The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/7/15

Bob Costa, Tulsi Gabbard

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Alex. I`m jealous that you
are in San Francisco. Excellent show tonight. Nice to see you.

Thanks to you at home as well for staying with us this hour.

First thing with us this hour, a moment of personal privilege here.
My mom immigrated to this country from Canada. Nothing against Canada, per
se. But she found work here that she couldn`t find at home. A lot more
opportunity here than she had where she grew up. She also met my dad here
and he turned out to be a pretty good catch.

But my mom, even after she was together with my dad and they were
married and everything, my mom was a Canadian citizen. And at the time,
the way policy worked on that issue she had no real option of becoming a
dual citizen of both countries. If she wanted to become an American, she
was also going to have to make a decision about being a Canadian. In order
to become an American, she would have to give up her Canadian citizenship.

And she really didn`t want to do that. No beef with Canada, right?
And giving up your citizenship of birth, that is a hard thing to do for
anyone, no matter where you`re from.

But my mom made the decision to do it. She decided to become a U.S.
citizen. It was a hard call but she did it. Because there was one thing
she really wanted to be able to do which she could not do without becoming
an American citizen.

And that is she wanted to vote. She wanted to vote specifically for
this guy. She wanted to vote for Gene McCarthy, the anti-Vietnam war
candidate who ran for Democratic presidential nomination in 1968. And Gene
McCarthy did not win the presidency in 1968. He didn`t even the Democratic
nomination for president that year, despite my mom`s best efforts.

But his campaign at times was like a lightning bolt in U.S. politics,
particularly for young people who were really opposed to the war at the
time. There were times during the Gene McCarthy campaign when it really
felt like he not only had a shot, it felt like he was going to win. That
was never more true than this one day in late July, 1968, when he filled up
Fenway Park in Boston.

That day at Fenway, Gene McCarthy broke every previous record for any
kind of campaign event for a presidential primary candidate from either
party – 40,000 people turned out to see Gene McCarthy at Fenway Park, that
hot July night in 1968.


EUGENE MCCARTHY: If the nation has been talking about freedom as we
have for nearly 200 years, every now and then the people will manifest it.
And this is the year of manifestations!


MADDOW: Gene McCarthy, like I said he did not win. But 45,000 people
turning out to see him on a summer night when he was still trying to get
the nomination that year, that tells you something about the enthusiasm for
him and for his campaign. In my family, personally, it was life-changing

Forty-five thousand people turning up to see him in Boston tells you
something about where the country was at that year, no matter how it turned
out. It tells you something about where the country was at and how people
were filling as all the candidates vied that year for the presidential

Couple of nights ago, I said that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had
set a new crowd-size record in Massachusetts when he turned out 24,000
people at the Boston Convention Center to hear him give his populist stump
speech this past Saturday night.

It turns out that Bernie Sander`s turnout, it was a record for recent
history. That was a turnout record for my lifetime, but it was not a
turnout record for my mom`s lifetime. Senator Sanders this weekend did
eclipse the 10,000 people who candidate Barack Obama turned out in Boston
during the 2008 campaign.

But you take a wider lens, Gene McCarthy, he beat them both. Gene
McCarthy back in the day with 45,000 people, he beat them both. He set the
all-time record.

And Gene McCarthy went on that year, 1968, to win Massachusetts in his
fight for the nomination, but he didn`t win the nomination himself. The
nomination went to Hubert Humphrey, and Hubert Humphrey lost to Richard
Nixon that year, and we got five more years of the Vietnam War and we got
Watergate and all the rest. My poor mom.

But now, this year, with the best chance anyone has ever had of
becoming the first woman major party nominee, and the first woman president
of the United States, with that candidate facing a surprisingly robust
challenge from this ramble-rousing independent socialist senator who is
turning out really big crowds and who`s beating her in the polls in New
Hampshire, with still this amazingly unknown prospect of a very popular
sitting vice president jumping late into this race himself, this year –
today, in this year`s amazing race, my mom`s daughter today just got word,
I just got word that I will be moderating the Democratic presidential
candidates this year in a presidential candidate forum that is going to
take place in South Carolina on Friday, November 6th. It`s very exciting.

This has been in the works for a while but it is now confirmed today
that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie
Sanders, former Governor Martin O`Malley, all of them have said yes to the
invitation they received to this event from the Democratic Party of South
Carolina. South Carolina, of course, holds the first in the south primary
for both the Republican and Democratic nominating contest.

