The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/08/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. That story you were just
covering there with the former congressman, we`ve got more on that ahead
this hour. It`s really important stuff. Thanks, man.
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: It`s a big one. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The Republican convention starts in two and a half weeks. It`s
already August 8th somehow today, and the convention is the last week of
August – the last week of this month. That would usually mean that
everybody in news would be on vacation now. Resting up before we all work
90 or so straight days without breaks, starting with that convention and
running straight through November.
But you may have noticed that most of the news world is not on
vacation right now. Contrary to how this usually works in an election
year, most of the hosts and anchors are around right now. And that is in
part because of this – the Mitt Romney campaign last month told everybody
that they were going to announce their vice presidential nominee before the
Republican convention. Not at the convention, but before. And they
haven`t done it yet.
And time is now running out before that convention, which means that
everybody is around in the news biz because everybody is around waiting for
that announcement. There are just not that many days left to do it. I
mean, we know they want it to make a big impact like the Sarah Palin
announcement made in 2008. So, we know the timing will likely be a sudden
surprise sort of thing.
But waiting for that means basically that nobody is leaving work.
Nobody is leaving their desks.
NBC News reported today, quote, “With a high degree of confidence,
that the three finalists for the Republican`s vice presidential pick are
former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former George W. Bush budget
director, Senator Rob Portman, and the author of the controversial House
Republican kill Medicare budget, Paul Ryan. Those are the three.
What happened to Marco Rubio? As soon as it was clear that Mitt
Romney was going to get the presidential nomination, the whole Beltway all
but concluded that Marco Rubio was going to be Mr. Romney`s vice
presidential pick. Now, Marco Rubio isn`t even on the short list?
I mean, if they`re trying to make an impact, I suppose it could be
they`re leaking short lists that don`t include Mr. Rubio so as to fake
everybody out that they`re not going to fake him so there will be extra
impact from the surprise of the fact they did pick him. I suppose that`s
Or maybe they`re not really going to pick him. Maybe Mr. Rubio does
have a lot of personal financial issues which would put that much more of a
spotlight on the fact that Mitt Romney will not release his tax returns.
So that could be it.
It could also be that when Mr. Rubio was being thought of as a vice
presidential prospect, he kept saying things like this on TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You`re a strong supporter of Mitt Romney`s. We heard the
Republican nominee speak just a short time ago. As a guy who supported an
individual mandate in Massachusetts –
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: But what a big difference. He
supported it on a state level, which meant if you didn`t like it in
Massachusetts, you would move to another state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: To hear Marco Rubio tell it, the good thing about Mitt
Romney`s record as governor of Massachusetts is the things he did to
Massachusetts you could escape them by moving to another state.
The good thing about Romney`s last turn as a political leader is you
could run away from him. You could flee for your life to a place where
Mitt Romney was not in charge.
So, yes, Marco Rubio is not going to be Mitt Romney`s vice president
al nominee. You never know, but yes, no.
However, on that same subject of health reform, the Romney campaign
today tried a whole new angle on that same subject that frankly made Marco
Rubio look good in comparison. The main Romney spokesperson was on FOX
News, friendly territory obviously. And she was asked about the anti-
Romney ad that was put out by a pro Obama super PAC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SOPTIC, STEELWORKER: When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant,
I lost my health care and my family lost their health care, and a short
time after that, my wife became ill.
I don`t know how long she was sick. And I think maybe she didn`t say
anything because she knew that we couldn`t afford the insurance.
And then one day, she became ill and I took her up to the Jackson
County hospital and admitted her for pneumonia. That`s when they found the
cancer. By then, it was stage four. There was nothing they could do for
her. And she passed away in 22 days.
I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he`s done to anyone. And I
furthermore do not think Mitt Romney is concerned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Asked to respond to that rather devastating ad this morning
when she was on FOX News, here was what the Romney campaign`s chief
spokesperson had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA SAUL, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: To that point, you know, if people had
been in Massachusetts under Governor Romney`s health care plan, they would
have had health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes. Right, that is true, but they were not in
Massachusetts, and so tragic outcome. If only something like Massachusetts
health reform was in place for the whole country, right? With its
individual mandate and government subsidies and everybody having insurance.
It would be awesome if there was health reform for the whole country
instead of just in Massachusetts, right?
So implicitly, the message is elect the guy who wants to do that, the
guy who wants health reform for the whole country and not just the guy who
thinks that should only be in Massachusetts. Re-elect President Obama,
everybody. Do not vote for the guy who would repeal national health reform
and leave it only in Massachusetts.
