The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/26/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Our studios here in New York City are at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which
is awesome. In part because it means there`s a subway station right in our
building. It also means that you never really forget the address of where
you work – 30 Rock is a really convenient thing to remember.
But also, they shoot “Saturday Night Live” here. They shoot that
show a few floors up from this studio. And one of the weird implications
for us as employees that work in this building is that when we leave here
to go home at night on Friday, or sometimes even on Thursday, there`s often
a very tidy little cue outside of the door, little line outside of the door
of our building. People sleeping on the street, waiting to get in to go
see “Saturday Night Live.”
As a general rule, the hotter the musical act and/or host, the longer
and the younger the line outside our building. The hipper and more emo the
musical act and/or host, the more likely the line of people outside of the
building gets confused with an Occupy protest, which happens all the time.
But it is cool to see. It`s one of the cool things about working
here. And I always thought that for the people who work in this building,
who work at “Saturday Night Live” in particular, it must be really cool to
see, right? People care enough about what they do for a living that they
will camp out for it on the sidewalk, even in bad weather. I think that
must be cool for the people that work at “SNL”.
I also think it must have been cool today for the people who work at
the Supreme Court, for the justices and everyone, to see the big scrum of
people waiting outside of the court, camping out as of this weekend, to try
to get in to see the oral arguments in the health reform case.
The arguments in the case are going to be stretched out over three
days. They happened in the mornings. So, it was an hour and a half oral
arguments this morning. It will be two hours tomorrow morning. And I
think it`s hour and a half on Wednesday morning.
And there are some seats in the courtroom. And if you want to get
one of those seats in the courtroom, you have to get a ticket – a ticket
that you get from this policeman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POLICEMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention. This is
a reminder: I`m only giving out tickets for today`s argument only –
today`s argument only. And I`m giving out tickets for the first 60 seats
for regular seating to hear the entire argument.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I mean, it`s not exactly, you know, Justin Bieber is going
to be here often “Saturday Night Live.” But you have to admit, if you work
at the Supreme Court, that has got to be cool to see all of those people
lining up to come to where you work every day for a living.
All of the attention on this case turned out not just people lining
up to get in, trying to get tickets to the see the arguments, it also
turned up all sorts of protesters. Now, apparently, reporters who are on
the scene say it was mostly protesters who were pro-health reform, who want
health reform to survive this Supreme Court challenge.
But there were also some anti-health reform protesters. And also,
randomly, there was Rick Santorum right there at the court. Republican
presidential candidate Rick Santorum turning up in the middle of the
protest outside of the Supreme Court today.
He was not there to hear the case be argued inside. He was there to
participate in the outside the court expression of feelings.
Now, for the lucky people who got inside the courtroom today, let me
give you just a little sweet taste of what it was that those people got to
feast themselves on inside of that hallowed chamber. This is actual audio
from the Supreme Court`s oral arguments today which all of those people
lined up to see.
What you`re about to hear is an exchange between the U.S. solicitor
general and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD VERRILLI, U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: I do think that`s the
strongest textual indication, Justice Ginsburg, that 7421(a) is a
JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, U.S. SUPREME COURT: The question that I
asked you is if you are right that this penalty is not covered by section
7421, if you are right about that, why should we deal with the
jurisdictional question at all?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m sorry. I`m sorry.
I`m a civics dork. I love policy. I love litigation. I love
fighting about policy.
I love courtroom argument. I`m really interested in what happens
with the health reform act at the Supreme Court. But today actually was a
jurisdictional discussion about the applicability of the 1867 Anti-
Injunction Act, which is hard to stay focused on. Oral arguments about the
Anti-Injunction Act, even to lawyers, even to people who are dorkier about
this than I am are not in and of themselves riveting enough to explain the
scene of people lining up for tickets and people running around with signs
and presidential candidates making cameo appearances at the Supreme Court
It was not that exciting on its face. The reason everybody is
turning out for this thing is because it has been built up to be the Super
Bowl of partisan arguments. I mean, literally, Politico.com today called
it the, quote, “Super Bowl for Supreme Court watchers.” It was bilked as
the health law showdown, the Supreme Court showdown. Supreme Court
showdown on Obamacare begins today.
And it is. It`s a huge showdown. It`s a matter of principle.
Here`s the principle, right, the defining difference between the
parties is that the Republican side of this argument. Remember, the
plaintiffs in this case are the states, specifically Republican attorneys
general from 22 states and in places that had Democratic attorneys general
who would not do it, would not sign on to the case, it`s four Republican
governors who stepped in and put their name to it.
