The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/01/14

Guests:
Gerry Connolly, Seema Yasmin
Transcript:

STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: Good evening to you, Chris. Thanks for
that.

Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel has the night
off.

So, back in the early days of then-Senator Barack Obama`s presidential
candidacy, back when he was just starting to run for the Democratic
nomination against Hillary Clinton, go all the way back to then, even then
he could still pull in a crowd. Early February 2007, this was just before
Obama had even officially announced his candidacy for president. Back
then, his campaign scheduled what was supposed to be a medium-sized event
at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

But then, it had to be moved to the last minute because of, quote,
“larger than expected interest.” Organizers thought that about a thousand
people who were going to show up at the event, and that`s really a good
crowd for most politicians. A thousand people if you can draw that, you`re
doing pretty well usually.

But in the days leading up to that event for Obama in February 2007,
the organizers recalculated and they realized that that about five times as
many people as that were going to be there or actually want to be there.
So, they had to move the event. They moved it to Iowa State University`s
basketball arena, Hilton Coliseum they call it, so they can accommodate the
5,000 people who were clamoring to hear candidate Obama speak. And back
then, 5,000 people was actually a small crowd for candidate Obama.

Weeks later in Los Angeles, again, this is 2007, 9,000 people waited
in long lines to fill an outdoor sports complex just to see him. In
Austin, Texas, 20,000 people turned out. In Oakland, California, there
were well over 10,000 people who came to hear Barack Obama speak. In April
of 2007, another 20,000 people turned out to hear him in Atlanta, Georgia.

Those enormous crowds, those huge crowds were a major reason why
Barack Obama was given Secret Service protection early. Very early.
Earlier than the Secret Service had ever provided security to a
presidential candidate in history.

In May of 2007, May of 2007, which was still nine months before the
first vote was cast in the first primary for the Democratic nomination for
president, that was a full year and a half before the 2008 general
election, back then, that is when the Secret Service started trailing
Senator Barack Obama and his family.

In the crowds were actually only part of the security issue that
Obama`s new protection had to deal with. Even before his inauguration, he
was facing assassination threats. In Denver on the day before the 2008
Democratic National Convention, police officers stopped a Dodge pickup that
had been swerving between lanes in the early hours of the morning.

The search of the vehicle turned up a bullet-resistant body armor, two
rifles with mounted scopes, walkie-talkies, even a couple of wigs. The
driver of the car and two accomplishes have been discussing plans to shoot
the Democratic nominee for president from somewhere overlooking the stadium
where Obama was going to deliver his acceptance speech in Denver.

Then, eight days before the election in 2008, late October, another
assassination attempt or plan was foiled. Two men with links to a white
supremacist movement had been planning a killing spree in a predominantly
African-American school in Tennessee that was supposed to end with an
attack on Senator Obama.

This was all before Barack Obama even became president, before he was
even elected president. And while protecting any president, no matter who
it is, it`s a really big job for the Secret Service, with this particular
president, the job has been even bigger.

Recent reporting by “The Washington Post`s” Carol Leonnig has
suggested that President Obama has had three times as many threats against
his life as past presidents. And as this has happened, as the number of
threats against the president has apparently climbed to unprecedented
levels, as all of this has been playing out, the agency responsible for
dealing with that huge threat seems to have fallen apart.

In 2012, that April, April 2012, President Obama went on an official
three-day trip to Colombia to attend a summit of the Americas. Before he
even touched down, 11 Secret Service agents who were part of an advance
security team had to be relieved of their duties and sent back home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: The Secret Service has launched a full scale internal
investigation into this scandal which has proved highly embarrassing for
the agency, the U.S. military, and this administration.

President Obama returning to Washington late Sunday, after a weekend
summit in Colombia, facing an evolving prostitution scandal within the
agency that is supposed to protect him, the U.S. Secret Service.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If it turns out that
some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed,
then of course I`ll be angry.

REPORTER: The alleged incident happened on Wednesday night at this
Cartagena hotel just days before the president was set to arrive, staying
at a different hotel. According to U.S. officials who have been briefed on
the matter, 11 special agents and uniformed officers, including two
supervisors allegedly brought prostitutes back to the El Caribe. Guests at
the hotel have to leave their IDs at the front desk.

Thursday morning, hotel managers realized one woman hadn`t picked up
her ID by checkout time and found her in her room fighting with an agent
after he failed to pay her. The hotel called local police who alerted the
U.S. embassy. Ultimately, it went all the way to the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Eleven Secret Service agents, they were supposed to be
working on the substantial task of securing a foreign city in advance of an
official visit by the president of the United States. Eleven of them – 11
of those agents were sent home in 2012 because of their involvement in
hiring prostitutes that they brought back to a hotel mere blocks from where
the president was going to be staying, then got into a dispute over how
much to pay those prostitutes.

