemned by
everyone no matter what their political leanings are.
GEORGE WILL, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: It`s the responsibility of the
conservatives to police the right and its excesses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the problem is the Republican leaders,
Mitt Romney and other candidates don`t have the courage to say what they
say in quiet, which they think Rush Limbaugh is a buffoon.
WILL: The Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want
to bomb Iran but they`re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. If I were Mitt Romney I would stand up and
say, we need to change the political discourse in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Connie Schultz. She`s a Pulitzer Prize-
winning syndicated columnist for “Creators Syndicate”.
Connie Schultz, it`s great to see you. Thanks for joining us tonight.
CONNIE SCHULTZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It`s wonderful to be here,
MADDOW: Am I being too harsh on Mr. Romney, along with those
conservative and independent pundits, that you saw there? These weren`t
his comments in the first place. They were Rush Limbaugh`s comments. But
did Mr. Romney have to be more forceful here than saying that Rush Limbaugh
used words he wouldn`t have used?
SCHULTZ: Let me rescue you from this worry you`re being too harsh. I
am – you know, when I – I watched Ms. Fluke`s testimony live. And we
have – our oldest daughter is exactly her age, just almost exactly and she
is in law school. And we have three other young women, two daughters and a
daughter-in-law, mother of our only grandchild, all of reproductive age.
Rush Limbaugh does not understand what he unleashed when he said those
words because, you know what? He went after my girls. He went after the
girls of mothers all across this country regardless of their politics. And
that is what he has completely underestimated – as have these candidates.
What is the down side to saying you don`t ask women, young women to
post video, he asked for video, Rachel, of this young woman. He called her
a slut because she wanted to be responsible about birth control. They have
no idea yet it seems to me, what`s been unleashed but they are about to
find out. There is no going back on this one.
And that was not an apology. I do not understand why – you know, you
talked about Cal Thomas. What a class act thing to do. By the way, we`re
very happy you were born. And I was so upset when I heard he said that,
but he apologize and as you said sincerely.
Rush Limbaugh has not apologized as far as I`m concerned, and he does
not – he has so, so misunderstood how parents, mothers and fathers feel
about this, not to mention all the young women who are so smart, who are so
brave, who are not going to take this.
MADDOW: Connie, you`re getting at something I think has been hard to
articulate in all of this, which is that this isn`t your standard political
or even ad hominem insult. There is the fact that he used word slut and
prostitute, that he used these gendered terms against a young woman
speaking out on an issue of sexual health, and that has – the way you`re
described it, it`s unleashing something. It`s landed in a different way
than a typical insult would, even in a typical slander would.
And why do you think that resonates among women in that way
SCHULTZ: Well, I can tell you why it resonates for women of my
generation, we remember hearing these sort of things when we were first
fighting for this right. I remember hearing this in the 70s. We were
hearing this if we dared not to wear bras to the classroom in college.
And what we never guessed after all these years, after all this
progress, that we would be back to this and that he would be going – and I
can`t emphasis this strongly enough, Rush Limbaugh, you went after my girls
when you said that. You went after my beloved daughters, when you said
that, and you have crossed a line that you cannot recross.
And what I`m concerned about now, Rachel, is that especially the young
women that we`re seeing stepping up – I would say to them directly to you
young women, this is your fight now. We – and what I would say to my
generation of women, we need to support them but we need to get out of the
way for them to own this because it`s your fight now.
It is my daughters fight and it is your generation, Rachel, I`m enough
older than you, I`m 54 years old. I got a lot of energy on this, but I
don`t have the same stake in this that these young women do. And I am so
impressed with how vocal they have become, how outspoken and how they will
not stand down and I can`t tell you how that has inspired this 54-year-old
mother in Ohio.
