The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/10/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I would say – you know, Ed, I will do that if
you and I can come to an agreement that we`re both going to wear the same
outfit while doing that.
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: I`ll wear – I`m easy. I`ll wear
whatever you want.
MADDOW: Excellent. Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Have a good weekend.
MADDOW: You, too. Appreciate it.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
If you want to buy a political ad on TV, legally speaking, the station
you want to buy the ad on, they have to give you their lowest advertising
rate for airing your ad. Advertising rates on good stations on big TV
markets are still not cheap even if you`re getting the cheapest rate. But
by law, you have to get the lowest rate for airing a political ad. And
that`s because there`s a public interest in making sure political speech
can compete with commercial speech. And we can all learn about the issues
and the candidates before the election.
Because there`s a public interest at stake, because political
advertising is regulated in a different way than commercial advertising,
information about political ad buys on TV is public information. You have
a right to know. You have a right to know who is spending how much money
to put what ads on your local TV station.
Until recently, though, if you wanted to get that information, you had
to physically go down to the office of your local TV station and ask them
to see the physical papers from something called the public file. You
could then copy that information down and then presumably, you could go to
all of the other TV stations in your TV market to get the same information.
You could aggregate that information at home, and then try to understand
what was going on in your media market in terms of political advertising
for that day.
I mean, technically, the information is publicly available and you
have a right to know it, but realistically, there was no real way to get
your hands on it in a useful way. After some very effective prodding on
this issue from the investigative news outlet “ProPublica”, the FCC decided
that they were going to fix that problem this, which is kind of great if
you`re interested in getting your hands on this data. Now, in the top 50
U.S. media markets, all of the affiliates of all of the major networks have
to post online basic information about who is paying how much money to put
political ads on those stations.
So, for example, now we know without having to drive to WSYX in
Columbus, Ohio, and sweet talk the receptionist there and have a lot of
dimes ready for the copy machine, now we know over the course of one week,
the Koch brothers, astroturfy, corporate-funded right wing group Americans
for Prosperity, they bought 40 separate ads to run on just that one station
in just that one week. Neat. For that one week on that one station, in
that one media market in Columbus, Ohio, in that one swing state, the Koch
brothers group dropped $23,000 running those ads.
That makes you appreciate – when you learn that, it makes you
appreciate where all of the millions go, right? In politics?
I mean, however much it costs you to make a political ad, it`s really
the cost of paying to put it on TV and all of these media markets in all of
the different states all across the country, that is where the bills really
add up. So, if you want to know who leveraged the best week in
presidential campaigning this week, who made the biggest political impact
while spending the least amount of money to do it, it is definitely no
contest. It`s the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA.
Now, it`s not just the Romney campaign outraising the Obama campaign,
which they are doing month after month now. The super PAC on the right is
just absolutely swamping the amount of super PAC money there is on the
When we looked at it on the show a month ago, Republican versus
Democratic super PAC money looked sort of like this. That was the ratio in
terms of the money on both sides. My hunch is that it`s gotten worse
since we looked at it last month.
But Priorities USA, the pro-Obama super PAC, they are a very small
fish in the big money pond. And this week, they were nevertheless able to
be the small fish that ate everything else in the pond. They won the week,
because their ad showing a laid off steel worker from a plant shut down by
Mitt Romney`s Bain Capital, that ad not only dominated the political
discussion this week, but it earned just a furious right-wing freak-out
reaction. The Romney campaign`s seething the political press today with
multiple stories about how upset they were about the ad and how horrible
this ad is.
The Romney campaign spokesman outdoing even his own typical hyperbole
at the Romney campaign headquarters, telling reporters specifically about
this ad, quote, “I don`t think a world champion limbo dancer could get any
lower than the Obama campaign right now.”
He accused the president and his allies of diminishing the Office of
President and insulting the American people. The Romney campaign even put
out their own rebuttal advertising saying that super PAC ad on the other
side was a terrible, terrible, terrible ad.
Even the Karl Rove Crossroads super PAC put out their own ad
responding to it, calling it terrible, terrible, terrible.
Here`s the amazing thing about this full-scale, code red, all
personnel freak-out over the Priorities USA ad dominating this week in
politics. Priorities USA did not air it anywhere. It is not running on
So sure, it cost them something to make this ad. But this is how much
they have spent to run it. Zero. Zero. And while that means the
chronically underfunded pro-Obama super PAC is getting some really good
bang for its buck – bang for no buck in this case – in context, the
freak-out on the right about this ad is even weirder. Because while the
Romney campaign and all of the pro-Romney outside groups are lighting their
hair on fire and trying to get as much attention as they can criticizing
this Priorities USA ad, this third-party, outside group, non-campaign ad
about this steel worker and his wife dying of cancer after their lost their
health insurance, while the right is losing its mind about this ad, that is
not running anywhere.