While prostitution is legal in Colombia, it is in direct violation of
the Secret Service`s code of conduct. That`s fair to say that was the
least of the worries in this incident. The sheer embarrassment of that
revelation, just as the president was to meet with all sort heads of state,
the revelation about prostitution scandal involving men who were charged
with protecting him. That was embarrassing enough for the president and
this country but also the compromising situation these Secret Service
agents had put themselves in, the potential for blackmail.

So, they had to be relieved of their duties and sent home. And that
scandal in 2012 became a huge problem for the Secret Service.

It also unearthed other problems the agency had been experiencing from
what was called a, quote, “wheels up, rings off approach that they were
taking on official overseas travel.” So there was a shake-up. The Secret
Service director promised reform, tightened the rule of conduct, like
banning drinking while on duty, barring agents from cavorting and, quote,
“disreputable establishments” and assigning chaperones to accompany agents
on foreign travel, and eventually, the Secret Service even replaced that
director. They brought in someone new to clean up the agency, someone to
make sure that nothing like what happened in Colombia would ever happen
again.

The person who was brought in for that job was a Secret Service lifer
with three decades of experience with the agency – someone who had served
on the protective detail for President George H.W. Bush. Julia Pierson was
her name. She became the first female director ever of the Secret Service.
It was her job, was going to be her job to restore confidence in that
agency after that incident in Colombia.

She officially took the job in March of last year. But as we`ve been
learning in this past few weeks, that hardly put an end to the Secret
Service`s trouble. It seems that every day now, every hour even, it brings
with it a new troubling revelation, for what we already know about the
Secret Service now is worrisome enough.

On September 11th this year, a man wearing a cartoon Pikachu hat and
carrying a stuffed doll with the Pokemon character hopped the White House`s
north fence. And luckily, he was stopped by Secret Service. Then, a week
later Secret Service agents allowed an armed man with a criminal record to
ride in an elevator with the president. Apparently, the man aroused the
agent`s concerns when he wouldn`t stop taking video of the president
despite being instructed by agents not to do so. It wasn`t until after
that incident the agents realized the man actually had a gun on him in the
elevator with the president. A gun.

Just three days after that, another man jumped the White House fence
and this time, he made it all the way into the White House. It turned out
he was armed with a knife. There were initial reports that he only made it
to the portico of the White House.

Those reports were wrong. He made it all the way into the White
House. He made it through the unlocked front door. He made into the White
House where he ran freely past a staircase leading to the private quarters
of the president and his family, all the way to the back of the building
where he was finally tackled by a Secret Service agent, an off duty agent
who just happened to be in the right place at the right time to make that
tackle and stop that intruder.

It is that incident that put the problems o the Secret Service,
serious enough to bring Congress back from their lengthy midterm
campaigning vacation and to actually hold hearings on this issue.
Yesterday as part of those hearings they hauled in Julia Pierson to answer
for it.

And needless to say, it didn`t go very well for her. Congressman
Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, spoke with NBC News
White House correspondent Kristen Welker after it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Do you still have
confidence in the director of the Secret Service?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I have to tell you, my confidence
is eroded. One of the things that bothered me, for example, small things
like when the report was first issued with regard to this most recent
incident. There`s nothing in that report that even mentions the knife, the
weapon – I mean, it`s small things. And what those things do, when things
like that happen, it erodes trust.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: So after that hearing yesterday, it wasn`t a huge surprise
today that Julia Pierson handed in her resignation. Homeland Security
Secretary Jeh Johnson announced today that she is stepping down. In a
press release, he thanked her for her 30 years of service and announced he
was appointing an acting director for the service, pulling in a former
special agent from the private sector to head the agency on an interim
basis.

Joseph Clancy is his name. He will be leading the agency while an
ongoing investigation into the fence jumping incident is still under way.
A review of that inquiry is said to be submitted a month from now.

In the meantime, the president and his family are at home tonight at
the White House. Given what we`ve learn in the past month, what confidence
can we have that this resignation, the resignation of Julia Pierson, is
going to make a difference? Secret Service after all has tried this
before, just last year. It`s why Julia Pierson got her job in first place.

There clearly seem to be bigger problems at the agency. How will they
really fix this?

Joining us now is Congressman Gerry Connolly from Virginia. He`s a
senior member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that
questioned now former Secret Service director Julia Pierson yesterday.

Congressman Connolly, thanks for being here tonight.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: Great to be with you, Steve.

