The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/07/12
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: That`s “THE ED SHOW.” I`m Ed
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts a very important show tonight, because
it starts year number five.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: It`s true.
SCHULTZ: THE RACHEL MADDOW started, enjoying its fourth anniversary
today or tonight.
MADDOW: You know what I want for my birthday, my show`s birthday, Ed?
SCHULTZ: What would you like?
MADDOW: I would like you to commit to doing one show every week from
here on out in your Clint Eastwood voice.
SCHULTZ: Well, I`ll consider it.
SCHULTZ: Those guys over on the left, you know, that Rachel Maddow
starting her fifth year, she`s been one of our biggest problems.
MADDOW: You sound like a cross between Clint Eastwood and Ronald
Reagan and Ed Schultz.
SCHULTZ: There is definitely a tone similarity there, and I think you
could also throw in a little bit of Dick Cheney. I work on imitations.
But – congratulations, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Ed. That`s awesome.
SCHULTZ: And you did a wonderful job anchoring the coverage. It`s
not easy off the top of your head many times, most of the night, fabulous
talent. Very intelligent. I`m honored to work with you.
Congratulations, and by the way, four years in cable is like eternity.
MADDOW: Thank you, man. It was so much fun this week. I can`t wait
for the debates.
MADDOW: All right. Have a great weekend, man.
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for
the next hour.
Behold, the world`s least exciting graph. Look. This is Gallup`s
daily tracking poll starting with the day before the Republican convention.
And continuing through Monday, this past Monday. See what I mean by least
We showed this graph on Monday night. Right before the start of the
Democratic convention to try to understand if the Republican convention
last week gave Mitt Romney a bounce. That`s no bounce.
Well, today, the world`s least exciting graph gets updated. This is
Gallup`s daily tracking poll, again, starting with the day before the
Republican convention, but now, it goes through the first two days of the
Democratic convention this week.
And so, yes, even though this does not yet reflect any reaction to the
president`s acceptance speech because it`s just the first two days of the
Democratic` convention, at least from the first part of the convention,
there`s some evident Obama bounce apparent to the naked eye. Mr. Obama
went up one point to 48 points. Mr. Romney went down a point to 45 points.
So, hey arithmetic, the president got a two-point swing and he leads
by three now in what amounts to this national poll. So that`s something.
But that`s not the election.
National polling does not really matter because presidential elections
are not won at the national level. Presidential elections are won state by
state. You win individual states. You get their electoral votes from that
It doesn`t matter how many votes Mitt Romney gets in California. He`s
going to lose that state and that`s all that matters. It doesn`t matter
how many votes President Obama gets in Oklahoma, he`s going to lose
Oklahoma no matter what. It`s only the states in convention that really
matter and they`re the only ones that get fought after once the campaign
has been joined in earnest, which had now has.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden went racing out of Charlotte today to get
back on the stump. First, they went to New Hampshire and then they went to
You`ll remember that Governor Romney did not get on the campaign bus,
get back on the stump after his convention. He instead got on his boat.
Instead of making a big swing through the states where he really needs to
go compete and win, Mr. Romney for the last week has been boating and
debate prepping in Vermont in what is being described in the local Vermont
press as a very fancy mansion.
But, today, Mitt Romney finally did get back on the trail after his
boating time and his mansion time. This is really telling.
Here`s how you know it`s going to go for the rest of the year. As
President Obama today went to New Hampshire and then Iowa, what did Mitt
Romney today do? He went to Iowa and then New Hampshire. It`s not a
coincidence that they`ve got parallel itineraries.
Mr. Romney is also launching a huge, expensive ad blitz in Iowa and
New Hampshire. He`s using a clip from his convention speech and making a
promise about how many jobs he will bring.
So, Iowa and New Hampshire, you`re not seeing a lot of Mitt Romney the
candidate, Mitt Romney the man, you`re also going to be seeing Mitt Romney
ads all the time. So are you North Carolina and Colorado and Nevada and
Florida, and Ohio, and Virginia.
The eight states that are being targeted in the ad campaign, an ad
campaign so big the campaign describes it as a carpet bombing. And this
list of states, the states you see marked on the map right here, that is
pretty much where the election is going to be fought from here on out.
This map, you will notice, doesn`t include all of the places we have
been thinking about and talking about as swing states. The Romney campaign
is not placing its new ads in Wisconsin, in Michigan, or Pennsylvania. The
super PACs that support Mitt Romney have also pulled their ads from
Michigan. Mr. Romney is trailing in Michigan by as much as seven points
The pro Romney PAC money has also dropped out of Pennsylvania where
Romney is also behind in the polls.
