The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/08/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
CHRIS HAYES, ALL IN: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
For a big part of the day today, the biggest story in the country, the
center of the news universe was Grayson, Kentucky, outside of Carter County
Detention Center where lots and lots of people supporting the Kentucky
clerk who had been jailed to issue marriage licenses for gay couples. Her
supporters were holding a big rally there today. And that rally was all
over the news today, cameras everywhere.
And this very interesting thing happened in the middle of that. In
the course of covering that rally, that “support the anti-gay marriage
Kentucky clerk in contempt of court and therefore in jail” rally, the news
cameras picked up one weird, very awkward, little noticed moment that
involved a very personal exchange by one of the Republican presidential
candidates this year. There was a camera pointed at the jailhouse door all
afternoon today showing the outside of the jail housing that clerk.
And for most of the day, there were random people going in and out of
that door. There were, excuse me, police officers and, you know, other
people involved in the business of that county, right? All people going in
and out of that door. But then, all of a sudden, out of that door walked
Ted Cruz who is on the assent in the Republican field right now – Ted
Cruz walked out of the jailhouse door, sort of incidentally in front of the
cameras. And he had a strange exchange with somebody just outside the
jailhouse door. You can`t actually hear any of what they`re saying to each
other. You just hear the protesters singing.
But, you know, if we were one of those shows that interview body
language experts, there`s something I would love to know what they would
say about this. It was a very weird moment.
I`m just going to play the whole thing for you, less than a minute
long. But watch this. See what you make of this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: That, I believe, is more man-to-man defense than zone
defense. But what was going on there? We`re all watching that rally today
and seeing that camera on that jailhouse door.
What`s going on there with Ted Cruz? What`s going on there between
Ted Cruz and that guy in the red shirt? It was a very strange thing,
including Ted Cruz basically looking like he was telling that guy he`s
going through, and that guy physically stopping him from doing it. And
then Cruz giving him the raised eyebrow, are you serious look? What`s
going on there?
Well, thanks to “The New York Times,” we now think we know exactly
what was going on there with Ted Cruz, because both Ted Cruz and Mike
Huckabee today were there at this rally. They both raced down to Kentucky
today for this rally in support of this county clerk. Mike Huckabee`s
campaign started promoting this rally over the weekend.
But both of these presidential candidates raced down there, presumably
for a jailhouse meeting and photo-op with this clerk inside her jail cell.
That was apparently the plan, the judge messed that up for both of those
presidential candidates by announcing today unexpectedly that he was going
to release that county clerk from jail. She was a free woman, so then the
competition was on, right?
You can`t have the jailhouse photo. So who`s going to look like he`s
freeing her? Who`s going to be her savior? Her champion?
Which presidential candidate is going to score the most points from
being there at her release and looking like he was somehow part of it? In
that moment when Ted Cruz was having that weird exchange, it turns out, he
was being told by a Huckabee staffer that the savior that day was not going
to be him.
According to “The Times”, quote, “When Senator Cruz exited the jail, a
throng of journalists beckoned him toward their microphones, but an aide to
Mr. Huckabee blocked the path of Mr. Cruz who appeared incredulous.”
Apparently physically blocked his path. That is what was going on
there. I so wish I could see through the flag and lip read what this guy
is saying here. That is what happened to Ted Cruz, thanks to Mike
And then just moments later, Mike Huckabee won the political points at
this event. He got his big photo op. It was just a bit different than may
be what he had expected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You will have a chance to
see Kim in a moment. We have an announcement, and it is this – Kim Davis
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: For the record, we did not add, “Eye of the Tiger” to make
you have an emotional feeling. That was the soundtrack played at the
event. Yes, “Eye of the Tiger.”
So, when it comes to political exploitation of the county clerk who is
in contempt of court in Kentucky, we have an obvious winner here, right?
On the left of your screen, we have an obvious winner and an obvious loser.
Who knows why Ted Cruz allowed himself to be physically boxed off the
stage, boxed out of the event, even after he`d gone to Kentucky to be there
in person on day when he was supposed to be in Washington.
Ted Cruz at one point turned up as a sad little photo bomber in the
corner of this picture of another candidate who also did a better job than
him exploiting the situation today. That in the middle between the county
clerk and her husband is Kentucky`s Republican candidate for governor, Matt
Bevin, looking super psyched to be there, scoring his political points with
the contempt of court clerk there over there in the left-hand side of your
screen, that is Ted Cruz.
