The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/09/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, man. And thanks
to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. We have a big show
planned tonight. The interview tonight is Wendy Davis, the democratic
candidate for Texas Governor, who I almost just ran down like a bowling
ball as I ran past her in the hall. She was on her way in. I was sprinting
to the set. And if that`s anything like it`s going to be like during the
interview, it`s going to be very exciting.
We have an exclusive live interview with Senator Davis here tonight. She`s
already in the building. She`s going to be here in the studio in just a
Also, there`s more news about the NFL story that has crossed over into
major non-sports news. The Ray Rice domestic violence case. The NFL
commissioner has just come out and made new remarks about Ray Rice tonight.
New remarks which frankly are likely to fan the flames of how upset
everybody is about that case and how the NFL has handled it.
We`ve also got an eye out tonight for results from the last round of
primaries before the November elections. Primaries are being held in five
states tonight. This is the last round of voting before the November
elections. So there`s been polls closed just within the last minute in
four states and other states that`s closing in about an hour. We`re
keeping an eye out there for important results from tonight`s primaries.
Plus, we also spent part of the news day today making our own special
coverage plans here at MSNBC for tomorrow night. Because the White House
has just announced that a rare thing is going to be happening this time
tomorrow night. It`s going to be a primetime presidential address to the
nation. These do not happen very often. Aside from the regularly
scheduled one like the State of the Union.
In the Obama presidency, we`ve only had on average two or three of these a
year. Primetime presidential addresses just don`t happen very often. On
average two or three a year during the presidency of Barack Obama. It has
been about a year since this president has done one. But it is scheduled
for tomorrow, 9:00 p.m. And the subject is fighting ISIS in the Iraq and
Incidentally if you`re thinking about planning your night for tomorrow, you
should know that our special coverage of that primetime address is going to
start at 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on MSNBC. I`m going to be going to
Washington for the address. We`re going to have live coverage from
Washington starting at 8:00.
President Obama told Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” this Sunday that this
address was not going to be announcing an American ground invasion of Iraq.
He told Chuck, quote, “This is not going to be an announcement about U.S.
ground troops. This is not the equivalent of the Iraq war.” And of course
it may not be the Iraq war all over again but it is starting to look like
an Iraq war over there.
There are more than 1100 U.S. military personnel already deployed back to
Iraq as of right now, as of tonight. The administration announced today
it`s 153rd airstrike inside Iraq since President Obama first ordered them
to start up a month ago yesterday.
New polling out today from NBC and the “Wall Street Journal” and also the
“Washington Post and ABC, both big polls out today, both showing strong,
public support for U.S. military action against ISIS militants in Iraq and
In the new NBC poll that`s just out tonight, only 15 percent of Americans
say there should be no U.S. military action against ISIS. Another 11
percent say they are not sure. But that leaves the remaining three
quarters of the country telling pollsters for NBC tonight that the country
wants either airstrikes or airstrikes and combat troops to be used against
In the other poll, “Washington Post”/ABC reporting, that`s 71 percent of
Americans saying they support airstrikes in Iraq. Nearly as many, 65
percent, saying they want airstrikes in Syria. That`s kind of amazing.
The “Washington Post”/ABC poll did not ask specifically whether people
would also support ground troops in addition to airstrikes. But those
numbers in support of airstrikes are whopping.
Here`s the thing, though. If you just read a couple of lines into the
announcement about these airstrikes that are already happening inside Iraq,
which are apparently very popular with the American people right now, there
is something to consider strategically about what U.S. aircraft are
shooting at in Iraq right now.
There`s been 153 airstrikes but look at this reporting on the latest round
of airstrikes from the AP today. This is how it`s described.
“The U.S. military says it launched five more airstrikes in support of
Iraqi government troops and Sunni tribesmen protecting the Haditha dam
against fighters of the Islamic State group that control parts of northern
and western Iraq.”
OK. I understand that. Fine. Central Command says that a combination of
U.S. attack aircraft, fighter aircraft and drone aircraft destroyed or
damaged eight armed vehicles, two of which were transporting anti-aircraft
artillery near the dam. Anti-aircraft artillery. Anti-aircraft artillery.
This Sunni militant group that U.S. aircraft are dropping bombs on inside
Iraq. That group has antiaircraft weapons, heavy antiaircraft weapons on
the ground. And, yes, some of the U.S. aircraft that are conducting these
more than 150 airstrikes are drones, which means that there`s no pilot at
risk in those aircrafts. But the other aircraft that we`ve got over there
right now are fighter jets and what they`ve described as attack aircraft.