So far, there has been not a peep from the right about an actual Obama
campaign ad that is not only out at the same time, but is actually running
on television. In Florida and in Ohio and in Virginia and in North
Carolina, all swing states where Mitt Romney is due to visit next week.
The official Obama campaign ad actually running on actual TV in those four
swing states, effectively poisoning the ground for Mitt Romney before he
gets there on his next big campaign trip. And that ad makes a rather
outrageous assertion, or at least it asks a rather outrageous question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Was there ever any year when you paid lower than the 13.9
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven`t calculated that.
I`m happy to go back and look.
REPORTER: Did Romney pay 10 percent in taxes, 5 percent, zero? We
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Right. You don`t know. But you are suggesting that he paid
nothing in taxes anyway.
In an official campaign ad that is running in four swing states on TV,
you`re paying a lot of money to get this message out there. No reaction
from the Romney campaign so far.
Just as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered no evidence other
than hearsay for his allegation that Mitt Romney paid zero percent in taxes
for a decade, the Obama is offering zero evidence for at least implying the
same thing by asking the question in this ad (AUDIO GAP) go on to say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Did Romney pay 10 percent in taxes, 5 percent, zero? We
don`t know, but we do know that Romney personally approved over $70 million
in fictional losses to the IRS as part of the notorious Son of Boss tax
scandal, one of the largest tax avoidance schemes in history.
Isn`t it time for Romney to come clean?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Son of Boss? Son of Boss was in fact a tax avoidance scheme
that the Marriott Corporation used to avoid tens of millions of dollars in
taxes while Mitt Romney was on the board of the Marriott Corporation. And,
in fact he was on the audit committee of the board of that corporation,
which means he had plenty to do with that company`s finances and presumably
with how that company tried to avoid paying taxes.
Marriott participated in this Son of Boss scheme to avoid taxes. They
and a lot of other companies got caught doing it. For that and for other
tax avoidance schemes while Mitt Romney was on the board and responsible
for exercising oversight over the company paying its taxes, the company
ended up paying hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to the government
for what it got caught doing.
All of that is in the new ad from the Obama campaign that`s running on
television in the swing states. That apparently the Romney campaign does
not want to talk about. They`re trying to raise a stink and attract
attention instead to this other thing they found on the Internet.
It should be noted that what the Obama campaign is alleging in the new
ad, by putting the Son of Boss thing in the ad, it`s not about Mr. Romney
personally. It`s not about Mr. Romney enriching himself, at least. It`s
not about him personally avoiding paying his personal taxes. It`s whether
or not he ethically or legally discharged his responsibilities as a member
of a corporate board when that corporation was avoiding taxes.
By raising that issue in this ad, the Obama campaign is adding to the
evidence that Mitt Romney has spent his whole life dodging taxes. In his
business life at Bain, and his business life at other companies he was
involved in, and yes, in his personal life. That`s why they`re doing this.
They`re trying to create a political impression that Mitt Romney`s
life has been one scheme after another to dodge taxes. That is the impact
of the Marriott Corporation Son of Boss thing. That is in the new Obama
campaign ad that the Romney campaign is studiously avoiding and trying to
distract from by talking about a web ad from a super PAC instead.
That same issue, that idea of Mitt Romney as a chronic tax avoider is
also the importance of the front page story about Mr. Romney`s finances
that runs in “The New York Times” today. This is information. The story is
based on information not from his tax returns which we have not seen, but
instead from his investment disclosures, his financial disclosures that he
legally had to make as a candidate.
Among all of the other sources of income that Mr. Romney has declared,
among all of those other things he`s done to make money, there`s this house
that you see right there. A house in Missouri City, Texas, and the couple
who lives in this house on gentle Bend Drive in Missouri City, every month,
they write Mitt Romney personally a check for $600. They don`t have their
mortgage on the house through a bank. Their mortgage is with Mitt Romney,
personally. He`s their mortgage provider. He`s like Fannie Mitt.
As recently as two months ago, they refinanced with him. They didn`t
refinance with a bank. They refinanced with Mitt Romney personally while
he was running for president. They send him their personal checks written
out to him as a person.
Why is Mitt Romney this one couple`s mortgage lender? Apparently, it
dates back to an investment scheme he got involved with five rental homes
in Texas back in the 1980s. Why would a high flying Boston future private
equity financier rental homes in Texas? It was a tax avoidance scheme.