KORNACKI: So, apparently, Julia Pierson in resigning today is citing
that difficult hearing she had before your committee yesterday saying it
was a difficult hearing for her. What specifically did you hear from her
yesterday or did you not hear from her yesterday that you consider
particularly troubling?

CONNOLLY: First of all, I want to say, I think she is a very
committed person. She`s got a 31-year career. She`s put herself on the
line. And I think she`s a dedicated public servant.

Having said all of that, I`m not sure she`s the right person for
leading the agency in a time of crisis. She gave no evidence whatsoever of
a sort of anger and outrage of what`s happened. She conveyed nothing but a
flat monotone kind of approach to every issue that was addressed.

In public and closed session frankly she failed to reveal the incident
down in Atlanta where an armed individual got on an elevator with the
president of the United States. That`s just a jaw dropping development and
she never mentioned it. And I`m afraid that was maybe the coup de grace
for her.

When you withhold information whether inadvertently or deliberately
from Congress when you`re under oath at a hearing, you are committing a
very serious offense that`s only bound to evaporate confidence.

KORNACKI: And I take that point, and I certainly understand why you
were so upset with her testimony yesterday. But I guess when you look at
that intro that we just put together there, the reason she has her job in
the first place was this scandal, this embarrassment, what happened with
the Secret Service in Colombia two years ago. She has her job because of
what happened. It`s time to put somebody in there to clean all this up.

Now, she`s losing her job because of another scandal, another huge
embarrassment, risk that the Secret Service is apparently exposing the
president to.

Is there really any reason to believe that changing the director is
going to solve the very real practical issues that bedevil the Secret
Service right now?

CONNOLLY: No, I think you`re asking exactly the right question.
We`ve got the look at the whole culture. We`ve got to look at the
structure and the mission of the agency. We`ve got the look at how
personnel are distributed throughout the agency. We`ve got to look at
clarity of mission.

If you go on their Web site, you see kind of a mishmash of missions.
And protection of the president, the first family and other elected leaders
of the government kind of is grafted on to their original mission on their
own Web site. I think things the have evolved. I think we have to be very
careful in looking at what is it we want the Secret Service to be doing?
What is the priority for them?

And I would argue protection and related investigations with respect
to that protection frankly trumps counterfeit missions and other missions
of their past.

KORNACKI: Congressman, has something gone wrong in the Secret Service
in the last couple of years, something that make these lapses and these
breakdowns more frequent, more glaring, or is this something that`s been
going on for years and we`re just finding out about right now?

CONNOLLY: You know, it`s awfully hard to tell. I honor the Secret
Service. I think you`ve got 1,300 men and women who are willing to put
their bodies in the line of fire to protect the officials that are hard to
guard, and we honor that and we`ve seen that in many, many situations, all
too many frankly in my lifetime.

But having said that, there`s a management structure, there`s a
culture that has led to its own very slip shod methods that has allowed
some behavior that is clearly not acceptable, not appropriate and has, by
doing that, frankly, put the protection of their charges at risk.

KORNACKI: How safe is the president right now?

CONNOLLY: I`m sorry?

KORNACKI: How safe is the president right now?

CONNOLLY: Well, had Mr. Gonzalez had a different kind of weapon, a
gun or semiautomatic and managed to get through to the White House the way
he did and had the first family been in the White House, I would have to
say to you they weren`t very safe at all.

So, we cannot rest easy that just with a change in management, the
first family is safe and secure tonight. I am very concerned as are my
colleague on both sides of the aisle, because these incidents have eroded
confidence in the confidence of the Secret Service to fulfill its mission.

KORNACKI: All right. Congressman Gerry Connolly from Virginia,
really appreciate you taking the time tonight about this.

CONNOLLY: My pleasure.

KORNACKI: Lots more ahead, including what happened that can`t –
excuse me, to the issue that Republicans were going say they were going to
run on. Also, some game changing news about the race that will decide who
will control the Senate and a best new thing.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Election day straight ahead, the races to decide who will
control the Senate are getting weirder and tighter. The latest, just
ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Republicans entered this election cycle determined to do
exactly what they did in the last midterm election back in 2010, they were
going to run against Obamacare. They were calling it the number one issue
in the country. And for them, 2014 was going to be all about Obamacare all
the time. Obamacare, of course, was passed only by Democrats only with
their votes. It was signed by a Democratic president.

Then a year ago today, exactly a year ago today, October 1st, 2013,
the federal Web site for buying into Obamacare officially opened. And then
it crashed about and then it kept crashing. HHS Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius got hauled before Congress to try to explain what was going wrong.
Eventually, she ended up resigning.