Re-elect President Obama. Four more years. Do not vote for Mitt
Romney, says the Romney campaign chief spokesperson.
If there`s one thing the Mitt Romney for president campaign should be
good at talking about by now, it is this issue, right? This is an issue
they really should not be screwing up. I mean, they`re trying to run
against health reform when their candidate is the health reform governor.
Sensitive subject. They know they have to be sensitive to it. They
know they have to be super attentive to this whenever it comes up. I mean,
everybody drop everything else and make sure you get this right when you
get a question about this issue.
But this morning, when Andrea Saul was busy totally and completely
failing to get this right on FOX News Channel, much of the rest of the
Romney campaign was not paying attention. They were preoccupied with
something else. Andrea Saul was telling FOX News how awesome Massachusetts
health reform would be for the whole country at approximately 10:35 this
Meanwhile, at approximately 10:33 this morning, the Romney campaign
was launching something that is equally difficult to get your head around
in terms of its strategic value. The Romney campaign obviously trying
desperately to get some traction on something other than why Mitt Romney
has not released his tax returns.
And today, at 10:33 a.m., that meant adding to their new attacks about
welfare a starring role on the campaign conference call for Newt Gingrich,
rolling him out to make the welfare attack today. Newt Gingrich, of
course, having distinguished himself on the campaign trail on the primary
for having remarkable sensitivity and political success when he talks to
poverty and the concerns of poor families.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You`re totally poor.
You`re in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing. I tried
for years to have a very simple model. Most of these schools ought to get
rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor, and pay local
students to take care of the school.
They would be dramatically less expensive than unionized janitors, and
you begin to reestablish the dignity of work, and in very poor
neighborhoods, you have to literally reestablish the dignity of work.
Well, the master janitor ought to do the dangerous hard work. But I
will tell you personally, I believe the kids could mop the floor and clean
out the bathroom and get paid for it and it would be OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The kids are incredibly cheap for this kind of work. And you
see, poor people don`t know about work. Not like Newt Gingrich does –
which is why poor kids should be janitors at schools working under master
Newt Gingrich was also the one who said on the campaign trail during
the primary that President Obama is the food stamps president. He once
offered to go to the NAACP and, quote, “talk about why the African-American
community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.
And here is what happened when he was asked about that rather plainly
racist rhetoric at a Republican debate back in January. Watch the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, you recently said black Americans should
demand jobs, not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack a strong work
ethic and proposed having them work as janitors in your schools. Can you
see that this is viewed as a minimum as insulting to all Americans, but
particularly to black Americans?
GINGRICH: No. I don`t see that.
GINGRICH: You could take one janitor and hire 30-some kids to work in
the school for the price of one janitor. They`d be getting money, which is
a good thing if you`re poor. Only the elites despise earning money.
MODERATOR: But governor – Speaker Gingrich, the suggestion you made
was about a lack of work ethic. And I got to tell you, my e-mail account,
my Twitter account has been inundated with people of all races who are
asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial
minorities. We saw some of this reaction during your visit to a black
church in South Carolina.
MODERATOR: We saw some of this in your visit to a black church in
South Carolina where a woman asked you why you refer to President Obama as
the food stamp president. It sounds as if you`re seeking to belittle
GINGRICH: Well – first of all, Juan, the fact is that more people
have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m glad that ended with a wide shot there because that`s it.
That, what you saw in the room there, was what the Mitt Romney is after.
And maybe it`s the policy stuff, maybe it`s the specific message,
maybe Mitt Romney is going to roll out master janitors. I don`t know.
Maybe it`s not.
But it`s definitely the enthusiasm, right? The crowd reaction that
you heard to that whole exchange. Juan Williams getting booed for even
suggesting that maybe calling the first African-American president the food
stamps president might possibly have racial connotations and Newt Gingrich
getting thunderous applause for doubling down and calling Juan Williams
Juan in his patronizing way.
I mean, that`s what the Romney campaign wants to get its hands on
right now – the crowd reaction, the crowd just lapping that up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MODERATOR: In recent days, we have learned that four different women
have accused you of inappropriate behavior. Here, we`re focusing on
character and judgment. You have been a CEO.
HERMAN CAIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.
MODERATOR: You know the share holders are reluctant to hire a CEO
where there are character issues. Why should the American people hire a
president if they feel there are character issues?
