The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/22/12
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: Tammy Duckworth, we will visit again.
Appreciate your time here on “THE ED SHOW”.
That`s “THE ED SHOW.” I`m Ed Schultz.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks very much.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying us for the next hour.
As you know, the Trayvon Martin case today had a couple of big
developments, huge rally in Sanford, Florida, tonight that you`ve been
seeing covered on our air here on MSNBC this evening.
Also the news that the Sanford, Florida, police chief has temporarily
stepped down. We will have more on that ahead. And will keep you updated
throughout the hour as this story continues to evolve and as we learn more.
Now, last night, at the top of the show, we did a report on the Mitt
Romney campaign that seems to have jangled some nerves. This, for example,
was the splash page for the “Huffington Post” today. I don`t know exactly
what the F stands for there, but it`s not good.
I knew that we would strike a nerve or two with that report because it
is a sensitive subject. It is hard to talk about but I think it`s
important. There is something different about Mitt Romney as a
presidential candidate as compared to every other modern major party
presidential candidate. There`s a certain amount of lying and stretching
the truth and spinning history that everybody expects if not tolerates at
all levels of politics and on both sides of the aisle.
But there is something different about the Romney campaign. And this
is an assertion by me and I`m happy to hear it challenged. But I assert
based on what I see to be the facts that there is something unique about
this campaign and that is the frequency with which the candidate himself
has been lying during the campaign – his willingness to lie even about
small stuff that doesn`t seem to have any political benefit to him, just
lying for the sake of lying.
But also the candidate and the campaign`s lack of compunction, lack of
remorse or even explanation when they get caught lying. They don`t correct
it when they get called out. They don`t seem to feel bad about it. They
do not seem to see it as a problem.
Case in point, the very first television add run by Mr. Romney`s
campaign this year. Last night on the show, we talked about how Mitt
Romney`s announcement speech, his maiden speech when he launched his
campaign, he told a big lie in that speech, in this case about the economy.
But not just in his first speech, but in his first ad, the first TV ad
on the Romney campaign, he also told an absolute, black and white, no
question, full on, blatant lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am confident we can
steer ourselves out of this crisis. Who has been in charge of the economy?
We need a rescue plan for the middle class. We need to provide relief for
homeowners. It`s going to take a new direction. If we keep talking about
the economy, we are going to lose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Stop it right there. That was Mitt Romney`s first television
Makes it sound really bad, right, what President Obama said, makes it
sound awful. President Obama is saying, right there, you heard him in the
ad, if we keep talking about the economy, we are going to lose. It sounds
You want to know what President Obama really said?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Senator McCain`s campaign actually said, I quote, if we keep
talking about the economy, we`re going to lose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He was quoting somebody else. He was quoting somebody else
critically and they made it look like that`s what President Obama was
saying on his own behalf.
They made it look like President Obama said something he did not say.
That`s the equivalent of editing the word of don`t out of somebody saying,
I don`t love you in order for you to prove how beloved you are. You said
it. I just took it out of context?
That was the first Mitt Romney ad out of the campaign. That is what
the Romney campaign has been like. And in a political world where there
are very low expectations for how truthful political ads are, in a
political world where you just assume and therefore excuse a certain level
of sliminess and slight of hand on the part of political professionals,
even in a Beltway that cynical, what Mr. Romney did in that first ad of his
campaign caused legitimate outrage even from my very cynical Beltway press.
Having been caught red-handed telling this really blatant lie, the
Romney campaign responded with no apology and no correction.
Signaling from his first ad, like from his first speech that as a
presidential candidate, Mr. Romney would be OK with lying, even when he got
caught for it.
Last night when we broached this topic the first time, we talked about
Mr. Romney lying about the economy, lying about his own political resume,
lying about the deficit, lying about the national anthem? In fact, Steve
Benen who used to work for “Washington Monthly,” who now works for this
show, Steve has done, I kid you not, a 10-part series, that`s volume 10 –
a 10-part series cataloging things Mitt Romney has lied about as a
presidential candidate. This time around, things he has been called out on
for lying and has not corrected.
It`s not that Steve has documented 10 lies. It`s 10 volumes of lies.
Ten catalogs of lies so far.
Mr. Romney is OK with lying as he runs for president even when he gets
caught and it is amazing. I think it is the most notable thing about his
candidacy. It is an important thing about his candidacy that we have to
grapple with as a country, whether this sort of thing is just the sort of
thing we expect, whether it`s OK for somebody running for president or
whether it`s not OK, whether it goes to a question of his character and
what we expect of people running for an office this high.