Quote, “Mr. Romney jumped into a speculative deal geared toward
affluent free enterprise capitalists who desire a quality investment with
tax shelter benefits,” according to a prospectus. The guy who set up this
deal for him with these houses in Texas describes it as a marvelous scheme
– a scheme allowing investors to write off depreciation and mortgage
interest on their taxes without risking their own money. This is a weird
little detail in his finances.
A couple that he does not know in Texas sent their monthly mortgage
check to him because of a tax avoidance scheme he got involved in in the
The Son of Boss thing for the corporation that Mitt Romney was on the
board of, it turns up in the new Obama campaign ad, that, too, was a tax
avoidance scheme. A tax avoidance scheme is also at the heart of the
controversy over Mitt Romney`s residency when he ran for governor in
Massachusetts, which we reported on a lot over the last couple of weeks.
Mr. Romney wanted to be seen as a Massachusetts resident even though his
taxes showed him declaring his primary residence in Deer Valley, Utah, in
what he described in “The Deseret News” as a tax avoidance scheme.
Honestly, for a guy running on his financial wizardry, right, his
financial background, for a guy who is running on that, we know next to
nothing about Mr. Romney`s actual financial background. But what we do
know about his background is a string of tax avoidance schemes. Even the
Olympics thing, when the Olympics winding down over the next few days,
we`re left to ponder the fate of poor Rafalca.
Rafalca? Yes, Rafalca, the Romneys` dressage horse. The Romney
dressage horse did not medal in the London Olympics, but Rafalca`s fame
will be enshrined as an attempted $77,000 tax write off on Mitt Romney`s
Even his family`s multimillion horse ballet hobby, when it turns up in
Mitt Romney`s financial records turns up as a tax avoidance scheme.
This stuff adds up. I mean, financially, I`m sure it adds up. If you
talk to really, really rich people about other really, really rich people,
the rich people they envy, they say read the tax codes for fun. That`s how
you get really rich.
I`m sure, financially, pursuing this as a lifetime habit adds up, but
politically, it`s adding up, too. Harry Reid has still offered no evidence
for his hearsay accusation that Mr. Romney found ways to avoid paying taxes
at all for 10 years. And that`s why he won`t release his tax returns.
But while that unsupported allegation lingers in the political
atmosphere, it`s also true that all of the real evidence we do have about
Mr. Romney`s financial history is evidence of him using exotic, aggressive,
and in the case of this Son of Boss thing, occasionally illegal tactics to
avoid taxes. Tax avoidance. That`s a lifelong hobby.
Since Harry Reid first made his unsupported heresy allegation about
Mr. Romney not paying taxes for a decade, no evidence has emerged to
disprove that allegation. And the only evidence that has emerged frankly
points the other way. And so the issue is not going away. And Harry Reid
is making sure it`s not going away.
One of his staffers last night continuing to stoke the fire by
asserting and partially retracting more tantalizing details about the
supposed source of the hearsay. Nate Silver of “New York Times” tweeted
today about the fact that all of the questions and the few pieces of
evidence that we`ve got about Mitt Romney`s taxes and his finances are in a
quantitatively measurable way leading people in general to ask more
questions about Mitt Romney`s taxes, to wonder about it, to try to figure
So, the red line there that you see, the red line represented Google
searches over the past few months about Romney and Bain Capital. You can
see the red line drops, that means those have tailed off in recent weeks.
But look what has taken its place. The blue line, searches about
Romney and taxes, just skyrocketed since the end of July. That sort of
interest is translating into political pressure. Even on the Republican
In an interview with Greg Sargent at “The Washington Post” today, Jon
Huntsman`s dad, Jon Huntsman, Sr., who is one of Romney`s biggest longtime
supporters, Jon Huntsman Sr. swatted down rumors he was Harry Reid`s source
on the Mitt Romney didn`t pay taxes for 10 years allegation.
But Mr. Huntsman nevertheless told Greg Sargent this, quote, “I feel
very badly that Mitt won`t release his taxes and won`t be fair with the
American people. Mr. Romney ought to be square with the American people
and release his taxes like any other candidate. I have supported Mitt all
along. I wish him well. But I do think he should release his income
taxes,” so says one of Mr. Romney`s biggest supporters.
The Romney campaign may not want to talk about it. They may want to
talk about anything other than this, but the story just keeps getting
bigger, not smaller.
Chris Hayes joins us in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Was there ever any year when you paid lower than the 13.9
ROMNEY: I haven`t calculated that. I`m happy to go back and look.
