The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/14/15
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That was my interview with Los Angeles
Mayor Eric Garcetti. We`re going to have a lot more from California,
crisscrossing the state, we`re working all day. Stay with us all week.
And also, since I`m here, happy anniversary, babe. I love you. Best
decision I ever made.
All right. That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I hereby register an objection from Kate
that you`re in California on your anniversary.
HAYES: A legitimate objection.
MADDOW: I`m actually just intuiting it from the universe. She
didn`t tell me directly, but I`m just putting that in there for her.
There you go. Well done, man. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour.
At the end of the Vietnam war, on the night that Saigon fell, April
29th, 1975, NBC News did a special report that night looking back at the
war. This is the night Saigon fell.
Their special report was called “7,382 Days in Vietnam”. It was this
huge, retrospective report about the war, about all that had been lost
there. At the end of this NBC News special report, David Brinkley ends it
with what is basically a commentary from him on what was lost and what
future presidents should learn from that experience.
But watch how he does it. I`m going to play the end of it here,
because what he says here, and the way he articulates it, is part of the
point. But the real point he makes is made visually. Just look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BRINKLEY, NBC NEWS: The United States did not lose the war,
since it never really tried to win it. Instead, trying to help South
Vietnam to win it and finding it could not so or would not do it. And
though the U.S. did not lose the war, it did lose a great deal. The money,
we know about. The inflation, we still live with. The social discords in
this country are still to be seen.
The other loss, we also know about, even though we don`t talk about
it very much. When we do, it is as if it were some kind of index or score
– 56,000 lives, plus about 150,000 seriously wounded. Many of whom will
So, when some future politician for some reason feels the need to
drag this country into war, he might come out here to Arlington and stand
maybe right over there somewhere to make his announcement, and to tell what
he has in mind.
If he can attract public support, speaking from a place like this,
then his reasons for starting a new war would have to be good ones.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Reasons for starting a new war would have to be good ones.
That was an NBC News special report on the last day of the Vietnam War, as
Saigon fell in 1975.
In 1976, Jimmy Carter was elected president of the United States.
Four years later, in 1980, it was Ronald Reagan, four years later again,
1984, it was Ronald Reagan. In 1988, it was Ronald Reagan`s vice
president, George H.W. Bush.
George H.W. Bush was a legitimate war hero from World War II – 58
combat missions, shot down over the Pacific, continuing missions with his
engine on fire as he piloted his avenger aircraft. George H.W. Bush, Poppy
Bush, legitimate World War II hero.
But after that election, in which he was elected president in 1988,
our presidential elections after that couldn`t just be about our
candidate`s heroism in the World War II that the country felt so good about
and felt so good about winning. After 1988 and Poppy Bush getting elected,
thereafter, some of the candidates started to be young enough that what we
were talking about at election time was not World War II, but rather, where
they were during Vietnam. This war about which we have more complicated
feelings as a country.
So, it was Bill Clinton and his student deferments in 1992. In 2000,
it was George W. Bush and his plum assignment to the guaranteed state side
in the Air National Guard. The George W. Bush campaign turned it around in
2004 when the Democrats chose a legitimate Vietnam War hero, John Kerry, to
put up against W., when W. was running for reelection in 2004. The
Republicans that year denigrated John Kerry`s service in Vietnam. They
said he faked all those medals that he earned.
By 2008, the Republicans were running their own legitimate Vietnam
War hero for the presidency, John McCain`s extraordinary service and
bravery and almost unimaginable personal sacrifice in Vietnam. I mean, by
rights, based on his biography alone, that should have made the 2008
election all about the Vietnam War, as well.
But by 2008, something else was going on when it comes to war. By
2008, the country was obsessed with a different war. Another war, an
ongoing war, that was basically the spindle around which the campaign of
2008 spun like a broken record. In the primaries, in the general, all the
way through, it was about the war in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I believe was
the single most important foreign policy decision of this generation,
whether or not to go to war in Iraq. I believe I showed the judgment of a
commander-in-chief. I think that Senator Clinton was wrong in her
judgments on that.
Senator Clinton mentioned the issue of gravitas and judgment. I
think it is much easier for us to have the argument when we have a nominee
who says, I always thought this was a bad idea. This was a bad strategy.
