The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/30/15
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIR: And we have to find the common ground
as well as push for the social change.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: Evan Wilson, Howard Dean, thank you
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Four years ago, Chris Christie was definitely going to be the
Republican nominee for president of the United States. This was a national
poll done by Zogby in March 2011, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie so
dominated the Republican field of 2012 that he garners twice as many votes
as his nearest competitor. That was Zogby in March of 2011.
That same month, Farleigh-Dickinson, did a poll of how all the
possible Republican nominees Later that month, a poll of how all the
possible Republican nominees would match up against President Obama in
2012, Chris Christie wasn`t even running at the time, but he was still
running ahead of most Republicans, including the ones who really were
Two months later, it was a national Rasmussen poll of Republican
primary voters. Chris Christie outperformed 17 other potential candidates.
Chris Christie comes in first out of 18 Republicans who they polled on.
Chris Christie four years ago was definitely going to be the nominee
if he wanted to be. He was the clear front-runner four years ago. And the
richest of the rich, the most elite of the elite, Republican donor class
and power brokers, they were just clamoring for Governor Christie to make a
run in 2012.
Famously, this time, four years ago, in July 2011, the billionaire
guy who founded Home Depot, he convened in some swanky private club in
Manhattan, a group of 60 different high-level Republican billionaires and
donors and power brokers, to all personally lobby, Chris Christie, 60 of
them, altogether, in some private club. They all came together to lobby
Chris Christie that he needed to run. What a night that must have been for
Chris Christie, right?
“The New York Times” at the time, it started running these lists of
all these ultra-rich, mega donor hedge fund guys – guys with their names
on buildings. Literally, guys like Charles Schwab, right? These masters
of the universe, billionaire, and power broker, old men, basically, who had
formed themselves into the unofficial draft Chris Christie for president
committee, and were happy to be quoted as such.
So, four years ago at this time, Chris Christie was just luxuriating
in that attention. He was also facilitating it. At one point, there was a
group of Iowa Republicans who said they wanted him to run, and he ended up
flying them all from Iowa to New Jersey and telling everybody he was doing
that. So, all of these Iowa Republicans could come to his house in New
Jersey and tell him how much they wanted him to run for president.
Even after the Republican primaries were well underway, in the
presidential race four years ago, Chris Christie was still not just
inviting all the flattery, all the attention, right, these people begging
him to run, he was talking openly about how much he loved it, how much he
enjoyed being asked. I mean, technically, he said he was not running, but
he loved being asked to run. He loved being wanted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us what`s going on here. Are you
reconsidering or are you standing firm?
REPORTER: It`s the question on everyone`s mind, and Chris Christie
had some fun with it. Poking fun at his audience, because it was the
second question asked.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: You folks are an incredible
disappointment as an audience, the fact that that took to the second
REPORTER: But while he never said it Tuesday night, the audience
would not take no for an answer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean this with all my heart. We can`t wait
another four years, to 2016. We need you. Your country needs you to run
CHRISTIE: I hear exactly what you`re saying and I feel the passion
with which you say it. And it touches me.
The fact of the matter is, that anybody who has an ego large enough
to say, oh, please to be leader of the free world, it`s such a burden. If
you could please just stop. It`s extraordinarily flattering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Four years ago. Ultimately, Chris Christie decided not to
But he really, openly, loved and enjoyed being courted, being told by
everybody that he was the one. That he was the one. He ought to run, he
could definitely win.
Forget all these other people who were running. They`re a mess.
You`re the one, Chris Christie, why aren`t you running? He loved it. He
Ultimately, Mitt Romney became the nominee. Mitt Romney chose Chris
Christie to give the keynote address at the Republican National Convention.
It ended up being an awkward choice, because Governor Christie really
seemed to like all the attention to him, even though the nominating contest
was at that point, done. He seemed to think that the Republican National
Convention that year was about him, once he got the keynote address.
He spoke for about 24 minutes in his keynote. He was almost 17
minutes into that 24-minute speech before he finally said the name “Mitt
Romney.” Mitt Romney, after all, was the guy who was running for
president. He was supposed to be the whole point not only of that whole
speech, but of that whole convention.
I mean, that was kind of an amazing convention, right? That was when
Clint Eastwood yelled at that chair and everything. It was strange. It
was – that convention was a little bit of an amazing spectacle from
beginning to end.
But one of my favorite visuals from that whole convention, all those
days, was the moment 17 minutes into Chris Christie`s speech, 1,800 words
into his 2,600-word speech, when Chris Christie finally remembered that he
ought to mention the name, “Mitt Romney.” he finally got there 17 minutes
in, this was the look on Mitt Romney`s face.
Oh, yes, remember me? Glad I picked you to give the keynote. Yes,
me. Remember me? Yes.