NARRATOR: Did Romney pay 10 percent in taxes, 5 percent, zero? We
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Right, we don`t know. Nevertheless, that`s the ad from the
Obama campaign that is running in four swing states right now. It suggests
that Mr. Romney may have paid zero percent in taxes at some unspecified
You would expect the Romney campaign to set its hair on fire over an
ad like that, but the Romney campaign curiously is not making much of a
peep at all about the ad, even as it runs on TV in four important swing
states and as they raise holy heck complaining about other unrelated anti-
Joining us now is the host of MSNBC`s weekend morning show “UP WITH
CHRIS HAYES.” He`s also the author of “Twilight of the Elites: America
Mr. Hayes, it`s good to see you.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: It is wonderful to see you.
MADDOW: Our friend Chuck Todd, our colleague here, had an interview
with Mitt Romney in which Mr. Romney said he wanted his business record to
be off limits in the campaign. How did this happen? Wasn`t that going to
be businessman versus Obama?
HAYES: The entire argument. Primary debate after primary debate, in
terms of his comparative advantage against other people in the Republican
field, right, when he was trying to establish himself against lifelong
politicians such as Rick Perry, or, you know, other folks that he was
competing with, Newt Gingrich, et cetera, that was the comparative
advantage there, and then in the general election, his comparative
advantage this is someone who doesn`t know – the argument in one sentence
was Barack Obama has never been in the private sector. He doesn`t know how
to create jobs. I`m in the private sector, I know how to create jobs.
It`s just preposterous to now turn around and say the entire
justification for the entirety of why you`re running for the president of
the United States was that you have experience in the private sector, is
out of bounds.
MADDOW: Do you think it`s fair to relate his personal financial
history in terms of tax avoidance and other issues that have been raised by
the Obama campaign very directly now, to his experience as a business
leader whose business experience can lead the country into a brighter
economic future? Are those things closely enough – closely related enough
that the Obama campaign can rebut this assertion from Mitt Romney that his
business career, at least his tax returns are irrelevant to his political
HAYES: Oh, look, here is what I think is fair. I think the fact that
what Mitt Romney is doing, this is the key point here, Mitt Romney`s
experience with the American taxes isn`t just about Mitt Romney. It`s
actually a deep and profound point. Not just about tax policy in this
country, not just about whether the rich pay taxes and how they do or don`t
pay taxes, but about the entire rigged game that is the American social
system right now. In which people with a lot of money are able to subvert
the rules to benefit themselves in ways that people making $40,000 and
$60,000, $80,000, $100,000 a year, or $10,000 a year are not able to.
That is a fundamental aspect of the American experience right now, and
Mitt Romney has thrown in his luck with the fellow plutocrats in both
policy, how he`s defended his activities and his actual behavior such as we
have seen he has revealed. That is a deep, profound, substantive point.
It`s a profound substantive point about whether the wealthy are going to be
taxed, how they`re going to be taxed, whether we have the state that`s
possible that has the capability to extract revenue from people at the top.
All of that is fair game and also substantive. So, yes, I think it`s fair.
MADDOW: And he has put himself in an ideological spot that would
indicate a real difference between Republicans that have gone before him,
specifically his father. We talked about this before on the show, and I
feel like it hasn`t really – it hasn`t really spread as a broader idea in
terms of the discussion here about his taxes, but I think it`s really
Mitt Romney`s dad not only put out a lot of tax – years of tax
returns and said one ought to, and famously said that you can`t just put
out one year. It might be done for show. His son put out one year, that`s
obviously a direct parallel.
But the other parallel is that when Mr. Romney`s taxes, the senior Mr.
Romney`s taxes, were released, the reporter who wrote a book about that
experience noted there were a lot of places where he could have taken tax
breaks that he did not take. And he didn`t do it because he didn`t like
the way it would look when he was going to be running for president.
Mr. Romney the younger now says if I paid a dollar more in taxes than
I legally had to, that should disqualify me from being president.
HAYES: Right. That is profound about – that says two things.
There`s two aspects to George Romney`s tax returns are fascinating. One,
are the choices he made not to take exemptions he could, and two, how much
the man paid in taxes. Our top marginal tax rate at the time was 90
percent. The amount that he paid as an effective rate was 35 percent, 36
percent. We`re talking 14 percent or 15 percent for Mitt Romney.
And here`s the thing, those rules about taxation changed the norm of
how elites comport themselves. There`s a connection between those two
things. And so, in that sense, Mitt Romney is remarkably representative
not just of who Mitt Romney is as a person but actually of an entire ruling
class, frankly, that has loosed itself from the bounds of a kind of norm
good conduct, of probity, of following the law in its intent and spirit and
not just –
MADDOW: And of seeing their own behavior as rationally related to the
health of a country.