So, this event is interesting. It`s being sponsored by the South
Carolina Democratic Party but it`s being co-sponsored by all the other
Southern state Democratic Parties. It`s being cosponsored by the
Democratic Parties of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West

So, it`s a big event, especially for Democrats trying to figure out
how they`re going to compete in the South. It`s going to take place at the
Winthrop Coliseum, which is at Winthrop University which is in Rock Hill,
South Carolina.

Now, there has been controversy in the Democratic Party this year that
the party has officially sanctioned only six debates for the Democratic
candidates this year. Looks like the Republicans will probably have twice
that number. But this newly announced forum in South Carolina, I have to
tell you, it does not affect that fight over the number of debates. This
thing that I`m going to be moderating, it`s not a debate. It is a forum,
which means the candidates will take the stage one at a time, one after the
other, to take questions from me.

Excited? Yes. Terrified? No comment.

But this did formally get out on the schedule today. It is going to
happen between the first two Democratic debates. It`s going to air live
here on MSNBC, Friday night, November 6th.

But while we are on the subject of the Democratic contest, today,
Hillary Clinton made very big news in that contest when she announced that
she is now opposed to the big trade deal that has been so controversial in
Democratic politics for the past year or more. It`s a trade deal that was
strongly supported by President Obama, strongly opposed by many Democrats
including liberal firebrands like Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Secretary
Clinton`s primary opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders.

This announcement from Hillary Clinton today, this does represent a
shift for her on this subject. She had previously voiced qualified but
pretty clear support for this trade deal. She said in her book, hard
choices in 2014 that it makes sense to reserve final judgment until we can
evaluate the final proposed agreement. But as secretary of state in 2012,
she was giving speeches calling it the gold standard in trade agreements.
Well, now, today, despite that qualified but evidenced support for it in
the past, now today, she says she is opposed.


INTERVIEWER: So, are you saying that as of today, this is not
something you could support?

today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it. What I know, and
again, I don`t have the – we don`t yet have all the details. I don`t
believe it`s going to meet the high bar I have set.


MADDOW: Now, in practical terms, in terms of what this does. The
White House has – Congress already gave the White House fast-track
authority to get this trade deal done. And this big political shift on it
isn`t likely to change on that.

I mean, as on Keystone and a few other issues, though, like this, what
we`ve got right here now politically is an emerging consensus among the
Democratic candidates, that they all basically agree on most of all the
issues. I mean, Hillary Clinton may still want a no-fly zone in Syria and
the other candidates don`t, but on the Keystone pipeline, on gay rights, on
this trade deal as of today, on some of the fundamentals in gun reform, on
Obamacare, on the basics of big money in politics, on a lot of this stuff
Democratic candidates agree on policy. At least they do now.

And the fight therefore, among the Democrats is not going to be over
which policy is best. They have settled that. They all agree on what
policies are best. They all have the same basic policy prescription. The
fight among them is going to be, I guess, who got to those beliefs first
and when they changed their minds if they did have to change their minds
and why they did if they did.

This is Bernie Sanders tonight at an Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
event in Washington, D.C.


Keystone pipeline, whether it`s TPP, these are issues to I have had a very
strong opinion on from day one. And I can simply say I am delighted that
Secretary Clinton is on board, opposition to the TPP. To be very frank
with you, it would have been more helpful to have her onboard months ago
when the fight was 60 votes.


MADDOW: And the latest people on the PPP poll of Democratic voters
nationwide, Hillary Clinton is ahead of Senator Sanders nationwide by a
margin of 20 points. If Vice President Biden gets in the race in this PPP
poll, Hillary Clinton is beating Joe Biden head to head by 13 points.

PPP in this latest poll also gets cheeky and polls Secretary Clinton
ahead against the last nominee for the Democratic presidential nominee who
was named Barack Obama, they poll her against John Kerry. They also poll
her against the Democratic nominee before that guy, as well.

Secretary Clinton in a head to head matchup beats Al Gore, it turns
out, by 45 points, I never would have thought to ask. In a head to head
matchup, she beats John Kerry by 52 points. Oh, and for good measure, she
also beats Elizabeth Warren, if Senator Warren hypothetically jumped into
the race, she beats her pretty handily as well by 30 points.

The Democratic race for president is not a big policy fight, at least
not yet. It is interesting to note and liberals take heed. Liberals take
heed that even in this strange Democratic primary, the results of the
Democratic primary process so far really has been really to drag all the
candidates towards basically the same major policies on most of the same
major issues.

