The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/19/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for staying with us
for the next hour.
It was a really big day in politics today, and in news about politics
today. Including for the first time in a long while, some surprising and
very newsworthy news from Washington, D.C., from Congress. We`re going to
have all of that coming up this hour.
I have a feeling this hour I`m going to make some enemies on Capitol
Hill, but it must be done.
We do have to start this hour, though, with some breaking news from
the campaign trail, the presidential campaign trail. What you`re looking
at right here is a live shot from Miami, Florida. You see Mr. Romney
there, Mitt Romney there, Republican presidential candidate with one of his
sons. This is an event called Juntos con Romney. It`s a rally in Miami
for Hispanic voters supporting Mr. Romney`s campaign.
Nationwide, Mr. Romney trails President Obama by 45 points among
Latino voters, but this event that you see live here is part of a concerted
push by the Romney campaign to try to make up some of that enormous gap.
It`s part of him appearing with his Spanish-speaking son there, his
youngest son there, Craig.
Now, as you know, we are not in the business of airing raw candidate
stump speeches at rallies during campaign season. It`s because they are
repetitive and because if we started just airing all the stump speeches:
(a), you would think that you`ve heard it all before, because mostly you
would have, but also, it would be all that we did for months.
So, we are going to monitor Mr. Romney`s remarks tonight in Miami. We
will bring these remarks to you if he says anything that is beyond his
standard stump speech or if he makes any news about what`s going on in
But the fact that Mitt Romney is doing this event at all in Miami is
newsworthy in itself. Because Mr. Romney has not been doing have many big,
public events recently. And he has not been doing very many big, public
events specifically in swing states, which is the very unusual way that his
campaign is dealing with their troubles right now. It is how they are
dealing with what started as media trouble for the campaign, largely, I
think, confined to the Beltway, but which has now become really a
nationwide crisis for Mr. Romney`s campaign.
On Monday, of course, the Beltway press was full of stories about the
Romney campaign panicking about losing Republican strategists and Romney
campaign operatives going to the press and blaming each other, blaming even
the candidate himself for what was going wrong in the campaign. That was
Monday morning. Those were the headlines Monday morning.
By Monday afternoon, with all of that bad press still ringing in
everybody`s ears, by Monday afternoon, “Mother Jones” had posted video of
Mr. Romney secretly filmed at a Florida fund-raiser. A video in which he
tells a room full of rich Republican donors that 47 percent of country see
themselves as victims and he will never get their vote and he`ll never try
to get their vote, because he will never convince those people to take
personal responsibility for themselves or to care about their lives.
And all at once, what has started off to be a week of bad Beltway
press suddenly became a real national nightmare for them. I want you to
take a look at these front pages from headlines – front-page headlines
from around the country. These are from swing states across the country
today. This is just today.
Look, “The Miami Herald,” “Video causes headache for Romney.” In
Lakeland, Florida, the headline is, “Romney Tries to Soften Damage.” In
Dayton Beach – excuse me, in Daytona Beach, “Romney battles video fallout:
candidate defensive over controversy.” In Colorado Springs, “Romney trying
to control damage from controversy.”
Marshalltown, Iowa, “Bad gets worse for Romney.” Philadelphia, “Mitt
versus moochers: can this campaign be saved?” Asheville, North Carolina,
Republican congressional candidate Mark Meadows says, “I`m not Romney.”
Kent, Ohio, “Romney tries to stem damage from comments.” Lynchburg,
Virginia, “Video fallout proves taxing for Romney.” Detroit, Michigan,
“Romney`s 47 percent remark: will it sink his campaign?”
Andrew Kaczynski at “BuzzFeed” has been doing this roundups of the
visual image of swing state newspaper`s front-page headlines. And
obviously, seeing a big list like that, it`s a great way to get a snapshot
of how things covered in the national press are actually translating on the
ground, where the voters who will decide this election will actually be
reading about it in their local paper.
And the Romney campaign`s media problem becoming a national problem, a
coast to coast nationwide problem is evident now not just in newspaper
headlines like you just saw across the country, but also in the polling.
Every day now, we`re getting new waves of polling data from the nine or so
states that make up the swing state map for the election.
These are the latest numbers as of today:
In New Hampshire, Mr. Romney currently holding a three-point lead.
That is a Rasmussen Poll. In Virginia, it`s President Obama up by seven.
In Florida, it`s President Obama up by five.
In Colorado, it`s President Obama up by one. In Wisconsin, it`s
President Obama up by six. In Michigan, it`s Obama by eight. In Ohio,
it`s Obama by seven.
And while it is those state-by-state numbers in the swing states that
are the most important way to understand the math of who`s going to win on
election night, obviously, the biggest big picture snapshot that we can
take of the race is still just the straight national poll. The latest
Gallup daily tracking poll out shows President Obama today with a slim one-
point lead. That`s down from six points just after the Democratic
The latest national poll from NBC News that was released yesterday
shows the national lead for Mr. Obama at five points. Also of note in the
NBC poll, the percentage of people who say the country is headed in the
right direction is now at the highest level in this poll since 2009.
