The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/21/12
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: Good evening, Rachel. I am looking
forward to the Cory Booker interview. That is the interview in politics in
the world right now.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thank you. That`s an incredible segue, Ed. I`m
looking forward to it.
SCHULTZ: And we missed you, I missed you. I`m glad you`re back.
MADDOW: Thank you, man. I appreciate it. Thanks a lot.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next
If you go to the homepage of Republican Party right now, if you type
GOP.com into your web browser, the front page of the National Republican
Party`s Web site comes up.
And today it looks like this: “I stand with Cory.” I stand with Cory?
With Cory Booker?
I don`t think I need a spoiler alert here if I let you know that the
Republican Party in reality is very unlikely to actually stand with Cory
Booker. Mr. Booker is the Democratic progressive firebrand mayor of
Newark, New Jersey, who supports President Obama`s re-election
The Republican Party is making a big show of saying they are standing
with him because they say that Cory Booker is a victim, who needs people to
stand up for him because he can`t stand up for himself. Because it`s the
Republican Party, the person that is victimizing Cory Booker is Mothra, I
mean Godzilla. I mean, I`m sorry, President Obama.
Today, while President Obama was at the NATO summit in Chicago, the
Republican Party chairman sent out these email to Republican Party
It says, “Do you know what Obama does with people who stand up for job
creators? He silences them. That`s right. By Sunday evening, the Obama
campaign had pressured Booker into taking back support of the free market.
This is how far President Obama has sunk running an all-out assault on
job creators. And in his own Democratic Party, anyone who dares to defend
them must be silenced.
Don`t let the White House silence free enterprise. If you agree, then
please sign our petition: I stand with Cory Booker.”
And if you do sign that petition, you will thereby give your e-mail
address to the Republican Party, which will make infinite use of your e-
mail address from here to spam-ternity.
What all of this is about is a comment made by Cory Booker, excuse me,
on “Meet the Press” yesterday, where he – excuse me – where he criticized
negative campaigning on both sides of the presidential campaign this year.
He said he found the negative campaigning nauseating.
He said that event though the president`s reelection campaign which he
supports has criticized Mitt Romney`s tenure at Bain Capital, he said he
does not think that private equity per se is always bad. That`s the sort
of thing that people in Washington call off-message, for someone who was
functioning in that instance as an Obama campaign surrogate. It was off-
Off-message like when Marco Rubio endorsed Mitt Romney for president
and then promptly followed up that endorsement by saying, quote, “There are
a lot of other people out there that some of us wish they had run for
president, but they didn`t.”
Off-message like when former Congressman Tom Davis endorsed Mr. Romney
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM DAVIS (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: He may not be Mr. Personality.
You know, this is the guy who gives the fire side chat and the fire goes
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Off-message like when Jon Huntsman endorsed Mr. Romney with
this love song to the Republican nominee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON HUNTSMAN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Gone are the days
when the Republican Party used to put forward big, bold visionary stuff.
We`re going to have problems politically until we get some sort of third
party movement or some alternative voice out there that can put forward new
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, and by the way, please vote for Mitt Romney.
Off message like when Nevada Congressman Joe Heck endorsed Mitt Romney
by saying, quote, “Mitt Romney and I don`t agree on every issue and
certainly housing is one of them.”
Off message like when Michigan Congressman Fred Upton said his
candidate, Mitt Romney was wrong on the auto bailout.
Off-message like when Chris Christie joined the Democrats in demanding
that his candidate, Mitt Romney, release more years of his tax returns.
Actually, it should be noted that the platonic form of off message
surrogate this year came in the form of Chris Christie as well. Do you
remember this one from him?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: In terms of me, I`ll be much
more ready four years from now than I am now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)(
MADDOW: In stomping for the guy who is running right now, you`re
talking about how you`re going to be ready to run in four years? Why,
because your guy is going to lose this year and so the Republicans will
have another shot at it in four years? Or are you thinking that he will
win and you`ll run against him after his first term? That`s off message.
Off message happens. Off message happens a lot. It`s happened a
whole heck of a lot with people acting as Mitt Romney`s surrogates this
year – which Democrats and the Beltway media have tended to react to by
softly chuckling if they notice it at all.
