The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/24/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSBNC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy
If you live in the middle of a state somewhere, if you live far from
any other state`s border, this might be a little hard for you to visualize,
but there`s a part of Kentucky that is basically suburban Ohio. Part of
the greater metropolitan area of Cincinnati – Cincinnati, Ohio, is across
the state line in the northern part of the state of Kentucky.
Lots of people live in Kentucky and commute back and forth every day
across the Ohio River. But in order to do so, they have to cross state
jurisdictions. And, of course, even though these places are very
geographically close to each other, in politics, state jurisdictions really
On this side of the river, House Speaker John Boehner is basically the
top political dog. He`s not only the top Republican in the House of
Representatives, third in line to the presidency, he`s also the preeminent
elected official in Ohio, dean of the Ohio congressional delegation. And
his district is not far from where the bridge from Kentucky over the Ohio
River touches down on the Ohio side.
On the other side of that bridge, on the Kentucky side, the political
boss over there is obviously Senator Mitch McConnell. The top ranking
Republican in the United States Senate.
So, you have two of the top Republican leaders in Congress, the top
Republican in the House and the top Republican in the Senate, you have them
parked at either end of one specific bridge. The Brent Spence Bridge it`s
called, between Ohio and Kentucky.
And that makes that bridge, itself, a very unusual corner of American
politics. It also makes it an opportune place if you want to make a point
about American politics, particularly about Republican American politics.
A few years ago, President Obama went to that exact bridge and he made that
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Behind us stands the
Brent Spence Bridge. It`s located on one of the busiest trucking routes in
North America. It sees about 150,000 vehicles every single day.
And it`s in such poor condition that it`s been labeled functionally
obsolete. Think about that. Functionally obsolete. That doesn`t sound
good, does it?
Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. Help us
rebuild America. Help us put construction workers back to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama speaking at that bridge between Ohio and
Kentucky almost three years ago now. The replacement for the Brent Spence
Bridge has still never been built. Engineers say it is safe to drive on,
but really it`s kind of a mess. I mean, it`s getting old for a bridge. It
carries twice as much traffic every day as it was designed for. It is
And so officials in Ohio and Kentucky are still trying to figure out
some way to build a new bridge. To replace this old one that is
And that kind of project is the kind of thing that Senator Mitch
McConnell in Kentucky he really used to specialize in that. Bringing home
federal money to Kentucky for projects like that.
You can basically walk all across the state of Kentucky and never not
be standing on something that`s named for Mitch McConnell because he
brought the money to the state to pay for it.
Senator Mitch McConnell built his whole career on making sure that
Kentucky got its share or more than its share of federal money. He took
care of the earmarks. He took care of the state at home.
But you know what? Under the new ever-evolving principles of the
Republican Party, Republicans are not allowed to do that anymore. And so,
even though Senator McConnell built his career on this, Senator McConnell
does not do earmarks anymore. And, unfortunately, that bridge still needs
And without an earmark, nobody`s quite sure how it`s going to get
done. And so now, in the midst of a re-election effort, senator McConnell
has proposed a new way to pay for the bridge. He has proposed instead of
just bringing in federal money like he used to, he has instead proposed
paying for the bridge by a trick, in which the federal government would
change its rules around so that it could pay people less to build the
bridge, to build the new one. People who would work on building the new
bridge would not get paid a prevailing wage.
Right now, prevailing wage laws determine what construction workers
get paid when they work on a big federally funded construction project like
that. Senator McConnell wants Congress to repeal that federal prevailing
wage law so construction workers would get paid less to work on federally
funded construction projects like that bridge. And that`s how he thinks it
can be paid for.
And you know what, that is not a good way to win the votes of
construction workers. Hey, you want to be paid less?
It`s also not a good way to win the votes of anybody who likes
construction workers. It`s not a good way to win the votes of anybody who
counts on construction workers having money to spend for their own
And frankly, it`s not even a way to get that bridge actually built
because in real politic, trying to repeal the prevailing wage law for
construction workers on federal projects, that`s never going to happen.
You have a Democrat-controlled Senate. You have a Democrat in White
House who is not at the stroke of a pen going to lower wages for hundreds
of thousands of workers across the country. But that`s apparently Mitch
McConnell`s plan now. He unveiled this plan on Friday and it very clearly
is going nowhere. And that means that bridge is going nowhere.
And so, Kentucky commuters and Ohio commuters, they are stuck because
of where Senator McConnell has gone ideologically, because of his newly
discovered allergy to bringing federal dollars home for the people of his
state and for projects that matter to them.