So, it`s all Republicans from the states and what these Republicans
are complaining about, what they`re suing about specifically is the
individual mandate – the part of the law that says everybody has to have
health insurance. The individual mandate is what this Super Bowl of all
political partisan fights is all about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: It is a monumental, historic,
insertion of federal power in the one-sixth of the economy, the likes of
which I think the American people clearly have indicated they do not favor
and that they oppose. If the government can tell people that, where`s the
line of what they couldn`t tell people?
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: We`re begging the federal
government to please leave us a shred of freedom. Please. Don`t make us
buy a product that we don`t want to buy. Is that asking too much?
We need to wake up in terms of the issue that is at stake here. It
is our freedoms that are at stake.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: A shred of freedom – that`s what this whole thing is about,
right? The individual mandate. Republicans are against it. Republicans
hate the individual mandate.
Also, the individual mandate is the Republicans idea. This is the
relevant, but often left out context for what is happening at the Supreme
Court this week and for what it says about the principles or lack thereof
of the Republican Party. Republican senators and Republican presidential
candidates are holding photo ops outside of the Supreme Court to decry and
vilify and demonize this thing that they invented and that they introduced
19 years ago.
In 1993, when Bill Clinton was president and he was trying to
overhaul the health care system, he argued essentially that employers
should have to provide health coverage for their employees. Employers were
going to be mandated to provide health coverage.
The Republican answer to that, the Republican plan was to say, no,
no, no. It shouldn`t be employers who have to provide health coverage. It
should be individuals who take that responsibility.
The 1993 Republican health care plan in the Senate included – look
at that – something called an individual mandate, a requirement that
individuals must purchase health insurance. The author of the plan was a
Republican senator named John Chafee of Rhode Island.
But it was not just John Chafee`s idea. Nearly half of the
Republican caucus in the Senate signed on to this plan at the time.
And the individual wasn`t just some small detail of the Republican`s
big idea on health reform. It was pretty much what they had to offer. It
was right at the center of what they were all about.
This is from the “National Journal” at the time. “The Republican
Senate plan would create an individual mandate for health insurance,
similar to one that now exists for auto insurance.”
From the “Associated Press”: “Congressional Republicans pushed their
own proposal which would require individuals to purchase insurance.”
If you went around and asked Republicans back in 1993, they weren`t
just for the individual mandate, they were dying to tell you how much they
loved it. Republican Senator John Chafee, the bill`s author, quote, “I and
the majority of Republicans strongly believe the route to go with is an
Republican Senator Bob Dole, quote, “Well, we have an individual
mandate in our plan. We have an individual mandate as opposed to the
Republican Senator Kit Bond of Missouri asked by a reporter in
September 1993, “You have an individual mandate, where all persons would
have the responsibility to have coverage? Is that correct?” Senator Bond
answers, “That`s correct.|
Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma, quote, “We do have an individual
mandate. We do say everybody in America has to provide insurance for
Leading the charge, leading the charge was the Heritage Foundation –
the right wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation. They put out a plan –
look at that – that proudly features an individual mandate as its main
Newt Gingrich was for the individual mandate as recently as 2008.
Mitt Romney not only included an individual mandate as part of the
health reform plan he signed as the governor of Massachusetts, he also came
out in favor of a federal health care individual mandate back in 1994, back
when it was a Republican idea. He wanted the Republican individual mandate
idea, not just for Massachusetts but for the whole country.
But now that it is President Obama who is for this thing. It is
tyranny. Tyranny, leave us a shred of freedom! Tyranny in its purest
If you want to see it happened in just one person, consider
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Chuck Grassley in 1993, he was
one of the sponsors, one of the Republicans who sponsored the individual
mandate bill. After President Obama was sworn in to office as the health
reform debate was getting underway, Chuck Grassley was still arguing for
the individual mandate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: When it comes to states requiring
it for automobile insurance, the principal then ought to lie the same way
for health insurance, because everybody has some health insurance costs.
And if you aren`t insured, there`s no free lunch. I believe that there is
a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates.
After President Obama said, Chuck Grassley, I agree with you. I`m
for an individual mandate, too. Watch what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRASSLEY: I personally think, and I think constitutional lawyers
think that the mandate in itself is unconstitutional.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, now you do. Really?
See, it`s OK if you are a Republican. But if a Democrat has the same
idea, tyranny! The Democrat has the same idea, it`s unconstitutional.
When Republicans proposed it, great idea, conservative solution – a
conservative, small government solution. When a Democrat has the idea,
it`s socialism, tyranny and unconstitutional. In case you were under any
illusion that there is actually a matter of principle at work here.