MADDOW: I will say that I would like this discussion, those things
you said in the discussion, to implicitly be the rebuttal to anybody who
says the tax returns discussion is not substantive and it`s a discussion.
It`s central to the economic issues in the campaign.
HAYES: Absolutely. This is the big question.
MADDOW: Yes. Chris Hayes, the host of “UP WITH CHRIS HAYES,” which
is back tomorrow?
HAYES: We`re back tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.
MADDOW: Back tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Chris` new book is
called “Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy” and it`s great.
Get some sleep, sir. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
HAYES: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: All right. If you are a member of a Hall of Fame, any Hall
of Fame, that should probably get you some special treatment, right? Or at
the very least, it should give you fair treatment. Unless you have the
temerity to try to vote this year. That story is coming up.
MADDOW: If you want to know if you`re on the unofficial short list of
the Republican nomination for vice president this year? You can confirm
whether or not that`s true by checking to see if America`s major news
gathering organizations have assigned someone to do surveillance of you.
There`s someone being paid by all the networks to politely watch Wisconsin
Congressman Paul Ryan and Ohio Senator Rob Portman and former Minnesota
Governor Tim Pawlenty right now to watch what they`re doing every single
minute of the day and night, just in case. I`m not kidding.
But at least in the case of Governor Pawlenty, you, too, can join in
the fun surveillance very easily. This Sunday, Governor T-Paw who`s
apparently on the V.P. short list again, he will be on “Meet the Press” on
NBC this Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern. In between various Olympics
telecasts, and I will be among those most closely monitoring his activity,
because I`m excited to be appearing on “Meet the Press” also.
So, please tune for that, Sunday morning. It ought to be fun, Sunday
morning, 9:00 Eastern, Tim Pawlenty on “Meet the Press,” followed shortly
by that person there with the bad hair. Yes, along with my fellow
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: The great state of Pennsylvania is home to a civic geek`s
dream come true. The state of Pennsylvania has a Voter Hall of Fame.
Every year into this Hall of Fame, they induct new super voters –
Pennsylvanians who have voted in 50 consecutive elections.
Quote, “The Voter Hall of Fame inductees hold a special place in
Pennsylvania history. For 50 years, they have placed their
responsibilities as citizens of this commonwealth first. We`re grateful
for their lifelong commitment to democracy and we proudly induct them into
the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame.”
In Pennsylvania, they like to say they take voting seriously. They
take their civic responsibility as participants in a democracy seriously.
Here`s this year`s Voter Hall of Fame ceremony in Lycoming County, where
100 new super voters were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Here`s the ceremony from Wayne County, 19 new Hall of Famers inducted.
Here`s the Elk County induction from last year, 200 new Hall of Fame super
voters inducted in Elk County last year – awesome.
The Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame has been around since 1982. Right
now, there are almost 6,000 registered voters who are Hall of Fame super
voters, whose vote in this year`s election would represent more than their
50th consecutive ballot cast. But if the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame super
voters thought they were going to be able to waltz right into their
precinct and cast a ballot like they have for the last 50 years, well, this
year, they would be wrong.
That`s because back in March, Pennsylvania`s Republican-led
legislature passed and its Republican Governor Tom Corbett signed, a strict
new voter ID law that requires voters to present up-to-date government
issued photo ID they never had to show to vote before, before they`re
allowed to vote this year. It`s documentation that a substantial number of
Pennsylvania voters do not have.
Last month, the state released data showing that more than three
quarters of a million of Pennsylvania voters, almost 10 percent of the
state`s registered voters do not have photo ID from the state. They are
legal voters, they just don`t have this thing that they say you now have to
show that you never had to show before if you want to vote. And it turns
out there are a lot of Hall of Fame Pennsylvania super voters who are among
According to an analysis by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, nearly a quarter
of the Pennsylvania super voters who are in the Hall of Fame, who have cast
ballots in the last 50 elections in a row, they do not have valid state
issued ID and could therefore be prevented from voting in November.
One of the super voters, a 91-year-old whose expired driver`s license
is not considered valid form of ID because it`s expired told “Talking
Points Memo,” quote, “I wouldn`t be able to vote if I don`t get some form
of ID. I wondered why it was, what was the problem they passed something
like that. It`s awful funny.”
A 90-year-old who gave up her driver`s license three months ago told
“TPM”, quote, “I don`t know why, for what reason voter ID was passed. I
couldn`t tell you.”