But here`s the further question: is this not just a character question
for Mitt Romney, that he`s OK with lying even when he gets caught? Is this
instead a standard that he is going to set for his campaign? Is this the
way the whole pro-Romney effort is going to be run? Is Mitt Romney leading
by example here? Is he signaling that he expects people who support him to
behave in this same way and to have these same standards?
Well, today, we got a test of that and the results of the test were to
even very cynical people a little shocking. “The Wall Street Journal”
editorial page, obviously a very conservative editorial page, and not just
conservative. It is specifically Republican conservative. One of their
regular columnists at “The Wall Street Journal” is the chief political
strategist for the last conservative president, a man you may have heard of
named Karl Rove.
Mr. Rove published a column in the “Wall Street Journal” in which he
criticized President Obama as having no accomplishments to run on in his
campaign for re-election. He criticized the Obama campaign`s release of a
17-minute video documenting what the campaign sees as Mr. Obama`s
And then Mr. Rove said this, he said, quote, “As for the killing of
Osama bin Laden, Mr. Obama did what virtually any commander in chief would
have done in the same situation. Even President Bill Clinton says in the
film, quote, `That`s the call I would have made.` For this to be portrayed
as an epic achievement in the first term tells you how bare the White House
And Greg Sargent at “The Washington Post” picked up on where this
quote actually came from today, and it is amazing. Watch this. It`s
instructive and chilling. Remember, what Karl Rove says in his column, is
even President Bill Clinton says in the film, that`s the call I would have
made. So, no biggie, right?
Here`s the part of that film that Mr. Rove says he is quoting from,
this is the part from which Mr. Rove has extracted that quote. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: A lot of people have asked, how did you feel when you first
heard that it was bin Laden and that he had been killed? And the truth is
I didn`t have a lot of time for feelings at that point because our guys
were still in that compound. It wasn`t until I knew that they were across
the border, they were safe, everybody was accounted for, including the dog,
that, you know, I allowed some satisfaction.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: He took the harder and the more
honorable path. When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, I hope
that`s a call I would have made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I hope that`s the call I would have made. That means
something very different than “that`s the call I would have made”.
Does this sort of quoting technique seem familiar to you?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Senator McCain`s campaign actually said, and I quote, if we
keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose.
It`s going to take a new direction. If we keep talking about the
economy, we`re going to lose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I think it is an important that Mitt Romney lies a lot as a
presidential candidate and seems to be OK with the lying. As he becomes
the presidential party nominee, as he becomes that party`s de facto
national leader, is his ethical standard on lying going to set the standard
on the right?
We contacted the “Wall Street Journal” today to find out if they were
going to run a correction on Mr. Rove`s lie on behalf of Mr. Romney in
effect which ran in the “Wall Street Journal” today. Initially, the “Wall
Street Journal” declined to comment on our request, telling us they would
give us no comment on the subject.
But late in the day, they did finally correct the quote in the online
version of Mr. Rove`s article. We also reached out to Mr. Rove today to
find out if he agrees that that correction was necessary, if he regrets the
error, if he even considers it to have been an error, we have not heard
back from Mr. Rove, although we hope to.
Karl Rove`s super PAC has pledge to spend more than a quarter billion
on this year`s presidential election all in behalf, in essence, of Mr.
Romney. Political ads including Mr. Rove have never been paragon of virtue
and honesty in the past.
But this year, with this particular nominee on the Republican side who
is running this particular kind of campaign, is one side of the political
spectrum giving up on the idea that what you say ought to be true?
If this is the Mitt Romney era of Republican politics, what should we
know about Mitt Romney the Republican to know if we should expect this to
get worse in the country in a big and qualitatively new way?
Joining us now is the co-author of the “Real Romney,” Scott Helman.
He`s also a staff writer at the “Boston Globe.”
Mr. Helman, it`s great to have you here tonight. Thank you very much
for your time.
SCOTT HELMAN, BOSTON GLOBE: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: I don`t expect you to share my analysis. It is clearly my
own and not yours.
MADDOW: I wanted to talk to you about your history of reporting on
Governor Romney over such a long period of his political career, your
research on his political career. Have you seen instances where he has
insisted on politically inconvenient honesty, where he has chastised people
for telling lies on his behalf, where he has turned down political advisers
who have told to do something that might be shady, even though it might
benefit him? Have you seen things that we – that maybe I`m not seeing at
the presidential level?
HELMAN: I can`t recall instances like that. I mean, certainly, I
remember this criticism of him coming up when he was governor. There were
a couple of cases I can think of.
