The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/27/15

Robert Costa

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you.


MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

After the first Republican presidential debate this year, you might
remember that former Texas Governor Rick Perry quit running for president.


I`m suspending my campaign for the presidency of the United States.


MADDOW: Rick Perry was the first major candidate to quit the
Republican presidential race. That happened after the first Republican

Then, after the second Republican debate, it was Wisconsin Governor
Scott Walker who quit the Republican race for president.


in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately.


MADDOW: So, so far after each of the Republican debates, we`ve had
one of the major household name candidates for the Republican presidential
nomination quit the race.

Well, now, we`re about to have the third debate tomorrow night. And
I ask you, I beseech you, is no one else going to quit?

Apparently not. Tomorrow will be the second consecutive Republican
debate in which former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore has not only not
allowed on the stage, he`s not even allowed at the kids` table. But even
so, Jim Gilmore is apparently not quitting the race.

In fact, this week, Jim Gilmore called on Marco Rubio to quit the
race. He said Marco Rubio should quit running for president because he`s
missed too many votes in the Senate. You go them, Jim Gilmore.

Jim Gilmore, though, is apparently himself not quitting. If not Jim
Gilmore, my best guess for who might quit next all along has been Bobby
Jindal. I mean, when CNBC and the Republican Party announced their
qualifying criteria for the debate and Bobby Jindal was once again for a
third straight time slated to appear only at the kids table and not the
main stage, remember, the Jindal campaign threatened if he was going to get
stuck at the kids table, Bobby Jindal just might not show up at all.

The debate`s logistics for tomorrow night`s debate arguably were
tweaked at the request of the Ben Carson and Donald Trump campaigns. Once
that happened, Bobby Jindal`s campaign got up at a time leg and said if
other candidates are demanding changes and getting them, we want a change,
too. We want the qualifying criteria to change so Bobby Jindal will be
allowed to sit with the big kids for the first time ever. Or maybe we
won`t show up.

As far as I can tell, nobody even bothered to respond to that threat
from the Bobby Jindal campaign. But today, he caved. His campaign
announced that despite that previous threat, despite no changes that ha
would allow Bobby Jindal to get into the big debate or anything, Governor
Jindal won`t boycott. He will actually participate in the so-called
undercard debate. He will show up for the kids` table and be there in
Boulder tomorrow night just like he has at the previous two debates when
they didn`t let them on the big stage either.

Quoting from “The New Orleans Times-Picayune” here, quote, “Asked
what`s changed since Jindal`s threats not to appear, the campaign said,
quote, `We just thought about it.`”

And so, Jim Gilmore is not dropping out and Bobby Jindal is not
dropping out. That kids table debate tomorrow night is slated to be these
four candidates. Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Rick Santorum and South
Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. None of those candidates has made it on
to any main debate stage yet.

Among those four candidates, though, I will say Lindsey Graham was
definitely the candidate most improved between the first kids table debate
and the second kids table debate. On the left side of your screen, you see
basically what Senator Graham looked like in the first debate. It looked
like somebody that either just punched him in the kidney or maybe hurt a
small animal that he felt emotionally close to. In the second debate in
contrast, he was cracking jokes. He kept talking about drinking. He
seemed to be enjoying himself at the second debate.

So, that may be one factor worth watching tomorrow night at the kids
table, is Lindsey Graham going to revert to sad, miserable Lindsey Graham
from the first debate or going to be the fun guy we saw at the kids table
last time?

Another thing to keep in mind with Lindsey Graham for tomorrow night
is that he`s actually having a Lindsey Graham sized surge in the polls
right now. In the last national poll that came out for the Republican
nomination nationwide, the CBS/”New York Times” poll which came out early
this morning, Lindsey Graham gets more support than he has had all year
long in national polling.

Look at that, Lindsey Graham has surged ahead to 2 percent in this
latest national poll which not only puts him ahead of everybody else with
whom he will be seated at the kids table tomorrow night, it also puts him
ahead of one of the candidates on the main stage, Lindsey Graham at 2
percent in the latest national poll frankly doubles Chris Christie`s 1
percent showing in the latest Republican national poll. He`s swamping
Chris Christie.