Ted Cruz`s sad little head looking bewildered as to why he is there.
Some people are better at exploiting these moments than others.
When it comes to the substance of that case, Ted Cruz may get another
shot. When that county clerk was released from jail today, the judge`s
order said explicitly, defendant Davis, quote, “shall not interfere in any
way directly or indirectly with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue
marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.”
So, that was the condition on which she was released. After she was
released from jail today, on that condition, her lawyers suggested to the
media that she will not actually comply with that part of the judge`s
order, that she does plan to interfere with other people in her office
issuing marriage licenses. And so, she does so, she`ll be – not only be
in contempt of court, but in violation of this direct order from a federal
judge and so maybe she`ll be back in jail.
At which point, maybe Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz or any number of
conservative politicians who want to glom on this story will yet have their
chance for the jailhouse photo that they were cheated out of today in
It`s such a surreal day in political news. And, speaking of jail,
it`s never a good sign when you`re talking about presidential candidates
and you can use speaking of jail as a segue, but this year for the first
time ever, we get days like this. And this year for the first time ever,
there is a major party candidate who is making a run for the presidency
while he is also under criminal indictment. That would be Texas Governor
And I don`t know whether it`s because of the indictment or not, but
Rick Perry has been having a hard time of it this year. Today might have
been the final nail in the coffin of this presidential campaign for him.
The first really bad sign something was wrong with Rick Perry`s
campaign was the news out of Iowa that he was down to one last single
solitary staffer. His campaign co-chair in Iowa went to go work for Donald
Trump and his other co-chair went to work for Rick Santorum. That had to
So, he was down – with those co-chairs leaving, he was down to one
staffer left in Iowa. So you think, OK, he`s not really competing in Iowa.
One staffer for a presidential campaign? He`s not really competing in
Maybe he`s focusing on New Hampshire then. No. Next came news Rick
Perry gone down to zero staffers in New Hampshire. So one person does not,
an Iowa campaign make. No New Hampshire campaign whatsoever.
Did that news last week mean that Rick Perry was getting out of the
race altogether? No, team Perry took pains to say, even as they shut down
their New Hampshire campaign and that was breaking news, they pointed out
their candidate was doing this a little differently than other people.
He`d just have a different strategy. He was instead going to focus on
Remember how Rudy Giuliani said he would start in Florida? Rick Perry
was going to start in South Carolina. And, in fact, there was Rick Perry
on the steps of the South Carolina state capitol campaigning, literally
waving a Bible in the air and saying, “Onward Christian soldiers.”
When you think I`m being hyperbolic, I know, I`m not being hyperbolic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Onward Christian soldiers!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the proof, yes, maybe he had given up on Iowa and
yes, Rick Perry had definitely given up on New Hampshire and shut down his
campaign there entirely, but he was obviously planning on hinging his whole
presidential campaign on the next state on the primary calendar after Iowa
and New Hampshire. And that, of course, was South Carolina.
That was the best hope for Rick Perry`s political survival, which is
why it became as particularly devastating news today when we heard from the
Rick Perry campaign today that South Carolina campaign, Rick Perry campaign
shuts down South Carolina headquarters.
So, you know, who knows, maybe he`s hinging it all on Guam or
something, right? Maybe he`ll start in Florida, too, work for President
But, right now, Rick Perry`s not competing. He`s not running a
campaign in any of the first three states. He also does not appear to be
paying any of his staffers.
Rick Perry did make history as the first major party candidate to ever
run for president while being under indictment. But it is hard to imagine
that he will be running for president much longer.
And then, speaking of indictments, it`s that kind of day. There was
very, very late breaking news this evening about another supposedly top-
tier presidential candidate who is not himself under indictment like Rick
Perry, but he`s a candidate whose failure to thrive in the presidential
campaign this year, many people have attributed to the criminal indictments
that have come down against members of his administration. The forthcoming
criminal trials of two of the senior aides, the ongoing nature of the
federal criminal investigations into various lurid scandals arising from
his time as governor.
I`m talking, of course, about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
You remember the bridge scandal around Chris Christie, of course.
That was the almost unbelievable scandal in which allies and appointees of
Governor Christie concocted a scheme to shut down access lanes on to the
world`s most heavily trafficked bridge, two years ago this week. It was
apparently specifically timed for the first day of school to deliberately
create a terrible day`s long traffic jam for one town located right next to
the George Washington bridge. A town whose mayor had somehow run afoul of
Governor Christie and his administration and this was his payback.