In the Mississippi Senate race, where polls close tonight at 8:00
Eastern, the Mississippi senate race that the whole country is watching
tonight, that is that story of that bridge times 100 million. Except in
this Mississippi race, incumbent Republican Senator Thad Cochran is not
running away from his history of bringing money home to his state. In
fact, that has ended up being what Thad Cochran is running on to try to
hold on to his Senate seat now in what is turning out to be the race of his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: Mississippi gets $1.5 billion in federal education
funding. Chris McDaniel says he`s end that because education is not in the
Constitution. How do we make up the gap? Your property taxes go up.
McDaniel opposes the highway bill. We lose half our road budget.
Result? Higher gas taxes, worse roads.
No wonder every statewide elected official opposes Chris McDaniel.
SEN. THAD COCHRAN (R), MISSISSIPPI: I`m Thad Cochran and I approve
this message because Mississippi is worth fighting for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Do not adjust your TV set. You really did just hear a
conservative Republican elected official campaigning on the idea that
government spending is good for you. And we need it. And it`s important
for the stuff that we want and need and that drives our economy.
That would be an unexpected message in most states. But Mississippi,
it might as well snowing on the Fourth of July. Mississippi.
A Democratic pollster in Mississippi tells “The Washington Post”
today, quote, “Democrats are sitting here scratching our heads. Thad
Cochran spent $2 million in the campaign reminding voters that there is a
central role for government in our state. There`s been no money spent on
the Democratic side of that message since Jimmy Carter ran for president.”
Incidentally, when Jimmy Carter ran for president, that`s the last
time Democrats won a presidential election in Mississippi, 1976. Every
other time since then, the state has voted Republican.
But now, Republican Senator Thad Cochran has trotted out basically the
Democratic playbook from 1976 as he faces this challenge from Tea Party
Republican Chris McDaniel. Mr. McDaniel has built himself as the guy who
will turn off the federal spigot to Mississippi. In February, he told a
Mississippi college crowd “I`m not going to do anything for you. I`m going
to get the government off your back then I`m going to let you do it for
Mississippi has had some fairly recent experience with calling for and
getting government help. In 2005, hurricane Katrina erased whole swaths,
whole towns off the state`s Gulf Coast. And state Republicans did
everything they could to get federal disaster relief in motion. They have
campaigned on how much help they got for the state ever since.
But this year, when Politico.com asked Chris McDaniel whether he would
have voted for that funding after Katrina to help Mississippi, he said he
could not say for certain. He said, quote, “I would have to see the
details of it. I really would.” That`s not an easy vote to cast.
Chris McDaniel campaigned for Senate for Mississippi on the idea that
disaster relief after something like Hurricane Katrina, that would not be
an easy vote to cast. It does, however, lead to an easy campaign ad to
make for his opponent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: Chris McDaniel asked if he would have supported
Mississippi disaster relief after Katrina. His first response, “I don`t
know.” That`s the same Chris McDaniel who`s promising Mississippi voters
that “I`m not going to do anything for you.”
Sounds crazy, but Chris McDaniel is backed by powerful interests that
Governor Haley Barbour calls out of state phonies.
If Chris McDaniel won`t do anything for Mississippi, why should
Mississippians do anything for Chris McDaniel?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: If the Tea Party candidate will not help you, why should you
help him? Just ask.
This fight in Mississippi of all places, this fight about whether or
not the government should do stuff like help out after Hurricane Katrina,
or help states build and maintain their roads, that is usually the kind of
fight that happens between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.
But in Mississippi right now, what they`ve got is a Republican Party. And
the fight is happening inside the Republican primary.
And the Jimmy Carter side of the argument isn`t a Democrat in this
fight. It`s the old school incumbent Republican.
But in this fight, he has got the support of the state`s Republican
governor. The state`s Republican lieutenant governor. The de facto head
of the Republican Party in state, Haley Barbour. Also Haley Barbour`s
whole family dynasty which controls the Republican Party in the state, plus
the whole Republican congressional delegation from the state, plus the
National Republican Senatorial Committee, plus the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce, plus Republican household names like John McCain who was down
there yesterday and today campaigning for Senator Thad Cochran.
And what nobody knew before today was whether or not that sort of
institutional, in-state, organic homegrown support from the machine that is
Mississippi Republican politics, whether that was going to be able to make
a difference on the ground in the state. I mean, we`ve seen Tea Party
upstarts in other states, right, that have lots of loud national support
from outside groups that get a lot of press, they get a lot of face time on
FOX News and stuff. But we`ve seen them not be able to deliver on election
You may remember, for example, that we saw that in Nevada when Sharron
Angle beat the Republican establishment to get the Republican nomination
for Senate in Nevada, looked like she was doing great in the polls. She
was getting a ton of press, national press, national attention, national
endorsements about how she was going to beat Harry Reid. She had a lot of
money to do it.
