The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/26/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home staying with us for
the next hour.
We`ve got Nancy Pelosi here tonight live for the interview. Very
excited about that.
If this was the image of the week, across the country, for last week,
the surreptitiously filmed Mitt Romney addressing wealthy Republican donors
in Florida and telling them how no good and horrible half the country was,
if that was the image of the week last week, then this would surely have to
qualify as the image of the week this week.
Touchdown? No touchdown? Touchdown? Oh, no! Right?
The big NFL referees scandal thing. The Green Bay Packers getting
totally robbed of a win on Monday night football. That image from this
week has crossed over now from being just a sports story to being an
America story. It`s now even an American politics story.
Yesterday, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, who of
course is most famous for stripping union rights in his state, Scott Walker
actually came out in favor of bringing back the union refs to the NFL.
See, when it`s about something that doesn`t matter much like education,
screw the unions. But when it`s something important like football – well,
look for the union label, America.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have all seen fit to weigh
in on this one football game from Monday, on the referees issue. All three
men saying that the Green Bay Packers deserve to win that game. The
Packers got robbed.
So even as the Packers` agony crossed over into national politics this
week, I still have to say that it remains true that the single west
political Green Bay Packers moment in history, the best moment of all time
in the overlap that exists between the Green Bay Packers and politics is
still this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOMMY THOMPSON (R), FORMER WISCONSIN GOVERNOR: There are 30 teams,
but only one Packer organization, and that is the greatest football
organization ever in America`s history. There are only 187 days before
training camp. And 360 days before we go back to Miami!
Whereas the Packers are America`s real team, and we`ll always be
winners in the hearts and minds of the people of Wisconsin, therefore I,
Tommy Thompson, governor of the great state of Wisconsin, do hereby
proclaim January 27th, 1998, all over Wisconsin, Green Bay Packer Day in
honor of all of you, the fans! Congratulations. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Tommy Thompson, from the great state of Wiscons – declaring
Packers Day. He was the governor of Wiscons back in the `90s. He after
that went on, of course, to be in the George W. Bush administration. And
since then, he keeps running for office. He ran for president for a hot
second back in 2008, trying to convince people he was the other guy named
Thompson who was not named Fred.
Now he is the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in
Wisconsin. Tommy Thompson right now is losing that race. The last five
polls out of Wisconsin all show Tommy Thompson losing, including one poll
out today that shows him losing by 12 points.
And that was before the “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” today posts this
video of Tommy Thompson this summer telling a Tea Party group what his
plans are for Medicare and also for Medicaid. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VDIEO CLIP)
THOMPSON: Change Medicare and Medicaid like I did welfare, and who
better than me, that`s already finished one of the entitlement programs, to
come up with programs to do away with Medicaid and Medicare?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Who better than me, to do away with Medicare? We`re going to
have to wait until the next round of polling in Wisconsin to see how the
tape of Tommy Thompson saying he wants to get rid of Medicare affects his
numbers, in a state that as of today appears to be inclined against him
already by 12 points.
What do you think the next round`s going to look like?
Mr. Thompson`s Democratic opponent incidentally in this Senate race is
named Tammy Baldwin. One snapshot of politics right now in this country
is, of course, how the presidential race is going. But the race to control
the United States Senate most days is a more amazing story, or a more
amazing amalgamation of stories.
I mean, yes, today, Tommy Thompson is on tape saying, who better than
him to get rid of Medicare! But something like that can`t even win the
shocking election tape of the week award, not when it`s up against other
competitors from this week, like this tape.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: This is the tape we aired here last night of five staffers
for Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, as well as other
Republican Party operatives, chanting fake Native American war whoops and
doing tomahawk chops, to mock Native Americans. The ABC affiliate in
Boston identified the Scott Brown staffers here as his deputy chief of
staff, his constituent services counsel, his state director for
Massachusetts, and his special assistant. Also, there is a Massachusetts
state Republican Party guy here, who works in conjunction with the Brown
Scott Brown came out shortly after he heard about this tape yesterday
to say that he did not condone the behavior of his staffers here. But you
know, this is not exactly an isolated incident. I mean, Senator Brown
right now is basing his re-election campaign for the Senate on the issue of
Elizabeth Warren`s ethnicity and what he thinks it really is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Professor Warren claimed that
she was a Native American, a person of color, and as you can see, she`s
not. That being said, she checked the box and she had an opportunity,
actually, to make a decision throughout her career, when she apply to Penn
and Harvard, she checked the box claiming she was a Native American. And
you know, clearly she`s not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Clearly. “Clearly she`s not.” That was how he opened up his
first debate against Elizabeth Warren. The very first ad that Scott Brown
aired after that first debate was not an ad addressing any specific issues
in the country or in the Senate race, but rather an ad attacking Elizabeth
Warren on the basis of race.