In that bridgegate scandal, three allies, staffers and appointees of
Governor Christie have been criminally charged already. One of them pled
guilty, that`s David Wildstein. Two of them pled not guilty, and they`re
due to go on trial soon. That should be a nice side dish to Chris
Christie`s presidential campaign.
But one of the other casualties of the scandal was this man. His name
is David Sampson. He`s the former attorney general of the state of New
Jersey. People call him “general”, not because he was a general like in
the army but because he`s a former attorney general and he likes people to
call him general.
He`s a mentor and very close political adviser to Governor Christie.
And when Chris Christie became governor of New Jersey, he got his first
opportunities to hand out very plum, very powerful jobs in the state. He
gave, basically, the best plum job of all to his mentor and friend, this
former Attorney General David Sampson. He put David Sampson in charge of
an organization called the Port Authority.
The Port Authority is enormous. And one of the things it`s in charge
of is running the George Washington Bridge. When the bridge scandal broke
open, when it became clear that bridge really purposefully had been shut
down as part of some Christie administration political vendetta, one of the
heads that had to roll was David Sampson, who was the head of the Port
Unlike his other staffers and allies who got in trouble in connection
with the bridge scandal who Chris Christie was happy to blame and deride
and distance himself from in public. It was interesting when David Sampson
resigned, he had nothing but words of praise and support for his mentor and
his close friend.
But now tonight, another shoe has dropped in this story. Because the
Port Authority doesn`t just run the George Washington Bridge, they run all
sorts of major infrastructure in New York and New Jersey. And that
includes this little confection which is called Newark Airport in Newark,
New Jersey, and tonight it was front page news. Not just in the business
press but all over the press when there was this sudden announcement that
the head of United Airlines had been ousted.
This is the fourth largest airline in the world. United gobbled up
Continental Airlines in 2010, made it one of the biggest airlines anywhere
in the world. And their CEO and chairman was just forced out tonight,
along with one of their senior vice presidents and way down deep in the
press release announcing they were ousting their CEO came the explanation
Quote, “The departures announced today are in connection with the
company`s previously disclosed internal investigation related to the
federal investigation associated with the Port Authority of New York and
New Jersey. The investigations are ongoing and the company continues to
cooperate with the government.”
One of the things under federal criminal investigation, since the
bridgegate scandal broke open relates to David Sampson. Chris Christie`s
dear political adviser, friend and mentor who had to resign because of the
bridge scandal. One of the other matters the U.S. attorney has been
looking into related to David Sampson is something called the chairman`s
David Sampson, apparently has a vacation home near Columbia, South
Carolina, and one of the things unearthed is that United Airlines,
allegedly, created a new route, a nonstop flight route between Newark
Airport and Columbia, South Carolina, specifically at the request of David
Sampson specifically to make his trips to his vacation home easier for him
and his wife.
The allegation is that he requested that United establish that
convenient flight path for him, and in exchange, he would hook United up
with some of the projects they wanted to do and some of the treatment that
they wanted as an airline at Newark Airport.
And, you know, who is to say? Could be a coincidence. I`m sure a lot
of people besides the chairman of the port authority might want to go from
Newark airport to Columbia, South Carolina. Might be a complete
coincidence, and that may yet be tested in court.
There is, however, the awkward fact that after David Sampson got
forced out as chairman of the port authority, after he got forced out
because of the bridge scandal, that specific United Airlines flight to his
vacation house in South Carolina was canceled by United three days later.
Well, chairman`s gone, no more need for the chairman`s flight.
I mean, if this is a case of bribery, I mean, that`s usually when that
gets charged is a public corruption matter. That is usually a problem both
for the bribee and the briber. Now, with the CEO of United Airlines being
forced out tonight, many analysts are saying this appears to be an effort
by United Airlines to avoid their prosecution as a company that did this as
By forcing out the chairman and CEO, they may, instead, be hoping that
only their top executives are going to end up in court and not the whole
airline as a corporate entity, prosecuted criminally. Eek.
And did I mention that Chris Christie right now is in 12th place in
Iowa with 2 percent in the polls?