But then she just did not have a get-out-the-vote operation when it
came to actual voting day. She didn`t actually have the machinery in the
state that she needed to get people out of their houses to their polling
places and voting for her. A lot of national buzz doesn`t get people in
the state into the voting booth.
Heading into today`s voting in this race in Mississippi, that dynamic
about getting people out to polls, actually knowing who they are and
knowing how to motivate them and motivating them and getting them there,
that process, the fact that he`s got the Mississippi machine on his side,
that was one of Thad Cochran`s two great hopes for trying to hold on to his
seat today. That was one of his life rings basically heading into this
The other one was that he decided to start reaching out to people who
do not usually vote for Republicans, including typically Democratic voters
who, because it is an open primary, would be eligible to vote for Thad
Cochran today if he could persuade them to do so. Those were the two ways
that Thad Cochran was going to try to salvage a win today and was going to
try today to avoid being the first United States senator to lose a battle
for re-election this year.
Well, the polls in Mississippi closed just over an hour ago. Here are
the latest results that we have at this hour. At this point, we`ve got 20
percent of precincts reporting in Mississippi in this runoff.
Again, there`s no threshold issue here. It`s who gets the most votes.
There are only two people on the ballot. Thad Cochran, and Chris McDaniel.
These are the results of 20 percent in. Thad Cochran with 54.5
percent of the vote, McDaniel nine points behind him. But again, be wary
of extrapolating from these results. This is only 1/5 of the vote total so
Joining us from Jackson, Mississippi, is Sam Hall, political columnist
for the “Clarion Ledger” newspaper, which has been an absolute must-read
every day as we`ve all been covering this.
Mr. Hall, thanks very much for being with us.
SAM HALL, THE CLARION-LEDGER: Thank you. Glad to be here.
MADDOW: Obviously, we`ve only got early returns at this point. But
in terms of where you know the vote is in from and what you were
anecdotally able to see and report on today, do you have any sense of in
terms of how this race ended up going today with all this national
attention, these three weeks of furious campaigning, how did it come down
HALL: Well, based on the results right now, it actually looks very
much like it did three weeks ago, which was the early results especially
down on the coast, and south, most of south Mississippi with Cochran
leading – leading all the northeast Mississippi except for a few pockets.
So, there are still some key areas that we`re looking at to see what
they do. Still haven`t gotten anything out of Jones County which is
McDaniel`s home. He just absolutely swamped Cochran there and pulled out
more votes from that county than I think they`ve ever had come out. So,
that`s going to be a telltale sign.
And then here in the metro area, we`ve still got a lot of boxes out
there waiting to see which way they go.
But based on turnout, both camps are looking to be right at where we
were in the primaries, so they`re looking at over 300,000 votes coming out
which would be astonishing. And it looks like favorable for Cochran and
ironically not in traditionally Democratic boxes, but in traditionally
We got very anecdotal stuff out of the delta where most of the
African-American outreach happened, so we`re still waiting to hear more
about that. It looks more like Barbour`s machine.
MADDOW: I`m sorry for interrupting you there. That`s exactly the
point that I was going to, which is a reason not to interrupt.
That issue about the Cochran campaign trying to reach out to voters
who don`t traditionally vote Republican, specifically reaching out to black
Democratic voters. Is something like the Haley Barbour machine, the
Mississippi Republican Party get-out-the-vote effort, is it applicable to
that kind of effort? I mean, they`ve never really been trying to woo black
voters or get them out on their behalf ever before.
HALL: No, you know, there was two different tracks going at the same
time, and really and truly talking with some of the Cochran folks just
right before, a couple days before the primary, and then, of course, right
after it, they didn`t feel like they really got their ground game going
until about two weeks out which is really not enough time to go. So, now,
you`re looking at maybe five weeks` worth of their ground game and that`s
what they think is going to make the difference today.
As far as the African-American voter outreach, a lot of that was done
with traditionally Democratic operatives in the Capital City area, and then
up through the delta.
MADDOW: Sam Hall, political columnist for “The Clarion-Ledger” –
we`re on the edge of our seats watching this happen tonight. Thanks for
helping us cover it, Sam. It`s nice to see you. Thank you.
HALL: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. And now, let`s bring in NBC News political
reporter Kasie Hunt. She`s actually at Chris McDaniel campaign
headquarters in Jackson.