Scott Brown has had a campaign Web site up for weeks in which he
describes Elizabeth Warren as a, quote, “fake Indian”. That`s the language
he uses on his Web site.
After all of that, Scott Brown said yesterday while he did not condone
the tomahawk chop, war whoop, making fun of Native Americans behavior by
his Senate staffers, he said that he did think an apology was necessary.
And that apology was necessary from Elizabeth Warren.
Scott Brown described Elizabeth Warren yesterday as offensive. She is
the one that`s offensive here, according to Scott Brown. These are his
staffers. Senate staffers, we pay their salary.
Today, the chief of the Cherokee Nation put out this statement.
Quote, “The Cherokee Nation is disappointed in and denounces the
disrespectful actions of staffers and supporters of Massachusetts Senator
Scott Brown. The conduct of these individuals goes far beyond what is
appropriate and proper in political discourse.
The use of stereotypical war whoop chants and tomahawk chops are
offensive and downright racist. The individuals involved in this
unfortunate incident are high-ranking staffers in both the Senate office
and the Brown campaign. A campaign that would allow and condone such
offensive and racist behavior must be called to task for their actions.
I will not be silent when individuals mock and insult our people and
our great nation. We need individuals in the United States Senate who
respect Native Americans and have an understanding of tribal issues.
For that reason, I call upon Senator Brown to apologize for the
offensive actions of his staff and their uneducated, unenlightened and
racist portrayal of native peoples.”
Late tonight, after saying nothing all day long in response to that,
Scott Brown`s campaign, late tonight, finally put out a statement saying
that he regrets the unacceptable behavior of his after. His spokesperson
added, quote, “This kind of conduct will not be tolerated.”
Scott Brown, to be clear, has never disproven that Elizabeth Warren
has Native American ancestry, right? It`s not like anybody`s ever produced
any evidence to say that she is not Native American. The whole basis for
the Brown campaign making fun of Indian people, right, the whole basis for
all of this making fun of Native American people by Scott Brown and by his
campaign is that he says he can tell by looking at her that she is way too
white-looking to really be Cherokee or of any other Native American
To be clear, that is the chief of the Cherokee Nation on the left-hand
side of your screen and that`s Elizabeth Warren on the right-hand side of
your screen. Scott Brown says, look at her. I can tell she`s not Native
Scott Brown, as the incumbent senator in Massachusetts, had been
leading in the polls. The Republican-leaning Rasmussen poll right now puts
the Massachusetts Senate race at a tie. About four of the last five polls
in the state show challenger Elizabeth Warren beating the incumbent Scott
Brown in Massachusetts.
The operating assumption for Republicans when it came to the Scott
Brown race was that the problem as not going to be Scott Brown. He`s
supposed to be great at campaigning.
The only problem for him in this race was supposed to be the headwind
he was going to get from being in such a Democratic-leaning state.
Well, now thanks to the way he`s running his campaign, the headwinds
he`s facing no longer appear to be the only factor that ought to worry
Republicans in this race.
In Missouri, though, the opposite dynamic has been at work. The
Democratic incumbent in Missouri, Claire McCaskill, she was thought of
having almost no chance of holding on to her seat this year because of the
Republican headwinds in the state of Missouri, because they have grown so
strong since she was elect there had in 2006.
That, since about the Claire McCaskill race, was before Republicans
decided this guy would be their nominee to try to unseat her.
(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: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri
explaining the difference between legitimate rapes and other rapes. You
know, things called rape, but, you know?
Todd Akin`s been getting away with saying stuff like that for his
whole career. But now that he`s a U.S. Senate candidate, you`re not
supposed to articulate things that sound that crazy. So when he said that
last month, everybody went nuts, including the right. His own party
decided he could no longer be the U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri.
The other Republican U.S. senator from Missouri, Roy Blunt, said at
the time, quote, “Todd needs to get out of this race.” The head of the
Senate Campaign Committee for the national Republican Party said of Todd
Akin, quote, “We`re done.”
Just about everybody in Republican politics, from Mitt Romney and Paul
Ryan, all the way down to the Scott Browns of the world called for Todd
Akin to get out of that Missouri Senate race. That was a month ago, right
before the Republican convention,.
But now, apparently, now we know how much time outrage wears off in.
Now Republicans have decided they`re over all of their concerns about Todd
Akin. Here he is doing a press conference last week with Newt Gingrich.