Joining us is Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent
for “Slate.” Dahlia watched these proceedings at the Supreme Court.
Dahlia, it`s great to have you here. Thanks for being here.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very for
having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: I got to ask you if the arguments today at the Supreme Court
were any less stultifying in person than they were listening to the audio.
LITHWICK: You know, it takes a special kind of nerd to really kind
of enjoy dusty, old, 19th century statutory construction. I personally
found it slightly thrilling but I do appreciate the eye-glazing quality of
particularly the little snippet that you just played.
MADDOW: In terms of the – everybody seeing this as a partisan
showdown, the fight over the individual mandate, is that what you expect,
that the justices are going to be into tomorrow? Are they going to get to
the meat of what everyone is excited about in tomorrow`s arguments?
LITHWICK: Yes, tomorrow is the big game, Rachel. Today was – I
described it as the court sort of coughing up a constitutional hair ball.
They needed to get this out of the way.
OK. It turns out this tax law doesn`t preclude us from hearing it
and move along. And so, today was actually so not dramatic. And in that
sense, kind of reassuring because you got to see the court I think almost
unanimously come to a conclusion and you got to see them think through it
and it was really what they do best.
Tomorrow, I think the gloves come off. Tomorrow, I think we start
hearing this talk of, you know, tyranny and freedom and broccoli
everywhere. Broccoli. So I think tomorrow is the big day by every
MADDOW: What is the broccoli argument? You have been referencing
this in our columns about this for Slate.com.
LITHWICK: I`m obsessed with broccoli. I mean, the argument at its
core is if the government, you know, can force you to purchase something
that you don`t want to purchase, and that`s the argument here that has been
made by the challengers is what`s unprecedented here is not that the
government is regulating activity, but for the first time, they are
regulating inactivity, right?
You just want to be in your house. You want to be left alone. If
your kidney failed, you want to pop it back in, sew it up yourself and be
left alone. No insurance for you.
And the argument is, if you don`t want to buy something and the
government is forcing you to buy something, then what`s to stop them from
forcing you to the buy broccoli, because after all, broccoli is even more
highly correlated with good health outcomes than health insurance. And if
they can force you to buy broccoli, the next step is the General Motors car
to boost the economy.
So, it`s a slippery slope argument that really did persuade some of
the lower court judges in this case.
MADDOW: And the countervailing argument, and again, correct me if I
am wrong, but my impression of the countervailing argument is that health
care isn`t just like any other market. It`s not just like the market for
cars or the market for leafy greens. Health care is a market where people
participate in the market even if they don`t purchase health insurance, and
even if they don`t have any money. If you have a heart attack and you get
dragged into the emergency room, somebody is going to pay for your care.
And so, you can`t actually be an inactive partisan in the health care
system unless you agree to never get health care. So, your inactivity
isn`t guaranteed by you and therefore it isn`t regulated.
Is that essentially the countervailing argument?
LITHWICK: That`s it. That`s exactly it.
The argument is that whether you choose to be purchasing health
insurance or you choose to not to purchase it, you are making an economic
decision that is rationally related to the entire economy, the entire
health care economy.
And, again, let`s remember, this is one-sixth of the economy, right?
This is a huge, multi-state economy. It`s not something trivial like in
some of the other Commerce Clause cases where you are looking at the court
saying, oh, well, guns near schools may not have a basis to say that
implicates interstate commerce. But this really does.
And so, I think it is both the argument that, you know, this is –
this is you making a choice by not making a choice. The emergency room is
not going to turn you away. And so then, everyone else`s premiums get
jacked up by $1,000.
And that loops back to your original point, I think, which is that`s
why this is a conservative, a market-based idea. It`s anti-free rider idea
that somehow got spun out in to a mandatory broccoli bill.
MADDOW: Dahlia, I know that that part of it that we`re just
discussing there, mandatory broccoli and all the rest of it is what they
are getting tomorrow. Can I ask you to come back and help us explain how
it went tomorrow once they do that?
LITHWICK: I will, only if you drink every time I say broccoli
MADDOW: Actually, I can`t do it on the air but I`m keeping a tally
for Friday`s cocktail moment.
Thank you, Dahlia. I appreciate I want.
LITHWICK: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Dahlia Lithwick is the senior editor and legal correspondent
for Slate magazine.
It`s going to be, tomorrow is actually, even though today was boring
legally speaking tomorrow is going to riveting in terms of those arguments,
whether or not you have been following it closely, I`m actually seriously
looking forward to those audio clips coming up tomorrow. Duh! I`m a dork.