CAIN: The American people deserve better than someone being tried in
a court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I
were president, I would be willing to use waterboarding. I think it was
very effective. It gained information for our country.
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: How many people here would use heroin if it
were legal? I bet nobody would go, oh, yes, I need the government to take
care of me. I don`t want to use heroin, so I need the laws.
GINGRICH: You take half those janitors, you could give lots of poor
kids a work experience in the cafeteria, in the school library, in the
front office, and a lot of different things. I`ll stand by the idea, young
people ought to learn how to work. Middle class kids do it routinely. We
should give poor kids the same chance to pursue happiness. Finally, on –
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Don`t go on to something else. We want to keep applauding
the last point. We`ll take your time.
The Republican debates were the best show on television for months.
Whether or not you agreed with these folks and the folks in the room
plainly did, if the Republican debates had been a reality TV show, which is
kind of what they seemed like a lot of the time, they would have already
been signed up for 20 more seasons at this point. The people on that show
would have their children doing spin-offs already. People got really
excited about the Republican debates and that part of the Republican
And it showed in the numbers. Millions of people tuned in for all 20
episodes of the Republican debate show. If they really had been a TV
series, “They Washington Post” noted in December they would have been the
most popular show on cable after pro football games. They would have
ranked strongly among the biggest network sitcoms.
One of the rare Saturday debates held a few weeks ahead of the Iowa
caucuses was the most watched program on the country on that Saturday
A November CNBC debate became CNBC`s highest rated broadcast other
than Olympics coverage since the verdict in the O.J. Simpson civil trial.
The Republican primary was exciting. It was riveting, and a lot of the
time, it was ridiculous and those things are not unconnected, but exciting,
and exciting is the point.
And you sort of had to sympathize with Mitt Romney in the primary
process because here he was, the favorite, trying to be a serious candidate
taking seriously as a serious president, but he had to make that case from
a stage where he stood alongside this transfixing cartoon cast of some
surreal caricature of what used to be the Republican Party, if somebody was
writing it up in fiction from not a particularly sympathetic perspective.
And now that Mitt Romney has got the nomination, he has a problem,
which is that yes, he`s got the nomination, but audiences who were tuning
in for that cartoon reality show, they are not tuning in for the Mitt
Romney serious candidate straight man act. The Romney campaign apparently
now feels like it needs to chase the interest and enthusiasm and the almost
rabid investment by those Republican debate audiences in the fate of the
campaign. They need to chase the enthusiasm that nobody has seen on the
Republican side since the primaries ended.
The “New York Times” reporting last week from Iowa on the general lack
of excitement among Republican voters now that Mitt Romney is the nominee,
saying, quote, “The grassroots element who animated the Iowa caucuses,
including evangelical Christians, Ron Paul supporters and Tea Party members
are not fully behind his candidacy in a battle that will be determined
partly on who turns out his party`s base.
So now we see Mitt Romney and the Republican Party as an institution
doing what they can to chase after that lost enthusiasm from the Republican
primary season. They are bringing Newt Gingrich back, on official campaign
conference calls to bang the drum about welfare and the food stamps
They`re bringing Rick Santorum back as a speaker at the Republican
convention, we learned this week.
The Romney campaign is even bringing back the first front runner of
the Republican contest this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS: So, Donald, the Republican convention
is coming up. Are you going, that`s the first question? Secondly, if you
are, do you intend to be speaking to the audience?
DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (via telephone): Well, they want me
to go and I`m going to be in Sarasota the night before where I`m being
honored by the Republican Party in Florida as the statesman of the year.
And that will be very interesting, and I look forward to that. And I
probably will be going, but they do want me to go, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: How about speak? Have you been asked to speak?
TRUMP: I`d rather not say that yet, but they do want me to do
something major at the convention.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, something very major, now you have certainly
teased us. What is the very major? Can you give us a hint?
TRUMP: I can`t. I`m not allowed to say, but it`s something very,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Donald Trump reporting he has been tapped to do something
very, very major, at the Republican national convention at the end of this
Should we also look forward to hearing some time soon about the very,
very major role that birther queen lawyer/dentist Orly Taitz will play at
the RNC. She`s exciting. Primetime speech maybe?
I mean, that`s the kind of enthusiasm Mr. Romney is apparently looking
right now for in bringing the primaries back in time for the convention.
