The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/03/12

Victoria DeFrancesco Soto

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. This is going to be a very
exciting week. I`m looking forward to our big joint coverage.

ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: Well, I guarantee that the Democrats
will have more personality than the last group.

MADDOW: I don`t know. I think there was some personality on display
last week.

SCHULTZ: I think Brian Schweitzer will take care of that in one

MADDOW: That`s fair enough. He can out-personality pretty much
anybody in politics. Thanks, man. I`ll see you tomorrow.

SCHULTZ: Absolutely.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next

You know, there was a funny moment on the campaign trail today.
President Obama was campaigning in Ohio today. He was talking to a big
fired up crowd in Toledo.

And even though the president is a pretty reliably good speaker, there
is a certainly predictability to his speeches – by necessity, right? I
mean, he`s a candidate, he gives stump speeches. You pretty much know the
broad strokes of what you`re going to hear about. You`re going to hear
about the middle class. You`re going to hear about the auto bailout
working when Mitt Romney said Detroit should go bankrupt, you`re going to
hear about ending the war in Iraq, he`s going to say that thing about every
American getting their fair shot and every American doing our fair share
and everybody playing by the same rules.

I mean, if you are a fan, a fan enough to go to a speech like this,
you likely know what you`re going to hear in broad strokes. But today,
today on the campaign trail, there was this moment in Ohio where the crowd
totally thought that President Obama was going somewhere that he was not
actually going. They started to audibly react as if he was talking about
something that they pretty clearly really wanted him to talk about. But he
was not going where they thought he was. Listen.


person at Governor Romney`s convention last week who wasn`t entirely on
script. No, no –


MADDOW: No, no. The crowd is sort of half booing and half starting
to applaud, and a little excitement that President Obama is about to talk
about the off-script guy from last week, right? He`s going to talk about
this Clint Eastwood thing from the Republican convention.

But that is not what the president is about to do at all. Behold an
oratorical letdown in Ohio.


OBAMA: There was one person at Governor Romney`s convention last week
who wasn`t entirely on script. No, no. Because while they were busy
telling folks how bad everything is, your governor, John Kasich, John
Kasich stood up there and told everybody that Ohio is now number one in the
Midwest in job creation.


MADDOW: President Obama making a substantive point about Ohio`s
economy and how Mitt Romney wants to say the Ohio economy is terrible
because he wants to blame President Obama for that. But in Ohio, the
Republican governor of Ohio is actually saying our economy is doing kind of
great right now, because he want to take the credit for himself.

He`s making that substantive point. But, of course, what the crowd
thought President Obama was going to do there was talk about the most
memorable thing that happened at the Republican convention.

Although the Romney campaign and the Republicans have tried to put a
little shine on the Clint Eastwood disaster, they tried to say in the press
how Mitt Romney personally thought it was such a great speech by Clint
Eastwood. And it was a real high point for the convention and everybody
loved it. You know, when the RNC released their inspirational recap video
of the greatest moments of Mitt Romney`s Republican convention, when they
released the video this week of the highlights, good old Clint Eastwood`s
speech did not make the cut, did not make the highlight reel.

Today, in this past weekend, there`s sort of a weird interregnum, over
the holiday weekend but between the two conventions. Republicans just had
their 72-hour infomercial for Mitt Romney and for the Republican Party.

In this interregnum, and maybe through the Democrats` three days this
upcoming week, the Republicans are supposed to be capitalizing on what they
did last week. They`re supposed to be capitalizing on the momentum they
built with their 72-hour infomercial. This is the part where you`re
supposed to be campaigning at warp speed.

In 1992, after the Clinton/Gore convention, these guys did a 1,000-
mile bus tour right after their convention.

In 2000, after the Republican convention, George Bush and Dick Cheney
left straight from their convention to Ohio and Michigan and Illinois to
tour it by train.

In 2004, John Kerry and John Edwards did the same sort of cross-
country tour through Pennsylvania and West Virginia and Ohio and beyond.

In 2008, Barack Obama and Joe Biden went straight from their
convention to Michigan and to Pennsylvania and to Ohio by bus.

You`re supposed to go out there and make it stick, right? It is post-
convention momentum time.

Mitt Romney today is not on a bus tour, or a train tour, or any kind
of tour. When you get to be the presidential nominee of your party, you
have what`s called a press pool that follows you around at all times. It`s
basically a small pool of reporters who track your every movement all day
long 24 hours a day and then they distribute that information to the rest
of the press.

Well, today, the Mitt Romney press pool was informed at 10:00 a.m.
that Mr. Romney was down for the day. That he had no events scheduled.
The press was essentially told to stand down, Romney watch is over for the
day, nothing to see here. You can leave, you got nothing to cover. That
was at about 10:00 a.m.