Politically, though, the Democratic primary is still running mostly as
a referendum on whether Secretary Clinton should be the Democratic nominee.
If you look at the polls right now, she is mostly winning that referendum,
at least so far. We will whether the debate schedule finally starting up
on the Democratic side, with the first debate scheduled next week, and our
forum schedule there after, we`ll see if that process changes any of those
dynamics on the Democratic side.

On the Republican side, though, their debate schedule on their process
has already started and it has already taken a big bite out of the list of
candidates who are running. On the Republican side, it`s a very different
race. They`re already driving some of their candidates out of the race.
And today at least, that seemed to drive some of the top tier candidates to
distraction. And that story is still to come tonight.

We`ve got lots ahead tonight. It`s a big show.

Hi, mom.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: OK, watch this. I love this.


MADDOW: That really was a TV ad for Richard Nixon`s 1972 presidential
campaign when he was running for re-election. That ad, with all that
singing, it was two minutes long. It was a two-minute long TV ad.

Campaign ads of that length are expensive. Because of that, they were
a rare thing then, they are definitely a rare thing now. But over-long
campaign ads can be really effective when they`re done well.

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama bowled everybody over by closing
out his campaign with a two-minute long ad, which was no singing. It was
just him talking straight to the camera for two minutes.

Then in his re-election effort in 2012, Mr. Obama did it again,
running an oversize minute and a half long ad. This one was about the
Osama bin Laden raid.

TV ads as a species are 30 seconds long, right? Maybe they`re a
minute long. Anything longer than that, and even if it is still an ad
honestly, it feels like something else. When something becomes longer than
30 seconds or longer than a minute, it gets our attention if only for that
reason. It at least feels like a big deal.

And this political campaign this year just got our first one of those.
It`s an ad called “Run, Joe”, which was put out today by the group Draft
Biden, which the vice president himself is not affiliated. It is an
emotional minute and a half ad basically begging Joe Biden to get into the
presidential race.

Draft Biden is spending six figures on this ad. They say it`s going
to run on national cable networks. It debuted today. Nobody knows whether
or not Vice President Biden is going to run. Anybody speculating on
whether he`s going to run really just speculating, nobody knows except him.

But this ad, this minute and a half long ad is designed to get
noticed. And honestly, it is designed for an audience of one. We`ll see.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: The great Steve Kornacki filled in for me last night while I
was traveling back from the West Coast. And while I was in transit, on a
layover waiting for connecting flight, something caught my eye at the
airport newsstand, wouldn`t it catch your eye?

“At Home with the Trumps”. Donald Trump and Family, from the cover of
“People Magazine”, along with his wife and his son.

You know, and maybe it`s not that weird, maybe I shouldn`t have felt
like it was real surreal moment and I wasn`t sure if I was awake, Donald
Trump is on a lot of magazine covers and has been since he started his run
for president.


these are all different magazines over the last two, three weeks that came
in. That`s “New York Magazine”, “Rolling Stone”, “The Economist”,
“Newsmax”, “Newsweek”, “The New Yorker”, “Hollywood”, “Time Magazine”,
“Newsweek Magazine,” this is over – there has to be some kind of a record
bump, right?

But this is over a short period of time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a favorite?

TRUMP: Well, I thought the stories – some of the stories were good.
I thought the “Time Magazine”, the cover of “Time” was a good story. I
think the cover of “People` was very good. That`s not here.


MADDOW: I`m lucky I got one. I hear it`s very good.

Notice of all the copies he has of all the magazines he is in? But,
seriously, despite Mr. Trump`s face on the cover of all of these magazines
over the past few weeks, despite all the attention in the press, the
competing narrative right now lately has been that Mr. Trump must be on his
way down. He must not be the presidential frontrunner on the Republican
side for much longer.

That if you listen to the beltway press and headlines right now you
would think that it was all over for Donald Trump. Somebody should
probably ask the Republican voters before they write any other of those

Oh, wait, we do have the free Republican voters in national polls and
in swing state polls, and in early state polls, a new Quinnipiac poll shows
Mr. Trump as a very clear right in Florida, despite the fact that two
native Florida sons are running against him. Mr. Trump at 28 percent in
Florida in this new Quinnipiac poll, that`s up from this summer in that
same poll by seven points.

Also the Quinnipiac polls in Ohio today, Donald Trump on top in Ohio
in the previous Quinnipiac poll in that state. He had been losing the
Governor Kasich there, but now, Mr. Trump is number one.

In Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump is leading out totally ahead of the pack at
23 percent.

