The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/30/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this
hour as well. Happy Monday.
The highest ranking statewide elected officials in the state of
Missouri are the two U.S. senators, Democratic U.S. Senator Claire
McCaskill, and Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt. Also, the Democratic
governor of the state, Jay Nixon.
In this upcoming election year, in 2016, Claire McCaskill will not be
up for re-election – yet another reason why in 2016, she should totally
run for president. I don`t think she`s going to, but she should. I`m just
In 2016, though, Roy Blunt is up for re-election. And he may get a
run for his money in terms of trying to hold on to his seat. Democrats are
going to run the current secretary of state against Roy Blunt. His name is
Jason Kander. He is young and aggressive. He`s already well known in the
state, already holds state-wide office.
In 2016, that`s going to be a presidential year electorate which is
way better for Democrat s than nonpresidential years are, in terms of who
turns out to vote. So, that Roy Blunt re-election race for that U.S.
Senate seat in Missouri is going to be a hot one in 2016.
As is the governor`s race. Jay Nixon is finishing up. He is term
limited out. He cannot run again. That governor seat is going to be open.
The Democrats seem to be coalescing around a popular, young, Democratic
candidate who already holds statewide office, in terms of their candidate
for the governor`s race. Democrats look like they`re going to pick Chris
Koster, who right now is already the attorney general of the state of
In terms of who he will run against, though, in terms of the
Republican side, it is turning in to a free for all, with at least six
candidates having entered the ring already. It`s not just like fringe
candidates. It`s six candidates who all have a reasonable shot. And that
free for all would be fascinating enough in political terms, if it were not
also happening in the midst of what is starting to feel like a
Shakespearean level of tragedy in that state.
This story just took an unbelievable turn today.
One of the first Republican candidates to declare he was running for
governor this year in Missouri was the state auditor, Tom Schweich. Tom
Schweich declared January 28th that he was running for governor in
Missouri. And then, less than a month later on February 26th, Tom Schweich
killed himself under circumstances that even now a month later are hard to
get your head around.
It was less than a half hour before he killed himself that Tom
Schweich had called two well-known Missouri reporters, asked these
reporters to come to his house saying he wanted to give them a public
statement. Tom Schweich had spoken to these reporters numerous times
before. They knew what he wanted to talk about, they knew what he was
upset about, they knew what the public statement was going to be about.
Tom Schweich believed that the chairman in the Republican Party in
Missouri had been telling people in the state that he, Tom Schweich, was
Jewish. The Republican Party chairman had worked for one of the other
candidates who`s running for governor. And Tom Schweich believed that this
guy was the falsely spreading this rumor, spreading a rumor that was untrue
that Tom Schweich was Jewish. Tom Schweich believed the state party
chairman was doing that basically as an anti-Semitic smear campaign to
undercut Tom Schweich`s chances in the governor`s race, by spreading this
lie that he was a Jew.
So, Tom Schweich had spoken to these reporters from the “A.P.” and
“St. Louis Post-Dispatch”. He had spoken with them numerous times about
this issue. He spoke to both of them, or left messages for them, literally
minutes before he killed himself in February. He had summoned those
reporters to his house because he said he wanted to make a statement about
this controversy, concerning his religion. Everybody knew he was upset
That day, Tom Schweich`s chief of staff was worried enough about his
mental state and how upset he was about this religion issue, that she
called a trusted family friend and asked that family friend to check in
with Tom Schweich and his family to make sure that he was OK. It turns
out, that old family friend was the assistant to former U.S. Senator John
That morning, February 26th, John Danforth`s assistant, again an old
family friend, called Tom Schweich and his wife at their home. She says
she didn`t get through at first. She left a message. Tom Schweich`s wife
called her back.
She later released this statement saying what happened. Quote,
“Kathy returned my call. We spoke briefly. Kathy told me Tom was up and
about and had been making calls. Tom picked up the phone and talked to me
for about three minutes.
He spoke solely about his outrage concerning the rumors that were
being spread about his religion and how he should respond to those rumors.
I told him I thought it was best to let others stand up for him. He then
threatened to kill himself and handed the phone back to Kathy, his wife.
Seconds later, I heard Kathy say, he shot himself.
Kathy then called 911 on another line while I stayed on the first
line with her until paramedics arrived.”
Police have not said whether Tom Schweich wrote a note before he
pulled the trigger and killed himself. But there`s an unusual amount of
evidence from those calls that he made to reporters, from the call that he
was on, until seconds before he shot himself, there`s an unusual amount of
evidence about why he did it, about what had so upset him.