So, the political news today is nuts. If that`s not nuts enough for
you, consider that tomorrow the anti-Iran deal rally on Capitol Hill will
feature not only Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, but also Glenn Beck. Remember
him? And Sarah Palin. Yes.
And, I should say, if you are unimpressed by the national security
bona fides of Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin, fear not. Today we learned that
Donald Trump told his most recent biographer for a forthcoming book that he
considers himself to have performed military service. Not that he was ever
in the actual military, but he did go to a military-themed expensive prep
school in the `60s. And because of that, Donald Trump tells his
biographer, quote, “I felt that I was in the military in the true sense.”
Because the news gods are benevolent and knowing gods with a generous
sense of humor, this revelation about Mr. Trump believing that he was in
the military will be followed one week from tonight by Mr. Donald Trump
giving a speech from a deck of a de-commissioned battleship. Our maybe
it`ll just be a yacht and he`ll call it a battleship.
I feel like it is! If he wears a flight suit, I will give you all a
dollar. That will be one week from tonight and one week from tomorrow
night will be the next Republican presidential debate. Because that`s what
the news is like now.
And I already love my job, but at times like this, it`s like it`s too
much. I should pay to be here instead of getting paid. You know, as of
tonight, we`ve been doing this show for seven years, exactly, this is our
seventh birthday. It has never been more fun to do this show than it is
Politics is always weird, but politics is never this weird. I am very
grateful. Thank you, news gods.
MADDOW: Because it is a day that ends in “Y,” Dick Cheney gave
another speech in Washington today. This one was him denouncing the Iran
nuclear deal. There was a protester at the speech who interrupted him at
one point. That led one very angry audience member to get himself all
crumpled and excited trying to grab her little banner out of her hands.
The audience member, I don`t know who it was, but the audience member
did not succeed at stealing the banner, although he`s quite wildly excited
There he is. Who are? What are you doing? He really wants the
He didn`t get it, but he`s very – anyway. I don`t know who he is.
But whoa, sit down, sit down.
The “don`t listen to Dick Cheney” protest today didn`t just come from
hecklers that upset audience members. They also came from the White House.
Did you see the “don`t listen to Dick Cheney” video thing that the White
House put out today? This is just a chunk of it. But watch this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS: Will say, well, Dick Cheney was wrong about
Iraq, why should they listen to you on Iran?
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Because I was right about Iraq.
Because I was right about Iraq.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: You think the American people are prepared for
a long, costly and bloody battle with significant American casualties?
CHENEY: Well, I don`t think it`s likely to unfold that way, Tim,
because I do believe we will be greeted as liberators.
Simply stated, there is no doubt. That Saddam Hussein now has weapons
of mass destruction.
BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: How do you think we got it so wrong? I
mean, we thought he had weapons of mass destruction and he didn`t. We
thought we`d be greeted with open arms and we weren`t. What happened?
CHENEY: Well, I don`t look at it as we got it so wrong. I think we
SCHIEFFER: We got a big part of it wrong.
RUSSERT: We have not been greeted as liberators.
CHENEY: Well, I think we have by most Iraqis.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are Americans that say it`s not worth
They did a lot to limit nuclear proliferation in the region while we
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: But the centrifuges went from 0 to 5,000.
CHENEY: Well, they may well have gone, but that happened on Obama`s
watch, and not on our watch.
WALLACE: No, no, no, by 2009, they were at 5,000.
CHENEY: Right, but I think we did a lot.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Is military action against Iran
CHENEY: I have trouble seeing how we`re going to achieve our
objective, short of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The White House put that out today ahead of Dick Cheney`s
anti-Iran deal speech this morning, and they promptly picked up support for
the deal from four more Democratic senators. Maybe there`s something
clarifying about having Dick Cheney be the voice of opposition to the Iran
deal. Clarifying in a bad way.
Hold that thought. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jeff Zeleny?
JEFF ZELENY, NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you, Mr. President.
During this first 100 days, what has surprised you the most about this
office, enchanted you the most about serving in this office, humbled you
the most and troubled you the most?
OBAMA: Let me write this down.
ZELENY: Surprised, troubled –
OBAMA: What was the first one?
ZELENY: And humbled.
OBAMA: And what was the last one? Humbled?
ZELENY: Humbled. Thank you, sir.
OBAMA: All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was President Obama on the 100th day he`d been
president. Jeff Zeleny of “The New York Times” asking the new president a
four-part question about what surprised, troubled, enchanted and humbled
him in his first 100 days in office, enchanted.