But when off message happens on the Democratic side, even when Mayor
Cory Booker clarifies his remarks and says he does not think that Mitt
Romney`s tenure at Bain shouldn`t be off limits, even when President Obama
expresses the same basic idea that private equity per se is not bad, it`s
just that in Mitt Romney`s case, it`s not a great, great qualification for
running for president, no matter.
When off-message happens on the Democratic side, there`s no mitigating
factor that can distract from the feeding frenzy. Democrats join right in
with the attack. Liberals join right in. The Beltway media joins in with
the attack in way that they can almost not control.
The Republicans not only attack but they caricature this Democrat in
this case into a helpless victim who they supposedly want to rescue from
being silenced since he obviously isn`t allowed to speak for himself.
Let`s let him speak for himself.
Joining us now for his first interview since his “Meet the Press”
appearance caused all this hullaballoo is Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory
Mr. Mayor, thank you for being here. It`s nice to have you here.
MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Rachel, thank you very
much for having me on. I appreciate this because actually you and I talked
earlier. I told you I was doing no interviews.
It wasn`t until the GOP went across that line that I said forget it.
I`ve had all I can stand, and I can`t stand no more. So, thank you for
giving me a chance to be on tonight.
MADDOW: What is the line that they crossed that made you feel that
way? What is it about the way they have reacted to this that made you
change your mind about talking about this issue again?
BOOKER: Anybody who watched the entire “Meet the Press” saw not only
was I defending Obama`s position on numerous issues, but I also talked
about super PAC money and the negative campaigning, and my outrage and
really my frustration was about the cynical, negative campaigning, the
manipulating of the truth.
And so, here they are plucking sound bites out of that interview to
manipulate them in a cynical manner, to use them for their own purposes.
That slogan is really what had me and basically my entire staff really fit
to be tied.
In the beginning, I think I used if metaphor my staff is going to have
hold me back because – to say “I stand with Cory Booker,” I have not seen
a Republican national candidate, with maybe the exemption of Jack Kemp a
long time ago, be willing to stand with me in places like Newark, New
Jersey, Camden, New York, Patterson, places they seem want to imagine
And so, what I really feel strongly is anybody in the GOP who wants to
stand with me, please stand with me. Stand with me for marriage equality,
as Barack Obama stands up for. Stand with me for not turning the back, the
clock on women in terms of medical issues and other things like Barack
Obama is standing against.
Stand with me on making health care more accessible to all. Stand
with me for making college more affordable as President Obama is doing.
If anybody listens to the entire “Meet the Press” and they want to
stand with me, they`ll see I stand firmly with the president. What really,
really unfortunately has me frustrated is not only does the GOP tend to
overlook urban areas like the one I`ve been standing for and working in for
my entire professional career, but the one time they seem to pay attention
to it, they want to exploit a mayor who for my entire has been standing for
And I`ll tell you this – I`ve been standing for Barack Obama before
most people were standing with Barack Obama, as one of his earliest
supporters in New Jersey, if not his first major political endorsement.
This is a president that in my opinion rejects so many of the things, the
tired rhetoric, the distractions, the kind of things that get America not
focused on the problems that we need to solve.
So, today to the GOP, I say – I welcome you to stand with me. Stand
with me for moving America forward. Don`t stand with me for the kind of
things that Mitt Romney is advocating, they`re going to further bankrupt
our city, close off opportunity, discriminate against gays and women, and
do the kind of things that I think are sending America in the wrong
MADDOW: Cory, the Republican Party`s hook for saying they stand with
you is that you have been a victim of the Obama campaign. You`re not being
allowed to say what you really say, that you only issued that clarifying
response after “Meet the Press” because of pressure from the Obama
What is your response to that and are you being pressured by anybody
to say something that you don`t believe or to take back something that you
BOOKER: Well, for anybody that knows me and really knows my career,
I`ve been an independent Democrat for a long time, standing up on issues.
And actually, I`m comfortable to say I disagree with the president before
marriage equality and now he stands for that issue.
But the reality is that the Barack Obama team in the White House and
their political team have been good to me for many, many years. I`ve
worked with them early in the primaries in the last election. They have
never pressured me to do anything. They have done nothing but encourage
In this case in particular, I certainly did talk with campaign
officials, but they didn`t force me to do anything. They had good
conversations with me. And after having conversations with them especially
after hearing the president`s remarks on this issue where he was not
condemning all of private equity. He was not condemning any particular
firms. He was focusing in on a guy who is bragging about his job creation
record. To me, I think that`s fair game.