MADDOW: You know, you are in Ohio, I should mention here as an issue
– as a matter of full disclosure also it`s relevant your husband is
Sherrod Brown, U.S. senator from Ohio. And Ohio`s politics – I mean,
heading in Super Tuesday, Ohio state-based politics have been very much hit
by this Republican tide of sharply anti-abortion legislation, Ohio has had
a raft of different anti-abortion measures, including a lot of them similar
to the ones that have really got people protesting very angry across the
Do you think that has changed the way that women will be voting? Do
you think it`s changed the way people are thinking about electoral
SCHULTZ: I do. And I`ll tell you one of the reasons that I think –
I have been at a number of Planned Parenthood rallies or speeches in the
last few months in Ohio, and I have been attending these for years. I have
always pro-choice, and you mention my husband. You know, I looked up his
record on choice and on gay rights before I even go out with him. So, he
had to be where I need him to be.
The difference in Ohio now is the rooms are packed with young women.
The rallies are packed with young women. I remember the rally I went to in
Cleveland in September, hundreds of young women in pink tee shirts, that`s
what`s changed. And if that`s going on in the state of Ohio, you really
are talking about a major shift that young women are starting to understand
and embrace this as their cause.
And I`ll tell you, they`ve got a lot of energy. And as I said
earlier, I`m inspired by what they are doing here and I`m quite heartened
MADDOW: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist,
Creators Syndicate – Connie, it`s always a real pleasure to have you here.
Thank you for joining us.
SCHULTZ: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I will say – I remember terms of what Connie is talking
about how this is surfacing, being in New Hampshire right before the New
Hampshire primary this year, seeing hillsides covered with campaign signs
for all the different candidates and in every intersection, as soon as you
got –especially if you got near Manchester, were signs for people saying
they stand with Planned Parenthood. Right there among all the candidates.
What she is talking about is real.
All right. The interview is Lilly Ledbetter, which is awesome. I`m
so looking forward to that. Stay tuned.
MADDOW: It is Super Tuesday eve. And although there is no fight on
the Democratic side this year, like there is on the Republican side this
year, it turns out there is plenty of fight on the Democratic side this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Change is health care
reform that we passed after a century of trying. Change is the fight we
want to stop handing $60 billion in taxpayer subsidies to banks, to process
student loans, and give that money directly to students and families who
Change is the fact for the first time in history you don`t have to
hide who you love to serve the country you love because we got rid of
“don`t ask, don`t tell”. Change is another promise I made in 2008 for the
first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq, we put
that war to an end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama speaking at a fund-raiser in New York City a
few days ago.
Other items the president reminded the crowd, he has checked off his
to-do list – saving the auto industry, raising fuel efficiency standard,
moving Osama bin Laden from the alive category into the dead as a doornail
But the very first accomplishment the resident has been touting on the
campaign trial is the very first piece of legislation that he signed as
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Change is the first bill I signed into law. Pretty simple
law, it says women deserve an equal days pay for an equal day`s work
because we want –
OBAMA: Because I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That bill was called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The
president signed that bill on January 29th, 2009, the first law he signed
That`s Ms. Ledbetter walking with the president there on that day.
Let`s say you find out on the job that you`re being paid less than
your male coworker and you have reason to believe that your lesser pay is
because you are a woman. It`s discrimination. Under the Civil Rights Act
of 1964, you got 180 days, six months from the discriminatory act to file a
What is a discriminatory act? Well, every discriminatory paycheck you
get. But in 2007, the John Roberts-led Supreme Court says it doesn`t start
ticking with the last paycheck you got, but with the first discriminatory
paycheck you got, even if you had no idea that you were being discriminated
against. And how would you know since most of us don`t have any idea what
our coworkers make.
That ruling effectively made it impossible to sue for being paid less
because of your sex. The anti-discrimination law was still on the books,
but that ruling by the Roberts court made the law effectively
unenforceable. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was so incensed with that 5-4
ruling that she took the very rare step of reading her dissent to the
ruling out loud from the bench.
And the woman whose case was the subject of that ruling, after that
ruling she got to work. She is Lilly Ledbetter. She had worked at
Goodyear for nearly 20 years before she discovered she was being paid 40
percent less than men who were doing exactly the same work.
When she lost that case at the Supreme Court, she kept working. She
took her case to Congress and in Congress, she won.
And being able to put his signature to that win is one of the things
that president has been bragging on ever since he did it, and getting big
applause every time he does so.
Joining us tonight for “The Interview” is Lilly Ledbetter. She has a
new book out about how this all happened. It`s called “Grace and Grit: My
Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond.”