Then, an hour and a half later, this almost never happens, the press
was called back into action after being told that he was down for the day,
they were informed an hour and a half later that Mr. Romney actually was
going to be on the move. So the press pool immediately had to snap into
action in order to cover this event.


MADDOW: Mr. Romney taking his boat out for a spin, on a lake.
Instead of a cross country whistle stop tour, Mr. Romney spent the day
boating, and also jet skiing with his family in a lake in New Hampshire.

They reopened the press pool for that, after closing it for the day
earlier. Mr. Romney had no campaign events yesterday. He had no campaign
events today, unless something is happening on this boat, and he had no
public events scheduled for the rest of the entire week.

You know, that`s their call. They can do whatever they want to do.
They can put Clint Eastwood on network primetime coverage instead of the
candidate intro video, do what you want, it`s your campaign. But it`s not
like they have it in the bag here and they can be this relaxed.

Before the Democratic National Convention starts tomorrow, so while
you can still isolate the impact of the Republican convention on voters`
opinions about the two candidates, this right now is what the big
Republican convention bump looks like in the polls.

See, this part right here, what that is showing there, that`s the day
before the Republican convention started last week. And then here`s the
period of the convention, running all the way through today.

Put this in the category of world`s least exciting graphs. Also, the
world`s most imperceptible bounce. Blue is Obama, red is Romney. Those
are the results from Gallup`s daily tracking poll.

Gallup also measures reaction to the convention in terms of what
people say what they saw of the convention will make them more likely or
less likely to vote for the candidate in question. On that point, there`s
a net two-point uptick for Romney from his convention, in terms of people
saying they`re more likely or less likely to vote for him after having seen
the convention. That net plus two is the lowest recorded impact for any
convention from either party since 1984.

In terms of Mr. Romney`s speech specifically, which is supposed to be
the high point of any convention, even a convention that doesn`t include
Clint Eastwood scolding an empty chair for 15 minutes, the nominee`s speech
this year itself got the lowest rating of any nominee`s convention speech
since they have been polling on nominee`s convention speeches which they
started doing back in 1996.

I mean, the news isn`t all totally bleak. There do seem to be little
upticks in Mr. Romney`s favorability numbers and his numbers among Latinos,
very small upticks. We`ll be talking about those a little bit later on.
But basically, the Republican convention appears to have a negligible
political impact and by the broadest measures, it appears to have no impact
at all.

And now the Romney campaign is responding to that by doing absolutely
nothing to try to improve on that. I know they won`t take advice on me on
how to campaign, but it`s a little weird.

Their story is that Mr. Romney is too busy to do events this week
because he`s doing debate prep for next month. But dude, there he is on a
boat. Maybe Rob Portman is hidden on the boat prepping him and we can`t
see him because the boat is going too fast or something.

Is Rob Portman in the glove box? Do boats have glove boxes? I have
no idea.

On the other side, the Obama/Biden ticket is not taking time off.
Vice President Biden was in Michigan today. He addressed the AFL-CIO.

President Obama again was in Toledo talking to autoworkers.


OBAMA: It`s working folks like you who fought for jobs and
opportunity for generations of American workers. It`s working people like
you who helped delay the cornerstones of middle class security. Things
that people now sometimes take for granted, but weren`t always there, the
40-hour workweek, weekends, paid leave, pensions, the minimum wage, health
care, Social Security, Medicare. Those things happened, because working
people organized and mobilized.


MADDOW: Oh, yes. Happy Labor Day. While support for people who have
to work for a living and for union rights and for unions is a Democratic
mainstay – excuse me. I`m being attacked. Never mind.

The current Democratic Party has had some trouble on this issue. They
have arranged for their own party`s convention to be in Charlotte, North
Carolina, this week, a place that has this number of unionized hotels.

I know numbers are supposed to be tough on televisioning right, but
this one is easy. None. It was a totally nonunion city in an anti-union
state hosting the supposedly pro union political party. I mean, look at
what`s in their party platform. Quote, “The protection of the right of
workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and
permanent policy of the Eisenhower administration.”

Wait, the Eisenhower administration? Yes, I`m told I`m not reading
from the current Democratic Party platform. This is the Republican Party
platform from 1956, from the Eisenhower era.

OK, how about this letter from the president? Should any political
party attempt to abolish labor laws, quote, “you would not hear from that
party again in our political history. There`s a splinter group, of course,
that believes you can do these things.” And what does the president think?
Quote, he says, “Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

Yes. Again, that`s not President Obama. That`s President Eisenhower
again, from 1954.