All of those things made me say I need to go on and clarify, because
obviously, I did things in the “Meet the Press” interview that did not land
the points that I was trying to make, and in some ways, you know,
frustratingly, I think I conflated the attacks that the Republicans were
making with Jeremiah Wright with some of the attacks on the left.
Those can`t even be equated. The noxious nature of the some of the
attacks that we`ve seen going on our president, where you poll many people
in the GOP who still believes he`s a secret Muslim, and these other things,
it`s gotten so ridiculous. You can`t even equate the negativity on the
right with what`s happening by some sectors in the left.
And so, at this point, I`m grateful to the president who came out
today and said very kind words to me. Some cynical folks in his camp
probably wanted the president to go on attack on me, God bless him, because
I think his team listen to the totality of what I was doing, heard me
defend the president on “Meet the Press” on health care, heard me defend
him on job creation, heard me defend him on doing tax reform that actually
helped people in my community in Newark, New Jersey.
It`s a partnership I`m going to continue to have no matter what role
they want me to play. I play it proactively, not reactively to them.
MADDOW: Cory, when you say you heard the president`s remarks today
talking about the substantive matter, the substantive matter that started
all of this, when you heard him talking about private equity and you say
now that you wanted to be clear that talking about Mitt Romney`s record as
a self-proclaimed job creator is on the table, what exactly are you saying
ought to be part of the political discussion and what ought to be off the
table? Where is the line for you and what do you think is appropriate?
BOOKER: This is my independence. I`m not going to shy away from
being one of those people that says, I`m tired of presidential campaigns,
the primary we just watched with Republicans talking about all kinds of
issues that don`t make sense for my community, who is struggling with
foreclosures – things that Obama – excuse me, things that Romney`s
against helping or not in favor of giving tax breaks to middle class
families in my community. I`m not going to remain silent when people try
to bring up issues and negativity that distract from the core issues, that
in my community right now, there`s a high level of urgency that we`re
talking about and doing something about.
And so, I reject that negativity. I`m not going to come back from
that point. But when it comes to what I think is appropriate questions,
when Mitt Romney, himself, says “I was a job creator,” not a successful guy
in private equity, that I wasn`t – hey, I didn`t return great investment
for my people and my firm, but when he says “I was a job creator,” I think
that`s a characterization of his record that deserves inquiry.
I think the way the president himself is talking about that is
something I will defend. In fact, something I will echo.
But let`s just be clear, in this election, and this is why I wish if
Romney wanted to pull my remarks from “Meet the Press” where I went after
super PACs and Citizens United, and the incredible flood of tens if not
hundreds of millions of dollars that are going to flow into this campaign,
one of the most extensive campaigns we`re going to see in terms of money
spent, and the majority will be negative, cynical vicious attacks in
distracting this country from dealing with the issues and substance that we
want to do with. I`m sorry, I`m going to reject that every day.
But I`m happy and I`m proud to have been a friend of the president
before he started talking about running for president. I`m proud that we
have a guy who`s got the Obama cool who`s focusing on the issues that
I`m hoping that both sides, my side of the aisle, which can sometimes
go too far, and their side that`s bringing up to stuff to me that is in
many ways the dirtiest aspect of politics, I`m going to call that for what
But in terms of me, I`m a mayor of a city. I have to deal with
urgencies every single day. People looking for jobs, people looking for
access to education, people looking for hope. And right now, from the
cynical right and from even this Congress on the right, I see very little
coming out that`s actually going to help people in urban issues.
And this is why if Mitt Romney and his campaign want to say, “I stand
with Booker,” come stand with me in Newark, stand in Camden, stand in
Detroit, and talk about issues that effect people, like the auto industry,
substantive issues like Obama is talking about.
That`s really what I want to continue to talk about in this campaign.
I`m upset. This is why I`m on your show that I`ve been taken out of
context, I`ve been used to support a – if there`s any honor in what they
were saying, Mitt Romney would have come out and said, you know what, like
Obama did, Citizens United decision is going to hurt our democracy. He
would have come out and said the negativity on our side, I`m going to talk
about us, has got to stop.