Ms. Ledbetter, thank you so much for being here.
LILLY LEDBETTER, AUTHOR, “GRACE AND GRIT”: Thank you. Thank you.
MADDOW: Did explain that right?
LEDBETTER: You did. You did a wonderful job. Wonderful job. You
sized the situation up, exactly right.
And the president takes a lot of credit for signing that bill and it
was so historical, because it put women and their families back out front.
It gives them the right when they find out that they are being mistreated
in their pay, then they can file the charge the same as I had done.
MADDOW: So it essentially reinstates what the Supreme Court undid
with that ruling against you.
MADDOW: You were working at Goodyear for 19 years when you found out
you were being paid thousands of dollars less every year than your male
colleagues who are doing the exact same job. Can you – you write about
this beautifully in the book – but can you just explain how you found out
that 19 years into it that you were being paid less?
LEDBETTER: Someone left me an anonymous note, tipping me off that me
and my counterparts, the four of us had the same job, we had been paid
drastically different. Mine was 40 percent less than theirs, just the base
pay. And that meant my overtime pay was not correct, not what I was
entitled to legally under the law. And that also affected my retirement,
my contributory retirement, 401(k) and today, my Social Security as well.
And that`s why I`m so passionate about the book and telling the story,
and what I do today because this is detrimental to our American families
and is putting this country drastically behind.
MADDOW: By the time you figured out and again because of an anonymous
tip, did you ever find out who gave you the tip?
LEDBETTER: No, I did not. Some Good Samaritan though, because had I
not gotten that tip, I would have retired and gone on in my retirement
never knowing how I had been mistreated.
MADDOW: Over the course of your career at Goodyear, do you know how
much money that added up to in terms of the disparity between you and the
LEDBETTER: No, but it`s a drastic a lot of money.
LEDBETTER: It`s been estimated it`s over $250,000 but it`s much
greater than that.
MADDOW: I don`t – I don`t mean to be presumptuous by reading to you
from your own book, but I just – I wanted to ask you about this when I
read it. You right after you talk about getting that anonymous tip, you
write about going in the ladies rest room, and thinking about it.
“I stood frozen finally raising my eyes to the ceiling,” you`ve just
been stung by what you learned. Then you say, “After a few minutes, I knew
I had to get it together or I would be late. That is when I felt the
shame, the haunting humiliation deep in my bones, as the numbers kept
looping through my mind, I couldn`t shake the realization of how stupid I
had been to try so hard and to think it would pay off. I want so badly to
win approval and I had so in the eyes of most of my co-workers who valued
my hard work and loyalty and who gave it back to me.”
Why shame and humiliation, why did you feel those things?
LEDBETTER: Because the amount of pay and our job is basically how we
identify ourselves. And that was sort of accomplishment in my life I had
worked so hard to stand along beside the men and to be able to do
everything they did, and never tried, never to make a mistake, and to do
work harder and smarter than my male counterparts.
And I had been given a top performance award in 196. I have been
chosen as one of the four managers to start up a (INAUDIBLE) division, they
hand picked those four managers. That was quite an honor for me.
And to then find out that I`m being paid so much less than the other
men, I couldn`t believe it.
MADDOW: Yes. The way you describe that in terms of it sort of
sucking it out of you is an emotional thing. I just – I wonder whether we
talk on the show and all of us in this business talk all the time what
government can and can`t do, you obviously went through that humiliating
experience having been done wrong and you had to fight for a very long time
in order to get redress from the government.
I wonder if you left this by feeling like feeling like it`s hard to
get things done through institutions in the United States or if this
restored your faith in what government can do when people work at it?
LEDBETTER: It restored my faith, because one person can make a
difference but not without the help of a lot of other people that are
committed to the same cause, because I had such an outpouring across this
nation, one headline read “She Struck a Nerve” and I did. It really did.
It struck a nerve with the men.
The men understand this, because it takes two people in most
households today to hold on to the middle class status. And the president,
he understood this. And a lot of people in Congress, they understand it.
And this bill was sponsored and co-sponsored by Republicans and
Democrats. It didn`t belong to either party. It`s a fundamental American
right that people are compensated fairly.