All of these – all of those have pilots and crews.
And for some reason, we`ve decided not to call what they`re doing combats.
But the people they are attacking from these U.S. aircraft have at least
some capacity to shoot down aircraft that are attacking them. They`ve got
heavy antiaircraft weapons. So politically, it may be very convenient to
say you support airstrikes, but not combat. Or to say you support
airstrikes but not boots on the ground.
But there already are more than 1100 U.S. personnel in Iraq to support the
airstrikes that are already happening. And god forbid, if an American
aircraft start to get shot down by this militant group with their
antiaircraft artillery, then you better believe there are going to be boots
on the ground and very quickly. I mean, both in terms of the support
And in terms of making sure that airstrikes are effective and targeted
accurately, and honestly, in case of eventualities or if something goes
wrong, airstrike campaigns have a way of not just staying in the air.
If a U.S. fighter jet or a U.S. gunship gets shot down by ISIS inside in
Iraq what then? Is it still then no boots on the ground? I mean, what
sort of U.S. ground presence would be – we`d be OK with in the event that
we need a rescue mission over there or a recovery mission?
It`s a hard question, right? If you don`t want boots on the ground but you
do want pilots in the sky, where do you draw the line? I mean, it`s a hard
question, right? That deserves a debate. You can have a very reasonable
debate with very patriotic, very excited people on both sides of that
debate. Nobody`s wrong inherently at the start of that debate. That`s a
hard question. That`s worth fighting about. That`s worth getting right.
Here`s another one. The administration wants Congress to approve $500
million to provide additional support to rebel groups inside Syria that are
already fighting against ISIS. Rather than have U.S. troops fight ISIS on
the ground, send support and send weapons to the people who are already
there, who are already there fighting them? What could possibly go wrong?
Well, the administration likes the idea. They`re asking for that money, a
half billion dollars. The administration has already upscaled the support
they are providing to other rebels that are fighting Syria – fighting the
Syrian government and fighting ISIS. Lots of members of Congress are
crowing for even more of that, saying there should have more of it already
and they want it dramatically upscaled.
But, look at this, from a group called the Conflict Armament Research
Center. A private firm in England that documents how weapons move around
the globe. They looked at weapons that were captured from ISIS fighters in
Iraq and Syria and wouldn`t you know it? They found that these small arms
and rockets that ISIS is using to fight now, they, quote, “appeared to have
been provided to other combatants by Saudi Arabia and by the United
And then they ended up with ISIS? Yes. Quote, “Among the former ISIS
weapons that the firm examined were M-16 and M-4 rifles stamped “Property
of the U.S. Government.” Quote, “Many Syrian rebels have said weapons
provided to them by foreign supporters have been captured by ISIS or sold
or traded to ISIS by corrupt members of the rebel ranks.
So what happens to arm that get sent to the groups fighting ISIS? They end
up going to ISIS.
I mean, this is tough, right? You`re trying to fight ISIS so you arm
rebels who are fighting them? You arms those rebels with weapons and then
they then stop them or give them or have them stolen or taken by ISIS and
now you`re fighting ISIS with weapons that you provided in the first place.
After that, the new claims from the family of Steven Sotloff, the freelance
journalist who was killed by ISIS militants a week ago. A spokesperson for
the Sotloff family told CNN last night that the so-called moderate rebels
in Syria who so many people say ought to be armed and supported by the U.S.
government, those moderate rebels are the people who handed Steven Sotloff
over to ISIS in the first place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARAK BARFI, SOTLOFF FAMILY SPOKESPERSON: For the first time, we can say
Steven was sold at the border. We believe that these so-called moderate
rebels that their people want our administration to support. One of them
sold him probably for something between $20,000 and $50,000 to ISIS. And
that was the reason that he was captured. Somebody at the border crossing
made a phone call to ISIS and they set up a fake checkpoint with many
people and Steven and these people that he went in with could not escape.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So arm the good rebels? Arm the moderate rebels? There is an,
you know, enemy of my enemy is my friend kind of argument to be made here.
That if you want to fight ISIS you should help the other groups that are
also fighting ISIS.
But honestly it`s not at all clear that that is something that is
logistically feasible, or that anybody can magically tell the good from the
bad when deciding who should get U.S. weapons. Or you`re just making the
And this is a very hard question. This is a question that defies easy,
polling tested answers, right? This is a hard question that is an
important one and that deserves a rigorous debate.