If he wanted to come out and stand with me, he would say, you know
what? I stand with Cory Booker. Let`s stop the super PAC money. Let`s
stop the negative campaigning.
Let`s talk about the issues. I`ll meet with President Obama to talk
And for him to use that slogan in a way that manipulates my record and
my entire professional career working in the streets of my community with
good people trying to make Newark better, I`m sorry. People knew (ph)
Newark before, but to exploit it or its mayor, it`s something I`m not going
to sit still for.
MADDOW: Cory, as a practical matter, you are in – it`s sort of weird
because the idea of collateral damage is it`s unintentional. But in this
case, I think you are intentional collateral damage, that the attack is
directed at the president by using you as a weapon against the president.
You as collateral damage are also supposed to be silenced in this debate.
You were effectively supposed to be rendered inoperable as a campaign
surrogate and a person who speaks on behalf on his own support for the
president. Has that aspect of it do you think worked? Do you feel like
you have to sit out national campaigning for now or for the long run
because of this incident? Are you just going to keep doing what you`ve
BOOKER: Well, one, I`m going to serve the president and what his team
thinks is the best use for me. Two is every opportunity I have for within
my city, wherever I go, as I`ve done consistently for a very long time for
the White House, as well as for the president, as well as for his campaign,
I`m going to continue every single day to pour my heart and soul into
making sure that he gets re-elected because I`ve seen what happens under
I`ve seen what happened under George Bush within my city. I`ve seen
the challenges of money pouring into a war we shouldn`t have been into and
not into programs that could empower our community. I`ve seen this
investment in education, I`ve seen this investment in middle class job
creation. And that`s something I can`t sit still for.
It hurts me. I feel disappointed if anyway that now I`m being used to
undermine the president in this kind of cynical of being a way. I`m going
to work harder. If anything they have turned me on, even to work harder
the next six months, from fundraising to whatever need be, to ensure our
president gets re-elected.
I`m not going to be quiet on my disappointment with the nature of
campaigns. I think we as a democracy really now, and especially after this
election, need to start looking at the things that we can do to get all
this money out of politics and to begin to start focusing on what we can do
to ensure our democracy is advanced and ensure the voices of average people
can be heard and not drown out in the way they are right now by super PACs.
But as far as where my heart is right now, I`m very upset that I`m
being used by the GOP this way. And it`s – well, I thought today I was
going to be quiet, being pushed so far that you`re going to hear a lot from
me to the extent possible, and to the extent that President Obama and his
campaign want to hear from me.
MADDOW: Mayor Cory Booker of the great city of Newark, New Jersey –
my friend, I know it was a hard decision to talk publicly today as you just
described. I appreciate that you`re willing to talk with me here, man.
BOOKER: As always, Rachel.
MADDOW: – over the next few days as this continues to unfold.
BOOKER: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Andrea Mitchell still to come. Ben Jealous with
the NAACP still to come. We got a big show tonight.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, I think
Cory Booker is an outstanding mayor. He`s doing great work in Newark and
helping to turn the city around.
I think it`s important to recognize that this issue is not a, quote,
“distraction”. This is part of the debate that we`re going to be having in
this election campaign about how do we create an economy where everybody
from top to bottom, folks on Wall Street and folks on main street have a
shot at success, and if they`re working hard and they`re acting
responsibly, that they`re able to live out the American Dream.
Now, I think my view of the private equity is that it is – it is set
up to maximize profits. That`s a healthy part of the free market. That`s
part of the role of a lot of business people. That`s not unique to private
As I think my representatives have said repeatedly, and I will say
today, I think there are folks who do good work in that area, and there are
times where they identify the capacity for the economy to create new jobs
or new industries. But understand that their priority is to maximize
profits. That`s not always going to be good for communities or businesses
And the reason this is relevant to the campaign is because my
opponent, Governor Romney, his main calling card for why he thinks he
should be president is his business experience. He`s not going out there
touting his experience in Massachusetts. He`s saying I`m a business guy,
and I know how to fix it, and this is his business.
When you`re president, as opposed to the head of a private equity
firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to
figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot. And, so, if your
main argument for how to grow the economy is, I knew how to make a lot of
money for investors, then you`re missing what this job is about. It
doesn`t – it doesn`t mean you weren`t good at private equity. But that`s
not what my job is as president.