Later on, things got even more strange between Chris Christie and the
man who Republicans picked to be their 2012 nominee. After Hurricane Sandy
devastated New Jersey, it is now political legend how Governor Christie
embraced President Obama and thanked him for his leadership and his help in
responding to the storm in New Jersey.
What I think is less well-remembered is how Governor Christie went
out of his way to diss and dismiss Mitt Romney at the same time that he was
praising President Obama. And again, this all happened just days,
literally days, less than a week before the presidential election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I have to give the president great credit. He`s been on
the phone three times with me in the last 24 hours. He`s been very
attentive in anything that I`ve asked for, he`s gotten to me. So, I thank
the president publicly for that. He`s done, as far as I am concerned, a
great job for New Jersey.
TV ANCHOR: Is there any possibility that Governor Romney may go to
New Jersey to tour some of the damage with you?
CHRISTIE: I have no idea nor am I the least bit concerned or
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And then Mitt Romney lost.
Weeks later, weeks after the election, Mitt Romney campaign staffers
were still telling reporters how furious they were with Chris Christie.
And they were not just spreading the news that there was anger with Chris
Christie. That there was anger on the campaign, that donors were angered
with Chris Christie, that other high-level Republicans were angry with
They were not just sharing that information with reporters. They
also had something much more damning to share with reporters and they did,
because Chris Christie really did poll for a long time as the front runner
for the Republican nomination in 2012. Governor Christie really did poll
as the most likable, the most electable, the most popular national election
figure in the country, even though he ultimately didn`t run for the
But because he was polling like that, because he was so popular,
because he was such a great fund-raiser and a great campaign surrogate for
a while, and all the rest of it. Naturally, the Romney campaign had to
consider the prospect of picking Chris Christie as a vice presidential
running mate for Mitt Romney. I mean, they considered a lot of people.
But they also considered him.
The vetting process was called Project Goldfish. Everybody who they
considered to be Mitt Romney`s potential running mate got a fish-related
name. Paul Ryan, who was ultimately chosen as Mitt Romney`s vice
presidential running mate, they called him Fish-consin, because he`s from
Wisconsin. Tim Pawlenty, who`s been the governor of Minnesota, they called
him Lakefish. I`m sorry, Tim Pawlenty. Rob Portman from Ohio, he was
Filet-o-fish, O for Ohio maybe, I don`t know. But Chris Christie, they
called him puffer fish, which itself is mean.
But what was even more mean than that is that the Romney campaign did
something that as far as I know is totally unheard of. I will stand
corrected if it turns out this has ever happened in modern politics
anywhere else. But I don`t think it has. I don`t think this has ever
happened in any other campaign, with any other candidate before.
But what the Romney campaign did, after the fact, after they lost, is
they took their vetting file on Chris Christie, when they vetted him for
vice president, and that vetting file is all of the worst things you can
find out about a person, right? You tell them to give you your dirtiest
dirty laundry. It`s the most impressive oppo anyone does on anyone. It`s
the most intrusive, personal stuff. It`s everything you can get on them so
there can be no surprises if you choose them as you nominee.
You think an FBI background check is intrusive? No, try being vetted
for vice president. They will dissect you and put you back together and
they might not get all the parts right when they get them back. They took
that vetting file they put together on Chris Christie, everything that
Chris Christie had given them about himself, all the most damning things
about him and anybody connected to him – and the Romney folks handed that
puffer fish vetting file to reporters.
The worst oppo dump you can possibly imagine done after the election,
apparently as payback against a fellow Republican who they hated so much it
is almost impossible to overstate. They handed over his vetting file to
reporters. And so, that is how we learned through the campaign book
“Double Down” that Chris Christie had been found by the Mitt Romney
campaign to be utterly unsuited for the job of even vice president.
Because, they said, he was chronically late all the time for
everything he was supposed to do. He made unreasonable demands in terms of
his own need for luxury hotel rooms and private jets and having a giant
entourage, and they made sure to point out that he wanted large spreads of
food everywhere he went. Again, like I said, it was mean.
They put out to these reporters how Chris Christie had a terrible
record of running up luxury travel expenses when he was a U.S. attorney.
They reminded reporters that he had a history of dodgy contracts being
given to his donors and his political allies. There was a defamation
lawsuit somewhere in his past. There was a stock fraud investigation
involving his brother.
There were allegations presented without any supporting evidence
whatsoever that maybe Chris Christie`s household help were illegal
immigrants. Even though they had no evidence of that at all, there was
none in the file, at least, that we know of, they made sure that that made
it into the press about Chris Christie, too.