What had so upset him is his belief that the chairman of the Missouri
Republican Party was falsely telling people he was Jewish as a way of
trying to hurt his political career. The chairman of the Missouri
Republican Party, his name incredibly is John Hancock.
Mr. Hancock did not deny that he had been telling people that Tom
Schweich is Jewish. He has only ever denied that he meant it in a bad way.
Mr. Hancock sent an e-mail to other Missouri Republicans the day after Tom
Schweich killed himself. In that email, he said, quote, “Until recently, I
mistakenly believed that Tom Schweich was Jewish. Why I do not recall
doing so, it is possible that I mentioned tom`s faith in passing during one
of my many conversations I have each day. There was absolutely nothing
malicious about my intent and I certainty – I think he meant certainly –
was not attempting to inject religion into the governor`s race.”
The same party chairman explained to “The St. Louis Post-Dispatch”,
sort of elaborated on that. He said, this is how “The St. Louis Post-
Dispatch” wrote it up, Hancock said he may have mentioned that he was
Jewish by it was an innocent conversation. He has vehemently denied it was
meant as a smear. He said it was merely a description similar to saying,
“I`m Presbyterian and somebody else is Catholic.”
At Tom Schweich`s funeral days later, former U.S. Senator John
Danforth delivered the eulogy and ripped that state party chairman in his
eulogy for even trying to get away with that excuse for what he said about
Tom Schweich`s religion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN DANFORTH, FORMER U.S. SENATOR FROM MISSOURI: Tom called this
anti-Semitism, and, of course, it was. The only reason for going around
saying that someone is Jewish is to make political profit from religious
bigotry. Some said there is no difference in saying a person is a
Presbyterian, here`s how to test the credibility of that remark – when is
the last time anyone came up to you and whispered in to your ear, such and
such a person is a Presbyterian.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After John Danforth gave that eulogy for Tom Schweich, long-
time Missouri Republican political donor released a sworn affidavit in
which he swore that this anti-Semitic whispering campaign by the state
Republican Party chairman was a real thing. The donor said in this
affidavit that he met with Republican Party chairman John Hancock at his
office to talk about raising money for the state Republican Party.
When John Hancock came to his office and they started talking about
raising money in the gubernatorial campaign in the state, quote, “although
I do not recall the exact words Mr. Hancock used, he said words to the
effect of, well, you know Tom Schweich is Jewish. The meaning I took from
Mr. Hancock`s statement in tone of his comment was clear. He, Tom Schweich
is Jewish, in case you didn`t know, and being Jewish is negative attribute
for Tom Schweich`s gubernatorial race.”
So, this was just an incredible turn of events, right? 2015, really,
leading candidate for governor, statewide elected office holder himself,
kills himself, less than a month after declaring he`s running for governor
because he`s so upset about anti-Semitic smear campaign being waged against
him by the chairman of the state Republican Party.
There`s Senator John Danforth in the pulpit saying that this is
making political profit from religious bigotry. This is naked anti-
Semitism. There`s this loyal party donor swearing in a notarized document
that yes, in fact, this happened and the chairman of the state party did
And then, the first person to call openly and directed for the state
party chairman to resign because of this is a staff member from Tom
Schweich`s office, it was his spokesman, his media director, who is also
reportedly personally close to Tom Schweich. They were friends.
His name is Spence Jackson, long-time high-profile well-liked figure
in Missouri Republican politics. And Spence Jackson just came right out
and said it before anybody else would. He said, John Hancock should resign
as the state chairman of the Republican Party, quote, “simply because his
anti-Semitic whisper campaign does not reflect the values of the majority
of Missouri Republicans.”
He said, quote, “You can`t have a chairman of a Republican Party
who`s been out conducting, coordinating this sort of a whisper campaign.”
As to the state party chairman, saying he didn`t mean anything bad by
it when he was falsely telling people that Tom Schweich was Jewish, Spence
Jackson was having none of that. He said, quote, “I believe with all my
heart that John Hancock knew what he was doing. He knew the reaction he
was seeking from people. He knew what he was trying to get out of people.”
Spence Jackson from Tom Schweich`s staff was the first person in
Missouri politics to call for the state party chairman to resign. He
called on the competing gubernatorial candidate who Hancock had previously
worked for Catherine Hanaway. He said Catherine Hanaway should demand that
John Hancock resign as the head of the party.
After Spence Jackson led the way, other Missouri Republicans also
jumped in and said, yes. This John Hancock guy must resign. We cannot
have him leading our party.
Senator Danforth was asked if he, too, believed that John Hancock
must resign and step down as head of the party. Jack Danforth said, no, he
said he shouldn`t resign. The man shouldn`t be allowed to resign.
