The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/19/15
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
We think of Texas as a deep red state, where Republicans are totally
dominant. But like the rest of the South, Texas was 100 percent blue not
all that long ago. In the 1960s, when the Democratic Party embraced the
cause of the civil rights movement, Texas and other states in the Deep
South went through this whiplash, right, where they had been lockstep
Democratic states, but their party loyalty was no match for their hatred
for civil rights.
And so, Texas and all these other states started flipping from the
solid blue they used to be, to the red that we know them to be today. And
the guy who led all of that at the statewide level in Texas was a senator
tamed John Tower. And he led that in the sense that he – in the sense of
his election in 1961.
John Tower was the first Republican elected to be a U.S. senator from
Texas since the Reconstruction era after the Civil War. John tower served
as a Republican in the Senate for more than 20 years. He ended up making
history after his time in the Senate, when he became the only nominee for
secretary of defense who has ever been rejected by the United States
George H.W. Bush, Poppy Bush, nominated John Tower to be defense
secretary in January 1989, and the Senate, remarkably, said, no. His
nomination was basically doomed by multiple reports of alleged
inappropriate behavior by him toward both women and alcohol.
He told “The New York Times” when the Senate rejected him, quote,
“Have I ever drunk to excess? Yes. Am I alcohol dependent? No. Have I
always been a good boy? Of course not.”
But had it not been for that history-making failed nomination to be
defense secretary, the Senate has only ever rejected nine cabinet nominees
in the history of the country, and he is one of them. Had it not been for
that, what John Tower would be most remembered for is what Ronald Reagan
asked him to do after his retirement from the Senate, in 1986.
In late 1986, this was the front page news all over the country.
President Reagan, president Reagan secretly selling missiles to Iran, in a
bungled effort to trade American missiles for American hostages. It was a
Iran actually ended up getting the missiles. We ended up getting none
of the hostages. The whole thing was really quite flagrantly illegal and
they got caught for it. More than a dozen Reagan administration officials
ended up getting indicted.
And as this was all first coming to light, in late 1986, on December
1st, 1986, Ronald Reagan appointed John Tower to lead a commission to
investigate this scandal in his own administration.
Two days later, the vice president of the United States at that time,
the man who everybody knew wanted to run to succeed President Reagan in the
next presidential election, two days after Reagan appointed John Tower to
head up the Tower Commission to look into the Iran Contra scandal, two days
after that commission was formed, Vice President George H.W. Bush spoke
about it for the first time.
He emerged from the cocoon of silence he had sealed himself into on
this scandal, on this issue, and he made his first-ever public remarks
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, THEN-VICE PRESIDENT: I can tell you that the
president is absolutely convinced that he did not swap arms for hostages.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Reagan absolutely did swap arms for hostages, even
though Vice President Poppy Bush said he did not.
For whatever reason, we have decided as a country that we`re just
going to let the whole Iran-Contra scandal thing go. We`ve just decided to
forget about it. Forget that about the Reagan presidency.
In the end, that speech, the Poppy Bush Iran-Contra speech where he
said Ronald Reagan had no idea that happened and that was plainly untrue,
in the end, what that Iran-Contra speech was ultimately remembered for is
not what Poppy Bush is talking about in that speech, which is Iran-Contra.
What he is remembered for in that speech is how he was doing the talking
about Iran-Contra, the turn of phrase that he used when he was deflecting
responsibility. That speech forever will always be the “mistakes were
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: The matter was further clouded by the way in which
the president`s goals were executed, specifically allegations about certain
activities of the national security council staff. Clearly, mistakes were
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was that great moment, right? Mistakes were – mistakes
were – was that an apology? It was an acknowledgement that there had been
But who made those mistakes? Mistakes just happened out there
anonymously? Who knows who did it?
That is perhaps the most famous thing that George H.W. Bush said while
he had the job of being vice president of the United States. Because of
that, when his son became president, George W. Bush, it was almost like an
historic alarm bell rang every time he used that same awkward, passive
voice, that it wasn`t me, non-apology phrasing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: It`s also important for the people
of Iraq to know that in a democracy, everything is not perfect, that
mistakes are made.
And he`s right, mistakes were made. And I`m frankly not happy about
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s not to say I had anything to do with them. These
mistakes just keep passively being made.
It`s almost like they`re making themselves. Nearby, but
inconclusively, in terms of their relationships to any nearby humans. It
must be very frustrating to members of the Bush family that these mistakes
keep being made near them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you establish a dialogue with such a
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Well, it – let`s go to Iraq.