The very latest national poll that was released earlier today is this
poll from Pew research. And as you can see, it says President Obama with a
very large lead, with an eight-point lead. If that seems like a
significant lead, less than 50 days out from the election, historically
speaking, it is.
Here`s the analysis from Pew. They say, quote, “With an eight-point
lead over Mitt Romney among likely voters, President Obama holds a bigger
September lead than the last three candidates who went on to win in
November, including Mr. Obama himself four years ago. In elections since
1998, only Bill Clinton in `92 and `96 entered the fall with a larger
advantage over his challenger.”
So that`s the overall national number for President Obama in this
latest national poll. It`s an eight-point lead.
But when you dig into the specific issues, it is even more dramatic.
Look at some of this. Improving the jobs situation, who`s best on these
issues? Obama leads by one on improving the jobs situation.
Dealing with taxes? It`s Obama by six.
Representing your views on abortion? Obama by 13.
Dealing with Medicare? Obama by 13.
Making wise decisions on foreign policy? Obama by 15.
The only issue in the Pew poll that Mitt Romney leads on is the issue
of reducing the deficit, where he holds a three-point lead.
When it comes to how voters feel personally about the candidates, it
is a very similar story.
In terms of how you feel personally, which candidate can get things
done? It`s Obama by four.
Which candidate shares my values? It`s Obama by 10.
Which candidate is a strong leader? Obama by 13.
Which candidate shows good judgment in a crisis? Obama by 14.
Which candidate is willing to take an unpopular stand? Obama by 15.
Look at this one. Look at that. Which candidate connects well with
ordinary Americans? It`s Obama by 43. Not Obama with 43 percent of the –
no, Obama with a 43-point margin over Mr. Romney on which candidate
connects with ordinary people.
If you want Mitt Romney to be elected president in November, all that
polling data is bad news. But it is not November. And it is not like Mitt
Romney is quitting the campaign. One foot in front of the either, right?
I mean, campaigns have been down before and have come back to win. Maybe
they have not been down quite this far and this particular fall and come
back to win, but stranger things have happened.
And part of what determines whether a campaign collapse is survivable
is how the campaign handles the fact of their collapse, how they manage the
crisis, how they try to turn this ship around. Campaigning matters, right?
And since Mr. Romney likes to market himself as a turnaround artist,
as a Mr. Fix-it guy, well, boy, you know, an opportunity for a real story
to tell here. This sure needs fixing. Think about it, what a story he
could tell about how he turned this campaign around – if and when he turns
this campaign around.
Do you know want to know how he is trying to turn this campaign
around? By finding the nearest proverbial hole and climbing into it.
I could not have seen this coming, but the campaign strategy from the
Romney folks for how they`re going to turn this thing around and get
themselves out of this mess that they`re in is a lot more evident in what
they are doing each day on the campaign trail now than what they say
they`re going to do to fix it.
Honestly, word of advice – do not listen to what the people from the
campaign are saying they`re going to do differently now in order to turn
things around. Don`t listen to what they say they`re going to do. Half
the times they`re saying contradictory things depending on which member of
the campaign you`re talking to.
Don`t listen to what they say they`re going to do, look at what
they`re actually doing with their time. Because what they are doing is a
remarkable choice. What they are doing is hiding their candidate. They
have put Mitt Romney under a rock.
This past weekend, Mr. Romney had no public events on Saturday. He
was back home in Massachusetts. On Sunday, he did have one public event,
but it got canceled.
The following day, on Monday, Mr. Romney had one event, a speech to
the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in California. That was it.
On Tuesday, his two events were both fund-raisers. They were closed
to the public and those were in the great swing state of Utah, followed by
the great swing state of Texas.
OK, this is not what it looks like to campaign for president. These
are not swing states.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters of Mitt Romney today,
“He`s a great guy, he should win this election. But, being in Utah is
necessary to raise money, but he doesn`t have to be there, in my view.”
Senator Graham continued, “I think what Romney needs to do is get into
Virginia and run for sheriff. This is not rocket science.”
“Real Clear Politics” covered Mr. Romney`s mysteriously light schedule
yesterday. They quoted a well-connected Republican fund-raiser saying,
“There`s not really a campaign here. He`s getting ready for the debates
and he`s out fund-raising. You`ve got enough money.”
“Real Clear Politics” also notes that in the 19 days following the
conclusion of the Republican convention, Mr. Romney spent only nine of
those 19 days, less than half of those days, in battleground states.
Over the last seven days, Mr. Romney`s public events included just two
rallies. During the same time frame, he sustained seven private fund-
raisers and had two days that had no events scheduled at all.