Governor Christie`s campaign continues to do much more poorly than
had been expected. One percent in a national poll is not a new low for
Governor Christie. He`s been there before. It is not a good place to be
heading into the third debate.

Governor Christie is supposed to be an excellent debater. He`s
supposed to shine at an event like we`re going to see tomorrow night. So
the stakes for him will be very high in terms of the importance of his
debate performance tomorrow night in Boulder.

In preparation for tomorrow night`s debate, Governor Christie has
been doing a bit of a media blitz, including this interview alongside his
wife which the governor did this morning on CBS.


INTERVIEWER: Right now, the polls are not in your favor.


INTERVIEWER: Yes. I`m not rubbing it in but they`re not in your
favor. Even the residents in your own state are not saying Chris
Christie`s our guy.


INTERVIEWER: That`s got to sting a little bit.

CHRISTIE: No, it`s kind of natural. That`s kind of natural.

INTERVIEWER: Why is it natural?

CHRISTIE: Because when you say that you want to leave and take
another job, people get offended. They wonder why doesn`t he want to stay
here forever?


MADDOW: Governor Christie arguing that New Jersey residents give him
terrible poll numbers because they just love him too much. Their affection
is too strong. And so, it comes out seeming like the opposite of affection
but really it`s love.

This is such a weird line from him. Chris Christie has been trying
this all year long. This is not – this is not by any means the first time
he has tried to use this very, very novel explanation.


MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: The polls in New Jersey right now say by a 65
percent to 29 percent margin, the New Jersey voters say you would not make
a good president. Now they know you the best. Why shouldn`t we trust

CHRISTIE: They want me to stay. A lot of in that 65 percent want me
to stay. I`ve heard that from lots of people at town hall meetings, don`t
leave to run for president because we want you to stay.

KELLY: But they say you would not make a good president.

CHRISTIE: No, I think people hear the question they want to hear.


MADDOW: Forget what they were asked.

That was Chris Christie five months ago trying to get away with that
line. He`s still trying to get away with it now which maybe is the kind of
astonishingly self-deceiving egotistically mindless optimism/Shinola that
you need in order to persist with your presidential campaign when you are
at 1 percent in the polls and losing to Lindsey Graham, the captain of the
kids table.

There really is no sign that Chris Christie is quitting the race.
There`s no sign that Rand Paul is quitting the race, or that Bobby Jindal
is quitting the race, or even Jim Gilmore is quitting race, or any of them
are quitting the race. Nobody is getting out even after the early
departures of Rick Perry and Scott Walker ten days apart in September
created the expectation there would be a faster pace or at least a more
regular pace of these guys in this giant field quitting, getting out. They
are in fact not getting out.

And even tonight, they continue to try to reinvent themselves and
relaunch themselves and roll out brand-new stuff.

Tonight in Denver, Colorado, Senator Rand Paul spoke before what was
billed as a big Rand Paul rally. He did only get 300 or 400 people to show
up. But immediately before taking the stage tonight, Rand Paul announced a
new plan to the press. He has a new plan that he`s going to mount a one-
man filibuster against the bill to raise the debt ceiling.


to announce today is that I will filibuster the new debt ceiling bill. I
think it is a horrible – it`s hard for me not to the use profanity in
describing it.


MADDOW: Manfully resisting the urge to use four letter words but
saying he will filibuster the new bill to raise the debt ceiling, the new
bill which was agreed to by White House and congressional negotiators
apparently as late as last night. The bill was put forward today.

For what it`s worth, if you were wondering if this is a serious
legislative maneuver by Rand Paul or a serious act of governing by Rand
Paul, or whether this might just be a campaign stunt, it should be noted
for the record Rand Paul technically cannot filibuster the debt ceiling
bill. It`s not allowed.

The rules under which they are bringing up the bill will allow
Senator Paul to speak for a grand total of one hour in opposition to it if
he so chooses and that is not a filibuster. He will presumably call it a
filibuster and raise money on it in the hopes that will make you want to
vote for him for president. So, that`s kind of the definition I`ve
campaign stunt but make of it what you will.