One, that you probably talked about on your show, where the
Massachusetts was part of this regional gas initiative, that it was a sort
of regional effort to lower greenhouse gas emissions. And I remember being
at an energy conference when Mitt Romney was defending it and saying that
I`ve had industry leaders come up to me – meaning corporations – saying
this is going to hurt our bottom line because energy costs are going to go
up. I assured them that, no, it was going to be only 1 percent or 2
And then there was a certain point when that totally changed and that
was not his line and he really began moving away from it and he would
always get mad at me when I would bring it up and try to answer him about
him, and said I got to get you a transcript of that. And I would tell them
and I was there and you were defending it. And now, you`re slamming it,
saying it`s going to, you know, lead to higher energy costs.
And then there was another one where the head of the transportation
commission in Massachusetts, one of these blue ribbon panels that looked at
how do we pay for our roads and bridges came up with this recommendation
that we needed to basically have billions of new revenue, and the head of
that commission at one point said that, you know, once they presented it to
Mitt Romney, he did not want to hear that at all, did not want to hear
billions of new revenue and he sort of looked at them, and said, we`re done
with that, we put our own plan out, you know, it`s not going forward.
And the guy said it was a bright sunny day and like he was saying it
was black outside.
So, this is something that we have seen in his political career
MADDOW: Specific on the issue of energy, I did a lot of reading
today, thanks in part to a “New Republic” piece about his positions as
governor on energy issues and the contrast with some of the positions he`s
taking now as a presidential candidate. He, as governor, for example,
rejected a proposal that Massachusetts should get rid of or suspend the
state gas tax as a way of bringing gas prices down and he said, I don`t
think this is a time when you want to be encouraging people to use less
gasoline, that would be a bad idea.
He also directly raised prices at the pump by raising gas taxes on
Massachusetts consumers initially as part of the fund that would clean up
underground gas tanks at gas stations. Eventually, he got rid of the
purpose for the fund and just applied it to the general coffers.
All that kind of stuff is totally contrary, totally opposite to what
he is attacking President Obama for on gas prices.
Is that a case of selective amnesia? He doesn`t remember that he`s
done that, or do you think he`s hoping the people won`t bring that up in
his record or the kind of thing he acknowledges that he has changed over
HELMAN: I mean, look, at heart, Mitt Romney is a pragmatist. As we
know, he looks at every campaign and every situation and figures out what
he has to do to succeed in that environment. And when he was in
Massachusetts, you know, it was a very different calculus there.
And I think, I mean, you go back further, even further than that in
his gubernatorial campaign, he was calling for – at one point, he was
calling for an SUV tax, a sort of surtax on SUVs because they use more
gasoline. I mean, that kind of thing is very difficult to imagine him
So, you know, I think to the extent that he has an ideology, it is
pragmatism. I think that really is who he is at heart. And, I mean, when
you ask him about it, he says, look, you know, I wrote this book “No
Apology,” all my views are in there.
But the fact is, you`re right, he has changed on a number of things,
well beyond abortion stuff that got so much attention. And this started,
of course, not just in this campaign, but back in 2005 and 2006, when he
was starting to run for president last time. So, we`ve seen this very
Ironically, Rachel, I think in this campaign, he`s tried almost, at
least initially, tried to tack back to the middle and run as Mr. Fix-it
economic guy. He`s been forced now to defend his right and here we are in
almost April still talking about Rick Santorum.
MADDOW: Scott Helman, the co-author of “The Real Romney,” staff
writer at the “Boston Globe” – thanks very much for talking to us about
this. I realize you`re covering him in an ongoing way and I might not be
the most convenient person to talk to as this stuff goes, but your
perspective on this is very helpful to me. So, thanks for joining us.
HELMAN: My pleasure.
MADDOW: I appreciate it.
All right. The politics of projection, the “I am rubber, you are
glue” technique – coming up.
MADDOW: Something remarkable is happening in Sanford, Florida,
tonight. This is what it looked like there – look at that – less than an
hour ago, thousands of people gathering at a park in downtown Sanford,
showing support for the family of Trayvon Martin. He is the 17-year-old
who is shot and killed as he walked home to his father`s house from a
The shooter has claimed self-defense although he was following Trayvon
and Trayvon was armed with nothing more than candy and a can of iced tea.
Citing Florida`s so-called “Stand Your Ground” gun law, police have not
arrested the suspect in this case, and this is what these thousands of
people are protesting tonight in Florida. They are demanding that the
suspect be charged if that is even possible under Florida law.
Today, Florida`s Republican Governor Rick Scott and his attorney
general appointed a tax force to investigate the shooting that killed Mr.
Martin, and the task force to look into the state`s “Stand Your Ground”
law. And the police chief of Sanford, Florida, has temporarily removed
himself from office.
MSNBC`s coverage of the Trayvon Martin story, including the work of
Reverend Al Sharpton who is in Sanford tonight will, of course, continue.