Their crisis management plan for dealing with the campaign in free
fall, a campaign that is losing the election right now pretty badly, is
that they`re going to keep the candidate under wraps.
Which makes tonight`s event, where Mr. Romney is speaking in public,
in a swing state, all the more newsworthy, all the more interesting,
because it is so rarely what this candidate is doing anymore. This kind of
thing that Mitt Romney is doing right now in Miami is the kind of thing
that candidates typically try to do to win the presidency, but Mr. Romney
has not been doing this stuff.
He does have to do something with Latino voters, though. His campaign
said earlier this year that their goal is to get 38 percent of the Latino
vote. Right now they are 14 points off that goal in the latest Pew poll.
And while Latino audiences may be flattered that a candidate who`s
doing almost no public events at all anymore is still doing public events
for Latino audiences. While his very presence may be flattering to the
Latino electorate, Mr. Romney still has problems about what exactly he has
to say to Latinos to persuade them that he is their guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We went to the company and
we said, look, you can`t have any illegals working on our property. I`m
running for office, for Pete`s sake, I can`t have illegals.
Their answer is self-deportation. They`re going to self-deport.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve talked, Governor, about self-deportation.
If businesses do their job asking for the right documents, that people will
leave. But about arresting – should there be aggressive, seek them out,
find them, and arrest them, as Sheriff Arpaio advocates?
ROMNEY: You know, I think you see a model here in Arizona. The
question is, if I were to elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act,
would I veto it? The answer is yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So vote for me, Latinos, I`m your guy. That stuff`s all
still in his record, right? Etch-a-sketch or not?
Before this rally tonight in Miami, Mr. Romney also participated in a
Univision event. It was a Univision former in Coral Gables, Florida. The
last time Mr. Romney spoke with Univision, on Univision America radio, he
was asked about one of his controversial immigration advisers, a man named
Kris Kobach is the Kansas secretary of state who helped write the
papers please law in Arizona. And he does not have a great reputation for
people who are not fellow hardliners on the immigration issue. Univision
America radio asked Mr. Romney about having this guy on his campaign team,
about having Kris Kobach involved in his campaign as his immigration
adviser, the man who is the poster child for hard line Republican politics
Mr. Romney responded to the question about Kris Kobach by saying,
quote, “As to the other individual that you mentioned, he may well be part
of a policy team, but I have not met with him yet. And I don`t know
whether he is or he is not. So, sorry, I can`t confirm that for you.”
After that interview, Mr. Romney`s campaign had to call up reporters
and say, yes, actually what Mr. Romney just said there, he didn`t mean
that. They clarified that Mr. Romney has, indeed, met with Kris Kobach.
And so when Romney said that he hasn`t met with him, that wasn`t true.
The campaign recently has had to similarly say that Mr. Romney didn`t
actually mean what he said during an interview when he said he believed in
a health exemption for criminalizing abortion. Also when he said that he
didn`t want to repeal all of Obamacare. Also when he said he had the same
red line on Iran`s nuclear program as President Obama had.
Mr. Romney spoke to all of those issues in recent interviews and his
campaign had to come out after those interviews and say, he does not
actually believe that thing he told you there. What he said, that`s not
his position. That is not really the thing he believes, even though he
said it. Petty the poor Romney campaign advisor, right?
I mean, if this were your candidate, if this is what happens when you
do put him out there, would you put him out in public to try to clean up
this mess? Or would you keep him under a rock?
Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I mentioned my dad. My dad was born in Mexico, of American
parents living there. At age 5 or 6, there was revolution and they came
back to the United States. And my dad had to get help, financial help.
The government helped his family to be able to get on their feet again.
By the way, that`s the way America works. We have big hearts. We
care for people who have needs. We help get them back, we help lift them
But then we don`t make that a permanent lifestyle. We don`t have that
become government dependence. We help people. We get them on their feet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mitt Romney speaking just moments ago at Univision`s Meet the
Candidate Event at the University of Miami. Somewhat changing his language
on immigration reform, talking about his dad as an immigrant from Mexico.
Also defending his January remarks at another point in his speech that he
was in favor of self-deportation.
A video emerged the today on the campaign trail from when Governor
Romney`s father, George Romney, was running for governor in the state of
Michigan. His wife, Lenore, talking to an interviewer about how, in fact,
George Romney had received welfare relief for a few years when first coming
to this country as a young man.
Joining us now is Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California.
Senator Boxer, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to have
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Good to be with you.
MADDOW: Tonight you heard a clip of it, Mr. Romney making an
appearance at a Latino voter event tonight. He has dramatically scaled
back his public schedule, but he is continuing to do events with Latino
audiences. You won 65 percent of the Latino vote in your last re-election
effort. Do you have any advice for him on reaching a Latino audience and
helping them hear his message?