Now as a second term president, President Obama reached another one of
those benchmarks. As of today, there are exactly 500 days left in the
Obama presidency – 500 days from now, we will be swearing in a new
president in Washington, D.C.
And if you were president, at this point in your presidency, you`ve
been doing the job for more than six years, you got a pretty good sense of
what you can do, what you can`t do, what`s impossible, what`s a pipe dream.
I mean, if you knew you had 500 days left and after that point, you would
never been president again, this was your last shot to do whatever you want
to do that you can do, what would you try to get done in the last chunk of
And we already know most of the big things the president is going to
be able to put on his list of accomplishments, right? No matter what else
happens in his last 500 days in office, he`ll always be the president who
got health reform done after decades of other people calling for it and
trying for it and failing. He did it.
He will be the president who reopened U.S. embassy in Havana after
being shut for more than 50 years. He`ll be the president that allowed gay
people to serve openly in the military, who saw the legalization of same
sex marriage nationwide. He will always be the president who got bin
Laden. He`ll always be the president who got Syria to give up its huge
arsenal of chemical weapons.
He`s the president who brought the country back from the brink of a
second Great Depression. Barack Obama will go down in history as the
president who signed Wall Street reform and credit card reform and student
loan reform. He will always be the president who rescued the U.S. auto
industry when it was on the brink of extinction.
We know a lot of the things that will be on the list for this
president. But now today, as he starts his last 500 days in office as of
today, another one of those big pieces fell into place. If the Iranian
nuclear deal works, it will end the long standing global fear of an Iranian
nuclear bomb without having to go to war to stop it.
Forget how hard it was to negotiate that deal in Vienna, it was really
hard to negotiate that deal within our own political system with a
Republican-led Congress that did everything they could to try to throw the
Today, though, with four more Democratic senators announcing support
for the deal, we now know that the deal will not only survive efforts by
Congress to stop it, we now think that President Obama may not even have to
veto anything in order to get the deal through.
This is one of those things that the pundit class said couldn`t be
done. This was seen as an impossible political task in Washington. But
And looking at this huge political lift, this political
accomplishment, the success against all odds, if you were president, what
would that make you want to do next? Is there something about the way this
improbable victory has been achieved by the Obama administration that
clears the path or at least shows the path to what else could be done in
the last 500 days of this very, very consequential presidency?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: We know the cost of war. We know it
in human lives, we know it in casualties that return. We know it in the
cost to the American people.
Given a choice between the invasion of Iran or working in a diplomatic
fashion toward a negotiation so that we can lessen this threat and the
world, I think President Obama made the right choice. I support this
administration`s decision to go forward with this agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is the Democratic senator who led the effort
to secure the necessary support for the Iran deal in the U.S. Senate. He
was the first senator to give a floor speech in support of the deal –
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.
Senator, thank you very much for being with us tonight. Appreciate
DURBIN: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Is this done? Is there anything left up anybody else`s
sleeve that could upturn the Iran deal now?
DURBIN: No, I think it`s clear with 42 Democrats who oppose this
effort by the Republicans under a motion for disapproval, it`s clear what`s
going to happen on the floor of the United States Senate, even Republicans,
when they came together, 47 of them sending a letter to the ayatollah on
March 9th. Remember that, Rachel?
DURBIN: Forty-seven saying let me explain this constitutional
government to the ayatollah every member of the Senate Republican
One of the explanations was, they said, you know, it takes 60 votes to
approve one of these agreements in the United States Senate. They even
said that to the ayatollah, giving him a basics civics lessons. So, we
know that supporting the president`s position, they don`t have 60 votes.
MADDOW: Is there an issue as to whether or not the president will
have to go through with his promise to veto that resolution of disapproval?
Do you think that that matter is settled in terms of whether or not
something can actually clear the president and get to the president, even
though we know his veto would be sustained if he had to do that?
DURBIN: That matter is not resolved. It`s being discussed at this
moment. But here`s what we know with clarity, with 42 Democratic senators
supporting the president`s position, should he veto this major? His veto
will be sustained.
So, the question now is whether we drag this out for another week or
two or three with a looming possibility of a government shutdown, with no
budget, with no agreement on how to go forward. We think that since every
member of the Senate has publicly declared their position on this matter,
we should have an honest, open debate for several days, give every senator
a chance and cast our votes.