By way of comparison, the establishment choice for who`s going to win
if Donald Trump doesn`t, Jeb Bush, at 4 percent in Pennsylvania right now.
It`s not for lack of trying.

Just this week, the Jeb Bush, one of the Jeb Bush supporting super
PACs made a $1.9 million ad buy in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
That`s how much they`re spending to run ads in those three early states
just this week.

That`s roughly the same amount that Mr. Trump has spent so far on his
entire campaign in total, in terms of his staff spending and everything
else. $2 million which includes zero spending by Mr. Trump on the ads.

Now, I don`t know if that figure accounts for like the gas in Mr.
Trump`s plane, but honestly, big picture, he is not spending money. And
the people who are aren`t winning. He`s the one who`s winning.

And now, we should apparently get ready for his second act.
“Washington Post” got that tour of Mr. Trump`s office this week. They
report today that Mr. Trump is signaling an evolution towards a somewhat
more traditional campaign. According to Mr. Trump, his wife and family are
about to start doing more campaign events. We should expect to presumably
see more of them. Cue the “People Magazine” “At home with the Trumps”
cover maybe?

Political consultants will also apparently be working to make sure
that he is definitely getting on state ballots which can be a tricky
prospect. We are also told to expect political ads. Mr. Trump is pre-
bragging about his future ads which he has not yet run, today telling “The
Post”, quote, “I have such a great concept. In fact, so good.”

But then, of course, as he is wont to do, Mr. Trump declined to reveal
his idea. Kind of like his plan against ISIS.

Already at a campaign event in Iowa today, though, we may have gotten
a taste of what may be Trump 2.0, Trump traditional candidacy. Today at a
campaign event in Iowa, there were signs posted not just with Trump head
shots and Trump slogans, make America great again, but today for the first
time, it was evident at a Trump campaign event in Iowa, that they wanted
people to actually go to the caucuses and work for him. What they have
started posting now is information, walking voters through the Iowa caucus
process, telling them what is actually needed to help Donald Trump win or
at least compete on Iowa caucus night this year.

Joining us now is Robert Costa. He`s national political reporter for
“The Washington Post.” He brought up this story today of Trump 2.0.

Mr. Costa, it`s nice to see you.


MADDOW: I have been of the belief about Mr. Trump that he has been
doing so well because he does nothing that we expect from a regular
candidate. Does he recognize the threat in becoming a traditional
candidate to the extent that it makes him seem more like the people he`s
running against?

COSTA: We went over this with him for an hour in Trump Tower. And he
said, in terms of his style, that`s not changing. But in terms of his
operation, if he wants to compete, if he wants to be in this long term, he
has to get on the ballot, and eventually, he`s going to have to counter the
negative ads that are surely coming. That`s why he`s hired an ad firm.

MADDOW: In terms of the ad campaign, I think it is stylistically
hilarious that he says he has an amazing idea for ads, but wouldn`t tell
you what it is. There had been some anti-Trump ads run already. The
Campaign for Growth has been running a very highly focused group ads
against him.

Do you get the sense that he is taking inspiration from anybody other
than himself? He`s learning strategy from anything else in politics, or
should we expect his ads to be, sprung from the mind of Trump?

COSTA: I think sprung from the mind of Trump. If you look at his
social media campaigns, they`re very pointed, they`re a little edgy. I
think when it comes to his ad campaign, he said it`s going to be almost
like a marketing campaign for a company. It`s going to be a little spoofy
perhaps, it will be out there. But he thinks that`s what works, this kind
of year.

MADDOW: Here you say this, I feel like – over the past everybody has
tried to come up with wacky ways to break through what looks like a
political ad. I mean, Carly Fiorina is a great example of that, having
done purposely bizarre ads to try to break through.

I guess what I`m asking from your perspective as you`ve seen –

COSTA: I think he`s going to do attack ads, as well.

MADDOW: You think he`s going to do individual attack ads –

COSTA: If you look at what his campaign says when it comes to
Fiorina, when it comes to Carson, he is willing to take them on. And I
think he sees a real competition for that outsider vote come January or
February, I`m not sure when he goes on the air waves. He was coy about
that. But I think he`s going to be going – there are no bio spots, he was
clear about that. We`ll see negative ads, not really an introduction.

MADDOW: No bio spots for like the life of Trump?

COSTA: Right, and he –

MADDOW: I`ll do those. That will be great.