BOXER: Rachel, I`m for President Obama, but if I were to advise this
candidate, I just think he`s already gone so far in the wrong direction
with Latinos, I don`t know how he gets back.
When you are very clear in a primary and you say, people will just
have to leave, because we`re coming after them, when you say we would veto
the DREAM Act, that means that you would actually make criminals of young
people who have been here since they`re 2 years old, 3 years old, 10 years
old, never knew another country.
You can`t win these people back, because they`re smart and they know.
You know, when I ran, I ran against someone who was also a corporate
CEO, who had also shipped jobs overseas, who really didn`t feel for the
people, for ordinary people, and you showed those polls, I listened
carefully to you. And by 43 points, I think it was, you told us that in
the poll, it says that President Obama connects better with people.
Mitt Romney cannot connect with people. He has shown his disdain for
almost half the population. So, frankly, I don`t think there`s anything he
can do or say to win them back. I really don`t think so.
MADDOW: You know, one of the things, Senator, that we saw
consistently throughout the Republican convention, we are seeing it tonight
from Mitt Romney in this appearance that he`s doing in Florida, it`s become
sort of an aggregate Republican message, even when he hasn`t been a great
messenger for it for himself.
It`s a really up by the bootstraps message. They`ve been talking
about social mobility. A lot of people talking about that they didn`t come
from hard circumstances, but people in their family did. One or two
generations back, there was hard circumstances in their family.
Now we see Mr. Romney trying to talk about his father working his way
up from poor circumstances to being the rich man he later became in life.
What is the difference between the Democratic message on social
mobility and the Republican message? Are there two different bootstrap
stories to tell from the two parties?
BOXER: Well, the question is, (a), do you have bootstraps? That`s
the first question.
And then the second point, I would say, is this: Mitt Romney believes
that anyone – and this is what he said in that private little fund-raiser,
anyone who has gotten any help from the government, at any time – and he
says there`s 47 percent of those people, just are playing the victim and
they absolutely don`t deserve his attention. And he said, I can`t teach
Now, a new little tape emerges of his mom, Mitt Romney`s mom saying
that Mitt Romney`s dad was on welfare. Now, if Mitt Romney dad were to
hear that, he would be a little shocked at it. What he told those very
wealthy people is, 47 percent of people who got help, who don`t pay income
taxes, I`m writing them off. I can`t deal with them. I can`t take
You know, Rachel, those are wounded warriors, over 100,000 of our
service men who are serving in Afghanistan and in combat zones. We`re
talking about citizens who have paid into Social Security, who don`t pay
into the income tax. We`re talking about millions of college students.
We`re talking about people who are so disabled, it takes them longer to get
their clothes on in the morning than it does for us to get up, get
breakfast, and go to work.
So he has written all these people off. And I don`t think you can
compare him, even to other Republicans.
Look, I`ve been involved in presidential politics since the `70s.
That is a very long time. I never heard any Republican or Democratic
candidate for president write off almost half the people, show disdain for
almost half the people.
And I never saw a candidate who would refuse to put out his income tax
– if he thinks paying income taxes are so important, show us the money.
Show us the tax returns. So it`s rather stunning, to me, the whole thing.
MADDOW: Senator Boxer, let me also ask you, as a member of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, one of the things that has received, I think
proportionately less attention from that tape, from Mr. Romney`s fund-
raiser, was his remarks about the Israeli and Palestinian peace process,
essentially describing it as too hard to work on and saying that his
strategy would be to not to expect anything to work and to just kick it
down the road and hope that something would happen, to hope that something
would get better.
I don`t know why that would be an appealing message for donors to
hear. I don`t understand why he would be trying to sell that message to
people who he was trying to get to give him money. But I wondered if you
feel like even saying that just as a candidate, that that affects America`s
position in the world in terms of trying to be a positive influence in that
BOXER: Rachel, it`s a message of despair. It`s a message of despair.
And I can again say that I`ve never heard a candidate for the presidency
that they wouldn`t at least try to be an honest broker, to bring people
We have such an important role in the world to do that, and to bring
peace and security to Israel. And side by side, the Palestinian states,
which is what George W. Bush tried to do, and Clinton tried to do, and
Obama is trying to do. And for him to just say that he would walk away
from that, it`s just not what we do.
We are a hopeful people and we do our best to bring people together.
I was – I think he has made one gaffe after another on foreign policy, and
you know, from the time he went to the Olympics, it`s just been one
disaster after another. Speaking out when our people were in danger,
before he had all the facts.
Again, I was – I`m here a long time, and I will tell you, the very
morning of 9/11, we had that attack on our soil, we were sitting just that
morning in a meeting, talking about how we were worried about George Bush
creating more of a deficit and dipping into Medicare. As soon as this
happened, we pulled together as one nation.
And I will say this. Again, I have never seen this before. And it`s
disturbing. It really is disturbing.