The Romney campaign and the PACs together, of course, have more money
than God and Mick Jagger combined, so they could still decide to spend
money wherever, whenever. They almost have infinite resources in terms of
ad dollars in this campaign season.
But unless something changes in their strategy, it looks like
Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania are out and so the 2012 election is
down to these eight states. This is a very narrow playing field.
And so the specifics of what happens in these few states, the
technical aspects of how voting is going to go in these eight states
becomes something of national importance. And so it`s of national
importance that we got news today out of Ohio where Republicans tried to
cut the final three days of early voting before the election. You know
that the Obama campaign sued the state of Ohio over that trying to get
those days of early voting back. Last week, a judge ordered the state of
Ohio to restore those three days of early voting.
Ohio`s Republican secretary of state, John Husted, announced that he
would appeal that ruling and while he was appealing it, he would ignore the
court order telling him to go ahead with early voting. He said there was
no valid reason for him to restore the voting hours now. I mean, besides
that whole federal court ordering him to restore the early voting hours.
Yesterday, the judge in the case issued another order that ordered
John Husted to come back to court personally and explain why he thinks a
federal court ruling should not apply to him. That got Mr. Husted`s
attention. Mr. Husted rescinded his original order and he filed a new
brief with the court in which he apologized to the court for any
misimpressions. He also asked for a stay of the court`s order that Ohio
restore the early voting rights.
So, while John Husted is very, very sorry and would like very much not
to be held in contempt of court in Ohio, he would also like to not restore
those three days of early voting right before the elect where last time
around, 93,000 people voted in Ohio, including a large number of African-
American voters who were voting for Barack Obama. In terms of voters
knowing the basics of what to expect in Ohio, knowing when they can vote,
it`s kind of a mess right now. And Ohio is going to be really important
this year, and it`s getting late in the game.
And then there`s Virginia. Virginia has been weird all year for quite
different reasons. Virginia essentially did not have a primary for the
Republican presidential nomination this year. Getting on the ballot in
Virginia is hard. The state requires you to gather hundreds of signatures
in each congressional district. So you can`t just go to the mall in
Alexandria and have a good day and say it`s done for the state. You have
to be all over the state.
But in the Republican primary, over the half dozen candidates who are
still in the running at the time that Virginia was holding its primary,
only two of them qualified to make the ballot. That`s how hard it was to
get on the ballot – only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul got their names on the
ballot. Rick Perry and New Gingrich and Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman,
they all tried to make the ballot, but they all failed to make the ballot
for that primary in Virginia. And so, that primary in Virginia essentially
didn`t matter, it didn`t really exist.
But you know who did make it onto the ballot for the general election
in November? This guy, hello, who are you? He`s a former congressman
named Virgil Goode.
Virgil Goode is a traveling man ideologically speaking. He`s been a
Democrat and an independent and a Republican. But this year, Virgil Goode
is running for president as the nominee of the rather right libertarian-
ish, pilgrim era, family values, constitution party and he`ll be on the
ballot in November along with the major party candidates.
Now, think about this strategically. Mitt Romney does not want to see
Virgil Goode`s name on the ballot as another right-wing candidate, right?
He doesn`t want to see Virgil Goode`s name there as a choice for
conservative Virginians other than him.
Virginia`s Republican Party challenged Virgil Goode`s nominating
petitions last week. They said Virgil Goode really didn`t have enough
valid signatures to qualify. Mr. Romney and the Republicans do not don`t
want him on the ballot because look how high he`s polling, he`s polling as
high as 9 percent. And presumably, those votes would otherwise go to Mitt
Romney and he needs every vote he can get in Virginia.
One Virginia Republican said, quote, “If you want to see Barack Obama
re-elected president of the United States, do whatever you can for Virgil
Virginia Republicans challenged Virgil Goode`s spot on the ballot and
the Virginia board elections said put him on the ballot anyway, and Virgil
Goode is going to be on the ballot – unless Virginia`s attorney general,
this guy, Ken Cuccinelli decides to kick Virgil Goode off the ballot.
Ken Cuccinelli has been campaigning for Mitt Romney including last
week at the Republican convention. Under Virginia law, Ken Cuccinelli gets
to decide whether Virgil Goode gets his name on the ballot or not. He
promises – look at the headline – he promises he will be absolutely
objective – absolutely objective – about this whole thing. Absolutely.
Virginia is getting three different Mitt Romney ads this week.
Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina,
Florida. That`s it, that`s the election. That is who the country is
counting on to handle this decision about the presidency for the rest of
us, eight states.
So, when stuff gets weird in one of those eight states, when something
like Virgil Goode happens in one of those eight states, while that might be
a weird side bar Virginia story at any other time in any other political
circumstances, right now, Virgil Goode is of national political importance.