Let me ask you, in terms of the nuts and bolts that he is planning on
doing, we did see those caucus instructions go up today in Iowa. That`s a
concrete example of something that he`s doing to try to actually win
instead of just get good press. When you look at what he is trying to do
to get on the ballot, the other things that he is doing in terms of
organizing the nuts and bolts campaign. Do they seem like skilled people?
Are they organized people?

COSTA: I think one of the most under-reported parts of the Trump
campaign is it comes out of the Koch brother`s network. The Koch brothers,
American for Prosperity, Corey Lewandowski, Trump`s campaign manager came
directly from being a grassroots organizer, national voter registration guy
for the Koch brothers.

MADDOW: For Americans for Prosperity?

COSTA: For Americans for Prosperity. He was working in New Hampshire
for AFP. He comes right out there to work for Trump. If you look at
Trump`s Iowa network, New Hampshire, it`s full of AFP poll. It`s a
grassroots volunteer type campaign.

MADDOW: Meaning that – and the implication of that is that those
people have gone through some over and pretty carefully planned training in
terms of how to be political –

COSTA: Very much so. And they understand data analytics. I mean,
you look for example, his Iowa campaign, he has Rick Santorum`s former
operative, Chuck Laudner, who`s bringing this bus around the state and
signing up people in Walmart parking lot. It`s a non-conventional campaign
but it`s backed up by a Koch brothers trained staff across the country.

MADDOW: Robert Costa, national political reporter for “The Washington
Post”, who always reliably brings something totally new to every
conversation. Robert, thank you.

COSTA: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. Still ahead: brand-new baffling word gumbo, from
the man who is probably about to become the speaker of the House.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNA: Why wouldn`t the president treat
America the same as he`s treat Iran?


MADDOW: The same as he`s treat Iran, right? The same as he`s treat.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: So, the goal in this clip, the project at hand is to erase a
white board. This is their 17th try, watch.


MADDOW: Rube Goldberg-ism in the world and at play.

Something like that happened today in the very serious end of the news
when Russia launched 26 missiles of a type they have never used before from
900 miles away into the middle of the Syrian war. In choosing to use that
new missile, Russia may have been mostly showing off. Maybe they were just
wishing President Putin a happy birthday today.

But maybe what they`re trying to do is prove they can until upset the
balance of geopolitical power by surprising everybody with a move that
nobody expected and nobody knows how to react to. Hold that thought.


MADDOW: Sometimes, truth comes out in other manners.


MCCARTHY: Sometimes truth comes out in other manners.


MADDOW: In other manners?

It wasn`t what I in my mind was saying out there.


MCCARTHY: It wasn`t what I in my mind was saying out there.


MADDOW: It wasn`t what I in my mind.

And believe me now I do not want to make that harm Benghazi – I do
not want to make that harm –


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: This has been a bit of a setback.

MCCARTHY: It`s been a setback, yes, because I do not want to make
that harm Benghazi committee in any way.


MADDOW: I do not want to make that harm Benghazi committee in any

Kevin McCarthy is not getting better. When he gave his foreign policy
speech the first business day after John Boehner stepped down as speaker,
the kind-hearted among us wondered if maybe he spoke so incoherently in
that speech just because it was the first day, just because he was nervous,
first day jitters, maybe.


MCCARTHY: We don`t have the same as difficult decision, but this
White House is managing the decline and putting us in tough decisions for
the future. Petraeus and Crocker had an effectively politically strategy
to match the military strategy. The simple promise to all of our heroes
who need when they need it most. The president would allow the ban on
Iranian oil exports to be lifted. And also stand by a Russia blackmails an
entire continent, all the while keeping the place of the band on America.

In the past few years alone, I have visited Poland, Hungria, Estonia–


MADDOW: That was first – that was – we`re not editing that stuff.
That`s just like – that was the first day back at work after John Boehner
resigned. John Boehner resigning put Kevin McCarthy in line to be the next
speaker of the House.

But it turns out we now know those were not first day jitters, that is
just kind of the way he tries to talk. That`s the way he is all the time,
we now know because after that first gobbledygook, nonsense, mad libs, bad
lip reading translated back into English from some other language foreign
policy speech, in the days after that disaster, he kept on keeping on.

And it was days after that when he said totally unprompted on the FOX
News Channel that Republicans had created the Benghazi committee to bring
down Hillary Clinton`s poll numbers – which obviously is something
Republicans did, but they`re not supposed to admit it.

After defending that for a few days today, Mr. McCarthy finally
admitted that he messed that up. You know, but even when he was still
defending it, he still really truly even when he is not trying to read from
notes, he is still truly continued to have a very hard time talking in a
way that makes sense.