MADDOW: Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California – thank you
for your time tonight. I really appreciate having you hear tonight, ma`am.
BOXER: Thank you.
MADDOW: We were showing video earlier of Mr. Romney doing a rather
energetic public appearance in a swing state, which is a rare thing for
him. He`s not doing all that many public appearances right now, and he has
not necessarily been doing them in swing states. This is a remarkably
light schedule for someone who`s less than 50 days out from the election.
But this event, this footage that we showed you here before, I said
that that was at the Univision event at the University of Miami. That`s
actually the event that he did earlier in the night.
This footage that we were showing you was from Miami, an event called
Juntos con Romney, which is a Latino group set up – Hispanic voters
supporting Mr. Romney. So that`s the event at which he was making the sort
of barn-burning comments earlier tonight.
All right. We have lots ahead tonight, including my plan – I can`t
really call it a plan – my expectation that I`m going to make some enemies
on Capitol Hill with my future segment. But it must be done. Don`t want
to make enemies. I think I`m going to anyway. It must be done. It`s
MADDOW: It was exactly a month ago today that Congressman Todd Akin
of Missouri brought the phrase “legitimate rape” into this year`s political
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: If it`s a legitimate rape, the female
body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When Todd Akin said this on local TV last month, he had been
ahead of Claire McCaskill in Missouri`s U.S. Senate race for months. Todd
Akin was heavily favored in that race. After those comments in the latest
polling, he is down by six.
In the days following the debut of Mr. Akin`s fake science theory
about rape and pregnancy, Republicans were tripping all over each other in
a rush to condemn him or calling on him to drop out of the race.
And why you can see why no one would want to be associated with what
Todd Akin said, here is an important thing about everybody calling on him
to get out of the race and condemning him on the Republican side.
Absolutely zero of these national Republican candidates calling on him to
get out of the race were going to be on the same ballot with Todd Akin this
year. Todd Akin is running a state-wide race in Missouri, but that means
he`s on the ballot in Missouri and nowhere else in the country.
So while it makes sense for Republicans, even in places like
Massachusetts, Wisconsin and North Dakota, it makes sense for them to be
saying, please don`t think of me when you think of that Todd akin guy,
Republicans in those other states are never going to share the ballot with
Todd Akin this fall, right? Republicans` Todd Akin problem is not that
bad. He is only on the ballot in Missouri.
But now Republicans have a Mitt Romney problem. And a Mitt Romney
problem is national. His problem holds true for every Republican candidate
in every race across the country in November, from dog catcher up to
senator. Every Republican who`s running for office shares a ballot and
shares an “R” next to their name with Mitt Romney this year.
And Mitt Romney, as you know, has spent the last couple of days to try
to find a more elegant way to call 47 percent of the country, the working
poor, and the young people, and the elderly in this country, trying to find
a more elegant way to call them irresponsible and entitled – more elegant
than he said it in his secretly recorded comments to a roomful of $50,000 a
plate donors, when he said that his campaign was not having trying to
connect with the 47 percent of American who do not pay income taxes, and
who he therefore sees as dependent and victims and not responsible
And you can see the political effect of the Mitt Romney problem
already, even 47 days from the election. As Mr. Romney has been dropping
in the polls, so have been Republican Senate candidates. Just a this
month, just during the calendar month of September, the folks at Real Clear
Politics have moved three races further out of Republican race. The
Wisconsin Senate race, which they had considered a Republican-leaning race
is now considered a toss-up between Tommy Thompson and Tammy Baldwin. Both
Ohio and Michigan, which previously had been rated by real clear politics
as toss-ups, those have both been moved. Both Ohio and Michigan have been
moved into the leans Democratic column.
After mostly running neck and neck for months, polling out of Virginia
this week shows Democrat Tim Kaine seven points ahead of George Allen,
although that`s not that – that`s not the right – that`s not – never
mind. There we go.
After months of polling, mostly behind Republican Senator Scott Brown
in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is up by five points in the latest poll
out there this week. It`s the fourth straight poll showing her in the
And in Connecticut, after briefly ceding the polls to Republican Linda
McMahon, Democrat Chris Murphy is back in the lead this week as well.
If it was worth it for Republicans, particularly Republican running
for office this year, to flee from Todd Akin, with whom they are not
sharing a ballot, it is definitely worth it for the same Republicans to
apparently flee from Mitt Romney. Republican strategists warning in “The
Hill” newspaper today that the Mitt Romney`s fumbling campaign could cost
Republicans in a number of down ballot races. One strategist working on
Senate races saying, quote, “If Romney doesn`t improve, that could cost us
our chance of picking up the Senate for sure.”