Here`s another one. Here`s one reason to go after ISIS in Syria. They
operate on both sides of the border, in Iraq and Syria. If you only attack
them in one place, they`ll just take safe haven in the other place. So you
can`t beat them by just fighting them in Iraq, you`ve got to get them in
Iraq and Syria. Sound argument.
Here`s a sound argument for not attacking them in Syria. The Iraqi
government on the Iraq side of the border, that government has invited U.S.
military airstrikes. The Iraqi government is working with the U.S.
military to capitalize on those airstrikes, to make them effective. On the
other side of the border, in Syria, the Syrian government says, the U.S.
military airstrikes in Syria will be treated as an act of aggression. They
do not welcome them.
The U.S. has no plans on working with the Syrian government on anything let
alone this. The Syrian government also has an aggressive air defense
system which they could very well use to at least try to shoot down U.S.
planes, thus effectively going to war with us while we are trying to be at
war with ISIS.
So argument for going after them in Syria, argument against going after
them in Syria. Which of those arguments is more compelling to you?
There`s a reasonable argument to be made on both sides there. That
deserves a debate. That deserves congressional debate, full-scale
congressional debate with a binding vote. Debate in this instance. Debate
on an issue like this isn`t just a forum for Congress to show off. Right?
This isn`t something that Congress should do because it would make for a
good wedge issue, for hurting the other side or it would make for a good
bumper sticker or a good – you know, sort of election night slogan.
Debating the best strategy against ISIS in Iraq and whether to use U.S.
military force in Iraq and/or Syria, whether to use U.S. military force,
why to use it, how to use it. A debate like that does not even have
predictable political consequences one way or the other. It`s not
something that gives a partisan advantage to either side.
The reason Congress is supposed to have big full-scale debates about issues
like this, about whether to use military force and when to use it and how
to use and why to use it. The reason for Congress to debate it is so we
make good, well-considered decisions about important matters like this. To
make sure all sides are aired out, the best arguments are made, the best
arguments beat out worst arguments.
Honestly you have a big long difficult debates so people who are wrong or
ill-informed or making that judgment calls lose the argument. They lose
the debate and their side should lose the vote when it comes time for a
vote as well. There are hard decisions to be made about ISIS. And whether
there is a viable American military strategy against them in the Middle
East, that will work and that will not just make things worse.
That`s the reason for Congress to have a debate. That`s why the
Constitution gives Congress that responsibility. So it`s not one person`s
decision. It`s a decision that emerges from a big fully, flush-out fight
and a vote.
It was only six weeks ago that the House of Representatives voted
overwhelmingly, they voted 370 to 40. They only voted six weeks ago that
President Obama couldn`t expand U.S. military operations in Iraq without a
vote from Congress to do so. Huge overwhelming vote in the House. The
president can`t do this alone, Congress has to authorize it.
Since then, well, the question is sort of been called. Because since then
two American journalists have been beheaded on video by ISIS. That`s the
difference between now and six weeks ago. And that apparently has not made
Congress more eager and more determined to do their duty here. To do their
constitutional duty, to make sure that we as a country make a good decision
about how best to fight ISIS.
These eventuality since the last time they took a vote on this matter has
apparently made Congress shy all of a sudden. And look at the headlines
“GOP lawmakers, need for ISIS vote.” “Leadership hoping to avoid vote on
ISIS.” “Democratic leaders in the Senate and Republican leaders in the
House want to avoid a public vote to authorize force, fearing the unknown
political consequences. Eight weeks before the midterm elections.”
Constitutionally, Congress doesn`t have the option of opting out. Even if
it`s something they fear might be a difficult vote. Constitutionally, it`s
their responsibility to debate and vote and make the policy decisions for
our country when it comes to war and peace. The president is the commander
in chief. Congress makes the decision about war and peace.
Congress at the very least has to vote to authorize those airstrikes in
Iraq that the president has already started or under U.S. law those
airstrikes will become illegal and will have to stop in just a few weeks.
Yes, before the election. Constitutionally it`s very clear they don`t have
the option to not debate and not vote. Substantively, though, not just in
terms of their dignity, right? Substantively, though, we also really need
a good debate in order to make good decisions on things where the decision-
making is hard here.
The last time the United States made a big strategic decision about
military action in Iraq, it was probably when we made the decision to
disband the Iraqi army. Remember de-Baathification under the Bush
administration? Fire all the Sunnis and basically exclude them from all
political life in Iraq?
Well, the consequences of that include the fact that two of the Sunni
generals from Saddam`s army who got purged in the de-Baathification are now
the number two and number three guys running ISIS. That`s what happened to
Saddam`s generals after de-Baathification. Oops.