Zachary Roth, who is a senior writer and editor at MSNBC.com went to
Pennsylvania and talked to 101-year-old Pennsylvanian who doesn`t have the
proper photo ID to vote in November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZACHARY ROTH, MSNBC.COM: How would you feel if you weren`t able to
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would feel very badly because I know we have
come a long way where we could not vote. I remember when we black folks
did not vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is a state that takes the civic duty of voting so
seriously that it has a voting Hall of Fame. But this year, the state of
Pennsylvania is poised to deliberately disenfranchise many of its most
You voted in 50 elections straight? Congratulations. Here`s a glossy
certificate and a special place in our civics Hall of Fame forever. Now,
no more voting for you. So, that`s Pennsylvania.
And the great state of Iowa, while Republicans tried for it, there is
no new Iowa voter ID law for this year`s election. But that doesn`t mean
that nobody gets disenfranchised. The Republican secretary of state in
Iowa has suddenly moved to start a purge of the Iowa voter rolls.
The Iowa secretary of state used an emergency procedure that allowed
him to issue the new purge rule without giving notice to or taking input
from the public. He tells “The Des Moines Register” that the usual notice
and public participation are contrary to the public interest because these
procedures, this voter purge had to be in effect before the November 6th
So he`s trying really quick like with no public oversight to purge the
voter roll three months before the election. What could possibly go wrong?
As long as we`re talking shady new Republican election rules in the
swing states just in time for election day, we also need to make a quick
stop in Ohio. For the past couple nights on this show, we`ve been talking
about a new partisan disaster in voting rights in Ohio. Now, the big news,
don`t pay attention controversy right now is Republicans moving to cut off
the three days of early voting.
Expansive early voting, of course, it`s the change that`s credited
with turning the hours long nightmare lines in `04 election in Ohio into
something that resembled a functioning election day in 2008. But that
relatively trouble-free election in 2008 resulted in Barack Obama winning
So, coincidentally, this year, Republicans in Ohio would like to have
fewer early voting days.
Ohio`s Republican secretary of state, John Husted, has been trying to
defend that move, trying to explain why the point is not to get fewer
people to the polls, not to have longer lines on Election Day, why it would
be so important to cut off early voting three days early.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN HUSTED, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: I don`t think the bar is too
high there for anybody who really cares about the future of our country and
wants to have their voice heard by voting. We try to make it easy, but we
can`t – you know, I say we`re not 7-Eleven. We can`t stay open 24/7 and
let anybody vote by any rule they want to. We have standards.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is Ohio`s Republican secretary of state`s explanation
for cutting off the last three days of early voting in the state, including
the Sunday before Election Day, which is when African-American churches
mobilize their congregations to go early vote en masse.
You can`t go around voting whenever you want. We have standards.
The fact that those standards are likely to result in longer lines in
the big cities where Democrats are favored, I`m guessing the secretary of
state would say that`s just a coincidence, but I would love a chance to ask
Even the questions remain about the cut-off of the last three days of
early voting in Ohio, so far, the secretary of state, John Husted, has not
answered questions about the other election scandal in Ohio for this year,
the one I find hard to believe is not front page news all over the country.
The bigger election scandal in Ohio right now is that on a county by
county basis, election polls are deciding whether to allow early voting on
night and weekends. Each country`s election board – and Ohio is 88
counties – is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, equal
numbers. In counties that tend to vote for the Republican candidate, like
Warren and Butler Counties, where John McCain won in `08 by big margins, in
those counties, Republicans and Democrats on the elections boards are
voting together to allow early voting on nights and weekends. That means
more voting in Republican counties.
But in the counties that tend to go Democratic like Cuyahoga and
Franklin and Summit, where Barack Obama won by huge margins in 2008, the
Republicans on those county election boards are voting against early voting
on nights and weekends. And guess who gets the break – for the tie votes
in those counties, guess who gets to break the ties?
This guy, Republican secretary of state, John Husted, who is voting
with the Republicans naturally to deny early voting on nights and weekends
ion Democratic counties. He is personally intervening to make sure there
are fewer early voting hours on nights and weekends in Democratic counties
while there are more early voting hours on nights and weekends in the
Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland who`s also a co-chair of President
Obama`s re-election joins us on this, next.
MADDOW: Your right to vote and who is stopping you from having that
right to exercise anymore – that`s coming up next.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HUSTED: We`re not 7-Eleven, we can`t stay open 24/7 and let anybody
vote by any rule that they want to. We have standards.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: The debate about voting this year in the crucial swing state
of Ohio continues mostly to be about the Republicans` new effort to cut off
the last three days of early voting. But what no one in power in Ohio has
yet answered for is the Republican effort in Ohio to allow people to vote
early on nights and weekends in Republican-leaning counties, but to not
make the night and weekend early voting hours available for voters in
Joining us now for the interview is former Ohio Governor Ted
Strickland, who is a co-chair of President Obama`s re-election effort.