Republicans used to really like union rights. They used to think it
was, and I`m quoting here, “stupid to try to get rid of them.”

Republicans used to be very much in favor of the rights of people who
have to work for a living, their ability to join unions and advocate for
better pay and conditions for themselves. Republicans used to think that
was a really good thing for the country.

Now? Not so much. In fact, quite the opposite.

The dramatic turn in Republican politics toward venomous, open
hostility to union rights, that isn`t just new symbolic, ideological
politics of the kind that Ike called stupid back in 1954. It also has
really practical political consequences.

Because Democrats have tried to be the party of the people who have to
work for a living and because Democrats have therefore supported union
rights and other things that benefit working people, particularly when
Republicans have been willing to take the opposite side of those fights on
behalf of business interests, because of that, Democrats have long
benefited from unions not just raising money for Democratic candidates,
although they do that.

But also unions being a huge part of the Democratic ground game, the
“get out the vote” effort, knocking on doors, educating voters, that sort
of thing. So when Republicans use public policy in the states to go after
union rights, to try to destroy union rights and therefore to destroy
unions, they went after a core institutional structure of the Democratic
Party that makes it possible for there even to be a party that competes
with the Republicans and all of the funding that the Republicans get from
the corporate side.

This is what campaign spending by outside groups looks like in the
last presidential election in 2008. The two groups that spent the most
money that year were labor unions and they mainly spent on behalf of
Democrats and against Republicans. That`s `08.

Then look what happened in 2010 after the Supreme Court Citizens
United ruling and other Supreme Court rulings tearing down campaign finance
laws. Look, this is 2010, the top 10. The big money on the right
skyrocketed. Seven of the top 10 outside spending groups that year were on
the right, largely fueled by corporation contributions. The only non-
conservative groups that cracked the top 10 were unions, the only ones.

When Republicans started going after union right in the states in the
last two years, when they tried to effectively destroy unions, they knew
exactly what the partisan impact of that would be. They were willing to
talk about it.

For example, they were willing to talk about it in Wisconsin.


STATE SEN. SCOTT FITZGERALD (R), WISCONSIN: If we win this battle and
the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what
you`re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult -
- a much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of


MADDOW: If you kill the unions, you kill them off as a structural
support that Democrats rely on, Republicans win elections they wouldn`t
otherwise win.

Today, on Labor Day, President Obama went to Ohio where Republicans
under John Kasich also tried and ultimately failed to kill union rights.

Listen to the message that the president took to this union audience
in Ohio today.


OBAMA: Toledo, what you need to know is this. When they`re trying to
take your collective bargaining rights away, when they`re trying to pass
so-called right to work laws that really mean right to work for less and
less, you should know this isn`t about economics. This is about politics.

I don`t understand why these folks have the nerve to talk about you
like you`re some greedy special interest that needs to be beaten down.
After all that unions have done to build and protect the middle class, they
were standing up there at their convention saying you`re responsible to the
problems we face.

The good news is starting on October 2nd, Ohio gets its say because
you get to vote early.


I`m counting on you. I`m counting on you. I`m counting on you.



MADDOW: Mitt Romney might be running kind of a strange campaign this
year. But maybe you can afford to spend the week after your convention
just boating around and jet skiing around when you really do have all of
the money in the world to spend on your side of the campaign. We will see
how the Democrats do with their convention this week, whether they`re able
to get any more of a bump than the Republicans were able to get.

But right now, head nothing to it, this race is basically tied, and
close elections are won or lost as they always have been, in the ground
game. And for that ground game, the Democrats have never needed their
friends in the labor movement more than they do this year. And Republicans
have never done more to help out the Democrats in trying to fully capture
that audience given how aggressively they have attacked union rights in
their states. Democrats need them and Democrats are in a position to be
asking in a place that ought to be quite politically receptive to the

But unfortunately, Democrats are going to be asking unions for that
help from their non-union venue in their nonunion town, where they`re
putting up all of their delegates in non-union hotels. Why are Democrats
making this so hard on themselves?

Steve Kornacki joins us live from Charlotte, next.


MADDOW: While there was no big general post-convention popularity
bump for Mitt Romney, there was a teeny tiny bumplet, bump teeny, tiny
thing from one group he must win in November. That`s just ahead.



OBAMA: We weren`t going to let Detroit going bankrupt or Lordstown go
bankrupt or Toledo go bankrupt. I stood with American workers, I stood
with American manufacturing, I believed in you. I bet on you. I`ll make
that bet any day of the week, and because of that bet, three years later,
that bet is paying off for America.


The good news is starting on October 2nd, Ohio gets a say because you
get to vote early.