Joining us now is Steve Kornacki, co-host of MSNBC`s “THE CYCLE,” and
a senior writer for Salon.com.
Steve, welcome back. Great to have you here.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Great to be here.
MADDOW: Did you have a good time at the convention?
KORNACKI: A great time. The crowd was really – there was a lot of
energy there. I wasn`t ready for that, but there were tons of people and
it was exciting to be there.
MADDOW: Now that you are a big MSNBC TV star, were you weirded out
that everybody knows who you were?
KORNACKI: Well, I`d say, it doubled as an MSNBC convention, it felt
like. A lot of people said you`re that guy with Rachel Maddow. Why isn`t
she there? So, you were missed.
MADDOW: I could have sent you a little cardboard me.
If you are a Republican strategist, how concerned would you be about
Virgil Goode on the ballot in Virginia?
KORNACKI: Now, I think that this is legitimate. I mean, it`s a very
narrow set of circumstances where it could be decisive in the presidential
elections. It needs to be razor thin in the Electoral College. It`s
basically, you know, a 50/50 race. And it comes down to Virginia.
Virginia is a decider state, sort of the way Florida was in 2004. Ohio was
And then it comes into play, OK, how many votes does he have and who
he`s stealing it from? And you think back to 2000, look at the example of
like Pat Buchanan down in Florida. That was a result of ballot confusion.
But you look at all of those accidental votes that Pat Buchanan got and how
that skewed that state.
Or you could look at Ralph Nader and say the same thing with 93,000
that he got.
The thing about Virgil Goode is, everywhere else in the country, he
would be a fringe candidate who would get a microscopic share of the vote.
But he has a deep political base and he has a deep political roots in
This is a guy – when you say the name Virgil Goode in New York, in
California, in Texas, who is he?
KORNACKI: You say the name in southwest Virginia, they know this guy.
We have been talking all year about how Mitt Romney has the problem with
the enthusiasm of the Republican Party base.
So this is this one sort of very small corner of the country where not
only does the Republican base have a problem with Mitt Romney but there`s a
conservative on the ballot who they actually know and who to them is a
legitimate political figure, a guy who served 12 years in the House. He
was in the legislature forever down there in Virginia. This is the guy
they know. And again, all he needs in that corner of the state is about 10
percent. That starts to affect the state-wide total. So, yes, it could be
MADDOW: And we`re at the point in the campaign when the field is
being narrowed and so therefore, we get magnified political import of these
internal dynamics in these individual states.
And because of that, I feel like we ought to question whether or not
the field is narrowed. Like we`ve got this decision from the Romney
campaign to get out of Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania. The Romney
super PACs essentially followed suit in that.
Are they doing that potentially as a fake? Is this a commitment that
they have to now follow through on, leading up to this? It has big
KORNACKI: I think part of this was, look, they wanted to make news
coming out of the Democratic convention. They also have this pile of money
they can start spending because he`s officially the Republican nominee.
So, this is sort of – they`re trying to make some hints now, leave some
hints out there they could go back and expand this later to Wisconsin, to
Michigan, to Pennsylvania.
But the interesting thing to me is when we start talking about the
swing states, I think the way this sort of gets conventionally talked about
in politics, I think we have it slightly wrong, where we look at it and say
we have the national polls, but let`s look at the swing states. And when
you do that, you see that Obama is ahead in the swing states right now.
And we come to this conclusion, I hear this a lot, that Mitt Romney has
narrow path to 270, that there`s an extra challenge for Mitt Romney on top
of the popular vote.
I think we`re reading it wrong. I think the fact that Barack Obama is
leading in the swing states tells us that Barack Obama has been leading in
the presidential race all year. The race is commonly – you hear dead
even, neck and neck, virtual tie. That`s how this thing gets talked about.
If you look at – I think the best thing to do is not look at
individual polls here and there, Gallup here, PPP there. Look at these
poll averages. “Real Clear Politics” does them, “Huff Post” them, where
they average everything together and they come up with the trend line. If
you look back at “Real Clear Politics,” Barack Obama has been ahead since
Mitt Romney became the Republican nominee. And it`s fluctuated a little,
but basically it`s two to three points.
MADDOW: And that`s looking at an Electoral College count, right?
KORNACKI: Yes. If you`re ahead two to three points nationally,
you`re going to be ahead in Ohio, in Virginia, in Colorado. And all these
states. If Mitt Romney could get ahead two to three nationally, he takes
the lead, in these states.
But I think the conclusion is, he`s been – Barack Obama has been
winning this year.
MADDOW: Even without Virgil Goode.