There were mistakes made in Iraq for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “There were mistakes made.” who made these mistakes? Who can
say? Passive voice.
Jeb Bush has been off the national stage for a long time. He has not
been a candidate for any elected office in 13 years. But Jeb Bush now is
back, sounding very much like his brother and his dad. And he now is going
full tilt right now, making the case to the country that not only should
the country pick a Republican president in 2016, but the country should
pick three Republican presidents in a row who are all from the same family.
And so far, at this point in the race, at least, he is winning. He`s
winning both in terms of media coverage and buzz on the Republican primary
Most importantly, though, he`s winning in terms of money. It was
reported with some shock last week that Jeb Bush raised $4 million in a
single night at one New York City dinner fund-raiser – 4 million bucks,
for like an hour of his time. That was a shock last week when he did it in
New York. Well, he did it again yesterday in Chicago. And next week he`s
expected to not make $4 million, but $5 million at one dinner in Coral
Nobody else has fund-raising numbers anything like this right now.
And it is designed to be intimidating to the other candidates or the other
would-be candidates in the race. This is the same playbook his brother
used in 2000, when a year out from the election, he raised so much more
money than anybody ever had before, that the most viable candidates who
might have run against him never even got into the race. They were so
scared by how much money George W. Bush had piled up early on. That is
what George W. Bush did to win the nomination in 2000, and that is what his
brother, Jeb, is doing to try to win the nomination right now.
Politico.com reported earlier this week that this juggernaut of Jeb
Bush fund-raising, him raising seven figures every single day, a year out
from Iowa, that is what pushed Mitt Romney out of the race for 2016.
Remember, just a few weeks ago, there was this proud little squawk
from Mitt Romney, telling people in New York that he was going to make a
run for it and they should tell all their friends. That squawk lasted
about a week, and then he packed it in and said, uh, no, actually, never
mind, I`m not going to run.
What happened between that squawk and Mitt Romney taking it back,
according to Politico.com, is that when he was dialing for dollars, talking
to the people who he expected to be ponying up to fund yet another Mitt
Romney for president campaign, he realized that actually he`d been beaten
to it. Jeb Bush had already tapped all his donors and starting sucking up
all the money in the room. Mitt Romney was too late to try to make another
run in 2016.
And so now, with anybody who might have been a Mitt Romney donor, and
with the huge network of donors to his father and donors to his brother,
Jeb Bush is building himself a money mountain that nobody else can scale.
I mean, financially, he is almost the prohibitive favorite at this point,
unless something dramatically changes in the fund-raising on the Republican
And with that happening sort of slightly underneath the surface, now
in an increasingly public way, he`s starting to do the things that are
expected of a top tier presidential candidate. This week, for example, Jeb
Bush decided to do what the last successful candidate for president did
when he was running in 2007. Just like Barack Obama did before him, Jeb
Bush, this week, went to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, to give his
big I`m running for president foreign policy speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH: President Obama called ISIS the junior varsity. Four days
after, they took Fallujah, and when they comprised a fighting force of more
than 200,000 battle-tested men.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jeb Bush yesterday condemning President Obama for not
realizing that ISIS had 200,000 fighters. ISIS does not have 200,000
fighters. After the speech, Jeb Bush`s staff had to clarify to reporters
that he didn`t mean that.
Actually, what he meant to say was 20,000, not 200,000. He was off by
a factor of 10. It happens. There was a lot of stuff like that in this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH: The problem is perhaps best demonstrated by this
administration`s approach to Iraq. We`ve had 35 years of experience with
Iran – excuse me, Iran – 35 years experience with Iran`s rulers.
And, so, look, this is a – the more I get into this stuff, there`s
some things you just go, you know, holy schnikes.
The second thing I would say as it relates to Putin, and the president
did this. I don`t know what the effect has been because, you know, it`s
really kind of hard to be on the road and I`m just a gladiator these days
so I don`t follow every little – every little detail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the dissolution of sovereign states in
the Middle East and a return to tribalism?
JEB BUSH: I don`t have a solution. I`ve read articles about,
whatever, you know, the 1915 kind of breakout of the Middle East and how
that is no longer a viable deal.
As we grow our presence by growing our ability to produce oil and gas,
we also make it possible to lessen the dependency that Russia now has on
top of Europe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The dependency that Russia now has on top of Europe. On top
of Europe – also on top of old smokey. Also, beware the buku.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH: We see the rise of non-state terror organizations, like
ISIS, Boko Haram.