Kasie, this is a tense part of the night where we`re watching the
first results come in. Obviously, in the early results Thad Cochran has a
lead, but they are very early results at this point. What kind of
reaction, what kind of spin are you hearing from the McDaniel campaign over
the course of today and into tonight?
KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: I have to say, it`s a pretty
subdued vibe here at the McDaniel headquarters. I think that the mood of
both of these campaigns has really changed over the course of the last
I was here three weeks ago, and the Cochran campaign, in particular,
at that point was privately saying they thought they were going to lose
that election. And honestly, it`s done a complete 180 since that time.
And I think they clearly have a sense that at the very least, they are very
much in this.
And to Sam`s point that, you know, we saw early results last time that
were in Cochran`s favor and we do have to be careful to watch, there are
some early signs that, you know, turnout may be up in the areas where
Cochran is expected to do well.
And, you know, I think what you really saw was the Barbour family as
you mentioned coming here these last three weeks and really focus on the
ground game. I mean, they put over $1 million in on the ground, both the
campaign and other outside entities like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to
really try to refocus.
While there`s been a lot of focus on the African-American Democratic
vote, potentially, I think there`s also an element of Republicans who
weren`t concerned that Senator Cochran might lose coming out and saying,
hey, we`ve now woken up to this reality that he could and we`re going to
come out and vote for him.
So, I think those two forces are at work, and I think Cochran`s team
is much more optimistic that they can pull this out than they were three
MADDOW: Kasie, one of the things that got a lot of national attention
was this announcement by outside the state conservative groups that they
were going to send conservative poll watchers in, specifically into
Democratic districts to try to watch polls and ensure the integrity of the
election. It got a lot of attention I think in part because this is the
50-year anniversary of Freedom Summer and it I think rubbed a lot of people
the wrong way, the idea of having outsiders go into black districts to try
to police their polling.
Did you see anything in terms of anecdotal information about that
today, or how that went or whether that was a significant effort?
HUNT: We didn`t see any signs of that at the polling place where we
were today. I spoke to a McDaniel campaign spokesman. He said there were
about 300 or so poll watchers from various groups either in or outside the
state who came in.
I did see one news report that we, of course, haven`t verified yet out
of Madison that suggested there may been a poll watcher who irritated some
poll workers. That story didn`t seem to point to any sort of broad issue.
So, I think that`s really something we`re going to have to keep an eye on
as these results and as information from these precincts and counties
starts to trickle back in.
MADDOW: Kasie Hunt, NBC News political reporter with us from the
Chris McDaniel headquarters in Mississippi. It`s going to be a fun night
watching this happen, Kasie. Thanks very much for being with us.
In terms of the results right now, in terms of what we`ve got, can we
put that board back up? Watching the results come in in the
Cochran/McDaniel runoff today in Mississippi. Right now, it`s 34 percent
of precincts in, 53.3 percent for Thad Cochran to 46.7 percent for Chris
So, just since we`ve been on the air, we`ve gone from 20 percent to 34
percent of precincts reporting. We`ve seen that Thad Cochran tightened
some. But again, with only a third of the vote in, don`t extrapolate. But
this is going to be a fun one to watch tonight. >
There`s important primary election results all over the country
tonight. We`re going to have a report on those.
Plus, the U.S. Congress is making some unexpectedly constructive
noises about something important. I know, weird, right?
It`s all ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: For the last three weeks in American politics, we have known
that Mississippi tonight was going to be the race to watch. This showdown
tonight in Mississippi right now we`re at 38 percent in, 53.5 percent for
the vote for Thad Cochran, 46.5 percent for Chris McDaniel.
This showdown tonight in Mississippi, this runoff between the
incumbent Republican Thad Cochran and the Tea Party guy Chris McDaniel,
this was set in motion three weeks ago in Mississippi when neither man was
able to clear 50 percent in that state`s Republican Senate primary.
But these past three weeks of that campaign, these past three weeks of
the national press being very, very focused on Mississippi and the prospect
of an incumbent Republican senator losing his seat, these three weeks of
all the national reporters flying down there and all the magazine stories
and all the beltway press handicapping the Mississippi race, and the Sunday
shows weighing in on it and everything else – these past three weeks of
intense coverage of Mississippi have had a cost, elsewhere in the country,
because had we not been talking about Mississippi all of this time, what we
might have been talking about instead was another big deal Tea Party versus
Republican establishment showdown in the great state of Oklahoma.
This is T.W. Shannon, the man on your left there, former speaker of
the House of Oklahoma, the first African-American speaker of the Oklahoma
House ever. He`s also Native American. He`s a member of the Chickasaw
And T.W. Shannon is also a Tea Partier. He has national support in
his Senate race, from Sarah Palin and from Ted Cruz, from the group
FreedomWorks, from the Senate conservatives fund. Sound familiar?