Steve Kornacki, senior writer at Salon.com, co-host of “THE CYCLE,”
which is weekdays at 3:00 Eastern here on MSNBC. Steve, great to have you
here. Thanks a lot, man.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. One of the most notable speakers at the Democratic
convention is here tonight. She`s Nancy Keenan of NARAL. She`s going to
be talking with us about the fresh news about the 2012 campaign and, of
course, the lady parts. That`s the interview tonight. We`ll be right
MADDOW: Al Jazeera just made a really good documentary in which they
interviewed a state legislator from Ohio. This guy is a cosponsor of a
bill in Ohio to dramatically roll back the time in which a woman is allowed
to have an abortion in that state.
So, he`s interviewed by al Jazeera. He tells al Jazeera in the
interview that what he really wants is for there to be no legal abortion at
all in Ohio, except to save a woman`s life. But then, this is the
important part, watch what happens next, watch what happens after he says,
with the follow up question from the reporter. This is kind of amazing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion?
STATE REP. JIM BUCHY (R), OHIO: Well, there`s probably a lot of –
I`m not a woman so I`m thinking, if I`m a woman, why would I want to get –
you know, some of it has to do with economics. A lot has to do with
economics. I don`t know, I have never – it`s a question I have never
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Why would a woman want an abortion? I have never thought
about it, says the man who is doing his best to ban abortion in Ohio.
Amazing moment from that new al Jazeera documentary, it`s called “The
Abortion War.” You can watch it on their Web site. We have posted a link
to that at Maddow Blog if you want to see it. Highly recommend it.
But that problem that legislator has there with the follow-up
question, that puts in a nutshell this problem for Republican politicians
that actually goes all the way up to the very top of the national ticket
this year. It`s a problem they got specifically on this issue and it`s a
whole lot of politicians who have this problem but Mitt Romney is among
them. It`s a problem with follow-up questions. It is a problem that may
get worse this Sunday morning. Hold on. That`s ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHY: I don`t know, I have never – it`s a question I have never
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I wrote an op-ed piece in the
“Boston Globe”, described my view that I am pro-life, described why I had
changed to become pro-life. I recognize it`s a change.
You can find many, many instances of my indicating my position
previous to that time of being effectively pro-choice. I didn`t call
myself pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice, and that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney the last
time he was running for president, speaking on “Meet the Press.”
Abortion was not an issue in the election the way it is this year.
But even then, Mr. Romney had trouble explaining what he meant about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I didn`t call myself pro-choice, but my position was
effectively pro-choice. And that position changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What exactly is Mitt Romney`s position on abortion rights?
Well, here is what he says about it when he talks about it now. This year,
in this election. This is just a couple weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I`m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and
incest, and the health and life of the mother.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. Abortion should only be allowed rape, incest, health and
life of the woman. At least he said it clearly there, right? Or not.
After that interview, the Romney campaign said that actually, Mr.
Romney does not believe abortion should be allowed to preserve a woman`s
health. Quoting NPR here, “The Romney campaign won`t say the candidate
misspoke, but a spokeswoman does say he does not support an exception to
protect the health of the pregnant woman.” Except wait –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I`m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and
incest and the health and life of the mother.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mitt Romney does not believe that thing he just said. Did he
misspeak? No, he did not misspeak, but we want to be clear that he does
not believe what he said he believes. But it was not a misstatement.
Four years after my position has changed from the thing that wasn`t
really my position, Mitt Romney is still devolving into incoherence when he
tried to explain his own views on abortion rights.
I mean, he`s fine with bumper sticker simple statements, but any
further effort to explain just goes horribly wrong. I mean, honestly, NPR,
this NPR statement about the CBS interview is he does not believe what he
said he believes, and it wasn`t a misstatement. How does that make sense?
This kind of thing has turned out to be the kind of problem that a lot
of Republicans candidates have had this year. I mean, thanks to Todd Akin
and his fairy tale legitimate rape science theory about using sexual
assault as a form of birth control, thanks to Todd Akin, the media and
voters are asking Republican candidates to really explain what they think
precisely about abortion rights.
Republicans are really going after abortion rights in the states and
Republican candidates are getting a lot of hard questions about it and even
follow-up questions and that is new. Republicans are used to having this
political field all to themselves, dealing with this issue for them means
just talking to true believers who want to push them further and further
and further to the right on this issue. They really only faced questions
on abortion rights from people who want them to be even more extreme on the
Because Democrats have traditionally been shy about talking about this
issue in most election years, Republicans aren`t used to have to explain
themselves to anyone who doesn`t already agree with them on the issue.
They almost never face mainstream media questions on abortion rights. They
certainly don`t face political opponents` questions on abortion rights.
But that is no longer true. This year, many Republicans are getting
follow-up questions on this for the first time and it`s not going well.
From vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan who`s trying to explain forcing
rape victims to bear their rapist`s children and his efforts with Todd Akin
to redefine rape even as he criticized Todd Akin for his efforts to
redefine rape, because all the down the ticket, though, the Republican
House and Senate candidates are having similar problems.
Just in the last week or so, we have seen new Todd Akin cropping up in
races all over the country. Tom Smith is running for U.S. Senate in
Pennsylvania. He`s the Republican nominee for Senate.
Here`s what happened when an “A.P.” reporter asked Tom Smith a follow
up question or two about his position on abortion rights?
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: In cases of incest or rape, abortion should or should not
TOM SMITH (R), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: No exceptions.
REPORTER: No exceptions?
SMITH: No exceptions.
REPORTER: How would you tell a daughter or a grand daughter who God
forbid would be the victim of a rape to keep the child against her own
will? Is that something you – do you have a way to explain that?
SMITH: I lived something similar to that with my own family. But she
chose life. And I commend her for that. She knew my views. Fortunately
for me, she chose the way – she wasn`t raped.
REPORTER: Similar how?
SMITH: Having a baby out of wedlock.
REPORTER: That`s similar to rape?
SMITH: No, no, no, but put yourself in a father`s position, yes. It
is similar. But back to that original, I`m pro-life, period.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, who`s
name is Tom Smith – him explaining why getting pregnant outside of
marriage is just like getting raped. Put yourself in a father`s position.
Oh, and also, the government should force you to carry the pregnancy to
term either way no matter what you want. Vote for me in November. Tom
Smith, his name is.
Then there`s Rick Berg. He is running for the U.S. Senate seat in
North Dakota. He`s the Republican nominee for Senate there. This week,
the folks at BuzzFeed reported on an anti-abortion bill that Rick Berg
voted for in the state legislature there. It would criminalize abortion to
the tune of life in prison for violators including victims of rape and
The bill doesn`t just classify abortion as a felony punishable by life
in prison. It also essentially defines a fertilized egg as a person, which
means even some forms of birth control could become felonies punishable by
life in prison.
So, using IUD? Life in prison for you. In vitro fertilization? Life
in prison for you. That includes rape victims and incest victims.
And then there`s Congressman Roscoe Bartlett running for reelection in
the great state of Maryland. Roscoe Bartlett has served 10 terms, but this
year, thanks to redistricting, he`s not running in a super safe district
for the first time when he first won the seat in 1992. This year, Roscoe
he really has to campaign hard to hold on to the seat, which is why it`s
not a great time for him to be faced with follow-up questions about his
anti-abortion policies that he`s not used to talking about with anyone who
doesn`t agree with him on the subject.
But that`s exactly what happened to the town hall last week that went
very bad very quickly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ROSCOE BARTLETT (R), MARYLAND: There are very few pregnancies as
a result of rape, fortunately, and incest – compared to the usual
abortion, what is the percentage of abortions for rape? It is tiny. It is
a tiny, tiny percentage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty thousand pregnancies every year from rape.
BARTLETT: And how many abortions? In the millions?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s 20,000 rapes. That`s 20,000 people who
BARTLETT: I know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like 20,000 too many.
BARTLETT: Percentage of abortions for rape is compared to overall
abortions is a tiny, tiny percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And incest is quite high.
BARTLETT: Yes, yes. But again, it`s a tragedy for the family and the
person, but in terms of actual numbers, it`s a pretty small percentage of
the total number.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unless you`re the one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Twenty thousand women a year.
Congressman Roscoe Bartlett doing his best Todd Akin impersonation
with some of his constituents. He`s facing a hard reelection effort
Republicans ability to answer questions and follow-up questions on
women`s reproductive rights is a skill that has atrophied. Republicans
simply do not have all that much ability to take criticism from the center
or from objective people or from people who are not activists on their side
of this issue.
This campaign season, when Mitt Romney has agreed to interviews, he
has mostly agreed to them on the condition that they are conducted by the
FOX News Channel. I don`t know why, but that`s how it`s been.
But this Sunday, Mitt Romney is appearing for the first time in nearly
three years on “Meet the Press.” He`s going back to “Meet the Press.” And
if his answers to basic follow-up questions about his positions stay as
incoherent as they have been on the issue, he could be in some trouble. Do
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY KEEGAN, NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA PRESIDENT: I am proud to say
that the Democratic Party believes that women have the right to choose a
safe, legal abortion with dignity and with privacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America,
addressing the Democratic National Convention in primetime this week.
Nancy Keenan joins us now for the interview.
Nancy, thank you for rushing back from Charlotte to be here.
KEENAN: Great to be here, and congratulations on the show.
MADDOW: Thank you very much.
Lots of speakers at this convention referred to a woman`s right to
make her own health care decisions like sort of using language like that.