My job is to take into account everybody, not just some. Mr. Romney
is responsible for the proposals he`s putting forward for how he says he`s
going to fix the economy, and if the main basis for him suggesting he can
do a better job is his track record as the head of a private equity firm,
then both the upsides and the downsides are worth examining.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was President Obama speaking in Chicago today after he
was asked a question at the NATO summit there about domestic politics,
about his campaign focusing on Mitt Romney`s tenure as a businessman
working in private equity. He was asked about that because of criticism of
that focus from his campaign which Republicans have made so much hay about.
A criticism of that focus from Newark Mayor Cory Booker who we just spoke
to exclusively on this show.
Joining us now just back from the NATO summit in Chicago is NBC News
chief foreign affairs correspondent and host of “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS”
right here on MSNBC, the one and only Andrea Mitchell.
Andrea, thanks very much for being with us. I really appreciate your
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You
are the one and only. Nobody else could have gotten Cory Booker to come in
and speak, and that was an incredible interview. Well done.
MADDOW: Thank you. Thank you for saying so. It`s high praise coming
But I want to – I want to ask you about the point that I tried to
make in the introduction to that interview, which I`m not sure has been
made elsewhere, which is the idea of the wayward surrogate, the off-message
surrogate, which is something that has happened a lot on the Mitt Romney
side of the campaign to almost no political impact whatsoever. It`s
happened, obviously, with Mayor Booker on the Democratic side of the
campaign to massive political impact.
Why has there been such a difference?
MITCHELL: Well, the Romney people have been very adept at really
jumping and they have a lot of Democratic allies in this who jump any time
there`s a missed message. This was, with all due respect, to Mayor Booker,
there was a missed message because as he did acknowledge to you, he did, in
his answers, conflate the attacks on Bain and on private equity with the
Jeremiah Wright issue, and that`s what so upset the Obama camp, because
they do not see that at all as analogous.
There is no comparability to the Jeremiah Wright question, which had
been considered by one of the super PACs as a possible attack line, we
believe will probably rear its ugly head at some point during this campaign
by one of these surrogates or one of these super PACs. To use that and try
to compare that in any way with the essential outlines of his campaign as
the president and as Mayor Booker, in his interview with you, outlined it,
which is that private equity has its role, but if your whole premise of
running for president, as the Obama campaign claims, is that you`re a
business person and you can fix what`s wrong and you will do this the way
you did it at Bain Capital, if that experience defines your qualification
to be president – well, as President Obama said in his news conference,
that just is not what a president is supposed to do. A president is
supposed to represent all the people, not just the people who can benefit
by being the investors who will do well if a company that Bain Capital has
turned around does well or does not.
Making money is not the business of the president of the United
States. That is the way President Obama framed it. That is the message
that they believe is resonating in the key battleground states across the
Midwest, across what we used to call the Rust Belt, and that is what they
believe was badly damaged by Cory Booker as their eventual endorsement of
gay marriage was damaged by another even more prominent surrogate, Joe
Biden, also I should point out on “Meet the Press”.
So, it`s surrogates sort of speaking honestly, speaking from the
heart, and saying what they really believe, and that is the problem for
this campaign. They were just sort of shaking their heads but they were
MADDOW: I should say that I think we made news tonight with Cory
Booker saying that conflation of the Jeremiah Wright tactic and the private
equity tactic is something that he did not intend and that he regrets and
isn`t something he believes.
One of the things that`s so fascinating about this, Andrea, is that
the issue of Mitt Romney`s tenure in the private sector, the years that he
spent at Bain Capital, as opposed to, say, his time as governor of
Massachusetts, have actually been made central by both the Republicans and
the Democrats. The Republicans want to run on that, and the Democrats want
them to run on that.
I wonder if this whole kerfuffle, not just the incident, but the
reaction to it, is going to be a inflection point on that. Are either of
these campaigns going to change their focus on that issue because of what`s
just happened here?
MITCHELL: Not for the Obama campaign, I can tell you. They believe
that their Bain Capital record is their best argument against Mitt Romney.
And they point out very happily and willingly that he does not run on his
record as Massachusetts governor, because, of course, he has had to pivot
on so many issues from that record as Massachusetts governor.