MADDOW: That was President Obama today in front of an enthusiastic
crowd of union members in Toledo, Ohio. The president making his case for
why he should be reelected and then he got specific on how he should be re-
elected, saying that early voting starts in Ohio way sooner than I can get
my head around. Early voting starts in Ohio in less than a month.

Joining us now from the site of the DNC, in Charlotte, North Carolina,
Steve Kornacki, the host of MSNBC`s 3:00 Eastern show, “THE CYCLE.” Steve
is also a senior writer for

Steve, thanks for being here.

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Sure. Happy to do it.

MADDOW: So, how much does union support matter to the Democrats in
terms of their ground game, their get out the vote efforts, everything they
need to do to convey that political messaging into votes?

KORNACKI: I think it matters maybe even more than it did in the past.
You started to outline the reasons there in the last segment. And what it
really gets down to is the ground game because I think we`re at the point
now in this campaign where we can say, look, if you combine the money that
the campaigns have with the outside money, with the super PAC money, it`s
pretty clear that Obama is going to be outspent here by Romney and by the

But the bigger implication, the bigger problem the Democrats have is
that`s going to trickle down the ballot as well. So, you start talking
about Senate races, you start talking about House races, you talk about
gubernatorial races on the ballot this year, and you start talking about
state legislative races and you have seen since 2010 when Republicans won
control of all these statehouses and suddenly, you know, all of this sort
of right-to-work type legislation was advanced in all of these states, a
lot of the action is playing out down there.

So, you look at all those races and if you have the sort of disparity,
the financial disparity in those races, you`re going to have in the
presidential race, if you have that disparity and it`s even more pronounced
and I think that`s very likely to be the case, then you really need
something to go against them. If it`s not going to be money, the only
thing you have left is the ground game.

And so, if you want to say there`s a silver lining here for the
Democrats in the Citizens United decision of 2010, which I`d say, you know,
organized labor obviously has spoken out against and opposed, but the
silver lining is this: the Citizens United decision freed organized labor
to set up actual full scale political operations like they couldn`t before.
You know, the old rule for labor was, you know, in the election season,
they would provide people – people would be sort of farmed out to work
with Democratic campaigns, to work with campaign organizations. Now, labor
is free to set up its own organization.

So you take people who have experience doing these campaigns who have
experience organizing them, working on them, labor can now organize its own
campaign, can target its own resources. And honestly, that`s hugely
important to Democrats right now because if they`re going to be outspent in
all these races, if they`re going to have a shot, I keep saying the action
really is down ballot because Obama can overcome a spending disparity
theoretically in the way that the average House, the average Senate
candidate can`t. Ground game is a huge part of that. And that`s really
that`s where they need labor right now.

MADDOW: Well, Steve, in terms of – it`s a really important point
about how they could potentially do even more this year than they have done
in the past, and we know from past experience how important they`ve been to
Democrats. Given that, have Democrats screwed things up with the unions by
putting their convention in Charlotte, which is an anti-union town, has no
unionized hotels, and they really, I think, gave unions the back of the
hand when they made this decision that they were going to go there over
labor objections?

KORNACKI: I think there`s something to be said for that, and
obviously, the calculation that the Democrats said and really that the
Obama White House had in making North Carolina the site was they sort of
saw it as the premiere swing state, they sort of saw it as, you know, our
future is winning over states like North Carolina where there`s changing
demographic patterns and we can make inroads to a region in the South where
we have been shut out for decades, really almost for generations at the
presidential level.

So, that was the calculation.

I will be honest with you, I heard when the decision to go to
charlotte for the convention was announced, I heard a lot more grumbling, a
lot more over outrage from labor than I`m actually picking up here. And
for various reasons today, the weather included, I wasn`t able to get out
as much as I wanted to.

But the labor people I have spoken to here, yes, if you ask them,
should the convention have been held in a right-to-work state, the answer
comes back right away – no, they`re disappointed. They wish it was
elsewhere, they don`t really get the logic.

But when you start asking them, does that translate, are you going to
sit on your hands? Are the people you know who are back home going to sit
on their hands? I`m not picking up on that right here. Again, these are
people that the true believers more so, I guess, but I`m not picking up on
it here as much as I was a few months ago.

MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, co-host of MSNBC`s 3:00 Eastern show “THE
CYCLE,” also senior writer for “Salon” – Steve, this is going to be fun to
cover this. Thanks for being with us. I`m looking forward to it.

KORNACKI: Happy to do it. Thanks.

MADDOW: Thanks.

All right. Still ahead, absolutely nothing at all about Paul Ryan
saying he ran a marathon more than an hour faster than he actually did.
There will be nothing further on that on this show because, my God, what
can you say about that, seriously?