It was not just a problem of execution. It was not just a problem of
execution. I mean, they screwed up the execution of it in all sorts of
ways. That is an argument that I think we are going to have an easier time
making, if they can`t turn around and say, but hold on a second, you
And that`s part of the reason why, I think, I would be the strongest
nominee on this argument of national security.
This is an area where Senator McCain and I have a fundamental
difference, because I think the first question is whether we should have
gone into the war in the first place. Six years ago, I stood up and
opposed this war, at a time when it was political risky to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Against a primary opponent who had supported the war in Iraq
and who he defeated, against a general election opponent who supported the
war in Iraq and who he defeated. A large part of how we got President
Barack Obama in the first place is because the country was so horrified by
the war in Iraq. And he was not only against it while he was running for
president in 2007 and 2008, he had been against it from back before the war
I mean, the Iraq war was not everything about the Obama candidacy,
but without that factor, there would be no President Obama. Without that
factor, we wouldn`t have even had Democratic presidential nominee Barack
But in 2008, he became the nominee. He beat Senator McCain. And no,
not everyone celebrated when Barack Obama won the presidency, right? But
there was considerable elation about his winning the presidency, both here
and around the world.
Heck, the Norwegians got so excited, they gave him the Nobel Peace
Prize, less than a year after he took office. When that happened, by all
accounts, the White House was mortified. But they gave him the Nobel Peace
Prize. So, President Obama went to Oslo to accept the peace prize, a few
months into his presidency.
But in so doing, it was interesting at the time. When we went to
pick up his Nobel Peace prize, the speech he gave accepting the prize was a
robust defense of American war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable
controversy that your generous decision has generated.
Perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my reseat of this prize
is I am the commander-in-chief of the military, of the nation in the midst
of two wars.
We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will
be times when nations, acting individually or in concert, will find the use
of force not only necessary, but morally justified.
I face the world as it is and cannot stand idle in the face of
threats to the American people.
But make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent
movement could not have halted Hitler`s armies. Negotiations cannot
convince al Qaeda`s leaders to lay down their arms.
To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to
cynicism. It is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the
limits of reason.
Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United
States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six
decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.
So, yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And that may be true. But it must have been a hard sell to
the roomful of Norwegians who had just given him the Nobel Peace Prize.
That was in 2009. That was the first year of his presidency. Now,
we are deep into his second term. We are still a country at war in
Afghanistan, in Iraq and Syria, and these undeclared drone assassination
wars in countries around the globe.
But even with that being true, part of him, part of Barack Obama, is
the man who became a contender and who became president because of George
W. Bush`s war in Iraq, and what Obama thought was wrong and dumb about it.
Part of him, all this time, has been the guy who said this on the day he
first became president. In the first hour that he was president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict,
or blame their society`s ills on the West, know that your people will judge
you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those –
To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit, and the
silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but
that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It matters who is president, and it matters what the
There has been a core value at the center of Barack Obama`s politics
and his rise to become a national and now an international figure. He was
never a pacifist by any means, but he does value and has been able to
articulate from the beginning of what he sees as the value in trying to
talk things through, in trying to negotiate, in trying diplomacy, and being
willing to talk even to the people in the world with whom our country has
the biggest disagreements.
And so, today, alongside everything else, because of that value of
his, because he is president, today was basically the day that it could be
proclaimed from the White House that despite all appearances to the
contrary over recent decades, we`re not actually going to have a war with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States,
together with our international partners, has achieved something that
decades of animosity has not – a comprehensive, long-term deal with Iran
that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This deal
demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful
change – change that makes our country and the world safer and more
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It matters who is president. It matters who is president
here. It matters there, too.
Hassan Rouhani was elected in Iran in 2013, promising to the Iranian
people that he would find a way to end the crippling international
sanctions against Iran, and to end the international isolation of Iran
because of its nuclear program. Within months of him being elected in
Iran, he and President Obama became the first Iranian and American heads of
state to speak directly by phone in more than 30 years.
Soon thereafter, the United States and Iran started what would amount
to 20 straight months of talking. That had never happened before. That
could not have happened without a president on both sides saying it had to
In the George W. Bush administration, they had also pursued sanctions
against Iran. Not as strict as the ones imposed by and internationally
agreed to under President Obama. But George W. Bush had pursued sanctions
against Iran. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney,
however, said they would never talk to Iran. They expected their vague
threats of war against Iran and the sanctions themselves to somehow just
make Iran capitulate and give in and do what the United States wanted.