Now, look, you`re absolutely right. What you pointed out in your
opening segment in the lead-in to the Cory Booker interview was that the
media has not really dwelled on how many of these Republicans are not
endorsing Mitt Romney in a very – how would describe the way they`ve been
endorsing Mitt Romney – an elevator closing?
MADDOW: They haven`t been unequivocal?
MITCHELL: To say the least.
So that has been sort of a light motif but not hammer. That really
mixed metaphor, but you know what I`m trying to say after all these hours
traveling today, that the Republicans have gotten pretty much a free ride
on that, and Mitt Romney has managed to pull the party together. And I
think that`s partly because for all of the bitterness of that campaign and
for all of the more conservative Republican and social conservative who has
longstanding doubts about Mitt Romney and his authenticity, they still, I
think, dislike Barack Obama more than they dislike Mitt Romney.
MADDOW: NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell,
the host of “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS,” weekdays at 1:00 here on MSNBC –
Andrea, I know you`ve had an incredible day, including covering everything
in Chicago and traveling and being with us tonight and all the reporting
from both the campaigns – thank you so much –
MITCHELL: But you had the interview, madam. Well done.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, speaking
interviews, is coming up to talk about the major shift in politics around a
great, big civil rights issue in this country right now. Mr. Jealous is
making very big news and he will be here in just a couple minutes. I told
you it`s a big show.
MADDOW: If you have grown up laughing to the jokes of particular
comedian, if they have a distinctive voice, it can be hard to hear that
voice, to hear that comedian saying something and not automatically
subconsciously register in your brain that something is about to be funny.
So when the great Chris Rock was asked recently about President Obama
endorsing equal marriage rights for same sex couples, hearing Chris Rock
answer that question was to experience the expectation of laughter – even
though Chris Rock didn`t say anything actually funny in his answer.
From watching this happen, I – from watching this happen, learned
that frankly, Chris Rock could read me the phone book and subconsciously, I
would believe it was funny.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: I just think, you know, when you have kids you
can`t lie to your kids. He said, I read today, his kids have friends that
have, you know, same-sex parents. I just took my daughter to a party the
other day, two guys, same sex parents. And he couldn`t sit there as the
most powerful man in the world and say that these people deserve to be
discriminated against to his little girls. You know what I mean?
So, I thank – you know, I thank the children more than anything. The
children will make you find who you truly are and make you honest. I think
that`s what happened.
This shows you how screwed up the world is, though, that a man goes,
hey, I think gay people should be treated like everyone else. Controversy!
What kind of world is this? It`s so horrible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was a few days ago. Chris Rock on the Graham Norton
show talking about same-sex marriage rights. A couple of days after that,
the great Jay-Z, the leading renaissance man and entrepreneur of the rap
world, expressed much the same sentiments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY-Z, RAPPER: What people do in their own homes is their business
and who you choose to love whoever you love. That`s their business. It`s
no different than discriminating against blacks. It`s discrimination,
plain and simple.
I think it`s the right thing to do so whether it costs him votes or
not, you know, again, it`s really not about votes. It`s about people. So,
whether it costs him votes or not, I think it`s the right thing to do as a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It is no different than discriminating against blacks. It`s
discrimination plain and simple.
Jay-Z overtly equating same-sex marriage rights to the struggle for
civil rights for African-Americans in this country. That is an assessment
that the oldest civil rights organization has just weighed in on. The head
of the NAACP joins us live for the interview tonight. That`s next.
MADDOW: The NAACP is 103 years old, the nation`s oldest civil rights
organization. Today, they announced they are endorsing equal marriage
rights for same-sex couples. Now, in some way, this parallels the decision
on this issue by President Obama.
Like President Obama, the NAACP has recently taken the position in
favor of same-sex marriage rights in some specific states and in some
specific local contentious issues.
But before this vote by their board, before this 62-2 vote by their
national board, they had not taken a national position on this issue in
It`s a big deal for a few reasons. First, because support for same-
sex marriage has been softer among African-Americans than among white
people and Latinos in this country. There`s been talk on the anti-gay
right to use the issue to turn gay people and black people against each
other in this country for political purposes.
And then I guess gay, black people get divided personally. Left leg
one, one way, right way in the other, or something.