Missouri Republicans should fire him.
He said explicitly, he wanted the head of the party forced out of
office. Quote, “Does our party stand for what happened to Tom Schweich? I
think the state party chairman should be repudiated by all Republicans.”
Don`t allow him to quit. Fire him because it will say more about us.
For a while, it really seemed like that guy was going to have to go.
The whole state Republican Party sort of went quiet for several weeks after
Tom Schweich killed himself, after the funeral. Catherine Hanaway, the
competing Republican candidate for governor temporarily suspended her
campaign out of respect for Tom Schweich. That state party chairman did a
radio show last week in which she said she was doing soul-searching as to
whether he could lead the Republican Party.
But then, apparently by Friday, this past Friday, his soul had been
searched and he decided he would stay put. He keeps his job.
So, just check out this very brief time line. Thursday – this past
Thursday was the one month anniversary of Tom Schweich killing himself.
The day after that, on Friday, John Hancock, state party chairman,
announced that not only was he not going to resign, he`s not going to even
talk about this anymore. He said publicly that he is sick and tired of
even talking about it. Quote, “He is tired of talking about the
controversy. I`m ready to move on and move beyond it.”
That same day, Friday, Catherine Hanaway who suspended her
gubernatorial campaign out of respect for Tom Schweich started the campaign
up again. That same day, Friday, Tom Schweich`s friend, then
communications director Spence Jackson took a sick day from work at the
state auditor`s office. Spence Jackson stayed home from work that day, and
then, sometime that night or the next morning, he apparently killed himself
as well. The same way Tom Schweich did, he shot himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. DOUG SHOEMAKER, JEFFERSON CITY, MO, POLICE SPOKESMAN: On
Sunday, March 29th, 2015, at just after 7 p.m., Jefferson City police
responded to the apartment in the 900 block of Southwest Boulevard for what
we termed a check well being called of Robert Spence Jackson who is a
Jefferson City resident. According to the caller who`s a family member of
Jackson, he was unresponsive to phone calls or other attempts to raise him
at the apartment.
Property manager was able to provide a key to the responding officers
who entered the residence and located Jackson in his bedroom. Initial
assessment of the scene indicated that Jackson died of a self inflicted
gunshot wound. There were no signs of forced entry nor any signs of a
struggle. There was one firearm found at the apartment, a revolver, and
one spent round was recovered, as well.
I will answer questions. I would also caution you that this is an
open investigation. There are some things I cannot answer. Don`t want to
jeopardize anything we are doing, but I would be happy to try to answer
your questions to the best of my ability.
SHOEMAKER: We do have a note. I won`t go into the contents of what
was within that note. It`s part of the investigation at this time.
REPORTER: Do you anticipate releasing it at some point?
SHOEMAKER: That`s – you know, I don`t know. I don`t know the
answer to that question at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There is a note. We do not know what the note says.
Spence Jackson was Tom Schweich`s communications director. He had
been since 2011. He lived alone. Police found his body last night after
his mother was not able to get in contact with him on Friday, or Saturday
or Sunday, and she got very worried. They found his body on Sunday night.
They say he killed himself either on Friday or Saturday.
The Missouri Republican Party rocked by the second suicide in a
month. We do not yet know what can fairly be said about the connection
between these two suicides, but long-time political reporter Dave Helling
from “The Kansas City Star” spoke with friends of Spence Jackson today who
told Dave Helling that Jackson continued to be angry about his party`s
reaction to Tom Schweich`s suicide.
Friends said that Spence Jackson had expected that Republican
officials and consultants would face retribution for their alleged roles in
Tom Schweich`s death. Instead, the controversy appeared to be dwindling,
to the chagrin of this man who apparently killed himself this weekend. And
so, now, two men are dead.
The party chairman still has a job, still has his job. Catherine
Hanaway`s campaign for governor proceeds a pace, and nobody knows what shoe
is left to drop in this political story that is both unbelievable and
unbelievably terrible in human terms.
Joining us now is Dave Helling, political reporter and columnist with
“Kansas City Star”.
Mr. Helling, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being with us.
DAVE HELLING, KANSAS CITY STAR: Great to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Is there anything more to add tonight in terms of what we
know about this investigation? Do we know if the police are treating this
as a related matter to Tom Schweich`s suicide?
HELLING: They believe that it may be related but they won`t say that
officially on the record, Rachel. But I can tell you that everyone else in
Missouri, Democrats, other people you talked with, think the two suicides
are directly linked. They think that Spence Jackson was just simply upset
that John Hancock had not stepped away from his chairmanship of the party
and that the consultants working with Catherine Hanaway who put together a
radio ad critical of Tom Schweich had not been punished by other members of
the party. In fact that consultant continued to get work.