We have a great and recent history of making terrible decisions. Terrible,
short-sighted, poorly argued and in some cases based on false premises
decisions about use of force in that part of the world. We have a terrible
history with making poorly considered decisions there. We owe it to
ourselves. And particularly to the 1100 Americans who are risking their
lives there right now. We owe it to ourselves and to the people who will
be in the fight to try to make better decisions this time. And that means
debating it properly.
And the president`s primetime speech tomorrow is supposed to be start of
that big formal debate process in Washington. The leadership in Congress,
both sides, is trying to say, it`s all his call. Nothing to do with us.
But Congress does not have that option. This is the kind of thing where
they do actually need to earn their salaries.
Joining us now is Robert Costa, national political reporter for the
Mr. Costa, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to have you here.
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Good evening.
MADDOW: So from your reporting, can you tell us what sort of discussions
are happening among members of Congress about whether or not they should be
voting on this? Certainly there`s been a vocal minority of members of
Congress saying there ought to be a vote. But what`s happening in terms of
Congress making a decision on this?
COSTA: There was a fascinating scene tonight at the Capitol, outside of
the House of Representatives and at the Senate. You saw lawmakers of both
parties openly saying it`s the president`s burden. They`re ready to see
him shoulder this, to take the lead. They`re not clamoring for a vote. I
think they`re weary of the midterm elections. And they don`t want to have
the debate on the policy because of the politics.
MADDOW: Is there anybody who has clairvoyance on what the political
consequences would be of a vote? I mean, I feel like I`m a – I`m a pretty
avid watcher of the partisan implications of national security decisions.
I feel like I`ve been studying this for a very long time. It`s not at all
clear to me that it – a Senate somewhere or a House race somewhere would
go a different direction than it might otherwise go because of a vote on
Iraq and Syria. Are there those in Congress who believe they`ve got clear
– a clear vision of what the partisan consequences of these votes would
COSTA: There`s an odd, conventional wisdom that`s bubbling up and
calcifying in both parties that not taking a vote or having this debate, a
rigorous one right now, will be beneficial to both parties ahead of the
midterms. Yet we talk to insiders tonight in Capitol Hill, they worry that
this doesn`t happen. If you don`t have the debate, if something goes awry
or more special forces troops are needed on the ground, if Republicans and
Democrats don`t have buy-in in Congress, we`re going to have some
responsibility in some anger from the voters.
MADDOW: In terms of the White House and their relationship with Congress
on this, obviously the president has been pretty articulate in the past
about why he thinks it`s important for Congress to weigh in on matters of
war and peace, that said they pretty much been saying that he`s got the
executive authority to do what he has done thus far?
Is there any clarity in terms of how the White House is relating to
Congress what they expect from them and whether they expect Congress to
make the first move here on an authorization or whether the White House has
COSTA: No one is making a move for authorization. There`s a strange
symbiosis right now among the big four congressional leaders in Congress.
You see them today when they met with the president. No one is pushing for
authorization and so the president and the White House, when we talk to
people there, they say, OK, if Congress don`t want to have a vote, we`re
not going to really push for it. We think we can do this all on our own.
MADDOW: Robert Costa, national political reporter for the “Washington
Post,” and a man of many scoops.
Mr. Costa, thanks very much for being here. Appreciate it.
COSTA: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We got much more to come on this very busy news day.
NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, speaking out for the very first time
tonight about the Ray Rice videotape that was released yesterday.
Also, here tonight live for the interview is Wendy Davis, Texas state
senator who`s currently running for Texas governor.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: The Texas state senator who`s hoping to become the first
Democratic governor of Texas in nearly two decades, Wendy Davis, is going
to be here live in studio in just a moment for the interview tonight.
And what NFL commissioner Roger Goodell just said tonight about the Ray
Rice domestic violence story that has riveted the country. That has just
happened and that story is ahead.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Some breaking news story for tonight about the videotape that
emerged yesterday showing NFL player Ray Rice punching his fiancee and
knocking her unconscious in a hotel elevator earlier this year. That video
which was posted by TMZ Sports, that was the second tape to emerge of that
incident which resulted in a felony charge for Ray Rice.
Yesterday Mr. Rice`s team, the Baltimore Ravens, announced after they`ve
seen the video that they had terminated his contract with the team.
Shortly thereafter the NFL said in light of that new video, they were
suspending Mr. Rice indefinitely. The NFL had previously only planned to
suspend Mr. Rice for two games because of that incident before this video
came out and was seen so widely yesterday. That two-game suspension is
something that a lot of people had decried as way too lenient given the
severity of this abuse.