Of course, he`s also looking for ways to turn the conversation of the
country away from the fact he will not release his tax returns and it turns
out this Donald Trump person is not only very exciting, he has a great idea
on the tax returns thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP (via telephone): What Governor Romney should do in my opinion,
and he`s a very different person and he`s got a different attitude, and I
understand that, is say – I will give my tax returns if you open up your
Because as you know, President Obama spent over $4 million trying to
hide so many different things from his past. Whether it`s college
applications, college records, passport records, and you know, nobody
brings this up. Nobody says, open up your passport records, open up your
college applications. Open up your college records.
Let`s see your life, and nobody brings this up. I think they should
place the shoe on the other foot, and I think you would probably not hear
any more talk, frankly, about the tax returns. w which are 100 percent
according to oil.
VAN SUSTEREN: I thought that the birth issue had been put to rest
with you, to your satisfaction. Most Americans, it is, people are
TRUMP: I disagree with that. I don`t think people are satisfied at
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s the way to handle the tax returns thing. And that`s
the way to excite the Republican base. Bring on the birthers. Make it
somehow about passport applications or college something. Something.
If Mitt Romney starts demanding to see President Obama`s birth
certificate, his real Kenyan one, not the fake Hawaiian one he`s been
peddling around, maybe people will stop talking about Mitt Romney not
releasing his tax returns. Maybe it could work. Something has got to
work, something has to work. What can we possibly do to make this work?
Joining us now is Pulitzer Prize winning columnist from “The
Washington Post” and MSNBC contributor, Eugene Robinson.
Gene, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s great to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, birther Donald Trump attending the Republican convention,
being asked to do something very, very major. Good idea, Gene, do you
ROBINSON: I think it`s a very, very major bad idea. You know, just,
hey, who am I, right? So bring it on.
But look, you know, people tuned in to the Republican primary freak
show, to the reality series, but they didn`t vote for Newt Gingrich except
in South Carolina. They didn`t vote for Herman Cain. They didn`t vote for
So what is the purpose of bringing Newt back and certainly what is the
purpose of bringing Donald Trump on to the stage except as some sort of
court jester. This isn`t supposed to be a Shakespearean play, but Romney
is getting a little odd here.
MADDOW: Is that – I mean, when I went back and looked at the debate
tape today, I was struck by those debate audiences. Obviously Republican
voters turning out for the 20 Republican debates, and every audience, one
after the other, just absolutely into it. I mean, there`s nobody out there
holding an applause sign. They were just rabidly into what was going on in
terms of the combat between these candidates.
And it`s true that the largest applause was devoted to these
candidates attacking the media and attacking President Obama. It wasn`t so
much about them attacking each other. Doesn`t it make sense that Mr.
Romney would be trying to tap into that enthusiasm again? We haven`t seen
ROBINSON: Well, it`s one thing to tap into the enthusiasm during the
primary campaign. After all, it`s true that Mitt Romney was not exactly
the best at throwing those chunks of red meat out to the audience. The
other candidates were better at it. But in the end, he won the nomination.
And now, if he wants to become president, he`s going to have to
attract some independent voters. He can`t win with the Republican base
alone. And independent voters have to scratching their heads. Newt
Gingrich is one of the most unpopular politicians in the country, and
Donald Trump is the host of a reality show.
And that`s that. I mean, that doesn`t get you those suburban voters
around Philadelphia that he really needs if he wants to be president.
MADDOW: I think that the important – the importance or parenthetical
notation is you can`t win with the Republican base alone. You need to add
to that base – independent voters. I think what we`re seeing here in
terms of the planning around the RNC and we`ll have to see who the V.P.
But it seems they`re a little insecure about whether or not they have
locked up the Republican base. I`m sure they don`t expect the Republican
base to vote for President Obama, but I`m not sure they think they have
them locked up to vote for Mitt Romney. Is there anything that Mr. Romney
could do either with his vice presidential pick or with something other
than putting Newt Gingrich on conference calls that might help him lock up
the base more than he has?
ROBINSON: At this point, I think not. At this point, frankly, I
think he has to figure that if he doesn`t have the Republican base now,
he`s not going to be president. So you could pretty much assume that the
base is riled up enough to vote against President Obama, that they`re going
to come out and do that in not just respectable numbers but probably large
But it`s that mass of independents in the middle, and it`s kind of, I
hate to be with the conventional wisdom, but it`s true. Those are the
people who swing back and forth, and they`re the weight of the electorate.
If you don`t get them, you don`t get to move into the White House. You
MADDOW: Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and MSNBC
contributor. Gene, thank you for your time tonight. I really appreciate.