You came right out and talked about a woman`s right to choose a safe, legal
abortion. Did you get any feedback or any direction from the DNC or from
the Obama campaign or what kind of language they wanted you to use? Did
they tell you anything about that?
KEENAN: Not at all. We wrote the speech, so obviously, it was the
message I wanted to say, and having sat on the platform committee on what
the Democratic Party holds as a value and that is that abortion should be
legal in this country and women should make that decision, not politicians.
MADDOW: When the decision was made by the Democrats that they were
going to put the issue in primetime with your speech and a lot of other
references and speeches with Cecile Richards speaking from Planned
Parenthood, with a Planned Parenthood patient talking about her experience
there, by putting that on TV, in their big 72-hour infomercial this week,
do you think there were decisions to make about how to essentially pitch
it? Essentially how to make a case that this is reason to vote for Barack
Obama? Do you think it was a hard decision for him?
KEENAN: Not at all. Not at all, and I think because women are going
to make the difference in this election. And I think that, let`s take a
look at `08 when the issue wasn`t quite primetime, and we saw in the 2010
elections and these guys ran on jobs, jobs, jobs, and then actually started
attacking reproductive rights both at the state level, at the federal
So, it`s come back into the consciousness of people in this country to
say, whoa, this is at risk. Then we saw the debate on birth control. Same
thing, people said, oh, no, really, birth control? We saw the next
generation of young women say what`s at stake here and what`s at stake in
And so, it`s not surprising to me at all. I think we understand the
role that women are going to play in this election for Barack Obama.
MADDOW: We have seen Mitt Romney have trouble explaining his own
position on the issue. I don`t just mean that he`s evolved over time. I
think politicians can evolve on this and all sorts of different issues.
But he appears to still be evolving even in this moment. He did an
interview a couple weeks ago in which he said one of the exceptions he
believes in criminalizing abortion is to save the health of the woman. His
campaign then came out and said actually, he doesn`t believe that at all.
Do you think that the – those details about specific types of
exceptions, about specific ways to criminalize abortion, specific ways to
erode that right of privacy, are appropriate sort of needling when follow-
up questions for the media to be pressing on this, or do you think they
should just be focusing on the fact that he wants to overturn Roe versus
Wade and that`s the full story?
KEENAN: Well, I think the point you have to focus on is you can`t
trust this man. You cannot trust Mitt Romney. And that`s what I said to
women in this country.
On any given day, he can have a different position. How do you trust
him with our health? How do you trust he will not make every effort to
overturn Roe v. Wade? He could have that opportunity with Supreme Court
justices and the opportunity to fill a seat.
So when people say what does a president have to do with this? A lot.
He can be the backstop for all of the insanity that we`ve seen this last
year come out of the Congress, and/or he can make sure that women`s rights
and health are protected, and Barack Obama has done that. And Mitt Romney,
you can`t trust.
MADDOW: Do you feel like the articulation of the issues around the
federal election, the presidential election, may have effects in the
states? Because so many places where the restrictions have gone forward
are in the states. Is this going to help with that?
KEENAN: Absolutely. And I think you`re seeing it at the legislative
level. Obviously, you`re seeing it in governors` races and you`re seeing
people stand up and say this is not the role of government. These are the
small government people unless it comes to women`s health. And they`re
standing up and saying no.
We can run on this issue. We can win on this issue, and it`s making a
Not only are they talking about broadly women health. They`re talking
about the right to an abortion in this country without political
interference, without him being him or her being in that examining room
with a woman and her family.
MADDOW: Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America –
again, congratulations on your high profile spot this week. Thanks for
being here tonight.
KEENAN: Thanks for having me.
All right. There was a big story that broke right in the middle of
the Democratic convention that got just about zero news coverage because of
when it broke, but it`s the kind of story you`ll talk about for a long time
after you hear it and you`ll hear it here, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It isn`t fair to say that Mitt
Romney doesn`t have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position.
He said it was tragic to leave Iraq, and then he said it was fine.
He said we should have intervened in Libya sooner. Then he ran down a
hallway to run away from the reporters who were asking questions.
Then he said, the intervention was too aggressive. And then he said
the world was a better place because the intervention succeeded.
Talk about being for it before you were against it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What a difference eight years makes.
John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, derided by
the Republicans that year as the “for it before he was against it” guy who
couldn`t be trusted to take over foreign policy from George W. Bush.
Amazing as it sounds that Republicans ran on foreign policy in the era of
George W. Bush, they certainly did.