MCCARTHY: I do not want to make that harm Benghazi committee in any


MADDOW: Despite this verbal incapability, can I think is going to
become an object of fascination nationwide, if they really do go through
with making him speaker, despite his verbal trouble, House Republicans do
seem set to go ahead tomorrow with nominating Kevin McCarthy to be the new
speaker of the House, which would put him third in line to the presidency
after Vice President Joe Biden.

And even today, on the precipice of that achievement, as he is more
and more frequently now being asked about the big issues of the day, and
America`s role in the world, still today the man cannot speak in a way that
consistently makes sense.

Honestly, this is just today. This is not getting better. This is –
OK, Kevin McCarthy asking today why wouldn`t the president treat America
the same as he has treat Iran.


MCCARTHY: But as we recently discussed, this president put forward an
Iran agreement. Why wouldn`t the president treat America the same way as
he`s treat Iran?


MADDOW: The same as he`s treat Iran, or trick or treat Iran the same
as he`s treat.

Speaker to-be Kevin McCarthy, what about world leaders? Mr. McCarthy,
world leaders, what do they use energy to put influence? Do you have any
thoughts about that?


MCCARTHY: When you think about what is going on in the world and you
look at world leaders, they use energy to put influence almost like a
military resource.


MADDOW: They use energy to put influence almost like a military
resource, OK? OK.

Another question, is this speaking problem going to be a problem? If
this man really does become third in line to the presidency as speaker of
the House, will this communication issue be a problem? No problem, no way,
there are a lot of people who lead a very good job. So he is fine.


MCCARTHY: We got a lot of members inside this conference that lead a
very good job getting the message out and will continue to do it.



MADDOW: Well, all right. Lots of members lead a very good job of
getting the message out. We`re going to have a little more on the show
tonight about what might happen with Republicans in Congress tomorrow,
whether they`re really going to put this guy in such a high profile, highly
sensitive, internationally visible role. It almost beggars belief that
they might pick him, but they might.

And honestly, maybe he will do great. Maybe he will. But on days
like this, it`s still funny, still amazing. But it`s also daunting to see
something like that.

I mean, when news like today`s news happens, I don`t envy anybody who
is in the upper echelon in the decision-making role. When news like
today`s news happens, it sort of seems more crucial than ever that the
people at the top freaking know what they`re doing.

Today, Russian war ships in the Caspian Sea started launching these
cruise missiles into Syria. These Russian missiles are called Caliber NK
cruise missiles. Today was the first time Russia ever put them into use,
other than in training.

With no warning, Russia launched 26 of these medium range cruise
missiles today. Those missiles flew more than 900 miles through both
Iranian and Iraqi air space, and then they landed in Syria, they reportedly
struck 11 targets in Syria.

The Russian defense ministry said that the missiles were so precise
they hit within nine feet of their intended targets, reportedly destroying
ISIS positions. That`s what Russia is saying, belive it or don`t. But
that happened today.

Russia decided to use these huge missiles it has never used before in
the real world, and it used lots of them, with zero warning. And they went
more than 900 miles and they landed in the Syrian war.

And this follows news from a couple of days ago that Russian and
Turkish jets basically had a mid-air confrontation. Russian jets violated
the air space of Turkey at least twice, and Turkey scrambled jets to go
intercept the Russians and escort those Russia warplanes back out of their
air space.

And it`s one thing to think of that as, oh, a fight between Russia and
Turkey, that`s an interesting thing. But it`s another thing to remember
that Turkey is part of NATO, and so when it comes down to it, that is a
Russian/NATO fight in the air. And, of course, we are part of NATO.

And today, we also got news from the Pentagon that a U.S. jet bombing
ISIS targets in Syria had to reroute its path. The U.S. jet to change its
course to avoid the Russian warplanes who are also flying over that same
part of Syria fighting the Russian war there, which is a very different war
than our war there.

Russia started its war against in Syria less than a week ago.
Already, all of that stuff has already happened. Russia firing these
missiles it has never fired before in combat, and then sending out
propaganda videos bragging about it today. Russia violating Turkish air
space, NATO airspace, U.S. and Russian jets, not only bombing on opposite
sides of the same war, but now actually coming into close contact with each
other in the air.

In a movie, the way this ends is that there`s a war between the United
States and Russia. I do not believe this is that movie. But it is awful
hard for me to understand how serious this is, because it feels really
freaking serious. And we`re going to take expert advice on the subject
when we come right back.