As the story was breaking last night, we heard from the head coach of
Ravens who insisted that he has never seen the new video before it was
posted on the Internet yesterday. He said that seeing that video changed
things. The NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, said nothing yesterday. His
silence was noticeable in part because of questions about whether the NFL
really hadn`t seen that tape when they handed down their original two-game
suspension punishment to Mr. Rice.
Well, tonight NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell broke his silence on this
matter by speaking with CBS News. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: We had not seen any videotape of what
occurred in the elevator. We assumed that there was a video. We asked for
video, but we were never granted that opportunity.
NORAH O`DONNELL, CBS NEWS: So did anyone in the NFL see the second
videotape before Monday?
O`DONNELL: No one in the NFL?
GOODELL: No on in the NFL – to my knowledge and I`ve been asked that same
question and the answer to that is no.
O`DONNELL: The question becomes, did the NFL drop the ball? Or was the
NFL willfully ignorant about what was on this tape?
GOODELL: Well, we certainly didn`t know what was on the tape, but we have
been very open and honest. And I have also, from two weeks ago, when I
acknowledged it, we didn`t get this right. That`s my responsibility and
I`m accountable for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There have been continued calls for the NFL Commissioner Mr.
Goodell to step down due to the league`s handling of this issue and his
personal handling of this issue. That remains to be seen.
As for Ray Rice, in addition to losing his team contract, the athletic
company Nike dropped its endorsement deal with Mr. Rice today as did
several other sponsors. Also today Ray Rice jerseys were taken off the
shelves at sporting good stores across the country. The Ravens also
announced that they are offering fans the option of exchanging their Ray
Rice jerseys in light of this incident.
Mr. Rice himself made a statement to ESPN today. He said, quote, “I have
to be strong for my wife. She`s so strong. We are in good spirits. We
have a lot of people praying for us and we`ll continue to support each
other. I have to be there for my wife and my family right now and work
For her part, Mr. Rice`s wife, Janay, also put out a statement today,
posting to her personal Instagram account. It said in part, “No one knows
the pain that the media and unwanted options from the public have caused my
family. To make us relieve a moment in our lives that we regret every day
as a horrible thing.”
But again, the breaking news tonight that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in
Speaking to CBS News denied that anybody at the NFL ever saw the videotape
before yesterday and that therefore could not have affected their decision
making in this case before they saw it yesterday. That continues to be
litigated both in the press and in the court of public opinion.
But we`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This was the headline in the “New York Times,” June 4th, 2011.
Look. A filibuster creates an overnight celebrity. It`s not the
filibuster you`re thinking about, though. This was a Democratic state
senator in Texas who made national news for talking down a Republican fine
in Texas to cut funding for public schools. That 2011 filibuster by this
previously unknown lawmaker from Ft. Worth, quote, “quickly became legend.”
And left Texas Governor Rick Perry feeling a little chapped.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: We come here to work. We don`t come here to -
- be show horses or to do anything other than to get the will of the people
done. And I think the members of the Senate understand that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “We don`t come here to be show horses or to filibuster my
legislation. But that previously obscured Democratic Texas state senator
had dared to cross the mighty Rick Perry and inconvenience him greatly.
She filibustered Governor Perry`s priority bill. She blocked $4 billion in
cuts to local Texas schools that forced the Republican-dominated
legislature into a special session to restore those cuts to Texas schools.
That senator`s name and that filibuster back in 2011 was Wendy Davis.
Texas state senator Wendy Davis, Ft. Worth. Her first consequential
dramatic solo filibuster has been mostly forgotten, I think, by people
outside of Texas politics. But if she got called an overnight celebrity
for facing down Rick Perry back then inside Texas, consider what happened
to Wendy Davis thereafter.
Last year, 2013, Texas Republicans brought up legislation that would close
most of the clinics that do abortion in that state. The Republicans wanted
new and special restrictions on clinics and on doctors that – other
medical clinics and other doctors didn`t have to have, and that abortion
clinics and providers would plainly not be able to meet.
When Texas Republican tried to pass that bill, they ran into another
filibuster again by Wendy Davis, and that last solo filibuster might have
been an hour and a half. The one about the school funding. But this one,
this one she knew was probably going to be longer. She made appropriate
footwear preparations. She wore pink running shoes for this filibuster.
Under the Texas rules for filibustering you cannot sit down, you cannot
leave your desk for any reason, you cannot lean on your desk, you cannot
touch your desk, you cannot eat, you have to stay on topic.