His opponent in the Senate race, his main opponent, Congressman James
Lankford. Congressman James Lankford is not a moderate. He`s a hardcore
Oklahoma Republican conservative congressman.
But he`s already a congressman. And he has the support of the whole
Republican Oklahoma establishment, and having the support of the whole
Oklahoma Republican establishment is a great way to win a Republican
primary, particularly for a seat that`s been held forever and a day by
Republican Tom Coburn who is, himself, an Oklahoma institution.
I mean, the machine is there. The machine is in place to slide
Congressman James Lankford into Tom Coburn`s seat where Oklahoma is red
enough he could probably hold on to it for life if he wanted to – which is
why it theoretically mattered so much to this Senate race whether or not
anyone was paying attention to it outside the state, because, frankly,
nobody`s been paying attention to it outside the state.
I mean, if you want to beat the establishment, if you want to beat an
entrenched establishment like that in Oklahoma, you really need to be able
to make some noise. You need some forced multipliers. You need national
attention. But no noise has been heard from this Oklahoma Senate race
because of the deafening din coming out of Mississippi that started up
three weeks ago.
Had it been different, had the Mississippi Senate race been settled,
had Thad Cochran held on to his seat or Chris McDaniel beat him cleanly and
there was no runoff tonight, we would have been talking about the Oklahoma
Senate race that would have put so much more attention on the Tea Party
challenger that he might have had a really excellent shot.
Well, it`s not over. Polls in Oklahoma closed at 88:00 p.m. Eastern
tonight. Look, it is over. “The A.P.” has just called the race for
Congressman James Lankford. Now, 55.2 percent means he not only has
Shannon who again had support from Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, FreedomWorks,
Senate Conservatives Fund. He`s not only beaten him but he has avoided a
runoff in this case. Had they had to go to a runoff, neither had 50
percent of the vote, there would have been a runoff on August 26th.
The other ripple effect or ramification of Tom Coburn`s retirement in
the United States Senate, now that Jim Lankford is the nominee for Tom
Coburn`s Senate seat, James Lankford`s congressional seat in the fifth
district in Oklahoma is open, and I mean, wide open. There`s a gang of
candidates seeking the James Lankford congressional seat. Six candidates
on the Republican side, alone, tonight.
In that race, again, because a candidate has to get 50 percent of the
vote to be declared the winner, in that one with six different people
running, we can only put four of them on the screen at once. It`s very
likely we will see a runoff in the fifth district. Very likely as in I
feel very comfortable saying that`s what`s going to happen.
Runoff for the James Lankford seat August 26th, but the Republican
running to replace Tom Coburn in the Senate will be James Lankford. That
might have been a very different outcome had all the national attention in
this race and all of the conservative attention nationwide in the country
not been on Mississippi for the past three weeks.
Lots more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re keeping an eye on the Mississippi Senate race right
now. Incumbent Republican Senator Thad Cochran trying to hold on to his
seat in the Senate against Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel. The
results have sort of slowed down coming from Mississippi on the last few
minutes but what we`ve got right now is 38 percent of precincts in. Thad
Cochran at 53 .5 percent of the vote, Chris McDaniel behind him by seven
But we are keeping a close eye on this tonight. This very closely
watched seat. If Thad Cochran goes down tonight, he will be the first
incumbent senator this year to lose his effort at re-election.
Chris McDaniel`s camp was very confident going into this race tonight,
but Thad Cochran, thus far, still ahead.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said that he
got one of the best briefings he has ever had. He said it was just great.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It was one of the best
briefings we`ve had. I thought it was well done. Ambassador Patterson and
her team did a really good job of laying out what`s going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ta-da. Let the record show that a Republican senator just
said that someone at the Obama administration State Department did a good
Ambassador Anne Patterson, assistant secretary of state tasked today
with conducting an Iraq briefing for the entire United States Senate. And
Lindsey Graham liked it. Behold.
That said, Senator Graham`s best friend, John McCain, he also went to
the briefing. John McCain has a habit of usually leaving briefings early.
So he can complain about them on television. But perhaps because he had
faced some criticism for doing that recently, today, Senator McCain had the
decency to actually go to the briefing and sit there through it before he
went on TV to complain about it.
And Lindsey Graham may have loved this briefing that he got today, but
John McCain naturally hated it. He said it was worthless.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What did you learn?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Nothing that isn`t published
information as is the case with every briefing I`ve ever attended.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Stupid briefings.