And the word we got today was that Spence Jackson was very upset at
both of those developments and apparently, as you suggest took his life
over the weekend.
MADDOW: In terms of what`s happening in Missouri Republican politics
right now, obviously, this is a story that is about politics. It`s also a
story about human beings and families and loss, and there`s no reason to
put more politics in to this story than we know should be there. It`s
also, though, very hard to see what the – what the appropriate and
respectful response would be from the party, given that these two men were
such high-profile figures in the party and what seems to have – the best
we know about what drove them toward the end of their lives was about party
HELLING: Right. And we should also be careful, though. No one
really knows why someone takes his or her own life.
HELLING: The Republicans will say that, too. The politics are very
tough. But that doesn`t completely explain two suicides.
Having said that, I talked to a Republican today who told me that he
thinks the party should simply blow itself up in Missouri. That all of the
people connected with this tragedy, these tragedies, including John
Hancock, Catherine Hanaway and others should step away from the party. Let
other candidates come in because he thinks – this person I talked with –
thinks that this will dominate the discussion in to 2016 and make it very
difficult for Republicans to redirect attention to issues facing the state.
And nominally, a Republican should be the favorite in Missouri. It`s
increasingly a red state, much like Mississippi or Alabama. But the
Democrats believe they have a real opportunity now that the Republicans
have essentially struggled with their reaction to both the Tom Schweich and
now, the Spence Jackson suicide.
MADDOW: And, Dave, the allegations and concerns at the center of the
story. I put it at the center of my narrative leading in to this decision
with you because I do feel it is central to understanding what happened
here, is this alleged anti-Semitic, whispering campaign. There seems to be
at least some evidence, even if it`s contested evidence, that the state
party chairman was doing this.
Is there continued debate in the state about whether or not something
like that would be politically effective? Has Hancock effectively defended
himself against the allegations that he`s done this or that it`s a big deal
if it did.
HELLING: Well, it was going away. The controversy was going away
for several days after the Schweich suicide in mid-March. There was
momentum for John Hancock to either stepped down or fired as you reported
earlier but that controversy was simply dwindling. He sort of said to
reporters in the state, Hancock, that to quit would be an admission that he
was anti-Semitic and he didn`t want to make that concession to anyone. So,
he was going to stay in the job.
And again, you get the sense that Spence Jackson was very frustrated
that the momentum that had built for John Hancock to step aside simply
wasn`t having its desired effect. When Jack Danforth tells you should
leave office, in Missouri, that used to mean something. It means less now
than it did then, and I think Spence Jackson was very, very frustrated with
MADDOW: Dave Helling, political reporter with the “Kansas City
Star”, thanks for being here, Dave. I appreciate it.
HELLING: You bet.
MADDOW: I appreciate it.
I will say, Dave just mentioned a consultant who produced a radio ad
that had been very critical of Tom Schweich before he killed himself. It
was another issue that Jack Danforth said that Schweich was very concerned
about in addition to the religious bigotry in that whispering campaign,
this negative radio ad against him.
The consultant who appears to have created that radio ad has not had
his political career hurt by this at all. In fact, he is the chief
political strategist now for the Ted Cruz for president campaign. He`s
moved to Texas.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: There`s some late developing news tonight from a medical
group which may really big implications in dozens of state governments
across the country. That news is first here next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: The great state of South Carolina just ran out. Next door,
the great state of Georgia has run out. Pennsylvania ran out last year.
Ohio ran out last year.
Tennessee won`t say if they have run out. But that`s making most
people think that they probably have run out as well.
Texas was down to the last one a couple weeks ago but they just
scored a few more, less than they need but enough to keep them going for a
while yet before they run out again.
Everybody is running out. It is difficult enough to run a system to
legally kill your state`s prisoners without the modern difficulty of
constantly running out of the means by which you are supposed to kill those
Drug manufacturers make drugs and sell drugs to diagnose, and cure
things and alleviate pain. No pharmaceutical is manufactured for the
purpose of killing people with it. Because of that, the drug companies
have stopped OK`ing the sale of their products to prison and corrections
departments that want to deliberately misuse those drugs to kill people in
The companies refusing to sell those drugs has put a real crimp in
the supply of those drugs to prisons around the country and a lot of states
have been running out. This has been going on for a while now. But it`s
sort of over the tipping point now. More and more companies have banned
the sale of their products to the prisons. Supply lines have been getting
But it seems like this year, in this first quarter of 2015, the
supply lines are basically now gone. There really aren`t legal ways for
states to buy the commonly used lethal injection drugs anymore, not from
the companies that make those drugs.