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: You know that Mitt Romney did not mention the war that our
country is fighting right now during his speech accepting his party`s
nomination for president. But do you know why he says he didn`t mention it
in the speech? It`s a very strange answer.

Stay tuned. That`s ahead.



GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: For a decade I have been the governor of
a state with a 1,200-mile border with Mexico, we put $400 million of our
taxpayer money into securing that border. But if you say that we should
not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than
they have been brought there by no fault of their own, I don`t think you
have a heart.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My friend Governor Perry said
that if you don`t agree with his position on giving that in-state tuition
to illegals, that you don`t have a heart. I think if you`re opposed to
illegal immigration, it doesn`t mean you don`t have a heart. It means you
have a heart and a brain.



MADDOW: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney staked out a
position on immigration specifically that was far to right of even his own
party, which was pretty far to the right and he`s been pretty blunt about


ROMNEY: So we went to the company and said, look, you can`t have
illegals working on our property. I`m running for office, for Pete`s sake,
I can`t have illegals.

The answer is self deportation, if they`re going to self-deport.

JOHN KING, CNN: You`ve talked, Governor, about self deportation if
businesses do their job asking for the right documents. The people will
leave. But what about arresting? Should there be aggressive seek them
out, arrest them and arrest as Sheriff Arpaio advocates?

ROMNEY: You know, I think you see a model here in Arizona.

The question is, if I were elected and Congress would have passed the
DREAM Act, would I veto it? And the answer is yes.


MADDOW: How does a candidate with those policies make an appeal for
Latino voters in an election year? Well, he sends other people to do it
for him, preferably, in Espanol.




MADDOW: At this year`s Republican National Convention, not just his
Mitt Romney`s one Spanish-speaking son, but every statewide elected Latino
Republican in the country got a primetime speaking spot, every one. Plus,
another guy who wasn`t even elected, he just won a primary. Welcome to
primetime, Ted Cruz.

Republican Latinos luminaries introduced Ann Romney and Paul Ryan and
Mitt Romney himself. How did it go over to not talk at all about Mitt
Romney`s politics, his policies on an issue of particular concern to Latino
voters, immigration, how did it go to not talk about policies at all and
instead to just go primetime with Latino speakers who did not talk about
those policies either, but who did that not talking about it while
themselves being Latino?

Well, the first round of post-convention Latino Decisions polling is
in. Look at this – 62 percent of Latino voters said the prominent
speaking rolls for Latinos at the convention had no effect on them as

But, however, the strategy did actually move the polls a little. For
a convention where it appears Mr. Romney got almost no eve overall
measurable bump, he did get a little movement with Latino voters. Mr.
Romney moved from 26 points among Latinos up to 30 points, 26 to 30.

Proportionately, that`s a pretty big jump, four points. And yet he is
still more than doubled up by Barack Obama. Barack Obama still beating him
two to one.

In theory, Republicans could be doing much better than this.
Theoretically, Republicans have some room to move here on policy.
President Obama, as you know, has been very hard-nosed on border security.
He`s been deporting people at a really quite remarkable clip. President
Obama said he would get the DREAM Act passed for immigration reform, but he
was not able to do it. The Democratic-controlled House passed it, but the
Democrats in the Senate could not figure out a way how to get it past the
Republican filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called it his biggest regret from
that Congress that they didn`t get the DREAM Act passed, too.

But Republicans looked at all of the room to work in terms of policy
and decided instead of trying to appeal to Latino voters on policy, they
would pass a platform, a national platform calling for the establishment of
English as the official language of the United States. They called for the
Arizona papers please laws to be emulated across the country.

And then the author of the Arizona papers please law, Mitt Romney`s
immigration adviser, Kris Kobach, left the GOP platform committee in order
to go sue the Obama administration to try to stop the mini version of the
DREAM Act the president brought about by executive order because, of
course,. Republicans in Congress remain totally hostile to it now even
though long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, it was a Republican act in
the first place.

Latino voters are the nation`s fastest growing bloc of voters, which
any political strategist can tell you in his or her sleep.

Latino voters are the reason Democrats think Texas is going to be a
swing state as early as 2016. And to the extent that Republicans want to
woo those voters now in 2012, they`re not trying to do it on policy.
They`re trying to do it on identity politics alone.

It is a big gamble for them, actually, as a party. So far it`s paying
off in very, very, very tiny poll numbers. Democrats get their chance to
try to claw those numbers back this upcoming week.

Joining us now is Victoria DeFrancesco Soto. She`s a visiting scholar
at the University of Texas-Austin, a contributor to NBC Latino.