Senator John McCain, the Republican voice of god on foreign policy,
says he has never learned anything from any congressional briefing ever in
the history of him going to congressional briefings.
But despite their differences about whether or not having the State
Department brief the Senate today on Iraq, despite their differences about
whether that was a stupid waste of time or the best briefing ever, Senator
John McCain and best friend forever, Senator Lindsey Graham and also
Senator Marco Rubio who also spoke about this today at the same event, they
all apparently do agree on one thing, which is that whatever the United
States is going to do militarily in Iraq, it`s not their responsibility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: When the president asked –
GRAHAM: I think the president doesn`t need our approval to make these
REPORTER: Senator, do you believe that the president has the
authority he needs to act alone, or do you believe that –
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I believe the president has the
authority to act on – especially on issues of this nature that require
REPORTER: What did you learn?
MCCAIN: Nothing that isn`t published information as is the case with
every briefing I`ve ever attended.
REPORTER: So, what should Obama do that he`s not doing now?
REPORTER: What happened now? You guys go off to holiday and nothing?
President doesn`t act?
MCCAIN: Apparently – apparently.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Senator John McCain, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Lindsey
Graham all have strong feelings about what the United States should do
militarily in Iraq, but none of them believe it is their own responsibility
to actually make any binding decisions about that, or to really do anything
officially about that. Except to go on TV to talk about it.
They are all wrong about that as a constitutional matter. Presidents
have the ability to conduct wars and to command the armed forces, but it`s
Congress who`s supposed to decide when and whether we actually have wars.
In the Senate, that may or may not be clear on that, but in the House,
they haven`t yet add their full Iraq briefing for all the members of the
House the way the Senate did today. But the House Democratic Caucus met
today and apparently talked about Iraq and their caucus chairman, Xavier
Becerra, emerged from that meeting today on the House side and said on the
House side at least, on the Democratic side of the House side, they are not
only worried about a third Iraq war, it sounds like they`re starting to
realize and starting to talk about the fact that it`s actually their call
as Congress, as to whether or not such a war happens. Not just to complain
about it publicly or worry about it on TV, but to actually make the
decision about what to do the way the Constitution says the Congress must.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: I know there`s a lot of concern
in getting embroiled in another Vietnam and the concern about sending
American troops once again to fight someone else`s war. Same time I
believe the president`s trying to do not just the right thing but something
that will help the Iraqis get themselves in a place where they will be
prepared to defend their own country and their own people rather than have
to have other forces, American forces or NATO forces have to do this for
So, my sense is that members want to hear more. The president did end
the Iraq war. And, again, I`m not sure in what capacity the president
would propose that American forces or American interests be involved in
Iraq, but depending on what the president is proposing, that would probably
help trigger a response as to whether or not we need another declaration of
war in order for the U.S. to get further involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra speaking today. If
Congress did take up its responsibility to vote on a declaration of yet
another war in Iraq, if they all had to take a binding vote on that, where
their names were attached to that vote forever, what do you think the
prospects are we actually would have another third war in Iraq?
Today, the Pentagon announced that special operations teams have
started to deploy into Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq. These are the
several hundred troops that President Obama announced he would be sending
last week. And that he notified Congress he would be sending last week.
That notification, which is a formal thing, it looks like this, that
notification from the president to Congress last week, that started the
clock ticking on a 60-day window in which the president can send forces
into hostilities or into what looks like imminent hostilities without
permission from congress.
After 60 days, though, the War Powers Resolution says that Congress
has to cut bait, right? Congress needs to authorize that use of military
force, even if they don`t want the decision. Even if they would prefer to
throw it in the president`s lap and make him deal with it while they
complain on TV. It is Congress` call to make.
And now, here`s the surprising bit – Democratic members of Congress
just introduced and passed through the House language that makes it
official and overt that Congress won`t advocate the responsibility on this,
even if the Senate says they want to. This language was introduced by two
Democratic members of the House, Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii and John
Garamendi. They are both Democrats. The House is controlled by
Republicans. But their language on this thing passed.
Congressman Garamendi said thereafter, “Today, the House of
Representatives stood unified we will not rush into a Third Gulf War. The
Constitution gives Congress the right and obligation to give advice and
consent before waging war. I have serious doubts about waging any military
campaign in Iraq, and clearly”, he says, “I am not alone.”
Joining us now for the interview is Congressman John Garamendi of
California, member of the Armed Services Committee and one of the two
members of Congress who got this language passed through the House.
Congressman, thank you very much for being with us. I appreciate your
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: Always a pleasure.