But, oh, wait, there`s more. Because that wasn`t the only 2012
campaign book for which reporters needed damning information. Dan Balz of
“The Washington Post,” he wrote another tell-all book about the 2012
campaign, and to him, the Romney folks apparently fed the damning back
story on Chris Christie`s all about me RNC keynote address.
So, not only do we know that he spoke for 17 minutes before he
thought to mention Mitt Romney, we also know, because of Dan Balz`s book,
that Chris Christie demanded that the crowd at the Republican convention be
shown a gauzy, three-minute, biographical video, all about Chris Christie
before he gave his speech, which was a speech all about Chris Christie.
The convention apparently had started to run late the night of the
Chris Christie keynote address. And RNC organizers reportedly decided that
they would cut that three-minute Chris Christie biographical video in order
to save some time in the schedule. According to Dan Balz`s book, Governor
Christie then threw a tantrum to make sure that his video would play before
According to the book, Chris Christie himself told the convention
staffer, quote, “To ask the director – meaning the person who`s actually
doing the direction for television of the RNC – ask the director of the
Republican convention if he had ever heard anybody say the F-word on live
television, because that is what he was about to do if the video did not
Then, reportedly, Chris Christie said, actually, he wasn`t just drop
an F-bomb, maybe he wouldn`t deliver the speech at all. He would walk if
the video didn`t run. And so the video ran. And everybody got their
three-minute biographical video of Chris Christie before he talked about
himself for 17 minutes before he mentioned Mitt Romney.
And the only reason we know about that is because other Republicans
told the press about it to make Chris Christie look as terrible as
possible, even after that election was over. That`s how it panned out on
the Republican side four years ago when he didn`t run. Since then, in New
Jersey, one of Chris Christie`s close political allies has pled guilty and
two others are facing charges for shutting down access lanes unto the
George Washington Bridge for days, apparently as political punishment for
one of Governor Christie`s enemies.
Under Governor Christie`s leadership, New Jersey`s credit rating has
been downgraded nine times. So, that is now the second worst in the
Last year, the national economic growth rate was 2.2 percent. Next-
door to New Jersey in Pennsylvania, it was 1.8 percent. Next-door in the
other direction, it was 2.5 percent in New York state. But the economic
growth rate in Chris Christie`s New Jersey last year was 0.4 percent.
Chris Christie also has the eighth highest unemployment rate in the
country. As of last month, in terms of voting with their feet, more people
are moving out of New Jersey than are moving out of any other state in the
country. New Jerseyans are fleeing the state.
And in terms of telling pollsters what they think, Chris Christie`s
approval rating in the state is 30 percent, which as far as I can tell, is
the second lowest approval rating of any governor in the country. The only
governor more hated by his own constituents than Chris Christie is Bobby
Jindal, who incidentally is also running for president. They`re number 13
and number 14 into the race.
There`s also, though, what is supposed to be Chris Christie`s great
strength. He`s supposed to be this guy who if nothing else can run on his
charisma, he can run on what a great talker he is, on how much sense he
makes when he talks. When he makes political pronouncements, it`s supposed
to be really resonant and really make a lot of sense, especially to regular
Well, today`s announcement from Chris Christie that he is running for
president, this time around, it may be in the eye of the beholder, I don`t
know, but, I felt like the announcement today was full of a lot of things
that maybe seemed charismatic to some people, but there were also things
that did not make very much sense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: We need to acknowledge that all of that anxiety and those
failures are not the end, they`re the beginning. The beginning of what we
can do together.
Every morning I wake up with an opportunity to do something great.
That`s why this job is a great job and that`s why president of the United
States is an even greater job for a greater number of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s a greater – yes, it would be a greater job for you.
It`s a bigger – I mean, it`s higher up – and there are a great number of
people running for president of the United States. Chris Christie is the
14th major Republican candidate to formally declare that he`s running.
But something happened over these last four years. Something
remarkable happened over these last four years. To take this guy who was
still a serving governor, after all, something has happened politically to
reduce him from the conquering hero, it`s your nomination if you want it,
favorite son of Republican politics, to now being someone who literally is
losing to Carly Fiorina in New Hampshire. And that`s seen as the state in
which he has the best chance.
And, yes, maybe it`s local. Maybe it`s local. Most people are
saying, looking at Chris Christie, that what happened to him is local.
It`s because New Jersey has fallen off a cliff under his leadership and
maybe it`s bridgegate. And yes, the criminal trials in bridgegate are
going to be happening months from now, which is going to be right in the
heat of the Republican primaries.
But there is also something that happened four years ago that is not
local. There`s also something that happened four years ago when he didn`t
run. Something happened when he didn`t run. Something happened around
that, that in so doing, he found a way to turn almost every friend he had
on his own side of the aisle, not into just an enemy, but into a bitter,
sworn enemy, who would go to almost unprecedented lengths to make sure that
he fails and that he is humiliated in the public eye.