All right. Still ahead, protests continue over the shooting death of
teenager Trayvon Martin and Florida`s “Stand Your Ground” gun law. Senator
Charles Schumer will join us on that, next.
Plus, tonight for the interview, we`ve got Frank Rich.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: It was one month ago today that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin
was shot and killed in Florida. Some of the details of his killing are
well known by now. Mr. Martin was unarmed. He was walking home from a
convenient store carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea.
The man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin on the street, George
Zimmerman, has confessed to the shooting. He says he did it in self
defense. He has not been arrested or charged with any crime.
This is the picture you have probably seen of him. This is a more
recent photo of him.
From Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, to Atlanta, to Indianapolis, to
Iowa City, Iowa, and Detroit, Michigan, and San Francisco, people held
rallies and marches and vigils in Trayvon Martin`s memory today. The rally
in San Francisco was called an “emergency scream out” because organizers
said at this point a speak-out was not enough. Speaking was not enough.
It`s time to yell.
Over the weekend, people wore hoodies to church in support of Trayvon
Martin, protesting the assertion that Mr. Martin may have looked suspicious
because he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt.
Last week, thousands of people gathered in Sanford, the Florida city
where Trayvon Martin was killed. Today, big crowds gathered there again.
This time, marching to the Sanford Civics Center where Trayvon Martin`s
parents spoke before the city council.
This is his mother Sybrina Fulton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: As a parent, you want some
answers to your question – as a parent. So I`m not asking for anything,
any extra favors. I`m just asking for what you would ask for as a parent.
I know I cannot bring my baby back. But I`m sure going to make
changes so this does not happen to another family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: At the backdrop of that hearing and protests in Sanford and
across the country, anonymous law enforcement authorities have leaked to
the media the shooter George Zimmerman`s side of the story. They leaked it
to “The Orlando Sentinel” newspaper.
According to these anonymous law enforcement sources, or specific
source, Mr. Zimmerman says he had turned around and was walking back to his
SUV when Trayvon Martin approached him from behind. The two exchanged
words and then Trayvon punched him in the nose, sending him to the ground
and began beating him. Mr. Zimmerman told police he shot the teenager in
Remember, Mr. Zimmerman is 28 years old. He was carrying a gun and
he initiated the encounter with this teenager after following him around
the neighborhood. Trayvon Martin was totally unarmed.
There were more anonymous releases of records today about Trayvon
Martin`s suspensions from school, once for writing the letters “WTF” on a
locker. His mother responded to those responders by saying, quote, “They
killed my son and now they are trying to kill his reputation.”
A conservative Web site published what they said were tweets from
Trayvon Martin`s Twitter account. As if that might shed light on whether
or not he should have been shot.
The Martin family`s lawyer Benjamin Crump spoke today before the
Sanford City Council.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY`S LAWYER: Who was the officer who made
a decision for whatever reason to not do a background check on George
Zimmerman who had just shot and killed Trayvon Benjamin Martin? But yet
saw fit to do a background check on this dead child on the ground?
Can`t you understand that none of this would be going on if they
simply would have treated George Zimmerman like they would have treated
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: With the furor over the case showing no signs of dying down,
quite the contrary, with no further indication at this time that there will
be an arrest in the case, the interwoven strands are outrage over the
racial profiling that appears to have led to the shooting in the first
Trayvon Martin`s seeming suspicious because of his race according to
the shooter. The implicit excusing of violence against black men because
of the racial profiling of black men as dangerous. The gun law that has
been cited as the reason to not arrest the shooter in this case, the so-
called “Stand Your Ground” law, even though chasing someone down on the
street because they look suspicious to you is nobody`s idea of standing
New York Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for a nationwide of so-
called “Stand Your Ground” laws which Florida pioneered, but which exist
now in more than 20 states. Senator Schumer is asking the Department of
Justice to investigate whether these laws maybe creating more violence and
whether potential murder cases are going unprosecuted because these laws
make it harder to bring these cases in court.
Joining us is Senator Charles Schumer, the senior senator from New
York, and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator Schumer, thank you very much for joining us tonight. It`s
nice to have you.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Good evening.
MADDOW: You have asked the Attorney General Eric Holder, to
investigate these “Stand Your Ground” laws. You have been calling them a
“shoot first, ask questions later” type of law. Why do you think the
Justice Department federally should look in to this?
SCHUMER: Well, these laws which have been all passed very recently
change the common law and the law we always observed, the law I was taught
in law school 30 years ago, which is when is when you are outside of your
home and you are faced with a very troubling situation, you don`t shoot,
you try to avoid doing that and try to invoke law enforcement whenever
The “Stand Your Ground” law seems to say that if you imagine that you
might be in physical danger you can shoot.