One of the only options that states have left to do is what Texas
just did. After Texas` last execution, they were down to the last lethal
dose of drugs. But a few days ago they got more, three more doses. Now,
they have enough to kill four more people. Where they got the new three
doses from was, quote, “a licensed pharmacy that has the ability to
compound”, which means they are having the drugs made to order for them by
Compounding pharmacies make drugs by hand in small batches by hand.
So, like, if you have an allergy to a nonessential ingredient that is a
filler in some drug that you otherwise need, your doctor may send you to a
compounding pharmacy to make you up a batch of that needed drug without the
filler stuff in it that makes you itch or whatever.
Compounding pharmacies can`t make everything, but they can make a lot
of drugs. States have been turning to these compounding pharmacies to cook
up individual batches of these drugs they want to use to kill people. Over
the last few months, that has become pretty much the only option,
nationwide for states to legally get the stuff anymore.
And now, I can report that that option is going away, too. Check
this out. Two things have just happened and these two things combined are
going to be a really big deal. First one was a few days ago.
The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists told its members
to stop participating in this system, to stop making drugs that prisons
will use to kill their prisoners. This is the leading trade group for
compounding pharmacists in the U.S. saying that they now, quote,
“discourage our members from participating in the preparation, dispensing
or distribution of compounded medications for used in legally authorized
executions.” So, that`s the statement from the compounding pharmacists
group. That`s the first thing.
And then tonight, just a couple of hours ago, the whole big trade
group for all pharmacists in the country, the American Pharmacist
Association, which is giant. They`ve got 62,000 members. The American
Pharmacist Association just voted tonight, a couple of hours ago, to do the
same thing, telling all of the pharmacists of America, don`t do this
Quote, “The American Pharmacist Association discourages pharmacist
participation in executions on the basis that such activities are
fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health
Now, other medical associations have made statements like this in the
past, including the AMA, and the American Nurses Association, and the group
that board certifies anesthesiologists but the pharmacists getting out.
This is a qualitatively different thing, because pharmacists are how they
get the drugs now. That`s where the drugs come from. They are the only
way that states can get these drugs.
Texas is better off than most states now and they are down to their
last four doses only because they were able to get a compounding pharmacist
to make those last doses for them. But the compounding pharmacists and
pharmacists overall now say they are out of the business. They are not
going to do it anymore, as of tonight – which means the supply line for
legal execution in this country is officially gone.
So, get ready. I mean, if we won`t give up killing our prisoners,
then logistically what we are looking at from here on out are firing
squads, gas chambers, electric chairs maybe. Maybe we`ll start to hang
people again or cutting off their heads. Maybe we will stone people to
death now or boil them in oil.
Did you ever look up what it means to have somebody drawn and
quartered? You should look that up.
MADDOW: When TV interviews don`t go as planned, that`s usually a
good thing. Sometimes, though, it is an amazing thing.
Take this man. His name is Patrick Moore. Mr. Moore apparently
thought he was going to be interviewed by a French TV anchor about his
great passion, which is advocating in favor of genetically modified foods.
The interviewer thought that topic led logically to a discussion about weed
killer, but Patrick Moore disagreed. And then it was magic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK MOORE: I do not believe that glyphosate in Argentina is
causing increases in cancer. You can drink a whole quart of it and it
won`t hurt you.
TV ANCHOR: Would you like to drink some? We have some here.
MOORE: I`d be happy to, actually. But not really.
TV ANCHOR: Not really?
MOORE: But I know it wouldn`t hurt you.
TV ANCHOR: If you say so, I have some.
MOORE: No, I`m not stupid.
TV ANCHOR: OK. So, you said it`s dangerous, right?
MOORE: No, people try to commit suicide with it and fail fairly
TV ANCHOR: Tell the truth.
MOORE: It`s not dangerous to humans. No, it`s not.
TV ANCHOR: So, are you ready to drink one glass of glyphosate?
MOORE: No, I`m not an idiot.
Interview me about golden rice. That`s what I`m talking about.
TV ANCHOR: We did, we did.
MOORE: OK, then it`s finished. Then the interview is finished.
TV ANCHOR: That`s a good way to (INAUDIBLE)
MOORE: Yes, you are a complete jerk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: All good interviews end that way, jerk.
One good rule for doing a TV interview is that in that interview, you
should never offer to drink a quart of something if you are not prepared to
drink that thing.
That went very poorly, wonderfully poorly, wonderfully poorly,
depending on your perspective.