What really did happen to him?
Joining us now is Robert Costa, “Washington Post” national political
Mr. Costa, it`s great to have you here. Thanks very much for joining
ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: My pleasure.
MADDOW: So, I know that you were at the announcement today, in
Livingston, New Jersey, when Chris Christie made this announcement at his
high school. Let me ask first, as a political observer, as a reporter
who`s seen a lot of these things, what were your impressions of how he did?
COSTA: This is someone who, as you say, is still grappling with what
happened. I remember he was at the Hamptons two years ago in the summer.
He was the establishment Republican favorite. That`s all disappeared.
And so, you saw today someone who was pugnacious in tone, but also
trying to have a pragmatic message. And he was discordant at times in
trying to seek that balance.
MADDOW: Why did establishment turn on him as abruptly and as
completely as they did? The contrast, going back and watching some of that
contemporaneous coverage from 2012, I almost can`t believe that we`re
talking about the same guy. Why did the establishment turn on him?
COSTA: They turned quick, and it happened mostly because of the
bridge, and when you saw all the controversy over the bridge in Ft. Lee,
you saw them first look to Mitt Romney, maybe he would get in the race.
Christie was seen as hobbled. He wasn`t recovering. His aides were still
Then, the Bush factor really has complicated it for Christie, for the
past year. Bush has remained steady with establishment support and the
donors, and Christie just banking right now on some kind of comeback in New
Jersey and Bush stumbling at some point.
MADDOW: In terms of how things went in 2012, with the Republican
convention keynote address, with the last minute just before the election
experience that Chris Christie had with President Obama, but also the way
that he addressed and treated Governor Romney at that time, right before
the election, there was very obviously and very overt bitterness and anger
at the highest levels of Republican politics, toward Chris Christie, at
Is that – is that permanent? Is that part of what`s happened here,
in terms of him not really seeming to have a friend in the party now?
COSTA: It has carried over. I was with a lot of Governor Romney`s
donors out in Utah a couple weeks ago, and privately, many of them still
seethe when they talk about Governor Christie. They think he mishandled
2012. If he had an opportunity to be more of a team player.
Just across the river here in Pennsylvania, Christie didn`t attend a
rally during Hurricane Sandy, that`s still something that sticks in the
craw of Romney supporters.
Christie donors think that his personality is going to carry him
forward. But when you talk to establishment people, people who are now
with Bush, Rubio, and Walker, they say Christie`s main appeal was not his
persona, but his ability to win in a blue state. Now, you have Bush in
there, perhaps John Kasich from Ohio, that blue state appeal has been
watered down for Christie because of all of his other rivals.
MADDOW: Robert Costa, national political reporter for “The
Washington Post” – known for having particularly great sources in
Republican politics – Robert, thank you for being here. Appreciate it
COSTA: Thank you.
MADDOW: I will say, just in terms of my pundit opinion, my personal
opinion, and take this as far as you can throw it, I feel like the two
candidates who have the most raw charisma and political talent, regardless
of their records, regardless of how they`ve done in past elections, but the
people who connect the best when they`re on the campaign trail, on the
Republican side, are rick Santorum and Chris Christie.
At this point, there`s a real question as to whether either of them
will even make it on to the first debate stage for the Republican
primaries, but it`s going to be a real test this year to see whether or not
personality, charisma, and being good at campaigning is enough to put you
ahead of the largest field that`s ever been put forward by either major
party. If anybody can do it on personality alone, it`s those two guys.
But if personality doesn`t matter, they`re both as good as sunk even before
they got started.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Do you know any liberals? Do you know any liberals? The
liberals you know seem different than usual? Do they seem unusually happy,
perhaps? I know why. I know why. That`s next.
MADDOW: So we`ve got a story coming up a little bit later on in the
show tonight about a Republican governor who might be getting impeached.
It is this crazy story out of Maine, where the tea party governor there,
Paul LePage, does not really have a friend left in the world, in either
party, because of the way he has behaved as governor in Maine and now he`s
done something up there that at first blush really seems blatantly illegal.
And Governor LePage is totally admitting that he did it, so they are
considering impeachment. It`s a strange story, it`s coming up in just a
couple of minutes.
But while I was looking through the papers in Maine today, for
anything that might be related to that Paul LePage story, I came across
this headline, which is not at all about the politics of the state of
Maine, it is rather about national politics, just paying a visit to the
state of Maine.
Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator, is running against Hillary
Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president this year. Bernie
Sanders was apparently supposed to do an event in Portland, Maine, on
Monday, at this nice venue right on the Portland waterfront. This is this
Monday, July 6th. This is a big venue. It has a capacity for about 800
A week in advance of that event, though, they have had to move that
event to the local hockey stadium instead. Because, sure, the first place
they were going to book this event, it can hold 800 people. But as soon as
they announced that Bernie Sanders was coming to Portland, Maine, more than
3,000 people RSVP`d for that 800-seat venue. More than 3,000 people RSVP`d
so they wanted to come see him. Woo-hoo!