Newt Gingrich there showing his support for Todd Akin. Today, Republican
Senator Jim DeMint and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum threw
their support behind Todd Akin.
Republican Senator Roy Blunt, remember him? The guy who said Todd
Akin has to get out. He put out a statement today saying that now he is
supporting Todd Akin.
The state Republican Party, which had expressed grave public doubts
about Akin after his comments about some rapes being legitimate last month,
they now say they`re all in for Todd Akin as well. Even the National
Republican Party`s Senate Campaign Committee, the guys who said we`re done
when they were talking about Todd Akin, apparently they are thinking now of
not being done with him anymore.
So now we know just how offended all of those Republicans really were
about the legitimate rape comments. They were offended enough to try to
replace him with a candidate who might have a better shot against Claire
McCaskill, until the deadline passed and they couldn`t get off the ballot
and they couldn`t replace him anymore, and now they`ve decided they`re all
right with the whole legitimate rape thing.
The outrage just wore off. Took about a month.
Todd Akin had been heavily favored by double digits in that Senate
race before this whole thing started. But the latest polling out of
Missouri now shows Claire McCaskill ahead.
She is now back to having two big headwinds, right? One is that the
Republicans are expected to win the state at the presidential level. But
two is that Todd Akin is out of the doghouse. Now that the outrage has
worn off, he`s now going to be benefiting from tons of conservative money
from all over the country to elect the legitimate rape guy.
The presidential race is continuing to trend the way it has been in
recent days, which is that it`s trending in Barack Obama`s favor. New
polling by “The New York Times” and Quinnipiac has President Obama up in
Florida by nine points. In Ohio, President Obama up by 10 points. In
Pennsylvania, that poll has President Obama up by 12 points.
There are other smaller and more local polls that have the margins
slightly smaller in Pennsylvania and Florida today, but those other polls
also show President Obama winning in the swing states. A new PPP poll in
Iowa today shows President Obama leading in Iowa by seven points. A
grievous marketing poll in Colorado showing President Obama leading in
Colorado by four points.
Nationally, President Obama has seen his lead rebound in recent days.
In the Gallup daily tracking point, he initially got a six-point bounce out
of the Democratic convention. That lead evaporated in the days that
followed, but now as you can see, President Obama has regained that six-
point lead as if he just did the conventions all over again.
With just 41 days left until the election, a snapshot of the race is
very clear. In fact, we do these polls every day and it`s almost starting
to seem static at the presidential level. These swing state polls that we
do every day, pretty much the map always look like this – President Obama
leading in all of the swing states or at least leading in almost all of
A standard caveat, of course, is that anything could change. But the
longer that it goes on without changing, as long as it starts to look like
this is calcifying as the state of the race, especially now that more than
half the country is already voting, half the swing states, already voting
right now, while that is happening, if that part of the race is staying and
this is the way it`s going to look, at times the more interesting part of
the election is not just the race for the White House, but the race for
control of the Senate. And maybe even for control of the House.
Those races all get inflected by what`s happening at the top of the
ticket, right? At a certain point, though, if it stays like this in the
presidential race, now`s the time to start asking: are these outside groups
who have been spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the presidential
race, on behalf of Mitt Romney, look at those poll numbers and say, why are
we spending all this money? Why are we sending good money after bad? Is
the Romney campaign at risk of being written off by Republican donors as
Republicans decide that they may want to save their down ballot struggling
House and Senate candidates instead?
The Democrats are not only saying now that they are going to hold on
to the Senate, the Democrats are now starting to talk about taking back the
House, which in all likelihood would make Nancy Pelosi speaker of the House
Nancy Pelosi is our guest, next.
MADDOW: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joins us tonight live
here for the interview. And we`ve got a best new thing in the world today.
And some new news on how not to answer when you are asked about your
history of lying. The hint here is that you probably shouldn`t lie in your
answer. That`s straight ahead.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Paul Ryan has become an
intellectual leader of the Republican Party.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: That is the day things really
changed. We were on a path. I would have said to you then, we were dead
even. Well, momentum is very much with us, the Medicare issue in this
So we have a message, we have the messengers, we have the money, we
had the mobilization. We have a very excellent chance to take back the
For 18 months, they have been the three most important issues in the
campaign, in alphabetical order – Medicare, Medicare, Medicare. And when
Ryan was chosen, the agent for the destruction of Medicare was chosen as
the vice presidential candidate – well, it clarified the debate for many
people in the races that we are active in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Whatever it says about American politics, the fact is that
the balance of power in Congress and the House of Representatives has been
shifting pretty wildly in these past few elections.