The rollout of Obamacare last fall at this time was absolutely
disastrous. And as that disaster was unfolding, Republicans saw it as
their clearest path to victory in 2014. They were going to run against
Obamacare. They were going to run against the botched rollout of Obamacare
all the way to November 2014 and another big victory.

Today, one year after that rollout and one month before the 2014
midterms, the national Republican Party did release an ad that seemed to
celebrate their own campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, I`m the private sector.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I`m Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, I know you had a tough year. So I got you
something for your anniversary. Obamacare, what are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m crushing Democrat campaigns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: But if that feels like Republicans are kind of just going
through the motions there with that ad – well, they pretty much are
because here`s one of the secrets of the 2014 campaign, for all their
bluster a year ago Republicans really haven`t been saying much about
Obamacare for months now. Bloomberg News reported this summer that
Republican anti-Obamacare ads were drying up in key battleground states.

In fact, I think we actually have a slide show for this. Dim the
lights for dramatic effect. All right, here we go. First slide. Please.
There it is.

The top five issue ads in North Carolina as of April, as of six months
ago, April 2014, the ones against Obamacare accounted for 54 percent, more
than half of the ads airing in North Carolina.

Now, let`s look at the next slide. By July, the anti-Obama care ads
were down to 27 percent. They had fallen in half.

And during that time – moving to the next slide – we got these
numbers showing the percentage of people going without health insurance in
this country had dropped. It was dropping dramatically. You can see there
where the president signed Obamacare and where we are today.

Now, the next slide. Turns out that even though Obamacare had a truly
awful beginning last fall, lots of people ended up signing up anyway,
roughly 8 million of them. It appears that most of those people are
sticking around and they`re paying their premiums.

Next slide. OK. So that is – actually I`m not sure is that a walrus
or a seal or – anyway, if you enjoy walruses or seals, enjoy that, but
here is something that is about Obamacare.

Here`s another slide, Jonathan Cohn, he posted this chart, along with
a bunch of others this week at “The New Republic”. You`re looking at what
the Congressional Budget Office expects the government to spend on health
care over time. And on the left, you can see that calculation from when
Obamacare was signed. In the middle, that rises the calculation before
October`s disastrous rollout.

And on the right, you can see the calculation now. The Affordable
Care Act is costing less than we expected, and it could actually end up
reducing the deficit.

So, that`s the story. Millions of people signed up. It didn`t break
the bank. And that ferocious 2014 Republican campaign against Obamacare –
well, it kind of fizzled out before it even started. That is the story of
this big year, this first year in Obamacare.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: So, if you`ve been following the fight for control of the
Senate, then you know the most unlikely battleground this fall is in
Kansas. That`s where the Republican incumbent Pat Roberts is up for re-
election. That shouldn`t be a big deal. After all, he`s a Republican and
this is Kansas where no Republican has lost a Senate race in 82 years now,
not since 1932.

Also, Roberts was running against two people at once, a Democrat and
an independent, two opponents who looked like they were going to split the
anti-Roberts vote and guarantee a Roberts victory. It looked very simple.

But then a few weeks ago, the Democrat suddenly dropped out of the
race and asked that his name be taken off the ballot. That put Pat
Roberts, who`s popularity in Kansas has fallen a little bit this year, it
put him in big trouble, because a one-on-one race is a lot different than a
three on one race.

And now, today, we have the latest twist in the Kansas drama, the
attempt by the Republican secretary of state in Kansas to force the
Democrats, to put a new candidate`s name on the ballot even though
Democrats don`t want to.

That effort today officially failed in court. Unanimous ruling by a
three-judge panel, a Kansas district court ruled that the Democrats do not
need to provide a nominee for the U.S. Senate race. And while this might
not be the end of this matter could technically be appealed. For the time
being at least, it looks like it probably puts an end to this legal matter.

The ballots will be printed. They will have an incumbent Republican
senators named on them, Pat Roberts. They will have an independent
candidate`s name on them, Greg Orman, and they will not have a Democrats`
name on them.

If that`s the case, the race is between Roberts and Orman only. We
can also say today that Greg Orman is the front-runner. The new poll has
him up by five points.

The put that poll in context, Real Clear Politics actually does an
average of all the polls conducted in every race. In their average which
includes today`s poll and a bunch of other recent polls shows that Greg
Orman is ahead of Pat Roberts by five or six points. In other words,
independent Greg Orman is in the lead in Kansas.

While we don`t know which party he`ll caucus with if he does win this
race, Democrats are betting that he will be with them if they need him.
That`s why they got their candidate to get out of the race in the first
place.