Honestly, I don`t know who`s driving the train, but they need to get
their message focused. And we are now seeing some of those candidates, who
stand to maybe lose an otherwise close ranks, thanks to Mitt Romney calling
half the country a bunch of lazy moocher bums, we are seeing those Senate
candidates flee from Mr. Romney and his rhetoric, at least on this issue.
Republican Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts saying that Mr.
Romney`s vision of 47 percent of Americans as dependent and entitled is,
quote, “not the way I view the world.”
Senator Dean Heller running for re-election in a tough race in Nevada,
likewise saying, he does not view the world the same way Mitt Romney does.
Linda McMahon, the wrestling mogul who is running for Senate in
Connecticut, she says she disagrees with Mr. Romney.
Mark Meadows, running for Congress as a Republican in North Carolina,
says that he is different from Mitt Romney.
Ovide Lamontagne, who is running as a Republican for governor of New
Hampshire, promising not to be a partisan governor in the style – is
promising not to be a partisan governor in the style of Mr. Romney and his
47 percent speech.
But here`s maybe the biggest panic button that there is on the
Republican side right now. It`s from the “Huffington Post” today. A
Republican operative working on congressional races, quote, “warned that in
key swing states, Mitt Romney`s support and internal polling is well below
that of Republican candidates in districts where the presidential nominee
needs to get big support to have a chance at winning.”
This is the quote from the Republican operative. “He is just well
under all of our other guys,” this Republican said. “I`m very concerned.”
Think about what that means for a second. What they`re talking about
here is key districts in key swing states. Ones where Mitt Romney really
needs to win big in order to win that swing state. And Mr. Romney is
underperforming the other Republicans who are going to be on the ballot in
These are the places where Mr. Romney needs to do great. And in the
internal Republican polling in those places, he is doing awful. And that
speaks very poorly of his chances of carrying those swing states.
But more ominously, for the Republican Party, it means that the lower
level candidates who are running for Congress in those districts are now
having their own races endangered by virtue of the fact that they share a
ballot with a man named Mitt Romney.
Safe Republican districts are getting less safe, because Mitt Romney
is going to be on the ballot in those races too. How are Republicans going
to solve this problem? How are they going to solve this problem?
The answer to that question is the answer to who comes out ahead in
this area`s elections and how they get there.
MADDOW: So it keeps getting worse, not better, at least in the press.
At “The Hill” today, an unnamed Republican strategist says, team Romney
has, quote, “the stench of a losing campaign”. “The Hill” also reporting
today on Republicans saying that stench of that losing campaign may cost
the Republicans multiple Senate seats as well.
In “Politico” today, a senior Republican described as deeply involved
in the campaign this year says, quote, “As a candidate, Mitt Romney is just
not going to improve.” “Politico” quoting a Romney bundler, saying this,
quote, “We`re just imploding.”
“Politico” quoting a McCain-Palin staffer from `08 named – a man
named Greg Stropo (ph), saying, “The problem now is the campaign is in a
spiral and no one knows how to pull out.”
On the “Wall Street Journal” editorial page today, Reagan speechwriter
Peggy Noonan says, “It`s time to admit the Romney campaign is an
incompetent one. It`s time for an intervention.”
George W. Bush ad guru, Republican Mark McKinnon, writes at “The Daily
Beast,” quote, “How can anyone support a candidate with this kind of vision
of the country? I honestly don`t know what Romney can do to win support
from the voters he needs to gain to win a majority.”
“The New York Times” saying today that Mitt Romney staffers now can no
longer hide their annoyance, describing a Romney aide cursing loudly at a
press event in California.
“The Times” says Mr. Romney`s grim-faced aides are wondering in low
volume, out of the way conversations whether victory is still possible.
One person described as a flustered adviser telling “The Times” today,
quote, “That the campaign was turning into is a vulgar, unprintable
phrase,” which – a vulgar and unprintable – I`m guessing that either
starts with the word “cluster” or with the word “pig.” I`m not going to
guess which one.
“The Huffington Post” quoting a Republican consultant with extensive
contacts in the Romney campaign basically summing it all up today by saying
this, quote, “There is a feeling almost that this thing is in free fall.”
Free fall. Free fall usually ends with a thump. It is not getting
better for these guys, not yet. Those are all quotes from Republicans.
MADDOW: This is Senator John Boozman. There`s a senator named John
Boozman? Yes, apparently there is. It`s OK if you`ve never heard of him.
Most people haven`t.
Mr. Boozman is a senator from Arkansas. Interesting trivia about John
Boozman, his older brother, Fay, almost won that Senate seat in Arkansas
before John Boozman did, until Fay Boozman pulled a Todd Akin during his
Senate campaign in 1988. He said that ladies secrete magical spermacide
when they were raped. They don`t have to worry about rape victims ever
That was John Boozman`s older Fay. He lost that big for the U.S.
Senate seat from Arkansas in 1998. Then his little brother won the seat
anyway in 2010. Senator John Boozman is an optometrist. He played
football for the Arkansas Razorbacks, and now he`s a senator.