In `06 and `08, the Democrats swung 52 seats in their direction. They
seized both control of the House and a huge majority in the House.
Then in 2010, the Republicans swung 61 seats back in their direction,
and they got control in 2010.
And now for this year, Beltway common wisdom says there`s really no
chance the Democrats can swing enough seats back to them to take the House
back over. But some political scientists say, actually, that is a real
possibility, that the Democrats could take back the House. And the
Democrats themselves sounding increasingly confident that they might do it.
And frankly, stranger things have happened, even very recently.
Joining us tonight for the interview is the Democratic leader of the
House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
Madame Leader, it`s great to have you here. Thank you for coming.
PELOSI: My pleasure, Rachel. Great to be here, always.
MADDOW: Democrats need 25 seats?
PELOSI: Yes, we have a drive for 25.
MADDOW: You have said that you think the majority is with you. The
momentum is with you. Is that based on what`s going on in the presidential
race, or is there something else that`s going on that makes you feel that
PELOSI: Well, both. We have been working very hard to get to a place
to put the House in place. We did that by, say, late spring/early summer.
But when August 11th, mark that date on your calendar, when Ryan was
chosen, that made a very big difference, because Medicare, Medicare,
Medicare, the three most important issues in the campaign, in alphabetical
order, that issue was clarified, focus was on it, and we could not lose the
debate about Medicare, because if we do, forget Democrats, forget
Republicans, Medicare is gone. We`ll be back to a time before Lyndon
Johnson. We will be putting seniors at the mercy of the insurance
companies by giving them a voucher, but not a guarantee.
And the severing of that guarantee, the architect of that, is Paul
Ryan, his being chosen made a big difference for you.
MADDOW: And so, you feel like the choice of Paul Ryan made
essentially every other campaign issue, at least, fall away for any House
candidate who chooses to run on that. That that`s a clear enough issue on
that issue that nothing else really has to matter?
PELOSI: Well, on House races, especially in a presidential year, you
only have a small opportunity to get people`s attention and to hit them
with your best shot, as to what your message is. And this has been an
issue that hits every generation.
It`s about the seniors, of course, it`s about their families, and how
all of them can have economic as well as health security, because their
seniors are taken care of.
We`re very excited about it. But I wish that it were not a race about
Medicare, because the fact is, Medicare is on the ballot.
My name is on the ballot, the president`s name is on the ballot, many
people`s names are on the ballot. And if we do not win the House, and of
course if the president doesn`t win, but we feel pretty good about the
president`s winning, that would be very much at risk.
MADDOW: In terms of how you think that shapes the map and
opportunities for House Democrats, are there places in the country that you
feel like you might, honestly, not be all that competitive this year. But
specifically on that issue, specifically because Mitt Romney picked Paul
Ryan, there`s geographical parts of the country are Democrats can compete
PELOSI: Well, first of all, the fact that President Obama is on the
ticket will get more people to the polls. On many of the races, the
battleground states that you showed earlier, are just a few states. We`re
in more states than the president. So we`re basically on our own, Texas,
California, New York, Illinois, Maryland, Washington state, Arizona,
although it may become a battleground state, because the opportunity might
be there for the president.
And we expect to win about 20 seats in the states I just named. Then
we go where the president is, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, states
like that, to take us, oh, I want to go beyond 25. I`d like to have 35.
But the – it`s a very discreet races, some states have blue patches
that we want to win back. There are 66 districts that are held by
Republicans that were won by President Obama and about a third of those
were also won by John Kerry. And so, we think there`s real opportunity.
Now, mind you, people didn`t say we were going to win the House in `06
when we first made this attempt.
PELOSI: Yet. It took like another few weeks before they started to
see the handwriting on the wall that the momentum was with us, and that the
polls, and that these individual districts were coming our way. Right now,
we`re in about an average of five, five points ahead, average in the
generic. Some eight, some two, average of five, that five is enough to win
the House. I`d like six or seven percentage points difference in the
polling for us to take –
MADDOW: In terms of the generic ballot, people are asked, do you
prefer a Republican or a Democratic Congress?
PELOSI: In individual districts.
MADDOW: In individual districts.
One of the issues that gets a lot of attention in terms of how it
might affect the presidential race is the issue of voter suppression,
becoming more difficult to register to vote and to vote. If you have a
moment, we have actually some new news on that out of Florida. Can you
hold on a moment, we come back and comment on that? How that`s going to
affect not just the presidential race, but also the race to control the
We`ll be back with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi right after this.