But now in the post-George W. Bush era, Republicans can do no such
thing. I mean, yes, they`re still using the military for a prop. They
unveiled their vice presidential nominee by having him literally run out
from a battleship as if he had just been in there swabbing the decks or
something when they happened to hear his name called, I guess I better get
There was no mention of the war we are currently fighting from either
Republican nominee at their convention. No mention of the war. No real
focus on foreign policy at all except some nonspecific chest-pounding about
new wars they might want to start maybe in Iran, or Syria, maybe Russia.
But it`s the Democrats, including a bellowing and aggressive John
Kerry who were the ones who sound like this at their convention now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: He promised to focus like a laser on al Qaeda. And he has.
And our forces have eliminated more of its leadership in the last three
years than in all of the eight years that came before. And after more –
after more than 10 years without justice for thousands of Americans
murdered on 9/11, after Mitt Romney said it would be naive to go into
Pakistan to pursue the terrorists, it took President Obama against the
advice of many, to give that order and finally rid this Earth of Osama bin
Laden. Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: While that was all happening in politics this last couple
weeks, something else was happening in justice. Back during that 2004
campaign that John Kerry versus George W. Bush campaign in the spring of
that your, photos surfaced that showed something going horribly wrong in
one of the Bush wars.
They were photos from an American run prison in Iraq called Abu
Ghraib. American soldiers guarding Iraqi prisoners, the photos showed the
prisoners being mistreated horribly and bizarrely, sexual humiliation,
obvious physical abuse, sexual assault, prisoners being menaced by dogs,
obscene and medieval – and it was Americans who were doing it.
Ultimately, 11 soldiers were charged and convicted. The commanding
general in charge of prisons in Iraq was demoted, but that was it.
Donald Rumsfeld stayed, Bush got re-elected. The war went on for
another seven years before we got a president who ended it.
But as much as we may have just decided to move on from all that and
consign it to the way we think of the Bush era, which is over, there has
been all these years one element of Abu Ghraib that could not really just
be over. And it was this – these are Army reservists, we have blurred
both faces, but Army reservists on the top of the screen – Army reservists
prosecuted posing with a dead man.
The same man appears a few different times in the photo dossier from
Abu Ghraib. He got described as the iceman in the descriptions of the
photos because his body was packed in ice in this body bag. But he had a
name. His name was Manadel al-Jamadi. This is his widow and this is his
son holding that same picture.
Al-Jamadi was killed in U.S. custody. Military autopsy ruled his
death a homicide.
The Justice Department announced this year they had reviewed about 100
cases of people being abused or tortured by American personnel abroad and
decided they would not prosecute anyone, but they saved out two specific
cases for full criminal investigation – two cases where people in custody
One of them was a prisoner who died while shackled half naked to the
wall of a freezing cold cell in Afghanistan, and one was Mr. al-Jamadi. Of
everything that happened in the Bush years they tried to push down the
memory hole, these were the two cases, these two murders that were held out
as maybe worthy of prosecution.
A hundred cases, no prosecutions. But these two, OK, maybe we`ll look
at those. No. Last week, on the last day of the Republican National
Convention, when Mitt Romney was busy not mentioning the war in Afghanistan
at all, the Justice Department announced that day they would not prosecute
anybody for those last two cases either.
“The New York Times” editorialized, “Any remaining hope for meaningful
accountability for torture and other abuses under President George W. Bush
has ended for all practical purposes. That`s it, the last two cases. It`s
over, as of Thursday.
And then all of a sudden, it wasn`t over anymore. Yesterday, a week
after the Justice Department said that chapter in our history is over,
yesterday, the book opened back up.
This is a drawing of a box. A three foot by three foot box that a
Libyan man says he was locked inside by the CIA in Afghanistan, three feet
by three feet. Think about that. He and another man – he and another man
say that they were hung from handcuffs inside this box that they`ve drawn.
There would have been multiple people in this, one in each stall that is
barely wide enough for a man`s body.
These drawings were published today by Spencer Ackerman at the “Danger
Room” blog at Wired.com. The two circles you see in one of the stalls are
speakers on either sides of the men who would be suspended in these boxes,
speakers blaring loud music directly into their ears.
A new report by Human Rights Watch also says that the man who
describes having been locked inside the first cramped box, he was also
waterboarded by Americans in 2003 in Afghanistan. That is a whole new
allegation of waterboarding we never knew about before. The CIA only
admits to doing water boarding to three people and this Libyan guy, this
new guy is not one of the ones they admit to. The CIA is denying his
We`ve never prosecuted any of this not even the murders. We keep
trying to put it behind us, but it keeps coming back.
President Obama on his first full day in office banned torture by U.S.
personnel. It is already illegal to torture are somebody and it was
supposed to be banned. But we did torture people as a matter of policy
during the George W. Bush administration. So banning it after that
administration meant rescinding all the hokum pseudo-legal advice that Bush
people used to supposedly justify it and protect people from prosecution.