ROBINSON: It was a major, major pleasure.
MADDOW: Yes, excellent.
Yes, Gene is right about needing to lock up independent voters, right?
That totally makes sense, Gene. But I have to say, as we go to break here,
I`m going to throw this out here to the universe and let myself get
pummeled by the boomerang effect.
I got to say – if he does not lock up the Republican base, it doesn`t
matter that he won`t get the independents, either. He`s going to lose 50
states instead of just losing 49. I`m telling you, I see his only path out
of the dilemma he`s in right now is picking Liz Cheney.
MADDOW: And I`ll let that laugh be our response.
ROBINSON: That`s just a prayer from journalism, right? On behalf of
MADDOW: Yes, it is. Pick Liz. We`ll be right back. Go on, do it.
MADDOW: It`s not easy to win a write-in campaign for U.S. Congress.
Only a handful of people in American history have done it. But this was a
very good try.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: It`s nothing fancy, write in Nancy. It`s catchy, right?
Look on the screen. I love that little repeal Obamacare with the big
But all the jingles in the world, all the happy conservative tag lines
about repealing health reform were not enough to get Nancy Cassis elected
in the 11th district in Michigan last night. The 11t district, I think, is
the wealthiest district in the state. It was already a Republican
district. It is getting redistricted to make it even more Republican than
it already is.
But because Nancy Cassis was not able to get people to nothing fancy,
write in Nancy, Republicans are probably going to lose that seat in
Congress, because by virtue of a whole bunch of screw-ups on the Republican
side, the Republicans not only lost their incumbent congressman, Thaddeus
McCotter, they went in with this guy, the shirtless reindeer herder and
perennial candidate, as the only Republican with his name on the ballot.
And the write-in campaign against him – nothing fancy, write in Nancy –
lost, so the reindeer guy Kerry Bentivolio is the GOP candidate.
Kerry Bentivolio once starred in a homemade 9/11 truther movie as a
doctor treating a George W. Bush who was paralyzed after a stroke while the
president`s nurses refused to change his diapers because 9/11 was an inside
In the movie, Kerry Bentivolio, now the Republican Party`s
congressional nominee in Michigan, he`s the guy in the lab coat playing the
head physician, and then this happens to his patient.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three thousands people is a small price to pay for
a second Pearl Harbor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) stupid
president. You thought you were more powerful than God. You blew up those
towers and killed thousands, including my father. Now you lie in your own
poop and stay there for days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And then she throws the diapers away.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican Party`s accidental nominee for
Congress in the really, really, really Republican 11th district of
The “National Journal” wrote up last night`s primary elections overall
as Democrats running the table. And it`s in part because Republicans
picked guys like Kerry Bentivolio to be their nominees last night.
But it`s also because the Democrats got exactly the candidate they
wanted to run against Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. The
guy the Democrats hand-picked to be her competition in Missouri is not
exactly a reindeer herder 9/11 truther guy like the guy in Michigan, but he
is this guy.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: At the heart of liberalism really is a
hatred for God.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Todd Akin, he says if you`re liberal, obviously, that`s
because you hate God. He also says federal support for student loans is a
stage three cancer of socialism.
If you`re Senator Claire McCaskill running for re-election in
Missouri, you know you`re going to have a tough re-election race. Missouri
has been getting redder and redder ever since Claire McCaskill won there in
the big Democratic wave election of 2006. But if you are Claire McCaskill,
your job of getting re-elected in this tough race you`re going to have this
fall gets a little bit easier if your opponent is a guy like Todd Akin.
At least that`s what the Claire McCaskill re-election campaign thinks.
And we know that think that because Claire McCaskill used her own campaign
money during the Republican primary, remember, she`s a Democrat, but she
used her own campaign`s money during the Republican primary to run ads in
that primary calling Todd Akin a true conservative and a crusader against
bigger government, calling him the most conservative congressman in
Missouri and describing his pro-family agenda.
Claire McCaskill nakedly campaigning for Republicans to pick this guy.
Todd Akin, to run against her in November.
And a Democratic super PAC got in on the action, too. They got into
the Republican primary and ran negative ads against everybody except Todd
So, Democrats got a reindeer herder 9/11 truther to be the Republican
on the ballot in Michigan seat the Democrats would otherwise never had a
shot at. And in Missouri, they tricked the Republican primary`s voters
into picking the weakest, weirdest Republican candidate possible to be
Claire McCaskill`s competition in the fall.