(END VIDEOI CLIP)
MADDOW: Jeb Bush`s big debut policy speech had its awkward moments.
This was the daily beast report on his speech, quote, “Jeb Bush delivered a
nervous, uncertain speech on national security on Wednesday, full of errors
and confusion. Jeb bungles facts and pronunciation in his big national
security speech, trying to sound presidential. Bush, instead, came off as
a confused former governor.”
Vox rounded up the top cringe-worthy moments from Jeb Bush`s foreign
policy speech. At “The Washington Post,” Dana Milbank wrote that Governor
Bush combined his father`s awkward oratory with his brother`s mangled
Because he`s never been involved in foreign policy at all, you know,
the awkwardness, and the flubs, the mispronunciation and the, I haven`t
read the articles about this stuff, it is sort of to be expected at this
point in his candidacy. The main thrust of the speech, though, and the
thing that got all the headlines about his speech, by design, the thing he
wanted people to take away from this speech was clearly a much simpler
thing than some idea that he`d mastered all the details. It was not about
his ability to pronounce Boko Haram and or to know it was Ukraine and not
the Ukraine, I mean, yes, he screwed all that up.
But the one thing he was sure to get across, the one big idea was
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH: As you might know, I`ve also been fortunate to have a
father and a brother who helped shape America`s foreign policy from the
Oval Office. I recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up
in comparison to theirs. I love my brother, I love my dad. I actually
love my mother as well. Hope that`s OK.
And I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions
that they had to make. But I`m my own man, and my views are shaped by my
own thinking and my own experiences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m my own man. Whatever else he asserted, whatever else he
got right or got wrong in his debut foreign policy speech – I mean, this
was the main point. Yes, I want to be the third Republican president in a
row from my family.
Right, yes. I want to be the third president bush in a generation.
But I`m my own man. I`m not my father, I`m not my brother, I love them,
but I`m not them. I`m Jeb Bush. I`m a different kind of Bush. Don`t see
me as an outgrowth of the other two members of my family who have recently
been president, I am my own man.
And here is what went wrong. Here`s what went wrong about that, as a
campaigning for president screw-up, right? While the press was absorbing
the Jeb Bush foreign policy address and his declaration that he is his own
man and he`s different from his father and his brother, they were also
given by the Jeb Bush for president folks a handout, a list of foreign
policy advisers that Jeb Bush was taking council from or had endorsements
from in his soon-to-be run for the presidency.
They gave out a list of 21 names. Of those 21 names, 13 of those
people worked on foreign policy issues for Jeb Bush`s brother, George W.
Bush. Two of them worked on foreign policy issues for his father, Poppy
Bush. And four of them worked on foreign policy for both his brother and
his dad in their administrations.
And then one of them is George Schultz, who`s now 94. He was
secretary of state when his – Jeb Bush`s father was vice president.
So, of the 21 names that Jeb Bush released to the press as his foreign
policy advisers, as he was trying to make the case that he is his own man
and he should not be conflated with his dad or his brother, of those 21
names, 20 of them worked for his dad or his brother.
“The Washington Post” put it together in this handy Venn diagram,
showing the overlap between the Poppy Bush names and the George W. Bush
names. The other circle in the upper right is the Reagan administration,
to encompass George Schultz.
And whatever you think of the prospect of continuing the foreign
policy of the other Bush presidencies, mostly the George W. Bush
presidency, whatever you think of that substantively, and whether that`s a
good idea for the nation to go back to the George W. Bush foreign policy,
this is also just a gaffe. This is a running for president screw-up. I
mean, you can`t put out this list saying, this is who`s going to advise Jeb
Bush on foreign policy, and you can have Jeb Bush giving a speech saying,
I`m not the same as my father and my brother, I`m my own man. Don`t
conflate me with them, particularly on foreign policy.
But you cannot do both of those things on the same day. It`s like the
scheduler was tasked with rolling things out for Jeb Bush`s campaign,
right? And decided, oh, well, you know, Wednesday`s going to be foreign
policy day. So, everything on foreign policy, let`s truck it out there.
Everything on foreign policy, including the directly contradictory things,
let`s put them all out on the same day, without anybody noticing that those
contradictory things would be the headlines right next to each other.
I`m my own man! Foreign policy team, eerily familiar.
This is a screw-up. But this is also a time, as a country, when we
desperately need to start having a smarter debate about real challenges and
foreign policy. ISIS, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Russia, Iran,
Boko Haram, even the big reset with Cuba – I mean, holy schnikes is kind
of right, right? There`s a lot going on.