Reverend Sharpton is going to be joining Lawrence O`Donnell tonight on “THE
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Politics people usually call this technique muddying the
waters. I always thought of it though, as more of the “I`m rubber, you`re
glue,” whatever you say bounces of me and sticks to you technique.
It`s essentially the same idea, though. You take whatever it is that
is the strongest attack that can be used against you, and you randomly
accuse the other guy of being guilty of that same thing. It is a classic
technique. It`s like George W. Bush running for re-election. In his own
record, there`s this record, this sort of ethnically questionable history
of the gyrations he had to go through and the connections he had to use to
get out of serving in Vietnam. He`s running against a legitimate Vietnam
War hero in 2004.
So, what do the pro-George W. Bush forces do? They accuse the other
guy, the war hero, of having been ethically sketchy and a coward about
Vietnam. I`m rubber, you`re glue.
You see the same thing going on the right now in the Mitt Romney
campaign. Mitt Romney has said he`s totally on board with the Paul Ryan
budget, right? The Paul Ryan kill Medicare budget.
Mr. Romney even ran this Mitt Romney loves Paul Ryan ad which made it
sort of look like Paul Ryan was the one running for president. I think
it`s even possible that Mitt Romney could pick Paul Ryan to be his vice-
presidential choice although I don`t have much company in thinking that.
So, this morning, though, Mitt Romney had a sit-down meeting in
Washington with Paul Ryan and they were very happy to publicize that was
This all happens as Paul Ryan is rolling out his new budget which
again would dismantle Medicare. It would end the guaranteed benefit that
what we know as Medicare. It would turn it instead into a coupon system.
And when you have embraced Paul Ryan and you are essentially running
with Paul Ryan and you may – who knows? You may even pick Paul Ryan as
your vice presidential running mate, you are the guy with the guy who
proposed killing Medicare.
Paul Ryan`s plan famously described in the “Wall Street Journal” last
year as ending Medicare as we know it.
So, what has the Mitt Romney campaign doing to head it off that
obvious political criticism coming his way? Well, the Mitt Romney has been
saying it is Barack Obama who wants to end Medicare as we know it. What?
It is OK to be confused by that. It`s supposed to be confusing. It`s
designed to muddy the water. It`s designed to make the attack meaningless,
to steal its power as an attack by making it seem like, this is a generic
thing you say about people in politics, it doesn`t really mean anything.
Mr. Romney trying to inoculate himself against the power of the “You
want to kill Medicare” attack.
Did you see this? The RNC, look, is now saying that the Obama
administration is waging a war on women. Wait. Obama is waging a war on
women? Democrats are waging a war on women?
Again, it`s OK to be confused. That`s the point, the way this
Republicans have realized the war on women this is a very powerful
attack against them. In the general election, likely the majority of
voters will be women. Republicans realized they have screwed up with over
the top anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-women`s health, anti-
Planned Parenthood stuff that they have pursued.
And so, you see them running away with it a little bit at the federal
level. The anti-contraception amendment, the Blunt-Rubio amendment that
failed in the Senate, it would appear now that Republicans who control the
House are not just delaying a vote on that measure, they are just trying to
quietly let it go. They know they have screwed up.
But here`s the thing. Your record follows you. Your record follows
you around like a can tied to a bumper on an issue like that.
So, there was John McCain on “Meet the Press” this weekend, piously
intoning about how Republicans really need to get away from this
contraception issue. They should really get away from pursuing these anti-
contraception policies. But clanging along behind him while he`s saying
that is the fact that he voted for it, he voted for the anti-contraception
bill himself. He voted for the Blunt-Rubio amendment just a few weeks ago.
And now, he`s all pious about what a mistake it is for other people to
be pursuing those policies when they ought to leave well enough alone.
And there was Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on “THE DAILY
RUNDOWN” today, talking about what a mistake it is for Texas Governor Rick
Perry to be defunding Planned Parenthood. She also voted just a few weeks
ago for the Blunt-Rubio amendment to roll back access to contraceptives.
And now, she`s lecturing Rick Perry about cutting off women`s access to
preventive health care.
Even as the Republicans try to muddy the waters and congressional
Republicans try to run away from the issue, there is no real hope of
Republicans getting away from this issue this year. At least there is no
hope of it as long as the stuff the Republicans are doing in the states
continues to be so eye popping.
In Wisconsin this week, the state`s largest medical society is asking
Republican Governor Scott Walker to please veto that state`s latest radical
anti-abortion measure. It was passed by the Republican legislature, and
doctors in the state say the bill would infringe on the physician-patient
In Utah this week, Republican Governor Gary Herbert signed into law a
72-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion, it`s the longest
mandatory waiting period in the country. It`s a bill that he was urged to
veto by abortion and civil rights group to say it is likely
unconstitutional burden on women seeking abortion services.