These Republicans who won last night in Michigan and Missouri, I`m
sure they were happy with last night`s election results because they won.
They can`t be nearly as happy, though, as the Democrats who get the treat
of running against them in November.
MADDOW: A new football stadium has been built and is set to open this
fall in Allen, Texas. Allen, Texas, is up on the edge of the Dallas/Ft.
Worth area, heading up toward Oklahoma. This new stadium in Allen, Texas,
has 18,000 seats, it has a 45-foot high HD video scoreboard. It has a
state of the art weight room. It has a press room, it has private box
seating. It costs $60 million to build.
“Friday Night Lights” was one of my all-time favorite TV shows. I
mourned the fact that it is over, but I`m here to tell you that “Friday
Night Lights” was not joking about its subject matter. This new Allen,
Texas, stadium, 60 million bucks with a giant scoreboard and box seats and
all the rest, it`s for high school football, $60 million stadium.
But Texas is not alone in being absolutely nuts about their teen-aged
athletes. And one other place in America doing that in a way that will
make you very, very happy is the best new thing in the world today. It`s
great. It`s coming up right at the end of the show. It`s great tape.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: The state of Ohio has 88 counties. This right here is a
county map of Ohio. You can pause your TV if you wish and count them all
But I promise you, Ohio has 88 counties. And each one of the 88
counties in Ohio has its own board of elections.
The board of elections in your county is the thing that essentially
runs your local elections. They decide where you can vote and when you can
vote. They report the election results to the state. The country board of
elections does all that stuff.
Because they deal with something as sensitive and important as voting,
the county election boards in Ohio are equally divided in partisan terms.
Each board has two Democrats and two Republicans.
In 2004, the state of Ohio of course became the poster child for
Election Day chaos and long lines to vote. One of the things these county
election boards are considering right now is how exactly Ohio counties this
year are going to handle the issue of early voting – early voting for this
year`s presidential election.
Right now, in traditionally Republican counties like Warren County,
Ohio, for example, which went overwhelmingly for John McCain in 2008, and
Republican counties like that in Ohio, the elections boards have by and
large been voting to expand their hours for early voting. They want to be
open at night, they want to be open on weekends, they want to make it as
easy as possible in these Republican counties to cast your ballot.
The Republicans on the election boards in these Republican leaning
counties have been voting in favor of expanding early voting hours. And
the Democrats on these county boards – I mean, well, Democrats are always
essentially in favor of expanded voting rights, so these Republican
counties, they have agreed with their Republican counterparts.
So Republican counties across Ohio, they`ve been all of these
unanimous votes to expand early voting hours. Republicans say, let`s do
it. Democrats say let`s do it. That`s what`s happening in the Republican
counties. They will be voting there on nights and weekends for early
In Democratic counties, like Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is,
Democrats there say they want to do the same thing, that the Republican
countries are doing. They want to expand early voting hours. They want to
have early voting available on nights and on weekends. They want to make
it as easy as possible for people to vote.
But in those Democratic counties, it`s not unanimous. The Republicans
on the election boards in those counties have been voting no. This is
happening across the state. Even though Republicans in the Republican
counties have been saying yes to early voting, when they`re voting in the
Democratic counties, they have been saying no. So, it has ended up being a
tie on the elections boards in the Democratic counties.
And what do you do if you have a tie on your election board in the
great state of Ohio? The secretary of state comes in and breaks the tie.
Ohio has a Republican secretary of state and he has been stepping in in all
of these Democratic counties where there`s a tie and he`s siding with the
Republicans there, saying actually, I`m with the Republicans. We`re not
going to expand early voting specifically in these Democratic counties.
So the results – in the Republican counties, there`s no reason for
the secretary of state to weigh in. There`s no dispute. It`s unanimous.
Democrats are good with more early voting there.
But in the Democratic counties, there is a dispute because Republicans
are objecting and the Republican secretary of state is siding with them and
they`re blocking more early voting. So, we`re going to have no early
voting on nights and weekends in Democratic counties in Ohio, but we will
have early voting on nights and weekends in the Republican counties.
Tomorrow morning, the Republican secretary of state in Ohio says he`s
going to make a big announcement regarding November`s election, and who
knows what the announcement is going to be. I have heard no leaks. Unless
it`s a wild change in course for Ohio Republicans, the right to vote is
anthropomorphically bracing itself ahead of this announcement tomorrow in
Ohio, especially given what happened in Michigan.