The last presidential campaign in 2012 basically completely ignored
foreign policy on the Republican side, neither the Republican presidential
candidate or the vice presidential candidate had really anything to say on
foreign policy. Mitt Romney gave his acceptance speech for the nomination
in 2012 without even mentioning that we were actively at war, not even a
platitude in that direction, never occurred to him. Not his forte.
Presidential elections, for all their nonsense, they really are a
great big quadrennial occasion for having the fights we need to have as a
country and about our country`s role in the world. I mean, we`ve got an
undeclared air war raging in the middle of a civil war in Syria. We`ve got
a war that will not end in Afghanistan. Egypt wants us to be back in
another war with them and Libya. Diplomacy and the cease-fire agreements
are not working with Russia and Ukraine.
There`s a lot going on in the world that deserves a great debate
between at least two great sides, right? Two sides that are both making
good, solid arguments, among people who know what they`re talking about and
who are taking it seriously.
Instead, on the right, the tenor on foreign policy is this kind of
stuff, right? Scott Walker, sitting there last night in New York, while
Rudy Giuliani gets up and says what you need to know about foreign policy
right now is that President Obama doesn`t love America. Scott Walker
sitting right there, today refusing to say whether he agreed with that or
Another 2016 candidate, Bobby Jindal, volunteering today before anyone
asked, volunteering today that he did agree with Rudy Giuliani about that.
And that`s what he believes is wrong with our foreign policy right now.
President Obama doesn`t love America.
On the right-wing blog world, they have uncovered the scandal,
evidenced in this damning photo that you see on the left here. See what
President Obama is doing there with the finger raised. The right-wing blog
world, they have discovered that he is there in that picture giving a
secret Muslim gang sign.
He`s not just pointing, wagging his finger at somebody. No, he`s
giving a secret Muslim gang sign, and that`s why those other guys, those
other leaders from Africa are smiling at him in that picture, because he`s
telling them, he`s in the secret Muslim gang with them. Every other leader
who has also ever been seen pointing in the course of their lifetimes,
don`t know if they`re in the secret Muslim gang too, but, obviously, we`re
I mean, this is what it`s all about on the right, right now. Look,
he`s a Muslim, he pointed.
In the Bush/Cheney era, their foreign policy was what brought us the
Iraq war and all the rest of us, right? Widely seen as the worst foreign
policy disaster since Vietnam and maybe even worse than that.
What the country needs substantively is a good fight, a quality fight,
a serious argument, well fought, between two competing, good ideas on
foreign policy. It`s been seven years now since Bush and Cheney left
office that we`ve been waiting to find out what the post-Bush/Cheney
Republican idea is going to be on foreign policy. What they`re going to
contribute to the debate.
So far, it`s President Obama`s a Muslim! He doesn`t love the country!
Awesome! Or if you prefer, it`s Jeb Bush running away with the nomination
at this point and promising that we aren`t going to get a post-Bush/Cheney
idea from the Republican Party. We`ll just go back to that one, bring back
the old one.
A presidential election year is a really important opportunity to have
constructive national arguments about America`s role in the world. As this
presidential is shaping up so far, the prospect of that happening does not
seem bright. Mistakes will be made.
MADDOW: Update: we got word late this evening that the president`s
nominee to be the next attorney general of the United States, Loretta
Lynch, will finally be getting a vote. She has been President Obama`s pick
for attorney general since November. She sailed through her confirmation
hearings, nary a peep against her.
Inexplicably, after those confirmation hearings, the Republicans
decided to delay a vote. Now they have scheduled a vote on her, it will be
a week from today. Thursday, February 26th. That`s the day Loretta Lynch
will get a vote.
That had seemed like smooth sailing from the beginning, then the
Republicans sort of inexplicably got a little wobbly on her. There`s still
no clear indication that she has enough Republican votes to be confirmed,
but now at least we know when the vote will be – a week from today.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: We finally have a date now for a vote on President Obama`s
nominee to be attorney general, Loretta Lynch. No substantive objections
have been raised about her or her record or anything raised in her
confirmation hearings. Nevertheless, it is no longer clear that she has
enough support from Republicans in the Senate to be confirmed. But at
least we`ve got a date for a vote.