MADDOW: Check this out. This is new news tonight. This past spring,
Florida`s Republican governor, rick Scott, started a purge to get people
off the voter rolls in Florida. One of the Floridian voters who was
targeted in that purge was a man named Uhroll Arroliga (ph). Mr. Arroliga
is U.S. citizen. He immigrated from Nicaragua 17 years ago, became a
citizen, registered to vote. But he got this letter from the state of
Florida this spring ordering him to prove his citizenship within 30 days or
lose his right to vote.
Mr. Arroliga was very concerned, he sent in his proof of citizenship.
He wanted to insure his right to vote. Today, Mr. Arroliga was told by
Rick Scott`s administration that that`s not good enough. He`s going to
prove his proof of citizenship all over again.
They`re trying to purge him a second time. He`s a citizen.
“Miami Herald” is reporting tonight that Governor Rick Scott`s
election division has sent Florida counties yet another new list of voters
it wants purged off the voter rolls now, less than six weeks before the
election. His last purge targeted 82 percent minority voters, in heavily
Democratic Miami-Dade County, 98 percent of the people who he tried to
purge off the voter rolls as noncitizens, 98 percent of those who responded
actually were citizens.
But of course 100 percent of the people targeted by the purge have
been threatened by the state of Florida about exercising their right to
vote this November. And all the counties who were told by the state today
to start another round of purging, well, it`s not like they have anything
else to do, right, 41 days before they need to get 11 million potential
votes cast and counted.
Back with us for the interview tonight is the Democratic leader in the
House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. Thank you again for your time
PELOSI: Thank you.
MADDOW: What`s happening here in Florida is obviously part of a big
increase in purges and changing the voting laws in states where Republicans
are in control in order to make voting and registering to vote harder for
this election. Are you confident that Democrats are heading that off well?
PELOSI: Well, here`s what I said about that – don`t agonize,
organize. We just have to go out there and shine a bright light on it, so
the public knows the immorality of putting up barriers to voting. It`s
just plain wrong.
But apart from that, OK, we know that`s wrong. This is ridiculous,
what he is doing. But what we have to do is make sure that every person
who is eligible to vote gets the ID, goes through the motions, is
registered to vote, and their vote is counted as cast, because this thing
keeps going. Counted as cast – that`s very important.
It`s part of what they`re doing. Suffocate the airwaves with endless,
unidentified special interest money, suck the air out of the airwaves.
Suppress the vote with these regulations and laws that they have passed,
and the other way they suppress the vote is to help people – it`s no use
even going, you`re not going to be able to vote, it`s a turnoff.
What else is a turnoff is their poisonous campaign. If you suffocate
the airwaves, suppress the vote, poison the debate, people throw up their
hands and say, I just don`t even know if I want to participate in this.
And when they walk away, right, thinking people walk away, the special
interests achieve a victory.
So we have to keep the campaign positive, about what our president
could do, in the case of Elizabeth Warren, in case of our Democrats, how
this could be different and was different when we were in the majority,
with a Democratic president and a Republican president.
So, again – don`t agonize, organize. Early voting is a good way to
overcome some of the obstacles there, establishing.
Governor Scott is ridiculous beyond words in what he is trying to do
to his own people. They`re afraid of the people. They`re afraid of their
votes. And they have to suppress them.
We have to overcome that. Because by winning, we winning we can prove
them wrong in their tactics. And by winning, we can – I have a dare. Win
– the first day we`re there, disclose, I`m Nancy Pelosi, I approve this
message. We have to have disclosure of where this money`s coming from in
I have to say my name, but these multi-multi-billionaires don`t have
to say their name on an ad. Amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens
United. It can be done. The public wants it. We have to take the first
Reform the system, public financing of campaigns. Get rid of the role
of money, and E-D-A-R-E, elect reformers. I don`t even care if they`re
Republicans or Democrats or whatever, who are willing to stand up for our
democracy that our Founders sacrificed everything for – the government of
the many, not the government of the money.
And this is really important, because as long as they can control the
mechanics of elections, they have an advantage. And we have to offset it.
But we also have to win, so that we can change it.
MADDOW: In terms of just the idea of dispiriting people that the
campaigns mean anything, poisoning the debate, making people feel like it
doesn`t matter if I vote or not, one of the issues that I, just as a
citizen, feel frustrated is not being addressed in the presidential race,
that I think is something people care a whole lot about is the war that we
are in. We are in the longest war in American history.
And you and I have talked in the past and in previous interviews, you
once told me the political dynamics around the war in Afghanistan are not
particularly partisan. And just this last week, Republican who chairs the
Defense Subcommittee in Appropriations, Congressman Bill Young of Florida,
he changed his mind on the war, came out against the war. He said, I just
think we`re killing kids that don`t need to die.