In Pennsylvania, Republican leadership in the legislature has
indefinitely postponed debate on a forced ultrasound bill for
Pennsylvanians, a bill that would mandate vaginal probe ultra sound in many
cases. It would also require that the ultrasound viewing screen be placed
in the woman`s sightline.
That bill is on hold right now in Pennsylvania house after the state
medical society, which doesn`t take a position on abortion, raised
objections to the bill. But that has not stopped Republican Governor Tom
Corbett from defending it on tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. TOM CORBETT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I wouldn`t change it as long as
it`s not obtrusive. But we`re still waiting to see.
REPORTER: Not intrusive? I mean, making them watch, does that go too
far in your mind?
CORBETT: You got to make anybody watch, OK, because you just have to
close your eyes. But as long as it`s on exterior, not interior, OK?
It`s a position I took a while ago. It`s just on the outside. It`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He keeps talking about this. He is both very visibly super
awkward about it but he`s also totally wrong about it every time. Not only
does he think it`s cool to force women to undergo a medical procedure and
have a screen showing the procedure forcibly shoved in front of their face
because after all, they can close their eyes.
But he also doesn`t understand the bill. He doesn`t understand the
ultrasound requirement at the heart of the bill he says he supports.
The Pennsylvania ultrasound bill is not on just the outside thing,
Governor Corbett, it is very much on the inside.
Everyday at our news meeting there are 10 different stories out of 10
different states where Republicans are pushing 10 different pieces of anti-
abortion, anti-contraception legislation that are more radical than
anything we have seen in a year on this.
And a good number of these things are moving. They are getting
passed. They are getting signed.
And so, there is this fascinating dynamic at work in the Republican
Party. At the federal level and among essentially professional
Republicans, there is widespread recognition that this is a losing issue
for them and they have to get off of this stuff.
And they also cannot do it. They can`t stop themselves. They can`t
stop themselves from doing it.
This stuff follows you around. It sticks. You are not rubber, you
Joining us tonight for the interview – and this is big deal – we got
the former surgeon general of the United States who was appointed by
President George W. Bush. He`s here to talk about what Jan Brewer and
Arizona plan to do on this issue. That`s next.
MADDOW: He is a decorated Vietnam combat veteran. He had very close
ties to the George W. Bush administration. He`s extremely interested in
the position of U.S. senator from the great state of Arizona. He almost
sounds like John McCain except that he is not John McCain at all.
He is Richard Carmona. He was surgeon general of the United States
during the George W. Bush administration. He`s also among Arizona`s most
decorated police officers and he is our special guest tonight for the
Please stay tuned.
MADDOW: The chairman of the board of the Susan G. Komen Foundation
announced his resignation today. It comes amid other high profile
executive resignations from the foundation. The head of the New York City
affiliate will leave next month. The executive vice president of and chief
marketing officer of Komen`s national organization announced recently that
she would also be resigning.
More than 1,000 people have signed an online petition asking the head
and founder of the foundation, Nancy Brinker, to resign from Komen as well.
It`s all continued and current fallout from the decision by the Komen
Foundation earlier this year they would stop giving grants to Planned
Parenthood. Komen said at the time it had nothing to do with Planned
Parenthood per se, it`s just that they wouldn`t fund anyone who was under
Was Planned Parenthood under government investigation? No, not unless
you count this guy, Republican congressman, Cliff Stearns of Florida, who
says, sure, he wants to investigate Planned Parenthood.
Cliff Stearns, for the record, also wants to investigate whether
President Obama is secretly foreign and therefore might secretly not be the
Cliff Stearns, birther congressman, not exactly a barometer of the
seriousness of government concerns.
The idea that there is something scandalous about Planned Parenthood
is and has been a transparently fake controversy generated by the anti-
abortion movement and their allies in politics. And the fact that the
Susan G. Komen Foundation allowed themselves to be used as part of that
scam is to their supporters turning out to be what looks like an
irreversible betrayal. It is hard to see how the Komen Foundation
retrieves its reputation as defender of women after playing a part in the
demonize Planned Parenthood scam.
In Texas, the make Planned Parenthood into a scandal campaign has cost
more than $35 million of federal funding for something called the Texas
woman`s health program, that provides cancer screenings, pap smears,
hormone patches, birth control and basic services to more than 130,000 low
income women in Texas. The poorest women in Texas are losing their medical
care because Rick Perry and the Republicans in the state legislature say
they do not want that money used for abortions. Of course, that money is
already not used for abortions.