Governor Strickland, thank you very much for being here. I appreciate
TED STRICKLAND (D), FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR: Good to be with you,
Rachel. I`m happy to talk about this issue. It`s very important to my
MADDOW: In Ohio, obviously, when Ohioans go out to vote, it matters
to the whole country because Ohio is such a crucial swing state in every
modern presidential election. This one is no exception. On this issue
about different early voting hours and Republican leaning counties and
Democratic leaning counties, is this a story of national significance? And
is this a done deal or is this something that might yet be fixed and
normalized across the state?
STRICKLAND: Well, it could be fixed. I don`t know that it will be.
But the fact is, Rachel, I think it`s become very clear as we have watched
what has happened here in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Florida and Iowa and
elsewhere, that the national leadership of the Republican Party is afraid
of the American voter. And they are doing whatever they can do to limit
voting among those who are the most vulnerable. I`m not talking about our
minority population, our older citizens, our student population.
And you know, when the secretary of state says we have standards,
those standards ought to be consistent standards. But you have just
mentioned something that is of great importance. Some counties are going
to allow expanded voting hours, and other counties will not be able to have
And as it turns out, as it turns out, in the Democratic-leaning
counties, those hours will be restricted. And in the Republican-leaning
counties, those hours will be expanded. And that is unfair. And it`s
something that could – it could possibly affect the outcome of the
election in Ohio.
MADDOW: In terms of the last three days of early voting being cut
off, we know that has been the subject of a lawsuit by the Obama campaign
in Ohio and there`s been some – a little bit of political wrangling over
that, but a lawsuit has been filed. But that`s not specifically about that
issue, about that disparate voting hours between different counties in
Do you anticipate that the Obama campaign, which you are co-chair, do
you anticipate that the campaign may also take some sort of legal action or
attempt to intervene in some other way about these different hours county
STRICKLAND: Well, Rachel, this issue has just recently surfaced.
“The Cincinnati Enquirer” has done some stories about it, and I think
Ohioans are only now becoming aware that this disparity is going to exist.
And we all know about obviously the prohibition on voting during those last
weekend days before the election.
And four years ago, Rachel, about 95,000 people voted during those
three days. And so they have limited that, and the Obama administration
with the Ohio Democratic Party has brought suit to try to get that changed.
But this issue about having inconsistent voting hours and opportunities
from one county to another has only recently, I think, entered the public
awareness. And so, we`ll just have to see how this plays out as more and
more people become aware of this really terrible situation.
MADDOW: With the restrictions on early voting, with the disparate
hours between different counties in the state, are you confident that the
Obama campaign, that the Democratic Party, that the other pro-Obama forces
s in the state are going to be able to counter, essentially, those measures
from the Republicans with a strong enough get out the vote effort that
they`re going to be able to carry this thing?
STRICKLAND: Well, I can tell you the Obama campaign is alive and well
in -`Ohio. It`s a robust campaign. There are more than 70 field offices
open across our state, and work is being done from daylight to way past
And the fact is that it`s showing in the polls. The president is
looking very strong in Ohio. In all of the polls, and that lead seems to
But it will be a close race in Ohio. You pointed out accurately,
Rachel, that Ohio is always at the tip of the spear when it comes to
deciding who the president is going to be. And I think that is also going
to be the case this year. I think that this disparity in counties that are
Republican counties versus counties that are Democratic counties is so
troubling to us.
MADDOW: Former Ohio governor, Ted Strickland, a Democrat, co-chairman
of the president`s re-election effort – sir, thank you very much for your
time tonight. It`s nice to have you here.
STRICKLAND: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. We have something important to explain and something
important and undercover in today`s news. Big finish tonight on the show.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: OK. But for those of us who are civilians, it can sometimes
be hard to keep straight what a career path is like, what the different
ranks mean, for example, in the American military. Yes, we get to know
what the basics. We know what a general is, right?
And we know for a general, the more stars, the better. Even we
civilians just know some of these things colloquially. Like we know that
“Saving Private Ryan” was about saving a relatively low ranking soldier and
maybe know that those two bars on tax hanks helmet mean he`s not the
private in question. He in fact is a captain.
So, some of the stuff we just absorb even if we`re civilians and we
don`t have a lot of knowledge about the military, we just absorb it through
the news and through movies and through culture.
It is worth appreciating though one important distinction about
personnel in the U.S. Army that we civilians I think don`t always get. It
took me awhile to figure it out and learn it once I sort of thinking about
it for the first time. There are two separate career paths in the U.S.