It`s not being discussed in the presidential campaign at all. Mitt
Romney didn`t even put it in his nomination speech at the convention. But
should ending the war before the president`s scheduled timetable in 2014 be
a matter of presidential discussion? Should it be a matter of debate for
House candidates right now? Is it a matter for Congress to decide?
PELOSI: Well, it is a matter of our national security, and how does
this fit into that. The president is on a course to get this done. It
doesn`t mean it will take all of that time. But it will be done by that
time. And that is progress from where we had been.
You have to remember, when President Bush was president, there was no
plan. We had been there 6 1/2 years with no plan. We routed the Taliban,
we did not defeat them, and then we left and went to Iraq.
So President Obama had to put a plan in place and a timetable to get
it done. So it may not be as fast as we would all like, but the fact is,
the cost of this war, in terms of our human treasure, the most important
part, our young people, the casualties to their lives and to their physical
well-being and their mental – it`s all physical, mental or not.
So, yes, I do think that this is taking to us a place where we should
really understand that war, as a resolution of conflict, is an obsolete
idea. And we should take the debate to a bigger place, a bigger place.
I`ll never get over the fact that President Bush took us into war on a
false premise, that he knew was false, that his administration knew was
false, for a different agenda, and look how long we stayed in Iraq.
MADDOW: Whether or not it ends up becoming an issue in the
presidential race, is this a matter for Congress to decide, in terms of
when we leave, before the election or after the election, or is it the
PELOSI: Well, it`s a combination. Because when we won in `06, one of
the big issues was ending the war in Iraq. And we went to see the
president and we said, OK, we`re here, how do we end the war, and he said,
that`s not going to happen. And the president, of course, unless you have
two-thirds vote, you`re at the mercy of.
But let me say, this election, because of what we have been through, I
want to make this one point. People are saying, the Republicans had the
nerve to say, are you better off than you were four years ago? And many
people have – there are struggles. And part of it is that still remnants
of what happened during the Bush years.
But the fact is, is that four years ago, September 18th, just a week
ago – just a week ago, in my office, the speaker`s office, and the
presence of the Republican and Democratic leader in the House – leaders in
the House and Senate, the chairman of the Fed said to us after Secretary
Bernanke described a terrible meltdown of our financial institution, the
chairman of the Fed said, if we do not act immediately, we will not have an
economy by Monday.
This is the place that had taken us to. This is the place that
President Obama and House Democrats tried to take us from. This is the
place that the Republican majority has blocked any of President Obama`s
initiatives to do more to help individual families in our country. But how
could they possibly even pose the question, are you better off, when the
chairman of the Fed, that day, four years ago, and one week ago, if we
don`t act immediately, we will not have an economy? An economy by Monday.
We certainly are better off, and as a country, and now we have to make
sure we elect a Democratic House to work with the president, so that we can
pass the jobs bill, that we can pass political reform. You can`t separate
– Walter Ruth (ph) said you can`t separate the bread box and the ballot
box. If you want the right politics for working families, you have to get
to the polls.
So, onward to victory, don`t agonize, organize. Drive for 25.
MADDOW: (INAUDIBLE) whether or not it is possible for the Democrats
to take the House is shifting with each continued day of very, very blue
polls of the presidential race and down ballot.
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California, the former speaker of the
House, current Democratic leader of the House, it`s always really nice to
PELOSI: Thank you, my pleasure.
MADDOW: Coming up next, a candidate asked about his honesty. The
candidate responds by telling a lie about how honest he is. I`m hoping
this one is performance art.
MADDOW: There has been a recurring theme, sort of pattern of
behavior, in the Mitt Romney for president campaign that is unlike other
campaigns. And we have been covering this pattern of behavior in that
campaign for months. The candidate himself had never before copped to this
pattern, had never addressed it with reporters, before now. He has
finally, finally decided to mention it.
It is tape, it is terrifically awkward, but it is all finally on the
record. That story is next.
MADDOW: The Mitt Romney for president campaign yesterday finally
addressed something that we on this show have been talking about for
months. Something we first raised back in November. We have been hoping
for the Romney campaign to address this issue ever since then, but they`ve
just been able to avoid talking about it for months – until now. This
week, Mitt Romney himself finally forced to address it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Just the other day, you said the president has been trying
to fool people with his ads and his speeches about your record. But fact
checkers have also taken issue with your ads. Haven`t you also played fast
and loose with the facts from time to time?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`ve been absolutely spot-
on. And anytime there`s anything that`s been amiss, we correct it or
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Hmm. What he`s describing there, removing or correcting
false claims made by the campaign once you realize they are false, that is
a process that a normal campaign does follow. That`s what makes this
statement so newsworthy, because the Romney campaign hasn`t been doing
That`s what we`ve been reporting since November. They haven`t been
removing their false claims from the record when they`re proven to be false
– which is a strange decision for a campaign operating at the presidential
I mean, look at one of the first general election ads released by the
Romney campaign. This was released back in November of last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need to provide
relief for homeowners. It`s going to take a new direction. If we keep
talking about the economy, we`re going to lose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “If we keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose,
lose, lose.” That is how Mitt Romney`s ad quoted President Obama.