MADDOW: So, what does this language do? And how did you get it
passed through a Republican-controlled House where no Democratic measures
ever get passed?
GARAMENDI: Well, this one did get passed because I think there`s real
serious concern, real serious concern among both Democrats and Republicans
about Iraq 3.0.
We`ve been there. We`ve done that. This is a very, very complex and
a very dangerous situation. We should be very slow to war.
And that resolution that is now over in the Senate side says unless
the president comes back to us as required by the War Powers Act, money is
cut off. There will be no money.
Hopefully that will become the law. The Senate is going to take it up
in this next month of July. If it becomes the law, then that will be it.
We will have to carry out our constitutional responsibilities. We
were elected to obey the Constitution, to carry out the responsibilities.
We must do so.
MADDOW: So to be clear, this is language that`s attached to Pentagon
spending bill. It would apply to all defense spending and would say that
none of that money, no Pentagon money could be spent on new hostilities,
new U.S. military involvement in Iraq other than defending the embassy,
unless the president got overt permission from Congress?
GARAMENDI: That`s correct. That`s exactly what it does.
We`ve had the War Powers Act around for a long time since the Vietnam
War, and all too often it`s ignored by the president and Congress. But
this one, should this become law, I hope the Senate will follow our lead on
this, it has real teeth. There`s a hammer here and the hammer will come
down unless the president comes back, gets congressional approval to
conduct a long-scale war in Iraq.
MADDOW: You heard the clips that I played there at the part of the
introduction just because I wanted to get them on the record saying it.
And it`s not only Republicans that have said it. A lot of members of
Congress, both in the House and the Senate, Republican and Democratic, have
said that they think the president has the ability to do this unilaterally.
You obviously disagree. Your language that you got passed obviously
makes clear that you disagree. I think constitutionally you`re right here
and they`re plainly wrong.
But what`s the sort of pulse in Congress? Is it – do people widely
agree or have one position or another on whether or not it`s Congress`
GARAMENDI: Well, we will ultimately see. But right now, there`s
clearly probably around 180 firm votes about not going to war in Iraq once
again. That was shown in the various amendments that were in the House
Appropriation Bill for the Department of Defense. We`ll see what happens.
A lot will depend upon the circumstances, but I think it`s very clear
to me, and I hope increasingly clear to the American public, that this is a
major religious war that`s been going on for 1,400 years, and we`re going
to find ourselves right smack in the middle of it. And on whose side?
You`ve got Iran, you`ve got Iraq involved. You`ve got Syria. You`ve
got all of these factions going back and forth. Exactly whose side will we
be on? Well, the side we`ll be on is right smack in the middle of a very
complex, difficult, and very dangerous sectarian war, religious war between
two factions of the Muslim religion.
MADDOW: Which is why everybody`s always very happy to pass the sort
of hot potato on this and not be stuck making their own decision on it.
You`re trying to stop that from happening.
Congressman John Garamendi –
GARAMENDI: Well, we can`t dodge – we can`t dodge this. This is our
responsibility. We all took the oath. The Constitution`s quite clear.
It`s up to Congress to either go to war or not.
MADDOW: Congressman John Garamendi of California, member of the House
Armed Services Committee – thank you for helping us understand this, sir.
I appreciate your time.
GARAMENDI: Thank you.
All right. A lot still ahead tonight including more election results
as they come in.
Also, a bizarre outbreak of biting in an unexpected place. Stay with
MADDOW: Here`s a headline for the ages, tree bites man. Quote, “A
tree bit a man yesterday afternoon in the Boston garden. A tree seven feet
high, curled its trunks around a man in little white shorts and gouged out
the man`s middle finger.”
That was the headline and the lead after the first round of the NBA
playoffs in 1983 when the seven foot tall Atlanta Hawks basketball player
Wayne “Tree” Rollins chomped down on the Boston Celtics` Danny Ainge`s
third digit, leaving a wound that needed five stitches and a tetanus shot.
Classically, as far back as Greco Roman wrestling days, biting has
been off-limits in sports, arguably in life, but certainly in sports. And
for that simple fact of life, the biggest news in the whole wide world
today is what happened at the World Cup, because today, in the middle of a
match between Uruguay and Italy, a player from Uruguay beared his teeth and
sunk his incisors into the Italian`s shoulder, leaving what seemed to be
visible teeth marks on the players` skin.
Look at this guy, this is the biter holding his teeth after doing it.
People say, oh, your face hurt my fist – well, your shoulder hurt my
teeth. Not a sympathetic card to play, right?
The biter, Luis Suarez, is a soccer god, a striker with very large
teeth for the English Premier League`s Liverpool Club. Look how big his
Liverpool is a good soccer team, he`s one of the team`s stars.