Also, we don`t yet have a date, but we do finally have some noise
about some day, maybe starting to have a debate about the war U.S. troops
are already waging against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. They`ve been waging
that war for more than six months now, without really any political noise
about it from Washington whatsoever. That may change, soon. Might not,
We also now have the debut foreign policy speech for the guy who
appears to be the front-runner for the Republican nomination, at least when
it comes to dollars cast and checks written. He`s proposing to bring back
basically the entire foreign policy Iraq war hive mind from the presidency
of George W. Bush.
The Homeland Security Department is due to run out of money this time
next week. As yet, there`s apparently no plan to find a way to keep it
from shutting down this time next week.
Our politics was kind of a freaking mess, even before we started in on
the 2016 presidential race. But now that we have started in on the 2016
presidential race, does that make it more likely or less likely that the
stuff that needs getting done in Washington is actually going to get done?
Now that the Republicans have started their presidential primary process
and the Democrats have not – is our political and policy making
dysfunction as a country about to get worse or could it get better?
Joining us now is a man who, in theory, seems like he really should be
in the Democratic presidential primary race right now, if such a thing
existed. He`s the Democratic senator from swing state, Ohio, who Karl
Rove`s Crossroads group spent $6 million trying to unseat in 2012, without
Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, so nice to have you here.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Rachel, good to be back.
MADDOW: Does it annoy you to raise the presidential prospect –
BROWN: It doesn`t annoy me, it just doesn`t affect me. I have zero
interest. My wife is in the studio. She doesn`t like the idea, I don`t
like the idea. I love being in the Senate. That`s what I`m going to keep
MADDOW: Connie, is that true? You don`t want him to run?
CONNIE SCHULTZ: Yes!
MADDOW: You concur, you don`t want him to run?
BROWN: I`m not lying.
MADDOW: If he did want to run, would you veto it?
BROWN: Of course, she doesn`t want to run. There`s an old Republican
senator from Vermont a few years ago said the only cure for the
presidential virus in the United States Senate is embalming fluid. So,
once you get that feeling, you can`t get rid of it. So I don`t have that
feel. But thank you, Rachel, for your comment.
MADDOW: Well, the reason that I asked is because there are some
people who think that running for president is not necessarily a great way
to get elected president, but a great way to get ideas out there. And that
the ideas being discussed in a presidential year, in a presidential primary
context end up sort of shaping the agenda and shaping the conversation for
the country in a way that is constructive.
As a progressive, as somebody who people in left particularly like in
the Senate, somebody who`s shown the ability to win in swing state Ohio and
all the different things you`ve done, are you optimistic right now in terms
of the conversations that we`re having as a country? Are we doing anything
BROWN: I`m optimistic that Democrats will do better in 2016. That`s
not your question, I understand. I`m not optimistic that we`re going to
solve some of the problems, but I am optimistic that the debate will be
joined. I think the way you laid it out tonight, that these candidates,
whoever they are, and both sides need to have discussions about big issues,
and that doesn`t mean bringing back old advisers from former races and
doesn`t mean winning the money race or the money chase, it means talking
about big issues.
It means – I think the president gave his best State of the Union
Address he`d given this past January, when he talked about building the
economy from the middle class out. He talked about middle class economics,
understanding the trickle-down economics brought us no job growth during
the Bush years, building the middle class, building the economy from the
middle out in the Clinton years, brought us 20 million private sector jobs.
A job net increase, and during the – since the auto rescue, we`ve had job
growth for 58, 59 months in a row, since 2010.
So, we know what works, we know what doesn`t. We need to make that
contrast much more strongly than we have and when Republicans accuse
Democrats of class warfare, we should just continue to talk, because it`s
so important that that`s the way – because that`s the way the economy
MADDOW: So, do you – if the economic strength we`re seeing right now
continues throughout this year, as presidential politics heats up, if we
end up having a national domestic political fight that`s essentially a
referendum on Obama economics and a referendum on what we`ve done as a
country since the Great Recession, to try to come back, you think that
would be a healthy thing in terms of us defining the right way to grow?
BROWN: Yes, I think it will empower Democrats who are generally too
timid, generally shy away from making strong contrasts on economic issues,
generally not afraid – Democrats who are not afraid to take strong
positions on these issues, I think it will embolden them.
I think it will embolden Hillary Clinton, if she`s, as expected, the
nominee, so that she does make these contrasts and show that, here`s what
Democrats stood for in building an economy. Here`s what Republicans have
It`s still – we still haven`t answered very well the questions of –
the question of stagnant wages. That to me is – it`s so important for
people`s lives, now. It`s so important for building their retirement
security. We`re not doing either very well, but I think that this growing
economy now gives us an opportunity to do it.