Here`s what President Obama actually said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Senator McCain`s campaign actually said, and I quote, “If we
keep talking about the economy, we`re going to lose.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So the Romney ad tried to make it sound like President Obama
said this thing that he was quoting someone else saying, and he was quoting
it to say that he disagreed with that statement. I mean, there are lots of
little lies in politics, little exaggerations, but that`s really big,
really bad lie.
And it was their first ad against President Obama. And so, naturally,
Mitt Romney got skewered for this, for building his first general election
ad on a really obviously blunt lie.
What did the Romney campaign do about the whopper in that ad? Did
they correct it or remove as Mitt Romney now says has always been his
campaign policy? No, they didn`t it. That ad is still up on his campaign
Not only did the Romney campaign not remove or correct that ad, Romney
defended it just as it was getting all attention for being a lie, remember?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: There was no hidden effort on the part of our campaign. It
was instead to point out what`s sauce for the goose is now sauce for the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sauces and gooses, whatever. But Mitt Romney didn`t correct
or remove the ad that had the lie in it about what President Obama said
about the economy. He said, essentially there, I mean, what are you going
to do about it? Also, geese.
It`s the same dynamic at work with these other Romney campaign ad
seeking to make political hay out of the Solyndra bankruptcy. This is from
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The inspector general said contracts were
steered to friends and family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is not true. Point of fact, the inspector general did
not say that. That is an empirical claim. It is empirically false. You
can check stuff like that, which again the press was quick to point out.
So has the Solyndra ad with this whopper about the inspector general
been corrected or removed? No. It has not. It is still right there on
Mitt Romney`s campaign web page.
And then there`s the now-infamous welfare ad from the Republican anno
Romney campaign last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: President Obama quietly ended the work requirement, gutting
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is not true. That did not happen. President Obama did
not strip the work requirement out of welfare quietly or otherwise. Quite
the opposite, in fact, which, again, has been pointed out ad nauseam by
But the Romney campaign`s response about getting caught lying about
President Obama`s welfare policies was not to correct or remove the ad,
like Mitt Romney said has always been done, that ad is still there on their
campaign web page.
In fact, the Romney campaign responded to all the criticism of that ad
by telling BuzzFeed at the time, quote, “We`re not going to let our
campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”
When Jim Acosta from CNN was asking Mitt Romney about playing fast and
loose with the facts yesterday, Mr. Acosta asked specifically about the
untrue welfare ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Any time there`s anything that`s been amiss we correct it or
remove it. The president on the other hand –
REPORTER: Even the welfare ad?
ROMNEY: Absolutely. It has been shown time and again that the
president`s effort to take work requirement out of welfare is a calculated
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The president has made no effort to take work requirements
out of welfare. So even as he`s claiming that the campaign corrects the
record when it gets caught getting the facts wrong, Mitt Romney is
repeating the exact falsehood from the welfare ad that got him in so much
trouble in the first place.
I mean, here`s the thing – campaigns get stuff wrong. Campaigns make
claims in the heat of the moment get overstated or maybe they say things
they know are wrong but then they get called on them, but then they called
on them and then they have to apologize. I mean, that sort of process is
not weird here. That`s normal. That`s politics.
What`s strange here is not that the Romney campaign has made some
false claims in the campaign, right? What is strange here is that when
they have gotten things wrong, when they`ve been called out for getting
things wrong, they have not tried to fix it. They have not treated it as a
concern when they have been caught lying, when they have shown to be making
demonstrably false claims. It doesn`t cause them any stress.
But even within the Romney campaign, I have to say there is another
model for dealing with problems like this. And this may come from the way
Mr. Romney was beaten in 2008, the last time he ran for president. It may
have left his campaign determined that he not get stuck with the flip
flopper label again.
So, even though they leave the ads with the lies in them up, right,
sometimes Mr. Romney goes on TV and says a different kind of lie, in a
sense that he invents a brand new policy position he`s never had before.
But after he does that, his staff follows behind him and quietly releasing
statements taking back his quotes.