Texas filibusters are a grueling task of parliamentary will. Her first
filibuster on that schools bill had been an hour and a half. The one on
the abortion bill was 13 hours. Thirteen hours filibustering that bill.
The “Texas Tribune” set up a live stream so the world could watch her go
and it went off like a Roman candle. Before the night was out a couple
hundred thousand people tuned in to watch that live stream of her
filibuster online. Including apparently the president of the United
States. President Obama tweeted during her filibuster, quote, “Something
special is happening in Austin tonight.”
It was riveting to watch. The idea strategically was to push the debate in
Texas until midnight and after midnight, so the legislative session would
have to end at midnight without there being a vote on the anti-abortion
bill. So Republicans wanted to pass that bill. They really desperately
needed Wendy Davis to stop talking before midnight. She showed no
intention of doing so.
And so they came up with a strategy starting to rule her out of order.
They started to use parliamentary objections to make her stop talking so
they could end that session before midnight. They could vote on their bill
and get it passed. When they started doing that, though, that is when
something happened. But in Texas they now call the people`s filibuster
because however much drama there was from Wendy Davis, filibustering in
Senate chamber and her Senate Democratic colleagues supporting her and her
Senate Republican colleagues trying to shut her up.
However much drama there was inside on the Senate floor, in the Senate
gallery, and in the Senate rotunda, the rotunda of the state capital, there
were thousands of people there, thousands of Texans showed up to support
what Wendy Davis was doing. Thousands of people showing up against the
Republicans` anti-abortion bill in support of Senator Davis. Chanting her
name. Chanting her name over and over again. Urging her on.
Look at the size of the crowd that was there. This was shot inside the
rotunda that night. Watch this footage.
They crowded into if capital rotunda. They`re chanting, “Wendy, Wendy.”
They took the Senate gallery. They carried on the filibuster effectively
that Wendy Davis started. And with the eyes of Texas and the eyes of the
nation and apparently the eyes of the president watching and the chaos
swirling and the chanting and the clock ticking, Republicans fumbled away
the remaining minutes of that session. They could not pass their bill that
night. They couldn`t do it.
Wendy Davis had won. With a lot of help from her supporters in Texas.
Now Texas Republicans did later pass that bill in a special session. It
did close dozens of clinics that do abortions in Texas. Interestingly, a
federal court blocked a major portion of that law a couple of weeks ago.
This past weekend, one of the clinics that that law has closed down, the
last remaining clinic on the Rio Grande Valley. It actually reopened this
past weekend. They`re awaiting another court hearing which is due this
week on that same law.
So it`s all very much still influx as a matter of policy in Texas. But
after her second filibuster heard around the world, Wendy Davis sort of
became a household name. And a national Democratic Party superstar and she
is now running for governor in Texas against Republican Attorney General
This week Wendy Davis published a book about her life called “Forgetting to
be Afraid.” The book is brazenly personal. Senator Davis reveals for the
first time that she has had two abortion herself. One because she had an
ectopic pregnancy. The type of pregnancy which is not only not viable as a
pregnancy, it can be very dangerous for a women who`s pregnant under those
The second pregnancy she had to end was one in which the baby was diagnosed
with a rare brain abnormality. She and her husband had to make the
heartbreaking decision to end that pregnancy they said to stop baby`s
When it came time to filibuster that anti-abortion bill last year, a bill
that arguably could make illegal the kind of procedures that Senator Davis
herself had had, she and her staff solicited stories for the senator read
aloud in the Senate chamber as part of her filibuster. They said they
received 16,000 stories, sentiment from women all over Texas and all over
the country about their own experiences.
Senator Davis did read some of those 16,000 stories on the Senate floor as
part of her filibuster. She writes in her book that one story, quote, “was
so hauntingly familiar I could barely speak it out loud. It could have
been my story. My voice and hands shook. I wiped tears from my eyes.”
Wendy Davis did not tell her own personal version of that story that night.
She could not relay that personal truth that got her choked up in the
middle of that filibuster. But she is talking about all of it now. And
Wendy Davis joins us here live for the interview, next.
MADDOW: That was the Texas state capital in June last year. People
chanting, “Let her speak,” “Let her speak.” As Republicans shut down a 13-
hour filibuster by Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis who was trying to
stop a draconian Republican anti-abortion bill in that state.
Taking that dramatic stand is what brought Wendy Davis to national
prominence. But like all great, overnight sensations, it took a lifetime
of work to get there. Now Wendy Davis is now running for governor of Texas
against Republican Greg Abbott. Her new book is called “Forgetting to be
Afraid.” It`s out today. And Senator Davis join us here tonight for her
first cable news interview since its release.