MADDOW: On that wage issue, obviously, that is, it sounds like a
really specific economic concern. It`s everything in terms of the –
working families, and in terms of economic inequality that we`ve got that`s
so unprecedented right now. There`s news today that Walmart is raising
wages in a very small way for its very large number of private sector
employees. They`re doing that for their own private sector concerns.
President Obama has not been able to get a federal wage increase.
Republicans don`t seem like they`re going to bend on that at all. At least
it doesn`t seem that way to me. Do you think that he`s been effective and
that Democrats have been effective at basically making the case to the
private sector that businesses ought to raise wages on their own, that it`s
good business, it`s good for the country, it`s actually a patriotic move.
BROWN: I don`t think any of us have made the case strongly enough and
well enough. We`re off – but there have been a few companies that have
done that. Aetna insurance is raising its lowest paid – I`m not sure of
these numbers, I believe, from $12 to $15 or $16 an hour, its lowest wage
workers, which also means people slightly above that will get raises.
And don`t forget that on the minimum wage. If we can raise the
minimum wage $3 an hour, it means people making right above the minimum
wage will get pushed up, too, and it will mean significant wage increases.
We also need to do things like expanding the earned income tax credit,
which rewards people for work. If you`re making $40,000 a year, you have a
couple of children, you can get $2,000 or $3,000 tax credit, real dollars,
refundable tax credit, real dollars in a check in the mail in February or
march when you file your taxes.
So all of those things we should do, in addition to just generally
pro-growth policies aimed at the middle.
MADDOW: I feel – I feel a little more depressed about the prospect
of what can get done. You talking in such specific terms about what not
only ought to be done, but could be done makes me feel a little better.
BROWN: It`s why I came tonight. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: My personal antidepressant in the form of Senator Sherrod
Brown of Ohio – thank you so much for being here.
BROWN: Thanks. It`s good to be back.
MADDOW: Nice to see you, Connie. Thanks for coming. See you soon.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: OK. If anybody`s keeping track at home, here`s my track
record so far on figuring out Democrats may be giving Hillary Clinton a
primary for the 2016 presidential run.
Elizabeth Warren told me no, just like she told everybody else no.
Sherrod Brown, right here, just told me no, and his wife, Connie
Schultz also said no and said even if he wanted to, she would veto that
decision in their family.
Senator Amy Klobuchar told me no, but honestly, she seemed
And Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri didn`t even exactly say no.
She said if Hillary Clinton didn`t run, then she probably wouldn`t consider
running either, but she phrased it like that. She seemed persuadable too.
I know nobody apparently believes there`s going to be a Democratic
presidential primary. I don`t, either. But if there is going to be one, I
think we might have started it right here on this show.
MADDOW: In 2012, Republicans pulled off a neat trick. Less than half
of voters chose a Republican to represent them in the U.S. House of
Representatives. And yet, Republicans came out of that election with a 33-
seat majority in that chamber. Democrats got over 1.7 million more votes
nationwide, but Republicans won 33 more seats.
How`d they do that?
A big part of it was something called red map. Every 10 years, states
redraw their election districts based on the latest census data, and in
most states, that re-drawing of districts is done by the legislature. And
in general, the party in power in the legislature draws those districts in
the way that is most electorally advantageous to them. So, if you`re a
Republican, for example, you want as many Republican-safe districts drawn
as possible, and you want to cram all the Democratic voters in your state
into as few districts as possible.
So, red map aimed for Republicans to control as much of the
redistricting as possible after the 2010 census, and it was a hugely
successful effort. Republicans took over 20 legislative chambers in 2010.
And then, in 2011, those Republican legislatures got to work redistricting.
And the results for those states` congressional delegations were
staggering. In Michigan last year, only 49 percent of voters chose a
Republican to represent them in the U.S. house. And yet, the state`s house
delegation is 2-1 Republican.
In Pennsylvania, Republicans got 56 percent of the vote, but with that
vote, they got nearly 75 percent of the seats in the U.S. House. In Ohio,
Republicans won 60 percent of the votes for the U.S. House and well done to
them, but they sent three times as many members of Congress to Washington
as the Democrats did.
North Carolina has more than three times as many Republican
representatives as Democrats in the U.S. House, even though a full 44
percent of that state`s voters opted for a Democrat.