Quote,. “Texas already bars clinics that take such money from
performing abortions. The new law is intended to prevent any state money
from benefitting Planned Parenthood.” Because, of course, regardless of
abortion, Planned Parenthood is supposed to somehow be a scandal, somehow.
Another state that is considering going the way of Texas on this,
cutting off its poorest women from their health care in order to make a
fake point about Planned Parenthood being a scandal regardless of abortion
is Arizona, House bill 2800 in Arizona would again strip Planned Parenthood
of federal funding even though that funding already does not go to
providing abortions. That bill is currently making its way through the
Arizona Republicans have also move to the legislature this year the -
called tell your boss why you`re on the pill bill, allowing your employer
to force you to disclose the reasons why you are using prescription
contraception so your employer can then decide whether or not he has moral
objections to it being covered by your insurance.
The former surgeon general of the United States, Dr. Richard Carmona,
is an Arizonan. Of these bills, he says, quote, “Trying to block women
from getting contraception or de-funding Planned Parenthood is completely
nonsensical from a policy standpoint. As the 17th surgeon general of the
United States, I can say without hesitations that these bills would be bad
for public health and deleterious to the health of women.”
Dr. Carmona is not just the former surgeon general of the United
States. He is also a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in his home
state of Arizona.
Dr. Carmona, thank you very much for being here tonight for the
interview. I really appreciate your time, sir.
RICHARD CARMONA, FORMER SURGEON GENERAL: Thank you. Pleasure to be
with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
House number 2800 is making its way through the state legislature
would essentially do in Arizona what Republicans have already done in
Texas, de-funding Planned Parenthood and a lot of other women`s health
How does this both strike you as a physician and potentially as a
lawmaker? Do you understand the motivation behind this and do you think it
will achieve its aims?
CARMONA: Rachel, I don`t understand the motivations. But importantly
as I look at this through the eyes of surgeon general, it doesn`t make any
sense. The fact is, is that the consequences of anything like this to
reduce or create barriers to health care are extraordinarily complex and
the outcomes will be deleterious effects on women`s health.
So, it really doesn`t make sense.
MADDOW: How is it the effort to de-fund Planned Parenthood. I see it
as an effort to demonize Planned Parenthood and make it seem like a
scandal, how is it to go after Planned Parenthood and abortion in
particular end up having such consequences for such a wide range of women`s
CARMONA: Well, Rachel, the issue, as you know, is that women get
their health care in a lot of different places. And Planned Parenthood is
one of those organizations that provide care to very often to health
desperate populations. So, any time we eliminate access to health care,
there are deleterious repercussions to the health of that population and in
this case, it would be women`s health.
So, this policy is very misguided and unfortunately can have
MADDOW: You have said that you`ve heard from conservative women, even
from very conservative women, who do not support the Republican agenda
right now on abortion rights and reproductive rights. What are those women
saying to you, particularly as you`re talking to people in the context of
your run for office?
CARMONA: Well, I heard it from all across the board, including
conservative women, who actually feel very unhappy about the fact that a
group of men, as I was told, are trying to determine their choices, as far
as reproductive health care.
So, I think there`s significant unintended consequences to this. But
again, the policy isn`t very well thought out. We should be doing the
opposite. We should be doing everything we can to increase access health
care for all women, and in doing so, we expect we reduce unwanted
pregnancies and also reduce the need for abortion.
We all should be striving to increase access to health care for all
women and all citizens.
MADDOW: It seems like what you just articulated there was a
nonpartisan, even beyond bipartisan – a nonpartisan point of agreement on
the issue of reproductive rights and abortion. Even people for abortion
rights or against abortion rights could agree that abortion should be made
fewer by giving people access to contraceptives, giving people access to
comprehensive family planning that nobody on either side of the abortion
debate wanted there to be more unintended pregnancies.
How did – how did that break down? Why did that – I thought that
was going to be a longstanding consensus. But it seems to have evaporated
CARMONA: I would agree with you, Rachel. I think that this issue has
become politicized. Everybody is entrenched in their positions and they
don`t want to give at all.
The fact of the matter is, there`s a very simple solution – no matter
what side of the aisle you are on or if you don`t believe in being on
either side of the aisle, all of us as citizens should be looking to how we
can maximize access to health care in women`s health, but all aspects of
health. That would be the best for our nation. It will drive down the
cost of health care. It will prevent unwanted pregnancies. It will drive
down the amount of abortions that are used for unwanted pregnancies. It`s
a win-win for both sides.
MADDOW: Dr. Carmona, you have a long background in law enforcement.
You are surgeon general of the United States under President George W.