So they could fit a few thousand people at the Cross Insurance Arena
in Portland. Hopefully, that will be enough to accommodate all of the
completely off the charts political enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders in the
state of Maine, but who knows? Maybe they`ll have to move it to yet
And while I was marveling at that, and while I was looking up the
capacity of all of these venues and trying to figure out why this is
something I`m only finding in the back pages of the local press in Maine,
and this isn`t making any national news at all, even though it`s a
presidential politics story, while I was doing that, then I came across
And, again, this is not some event that they`re planning for a long
way off, so they have time to build up enthusiasm for it, to try to build
up a crowd and get people psyched up far enough in advance, that they might
want to try to turn up for this event. This is something that is happening
tomorrow in Wisconsin. Bernie Sanders appearing in Madison, Wisconsin,
As of lunchtime today, more than 9,500 people have RSVP`d that they
are going to attend that event. They`re going to have to hold this thing
at the Coliseum Arena in Madison for Bernie Sanders.
It`s not some special event he`s doing tomorrow, just his campaign
appearance in Wisconsin. And Bernie Sanders` 9,000-person event tomorrow
will dwarf every other presidential candidate`s campaign events, by about
9,000 people. I mean, except for campaign launch events, like the big
rally Hillary Clinton held in New York earlier this month, all the
presidential candidates are attracting, you know, a couple of hundred
people here, a few hundred people there. And that`s normal at this stage
in the election cycle, but Bernie Sanders just blowing them out of the
water, and the Beltway is ignoring it.
And maybe they`re right, that when he turns out 3,000 people here and
a thousand people there, and 9,000 people here and another 3,000 people
here, maybe they`re right, that this manifest enthusiasm for Bernie
Sanders, it doesn`t say anything specific or actionable about what`s going
to happen in the Democratic primary race, right?
Maybe it`s true. No matter how much enthusiasm, no matter how big
the crowds, no matter somehow surprising the success of the campaign that
Bernie Sanders is running, maybe the Beltway is right that he`s still got
miles to go before it would ever meaningful affect the chances that Hillary
Clinton will secure the Democratic nomination for president. Maybe they`re
But what Bernie Sanders is doing is not nothing. And Bernie Sanders
is and always has been a completely unreconstructed, unapologetic, out
loud, forceful liberal. And so, if you are a liberal, the success that
Bernie Sanders is achieving as a campaigner this year, it has to be
heartening, right? I mean, you`re not alone.
The biggest crowds anybody is turning out in the presidential race on
either side of the aisle are for the most liberal guy in the race by a
mile, the most liberal guy to run, at least since Dennis Kucinich. And I`d
actually like to see that fight. Bernie might win.
So maybe transactionally, what`s going on in the campaign trail
doesn`t mean anything in terms of big scale electoral politics yet. But it
means something in terms of the popularity of liberal ideas and enthusiasm
for an unapologetically out loud liberal message.
So, maybe the beltway won`t talk about it, but if you are a liberal,
this feels good, right? And if you know some liberals, this is why they`ve
been in a good mood. And if you know some liberals or if you are a
liberal, this also, today, felt good.
President Obama today did something that is entirely within his power
to do, without Congress, just the executive branch. The core of what
Bernie Sanders is traveling around the country, firing people up about, by
the thousands, and honestly, right now, it is the core of Hillary Clinton`s
message on the campaign trail as well, and it is the core of Martin
O`Malley`s message. It is occasional even Lincoln Chafee`s message when
you hear it.
The driving animated concern among populists of all kinds, and
liberal populists in particular, and the Democratic Party as a whole, is
the huge beyond the Gilded Age income inequality that is not only the worst
that`s it`s ever been in this country, but this inequality that has proven
incredibly resilient even as the economy started to get better overall.
What the president just did today on overtime pay, it sort of seems
like an arcane thing, it`s actually one of the biggest, boldest, most
powerful executive actions he can take in one fell swoop to reduce income
inequality in this country.
I mean, President Obama has done some other things on the economy by
executive action. He improved the minimum wage for employers who have
contracts with the federal government, right? And that affected several
hundred thousand people. But, you know what, what he just did on overtime
today is going to affect about 5 million people. People who make less than
$50,000 a year will now be able to get time and a half when they work more
than 40 hours a week.
And it`s a little more complicated than that and the rule has to be
more specific than that, in order to get through the Labor Department. But
basically, President Obama just did this. President Obama just gave a
pretty big raise to 5 million Americans who make less than $50,000 a year.