The redistricting of Republican gains in 2010 and 2012 and 2014
created a very steep hill for Democrats to climb. The only way for
Democrats to turn winning vote totals into actual control of the House is
to level the playing field. They`ve got to take state legislatures back by
the end of the 2020 census, in order to do some redistricting of their own.
Well, the Democrats actually created an operation to do just that.
It`s called Advantage 2020. They created it last summer.
And 2020 is very different than 2010 was. 2020 will be a presidential
election year. And presidential election years, more Democrats to turn out
to vote – tend to turn out to vote than in midterm election years like in
Today, the Democrats announced that they`re gearing up to put real
money behind this 2020 effort, launching a super PAC that aims to raise $70
million to spend over the next three elections. Their goal is to flip some
of those state legislatures back to the Democratic column.
The group`s new director is former Michigan Congressman, Democratic
gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, who knows a little something about
redistricting. He lost his congressional seat in 2010 after just one term
when he saw his district redrawn without his home county in it.
Joining us now is former Michigan Congressman Mark Schauer. He`s
director of the DLCC`s SuperPAC Advantage 2020.
Congressman Schauer, thanks for joining us tonight.
FORMER REP. MARK SCHAUER (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you, Rachel. It`s
great to be with you.
MADDOW: So, you have experienced gerrymandering in your own political
MADDOW: It sort of kind of felt like a knife, I imagine. What
happened in Michigan? What do you think has been the effect on the state -
- of the way gerrymandering worked in your state?
SCHAUER: Well, as a member of the legislature in 2001, the
Republicans controlled the state house, the state Senate and the
government`s offices and saw the consequences. The kind of numbers you
just showed are exactly what we`ve seen in Michigan and key states around
the country where voters choose Democrats, but end up with Republican
majorities in the state legislatures and in the state capitals.
And we`ve seen the associated policy attacks on women`s health, on
voting rights, on collective bargaining and workers` rights, immigrants and
minorities, and they are playing their agendas out in state capitals, but
also, as you noted, in 36 states, the legislatures draw congressional maps.
And those 36 states draw districts for 300 in 36 congressional seats.
These key states you mentioned are early targets for us in Advantage
2020. And what`s unique is the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee
is taking a long-term three-cycle view, starting actually in 2015 in
Virginia and in the 2016 election cycle.
But in short, legislatures matter. And that is our focus. And we`re
going to do what the DLCC has done incredibly well, and that`s win and
create fair districts and the better policy outcomes that result from that.
MADDOW: So, what does a national political party effort look like to
win legislative seats? I mean, state rep seats tend to be, you know,
districts that are small, that are – have very local concerns, that tend
to be pretty low-profile races.
How do you avoid bigfooting that in a way that makes you effective?
SCHAUER: Well, the DLCC is a strategic partner with state legislative
leaders. I`ve experienced it firsthand in Michigan. They work in looking
at demographic trends, data, the kind of analysis that sets the stage for
winning elections, candidate recruitment, and providing financial support
to win elections.
In 2012, again, after a Republican wave election, the Democratic
legislative campaign committee helped eight states win back legislative
chambers. We know how to do this work, and it will be an all hands on deck
strategy, where we engage state leaders, other Democratic committees that
share a vested interest, progressive groups, labor and environmental
groups, to develop specific state-by-state strategies to win over the next
three election cycles, so come 2021, when the redistricting pins are out,
Democrats control that pin or a substantial portion of that, so we draw
But we know how to win, and this is about that level playing field you
talked about, and all Democrats need are fair districts and we`re providing
the important national leadership to make this happen.
MADDOW: Former Congressman Mark Schauer, Director of DLCC`s SuperPAC
Advantage 2020, trying to turn around to the Democrats` advantage what the
Republicans did so effectively in 2010 – thanks for helping us to
understand it tonight, sir. Appreciate it.
SCHAUER: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We have a story tonight at the end of the show
that is both so shocking and so entertaining that you will think I made it
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: It`s a two-step process. Step one, male legislator tells
female legislator that women are lesser cuts of meat.
Step two – step two is really good. That story is ahead. Stay with
MADDOW: Quick calendar note for you. Tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. in
federal court in Richmond, Virginia, proceedings will begin in the
sentencing of Maureen McDonnell, Virginia`s former first lady. She was
convicted last year on multiple counts of public corruption. Prosecutors
are asking that she`d get 18 months in federal prison. Her defense team
has filed a memo is asking for instead of 4,000 hours of community service
and no jail time at all.