This shows the officer career path or commissioned officers through
officer candidate school or ROTC or the service academy at West Point for
the Army. You can start on the officer career path that starts at 2nd
lieutenant, then 1st lieutenant, then captain, then major, then lieutenant
colonel, and then you`re a full bird colonel and then you`re a general, one
star, two star and so on. That`s the officer career path.
But there is also a separate career path, a separate career path with
different ranks for what they call enlisted personnel. This means you
don`t start at officer candidate school or ROTC or West Point. You enlist
as a private. And then from there, the ranks rise through private first
class and then specialist and then sergeant and staff sergeant, then
sergeant first class, master sergeant, first sergeant, sergeant major and
then command sergeant major.
Technically, there is one rank above command sergeant major but it`s
sergeant major of the Army. There`s only one person who holds that rank in
the entire U.S. Army at any one time, only one person. So really command
sergeant major is it.
The way the Army describes it, “Enlisted soldiers who attain the
distinction of being selected by the Department of the Army for
participation in the command sergeants major program are the epitome of
success in their chosen field in this profession of arms. There is no
higher grade of rank and there is no greater honor, perhaps slightly wiser
and more experienced than the first sergeant, the CSM is, the command
sergeant major is expected to be calm, settled and unequivocally accurate
but with an energy and enthusiasm that never wanes even in the worst of
So we are all familiar even us civilians are all familiar with the
fact that being a general is a really big deal in the Army, right? Being a
command sergeant major is way less familiar to us just in terms of its
terminology but in important ways, it is just as big a deal. It is the top
of the heap. It is the apex of the career Army personnel status to which
very few people ever hope to ascend on the enlisted side of the Army ranks.
This is a picture of the leadership of the Fourth Brigade Combat Team
of the Army`s 4th Infantry Division, which is based in Fort Carson,
Colorado. You know that size, it`s between 3,500 and 3,800 soldiers and
that`s not counting a lot of support personnel.
On the left, you see here the brigade`s commander, Colonel James
Mingus, on the right is the brigade command team`s commands sergeant major.
That rank I just explained, command sergeant major. In this case, it is
Kevin J. Griffin. Both of these men specifically, the leaders of the
entire 4th Brigade Combat Team were targets of a suicide attack a couple of
days ago in the capital of Kunar Province in Afghanistan.
Two suicide bombers reportedly detonated explosive vests as these two
soldiers walked to a meeting with Afghan officials and tribal chiefs. The
brigade commander, Colonel Mingus was not injured in the attack, but
command sergeant major, Command Sergeant Major Griffin was killed. That
makes him the most senior enlisted soldier from Fort Carson to die in the
wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Now, the Defense Department is not saying this officially, but based
on our review of high profile casualties in both the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, we think that Command Sergeant Griffin may be among the most
senior U.S. service members killed in either war, period.
Major Thomas Kennedy and Air Force Major Walter Gray were also killed
in that same attack, along with a State Department official, a USAID
foreign service officer named Ragaei Abdelfattah.
That attack as I said happened Wednesday in eastern Afghanistan. And
then the next day, on Thursday, three Marines were killed in southern
Afghanistan, in the latest so-called “green on blue” attack, which is what
the military calls attacks by people we thought were supposed to be allies.
The three Marines were reportedly shot and killed after they were invited
to a meeting to discuss security. Another U.S. servicemember was injured
in that same incident. The gunman in that case escaped.
That all happened after another “green on blue” attack earlier this
week, this one in eastern Afghanistan in which a U.S. soldier was killed
and two others were wounded again by a gunman described as wearing Afghan
army uniforms. NATO says there have been 24 “green on blue” attacks in
Afghanistan since January which have killed 28 people.
And today, a NATO spokesman tried to put that number into perspective.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIG. GEN. GUNTHER KATZ, ISAF SPOKESMAN: However, we must not forget
that for the time being, as we speak actually, we have 500,000 soldiers and
policemen working side by side, building trust, building confidence –
actually many of them building friendship, fighting together, fighting the
insurgency and bringing peace for this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We are approaching the 11th anniversary of the war in
Afghanistan. Starting this fall, we will be starting year 12.
Is more time in Afghanistan than we`ve already been there going to
build more trust and more confidence? Is more time there going to build
more of what we need there?
The story is undercovered because the war in Afghanistan is
undercovered right now. That doesn`t mean it`s less real than it is any
All right. That does it for us tonight. I will see you again on
“Meet the Press” on Sunday morning.
Now, of course, you have to go to prison.
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