And it`s permanent and it`s totally overdue. The overtime rules have not
changed substantially since the 1970s.
When President Obama first raised the prospect of even doing this
about six months ago, people started gaming out what that might mean for
the economy. What it would mean for families if the threshold for making
overtime was raised from where it had been, about $24,000 a year, to
something like maybe $40,000 a year. That`s what people had been kicking
around, thinking about how good that would be for working people, and the
economy overall, if that kind of change could happen.
But late last night, when the change finally was announced, President
Obama went even further than that. He set the new threshold of more like
$50,000 a year. Which means millions more people are now going to get paid
time and a half when they have to work more than 40 hours a week.
And again, it seems like an arcane thing, right, it seems like a
detail, but this is going to change millions of people`s lives. This is
going to materially affect millions of American families, who most need a
boost. This is probably going to be a big stimulus for the economy overall
in terms of people having more money in their pocket and the people having
more money in their pocket being the people who are most likely to spend
And it is probably the biggest one fell swoop kind of thing that a
president can do on his own steam to try to help working people in a
targeted way and thereby reduce income inequality.
And Bernie Sanders is going to talk to 10,000 people in Madison,
Just because you watch this show, I do not presume that you are a
liberal. I hear from lots of conservative who watch the show and I know
that`s true. But even if you are not a liberal, and even if you just know
a liberal, there is a reason why the liberal in your life is in a good mood
MADDOW: If you are running for president, it is usually a good thing
when people compare you to previous American presidents. Right? To be
Reaganesque, for example, or just like JFK, right?
What you probably don`t want, though, is to be mentioned in the same
breath as James K. Polk. Nothing against President Polk, who actually did
have a very consequential presidency. We have him to thank for the
Smithsonian, the Washington Monument, the states of Texas, New Mexico, and
California. James K. Polk was just fine as a president.
But he does hold the ominous distinction of being the only person in
American history to win the presidency while also losing the state where he
was born, North Carolina, and the state where he lived, Tennessee. He lost
If your home state or both your home states hate you, it`s not
impossible to be elected president. Just ask James K. Polk.
But the historical odds are heavily stacked against you. And the
James K. Polk problem looms right now over today`s big politics news, and
that story is next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST: The polls in New Jersey right now say,
by a 65 to 29 percent margin, the New Jersey voters say you would not make
a good president. Now, they know you the best. Why shouldn`t we trust
CHRISTIE: They want me to stay. A lot of those people in that 65
percent want me to stay. And I`ve heard that from lots of people in town
hall meetings. Don`t leave to run for president, because we want you to
KELLY: But they say you would not make a good president.
CHRISTIE: No, I think people hear the question they want to hear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Who hears what – people hear the what?
Still, one to have the greatest pieces of failed spin of all time.
They don`t hate me, they don`t not love me.
In fact, the question that people were asked in that poll is whether
or not Chris Christie would make a good president. And 65 percent of his
own constituents said, no, Chris Christie would not make a good president.
That was not a subtle way of them telling you they love you, governor.
Since then, New Jersey voters have become even more downcast, in
their view of their own governor. Only 30 percent of New Jersey residents
approve of their governor. A plurality of New Jersey residents actually
say that they” dislike everything” about Chris Christie. That`s a quote.
Today, when Governor Christie announced that he will be running for
president, hundreds of New Jersey residents, reportedly nearly a thousand
people turned up to protest outside his announcement speech. And they were
not protesting because they want him to stay on his governor.
I mean, it`s hard to be a hero in your own hometown, or maybe in your
own home state. But there is something that stands out in the vitriol
against Governor Christie now, both among New Jersey residents, and
particularly in the local press. We highlighted this on the show last
night, but this really is amazing.
On the eve of Governor Christie`s announcement, the largest paper in
his state ran this column, “After 14 years of watching Chris Christie, a
warning: he lies.”
Quote, “Most Americans don`t note Chris Christie like I do, so it`s
only natural to wonder what testimony I might offer after covering he has
every move for the last 14 years. My testimony amounts to a warning.
Don`t believe a word the man says. Don`t misunderstood me, they all lie,
and I get that, but Christie does it with such audacity and such frequency
that he stands out.
When Chris Christie picks up the microphone, he speaks so clearly and
forcefully that you assume genuine conviction is behind it. Be careful,
though, it`s a kind of spell. He`s a remarkable talent with a silver
tongue, but if you look carefully, you see that that tongue is forked like
That is not your normal kind of bad hometown press, right? That`s a
column that just ran in “The Star Ledger”.
And as governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie also has the rare
displeasure of having the other de facto hometown paper of some of his
constituents be “The New York Times”. “The New York Times” today in its
own editorial about Chris Christie running for president quoted “The Star
Ledger” extensively on their Chris Christie tells lies hypothesis.