You may have also recently seen this poor man make a similar mistake.
Dave Rousse is a lobbyist for the nonwoven fabrics industry, which is a
thing. And he went on Chris Hayes` last week and tried to do his job which
is singing the praises of non-woven fabrics like, for example, baby wipes.
You would think he would have been prepared for this but he was not
prepared. For Chris Hayes wanting specifically to get to the bottom of how
adult flushable wipes have become such a huge business and what`s wrong
with good old toilet paper anyway? I think the man wasn`t ready for this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, ALL IN: My question, is a chicken or egg question. Was
there a group of people who said, you know what, baby wipes, I bet we can
get adults to use those too, or did people start using it and you guys
caught on and the industry started catering to that need?
In more the latter than the former. There were attempts to market
moist toilet tissue as toilet tissue that did not work. There was
nevertheless a need out there to supplement toilet paper with some moist
apparatus to complete the function.
DAVE ROUSSE, LOBBYIST: More of the later than the former. There
were attempts to market moist toilet tissue as toilet issue that did not
work, but there was nevertheless a need out there among consumers to
supplement toilet paper with some moist apparatus to complete the function.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There was a need for a moist apparatus to complete the
function. We`ll call it the function? Can we call it the function? I
don`t want to talk about this? Can`t I just talk about the wonders of
Sometimes interviews do not go the way you want them to. And as
uncomfortable as those were, there is somebody who just had an even worse
one on a huge national stage. And that story is next.
MADDOW: Governor Mike Pence of Indiana went on ABC Sunday morning
show “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”, to try to stop the bleeding
this weekend after the new so-called religious freedom law that he signed
last week led to nationwide calls for a boycott of the state of Indiana.
Governor Pence went on Mr. Stephanopoulos show to clarify what he
said were national misunderstandings about that bill and it was very
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: So, this is a yes or no question.
Is Advance America right when they say a florist in Indiana can now refuse
to serve a gay couple without fear of punishment?
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Well, let me explain to you. The
purpose of this –
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes or no, if a florist refuses to serve a gay
couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana?
PENCE: George, this is – this is where this debate has gone.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Said it would protect a Christian florist, who –
against any kind of punishment. Is that true or not?
PENCE: George, look, the issue here is, you know, is tolerance a
two-way street or not?
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, when you say “tolerance is a two-way street”,
does it mean that Christians who want to refuse service, or if people of
any other faith who want to refuse service to gays or lesbians, that it`s
now legal in the state of Indiana? That`s a simple yes or no question.
PENCE: George, the question here is, if there is a government –
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final yes or no question, Governor. Do you think it
should be legal in the state of Indiana to discriminate against gays or
PENCE: George –
STEPHANOPOULOS: It`s a yes or no question. Yes or no, should it be
legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians?
PENCE: George, you are following the mantra of the last week online.
You are trying to make this issue about something else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If you are wondering why George Stephanopoulos had to keep
asking that same question, what was that, six times, it`s because obviously
Mike Pence never answered it, not like partly answered or vague or
internally contradictory, he`s just literally never even tried to answer
it. Instead, it just got more and more pain, by the fact, George! Tada!
Problem solved, issue clarified.
Here`s how bad Mike Pence`s interview was. The leaders of the
Indiana House and Senate, Mike Pence`s Republican colleagues who sent that
bill to sign, called a press conference this morning to themselves tried to
further clarify what was bill was meant to do. When they were asked by a
reporter whether they called the press conference because of Mike Pence`s
performance on TV yesterday, their response was – let me get the exact
quote here, their response was “yes”, and I quote, “yes”.
And, of course, the reason there is so much clarifying going on is
that everybody in America is dropping Indiana like a hot potato because of
this bill. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, the world`s most profitable company,
right, wrote an op-ed in “The Washington Post” today, slamming the Indiana
bill. The CEOs of nine of Indiana`s largest companies wrote a letter to
Governor Pence and legislative leaders today, urging them to change the
law, including Eli Lilly, Anthem, Roche Diagnostics, Angie`s List, Dow
AgroSciences. Unions and other big organizations are cancelling
conferences in the state.
Governor Pence tonight published an op-ed in “The Wall Street
Journal” trying to talk people down about how they are freaking out about
this bill. In his op-ed, the governor does finally sort of answer the
question he wouldn`t answer on ABC this weekend. If you are worried about
gay people being denied service in Indiana businesses and restaurants,
don`t worry, it turns out Governor Pence explains in “The Wall Street
Journal” tonight there`s a plan for that.
Quote, “If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I
wouldn`t eat there anymore.”