And “The Orlando Sentinel,” the local paper in the Sanford area,
studied 13 instances where “Stand Your Ground” was invoked and a police
officer – sorry, a person invoked that law. In all but one of the cases,
the person who was shot or shot at did not have any weapon at all. Now,
six people were killed and four people were injured.
So, clearly, something is amiss here. And, you know, I have a lot of
faith in our Justice Departments, in our sheriffs and in our police. They
are trained. They do a lot better in most situations, in almost all
situations than a civilian.
For instance, had Mr. Zimmerman actually listened to the police when
he called because he saw Trayvon, they told him not to pursue him and to
let the police come and pursue him. Had Zimmerman listened, things would
be a lot better today than they were then.
So, we need a broad investigation for two with reasons. One, this
law, which is now, as you said, Rachel, in 20 states could well be causing
more violence than it prevents.
And second, it seems to be preventing the law enforcement from being
able to prosecute cases that would otherwise be actionable. And those are
pretty serious things. And so, I think we need a quick and thorough
investigation of how this law`s working and maybe the states on their own
when they saw that would repeal them. Maybe it will require federal
action. That remains to be seen.
But we certainly should examine these laws which have been passed
sort of in a rushed way by 20 – more than 20 states.
MADDOW: One of the things that`s interwoven with the concern over
these, as you say, relatively recent “Stand Your Ground” gun laws – “Stand
Your Ground” anti-self defense laws in these states, is there a concern of
how race factors in to this? You identify the idea – the core idea of
these laws is you have to imagine you might be in danger.
Imagination is inflected by all sorts of things including prejudice.
It happens whether or not we think of ourselves as racist people or bigoted
people. When we imagine threats, we imagine them coming from all sorts of
place that aren`t legally actionable course of – a legally actionable
Do you think that the concerns – the long-standing concerns about
racially biased policing – about selective prosecution can be addressed at
the same time? I realize the gun laws are novel but those concerns about
race and policing and prosecution are old.
SCHUMER: Well, you know, my call is for an investigation of this law
which is new. We do have a civil rights division, which of course has
investigated cases where race may well be at issue over and over and over
But I will tell you this – I`m dubious of these laws which encourage
vigilantism, even if there weren`t a racial component involved. The idea
that anyone, when they think that they are in serious physical harm, that
they are going to be punched, that they should take out a gun and shoot the
person who they think might be punching them is really, really troublesome.
And we ought to get to the bottom of it before these laws become –
before they spread and before they are too engrained in our culture. As I
said, it seems to encourage vigilantism when the right thing to do is rely
on law enforcement.
MADDOW: Senator Charles Schumer of New York – thank you very much
of your time tonight, sir. I really appreciate it.
SCHUMER: Thank you, Rachel. Good to talk to you.
Right now, the most important figure in Newt Gingrich`s run for the
presidency is named Ellis the elephant. That story and the interview
tonight with Frank Rich, straight ahead.
MADDOW: Programming note, I will be on “The Late Show with David
Letterman” tonight. That`s on CBS 11:35 Eastern. I have a sneaky
suspicion that Mr. Letterman will ask me about nuclear North Korea and
about my pants.
Tomorrow, I`m going to be on NPR with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air,”
which I have always wanted to do and never done before.
Before I am back here with you again tomorrow night, I will also be
appearing on “The Today Show” in the morning on NBC. I`ll be on the 7:00
a.m. Eastern Hour. And also, I`ll be on with Kathie Lee and Hoda and
hopefully drinking something in the 10:00 hour on “The Today Show”. That`s
all before I am back here again tomorrow night.
And this type of schedule for me can really only mean one thing,
right? Books out. “Drift,” my first book comes out officially tomorrow,
which is very exciting. I`m very proud of it. I`m very nervous that it`s
going out in the world.
The book is about the civilian politics of the military. It is about
Ronald Reagan running a war while wearing his PJs and a bathrobe at a golf
cottage, pictured here. It`s about the connection between our war in
Pakistan and an a really enormous bird called the Hubara bustard. It`s
bout LBJ yelling things to reporters from his toilet about Ho Chi Minh.
And the book is dedicated to Vice President Dick Cheney, who I have
to say I really do wish all of the best in his recovery from his heart
transplant this week.
In any case the book is out tomorrow. Nervous. I`m with David
Letterman later on tonight.
And we will be right back.
MADDOW: Three new things to report tonight on 2012 and on the Newt
Gingrich campaign specifically.