Just over a month ago, her husband, former Virginia governor, Bob
McDonnell, he was in the courtroom facing sentencing for his multiple
felony corruption convictions. Prosecutors had asked for the former
governor to get 10 to 12 years in prison, but the lead up to his sentencing
included more than 400 public letters of support sent to the court on Bob
McDonnell`s behalf, 11 character witnesses took the stand in his defense.
In the end, Bob McDonnell didn`t get 10 or 12 years, he got two years,
and prosecutors looked furious that his sentence was so light.
For his wife Maureen, there has not been the same kind of uplifting of
support, at least publicly. We know there were letters that had been sent
to the court on her behalf, before she`s sentenced. But those letters,
unlike her husband, those letters for her are not being made public the way
they were for Bob.
We don`t know yet if Maureen McDonnell will speak on her own behalf.
She has not spoken at all during proceedings so far. Ten character
witnesses are scheduled to take the stand on her behalf tomorrow. Bob
McDonnell himself is expected to be in the courtroom. But we`ll find out
for sure tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: Meet Katrina Shealy. Katrina Shealy is a state legislator in
the great state of South Carolina. She`s a Republican in the South
Carolina state senator from the Lexington area. And even though she`s only
been on the state senate for a years, he has earned sort of an odd
This is a list of all the member of the South Carolina state senate.
You may notice something going on here. Thomas, Alexander, Carl, Sean,
Lee, Kevin, Paul, George, Raymond, Creighton, Tom – they`re all men.
They`re all men except for Katrina Shealy. There are 46 members of the
South Carolina state senate, and she is the only woman.
Now, I know what you`re thinking. You`re thinking, what about Nikki
Setzler right above her? It turns out Nikki is a guy. There`s the Nikki
who`s the governor of South Carolina. She is a woman. In this case,
Nikki, the state senator, is a dude.
So, yes, Katrina Shealy is it. She is the only woman in the whole
South Carolina state senate. She`s even fictitiously named herself the
chair of the South Carolina senate women`s caucus. She`s the whole caucus,
so of course she gets to run it. And all votes are unanimous.
South Carolina`s one woman senator, Katrina Shealy, found herself in
the middle of a local firestorm this week when – this past week, when one
of the Republican senators, the guy you see on the right here, made
comments to her and about her that made news. See?
South Carolina senator: women are “a lesser cut of meat”. This
Republican state senator said this to his only female colleague, that
women, like, for example, her, are a lesser cut of meat. That`s nice.
Katrina Shealy told the local press that the comments went too far,
that women deserve respect.
And then, she went on the Senate floor in South Carolina and she made
like a superhero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. KATRINA SHEALY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: To the women and young
ladies in this chamber today and all of those who may be listening – you
will experience roadblocks and challenges. Don`t be discouraged and don`t
give up. And don`t you dare let anyone tell you that you`re less than what
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, yes. The guy who called her a lesser cut of meat, he
apologized. And because he`s classy, he said he was also sorry that she
chose to be offended and make such a big deal out of all this.
And maybe the lesson in all of this is that South Carolina should
maybe have more than one female state senator out of 46. Not only because
it might cut down on the lesser cuts of meat jokes, but also because it
turns out women make better legislators. Don`t take it from me.
This is a website called Quorum, which is run by a pair of Harvard
students that basically crunch all sorts of data about Congress. Votes,
bills, floor speeches, they crunch all that data about legislators`
legislative activity and they come out with reports about what they find.
And what they found this time has to do with the women in the United
States Senate. There are currently 21 women in the Senate. The number is
varied a little bit over the years, but this data-crunching Web site went
back and looked at Senate productivity over the last seven years and they
found, to their surprise, that the women of the Senate are, in quantitative
terms, just better at their jobs in terms of the sheer number of bills
introduced in the Senate, the women on average were more productive, they
introduced more bills on average than the men did. Of those bills
introduced, women senators had a greater percentage of their bills passed
out of committee. Of those bills passed out of committee, they also had a
greater percentage of those bills enacted into law.
So, just in terms of turning bills into law, women, over the last
seven years, have done it better than men in Washington. Women, according
to the data, are also better at cutting bipartisan deals. The average
female senator cosponsored 171 bills with a member of the opposite party,
which is a much higher number than the average number for men.
And, oh, and by the way, women are also better at convincing their
fellow senators to sponsor their bills as well.
And, you know, you often hear women in the Senate say, you know, if
there were only more of us around, something might actually get done around
here. That appears quantitatively to now be provably true – lesser cut of
meat or not. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
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
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.>