And if most of America is not aware there`s a U.S. senator optometrist
guy named John Boozman, then most of America is definitely not aware that
this guy is also a senator.
You recognize him? No? That`s okay. He`s not exactly a household
name. His name is Mike Johanns. He`s a senator, too.
Mike Johanns is a lawyer. He went to St. Mary`s University of
Minnesota and got a law degree at Creighton.
Here`s another one for you. Do you know me? Do you know me? You
don`t know, likely. You don`t. No.
I`m Richard Burr.
And before Senator Richard Burr became a U.S. senator from North
Carolina, he played football for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and he was
in a fraternity, and then he distributed law equipment.
This guy, Pat Toomey, also a senator, yes, who knew, right? Every
seen him before? To get to the Senate, Pat Toomey worked at Chemical Bank
and then he worked at an investment bank called Morgan Grenfell. He`s a
Harvard guy, Pat Toomey.
On your average day of news, your average day of life in America, the
names and the basic bios of run-of-the-mill senators like this, they`re the
furthest things from most people`s minds – who they are, how they do their
jobs. On most days, those things do not make a ripple.
And then there are days like today, when these four men really deserve
to be very, very famous, more famous than they`ve ever been before in their
whole lives. Right now, American troops are fighting the longest war in
Until last year, American troops were fighting that war alongside a
second war, too, in Iraq. Two of the longest wars in American history
fought at the same time, by a population of troops that makes up less than
1 percent of the American population. Think about that. We have put an
incredible burden on a proportionately tiny sliver of our population.
And they did not get to those wars on their own. They didn`t start
those wars. The government sent them to do that work, in our name, right?
A grateful nation, and all that.
Well, now, Americans coming home from those wars have an unemployment
rate that is 35 percent higher than the national rate of unemployment.
Everybody`s having a hard time in this job market, right?
But veterans coming home from these wars have been at war. They have
been doing things at their job for their deployment that employers may not
understand on a resume. Kandahar and Baghdad don`t exactly easily compare
to the other addresses that employers are seeing on people`s application
So the unemployment rate for vets is significantly higher, 35 percent
higher than it is for the rest of the country.
But that disadvantage in the market place for jobs, that disadvantage
that vets are at, that disadvantage is something that we did as a country.
The government, in our name, sent these folks abroad. And now they are
coming home. And it is these guys you have never heard of before, like
Senator Boozman and Senator Johanns and Senator Burr and Senator Toomey
that today decided that the country doesn`t actually need to make good-bye
veterans on this particular problem that we as a country created for our
Today, Republicans in the Senate filibustered the bipartisan Veterans
Jobs Corps bill, that was totally paid for and totally bipartisan. In the
vote, five Republicans did cross party lines and sided with all the
Democrats who voted for it, but the Republicans still blocked with a
filibuster. So we have no Veterans Jobs Corps bill, thanks mostly to these
guys, the lawyer, the football player fraternity guy and the investment
These four Republican senators all wrote parts of the bill. The
Democrats said, we want this to be bipartisan. What do you Republicans
want to be in the Veterans Jobs Corps bill, so that you can vote for it?
So we can do this together?
And the Republicans wrote most of the bill. These four superstars all
added all their stuff that they wanted in the bill. They contributed
Republican components to the legislation, what they suggested was included
in the legislation. They got what they wanted.
And then they voted no. If I could write their names in the sky, I
would write their names in the sky.
There is no plan “B” for a Veterans Jobs Corps bill. They killed it.
They cannot try again for it until next year.
Joining us now is former U.S. congressman from Pennsylvania, Patrick
Murphy. Mr. Murphy is also a former Army paratrooper and a teacher of
constitutional law at West Point. He has the distinction of having been
the first Iraq war veteran to have served in Congress.
Mr. Murphy, thank you for being here. It`s nice to see you.
PATRICK MURPHY (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: It`s great to be with
you, Rachel, even though it`s under these circumstances.
MADDOW: Yes. We – I`ll tell you – have been monitoring this
legislation for a while, watching it in the Senate. We did not in this
show put it on TV before tonight because honestly, everybody thought it was
a foregone conclusion that it would pass because it was such a bipartisan
I thought we might end up covering a fight over it in the House. But
it seemed like a done deal in the Senate and then it died.
I mean, nobody expects much from this Congress, but haven`t we been
able to expect some minimum willingness to come together on the issue of
MURPHY: You know, Rachel, today is an absence absolute disgrace. The
Senate should be ashamed of themselves. The fact is that every 80 minutes,
a veteran in America commits suicide, every 80 minutes. And the least we
can do is these men and women fight for us overseas, the last thing they
need to do is to come home and fight to get jobs.