Bush. You are running for Senate as a Democrat in Arizona. What made you
want to be in the United States and what made you decide to run as a
CARMONA: Well, I – you know, to be honest with you, Rachel, when I
left Washington, I thought that was it for me, a surgeon general. I
finished my statutory term, I served the nations again in uniform and I
But like many, I was very upset what I was seeing, with the
politicization of health issues, of science, of technology, of people not
using prudent judgment to promulgate policy on behalf of the American
public. And that led to a number of discussions with colleagues locally,
right up at the national level to colleagues. And in fact on both sides of
the aisle who encouraged me to get my hat in the ring because of a vacant
Senate seat, which I did.
So, the reason I chose the Democratic Party was I looked at where the
Republicans were on issues like women`s health, contraception and
immigration, it was clear I could not support any of those. And that my
home really fit better on the Democratic side.
I`ve been an independent my whole life and I try to look at things
very rationally based on the best science. That`s what I`m going to
continue to do as a U.S. senator.
MADDOW: I think a lot of Democrats have concluded a lot of
independents who aren`t making a decision to run for office but are making
a decision about how to vote might look at some of those issues you just
identified right there – contraception, reproductive rights and some of
these other things and decided the same way that you decide this year, sir.
It`s been fascinating politics. Dr. Richard Carmona, former U.S.
surgeon general under President George W. Bush, now Democratic candidate
for U.S. Senate in Arizona – Dr. Carmona thank you very much for your time
tonight. It`s nice to meet you.
CARMONA: Thanks very much. My pleasure.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. What you see here is a rally tonight in Sanford, Florida.
Look at the size of this, thousands of people gathering to demand
government action in the case of Trayvon Martin. He, of course, is the
unarmed teenager who`s killed last month and whose killer has not been
arrested because of Florida`s stand your ground gun law.
Tonight on “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell, which is right
after this program, Lawrence is going to have all the latest information on
that story, including Florida Governor Rick Scott`s appointment this
evening of a special task force to investigate the case.
Stay tuned for Lawrence as soon as we are done. And we are back in
just a moment with a keep you up at night trip to a Rick Santorum campaign
event – a tape for that. Also, the best new thing in the world. All
MADDOW: The next Republican presidential primary is in the great
state of Louisiana. This was an event in central Louisiana on Sunday. A
pastor named the reverend Dennis Terry introducing Republican presidential
candidate Rick Santorum to his congregation. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENNIS TERRY, PASTOR: I don`t care what the liberals say, I don`t
care what the naysayers say, this nation was founded as a Christian nation,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. There`s only
one God, there`s only one god and his name is Jesus.
I`m tired of people telling me that I can`t say those words. I`m
tired of people telling us as Christians that we can`t voice our beliefs or
we can`t – no longer pray in public.
Listen to me, if you don`t love America and you don`t like the way we
do things, I got one thing to say – get out!
TERRY: We don`t worship Buddha. I said, we don`t worship Buddha, we
don`t worship Mohammed. We don`t worship Allah. We worship God, we
worship God`s son, Jesus Christ!
If we`ll put God back in America, put God back in our pulpits and put
God back in our homes and our statehouse and then in Washington, D.C., then
we can have revival in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: At the end of Reverend Dennis Terry`s introduction,
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum gave the pastor a standing
ovation. Mr. Santorum later told the reporters he did not agree with the
part that the pastor told Muslims and Buddhists they need to get out of
America. Mr. Santorum said he was not clapping for that specific part of
the sermon when he gave a standing ovation at the end.
That Rick Santorum was at the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in the
town of central Louisiana, outside of Baton Rouge. If you hop on Route 61
and then on Route 425, from central up towards Shreveport, you will hit
Monroe, Louisiana, which is where my friend, the Reverend Dr. Welton Gaddy
is the pastor for preaching and worship at the North Minister Baptist
Church. Reverend Gaddy is also the president of the Interfaith Alliance,
which is national organization dedicated to protecting religious freedom.
Welton, thank you so much for being here.
REV. C. WELTON GADDY, INTERFAITH ALLIANCE PRESIDENT: Glad to be here,
MADDOW: Does that non-Christian should get out of America rant sound
as radical to you as a Baptist minister as it sounds to me?
GADDY: Yes, it angers me and it hurts me. When I read the words, at
first I laughed and then I thought I can`t laugh at this.
Rachel, if that introduction, that man gave me the feeling that he is
the war on religion. Because what he was talking about was being anti-
American and anti-religious if he did not to the Bible and didn`t conform
to the Constitution. We are not a nation that kicks people out because of
disagreement. I mean, that`s what the art of politics in this nation has
always been about. And I so sick of these people talking about a war on
religion. It embarrasses.