ASHTON CARTER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We are not prepared to cooperate
in a strategy which is – as we`ve explained, is flawed. Tragically flawed
on the Russians` part. We continue to have a fundamental strategic
disagreement and believe that their strategy is fundamentally flawed.


MADDOW: U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter today saying firmly and
repeatedly that Russia is doing their own thing in Syria. The U.S. is
against what they`re doing and it`s not cooperating with them, with Russia
firing cruise missiles into Syria from 900 miles away today, with Russian
and U.S. jets having incidents right now as they occupy the same air space
over Syria for very, very different reasons.

How serious is this? Everybody keeps saying, we don`t want a proxy
war with Russia over Syria. It`s starting to feel like a proxy war with
Russia over Syria. How serious is this, and what realistically are our

Joining us now is Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. She`s an Army combat
veteran from the Iraq war. She`s also a member of the House Armed Services

Congresswoman Gabbard, thanks very much for joining us tonight. Nice
to have you here.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: Thanks, Rachel. Aloha.

MADDOW: How – I guess, how serious, it`s a very general, wide-
ranging question, but how serious do you think the issue is? How concerned
are you about these latest reports?

GABBARD: I`m deeply concerned, Rachel, with what`s happening there in
Syria. But for its reasons that go deeper even than all of the news
reports that we`re hearing. The real concern that I see here is that our
leaders continue to lose sight of what our mission really is. What the
United States` mission really is. And this is something we saw started
after 9/11 with President Bush when he went into, rather than focusing on
defeating al Qaeda, al Nusra, and these other Islamic extremist groups.

Instead, he was distracted by removing secular dictators like Saddam
Hussein. We saw this continued with President Obama and then Secretary
Clinton, and the removal of Gadhafi in Libya. And in both of those
situations, Rachel, we have seen the results. The results are countries
that are overrun with chaos and Islamic extremists. And this is the danger
that we`re seeing now with this lack of focus on mission and who our enemy
really is in Syria.

And here is the irony in all of this and the thing that is deeply
concerning to me is that the United States is actually partnering with
these Islamic extremists on the ground, al Qaeda, al Nusra, ISIS and
others, in supporting the removal of Assad. Rather than focusing on
defeating our enemy, those who attacked us on 9/11, because what happens
is, as the United States and others are focused on saying Assad must go, if
Assad is overthrown tomorrow, these Islamist extremist groups who are
united by one purpose, and that is to take over Syria, overrun the country
and present a greater threat not only to the Middle East but to the world.

MADDOW: The White House would say, the administration would say that
there is a way to be opposed to Assad but be unwilling to fight that war.
And instead to prioritize fighting ISIS. They would say they`re trying to
thread that needle. I think they concede it is difficult but that is what
they would say their focus is.

My question is, whether or not that focus is being realized on the
ground, now that Russia is in there fighting a full-blown war, including
cruise missiles and basically totally unconstrained targeting of people,
even those who are aligned with the United States, what does that scramble
to, to what is already a very difficult mission?

GABBARD: Well, first of all, I can tell you as a soldier, I know very
basic concepts. And that is you don`t defeat your enemy by also
simultaneously helping them at the same time. ISIS, al Qaeda, al Nusra,
all of these different groups are focused on removing Assad, because they
know that if he goes, they will be the first one in the door. And what
we`ve seen on the ground, the chaos, and the human suffering, we`ve seen so
far will only grow by many multiples. But we`ll also see now these groups
will have all of these capabilities that Assad currently has.

So, you know Russia sees the outcome if Assad falls. So they`re
attacking these groups, these Islamic extremist groups who are trying to
take over this country and Syria, and what I`m saying is for us in the
United States what`s in our best national interest is to focus on who
exactly our enemy is and not continue to fall into these same mistakes of
the past and get into this mission of toppling secular dictators that we
know will end very badly not only for the people in the region but for the
American people, as well.

MADDOW: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, it`s always a pleasure to talk
with you about these issues. Thanks very much for being with us tonight.

GABBARD: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks.

All right. One thing you should know tonight, at 10:00 Eastern Time,
right after this show here on MSNBC, don`t even have to get up and change
the channel, it`s going to happen right here. It`s the documentary “Blood
Lions”. I have not yet seen this documentary, but in the building,
everybody who has seen this thing says it is absolutely fascinating and

You will not see Lawrence O`Donnell tonight. You`re going to see
“Blood Lions” here on MSNBC, coming up after the show. It`s supposed to be
amazing. It comes highly recommended.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Most days you think you know what a Republican sounds like.
Most days you know what Republican positions are on the issues and how
Republicans talk. But every once in a while, the Republican Party throws
out a curveball.