And if there aren`t 60 votes supporting your Republican position,
let`s move on to the next important item of business.
MADDOW: Senator Durbin, one of the procedural things seems unusual to
me but I realize I may not just get the contextual importance of it, is
that there`s been this call that all senators should be personally present
for the debate on this issue starting tomorrow. Obviously, you all work
there and you`re all there most days, but everybody – a lot of people are
out campaigning and doing other things around the country. Is that
important that there`s been this call for everybody to show up? Do you
think everybody will show up?
DURBIN: Well, I`m not sure exactly how many will stay in their seats
for every moment of the debate. We actually have sign-ups now that take up
most of the day tomorrow and the following day of people who want to make
statements on the floor. I think we should take this matter very seriously
and respectfully, I`m going to do my part to be there every minute I can.
And I think it will help the image of the Senate because it is an historic
The analogy that I drew earlier to the vote on invasion of Iraq, I
think, is the right parallel to what we are facing with this decision on
MADDOW: Senator, you worked so hard on this. That clip we played,
obviously, the first Senate floor speech in support of this deal. I know
that you behind the scenes and publicly have been advocating for this very
strongly. This was a really hard lift. This is something that a lot of
people said could not happen given the ambient politics around this issue
and the political calendar and everything else.
Having now won this political fight, do you feel like there were any
lessons learned? Do you feel like this tells us anything about, for
example, what else might be possible in these last 500 remaining days of
the Obama presidency?
DURBIN: What I found during the August recess, when many members were
relaxing and trying to forget Washington, I was on my cell phone texting
and talking to my colleagues. And they were in the process of reaching
their own conclusions. What a contrast.
On the Republican side, 47 sent a letter to the ayatollah in the midst
of the negotiations saying, ignore this president, ignore any agreement you
reach with him. We`ll have the last word.
The Democratic senators took their time, went through this matter
carefully, met with important people back in their own home states. One I
know came back to Washington, spent five hours in a closed meeting with the
They took this decision very seriously. And they knew how important
So, I would just say if you appeal to the best instincts of these
senators on my side of the aisle, they`ll work hard, they`ll get an honest
conclusion, and they`ll put the time in to make sure their judgment when
it`s finally made is one that they`re comfortable to live with.
MADDOW: Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois – as you say, on
the cusp tonight, on the eve tonight of what is going to be an historic and
important vote on this matter tomorrow. Even though we do at this point
know how it ends.
Sir, thanks. Thanks for this. Thanks for helping us understand it.
DURBIN: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. Still ahead tonight, we`ve got some new and unexpected
news on the race to replace President Obama. It is surprising news on the
Please stay with us for that.
MADDOW: So, today is the seventh birthday of this show. That means -
- thank you, Susan.
Seventh birthday, that means in cable news show years, we turned 74.
Which is a weird coincidence because Democratic presidential contender
Bernie Sanders is actually turning 74 today. And Bernie Sanders is about
to get a new opponent, which ordinarily isn`t a nice birthday present to
give anybody, a new person to run against for president.
But that story is unexpectedly interesting and that`s next. Stay with
MADDOW: If you were trying to come up with a short list of famous
politicians who hate each other, you`d be hard pressed to find two people
who fit that description better than Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich circa
By the end of that year, those two men would find themselves on
opposing ends of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. It would
not be long before Newt Gingrich was leading a failed impeachment crusade
to try to remove President Clinton from office.
But in June 1995, those two guys held a town hall event together in
Claremont, New Hampshire. It was and remains the only town hall event held
ever jointly by a sitting president and the sitting speaker of the House.
It was nice.
At one point, on one issue, they agreed on the spot to work together
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), THEN-HOUSE SPEAKER: I`ve never heard this proposed
before. Maybe if we had a ribbon commission of people that had respect and
integrity that would look at the lobbying process.
BILL CLINTON, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: I thought you were talking about
health care reform.
GINGRICH: No, no.
CLINTON: You want to do it on lobby reform? In a heartbeat, I
GINGRICH: Mr. President –
CLINTON: Because otherwise, we cannot pass lobby reform. I would
love to have a bipartisan commission on it. That`s our only chance to get
anything passed. I accept.
GINGRICH: Let me, let`s shake hands right here for everybody. How is
that? Is that a pretty good deal?
CLINTON: I accept.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I accept. Let`s make a deal right now. Let`s work together
on this. It was very nice.