So, this should be great news for Democrats today. Their path to
knocking off a Republican in Kansas, of all places, just got a little bit
easier. And if they can win a seat in Kansas, surely that means they`re
going to hang on to the Senate this fall. Or will it?

Because the other story this week about the Senate take to us the
state of Iowa, Democrats have been waiting all year for Republican
candidates from the Senate to do what they did in 2010 to do what they did
in 2012, to say politically reckless things that cause them elections they
have no business losing, to make lose unlosable elections. You know how
this works.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a legitimate rape, the female bodies has ways
to try to shut that whole thing down. But let`s assume that maybe that
didn`t work or something. You know, I think there should be some
punishment, but the punishment should be on the rapist and not attacking
the child.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m not a witch. I`m nothing you`ve heard. I`m
you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only exception I have for – to have an
abortion is in that case the life of the mother. I just – I struggled
with it myself for a long time but I came to realize that life is that gift
from God and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of
rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that being gay is a choice?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And based on what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you believe that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can choose who your partner is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t think it`s something that`s determined
at birth?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that birth has an influence over it like
alcoholism and some other things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why should you vote for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why should you vote for me? Because I do not wear
high heels.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KORNACKI: Those are all races that Republicans should have won in
2010, should have won in to 2012, and all races that they lost. They blew
it because of comments like that.

So, this year, Democrats have been waiting all year for one of those
moments. For another one of those moments wondering, OK, what Republican
candidate is going to step up in 2014 and do the same thing and blow an
election that Republicans shouldn`t lose.

But what we can now say, the surprise twist in all this, is that the
candidate who did that this year probably isn`t a Republican, it`s a
Democrat. It`s Bruce Braley. He`s running for Senate in Iowa.

It`s a Democratic seat. Tom Harkin is retiring after 30 years in the
Senate. Democrats pretty much have to keep that seat if they`re going to
hang on in the Senate. Even with Kansas, even if they get what they want
out of Kansas.

And Bruce Braley was caught on tape months ago talking to a group of
lawyers trying to raise money from them. He didn`t seem to thing anyone
was paying attention. He didn`t seem to think anyone was videotaping it.
He made disparaging remarks about farmers and the specifically the senior
senator from Iowa, Republican Chuck Grassley. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BRUCE BRALEY (D), IOWA: To put this in stark contrast, if you
help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your
experience, your voice, someone who has been literally fighting tort reform
for 30 years in a visible and public way on the Senate judiciary committee.
Or you might have a farmer from Iowa, who never went to law school, never
practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
because if Democrats lose the majority, Chuck Grassley will be the next
chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Says the Democratic candidate for Senate in Iowa, Bruce
Braley, telling lawyers that he does not want Chuck Grassley, senior
senator from Iowa, to be the chair of the Judiciary Committee because he
doesn`t want a farmer to chair the committee. It has been likened to the
47 percent tape with Mitt Romney. What Bruce Braley said created this
basic impression, with a significant chunk of Iowa voters that Bruce
Braley, the Democratic candidate, doesn`t care about them. This has been a
huge issue in Iowa.

And that impression became pretty clear this past weekend because “The
Des Moines Register” released their poll. This is considered the absolute
gold standard of polling in Iowa. It`s usually spot on. The poll came out
late Saturday night, and it caused shockwaves because it put Republican
candidate Joni Ernst ahead, 44 percent to 38 percent, six points ahead of
Bruce Braley. This was a stunner as far as polling goes.

If you don`t want to take “The Des Moines Register” poll as the gold
standard, then take a look at the Real Clear Politics Average, because it
shows that Joni Ernst is ahead 44.6 to 41.8 percent, almost a three-point
lead for Joni Ernst in the polling average.

If you look closer at “The Des Moines Register” poll, Braley is doing
badly specifically with rural voters. Only 15 percent support him compared
with 58 percent for Ernst.

One poll respondent, a Democrat, a self-identified Democrat, who grows
vegetables for a living in rural Iowa told “The Register”, quote, “I think
he has an attitude about the voters and life in general which was indicated
by what he said about Chuck Grassley. He thinks he knows better than us.”

That`s a Democrat talking. And the thing is, it`s not like the
Republican candidate hasn`t said her share of super controversial things.
Joni Ernst talked about the minimum wage, about supporting personhood,
about impeaching the president. She said a lot of the things that
Democrats thought they need Republican candidates say to beat Republican
candidates this year. Democrats seem to think that she`s vulnerable on all
those issues, and she probably is.