They don`t know what they are talking about. What`s called a war on
religion today that was epitomized in his introduction, nobody has told him
he can`t talk about God. Nobody has told him he can`t talk about Jesus.
And if his theology is one that government can throw God out of the nation,
that`s a stronger theology that I`ve got. I don`t know you get rid of God
anywhere, according to my belief in God.
It is ludicrous, what`s happened is people who lived so long, with an
assumed establishment of religion, Judeo Christian tradition mainly
Christian more than Judeo are now having to play by the same rules that
everybody else does, and they`re saying that`s prosecution. In one day,
they`re going to have to apologize to people in Afghanistan and Iraq and in
places like that who really know what it`s like to be prosecuted for their
faith. These people are not persecuted.
MADDOW: What do you think that Republican politicians, conservative
politicians are selling at the political level when they talked about
prosecution, when they talked about war on religion, when they tell
Christians that Christians are victimized in America by virtue of being
GADDY: Well, they are trying to scare them for one thing because they
know that if you get people scared, they`re going to say what can we do to
change this ands they`re going to say, say follow us. Just do what we say
and we`ll get it done for you.
Newt Gingrich knows better. But you know what, and you may disagree
with this. I appreciate the fact that Santorum has been honest.
I think he`s told us some of the scariest things that I`ve ever heard
about religious freedom. It`s made me probably fearful than any
presidential candidate ever has. But he`s been honest with us. He`s told
us what he will do with that office. And I appreciate that fact.
So, we can either endorse that or not endorse it. But know this – if
you go with this Republican path of war on religion, taking back this
country for God, all of those kinds of things, you`re going to see
religious freedom minimize if not done away with altogether, you`re going
to see a different America.
MADDOW: The Louisiana campaign is this Saturday. Mr. Santorum is
favored. He does not seem to have much of a traditional campaign, like
he`d recognize another state. He seems to mostly be counting on working
through churches. He`s counting on ministers telling their congregation to
vote for him. How do you feel about that?
GADDY: I don`t like it. It`s a prostitution and religion. It`s a
manipulation of religion.
People have to keep in mind, when you`re running for the president of
the United States, whether you`re Rick Santorum or President Obama, you
have one goal, and that`s to win the election. And you just know that
anything that`s done in that campaign is a subsidiary strategy for getting
to the White House.
These people aren`t trying to build churches. They are not trying to
encourage them towards social ministers. They`re not trying to hold prayer
meetings. They`re trying to become the president of the United States.
And the church has proven to be another institution into which they can go.
And I resent anybody trying to make the altar of a church a stump from
which they can give a political speech. They want to go church, they ought
to go to church just like everybody else does. And worship and then get
out into their politics.
MADDOW: Welt Gaddy, the pastor for preaching and worship at the North
Minister Baptist Church in Monroe, Louisiana, president of the Interfaith
Alliance – Welton, I`m always happy to talk to you. I`m so glad you`re
GADDY: Same here. Same here. Take care.
MADDOW: All right. Best thing in the world, or at least the best new
thing in my world, coming up next.
MADDOW: OK. Best new thing in my world today, it`s an outbreak of
cross the aisle-ism on something I really want there to be cross the aisle-
ism about. The pro-Ron Paul Web site, “The Daily Paul,” did a nice thing
today about my new book, “Drift.” And I know that Ron Paul Republicans are
not the most representative of all Republican thinking, but concerned about
how we go to war now, which is what my new book is about is not all that
partisan anymore any way. If you need further evidence to that point,
consider also this sign of the political Apocalypse that is on the back
cover of the new book. Look, wait – yes.
That is a blurb from Roger Ailes, the CEO of the FOX News Channel.
The CEO of FOX News has given my book a very nice blur. He says “Drift” is
worth reading, and it makes valid arguments. Roger Ailes from FOX News.
One of the reasons I wanted to write this book is that I think that
the change in our politics and civilian experience going to war is a change
that is unsettling and that feels wrong, not just to people on the left
like me but to people on the right, and to people in between, and even to
people to do not much care about politics at all. “Drift” is about a
nonpartisan mess we have gotten as a country that we all want to sort of
want to fix.
So I never thought I would be the poster child for kumbaya, cross the
aisle-ism in politics. But the book is coming out now. You can order it
already. And it`s not just my liberal compatriots. It`s also
conservatives and Republicans specifically who are saying it is worth
And that is what I really wanted to do. This is what I was trying to
do. I`m really happy that it`s happening.
So, thanks to you if you already ordered “Drift”. Thanks to you twice
over if you`ve already ordered it even though you think I`m mostly a
liberal nut job but you`re interested in this idea anyway. Thank you.
That does it for us tonight. Now, it is 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
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