When Mr. Romney was asked in an interview with Univision America radio
last week, he was about one of his immigration advisers, Kris Kobach, he`s
the guy who wrote the papers please law in Arizona, Mr. Romney said he had
not met with Kris Kobach, and that he could not confirm whether Kris Kobach
was a member of his policy team. That`s what he said in the interview on
But later that same day, the Romney campaign quietly corrected the
record saying Mr. Romney has, in fact, met with Kris Kobach. And that yes,
Kris Kobach is a Romney campaign adviser.
So Mr. Romney tells an interview he`s never met with Kris Kobach, but
then his campaign says actually what he said was not true.
Same thing happened last month when Mr. Romney came out with a whole
new policy position on abortion rights when he was being interviewed on “60
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I`m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and
incest in the health of the life of the mother.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mitt Romney says he believes abortion should be allowed to
protect a woman`s health. You heard him say it right there. Afterwards,
his campaign came out and said that`s not actually what Mitt Romney
His spokesman, while refusing to say that Mr. Romney misspoke
nevertheless told NPR that Mr. Romney doesn`t actually support the legal
right to have an abortion if you need one to protect your health as a
The same thing happened earlier this month when Mr. Romney came out
with a whole new take on Obamacare during an interview on “Meet the Press”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I`m not getting rid of all of health care reform. Of course,
there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I`m
going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with preexisting
conditions can get coverage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m not getting rid of all of health reform. After Mr.
Romney said that he wanted to keep the part of health reform that requires
insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, his
campaign came out afterwards and said, what he just said there, he doesn`t
mean that. He does not want to keep that part of health reform, saying
that Mr. Romney was not in favor of a law requiring that coverage.
The same thing happened just a week ago when Mr. Romney suddenly
retreated from his foreign policy attacks against President Obama, when he
suddenly, surprisingly, told George Stephanopoulos on ABC said that his red
line on keeping Iran from going nuclear is the same as President Obama`s
After Mitt Romney said that on tape that he believes his red line is
the same as President Obama`s, his campaign quietly afterwards said
actually what he just said there, he doesn`t really believe that. They
took the quote back. Mr. Romney doesn`t believe that.
They said actually it was maybe the guy who was asking the question,
it was maybe Stephanopoulos who was wrong and suggesting that President
Obama`s red line was the same as Mitt Romney`s redline. And when Mitt
Romney said, yes, that was in fact the case, he was just being agreeable or
Same thing happened again this week. Mitt Romney conceded another one
of his frequent attacks on the president. He`s been charging for months
that President Obama has raised taxes on middle class Americans. But then
he admitted on tape that President Obama has not raised taxes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: He`s got one new idea, one thing he did not do in his first
four years which is to raise taxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So Mitt Romney admits that President Obama has not raised
taxes during his first term as president. He says that on tape and his
campaign says afterwards, what he said he does not believe that.
Again, they`re not admitting that he misspoke. They`re not saying
that he said the wrong word. They`re saying he didn`t mean what he clearly
What seems to be happening here is that in the moment, when he`s
talking to an interviewer or speaking to an audience, and maybe he can
sense what it is they want to hear, he just says what they want to hear,
even if it`s not really his position or can`t remember what his position is
supposed to be, or if it not really what he believes.
But his campaign can`t have the flip flop be on the record. They`re
so sensitive to that label from 2008. So quietly, a few hours, or a few
days later, they just erase the quote. They take it back.
They say he never said that. They never admit that he might have said
the wrong thing. They just try to erase from the record the wrong thing
that he said.
So it`s two strategies here, right? With the ads they just leave the
false ads up, saying, screw it, we don`t care if it`s not true, right?
But when the candidate himself says it, they let him say whatever
seems right to that audience right in front of him. They never have him
apologize or say he misspoke, but the campaign just quietly tries to change
the record later. Whatever you heard him say, he didn`t really say that.
So with this campaign you really do have a choice. Which of these two
ways of lying is a better way to lie? They`ve got a lot of practice at
MADDOW: You know, it turned out that more people watched the
Democratic National Convention here on MSNBC this year than anywhere else
on cable, which is awesome and it`s thanks to you. Thank you for watching
But now up next, presidential debates. They start next week, a week
from tonight. I`ll be here at our anchor desk in New York. Chris Matthews
will be in Denver, the site of the first debate.
We`ll start at 8 p.m. Eastern, going all the way to midnight. The
debates are starting, whoo-ho! So, 8:00 p.m. Wednesday night.
You are on notice. You have one week to cancel your plans to be here
with us. It will be worth it.
All right. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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