They never did anything. They never worked on it. Not really and
So, the let`s work on getting money out of politics, bipartisan, top
of the heap agreement made in public, big showy handshake, that led to no
political progress on the subject.
Since then, the Supreme Court has struck down the most significant
campaign finance laws in the country. Candidates now just fully outsource
their campaigns to super PACs that can raise unlimited and sometimes
anonymous money, Jeb Bush.
Now, if you`re not a billionaire who is running for president, it is
almost imperative you find yourself a billionaire because everybody knows
you won`t be able to compete without some Daddy Warbucks somewhere writing
huge checks to keep you going and who knows what they get in response?
It`s been 20 years since that town hall in Claremont, New Hampshire.
Tomorrow, that same town, Claremont, New Hampshire, will be on the
political map again for the same reason but minus Newt Gingrich and Bill
Clinton toothlessly promising to do something they never do. Because
Claremont, New Hampshire is where tomorrow, the sixth Democratic candidate
for president will announce his new campaign. And he`s going to Claremont,
New Hampshire, specifically because of that failed promise from 20 years
Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig is the new Democrat getting into
the race as of tomorrow. I`ve got to say, the fact that he is Lawrence
Lessig is almost beside the point. He`s basically running an idea for
president. He`s running the idea of getting big money out of our democracy
as a presidential campaign.
He has promised to leave his job at Harvard and to jump into the race
on the – he promised to do that if he raised $1 million in small donations
by Labor Day. That was his self-imposed goal about whether or not he would
run. He met that self-imposed goal by Labor Day.
And he`s not fooling around. Lawrence Lessig confirmed to us tonight
by phone that he has, as of today, taken a leave from his teaching position
at Harvard in order to focus on the race.
And check out how he`s going to do it. This is what he`s promising.
Lessig says if he were to win the White House, he would single-mindedly
work on that narrowly focused agenda, on that issue of getting big money
out of politics and unskewing our elections. That`s his whole agenda.
He says he would work on that once he got that done which he wants to
do in a specific, detailed way. Once he did that stuff, he would quit, he
would hand over the presidency to his vice president and presumably go back
to being a law professor at Harvard. One agenda? One item on the to-do
list and then out, he would leave.
I do not think that Lawrence Lessig will be our next president. But,
in a presidential race where Donald Trump is leading the Republican field
by a mile and Bernie Sanders is drawing tens of thousands of people to go
see him speak even in red states, who is to say Lawrence Lessig becoming
candidate number six on the Democratic side won`t have some significant
Maybe this Claremont, New Hampshire event will get us somewhere on
money and politics, unlike that pointless dog and pony show 20 years ago.
Joining us now as the director of the Monmouth University Polling
Institute, Patrick Murray.
Mr. Murray, thanks very much for being here.
PATRICK MURRAY, MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY POLLING INSTITUTE: M y pleasure,
MADDOW: What happens to the Democratic polling landscape when you
pour in a new candidate? Obviously, we don`t know the kind of support that
he`s going to have. But do you know huh this will affect the unsettled
waters over there?
MURRAY: Yes, usually, I mean, somebody like Larry Lessig probably
wouldn`t get into the polls, at least right away. You`d have to show
something, you`d have to get those kind of rallies that maybe Bernie
But because of the way the race has been shaken up with Bernie Sanders
and on the Democratic side and the way the Republican race is going with
Donald Trump jumping in and just totally changing the landscape there, I
can guarantee that Larry Lessig is going to start being – I`m going to put
him in my next poll of Democrats, because he`s going to be the only
outsider, the only person who hasn`t run for office in the Democratic
field. And I think there is at least some thirst for that type of resume,
that type of credibility.
Now, how much can he get? I don`t know. I mean, I think Bernie
Sanders has pretty much eaten up the liberal vote that I think Lessig would
appeal to. But I think the idea of running this referendum presidency
MURRAY: – is kind of interesting.
I agree with you, he`s not going to be the next president, because we
don`t vote for ideas for president. We want people who are going to serve
a four-year term to be president.
But just putting that idea out there, I think the big question will
be, will it force somebody like Hillary Clinton to make a little turn in
her campaign strategy if this idea really does take hold in a similar way
that, say, the immigration debate has taken hold in the Republican Party.