Well, under that genius strategy, Iran`s nuclear program went from
basically zero centrifuges when George W. Bush took office, to more than
6,000 by the time he left office.
Under this president, while the sanctions got even tougher, but the
goal of the sanction became not capitulation, while we called them the axis
of evil, right, clearly, that was not going to work.
The goal under President Barack Obama was to use those sanctions to,
instead, get Iran to talk, to get them to the table to negotiate. And it
worked. They came to the table, and they negotiated for 20 straight
months, and lately, for 18 straight days without a break. They`ve got a
deal on the Iranian nuclear program.
And, yes, the right is going nuts. And “The Washington Post”
editorial page will feel hot to the touch for several days. Republicans
will run ads about how terrible it is, and Congress will be full of people
giving very excited speeches, though they sometimes mix up Sunni and Shia
and Iraq and Iran. And there will be news in the beltway like you can`t
believe – even as the vast majority of the American people continue to say
that they actually want this deal, they like this deal.
As yet, Washington might, as yet, screw this up. The Iranians might
screw it up, in terms of their own government and their own hard liners.
The Iranians might also cheat and blow the deal that way.
There`s all sort of ways this might get screwed up, but I might work.
In which case, no war with Iran, which has been the threat of my lifetime,
I`m 42. I have expected a war with Iran my entire life.
If this works, no war with Iran. And it also means no nuclear bomb
in Iran. And it means this president will have achieved the only
diplomatic world transforming achievement big enough to make us forget all
about him, also ending 50 years of cartoonishly failed and ridiculous U.S.
policy toward Cuba, which he also did a few minutes ago.
We don`t know if the Iran deal is going to work. If it does, it will
be the major foreign policy achievement, not only of this presidency, but
of this American generation. At which point, the people in the not distant
future will look back at this presidency, they`ll look back at this
president and say, of course they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize, of
course, they did. That totally make sense.
Joining us now is Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund.
He`s one of the best people there is at explaining nuclear things to non-
Joe, it`s great to see you. Thanks very much for being here.
JOE CIRINCIONE, PLOUGHSHARES FUND PRESIDENT: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: Do you think this is going to work?
CIRINCIONE: Yes, I do. I also think the stakes are exactly the way
you put them. This is a war or peace issue. This is our chance to solve a
problem that has vexed every president since Ronald Reagan. Every
president since Reagan has tried to stop Iran`s nuclear program. Four
presidents have tried. Four presidents have failed. Obama may have just
found the right formula, the right combination of force and diplomacy.
This deal cuts off all of Iran`s pathways to a bomb. This deal puts
in place an inspections system unlike anything we`ve ever seen, that will
make it extremely difficult for Iran to cheat or break out of this
agreement. This deal keeps together the global coalition that negotiated
it, including our closest allies in Europe.
So, if Iran does cheat, we have sanctions that can snap back to
punish them. This is a way to stop Iran from getting a bomb without going
to war. It has its risks, but those risks pale in comparison to the
MADDOW: Joe, people who are taking a much more – taking the
opposite take on this as you are, people saying, this won`t work. The
reason it won`t work is because the Iranians are wilier than we think, and
they have no intention of being honest about this, and they have every
incentive to cheat. This isn`t set up in a way that is going to prevent
them from cheating.
What that boils down to, as far as I can tell, that criticism, is
basically that the IAEA isn`t up to the job, in terms of their
responsibilities to be the watchdogs, to be the inspectors here, that
they`ll get duped, locked out, they won`t know when they need to raise the
What is your view of whether they`re up to the job?
CIRINCIONE: It is a daunting challenge. I`ve spoken to the head of
the IAEA, and he assured me and the world that they are up to the job.
This is a deal that they helped negotiate. It`s based in part on the
talks that the Secretary General Amano had with the Iranian leaders just in
the last few days.
Now, this is not based on trust. It`s not based on good intentions.
It`s not based on the technologies that we`ve used in Iraq, for example.
This is 21st century technology, state of the art. Fiber optics
seals, cameras, sensors, audits, inventories, 24/7 inspections on all the
declared facilities and the right to inspect suspect facilities, including
the military sites that have been so much in dispute. Iran could possibly
evade one layer of these inspections, but the chances of them evading them
all of them are quite remote.
We`re going to track every aspect of Iran`s production. Those
inspections, there`s no expiration date. They`re like diamonds. They last
MADDOW: Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, thank
you very much for your time tonight. Joe, I – as soon as we found out the
president was going to be making a statement, I said, book Joe. We have to
have him explain what happened.