This Jobs Corps Bill was allowing them to become cops and firefighters
back in their own community. And these guys stopped it. They should be
ashamed. I don`t know how they look themselves in the mirror. It`s a
MADDOW: We contacted those four senators who I described there,
Senators Burr and Johanns and Toomey and Boozman, we contacted their
offices today and the ones who would talk to us basically said they weren`t
voting against veterans on this, they said they were just voting against a
rule that would have needed to be waived in order for the whole Senate to
vote on the actual bill.
In your experience in Congress, does Congress usually let rules fights
derail legislation that they otherwise really actually want to pass?
MURPHY: Not at all. These guys are looking for excuse after excuse
after excuse. The fact is this: is they`re trying to obstruct any type of
movement or accomplishment, even if it`s a bipartisan accomplishment just
because there`s an election 6 1/2 weeks away.
They`re pissed off because Barack Obama talked about this in the State
of the Union address this past year. They came to get a Democrats and
Republicans in the Senate, these guys coauthored the bill and then they
shut it down because they are 6 1/2 weeks away?
I mean, it`s blatant partisan politics. And this is why America hates
the Senate and hates the Congress. And if people aren`t pissed off about
this, when these veterans, over 225,000 of them are unemployed, we need to
do all we can to come together as a country to serve them, to give them an
You know what? It`s not just a job, it`s their dignity, they come
back home and get a job. And these guys stood in the way over it. And
it`s a disgrace.
MADDOW: Patrick, one of the groups that is fought over, as this close
to an election, especially in the swing states, especially like your home
state of Pennsylvania, are veterans. Veterans` votes are seen not just
symbolically crucial, but literally crucial in terms of these state narrow
Are veterans, and I know you`re involved to a lot of different
veterans groups – are veterans following issues like this closely? Is
this sort of thing on veterans` political radar when they`re making their
decisions how to vote?
MURPHY: Yes and know. I mean, these veterans. You know, they`re
going back and worried about getting jobs and the ones that have jobs,
they`re trying to keep their jobs and their family and everything else, all
the other life challenges that they have to deal with. So they`re not
following it as closely as you and I are following it.
But the simple fact is that for so long, decades after decades, the
Republicans are like, look, we`re strong, we`re strong, we fight these
wars. Yes, well, you know, we lost our focus on going after Osama bin
Laden, who murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11, to go over to an unnecessary
war in Iraq. We spent $3 trillion in Iraq, lost over 4,000 men and women,
tens of thousands lost limbs, tens of thousands have PTSD or TBI, traumatic
And then these knuckle heads who send them overseas, send us into war,
don`t want to take care of these veterans when they come home? I mean,
that`s the cost of war. We need to make sure we give them the opportunity.
We need to expand things like the G.I. bill.
And to do it just so President Obama or Democrats and Republicans
can`t say, hey, we have an accomplishment every once in a while is beyond
me. I just can`t get over the fact that these men in the Senate turned
their back on veterans who are in desperate need right now. It`s just un-
MADDOW: Former U.S. congressman, Army combat veteran, Patrick Murphy
– you know it is a powerful interview when I have written in large letters
on my script next to your name is knuckleheads. Thank you for giving me
that. I needed a term that I could say on television about this. I
appreciate it, Patrick. Thank you.
MURPHY: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Despite John McCain`s objections, the sky did not
fall in one specific way. A reason to be cheerful coming up.
MADDOW: Tonight is the eve of the one-year anniversary of “don`t ask,
don`t tell” being repealed. Midnight on September 20th, 2011 was the first
time it was legal to be in the United States military and also openly gay.
And what happened to the U.S. military, aside from some partying on
that first night? Were there riots? No.
And now, just about a year after full repeal of “don`t ask, don`t
tell”, the first academic study of the consequences concludes thusly.
Quote, “The repeal of “don`t ask, don`t tell” has had no overall impact on
military readiness or its component dimensions, including cohesion,
requirement, retention, assaults, harassment or morale.”
There you go. The repeal of “don`t ask, don`t tell” widely viewed of
a nonevent one year ago – except of course for the American men and
service men whose lives have been immeasurably changed for the better
because this policy was repealed.
Do you remember who said it was going to be a disaster?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I hope that when we pass this
legislation that we will understand that we are doing great damage and we
could possibly and probably – as a commandant of the Marine Corps said,
and I`ve been told by literally thousands of members of the military –
harm the battle effectiveness which is so vital to the support, to the
survival of your young men and women in the military. Today is a very sad
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator John McCain, one of the most ardent and relentless
opponents of repealing “don`t ask, don`t tell”, fought it to the bitter
Senator McCain I`m not sure what is on your agenda tomorrow, but you
said repealing “don`t ask, don`t tell” was going to be a disaster and harm
our battle effectiveness. It has been a year now. Do you still think you
were right or were you wrong? And if you were wrong, is it time to say so?
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell. Thanks for
being with us tonight.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>