MADDOW: Well, it was – I don`t know if it was a coincidence, we did
have that major statement from Hillary Clinton today on campaign finance
reform. How she wants to get money out of politics. I don`t know if she
timed that to coincide with Larry Lessig getting in the race, but you have
to think it`s going to be more of an a pointed discussion because he`s in.
On that point of polling on him, that`s the threshold for how you get
into the debates.
MADDOW: Different on the Republican side than on the Democratic side
because of their giant field. But he would have to be included in poling
in order for him to make that threshold.
How do pollsters make the decision?
MURRAY: We usually make that decision by, if someone gets in the
race, are they already an officeholder, statewide officeholder, if you`ve
been a governor, if you`ve been a U.S. senator, I think you automatically
If you haven`t done that, have you run for office or do you already
have a national profile? And that`s why Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump and
Ben Carson were in our list for Republicans from the very beginning. On
the Democratic side, it`s a lot more interesting because Larry Lessig does
not have a household name, but I think because of the turmoil that we`re
seeing in the Republican Party because of the entrance of Donald Trump and
this desire, I mean, in our last Republican poll, a majority of Republican
voters selected one of the candidates that never held political office as
So, I think you have to give Larry Lessig a shot in the polls right
now because the Democrats I think there is a similar sensibility out there
MADDOW: Right. And if that is – and if that is a non-ideological
preference of voters over a significant chunk of voters right now that it`s
not about conservativism or liberalism but outsiders, Democrats having
somebody like that will be a very interesting choice.
Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth University Polling Institute and
a person who talks about these things in a way that everybody understands,
thanks for being here. I appreciate it.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So remember the good mood and national happiness when the
U.S. women`s team won the World Cup this summer? That was great.
Now for something completely different, this is today. Look. During
the men`s World Cup qualifying match between the nations of Malaysia and
Saudi Arabia. The national men`s team of Malaysia has been playing really
terribly recently. They just lost 10-0 to United Arab Emirates in a
qualifying game last week.
After that match where they lost 10-zip, their coach quit the next
day. Then today they played again. Their brand new coach begged the fans
to be peaceful.
But Malaysia`s fans started to throw flares, and fireworks and smoke
bombs on to the field in the middle of the game.
I understand being overwhelmed by your emotions and throwing trash or
cups or something but these guys came to the stadium armed with smoke
bombs, fireworks and flares so they could do this.
Players walked off the field. They did not return. Officials
suspended the match entirely. You kind of have to when the field`s on
The match never ended. It never will. FIFA will just decide what the
outcome of the game was.
But here`s the thing – Malaysia was only losing 2-1 when their fans
went so nuts and set the place on fire. Now the fans did go so nuts, who
knows what will happen to the game or the team.
Our American NFL season starts this week. It will hopefully start
with considerably fewer flares, fireworks and smoke bombs being thrown from
MADDOW: This is one of those news stories that doesn`t look like a
national story at first glance but it is. In this case it was arson.
On Friday, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington state was burned
down. The clinic is still partially standing but apparently support beams
were burned through. The fire department says the building is now
This happened in Pullman, Washington. It`s where Washington State
University is. It`s about 75 miles south of Spokane. It`s just over the
state line from Moscow, Idaho.
But the arson designation for that fire at that Planned Parenthood
clinic, that is something to watch, not only for its own sake but because
Planned Parenthood is about to become the center of the Republican
political universe again.
Congress came back to work today. The deadline to pass a bill to fund
the government as Senator Durbin said earlier this hour, the deadline is
the end of the month. So far, dozens of congressional Republicans say they
will not agree to fund the government unless Congress also somehow cuts off
all funding to Planned Parenthood.
Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is making noises about wanting to lead
the fight for a government shut down over the issue of Planned Parenthood.
Presidential candidate Rand Paul is going to headline an anti-Planned
Parenthood rally in Washington, D.C. the day after tomorrow.
But in the background now of all of that is this one clinic, this one
Planned Parenthood clinic that burned in Washington on Friday. I should
tell you that particular clinic does not provide abortions, but it`s not
like the anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric is appreciative of that kind of
The local fire department and the joint terrorism task force for that
part of the Northeast, they now say that that clinic burned down because of
arson. They do not have anybody in custody. They are investigating.
But because of the history of domestic terrorists, targeting abortion
providers, it`s not going to be just a local police investigation in
eastern Washington state. This is going to be the FBI and ATF, as well.
Pullman, Washington. But also Washington, D.C.
Watch this space.
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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