And then off the editorial page of “The New York Times” news coverage
of his announcement today, there`s this, quote, “The economic recover he
promised has turned into a cascade of ugly credit downgrades and anemic job
growth. The state pension system has descended into a morass of missed
payments and lawsuits. The administration he pledged would be a paragon of
ethics, has instead conspired to mire an entire town in traffic and the
governor`s office in scandal.
Three and a half years ago, Mr. Christie seemed such an anecdote for
all that ailed the Republican brand, that senior figures in the party
pleaded with him to run for president as a substitute for the eventual
nominee, Mitt Romney, but now, a staggering 55 percent of Republican
primary voters say they cannot envision voting for Mr. Christie, according
to an NBC-Wall Street Journal. The only candidate less palatable is Donald
And yes, that`s news coverage of a Republican in “The New York
Times.” But they cover him as a local, right? They cover him like white
on rice. And they kind of used to like him at the beginning of his
But the closer any news outlet has been to Chris Christie`s
governorship, as a political beat, it seems like the closer any paper is to
that beat, the more that paper or that news outlet seems to just have
rabidly turned against him. To celebrate Chris Christie`s presidential
announcement today, the other major New Jersey papers literally went back
to the ugliest coverage of Chris Christie there has been in years.
That leak of the vetting report that was done by the Mitt Romney
campaign after the 2012 presidential race, that vetting report that
apparently made the Romney folks decide that Chris Christie could never be
picked as a vice presidential running mate. That vetting report happened
years ago. The leak of that vetting report happened years ago. But that
is what New Jersey New Jersey residents got from their local press about
their governor today, as he announced that he wants to be president of the
And you know, not everybody is liked at home. Mitt Romney lost
Massachusetts by 22 points when he ran for president, right? Al Gore lost
Tennessee. But, then again, both of them lost their home states on their
way to losing those elections.
Can you win in the country if you are really, really hated at home?
And honestly, why is Chris Christie so hated at home? I`ve never really
seen anything like it.
But the person who knows the answer to that question, or is most
likely to, at least, is our guest here next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I am not running for president of the United States as a
surrogate for being elected prom king of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP
MADDOW: Now we know.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie earlier today announcing that he
is not running for prom king of America but he is running for president of
the United States. The governor announcing his run today at his high
school, saying he wanted to announce at home. Chris Christie`s hometown
press in New Jersey, though, has been less than welcoming to Governor
Christie`s presidential ambitions.
Joining us now is Tom Moran. He`s a columnist and editorial page
editor for the “Star Ledger” in Newark, New Jersey.
Mr. Moran, it`s nice to have you here. Thanks for being here.
TOM MORAN, STAR LEDGER: Thanks for inviting me.
MADDOW: So, on the eve of this presidential announcement from
Governor Chris Christie, you wrote an blistering editorial column about the
governor saying what the country needs to know about him is that he lies.
What compelled you to do that?
MORGAN: Well, we sat around and said, OK, we know this guy well, the
country does, what`s the most important thing we can say? The other big
candidate was to explain to people what a mess New Jersey is and how he
hasn`t solved any of the big problems. But people will find that out, if
he gets traction in the polls, his opponents will point that out.
The thing that we need to express to America now is to don`t trust
what he says. He`s constantly telling these lies that are just over the
top, hair-raising type of lies, like completely contradictory –
MADDOW: And you feel like he`s good at it. You feel like if you
weren`t warned, you might believe you should otherwise be suspicious of?
MORAN: Well, now, I`m going back to all the stuff I did believe and
make sure I double check it, because, yes, he`s very convincing. He speaks
with such conviction and clarity. It`s – he seems sincere.
And I wonder psychologically, does he believe this stuff? Because
he`s got to know it`s not true, at some point.
MADDOW: Do you feel like you are in tune with your audience at “The
Star Ledger,” in tune with your readers in that very blunt assessment?
What kind of response have you had since you wrote it?
MORAN: Overwhelmingly positive. I`ve never had so much response.
That`s changed over the last – basically since bridgegate. Used to be
when I criticized him, I`d get a fistful of complaints and you`re a crazy
liberal and don`t know what you`re talking about and go attack Obama
Nowadays, nine out of ten are like, good, get him.
MORAN: He`s a creep.
MADDOW: When you as you`ve seen that feedback change overtime, you
think bridge gate is the point where it tipped?
MORAN: Yes, the bridgegate, slow economy, failure to fix problems.
Bridgegate was sort of the fulcrum, the turning point. This went on four
days people were stuck four hours in gridlock. People putting their little
kids in school buses and they`re getting tired.