REP. WALTER JONES (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Lyndon Johnson is probably
rotting in hell right now because of the Vietnam War, and he probably needs
to move over for Dick Cheney.



MADDOW: That man is a serving Republican member of Congress, and what
he just did today is rather stupefying. And that story is next.


MADDOW: One nice thing about Walter Jones in North Carolina is he
just signs his name Walter. And he is a congressman, he`s a longstanding
congressman, but it`s not like he`s so well known that if you say Walter,
everybody knows you`re talking about Congressman Walter Jones. But that`s
apparently how he signs his name, even on official correspondence. Walter.

One other nice thing about Congressman Jones is that he had a
legitimate, dramatic un-cynical change of heart on a really important
issue. He initially voted for the Iraq war. He was almost a zealot on the
issue. He was one of two members of Congress who insisted the
congressional cafeteria change the name French fries to freedom fries as a
protest against France not joining that war.

But within a couple of years, Walter Jones was openly and earnestly
regretful about that vote in support of the war. He ended up sponsoring
numerous pieces of legislation to try to end the Iraq War.

Walter Jones is a far right conservative on a lot of issue, but he`s
an iconoclastic, interesting guy. He`s nothing if not unpredictable.

But even if you start with that understanding of Walter Jones, what he
has just done is a surprise, even for him. It`s a surprise, it`s very
provocative, it`s raising eyebrows all over Washington today, because
nobody knows exactly what he means. But what he`s done is he has written
this letter to the chairman of the House Republican Congress today.

“Dear Chairman McMorris Rodgers, I have had the pleasure of serving
the third district of North Carolina for the past 20 years in Congress.
Some of the most difficult times have been when our Republican leaders or
potential Republican leaders must step down because of skeletons in their
closet. We`ve seen it with former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Representative
Bob Livingston who run for speaker in `98. With all the voter distrust of
Washington felt around the country, I`m asking that any candidate for the
speaker of the House, majority leader or majority whip withdraw himself
from the leadership election if there are any misdeeds he has committed
since joining Congress, that will embarrass himself, the Republican
conference, and the House if they become public. Thank you, Walter.”

And then he handwrites at the bottom, quote, “I believe this question
is important to the integrity of the House.”

Congressman Jones, is there something you would like to tell us about
the candidates for Republican leadership? Who is this directed to? And
what kind of misdeeds?

We did not hear back from Congressman Jones when we put that question
to his office today. But he did tell, quote, “In this world
we live in today with you young guys and the internet and everything, all
the blogs and the papers, I just felt when I leave at 5:00, nobody knows
what I do. If anybody running for leadership has, after 5:00 had an issue,
drinking and driving or playing cards or anything, then I think the
conference needs to know it.”

House speaker candidates, are you doing any card playing after work?
It`s time to fess up and get out of the way. And quick!

Because House Republicans are going to make their choice for speaker
of the House tomorrow, Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California is expected
to win that vote unless House conservatives can come together behind some
alternative. As of tonight, it doesn`t look like that`s happening.

The House Freedom Caucus said they would vote as a bloc to support the
candidacy of a Florida congressman named Daniel Webster. But even if they
all support him as a bloc, that still doesn`t get him enough votes to end
up being speaker. It just might make them have enough votes to keep Kevin
McCarthy from becoming speaker. So then what happens? Turn to the
Democrats for help?

Kevin McCarthy`s conservative critics are unlikely to be able to keep
him from getting the job, if only because they cannot agree amongst
themselves on any one candidate, any one strategy to defeat him. But
anything is possible. We`re going to find out tomorrow if House
Republicans come up with some viable idea for trying to keep Kevin McCarthy
from becoming speaker. We`ll find out tomorrow if he really is going to
become the nominee.

Once he`s nominated, we need to find out if he gets the votes to
ascend to the speakership without having to turn to Democrats for help.

All of the – amidst all of that drama, because of Walter Jones, we
now also have something else to wait for. We may also find out tomorrow
who exactly Walter Jones so worried about in terms of his or her post-5:00
p.m. activities and/or card playing.

It`s all going to go down tomorrow in Congress. It`s one of the most
interesting fights in Congress for a long time. Watch this space.

That does it for us tonight. We`re going to see again tomorrow.

But right now, it`s time for something very special here in MSNBC.
Right now, it is time for the premier of the documentary “Blood Lions.”


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