Professor, thanks very much for your time tonight. It`s nice to have
you here.

be here.

MADDOW: What makes a bigger difference on Election Day? Kind of soft
focus, identity politics stuff like spotlighting lots of Latino speakers,
or policy that is of specific interest to Latino voters? If you have to
pick one to build a campaign around, which would you choose?

SOTO: Well, it also depends on what voters you`re trying to reach.
In the Latino Decisions poll, we saw no movement whatsoever with Democrats
in terms of being drawn to the Marco Rubios and the Susana Martinezes, But
when we separated it out to independents, we saw a draw with 30 percent of
the independent Latinos saying they felt they were closer to the Republican

But the identity is not going to get you enough. What Republicans are
trying to do is going on it with economy, because Latinos were the hardest
hit by the economic recession, losing 66 percent of their wealth,
unemployment still in the double digits, highest poverty rates.

So, what we need is for the president to acknowledge this hardship and
say, this is the plan I`m going to lay out to get you back on your feet,
especially because Latinos are wage earners.

But at the same time, the president and the Democratic Party has to be
very careful with immigration. They have to acknowledge it, but not remind
Latinos too much of the unbroken promise.

MADDOW: In terms of the unbroken promise, the president went much of
the way toward making good on that promise he could as an individual with
his executive action that people are sort of calling the mini DREAM Act.
We saw the rather inspirational site last month with people lining up at
offices across the country to try to take advantage of the program he`s put
in place. We also see the Republican author of the “papers please” law in
Arizona. Mr. Romney`s immigration adviser suing to stop it.

I know immigration isn`t the only issue. But on that issue in
particular, does the president sort of get credit for trying or is it the
fact they weren`t able to get the full DREAM Act passed really still the
main issue?

SOTO: I think Latinos are still sore at the fact that he promised the
big comprehensive immigration reform, and he didn`t get it passed. But
that being said, I think Latinos are not dwelling on that. They`re
shifting their focus to the economy and saying, we trust you.

And we see this in the poll numbers, that they trust the president in
terms of going forward into the economy.

So immigration, I think, is going to go on the back burner for
Latinos, both in terms of Democratic strategy and the Republican strategy.
The Republicans don`t want to touch it, as we saw with the RNC, and the
president wants to highlight what he has done and also what he`s going to
do for Latinos economically.

MADDOW: When we see the president talk on the economy, right now,
he`s been more and more bringing into the discussion the issue of
entitlements, the issue of the Republicans proposals on Medicare, talking
about protecting Social Security. Paul Ryan and Congress has a radical
privatization proposals on Social Security.

Are those the types of issues that have specific resonance among

SOTO: Absolutely, Rachel. We know from polling that over 60 percent
of Latinos support the Affordable Care Act, 70 percent of Latinos don`t
want a change in Social Security.

Latinos are progressive. They see government as being able to bring
change into their lives, help them with educational policies, social
policy. At the core, Latinos ideologically line up with the progressive
Democratic agenda.

MADDOW: Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, visiting scholar at UT-Austin, and
NBC Latino contributor, it`s really nice to have you here. Thank you for
your time tonight. I appreciate it.

SOTO: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. Something all of the pundits were wrong about,
myself included, about this convention-palooze we find ourselves in the
middle of right now. We were all wrong about it and it turns out to matter
quite a bit.

That`s ahead. That`s coming up right at the end to tonight show.
Stay with us.


MADDOW: As the Democratic convention gets under way, the man of the
next 72 hours in Charlotte, North Carolina, is, of course, President Obama.

But as soon as this show is done here tonight, MSNBC is going to be
airing a brand new documentary hosted by Chris Matthews that`s called
“Barack Obama: Making History.” It tracks the president`s political life
back to its beginning and up to right now. The film starts right after us
at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time tonight. We`re all really, really looking
forward to it.

But before that, we`ll be right back here with a thing that everybody
got wrong, including me, about the conventions this year. Hold on, I`m
right back for that.


MADDOW: At the Republican nominating convention, a whole string of up
and coming Republican political stars, mostly told their own inspiring
stories. They did not talk all that much about Mitt Romney.

Chris Christie waited more than 1,700 words into his speech before he
even mentioned Mr. Romney.

Marco Rubio`s speech was 1,700 words long. It contained a grand total
of two sentences about Mitt Romney, total. And that was the speech that
was supposed to introduce Mr. Romney.

Mr. Romney`s big show in Tampa was neat. It was mostly well-produced.
It was at times inspiring, particularly for people who already agree with
Mr. Romney.

But it was not really about Mr. Romney very much at all.