The president made it no longer the policy of the United States to
torture, but his administration also decided to let the people who did
torture get away with it. And the man he is running against for president
now says that he would happily reinstate the old Bush era policies on
torturing people on waterboarding.
Prosecutions for torture would have made this a latter of law and
justice and negativity policy. Not prosecuting it makes it just another
policy issue, makes it just another choice between candidates. Just
another choice that any president can make moving forward, because there is
a precedent of it being known in this country and unprosecuted in this
country, and therefore, effectively legalized – which means as long ago
and as far as away as 2004 seems from this year and this election, the
American people have another choice to make in this election between
torturing people or not.
That is still not a settled matter for us as a nation. It`s just a
decision made by one man depending on who`s in that office. The past is
never dead. It is not even past.
MADDOW: OK. When President Obama gave his speech last night, did he
so indoors. They had planned for the president to give his speech outdoors
at the stadium where the local NFL team plays in Charlotte. But because of
the threat of severe weather, they moved it indoors to the stage where the
rest of the convention took place.
Now, the practical consequence of that was that tens of thousands of
people who thought they would get in to see the president`s speech at that
giant stadium could not get in to the smaller arena. I think that may have
been part of the reason there were these giant crowds mopping and cheering
MSNBC, cheering for Chris Matthews and Al Sharpton and everybody else at
the MSNBC set in downtown in Charlotte.
I think people do love us, but people couldn`t get into the
president`s gig so they came out to hang with us instead. It made it very,
very fun for everybody there from MSNBC.
But the other practical consequence was there was not enough time at
the indoor arena to get a zillion balloons hung from big nets in the roof
of the arena. So, while Mitt Romney got big balloon drop like every
convention does when they pick their nominee, President Obama instead
didn`t get balloons, he got doused in confetti.
Thus raising the important political question of which is better.
What is the best way to celebrate? Honestly, I have to say for us here at
MSNBC, getting rid of the balloon drop is a load off our minds, because
last election at the Republican convention, you may recall that our beloved
Andrea Mitchell was nearly lost for good, totally subsumed in a balloon
avalanche that nearly carried her away.
And we love Andrea Mitchell. This was scary. This year it was by
necessity, but getting rid of the balloon drop as a way to celebrate is
itself a reason to celebrate.
And so, we celebrate. The conventions are over. We did marathon
coverage here and loved every minute of it. Incidentally, not to brag, but
we were the number one network in the country for the DNC, which has never
happened before in the history of this network.
It`s exciting to know that people are so into following politics for
this election. To celebrate and to gird our loins for these last 60 days
in the election, I`m going to make you a Harry`s Pick Me Up. This is a
classic cocktail from the “Savoy Cocktail Book”. And it`s really easy to
make and it`s delicious and it`s not too boozy, which either means you can
have two or one for breakfast, depending on something about your religion I
shouldn`t ask you in mixed company.
All right. So, what you do is you take an ounce of brandy or cognac,
in this case, we`re using cognac, and then you take the juice of half a
lemon. You`ll get more juice if you don`t keep it in the fridge. Also, it
has to be an actual lemon. Don`t use a fake thing.
Juice of half a lemon, ounce of brandy or cognac and then the not so
secret but crucial ingredient is grenadine. If you can get grenadine
that`s not just like sugar water with red dye in it, there`s one that
tastes like pomegranate. You want two teaspoons of grenadine – one, two.
And because this has fruit juice in it, technically you should mix
this up with ice in a cocktail shaker. You should shake it instead of
stirring it, but I find if you`re going to put some sort of liquor based
thing in with champagne, you`re happier if the thing are you putting in the
champagne is clear and stirring something is a better way to have be clear
than if you shake it and it gets full of air bubbles.
So, we stir. Again, an ounce of cognac, juice of half a lemon, two
teaspoons of grenadine – that makes a not very full glass which is good,
not bad because you are going to top it with delicious champagne.
It`s called a Harry`s Pick Me Up. I think it`s Susan`s favorite drink
of 2012. Oh, no, it`s going to spill. I owe NBC a mouse pad. Sorry.
Congratulations to both parties for their big conventions. Yea for
the new tradition of the confetti drop. We worried about Andrea Mitchell.
And incidentally, as my friend Ed noted at the top of the show, happy
fourth birthday to THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. To everybody who works on the
The show launched four years ago. We have loved every minute of it.
We never thought we`d last this long, but it`s been great. Thank you. We
couldn`t do it without you.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again Monday, and yes, it
is Friday. But you are not going to prison. It`s time for Chris Matthews`
really good documentary on the president, “Barack Obama: Making History.”
Have a great weekend. Cheers. Good night.
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