It`s great to have you here, my friend. Thank you.
CIRINCIONE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I will tell you – Joe wrote a piece on this for Slate.com
today that I thought made an important point.
He said, this new agreement doesn`t overthrow the clerical regime
ruling Iran. It doesn`t change Iran`s policies toward Israel or its Arab
neighbors. It doesn`t force Iran to end the repression of its own people.
The agreement only does one thing, but it`s a big one.
When you hear people criticize this deal, most of what they`re
criticizing is stuff that it`s not about. Oh, Iran is terrible in all
these other ways.
Right. Iran, I`m sure, there`s lots to complain about in lots of
other ways. This deal is just about the nuclear program. And if you take
it on those terms, it`s the best chance of avoiding a war in Iran that has
happened in the course of my entire lifetime. And I`m wicked old.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Programming note, which might affect your day tomorrow.
Late this afternoon, the White House announced President Obama is going to
be doing a press conference tomorrow. He`s going to be taking questions
from reporters about the deal with Iran.
Now, President Obama addressed the nation about it early this
morning. But it was so early that statistically speaking, if you are awake
and watching me right now, statistically speaking, you definitely were not
awake and watching the president at 7:00 this morning. You were either
watching him then, or you`re watching me now.
So, everybody within the sound of my live voice, your chance to hear
the president address this issue will be tomorrow afternoon as he takes
questions at the White House. We`re going to bring it live when it
happens. It is a comfortable 1:00 p.m. early tomorrow afternoon. That`ll
be live right here on MSNBC.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: For the past three months, I`ve
been silent on the revelations about Iran, and you must have been thinking,
well, why doesn`t he tell us what`s happening? Why doesn`t he just speak
to us as he has in the past when we`ve faced troubles or tragedies?
A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for
hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that`s true, but
the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If you ask my heart, it will tell you I absolutely did not
trade arms for hostages. If you look at what actually happened in real
life – well, that was President Reagan in 1987, addressing the nation on
the Iran-Contra scandal, the scandal in which the Reagan administration
illegally sold weapons to Iran and used the money to fund regime change
efforts in Nicaragua.
It was all illegal. Fourteen people were eventually criminally
charged in Iran Contra, including the defense secretary under Reagan, this
guy who ended up on the FOX News Channel and lots of others. Iran-Contra
was the biggest political scandal the country had experienced since
And so, it has been turned into our collective memory when it comes
to America`s history with Iran. A big part of our national memory chip
about what our relationship is with Iran is this giant Reagan
administration scandal that`s still astonishing that it didn`t lead to
impeachment. That is one infamous historical moment when we think about –
that we think about when we think about Iran.
This, of course, is the other. The hostage crisis, November 1979.
Iranian revolutionaries stormed the American embassy in Tehran, took 52
American hostages. They held for 444 days. Clearly, the darkest period of
our modern history with Iran. If you remember anything about American-
Iranian relations, you remember this, the embassy.
Well, tonight in Iran`s capital, this was the scene.
These men are chanting “death to no one”, “long live life.” It`s
handy to have a Farsi speaker on staff, which we do.
Following the announcement of the nuclear deal today, Iranians poured
into the streets and Tehran to sing and dance and rejoice. At one point,
holding up the image of an American flag.
NBC`s correspondent in Tehran Ali Arouzi almost got swallowed up by
the jubilant crowd tonight in the best possible way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS: They`re singing and dancing on the streets of
Tehran. Scenes you need to see. They`re saying they love Obama. People
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Ali Arouzi, and then he got sucked up into the
We`ve had a dramatic and difficult history with Iran, to say the
least, but maybe this is a moment when, in place of or at least in addition
to the things that loom large, the Iran-Contra affair and the hostage
crisis, maybe now, we can also think about today. Maybe we can also add
this historic day to our mental catalog of what we think about when we
Americans think about Iran – a country where these people with chanting
about loving President Obama and bravely holding up this picture of an
Here in this country today, there was no dancing in the streets
following the announcement of a deal, but you know what? We haven`t been
living under crippling sanctions like Iranians have for years. So, no,
we`re not singing and dancing in public. It doesn`t mean the same thing to
us as it does to them, but that doesn`t change the fact that Americans
really do want this deal.