MADDOW: Well, because you fought for it we all benefit.
LEDBETTER: Well, I think it will help in the future and now we`re
trying to make a lot more changes. And I`m still out there fighting and
trying to educate young people, because when you start out behind, a young
person can never catch up because raises are based on percentage of what
LEDBETTER: So, I encourage young people in colleges to be sure they
start out with a pay that they are deservingly and rightfully entitled to.
MADDOW: Lilly Ledbetter, the book is “Grace and Grit: My Fight for
Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond” – I will say that I learned
a lot about your case, I learned a lot about the political process, and I
learned way more than anybody has a right to know about Possum Trot,
Alabama, in the way you started in this world.
It`s great book. And thank you for your activism. Thanks for coming
LEDBETTER: Thank you so much for having me, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: Nice to meet you, ma`am. Thank you.
All right. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: That old Beach Boys song, “Barbara Ann” – you know, bomb,
bomb, bomb anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One of the reasons it`s actually worth it, it`s not just
indulgent and fun to follow political campaigns so closely in elections
season, it`s because candidates for office are not just asking you to vote
for them based on their ideas and how bad the other guy is. Candidates for
office and the way they run are also modeling what they might be like in
office if they are elected.
So, the no drama Obama candidacy foreshadowed what has mostly been a
no drama Obama White House.
The from the gut bomb Iran candidacy was John McCain`s advance notice
to the country that when Russia and Georgia were in an arm tiff, he`d try
to get us in on something like that, he tried to get us involved in a war
with Russia. Yes, that Russia.
Even now, today, as just a senator, John McCain is calling for yet
another war in the Middle East. Today, John McCain said we should bomb,
bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Syria.
So covering seemingly stupid stuff on the John McCain campaign trail
in 2008 like him singing “Bomb Iran” to a tune of a Beach Boy song, that
ended up being useful information about what he would be like as a
president, since we now know that there`s been no recent war suggested to
him that he did not want to jump right into. Running for office can tell
us important things about what a person might be like in office.
But there`s one national office in which Republicans around just
running, they`re in power. In the House, where Republican John Boehner is
speaker and Eric Cantor as majority leader. How are Republicans doing at
running the one branch of elected government they are in charge of?
Well, as speaker, John Boehner has had some trouble, everything from
forgetting to swear some of his people in on day one, to not achieving any
of the Republicans` stated legislative goals from when they assumed office.
On this show, these troubles have been cataloged as the “John Boehner is
bad at his job” hypothesis.
But here`s something new. Apparently it`s not just Boehner being bad
at his job in this hypothesis. Politico.com reporting that the longtime
spokesman for number two House Republican, Eric Cantor, not only quit on
Friday but he quit after almost getting into a fistfight with another Eric
It was apparently about a piece of legislation Mr. Cantor`s office was
due to roll out last week. They reportedly thought they had a bunch of
supporters lined up to say nice things about it, but that fell through.
And then the two Eric Cantor staffers had what “Politico” described as an
aggressive confrontation that, quote, “almost turned into a physical
altercation.” Cantor`s high-profile spokesman then quit and now it`s all
And so, this week on Capitol Hill, we`ll get that bill from the
Republicans that caused the near fistfights and the quitting. We were also
supposed to get John Boehner`s own transportation bill by now. It`s been
delayed for weeks because he can`t get his own side to vote for his own
The whole situation “Politico” describes as, quote, “only the recent
closed-door clash among House Republican leadership.” In other words,
Republicans running the House of Representatives has been kind of a
disaster – a disaster that no amount of will power can keep us from
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Tomorrow night, it gets really fun around here. It`s always
fun on Tuesdays but tomorrow is extra fun because it is Super Tuesday. And
that means a night long politics fest here on MSNBC.
I`ll be anchoring from this studio, but I`ll be facing a different
direction, along with Chris Matthews and all the MSNBC primetime anchors.
We`ll have all the reporting, all of the touchy, but still somewhat
friendly interviews, all the numbers – starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, and
ending when the cows come home or slightly thereafter. Again, it starts at
6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night. We will see you then.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell.
Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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.>