So, if you were worried that gay people might be refused service by a
business in Indiana now, don`t worry. That could never happen because the
state has decided to wield the grave threat of depriving businesses of Mike
Pence`s personal patronage. So, clearly, nobody will do it even if it is
It`s going so well in Indiana now two other states are thinking about
following Mike Pence down this hole. In Arkansas, their bill is almost
through the legislature. Governor Asa Hutchinson now says he will sign it
– so much for his plan to attract tech businesses to that state.
Arkansas`s largest employer is Wal-Mart, that liberal worth. Wal-
Mart is against the bill and lobbying against it, telling him not to do it.
But Arkansas Republicans don`t appear to care.
In North Carolina, the powerful house leader in that state has also
introduced a similar bill. But it seems like Governor Pat McCrory in North
Carolina might have actually learned the lessons that Mike Pence has been
mumble mouthing at the front of the class. When McCrory was asked about
the North Carolina bill today, the governor said it`s not necessary. He
said, quote, “What is the problem they are trying to solve?”
Arkansas and North Carolina still have time to avert this disaster.
But in Indiana the deed is done. This is the law now. It really, really
is not going well for Indiana thus far.
So, what are they going to do about it? The answer to that question
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Is part of the reason you gentlemen are here today because
of the governor`s performance on George Stephanopoulos this week?
STATE REP. BRIAN BOSMA (R-IN), HOUSE SPEAKER: I think the fact he
did not answer questions clearly, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Uh, yes.
Republican leaders of the Indiana House and Senate this morning at a
hastily called press conference after Governor Mike Pence`s disastrous
appearance on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” yesterday morning.
The two Republican leaders said they wanted to clarify the language
of the state`s new law which has been roundly criticized as discriminatory,
especially by the state`s business leaders and even by business leaders
across the nation.
Joining us is Scott Pelath. He`s the Democratic minority leader of
the Indiana House.
Representative Pelath, thanks very much for being with us.
Appreciate having you here.
STATE REP. SCOTT PELATH (D), INDIANA: Hey, thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, we have been watching the sort of – the swell of
criticism get bigger and bigger and bigger as the country starts to figure
out what Indiana has just done. How worried are you about the state, about
what the consequences are going to be for the state in terms of how much
bad publicity this has been already?
PELATH: Well, I`m extremely worried. You know, the Republican super
majorities and the governor are drunk with power right now. And when
you`re drunk with power, what happens is you do embarrassing things that
affect everyone else.
In this case, it affected the entire state. We are seeing investors
threaten to pull out. We are seeing headquarter expansions cancelled. We
are seeing very key employers like the NCAA start to question their
commitment to Indiana.
We have a real image problem now and it`s going to take a lot of work
and a lot of time to repair it.
MADDOW: Do you believe the Republican leaders in the legislature,
they got a super majority in both houses, do you think they are worried
enough that they themselves may try to undo what they just did?
PELATH: Well, I`ll tell you what, it was interesting to see the
speaker of the house throw his governor under the bus this morning.
This is a problem that we haven`t seen in Indiana before. We`re
accustom to, you know, quiet life, people working hard. We`re accustomed
to enjoying what we really know is Hoosier hospitality, which is people
being very tolerate and welcoming, and this just sends an image to the rest
of the nation that can probably only be fixed by completely taking this so-
called Religious Freedom Act, completely repealing it, throwing it on the
trash heap, and then making long-term changes to ensure all people, and
that includes people of all sexual orientations are completely welcomed.
And that`s going to take some time. It can`t be fixed with a rush
MADDOW: Do you think they will try to come up with a smaller fix,
some sort of patch, some sort of clarifying bill and try to make it go away
PELATH: Well, you know, that`s what it looks like right now. It`s
either going to be an attempt at a band-aid or fig leaf or whatever
metaphor you want to use. But I got to tell you, that`s not going to get
it done. I mean, this bill is so tainted and it`s so tainted nationally
and even internationally.
It has to – but repealing it is just the first step. That`s just
the frank admission of a very serious mistake. We have to do that and then
we have to demonstrate to the rest of the nation that we are serious about
equality and that we are serious about welcoming folks from all across the
country and all across the world. And until that happens, this is going to
be dogging our state for a while.
MADDOW: State Representative Scott Pelath from Indiana, leader of
the Democrats in the assembly – thank you very much for being with us.
PELATH: Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Still ahead, we`ve got some exciting news about
tomorrow night`s show. And also, there is a brand new playhouse for civic
geeks and part of me wants to live there. That`s a good news story.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Programming note, you might have seen reports over the past
few days that big Wall Street banks are so upset by the way Massachusetts
Senator Elizabeth Warren talks about them, that they are threatening to
punish all Democratic Senate candidates in 2016 by not giving them anymore
Wall Street money, unless the Democratic Party figures out a way to rein
Wouldn`t you love to ask Elizabeth Warren about that? I get to.