Senator, thanks so much for being here.
STATE SEN. WENDY DAVIS (D), TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you for
having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So it has been almost two decades since Texas had a Democratic
governor. And national liberals and Democrats like to talk about Texas
turning blue at some point. How do you feel about your chances? And is
DAVIS: I feel very good about my chances. And I think it`s because there
are people all over our state that feel that their values have not been
reflected in what`s been going and the failed leadership we`ve seen in the
last decade or so. And we have built an energy and enthusiasm on the
ground that`s like nothing I`ve ever seen in our state.
MADDOW: Why are Texas civic participations rates so low? I mean, not just
among Democratic-leaning demographic groups. But really across the board
in Texas, people don`t participate very much in their democracy.
DAVIS: It`s the lowest in the country. And I attribute it to a couple of
things. One, we haven`t had a really hotly, general contested race in
Texas since Anne Richards lost in 1994. And we also aren`t in play in
presidential elections. And so over time when you`re not having general
election conversations with your electorate, you`re not developing an
understanding and a buy-end and a tuning in to civic, electoral politics.
And the civic engagement that comes as a consequence of doing that.
When I decided to run for governor, that was part of my goal. Making sure
that we drove a conversation for people to see what our values are and to
really consider, are they being reflected in the leadership that we`ve had
or is it time as we look forward to the future of our state? Is it time
for us to enter that 21st century future path? Is it time for change?
MADDOW: In terms of the – the eyes of the nation being on Texas, part of
the reason that Democrats have been excited about the prospect of
organizing Texas. And, honestly, excited about the prospects of your
campaign, whether or not you ultimately win in November is the idea that by
organizing Texas, and particularly can reach that huge population of Latino
voters in Texas that not only doesn`t vote very much for Texas, doesn`t
vote very much compared to other Latino populations in a betting state.
What`s the relationship between the Democratic Party and Latino voters in
Texas should national Democrats be sort of hanging their hats on that?
DAVIS: Well, it`s a disengagement across the board.
DAVIS: It`s not just Hispanic voters, it`s African-Americans and Anglo
voters as well, but we see great disengagement in African-Americans and
Hispanic voters, majority, vote for Democratic candidates. And therefore
for Democrats, it`s very important to try to create engagement in those
groups. But it really cuts across all populations and making sure that
you`re having conversations with people face to face, door-to-door, about
what is going on in governance.
For example, all of the women who`ve been impacted by the 2011 budget cuts
that closed over 65 family planning and well-women care clinics in our
state, all of the women that have been impacted by that know the impact.
But they don`t know that it happened because political decision makers made
DAVIS: And that`s why these conversations are so important.
MADDOW: On the issue of reproductive rights, obviously, the – your
filibuster on the antiabortion bill in 2013 was a huge political moment in
the state and across the country. Why did you save your personal stories
about your own experience with abortion for now? I guess not to disclose
during that hotly-contested campaign then. Why now before your election?
And why did you do it in the form of the book?
DAVIS: That night, and, as I explained in my book, I thought about
bringing my personal story forward. As I was reading Carol`s story. And I
reflected quickly that that probably wasn`t the right thing to do. I
didn`t want to make that day be about me. I wanted it to be about the
thousands of women and their spouses or partners who supported them who had
wanted so desperately for their voices to be heard.
This book is my personal story. It`s not a political story. And as I
reflected on writing about how I became who I am and why it is that I fight
for the things that I fight for, I wanted to put it all out there and to be
real. And I wanted and hoped, and hoped, that for young, single,
struggling moms, who are looking for a path forward, I hope they`ll find
something inspiring in what I was able to achieve through education.
I hope that women and the men who love them who may be facing very
difficult decisions, like the one that my former husband and I faced with
our daughter, Elise, I hope that they`ll find some comfort in knowing what
we went through and how we handled it.
These stories are important, I think, for people who are looking for
comfort, looking for inspiration and, that`s what I hope to achieve with
MADDOW: There have been conservative critics of yours who have responded
to this by saying they doubt your story. The “National Review” said these
revelations about your own experience with abortion are convenient and
unverifiable, essentially saying that you`re making it up for political
Do – if you don`t want to respond to that you have every right to just
not, but do you care to respond?
DAVIS: What I would respond, my family would give anything for this not to
be our true story in our lives. We would give anything for that.
MADDOW: State Senator Wendy Davis, the new book is called “Forgetting to
be Afraid.” It`s on sale right now and it`s very good. And I think it`s
an important contribution not only to understanding you but to where we are
Thanks for being here.