I don`t know why this doesn`t get discussed more in the beltway
discussion about the politics of this issue. Look, quote, a clear
majority, 59 percent of those polled, support the nuclear deal with Iran.
From an NBC News poll, by a 2 to 1 margin, more Americans support
pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran than oppose it.
From Quinnipiac, 77 percent of voters said they want to see a
negotiated settlement to the nuclear crisis.
Look at this. This is just Oklahoma, the reddest of the red states.
Oklahoma, just picking a random sample, in Oklahoma, 73 percent of those
polled say America should negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran. In Oklahoma.
But you would never know it in our nation`s capital today, right? In
the beltway media, it`s one Republican member of Congress after another,
following one Republican presidential candidate after another, all talking
about how obviously terrible it is that we have a deal with Iran, and how
everybody obviously hates it.
And no, it`s true. We Americans are not dancing in the streets the
way the Iranians are dancing in the streets. Americans, if you ask them,
really wanted this deal and want this deal, too. Actual people outside of
the beltway are into this. Actual people are into this on both sides of
the aisle, in our country and in Iran.
Joining us now is the Dr. Vali Nasr. He`s dean of the Johns Hopkins
School of Advanced International Studies.
Dr. Nasr, thank you very much for being with us tonight. It`s nice
to have you here.
VALI NASR, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES:
MADDOW: I asked Joe Cirincione moments ago, he`s a nuclear
specialist, about the simple question of whether or not he believes this
deal will work. He believes that a technical level, in terms of the
implementability of the deal, the deal will work.
Do you believe that it will work?
NASR: Yes, I think it will work. I think both countries cannot
really deal with failure. Even in Washington, there is a lot of talk about
that they don`t like the deal. Republican candidates promise that they`re
going to walk away from it.
But in reality, if they sat down and thought what the failure of the
deal would mean for the United States and the Middle East, they`ll do
everything they can to make the deal work – and same with Iran. Both
countries are dealing with a Middle East that is falling apart. You have
ISIS on the borders of Iran, threatening the West. You have weakness in
the Arab world.
And in those kinds of circumstances, a failure of a deal,
confrontation between U.S. and Iran would be bad for both of them. I think
the deal is, right now, the best thing for them going forward.
MADDOW: There`s a lot of focus in today`s American political news on
what options opponents of this deal have to try to scuttle it, to screw it
up at the congressional level, or if a Republican president succeeds
President Obama, what a Republican president or a hawkish president could
do in the White House to screw this up. There`s been a lot of attention on
that, I think sort of overstating the prospect of this being derailed
within American politics.
What about the prospect of this being derailed within Iranian
politics, inside the Iranian government and its various factions?
NASR: I think within Iran, there was always much broader consensus
that the country wanted this deal. Not only because of the economic
pressure that sanctions had brought about, but I also think Iran takes the
ISIS threat in the region very seriously and wants to focus on doing that
fight for the time being, and wants to have an opening with the West.
Where the difference in Iran existed was whether the deal that was
reached with the United States would be a good deal, whether they would be
humiliated at the table, did they have to give up too much?
And one thing Iran has been worried about is they might sign a deal,
they might even work a year to implement the deal and then Congress or a
new president could pull the plug. Then they would be left with nothing,
So, they have to take a big risk. Still, everything looks risky to
MADDOW: Dr. Nasr, in terms of what happens next, do you think that
this is going to open the prospect of – I mean, if it works and there
isn`t political calamity or some cheating scandal within the deal, does
this open up the prospect for American and Iranian cooperation on matters
of shared concern, like you mentioned like ISIS and some of the other
issues on which Iran and the United States find themselves on the same
NASR: I think so. I think, already, big things have happened. For
two countries that didn`t talk to one another for 37 years, never agreed on
anything, saw one another as mortal adversaries. To sit down for two years
to negotiate, for the foreign ministers to spend hours on balconies, on
walks around Geneva discussing issues together, and then for the two
countries to agree to sign a deal, I think it`s a big deal.
Particularly in Iran, a major taboo has been broken – the taboo of
openly, publicly talking to the United States and making a deal with the
United States. The next set of negotiations is going to be a lot easier
than this one. And now they`ve arrived at the deal, they can arrive at
MADDOW: Dr. Vali Nasr, dean of the John Hopkins School of Advanced
International Studies – great perspective from you this evening, sir.
Thanks for being here.