Tomorrow night, Elizabeth Warren is here for the interview.
And, you know, come to think of it, there are a few other things I
would like to talk to her about as well. That is tomorrow night, 9:00,
right here. Woo-hoo!
Much more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: OK. Check this out. This is a diagram of the U.S. Senate
floor, sort of a blueprint of the Senate chamber in Washington. You can
see at the front there is a little VP, that stands for vice president
because the vice president is also president of the Senate.
There are also rows of 100 desks in total, one for each senator, all
spread across the Senate floor. Democrats on the left. Republicans on the
But there`s one desk here that`s labeled desk 24. You see it on the
right side? Sort of a hidden gem of the Senate chamber.
Desk 24 is most commonly referred to as the candy desk. It is a desk
on the Senate floor that is literally a stockpile of sweets. It is not
just a random extra desk the candy lobby controls. This is an actual
senator`s desk on the Senate floor.
The tradition of the candy desk started in the `60s when the
Republican senator named George Murphy from California, who apparently had
a wicked sweet tooth and he would pack his desk full of candy. He would
share candy with his fellow senators, and even past his time in the Senate,
the tradition stuck. Whoever is at 24 is the candy senator.
The current candy senator is Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
His office told us today that the candy desk is stocked with all sorts of
candy native to his home state. So, that includes both Hershey`s chocolate
and something called Gertrude hawk candy bars, which I don`t understand.
The placement of the candy desk is sort of key to this whole thing.
It`s right by the entrance to the Senate chamber that is most used by
senators as they come in and out of the Senate floor. That`s Pat Toomey`s
desk right there on the Senate floor, right by the entrance, packed with
So, that`s the candy desk. Hold that thought.
Today, the center of the American political universe shifted about
400 miles to the north and to the east from Washington, D.C. to Boston,
Massachusetts. It`s not often that President Obama and Vice President
Biden travel to events together. Usually, it`s one or the other.
But today, they were both in attendance for the dedication of the Ted
Kennedy Institute, just outside of Boston. Former Massachusetts Senator
Ted Kennedy, of course, passed away in 2009. But before he died, he made
his wishes known if there was going to be a memorial for him after he was
gone. He wanted it to be a place that honored not him, not his own
personal achievements, but rather the body in which he served for so long
of his life – the United States Senate. He wanted a place where you could
essentially stand in a senator`s shoes for a few hours.
Well, this is what he got. Do not adjust your TV machine. This is
not the actual Senate with a cleaner carpet. This is a life size replica
of the U.S. Senate that they have just built at the Ted Kennedy Institute.
The walls are the same, the carpet is the same. There`s even a press
gallery overlooking the chamber that is the same.
They basically took the U.S. Senate in Washington and made a physical
carbon copy of it in Boston. And it`s not a scale model. It`s full scale.
The carbon copy, the exact replica nature of this extends right to the fact
that yes, there is also a dandy desk in the Boston replica.
What they just unveiled in Boston is essentially a living, breathing,
U.S. Senate chamber that if you were just dropped in there you would be
forgiven for thinking it was the real thing.
Former Senator Trent Lott was at the unveiling today. He said,
quote, “I walked in there and I actually got a chill.”
This is the headline at “Roll Call” today, “Even senators are
awestruck by Ted Kennedy`s Senate chamber.”
You look at that picture. Honestly, it is hard to tell if that is
the real thing in that picture or the fake thing.
The purpose of this place is to act as basically a model Senate. To
have kids from all over the country go there and pretend to be senators.
To stand in a full-scale model and debate and argue the big issues of the
day and then, unlike the actual Senate, the thing that happens after the
debate is there is a vote – weird.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who but Ted Kennedy
and his family would create a full-scale replica of the Senate chamber, and
open it to everyone?
We live in a time of such great cynicism about all of our
institutions. And we are cynical about government and about Washington
most of all. It`s hard for our children to see in the noisy and too often
trivial pursuits of today`s politics the possibilities of our democracy,
our capacity together to do big things.
This place can help change that. It can help to light the fire of
imagination, plant the seed of noble ambition in minds of future
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama continued by saying, it`s maybe not just for
The replica Senate is going to open to the public tomorrow in
Massachusetts. It is sort of astounding how close it is to the real thing.
But that spot, just outside of Boston, maybe the only place in America
where you can see with your own eyes what a functioning Senate would be
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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