That`s ahead. Michael Moore joins us.
MADDOW: Filmmaker Michael Moore joins us next for the interview.
MADDOW: In Michigan last night, we got a little preview of how it
works in an election when you`re trying to use policy, action by the state
to dissuade people from voting or at least to create enough confusion that
it makes it hard to vote.
During yesterday`s primary elections in Michigan, voters were
presented with a box at the top of their application for a ballot, asking
if they were a U.S. citizen. Now, you have to be a citizen to register to
vote in the first place. But Michigan Republicans, specifically Michigan`s
Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, wanted this citizenship thing
placed on the box on the ballot application as well.
Michigan`s Republican governor had actually vetoed the citizenship box
thing when it was proposed as legislation, saying it would be too confusing
for voters, but the secretary of state just decided she would put it up
there anyway. And guess what? It ended up being really, really confusing
A number of legal registered voters reported being turned away after
they refused to answer the question they knew should not have been there in
the first place. It caused so much confusion that by midday, the secretary
of state had to send out a clarification notice to local elections
officials telling them not to enforce the citizenship thing she had
insisted be put on the ballot. She told poll workers to read voters a
statement telling people it`s illegal to vote without being a citizen.
But at that point, the confusion had been sewed.
Here is how things were summed up today by the editorial page editor
at “The Detroit Free Press”. He wrote, quote, “Secretary of State Ruth
Johnson managed to erect an illegal barrier to balloting at polling places
throughout Michigan. That`s how voter intimidation works. You create laws
that are unclear and unnecessary and you enforce them randomly and
Democracy add work in the state of Michigan.
Michael Moore is joining us here now for the interview. Mr. Moore, an
Oscar-winning filmmaker and proud Michigander.
Michael, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Thanks, Rachel. I voted here in Michigan
MADDOW: Did you get asked if you were a U.S. citizen? Did you have
to deal with that thing on the ballot application?
MADDOW: What happened?
MOORE: Yes, I did. The first thing they asked me for was my driver`s
license to prove I was who I said I was. I said, I disagree with this. I
– why do we have to even show – have an ID? Can you tell me how many
instances of voter fraud there`s been in this country in the last say 100
years? And of course, there hasn`t been any. There`s no need for this ID
So the clerk who was handing me the form to fill out, she says to me,
well, what do you like, Michael? You don`t seem to like anything.
MOORE: I was like, well, no, I like kittens and butterflies and the
But anyway, she got a little flustered and gave me my thing, my slip
I went over to get the ballot from the ballot guy, and he said, you
didn`t mark the citizenship box. And he had heard the commotion, the
ruckus that I had just gone through. He said, you don`t really want to
mark this, do you? I said, no, I don`t. He said, that`s OK. Here`s the
So I went and voted.
MADDOW: You know, we have been talking about Michigan democracy
broadly in the news. We have been talking about it a lot over the past in
the news. You and I have been talking about it a lot over the past year.
What happened yesterday in Michigan with this weird voter citizenship
checkbox thing that was not mandatory, but there anyway and confused a lot
of people and resulted in some people being turned away from the polls,
it`s linked to the broader issue of voter suppression happening in a lot of
states, but there`s also this thing about Michigan right now.
I mean, the challenges of democracy in Michigan. Do you ever think
happening in your home state, is that the state tried to reappoint the
emergency managers in places like Benton Harbor and Flint, even though the
emergency manager law has been suspended, because it`s going to be on the
ballot for repeal in November.
Do you think there`s a broader sense in which the process of governing
through voting is sort of falling apart in Michigan?
MOORE: Well, here`s what I think has happened. You know, Michigan is
traditionally a Democratic state. It`s the home of the modern-day labor
movement, lots of union workers. And for some reason, the Democrats just
didn`t run their candidates that could win.
And you`ve got to imagine, if you`re a Republican in Michigan, you`re
at a very small group of people who have to, you know, have meetings in
basements somewhere. I don`t know where they meet, but it`s very rare you
run into a Republican in most places. And I think that the few Republicans
actually decide to stick it out in Michigan are of a different breed. And
that`s where you see all this craziness going on.
But, I mean, I`m really happy that the Supreme Court of Michigan and
today, the voter board, said that this question is going to be on the
ballot about the emergency managers that have taken over these cities.
And, you know, as you had pointed out on my shows about the type size
wasn`t the right size, so, you know, when we got enough petitions to put
this on the ballot, they didn`t print it in the right type size.