First, all major paper print reporters have been pulled off the Newt
Gingrich for president campaign. They did not coordinate it or anything,
at least it doesn`t seem that way. But the Illinois primary was the last
Gingrich stop for the “Associated Press”. Then, on Friday, Politico.com
and the “Atlanta Journal-Constitution,” the last holdout, pulled their
embedded reporters from the Gingrich campaign, too. So, that leaves just
the television networks including NBC out there on the campaign trail with
Newt Gingrich but no print reporters.
Second, Newt Gingrich has cancelled his campaign events in North
Carolina this week. Although, the campaign would prefer that we call it a
postponement. Mr. Gingrich will instead stay close to his home in northern
Virginia and go to campaign events there.
The North Carolina primary is on May 8th. Virginia`s already done.
And that brings us to our third new thing to report about the Newt
Gingrich presidential campaign. It`s about Mr. Gingrich`s wife, Callista
Gingrich. She is out campaigning for her husband all week in a very
important state, her home state of Wisconsin.
And this is a new thing for Mrs. Gingrich. This is not something
that she has made a habit of. She doesn`t go out to events on her own all
But, for example, here is Mrs. Gingrich today. She seems to be at,
yes, that is an elementary school. The Trinity Academy in Hudson,
Wisconsin. It`s a kindergarten through eighth grade school. She took a
tour of the school and did a book reading from her book “Sweet Land of
Liberty” – which is a great and effective campaign stop if you are
courting the K to 8 vote.
Callista Gingrich is actually doing a lot of that this week. Mrs.
Gingrich has nine scheduled campaign stops, four of them are to elementary
schools. Kids cannot vote, but they can buy books.
The Gingrich campaign has been defined in part by its – let`s call
it multitasking – part campaign, part book tour. This is at a National
Federation for Republican Women event in Kansas City, Missouri, back in
October. Mr. Gingrich was the featured speaker at the convention luncheon
and then right after the speech, he and his wife walked off the stage and
went outside and where they had set up tables for a good, old fashioned
promotional event to sign their respective books.
Remember, Mr. Gingrich`s wife`s book is about a character called
Ellis the Elephant. Here`s the Ellis the Elephant of Mrs. Gingrich`s book
brought to life by a person in a big flushy elephant costume.
The person in the costume, the real life Ellis the Elephant is a
Gingrich campaign staffer. Look a campaign staffer has to put on the
costume to promote Callista Gingrich`s event at a campaign event because
oh, right, that`s what the campaign is for.
This is Ellis back in October. And this is Ellis again today with
Mrs. Gingrich at her elementary book signing/campaign event and scene,
But in campaign – Mr. Gingrich is reportedly pressing on. Even
after losing the Louisiana primary this weekend, the former speaker of the
House came in a very distant third in Louisiana. And that`s a problem for
Newt Gingrich even if his strategy is to go to the Republican convention in
Tampa and try to win the nomination there through a contested convention.
As NBC`s “First Read” has been reporting, the Republican Party`s
rules say that in order to compete for the nomination, in order to have
your name put forward you have to win at least five states. Any candidate
needs to win a plurality of the delegates in five states to even have their
name put forward for the nomination.
Mr. Gingrich has so far won two states. His home state of Georgia
and South Carolina. And no matter how bad you are at math, two does not
round up to five.
So, it`s not looking good for Mr. Gingrich, but I bet it`s still
looking good for book sales. That`s what`s happening at the lower echelons
of the Republican primary right now.
But there seems some trouble at the top as well. Take a closer look
at the results from the primary in Louisiana this weekend.
Rick Santorum won the state overall. He got the most votes in every
single income bracket. Republicans who made under $30,000 a year, Santorum
defeated Romney there by 53 points. People making $30,000 to $49,000 a
year, Santorum won there by 29 points. Again, in the next income bracket,
Santorum defeating Romney by 15 points.
But then Mitt Romney does run away with it in the tippy top income
bracket, right? Look at that, among people making more than $200,000 a
year, that`s what Mitt Romney wins. Mitt Romney was the winner in
Louisiana only among the richest sliver of the electorate.
Even when Mitt Romney loses, he wins the rich people vote. And we
have seen it over and over and over again. Now, if you are Mitt Romney or
you`re a strategist working on his campaign, you got to be wondering at
this point, how do you put together a national win when your base – the
only people you can really count on everywhere are the tiny sliver of the
richest people in the country that happen to be voting that day? It`s a
But here`s the good news for the Romney campaign, it`s been done
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It is an impressive crowd,
the haves and the have mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Worked once. Maybe they can be Mitt Romney`s base, too.
Frank Rich from “New York Magazine” joins us next.