NASR: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight, including a real life
2016 presidential candidate here in the studio. And his name is not
Lincoln Chafee. I know. It`s a big show.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: We got a mysterious tip tonight about my favorite
intentionally terrifying 25-foot tall statue of a Klansman. Nathan Bedford
Forrest, presiding with glintly, googly, marble eyes over the interstate
just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Last week, the city council there
voted unanimously that they would put up some shrubbery or grow some trees
or something, something, to try to hide from the interstate this terrifying
fiberglass sculpture of the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.
That statue is huge, and so are the many, many flagpoles that
surround it, all of which usually fly various Confederate flags.
Well, tonight, we have a tip about something that has happened to
that statue. And the tip came in the form of a picture. I will show that
picture to you and try to parse what it means – in just a moment.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R-WI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The left claims
that they`re for American workers, and they just got really lame ideas.
Things like the minimum wage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Minimum wage, so lame. Am I right? LOL. Cray-cray.
Shelax (ph). Totally lame.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker last night appearing on the
unofficial official television network of the Republican Party, just hours
after he became the 15th major Republican candidate to announce he`s
running for president, calling the minimum wage so lame.
In its role as Republican television, the FOX News Channel has
decided that not all of the candidates who are running for the Republican
presidential nomination will be actually allowed to compete for the
presidency. FOX News says only ten of the Republican candidates are going
to be allowed on the debate stage.
And they, FOX News, will decide who those ten are by using national
poll numbers, as their metric, even though national poll numbers at this
point in a presidential campaign mean precisely nothing. Ask President
Herman Cain, or President Michele Bachman, or, frankly, President Hillary
Clinton who, at this point, eight years ago, as of this week in the 2008
presidential race, Hillary Clinton had come in first in the national polls
about what would win the Democratic presidential nomination. He had come
in first place in the national polls in 30 straight national polls, 30
National polls mean nothing about who is going to get the nomination.
But FOX News is using national polls to decide which Republicans are going
to be allowed to compete for the nomination. Which candidates will be
allowed to debate and which candidates will be cut off.
And today was a new national poll, which should be pointless and
worth ignoring. But it actually will be determinative this year, in terms
of who is allowed to run. Thanks, FOX.
FOX`s exact criteria for how they`re going to narrow down the
Republican field using these national polls, it`s a little fuzzy. But to
estimate, so we can try to estimate how they might choose the Republican
field, we have started operating our own who is allowed to compete cable-
news derived random number generator. It`s our best guess about what FOX
is going to do to pick the Republican field.
If you add in to that machine the newest national poll numbers that
are out today from “USA Today” and Suffolk University, you learn two
Number one, Donald Trump wins the latest national poll. This is the
second national poll that has him in first place among Republican voters.
Yee-haw. That`s the mind of the Republican voter right now.
Second thing you learn is that Ted Cruz is gaining. Ted Cruz, I have
to say, is still doing terribly, but he is doing slightly less terribly
than he has been. Before today, we`ve been able to look at the ridiculous
national poll standings, the average of the most five recent national
polls, which is how FOX News says they`re going to decide who is allowed to
Before today, we`ve been looking at the average of the last five
polls and it`s seemed clear that seven of the ten slots in the debate are
pretty much spoken for. They`re pretty safe.
Well, with this new poll from “USA Today” and Suffolk, it`s starting
to look like not seven, but maybe eight of the ten spots on the debate
stage are safe. With this new poll, Ted Cruz rises slightly above all of
the other guys who are stuff at the kids` table and not being allowed to
So, now, the who`s allowed to compete cable-news derived random
number generator says that Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Rand Paul,
Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and maybe Ted Cruz are pretty safe
bets to make it onto the stage.
But there are still two slots available, and that means these nine
candidates are fighting amongst themselves for the last two spots. Chris
Christie, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Bobby
Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, my friend Jim Gilmore – good luck,
I mean, forget Iowa. Forget New Hampshire. This is how FOX News
says we are going to do the Republican primary this year, for some reason.
Today, Donald Trump told NBC`s Katy Tur that he`s going to release
his personal financial disclosure statement either tomorrow or the next
day. So, if FOX News thought adding that as a prerequisite might keep Mr.
Trump from debating because he`s never turned in that statement,
apparently, that strategy is not going to work.