So, Luis Suarez bit a guy. Try to give him the benefit of the doubt.
It`s the World Cup. It`s very exciting. This is as big a sports get
worldwide. He got carried away, snapped into the glare of international
spotlight, he would do anything to win the World Cup, right?
The problem in this case is that with Luis Suarez, there is no doubt
of which to give the benefit. He does this all the time. He`s a serial
biter. This is his thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He ran towards Suarez. What is he doing? He sunk
his teeth in there. That`s what it looks like. Any way, it looks like
he`s sunk his gnashes in there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The guy with the giant teeth, yes, that was just last year in
a Liverpool versus Chelsea game. Luis Suarez just went for it, he just
gnawed down on the other guy`s forearm.
Look, the victim here is shocked. He`s trying to get the ref`s
attention, miming, look, he bit, he bit. For that one, Luis Suarez got
fined and suspended for 10 games, but he also scored the tying goal that
night. That turns out to have been his second suspension for biting in a
game, because in 2010, he also bit another player in the neck when he was
ma playing for a Dutch team. He bit him in the neck.
This actually makes the Mississippi Senate runoff normal, almost.
MADDOW: So far this year, there have been two strong ads, standout
powerful good ads run by male Democratic senators on the issue of women`s
The first one was in Montana Senate race where the incumbent Democrat
John Walsh is running against the Republican Congressman Steve Daines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. JOHN WALSH (D), MONTANA: I`m John Walsh and I approve this
MELISSA: I was raped when I was 14 years old. I know the pain it
caused me. That`s why it`s so insulting that Congressman Steve Daines
sponsored a bill to make abortion illegal for victims of sexual assault.
He`s even proposed making women criminals for having an abortion.
Ultimately, I got the support I need to live again. But if
politicians like Congressman Daines have their way, other women will be
left with no options at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is a rather devastating ad from Montana Senator John
Walsh, but as a devastating ad, it now has competition.
In Colorado, incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall is running
against Republican Congressman Corey Gardner. Mr. Gardner has supported
personhood measures that would ban all abortion and arguably would also ban
the most commonly used form of birth control. It would ban the pill.
Since Corey Gardner decided he would run statewide in Colorado against
Senator Udall, he has disavowed his earlier support for personhood, but he
hasn`t taken his name off federal personhood legislation of which he is a
co-sponsor. And Mark Udall is now running this effectively ad to stick
Corey Gardner with the consequences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: Because this really matters, it`s
important you hear this directly from me.
My opponent, Congressman Gardner, led a crusade that would make birth
control illegal. He sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony, even in
cases of rape and incest. His record is beyond troubling. It`s wrong.
We`re talking about your rights as women, as families, as Coloradans.
I`m Mark Udall. You have the right to live life on your own terms and
make your own choices. That`s why I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Democrats are getting much better at articulating the case
against Republicans on these kinds of policy issues, and Republicans keep
nominating people for statewide races who have these policy positions, who
are opposed to birth control and who want to force rape victims to give
birth against their will.
Well, heading into today`s voting in Colorado, Republicans have been
worried about whether Cory Gardner`s already tough race against Senator
Mark Udall might be further jeopardized by what else the Republican Party
decides to do to their ballot today. Colorado Republicans have been
worried they might screw up their chances at trying to get that Senate seat
by choosing a name that would go at the top of the ticket this fall in the
Republican primary today for governor, which might alienate people all the
way down the ticket.
The four Republican candidates for governor include a former
congressman, current secretary of state, a former state senator, but the
fourth Republican candidate, who was apparently the frontrunner heading
into the voting today, he`s the one who had Republicans worried that if he
wins the Republican nomination for governor, he won`t just lose the
governor`s race himself, he has the potential to make all the other
Republicans on the ballot lose, too.
Tom Tancredo, how are you doing? The prospect of Tom Tancredo
becoming the Republican nominee for governor in Colorado had Democrats so
excited that a liberal PAC started running ads designed to make Tom
Tancredo more attractive to Republican primary voters. Pick this guy, pick
this guy, please?
And in Colorado tonight, here are the results for that Republican
gubernatorial primary thus far, 60 percent in right now. Tom Tancredo
running second to former Congressman Bob Beauprez, again 60 percent of the
precincts in. Polls close in Colorado almost an hour ago.
The stakes would be high enough, it were just about the governor`s
race in November, but they may be just much higher than that tonight. It`s
going to be exciting to watch the rest of the results come in tonight.
That does it for our hour right now. We`ll see you again tomorrow
But now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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