DAVIS: Thank you, Rachel.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: And now here`s a thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone came up and said hey, you know, I would love to
meet Scott, you know. I kind of always thought – I always thought Scott
was kind of a phony from Massachusetts. And I said, I said, you`ve got to
sit down, you`ve got to sit down with him, he says, he sat down, had their
little conversation. And he walked away. You know what he said? He goes -
- that guy, he`s a phony from New Hampshire that just happened to live in
Massachusetts for a little while.
You know what he said? He goes, that guy – he`s a phony from New
Hampshire that just happened to live in Massachusetts for a little while.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is a thing that happened. And we`ll just leave it at that.
I love you, New Hampshire. Live free or die.
MADDOW: Famous watch things I have known? Former Virginia Governor Bob
McDonnell and his fancy Rolex. It was a gift, right? Also Spider-man.
Wonder Woman had bullet deflecting bracelets. Those were awesome. Dick
Tracy had a two-way wrist phone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, chief, I`d get on it right away. Dick Tracy
calling Hemlock Holmes. Calling Hemlock Holmes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead, Tracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If only it was some sort of watch computer combo thingy you could
secure to your wrist someday.
Today in California Apple had its usual blowout announcement of new gear
including bigger iPhones, but also an Apple Watch computer combo thing.
And no, we`re not QVC. We don`t report every time a new tech product hits
the market on this show. In fact, the last time we did something like this
on this show was four years ago with the launch of the iPad. And the iPad
did kind of turn out to be a newfangled device that made a real change in
the way that people live and work.
Well, four years ago, the person I talked to about the new iPad and what it
was going to mean for our world was the great Xeni Jardin of
boingboing.net. Xeni attended the big Apple event today and her take when
she watched the Apple Watch get rolled out was this, quote, “This is an
iPad or an iPhone-level moment.”
I trust Xeni implicitly. But here`s my question. In a world where it`s
already so hard to text on a teeny, teeny, tiny little smart phone screen,
how are people supposed to deal with a smart watch screen that`s even
smaller than that? I mean, this is what hands basically do, right? Those
aren`t my hands but are we all going to need finger reduction surgery? Are
we all going to have to hire children to text for us?
Or is this a start of a fantastic new era that will change everything and I
shouldn`t be so size obsessed? Xeni Jardin from boingboing.net is here now
to explain the new thing that she saw unveiled today.
Xeni, it`s great to see you. What do you think of this new thing?
XENI JARDIN, BOING BOING EDITOR: It looks cool. We had a bit of a hands-
on time with it afterwards. It`s unlike any other device I`ve ever used.
I`m wearing a fit – a fitness tracker and it`s very different than that.
This is – the retina display on these iWatches is really, really amazing.
But Tim Cook said very clearly, this is not – we are not trying to shrink
the iPhone down to a watch form factor. He promised that this, like those
other big releases, like the iPhone and like the iPad would be a
breakthrough in user interface design.
So to answer your text – to answer text answer, question from earlier,
texts or other kinds of messages, like that, I think the idea is that you
would use voice command, SIRI, but there`s also, as you were just showing
there, these little hand gestures that you can make to draw – imagine
drawing a little heart and then you could send that message and because the
Apple Watch contains a heart beat sensor, imagine actually sending your
beating heart at its – at the pace that your heart is beating. And then
the recipient feels that as a haptic, as a touch sensation on their Apple
We did get to demo that. It was really wild.
JARDIN: Little grace notes are what make Apple, you know, the king of
MADDOW: Yes. I was just going to say, it`s wild, it`s also creepy and I
think Apple has a knack for that because they do have a way of changing our
MADDOW: I mean, this won`t be the first smart watch. Is this going to be
a definer of this sort of segment?
JARDIN: Well, we haven`t had a chance to actually – to test the watches
out in the field. They`re going to come out in early 2015, so I`ll tell
you when I`ve had some time with it. But this day was full of promise and
we`ll see how they deliver on that promise.
MADDOW: Xeni, I am afeared of all change, but I trust you to guide me
towards smart ones. Thank you for helping us understand. It is great to
see you. Thanks.
MADDOW: Xeni Jardin is editor of Boingboing.net.
All right, that does it for us tonight. This was kind of an amazing show.
Thanks for being with us. We`ll see you again tomorrow night at a special
time, 8:00 Eastern for our special coverage of President Obama`s primetime
address to the nation on the issue of fighting ISIS.
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORLD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
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