But what the most recent polling is telling us that none of what she
is saying or what she has said on those issues is breaking through because
of what Bruce Braley said. Because of this, this is giving her an
opportunity to win this race – winner of the politically suicidal comment
of 2014. At least at this point in the 2014 race looks like it might be a
Democrat. Democrats are catching a huge break in Kansas right now.

But even with that huge break, right now their candidate in Iowa could
be costing the party a seat that it dearly needs to win. And if it can`t
win that seat, it could cost them control of the U.S. Senate.

Joining us now to talk about the week in the Senate battle is MSNBC
political correspondent, Kasie Hunt.

And, Kasie, it`s great to have you with us here.

So, I want to get to Kansas and Iowa, two very different stories, but
let`s start in Kansas with this news today.

If this is the final word legally speaking and we now have a two-way
race, there`s no Democrat in the ballot. This is Greg Orman. This is Pat
Roberts. We`re looking at this polling that shows Greg Orman as the front-
runner. Do you agree? Is it safe to say Greg Orman is the front-runner in
this race right now?

KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, the poll that
came out today as you point out suggests that. I will say everyone I`m
talking to behind the scenes is saying that their internal polling is
saying that it is actually difficult to see a situation where Roberts makes
this a really close race.

That said, I mean, this is sort of changing moment by moment. The
Roberts campaign is now fully engaged. And for Orman, it`s a little bit of
a race against time. There`s a little bit of a – to go against the
conventional wisdom of this third party candidate dropping out, there is –
or excuse me, the Democrat dropping out of the race, there is a sense among
some independents that I talked to when I was in Kansas, setting this up as
a one versus one makes it easier for Roberts` campaign to identify against
Orman as a Democrat.

And what he`s been really benefitting from is this idea that he`s
somebody that would operate outside the system of Washington, D.C. As we
know it. I mean, that`s kind of his pitch to voters. That`s clearly
what`s resonating with voters on the ground.

The other thing I would say is there`s an interesting potential
backlash going on with the Tea Party in Kansas. They supported Milton Wolf
when he was running in his primary against Pat Roberts. There`s some
suggestions that the Tea Party is making some demands of the Roberts
campaign. If they were to sit this out, that could also dramatically
change the dynamics in Kansas.

KORNACKI: So, I want to move on to Iowa here because the Democrats
have to thread a very difficult needle here. It`s definitely doable. But
if you want to control the Senate, if they want to keep control of the
Senate, you got to get Orman over the top. He`s got to caucus with you,
very doable right now. But then you got hold on to Iowa, too.

This poll from “The Des Moines Register” was such a revelation to me,
specifically looking at the lack of support for Bruce Braley after that
videotape that`s been getting a lot of coverage out there, among rural
voters in the state. You think of Tom Harkin with all his populist appeal
has appealed to farmers, Bruce Braley not benefiting from that right now.

When you look at Joni Ernst, she is definitely one of the most
conservative, if not the most Republican candidates running in a
battleground race this year. A lot of opportunities there for Democrats to
go after her on some of these issues we mentioned, right now being
overshadowed by this video. What can Bruce Braley do, what can Democrats
do to reverse that dynamic and save this seat?

HUNT: Well, I mean, you sort of hit it right on the head. I mean, to
a certain extent Bruce Braley has a personality problem, and part of why
Democrats aren`t succeeding in tagging Joni Ernst with sort of this long
list of overly conservative issues, if you will, is because her personality
comes across completely contrary to that. You know, if you take a look at
the debate they held earlier this month, I mean, it was pretty clear that
Braley came across kind of on the defensive.

Ernst, while she continued to articulate those conservative positions
that Democrats are trying to hit her on, still came across strong, she`s
grown as a candidate. I heard her very early in her race, she`s clearly
made progress, sort of learning how to deal with the potential pitfalls of
being on such a national stage.

So, I think what Democrats need to do at this point and I think you`re
starting to see from the Braley campaign, an effort to make sure that the
outside money doesn`t write this race off. They`re trying to make sure
that people are aware that their own polling shows him sort of in a closer
race. And I think that that`s where the real danger zone is for Braley.

I think if you start see some of these outside groups that have really
decided that Iowa is the place they need to save the Senate start to bail
on Braley, then, that`s a sign that he`s really in trouble.

KORNACKI: All right. MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt,
appreciate the time tonight. Thanks for that.

HUNT: Thanks, Steve.

KORNACKI: Straight ahead, new details and some useful information
about a story that has a lot folks on edge right now. That`s ahead. Stay
with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: The year was 1985, Ronald Reagan was president, he`d just
been reelected to a second term a year before, new Coke was introduced to
the marketplace, and then yanked from the marketplace just a few months
later. Nintendo released a legendary game called Super Mario Brothers.
The tasseled loafer was the big trend apparently in male footwear. Big
puffy shoulder pads were all the rage among women.