But what is maybe more surprising than how little we heard of Mr.
Romney last week, is how much we heard of the man George W. Bush. We made
a big deal on this show about the fact that George W. Bush was not going to
the Republican convention. We noted it, everyone noted it. It seemed
important, right?

After having left the country fighting two wars and in financial
catastrophe – just financial ruin four short years ago, Mr. Bush`s party
seems not ready to embrace him or his legacy. And it is true that Mr. Bush
did not go to the convention. He was not there in person.

But it turned out he didn`t really need to be there in person. His
stamp was all over the place in Tampa. Beyond the glossy, “he was a nice
guy” video, substantively, George W. Bush`s foreign policy was the foreign
policy of this Republican convention. And apparently, it is the foreign
policy of the Republican Party`s presidential nominee this year.

Mr. Bush`s brother Jeb front-paged his convention speech with a well-
received defense/celebration of George W.


JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: My granddad, my grandfather
and my father have been incredible role models for me and served our
country honorably. And my brother, well, I love my brother.


BUSH: He is a man of integrity, courage, and honor. And during
incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe.



MADDOW: Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, of course, not to be blunt
here, but not counting 9/11 against his brother`s record of keeping America
safe, and not counting any of the people hurt or killed in the Iraq war

But invoking George W. Bush`s role on the world stage was met with
enthusiastic applause from the convention floor.

And in her speech, Condoleezza Rice bragged about the Bush
administration`s post-9/11 decision making.


9/11, the willingness to take really hard, hard decisions that secured us -


MADDOW: By which she means going to war in Iraq, which actually was
not a really, really hard, hard decision at all for the Bush

According to the president`s own former treasury secretary, it was
something they had started planning the month they took office.

There was a surprising amount of George W. Bush invoked at the RNC,
more than anybody expected. And the tone was never repentant. There was
never a lesson learned message about what went wrong about the George W.
Bush years.

When George W. Bush was brought up, wherever the Bush administration
was namedropped or appeared on stage, it was always celebratory,
reverential even. And for their first national security speech at the
convention, they brought on John McCain – John McCain who drew a straight
line from George W. Bush foreign policy to today.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: By committing to withdraw from
Afghanistan before peace can be achieved and sustained, the president has
discouraged our friends and emboldened our enemies.


MADDOW: Cutting and running. Why stop at 13 years of war when you
can just stay indefinitely?

Senator McCain said we should not end the war in Afghanistan. He also
called for new American military intervention in Syria and Iran. Because
he is John McCain and that`s what he does.


MCCAIN: That old – that old Beach Boy song, bomb Iran. You know,
bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway.


MADDOW: You seeing him there doesn`t mean this is their current way
of thinking. Maybe they just gave the old bomb, bomb, bomb Iran guy one
more spin around the parking lot, because they were too embarrassed to
disinvite him from their convention, maybe.

Maybe not. When Mitt Romney, the nominee himself, took the stage, his
tone on foreign policy was the same kind of straight line from George W.
Bush that John McCain took up. The same Iran stuff, right? With an extra
bonus of threatening Russia as well.


ROMNEY: In his first TV interview as president, he said we should
talk to Iran. We`re still talking and Iran`s centrifuges are still
spinning. He`s eager to give Russia`s President Putin the flexibility he
desires, after the election.



MADDOW: Remember when John McCain wanted us to go to war with Russia
during the last presidential campaign?


MCCAIN: The small nation of Georgia has been subject to Russian
attacks that threaten its very existence. Today, we are all Georgians.


MADDOW: That was the Republican nominee for president then in 2008,
essentially threatening an American war with Russia. And now it`s the new
nominee`s turn.


ROMNEY: Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty
and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone.



MADDOW: The only serious discussion of the Afghanistan war at the
Republican convention was that clip you just heard from John McCain saying
we should stay at war there forever. We do not actually know if Mr. Romney
agrees with John McCain on that, the way he agrees with him on threatening
wars with Russia and Iran. We don`t know whether or not he agrees with
him, because Mitt Romney did not say anything at all in his acceptance
speech about our current war in Afghanistan – which on its face is
stunning. It`s stunning even to the right.

The conservative “Weekly Standard`s” Bill Kristol just excoriated Mr.
Romney for it, saying, quote, “Leave aside the political wisdom of Romney`s
silence and the opportunities it opens up for President Obama next week,
what about the civic propriety of a presidential nominee failing even to
mention in his acceptance speech a war we`re fighting and our young men and
women who are fighting it?”

Mitt Romney on Friday became the first Republican nominee to – on
Thursday, excuse me, became the first Republican nominee to not talk about
war in his convention speech, in 60 years.

And we are in a war. We are in a hot war.