MADDOW: The great Frank Rich joins us for the interview, his next.
MADDOW: Newt Gingrich was out on the campaign trail tonight,
speaking in front of local Republicans in Delaware. Delaware votes on
April 24th. Mitt Romney was out on the trail today in San Diego, giving a
speech and doing a couple of fundraisers. California votes on June 5th.
Rick Santorum was out and about being visibly political today, but we
cannot say that he was on the campaign trail because Rick Santorum
specifically was in Washington, D.C. today. And Rick Santorum is not on
the ballot in Washington, D.C. when D.C. votes next week.
It`s not a conspiracy against him or something. His campaign just
did not get it together to even ask for him to be on the ballot. The
Santorum campaign didn`t pay the fee. They did not ask for a petition for
signatures to get him on the D.C. ballot. They didn`t bother.
But, nevertheless, Rick Santorum was in Washington, D.C. any way
While the Supreme Court was hearing arguments in the health reform
case, Rick Santorum was outside of the court with all of the protesters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What do you say those protestors who are saying health
care is a right? Is it a right?
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe basic rights
are guaranteed under the Declaration of Independence and recognized under
the Declaration of Independence. Rights come from our Creator. They are
protected by the Constitution of this country.
Rights should not and cannot be created by a government where because
anytime government creates a right they can take that right away. And they
can force you, as you`ve seen with Obamacare. They can force you to do
things that are against what you believe is right for you and your family.
They can do things that you believe are against the tenets and teachings of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nobody asked Rick Santorum about the tenets and teaching of
his faith as they pertain to health reform, nobody asked about religion,
whether or not your church is cool with contraception. He was just asked
open-ended question, is health care a right – like all of these people are
chanting behind you? Is that correct? Is health care a right? And Rick
Santorum goes right to the lady parts.
This is what the campaign is like on the Republican side this year.
As Frank Rich writes in “New York Magazine” out today, “Santorum,
flaky though he may sound is not some outlier in his party or in its
presidential field. He was an advance man for a rancorous national brawl
about to ambush an unsuspecting America that thought women`s access to
birth control had been resolved by the Supreme Court almost half century
Joining now us for the interview is Frank Rich, writer at large for
“New York Magazine”.
Frank, thanks for being here.
FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Delighted to be here.
MADDOW: How do you think that Rick Santorum got to be the Republican
Party`s as – you put it – their advanced man on birth control? I`m not
surprised that he went there. But why did everybody else follow him?
RICH: He owns it but they all did follow him. I think this party
has moved so far to the right that you have even a so-called moderate by
the standards of this crowd, like Mitt Romney being against Planned
Parenthood, wants to the defund Planned Parenthood, wants to end Title X,
Title 10, this important program that helps so many poor women just get
basic health care, let alone birth control can.
They`ve, sort of, gone off the rails. I mean, the biggest thing I
think and I know you talked about a lot is the Blunt Amendment. That was
an amendment that passed with every single Republican in the Senate, 45 of
them voting for it except for Olympia Snowe who`s fleeing, and essentially
allowed employers to get rid of all health care for women and for men, at
that matter, if they had a moral objection.
So, goodbye to mammograms, contraception, pap smears – whatever it
is. And I think they`ve sort of lost touch with reality. They certainly
lost touch with the American voters.
MADDOW: Is there – is there a parallel Republican logic that you
can see at work, though, that explains what they are doing?
And I ask not because I`d be surprised they are moving farther to the
right than their electoral fortune should indicate, but because it was the
Blunt-Rubio amendment – Marco Rubio very obviously wants to be chosen as
the vice presidential nominee of his party. He put his name on the
secondary name on that amendment. People like Scott Brown, who is facing a
very difficult electorate, a very moderate electorate in Massachusetts,
running against the very popular Elizabeth Warren. He voted for that
I mean, Olympia Snowe didn`t vote for it on her way out the door but
other people who got really big aspirations in general election, big races
are going with this. Is there a logic that explains it?
RICH: I don`t get it. Do you? I mean, it seems to me if you are
from a state that`s completely red state, you can do whatever you want.
But in a state like Massachusetts, for instance, I don`t get the logic of
it. I don`t think that there is a majority that wants all of the stuff
stripped away and the majority of the country is women.
And while there are some women, including the Republican Party who,
defend this policy, most women, according to polls, are against it. So,
just – you have to wonder if they are an echo chamber. I just – I look
for some Machiavellian theory that would explain how this would pay off in
November but I don`t see it.
MADDOW: Do you see – you write about the right on this side, on the
Republican side here, sort of playing a long game, that this didn`t just
emerge now. That this is something that`s had longer horizons from the
party. Where do you think this came from?