1985 was a great year. It was also a very, very long time ago.

Then something happened today well really, really early today that
hasn`t happened since 1985, it hasn`t happened in 29 years. It happened
today, it`s awesome. It does not involve a return to new Coke,
unfortunately. And it`s coming up at the end of the show. So, stay with
us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: There is no place in the world, I will
suggest to you, that has better professionals, better ability to address
this than in Texas. We wish it were somewhere else. But the fact is it`s
here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That was Governor Rick Perry of Texas this morning, just
one day after a man in Dallas became the first person in the United States
to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus, which has taken the lives of 3,000
people in West Africa since the current outbreak began.

We learned yesterday that the patient left Liberia on September 19th
to visit his sister in Dallas. He arrived there the next day on the 20th.
Began feeling sick on the 24th. He went to the hospital two days later on
the 26th, but he was then sent home. Another two days later on the 28th
this past Sunday, he called for an ambulance. He was taken to Texas Health
Presbyterian Hospital and this time he was put in isolation and he`s been
in isolation ever since. Last night he was diagnosed with the Ebola virus.
Right now, he`s in serious condition.

Today, we learned a little bit more about who he is. His name is
Thomas Eric Duncan. He`s a Liberian national who lives in Monrovia.
That`s the capital of Liberia.

We also know how he may have contracted Ebola. “The New York Times”
reporting four days before he left Monrovia, the daughter of Duncan`s
landlord became very sick. Duncan and the woman`s brother then helped to
take her to the hospital where she later passed away. The woman`s brother
also passed away.

Four days after he helped the woman get to the hospital, Duncan
boarded that plane out of Liberia. He was screened at the airport for
Ebola symptoms, which is the standard protocol for all leaving the country
since the outbreak began.

And since Duncan was exhibiting no outward symptoms of the disease, he
was cleared to board. Ebola isn`t contagious unless the infected person is
exhibiting symptoms.

Health officials say they aren`t concerned about anyone that might
have flown on that plane with Duncan – first to Brussels, then to
Washington, D.C. then to Dallas, because he wasn`t yet sick. But today, we
learned that a team of federal health officials is tracking everyone who
came in close contact with Duncan after he began experiencing symptoms on
the 24th.

Officials have identified 12 to 18 people that came in close contact
with him. They`ll be keeping tabs on them in case they experienced any
symptoms of Ebola in its 21-day incubation period and if any of those 12 to
18 people do become sick, they`ll need to be isolated immediately.

Of those 12 to 18 people, we know that three are members of the
ambulance crew that transported him to the hospital on Sunday. Five of
them are school children. Thus far, no one else has begun to show
symptoms. Those five students attended four different schools which will
remain open, “The New York Times” report, but they`ll be thoroughly cleaned
as a precaution.

Today, we also learned why Thomas Eric Duncan was sent home after his
initial trip to the hospital on the 26th. It was due to a breakdown in
hospital staff communication. During an initial hospital visit, a nurse
asked Duncan whether he`d been to any part of West Africa recently. Duncan
confirmed that he had. But a hospital official said that his answer,
quote, “was not fully communicated to the highers up on the medical team.”
So, Duncan was diagnosed with a low risk infection, basically the common
cold, and was sent home with antibiotics. It was not until he was brought
to the hospital in an ambulance that he was put into isolation.

The White House says there will be no travel conditions or additional
screenings to what we already have in place and chance of an epidemic in
the United States are, quote, “incredibly low.”

But there remains the question, can we really handle something like
this? Is it wrong to be a little worried, maybe even a little panicked
about whether our health care system is equipped to handle something that`s
been so destructive halfway across the world?

Joining us now is Dr. Seema Yasmin. She`s a former epidemiologist for
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, now professor of public
health at the University of Texas in Dallas.

Dr. Yasmin, thanks for being with us tonight.

So, let`s just start on the condition of this patient and the status
of the 12 to 18 people he apparently came in contact with. Do we know
anything more tonight about that?

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: So the hospital us earlier
today that his situation previously was critical. Now, they`re saying it`s
serious and stable.

We also learned today a new development. He was actually – went to
the hospital the day after he landed – sorry, five days after he landed.
Thursday evening, just after 10:00 p.m. was when he first went to the
hospital and that`s when he told them that crucial information that he had
traveled to West Africa and that he had a low-grade fever and abdominal
pain.

As more information about this becomes forthcoming, it gets a bit more
confusing. The hospital said he was sent home because they thought he had
a low-grade viral disease. But he was sent home with antibiotics. So,
that doesn`t totally make sense. We`re starting to get more information
there.