Today, Chris Christie also added a new surprise event to his campaign
schedule. He`s going to be diverting the Chris Christie express tomorrow
to Maryland. He`s going to a diner in Maryland. His last surprise trip
like this was to a diner in Maine, where he got the endorsement of Maine`s
Republican Governor Paul LePage.
So, now that he`s going to Maryland tomorrow, we can safely assume
that Chris Christie is continuing his endorsement sweep of Republican
governors who vaguely look like him in states that begin with the letter
“M.” The governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, expected to endorse Chris
Christie tomorrow. Watch out, Michigan, you`re next.
And so, as usual, because there are ten gazillion people running on
the Republican side, and because they have to run in this insane way this
year, because FOX News says they have to, as usual, today, most of the news
in the race for the White House is news on the Republican side.
But on the Democratic side, there is also some big news today – in
the form of the Maryland governor who preceded Larry Hogan, Martin O`Malley
is running for the Democratic nomination for president. He was the first
one in on Democratic sides against long odds.
And Martin O`Malley is here tonight, next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: We got him! Joining us now for the interview is the former
governor of Maryland, now Democratic presidential candidate, Governor
Governor, it`s great to have you here. Thank you for coming.
MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, thank you, Rachel.
Good to be with you.
MADDOW: I know you are a very busy man these days. So, I really
appreciate you taking this time.
O`MALLEY: My pleasure.
MADDOW: What is your reaction to the Iran deal today?
O`MALLEY: I think it`s very promising. I have yet to read the 100-
page agreement, but I believe and have long believed that a negotiated
settlement is the best path forward here, provided that it is verifiable,
it`s enforceable, we cut off all paths to Iran`s ability to develop the
So, I think there`s a lot of promise here and, hopefully, it is the
beginning of a new day.
MADDOW: One of the dynamics I find interesting, and it`s true about
the Cuba deal and about the Iran deal now, is that in Washington, if you
pay attention to the beltway press, you`d think this is so controversial,
it`s on fire, right? The president absolutely flouting public opinion and
doing this crazy thing that everybody knows is nuts. And you look at,
that`s the beltway treats it, and that`s the way it`s talked about inside
Congress in particular.
Then, you look at public opinion polling. American people love the
Cuba deal. Love the resumption of relations with Cuba. The American
people really want a deal with Iran. There is a really big difference on
these international issues between what the people want and what Washington
thinks is normal.
What do you make of that?
O`MALLEY: What I make of it is that the people of our country are
actually ahead of their leaders, especially on the national level. I mean,
as I`ve traveled around the country, what I`m encouraged by is that when
you talk to younger Americans under the age of 40, you rarely find people
that deny that climate change is real. You rarely find people that want to
discriminate against gay people or people that want to bash immigrants or
blame them for the nation`s problems.
So, that tells me our nation is moving in a much more connected,
compassionate and to a much more generous place. And especially in our
engagement in the world, people want us to be engaged, but they want to us
to be engaged in waging peace, looking for opportunities to collaborate
with other nations to make this world a safer place. I think that`s
American common sense.
MADDOW: Well, if that`s true, if the people are ahead of the
supposed leaders in Washington, particularly on international issues and
the kind of social issues that you were talking about, why is Washington so
sclerotic? Why is Washington following so far behind on these issues? Why
is every Republican candidate for president saying, if they don`t want to
change the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage, they`ll do everything in
their power to ban gay marriage? Why is Washington so far behind?
O`MALLEY: I don`t know. I think it`s a couple of – I think it`s a
couple of reasons. I mean, look, we have a very gerrymandered Congress.
We need to find a better way to draw our congressional district lines and
because they were drawn by a lot of Republican governors, quite frankly,
after the 2011 election, we have a House of Representatives that`s not
really representative of mainstream America and it tends to have a
polarizing effect and that`s holding us back as a nation.
That`s why you see, you know, broad support for things like marriage
equality, why you see growing support for immigration reform and yet we
still can`t seem to get it done even though it`s in our nation`s best
interest because of the extreme way that the congressional lines are drawn.
And I don`t know a way to get through this except to have a better
and deeper conversation in the course of the national election about what`s
important to us as people, what is in America`s best interests. Right now,
all across our country, people are sadly very cynical that concentrated
wealth, has concentrated power in Washington, and that we can`t get things
And the two phrases I hear everywhere I go are the phrases – new
leadership and getting things done.
We know we are all working harder, yet falling further behind, but we
also feel vaguely like it`s not a fair fight anymore. We can`t get our
government to step up and regulate Wall Street properly, to save us from
another crash. And that makes people very frustrated and very angry. But
anger and frustration never built a great country.