RICH: I think it came from the 1960s so like so many sort of
neurotic things, if that`s the word for it, in the Republican Party.
What`s important to remember is that the Republican Party had a history of
being pro-suffrage for women, most state legislators that approved the 19th
Amendment in 1920 were Republican-controlled. Richard Nixon supported the
Equal Rights Amendment.
It started to change in the early `70s when strategists saw, well, we
can play the Southern strategy to bring over a certain kind of particularly
white, male, Democratic voter, that would later – the Reagan Democrats on
race. There was also reaction to the feminist movement.
And so, you see, even in think early `70s, before Roe v. Wade was
decided, before legal abortion was a political issue in this country, there
were running campaigns against the idea that women should work and be
outside of the home and have equal pay. They – like uppity women. That
was sort – they were sort of against it.
And I think that`s the seeds of it, not abortion. Although,
obviously, the religious right would rise and abortion would be a big
MADDOW: Frank Rich, writer at large for “New York Magazine,” I have
to say, hearing your sort of – reading you exploring the roots of this and
hearing you talk about it here makes me feel like we are on to something
and being puzzled by this, but I`m still puzzled by it. I definitely feel
like this is one of those things that requires more work.
RICH: I agree. I agree.
MADDOW: Frank, thanks very much.
RICH: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
Right after the show, hey, this is big news actually. On “THE LAST
WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell, his guest tonight is the lawyer for George
Zimmerman, the lawyer for the man who`s alleged to have shot Trayvon
Martin. So, you will not want to miss that.
And here, the new issue Republicans are hoping will be their big win
against President Obama this fall, I think they are wrong, but I`ll tell
you what it is, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All told, thousands of
pounds of nuclear material have been removed from vulnerable sites around
the world. This was deadly material that is now secure and now can never
be used against a city like Seoul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama speaking today in South Korea.
The plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan, at the
end of World War II was called, of course, The Enola Gay. This is a
photograph of that nuclear bomb blast at Hiroshima.
The plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki a couple of days
later was a plane called Bockscar. This is a photograph of the nuclear
bomb blast on Nagasaki. You can see the almost perfectly symmetrically
mushroom cloud over Nagasaki there.
The reason we have these photos of these two nuclear bombs going off
in these two cities in Japan is because along with Bockscar and the Enola
Gay, the planes that dropped the bombs, we flew planes with them that took
pictures of the explosions.
The plane that photographed the Nagasaki explosion was called Big
Stink. The plane that photographed the Hiroshima explosion was called
Necessary Evil, because history is written by deeply, deeply cynical poets.
The first of those bombs killed 75,000 people instantly. The second
one at Nagasaki killed 40,000 more people instantly. Within a couple
months, 150,000, possibly 250,000 people were dead, killed by just those
Now, the nuclear bombs we`ve got today are roughly 10 times the yield
of what we dropped on Hiroshima. The Hiroshima bomb remember, instantly
killed 75,000 people. Imagine a bomb blast 10 times that size.
Can you imagine us using a bomb like that now? A bomb that size.
We`ve got 1,800 bombs that size deployed right now – 1,800 nuclear bombs,
each ten times the size of the Hiroshima bomb, all deployed and ready to be
And we`ve got thousands more in our stockpile. If you can imagine us
dropping another nuclear bomb, like we did on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, how
many can you imagine us dropping? How many more nuclear bombs do you think
America could ever conceivably launch in our future as a nation?
Could we launch two more? Ten more? Could we launch 100 more? A
thousand? More than 1,000?
More than 1,000 bombs each 10 times the size of Hiroshima? What
would be left?
President Obama is in Seoul, South Korea for his summit on locking up
vulnerable nuclear material to keep nuclear material out of the hands of
terrorist and off the black market.
In a visit to a South Korean University, the president said today,
quote, “We have more nuclear weapons than we need.”
This is not yet a central issue in the president`s re-election
campaign, but Republicans want it to be. Republicans are banking on us,
the country, thinking that the ability to blow up Hiroshima 10 times over,
thousands of times over and then thousands more times over is not enough.
And that reducing the number of nuclear weapons we`ve got, either all
together or deployed and ready to fire, reducing the number of nuclear
weapons we`ve got would be a sign of weakness because, hey, who knows?
Maybe we will have to drop 2,000 nuclear bombs at some point.
As the president comes home from South Korea, Republicans are
thinking this is going to be a good political issue for them to use against
President Obama. I do not think they are right. But I`m kind of looking
forward to them trying to make the case.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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