There`s also been concern in the Democratic Party that if elements of
the African-American community disagree with the president`s position in
favor of gay rights, maybe that could soften his rock solid support among
Well, the NAACP, the world`s oldest and largest African-American
association, taking this stand is therefore a big deal.
But the other reason this is a big deal is emotional. It`s personal.
Something kind of remarkable happened when the group`s national president,
Ben Jealous, made this announcement about his organization today.
Watch what happened. You`ll see in this clip. He just made the
announcement about the NAACP national endorsement of the same sex marriage
rights, and he has been asked a question about whether he`s worried about a
backlash against the decision from NAACP members who dissent from that
position for religious reasons.
This was Ben`s response. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN JEALOUS, NAACP PRESIDENT: I would like to point out that many of
us are religiously based. The bishop, the chairman who`s an ordained
reverend, myself who was an altar boy. We do this work because of our
faith, not in spite of it.
With that said, our calling as an organization is to defend the U.S.
Constitution. We are here to speak to, again, matters of civil law and
matters of civil rights. I`ve spoken to many clergies who feel
differently, different thoughts, different theologies, different doctrines.
All of are very clear that if this is a difference, it is a difference
not a division. If this a contrast, it is a contrast, not a conflict.
They understand that there are well – excuse me. To one – I`m a bit
moved. My parents` own marriage was against the law at the time, and they
had to return here to Baltimore after getting married in Washington, D.C.,
and the procession was mistaken for a funeral procession because it was so
quixotic for people to see these cars with these headlights on, having to
go from one city all the way to the next just so they could have a party
after they got married in their own home. This is an important day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is an important day.
Joining us now for the interview is the president of the NAACP, Ben
Ben, thank you so much for being here tonight. It`s good to see you.
JEALOUS: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: I have to ask you – go ahead.
JEALOUS: No, you got me choked up there. One of the reasons why this
issue is so important, so important that we as a country just get it right.
This is an issue of civil law. It is a civil rights issue.
This thing called civil marriage, you know, what our government does,
is because when we get it wrong, it gives permission for people to bully
kids, you know, to make their parents outcasts, and that`s why I`m so proud
of what our board did, that they really discerned, they debated and they
came down. As you said, just too dissenting, came down very firmly that
this is an issue of our Constitution, it`s a matter of our law, it`s a
question of how our government treats its citizens, and how we will let
states codify discrimination into their state constitution, and therefore
make it that law of their law.
I`m just proud of the NAACP and the stand that we have taken.
MADDOW: The NAACP has taken a stand on this issue with some state
chapters and some local chapters on some local issues.
But in terms of the decision to take this vote at the national level,
and it was an overwhelming vote, 62-2, I think I read was the vote of your
national board. Do you think the timing here was driven by the kinds of
personal issues that you raised, that you say that drove that emotion and
that announcement today? People personally coming to this issue for –
because of personal reasons, or is this a political decision by the group
or some sort of melding of the two?
JEALOUS: You know, what happened was that we saw this great battle in
North Carolina, and realized as that was going on that it was no longer
sufficient to decide this state-by-state. We had fought it in California,
I signed off joining a lawsuit to invalidate prop 8. We fought it in North
Carolina most recently.
But in the mix of that, it became clear we might be fighting a tidal
wave in the states seeking to codify discrimination into their
constitution, into those state laws, and we just thought it was important -
- the board in their deliberation just thought it was important to come out
clearly for the entire country, to make it clear that we will fight these
efforts wherever they pop up. Simply cannot stand by and watch one group
be targeted for de jure discrimination. We have opposed du jure
discrimination from our founding, and this is no different.
The reality is the right wing in this country is seeking to really sow
hatred in the state constitutions, and we simply can`t stand by, no matter
who the group is. And again, we had taken I think a noble stand in several
states, but it was time to take it for the country as a whole.
MADDOW: Ben, in terms of the right wing, particularly the anti-gay
activist right wing having strategized to try to divide gay Americans and
black Americans, first of all, as if there`s no overlap between the two
groups, but obviously for the strategic purpose of getting done what they
want to get done at the ballot box and beyond, do you feel like their
strategy is naive? Do you feel like even though you disagree with it, it
could succeed? Or do you feel they`re barking up the wrong tree in trying
to pursue that means toward their ends?