So, I`m confident that in the longer consideration here as we
approach the presidential election that people will start asking the
questions about which of the candidates in our party has the best shot of
actually pulling people together, getting things done and moving us out of
these rather divided times and that`s what keeps me going.
MADDOW: Do you think – when you say new leadership, and the
president as the best prospect of getting things done, is – are you
criticizing Hillary Clinton when you say that? Obviously, she is all but
the prohibitive front-runner in this nomination, but it`s a long fight
still to go, is she old leadership? Is she somebody who has some sort of
record that you would criticize as not being able to get things done? Was
that the implicit claim there?
O`MALLEY: I have a lot of respect for Secretary Clinton and she`ll
be able to defend her own candidacy and advance it. I can tell you from my
part, what I had to offer in my party where I`m looking forward to a robust
discussion of not only the fact that so many of these whole progressive
values that we can actually get things done, I`m going to advance my
candidacy and that is a new perspective. It is a younger perspective. It
is a perspective of a new generation.
I was watching one of your pieces earlier and one of the truths of
these presidential primaries is that inevitable front-runner is inevitable
but only up until the first contest.
MADDOW: Right, right.
O`MALEY: And the other truth is whatever candidate is surging in the
summer is not necessarily the candidate who is surging in January. People
in Iowa and New Hampshire expect to see each one of us two, three, four
times, they want to see us on our good days and bad ideas and want to know
that we have fresh ideas and the ability to move our country forward and
that`s the process right now.
MADDOW: Governor Martin O`Malley, I`ve got to say, if I had to be a
presidential candidate, I`d rather be in your shoes facing the long odds
against Hillary Clinton than I would be one of those guys at the bottom of
the polls in the Republican side fighting FOX News for the right to even
compete for the nomination.
Governor, good luck to you.
O`MALLEY: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: It`s great to see you.
O`MALLEY: Thanks a lot.
MADDOW: Will you come back?
O`MALLEY: I absolutely will.
All right. We`ve got much more to come. Stay with us.
MADDOW: You remember, one day on the show last week, we asked you to
send us your stuff. Send us the stuff you see happening around you,
sendittorachel.com. It turns out, you have delivered. We have
splendiferous, mysterious stuff from you that is news that we could not
have gotten without you. And that`s straight ahead.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: It was the year 2000. He was in between “The Ghost of Tom
Joad” and “The Rising”, both really great albums. It was the year 2000 and
Bruce Springsteen was doing a string of shows at Madison Square Garden.
And on one of those nights, Chris Christie was there. Look, second
row, rocking out. Sage green pole low shirt, singing along, having an
And I have one thing to say about that – thank you. Thank you for
sending that to me.
Last month, we set up, sendittorachel.com asking for your newsworthy
stuff, stuff that you see – stuff that happens in your town, stuff that
gets mailed to you, stuff that you come across in the course of your daily
events. But it`s stuff that you think might be news but you`re not seeing
it in the news.
Now, particularly, we`re interested in stuff about the campaign for
president, but even if it`s not about the presidential campaign, and you
think it might be news, please, sendittorachel.com.
For example, we`ve been following this issue in Tennessee of this
ghoulish, giant, 25-foot statue of a Ku Klux Klan leader which sits on
private property, surrounded by more than a dozen Confederate flags.
It sets on private property, but it is clearly visible from
Interstate 65, just outside Nashville. And lawmakers there have been
fighting to find some way to hide it from the interstate.
Well, today, we received a picture from one of you guys, showing what
that statue looks like today. What looks like that statue in full view
still but with all Nathan Bedford Forrest usual Confederate flags lowered.
We`re not sure why. Maybe today`s laundry day. I don`t know.
We reached out to the owner of the land on which these statues sit.
We haven`t heard back yet about what happened in all of the Confederate
flags. We did find a little supporting evidence on the Twitter that this
really is what`s going on, we like to know the meaning of this. If you
find out or if the flags go back up, please, Nashville, let us know. It`s
been a great start but, please, keep it up, sendittorachel.com.
If you get campaign mailers that you think is news, stuff pops in
your local paper, or in your local station newscast, if you happen to see a
presidential candidate doing something amazing, sendittorachel.com. Thank
you very, very much. And rock on.
That`s it for us tonight.
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
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