Mr. Romney mentioned World War II, he mentioned the Mexican
Revolution. But Mitt Romney accepted the nomination to be president of the
United States of America without a single word for the more than 80,000
Americans who are serving right now in Afghanistan.

In an attempt to explain why that happened or why everybody should be
OK with it, a senior Romney campaign aide, my friend, Eric Fehrnstrom,
argued that Mr. Romney addressed the war in Afghanistan just the day before
his convention speech, when he spoke to the American Legion in Indiana.

In that American legion speech, it`s true, Mr. Romney did say two
sentences about the war in Afghanistan. Literally, here`s exactly what he
said. “We are still at war in Afghanistan. We still have uniformed men
and women in conflict, risking their lives.”

That`s it. That`s the two sentences he uttered the day before his
campaign speech. And that treatment of the war that we`re in right now is
why his campaign says he didn`t have anything left to say about our current
war the following day when he was accepting the nomination. I guess those
two sentences exhausted it for him, pretty much.

The day after the Republican convention wrapped up, President Obama
went to Ft. Bliss, to talk to troops returning from and deploying to
Afghanistan about the wind-down plan for the war there, and to announce a
new executive order meant to ensure that veterans get their mental health
claims taken care of.


OBAMA: And I know that you join me in saying to anyone who`s ever
worn the uniform, if you`re hurting, it`s not a sign of weakness to seek
help. It`s a sign of strength. We are here to help you stay strong, Army
strong. That`s a commitment I`m making to you.


MADDOW: The president also talked about the drawdown plan in
Afghanistan in his weekly radio address on Saturday.


OBAMA: Next month, the last of the troops I ordered as part of the
surge against the Taliban will come home. And by 2014, the transition to
Afghan lead will be complete. But as long as we have a single American in
harm`s way, we will continue to do everything in our power to keep them
safe and help them succeed. That means giving them a clear mission and the
equipment they need on the front lines. But it also means taking care of
our veterans and their families, because no one who fights for this country
should have to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come


MADDOW: So that first clip you saw was Friday, that second one was
from Saturday. And today out on the campaign trail in Ohio, the president
highlighted the contrast between his plan for Afghanistan and what we
surmise of Mitt Romney`s plans, even though he never talks about it.


OBAMA: You get to decide what the future of the war in Afghanistan
is. You know, last week, did you notice Governor Romney did not say a word
about our troops, who are in harm`s way over there? And because of my
plan, 33,000 of them will have come home by the end of this month.


He said ending the war in Iraq was tragic. I think it was the right
thing to do. I said we`d end that war, we did.


I said we`d go after al Qaeda. We did.


I said we`d take out bin Laden. We did.



MADDOW: You know, issues of war and foreign policy are not all that
partisan all the time. Republican Jon Huntsman`s campaign didn`t go
anywhere this year and neither did Ron Paul`s this year, but both of these
candidates were respected for and got support for running on the issue of
Afghanistan, for saying what a lot of Republicans think, and a lot of
independents think, and a lot of Democrats think, which is that we ought to
end the Afghanistan war and leave now, not in 2014.

You don`t win a medal for bravery for espousing a political position
like that right now. It`s a pretty popular position.

But Mitt Romney is no Jon Huntsman. He`s no Ron Paul. He`s afraid to
even say the word “Afghanistan” at moments when it counts, let alone to
visit the warzone on his pre-convention overseas tour. Let alone to make
any arguments whatsoever that do not flow from the George W. Bush foreign
policy brain trust that he has held over wholesale from the bad old
Bush/Cheney years of foreign policy. Or does he not think they were bad
old years?

Because of that, the debate, the pressure on the president, on the
life-and-death issue of the war and the more than 80,000 Americans facing
in our name daily, because of that, that pressure will not come from
President Obama`s political opponent. Mitt Romney punts on this one. He`s
pretending it does not exist.

This election will, therefore, fail us as a nation, as a means of
having a robust debate about a war we are still waging, while more than
two-thirds of Americans do not want us to be fighting it.

Elections are supposed to help us close the gap between what we want
and what we get as a nation, because enterprising competitive politicians
are supposed to recognize and seize political opportunity, when a policy is
deeply, profoundly unpopular. But Mitt Romney is not capable of that on
this issue.

And so that means the pressure on this issue, the pressure on the
policy makers, if there is going to be any, will have to come from the
people, from us. Because it seems like we care about this as a country,
even if some of the people who say they want to lead us do not care about

All right. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again
tomorrow night at 7:00, as our coverage of the Democratic convention starts
in prime-time.

But right now, it is time for “Barack Obama: Making History” which is
hosted by our own Chris Matthews. Have a great night.


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