CDC is now here working with local public health officials. They said
about 18 people had contact with him while he was infectious and they`re
closely watching those people for any fever or other signs of Ebola.

KORNACKI: We are hearing officially as we said there, that the
chances of a full-fledged outbreak here in the United States are very, very
low, that we are equipped to handle this.

At the same time, Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky made some news
today. Basically saying that he thinks this might be a lot more
transmissible than officials are saying. And a little bit more worry might
be called for.

I wonder what you make of that question, how worried we should be
about this? Because I understand the case being made here about why we are
equipped to handle this. At the same time, I was under the impression
Ebola wasn`t going to get here and now it is here.

YASMIN: Well, actually, experts I`ve been talking to for a few months
as this outbreak became bigger and bigger in West Africa says, you know
what, it`s just a matter of probabilities that`s inevitable given the scale
of the outbreak, given how much we travel internationally, there will
probably be a few cases here, maybe in the United Kingdom, other parts of
the world.

So, that isn`t necessarily a surprise of those on frontlines of this
epidemic. And what we`re thinking and what public health officials are
saying is that there`s unlikely to be much spread from this one case
because the situation here is so different from West Africa. We have a
robust health care system. We have a public health system that`s trained
to deal with incidents like this.

KORNACKI: All right. Dr. Seema Yasmin, professor of public health at
the University of Texas in Dallas, thanks for your time tonight.
Appreciate that.

And the best new thing in the world that has been a long time coming.
That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right, best new thing in the world. It`s a celebration
for a long suffering sports fan base. The story comes today is not you
guys.

All right. Today is October 1st. Anybody who grew up watching or
listening to baseball know what is that means. It means playoff baseball.

Rachel isn`t here so we can`t commiserate about the, just add water
instant sadness that`s been the Boston Red Sox season, but that doesn`t
matter tonight because tonight is not about the Red Sox. It`s not about
the Yankees. It`s not about the Dodgers, the Cardinals, the Pirates –
it`s not about any of them.

Tonight, it`s all about the Kansas City Royals who have not made the
baseball playoffs since the year 1985. This past July, they were eight
games back in their division. They were limping towards the end of what
looked like another disappointing season.

And then something happened. The Royals went on a tear to finish the
summer. At one point they won 14 out of 16 games. And that streak, it
propelled them into the playoffs. But only a one-game playoff, a do-or-die
playoff game last night against the Oakland A`s with the winner moving on
to the main event, the first round of the Major League Baseball playoffs.

It was an insane back and forth game. Kansas City took an early lead.
They went up 3-2 in the third inning. Then they blew that lead in the
sixth inning and Oakland stormed ahead 7-3.

But the Royals rallied back, tying it up in the bottom of the ninth.
The two teams stay deadlocked into the 12th inning when Oakland took the
lead again it was looking grim for Kansas City. But in home half of that
inning, with the Royals playoff on the line, Kansas City`s catcher stepped
up to the plate and just watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPORTS ANCHOR: Now looking for a two-out hit. That`s through, into
left field! The Kansas City Royals are walking off into the NLDS!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Listen to that crowd. A game-winning walk-off hit for a
catcher who went 0-5 before that, in the bottom of the 12th inning after
being down 7-3, after being eight games behind in the middle of the summer,
after missing the playoffs for nearly 30 straight year – you couldn`t
write a better storybook finish for a fan base that`s had to watch one of
the worst teams in baseball since 1985.

In fact, since 1990, the royals have finished dead last in their
division 11 times. Even MLB.com was caught off-guard last night.
Accidently posting this headline during the game. The Royals left feeling
blue after rally comes up short. This is baseball`s version of Dewey
defeats Truman.

To be a Kansas City sports fan right now is sort of like living in an
alternate reality. On Monday night, the Kansas City Chiefs football team
absolutely destroyed the new England Patriots, 41-14. It`s only week four.
It`s a long NFL season. It`s a crazy NFL, but it was still an epic
beatdown.

Today, the men of sporting Kansas City. That`s Kansas City`s MLS
soccer team, today they were honored at the White House for their MLS Cup
victory this past season.

And then there`s the Kansas City Royals. The Kansas City Royals who
made an entire city leap for joy in the wee hours of this morning to cheer
on a team that hasn`t played October baseball in 29 years.

Being a Kansas City sports fan is truly the best new thing in the
world today. And it`s been a long time since anybody could say that.

That does it for us tonight. Rachel should be back tomorrow. I`ll
see you this weekend on my show “UP”.

And now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.

Good evening, Lawrence.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.