But last week, the Supreme Court decided that both the trees and the
type size are the right height now in Michigan. So we`re going to be able
to vote on it in November.
MADDOW: Governor Snyder and the Republicans have been really already
lobbying the state, trying to say we need this emergency manager law in
place. People should vote to uphold it when it`s on the ballot in
November. As we`ve talked about, it essentially removes people`s voting
rights in Michigan. Your town gets taken over at the state`s discretion,
and whoever you voted for at the local level gets overruled unilaterally.
Do you think this is going to – do you see which way this is going to
go on the ballot in November? Do you think Michigan`s going to vote for
MOORE: Well, first of all, let`s be clear. Your city is only taken
over by an emergency manager if it`s majority African-American, all right?
This doesn`t really happen in the white cities and towns. It happens in
Detroit and Flint and Pontiac and even small towns that are mostly African-
American, like Benton Harbor and Ecorse.
What`s going to happen? I think it`s going to get repealed. I think
that the majority of Michiganders are fed up with this.
This law has been suspended already because of the election, and yet
now they`ve gone back and said, well, now that the Snyder law has been
suspended, so we`re going to go back and put the old law in place. The old
law was repealed when the Snyder law was passed. So, they`re actually –
as far as I`m concerned, they`re still operating with these emergency
managers, and I think some people tomorrow or the next day are going to go
to court to try to stop this.
But, I think – look, I think this is going to go OK. I mean, you
know, this is Romney`s home state and amongst older people, there`s a
sentiment for Romney, so there will be a large, I think, turnout for him
here in Michigan. I don`t think he`ll win.
I mean, we know – we know more about the surface of Mars right now
than we know do Mitt Romney`s tax returns. So I don`t – I think that the
people of the state are going to end up doing the right thing, but it has
been very crazy here.
And I and other Michiganders are very happy that you`ve been covering
this and pointing this out. And that the reindeer farmer, first of all,
I`ve never seen any reindeer in Michigan. Let me just get this straight.
I know we`re up pretty far north, but I just – we rarely get Santa here.
We`re lucky if we get Santa. The Keebler cookie elves are around all the
time, but Santa, it`s been rough in Michigan for the last 20 years.
But that`s going to be a very interesting state race, Rachel, because
running against the shirtless reindeer farmer, on the Democratic side, will
be a man by the name of Dr. Syed Taj, so I`m just waiting to see what the
Republican National Committee is going to do with that one.
MADDOW: Michael Moore, Oscar-winning filmmaker, Michigan voter, and
incidentally, a U.S. citizen – Michael, thank you very much. I really
appreciate it, man. Thanks.
All right, best new thing in the world today involves Michael Moore`s
hometown of Flint, Michigan. Best new thing, coming up.
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world today. This year is the first
year for women`s boxing in the Olympics. And 17-year-old Clarissa Shields
of Flint, Michigan, is America`s first hope for a gold medal. Her
semifinals match this morning against this poor woman from Kazakhstan was
astonishing. Shields was so dominant in this match.
But the fact that this high school student that boxes in Betty Boop
socks and does so at the Olympic Games is not the best new thing in the
world today. This is.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: The best new thing in the world today is how psyched the city
of flint, Michigan, is for their hometown hero. This teenage girl, right?
Flint has supported her all the way. She started boxing locally at
the local athletic center when she was 11. The people of Flint have held
fund-raisers to help defray her expenses that the Olympic Committee
Shields told the local paper, quote, “That`s kind of what drives me.
Having people know I`m going to win. And when people see me around the
city, now they`re yelling, `champ, champ.` Stuff like that is what I think
about when I`m training and getting tired. Thinking about all of that
makes me push through and go harder.”
And Clarissa Shields is paying back that support to Flint, inspiring
other kids, other girls in flint, Michigan, to get into the ring. They say
enrollment in boxing programs there is up. This cheering section in Team
Clarissa t-shirts gathered in a bar in downtown Flint before 9:00 this
morning to watch her go.
And because she won in that race, the party continues tomorrow, when
she boxes for gold. Flint`s mayor tweeting today, to meet back at the bar
at noon. Wear your red, white, and blue.
Clarissa`s high school is also putting out the word, come watch the
match tomorrow with them in the high school auditorium. They`re going to
be wearing their Team Clarissa t-shirts. So London, London, London, kind
of the center of the universe right now. But tomorrow, honestly, Flint,
Michigan, is the place to be. And that`s the best new thing in the world.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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