JEALOUS: You know, they`re truly barking up the wrong tree. I mean,
of course, they`re going to be able to find, you know, some black person
who wants to make this their issue. But the reality is that folks know
when they`re being played, they know when there is a group, the anti-civil
rights to their core that is trying to dupe them to go down the wrong road.
And the reality is, that again, yes, people may have a difference on
this issue, but we`re not going to be divided on so many other things. The
core civil rights agenda.
NAACP is not going to lose significant membership, for instance, for
taking this stand. We may even gain membership. The reality is that
people expect to see the NAACP stand up for the Constitution, stand up for
equality, stand up for continuing the tradition of our country, and one
that we`ve always found, really, in recent decades, but stand up for the
tradition of using Constitutions to expand rates rather than contract them.
I mean, that`s something that`s gone on in this country consistently,
probably, since the 1950s, sporadically before, but now we`re going back to
these dark days where folks want to use Constitutions to restrict rights.
And that`s something we will stand against each and every time, just like
we stood up to help defeat the personhood referendum in Mississippi. The
whole purpose of a Constitution in this country, sacred course, to expand
rights, not restrict them.
MADDOW: Ben Jealous, the president and CEO of the NAACP, that has
made this momentous that they, as a national organization, support equality
in marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Ben, congratulations on this big stuff. I know it was a big deal for
you to be able to announce this. It`s been a big goal for your
organization. Thank you, Ben. Thanks for being here tonight.
JEALOUS: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
And get their new claim satisfaction guarantee.
MADDOW: In case you missed it tonight, we broadcast the first
exclusive interview tonight with Newark Mayor Cory Booker after his
appearance on “Meet the Press” yesterday which set the political world on
fire all day yesterday and all day today. Bipartisan reaction to Cory`s
remarks on “Meet the Press” have range from interesting to frankly idiotic.
Cory Booker made some real news here tonight about what he said on
“Meet the Press,” about what he meant when he said those things that he
said on “Meet on Press,” and he is responding now to the way he sees
himself being used by the Republican Party.
The news that Cory Booker made on our show recapped in just a moment.
MADDOW: So the big news tonight was made on this show. On “Meet the
Press” yesterday, Newark Mayor Cory Booker criticized campaigning on both
sides of the presidential campaign this year. He said he found it
nauseating. He also said that even though the president`s reelection,
which he supports, had criticized Mitt Romney`s tenure at Bain Capital, the
mayor said he does not think private equity per se is always bad.
The Republican Party pounced on that. They responded with a new ad
from the Romney campaign and with a new slogan, that`s up in the front page
of the Republican Party Web site. Their new slogan is “We stand by Cory.”
The Republican Party now claiming that Mayor Booker is a victim, that
he`s being silenced by the Obama campaign, that he`s not being allowed to
say what he actually believes.
Mayor Booker was here tonight to say what he actually believes. He
said it was that Republican Party response which he called exploitive which
made him break his own on-air silence over his comments. He joined us
exclusively earlier this hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOOKER: I wasn`t doing any interviews. It wasn`t until the GOP went
across that line that I said, forget it. I`ve had all I can stand and I
can`t stand no more. So thank you for giving me a chance to be on tonight.
MADDOW: What is the line they crossed that made you feel that way?
What is it about the way they have reacted to this that made you change
your mind about talking about this issue again?
BOOKER: Anybody who watched the entire “Meet the Press” saw not only
was I defending Obama`s positions on numerous issues, but also talked about
super PAC money and the negative campaigning, and my outrage and really
frustration was really about the cynical, negative campaigning, the
manipulating of the truth.
And so, here they are plucking sound bites out of that interview to be
– to manipulate them in a cynical matter, to use them for their own – for
their own purposes. And that slogan is really what had me and basically my
entire staff really fit to be tied.
As far as where my heart is right now, I`m very upset that I`m being
used by the GOP this way, and it`s – I thought today I was going to be
quiet, but I`ve been pushed so far that you`re going to hear a lot from me
to the extent possible and to the extent that President Obama and his
campaign want to hear from me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Stay tuned. More to surely, surely come.
Now, it is time for `THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell. Thanks
for being with us tonight. Have a great night.
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