And remember, it was stopped by the New York guy at the Port
Authority, the executive director. The New Jersey crew that was behind
this was angry.
MADDOW: Wanted it to keep going, right.
MORAN: How long would they have gone? Three weeks?
I mean – keep in mind, too, this wasn`t to pressure the mayor to
give the endorsement, this was just revenge because he had already refused.
So, it`s so psychotic because people have turned on him and said, at
least his crew is crazy, and if he`s the boss of that crew, he`s either
crazy with them, or he`s clueless.
MADDOW: Having seen his political skill, having seen all those
things about him, but also his political skill in action, do you think he
has any shot of winning the nomination?
MORAN: No. But his political skill is remarkable, and it`s not so
much the speech. He`s good at giving a speech but nothing spectacular. I
mean, you have to see him in a town hall meeting.
To me, it`s phenomenal. It`s nothing like it since Bill Clinton. I
mean, he`s incredible. I live those things convinced at everything I
thought before then was wrong, and take s a half hour to wear off.
MORAN: Get a cup of coffee, you know?
MADDOW: Tom Moran, columnist and editorial page editor for “The Star
Ledger” in Newark, it`s really nice to have you here. Thanks for being
MORAN: OK. Thanks.
MADDOW: All right. Still ahead, how far a Republican governor,
who`s not Chris Christie, has to go to make his fellow Republican start
talking about impeaching him. This is a remarkable story. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We have a lot of tough guy Republican governors in this
country. Of all of the tough guy Republican governors, there`s one who`s
set a new standard for bull in a China shop demeanor. This guy makes Rick
Perry look like he comes from Canada. He makes Chris Christie look like
the tooth fairy. But all of that may finally be coming home to roost in a
fairly unbelievable way. And that story is next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What would you like to do?
GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R), MAINE: I want to find the “Portland Press-
Herald” building and blow it up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ha ha! The governor of Maine says he wants to blow up the
state`s largest newspaper.
And really Maine Governor LePage says a lot of stuff like this. Paul
LePage once said about a political opponent and bending over and Vaseline,
something I still refer not to repeat on TV.
Just the other day, Paul LePage said he wanted to shoot a local Maine
political cartoonist. Just kidding. Just kidding.
That`s how Paul LePage has been as governor of Maine.
This is Mark Eves. Mark Eves is speaker of the House in Maine. He`s
a Democrat. But party affiliation matters less than you might think in
What matters here is that Paul LePage really hates House Speaker Mark
Eves. And Mark Eves just a couple of weeks ago got offered a job running a
school in central Maine. Two weeks ago, this charter school picked Maine
House Speaker Mark Eves to be their new president.
And Governor Paul LePage flipped out about that. Governor LePage
told the board of the charter school if they hired the House speaker, if
they hired his political enemy, he would cut off their funding as a school.
The governor said they could either unhire this guy or lose half a million
dollars in state funding.
And the school caved. Last week, they said they don`t want to be
involved in political controversy that could jeopardize the future of their
school. They took back the House speaker`s job offer, specifically because
the governor threatens their funding if they didn`t.
The just hired not fired House speaker accused the governor of
blackmail. The governor says it wasn`t blackmail but he does admit that he
told the school not to hire the guy he doesn`t like on pain of losing that
$500,000, which is the definition of blackmail. Nice school if you got
there. You know, it would be a shame if something happened to it.
We have covered Paul LePage on this show since he took office in
2011. Causing outrage is basically his superpower. He loves it.
But I have never seen this kind of reaction to Paul LePage in the way
he reached in to this business of this one little school and told them who
they couldn`t hire. A few hundred people showed up at the Maine
Statehouse, not to just protest the bullying by Governor LePage, but to
call for him to be impeached.
Democrats and independents in the Maine House say they are, in fact,
considering impeachment proceedings against Governor LePage for abusing his
authority. They may have the numbers to do it.
Over at the Maine Senate, a member of the Republican majority in the
Senate has made his call for an investigation into the governor. The
state`s largest newspaper wants the attorney general to appoint a special
Depending on how these overlapping calls for accountability play out,
Governor LePage could be in trouble here. Just ask Rick Perry of Texas
who`s under criminal indictment for threatening the funding of a government
office, where he wanted that office`s leaders fired. Well, now, Rick Perry
gets to juggle court dates with his campaign stops.
So the question turns to Paul LePage, governor of Maine. How does
his state handle this? How far is too far? Has he gone far enough for
impeachment? That`s the discussion now in Maine, potential impeachment for
Governor LePage. He has three and a half years left to govern. This is
going to be fascinating to watch.
Tomorrow, a bipartisan bicameral committee of lawmakers is going to
discuss whether or not to start a formal investigation of the governor.
It`s just getting started up there. We will keep you posted.
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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