The more surprising and more important new campaign gambit that was
tried tonight came from Ohio Governor John Kasich. He held a rally in his
home state of Ohio today. It was billed as a sendoff rally for his trip to
Colorado for tomorrow night`s debate.

At that rally in Ohio today, John Kasich basically hit the button
marked mad as heck and I`m not going to take it anymore. And what he said
today in Ohio, it`s not the kind of tone or the kind of argument that we
are hearing from other Republican presidential contenders.

And so, therefore, maybe this is dangerous for John Kasich. But
maybe it`s the sort of hinge that might set him apart from everybody else
in the field. Watch this.


crazy this election is? Let me tell you something, I`ve about had it with
these people. And let me tell you why.

We`ve got one candidate that says we ought to abolish Medicaid and
Medicare. Have you ever heard of anything so crazy as that? Telling our
people in this country who are seniors who are about to be seniors that
we`re going to abolish Medicaid and Medicare?

We`ve got one person saying we ought to have a 10 percent flat tax
that will drive up the deficit in this country by trillions of dollars that
my daughters will spend the rest of their lives having to pay off. You
know what I say to them is why don`t we have no taxes, just get rid of them
all, and then a chicken in every pot on top of it.

We`ve got one guy that says we ought to the take 10 million or 11
million people and pick them up – I don`t know if we`re going to go in
their homes, their apartments, we`re going to pick them up and we`re going
to take them to the border and scream at them to get out of our country?
That`s just crazy. That is just crazy.

We`ve got people proposing health care reform that`s going to leave
believe millions of people without adequate health insurance.

What have has happened to our party? What has happened to the
conservative movement?


MADDOW: Ohio Governor John Kasich today, not sounding at all like
the other Republican candidates for president. And maybe what you just
heard from him there, maybe that`s not a Republican friendly message the
way he`s criticizing the other contenders in the race.

But you know what? Seeing like just another candidate among all the
zillions of people running on the Republican side hasn`t been working for
John Kasich up until now. This is different. Maybe this sort of thing
will help him break out.

Honestly, that side of John Kasich that you just saw in that tape is
why I have always seen him as a dark horse potential contender in this race
even as his poll numbers have stayed low. But that said, I`m a bad
predictor. And in a field of candidates this had giant, it`s hard for
anybody to predict what`s going to work, what`s going to hurt and make
somebody stand out in a good way versus standing out in a bad way.

I honestly think the most surprising thing about this giant field of
candidates at this point in the race is just that the field of candidates
is still this giant. Only Scott Walker and Rick Perry have quit. Nobody
else appears to even be mulling getting out.

They just tonight announced the criteria for the next Republican
debate, the one after tomorrow night, the fourth one that`s going to happen
November 10th in Wisconsin.

And they just announced tonight at that debate again, they`re going
to have another kids table. They`re going to have a main stage and then
the sidebar happy hour kids table secondary stage. They can`t get rid of
the kids table because none of the kids will leave. They`re still
expecting to have over a dozen candidates by not just tomorrow night but by
the next debate in mid-November.

So, this is the field that just will not shrink. But think back to
those last two candidates who did actually quit. When Rick Perry quit in
September and Walker quit a couple of weeks later in September, both of
them in their announcements that they were suspending their campaigns did
not just announce that they were out. They both explicitly announced as
they were quitting that part of the reason they were quitting is because
they felt that it was very important that Donald Trump not be the
Republican nominee for president and they hoped that their quitting might
help that cause.


PERRY: The conservative movement has always been about principles.
Not about personalities. Our nominee should embody those principles. He
or she must make the case for the cause of conservatism more than the cause
of their own celebrity.

WALKER: I believe that I`m being called to lead by helping to clear
the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to
the top of the field. I encourage other Republican presidential candidates
to consider doing the same so that the voters can focus on a limited number
of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the
current front-runner.


MADDOW: Nobody is quitting anymore. But the last two guys that did
quit, quit they said because they thought it would give the Republican
Party a better chance of ousting Donald Trump as the fronts runner for
their party`s presidential nomination. In both of those instances, Rick
Perry quitting and Scott Walker quitting, they didn`t do anything to hurt
Donald Trump at all.

But today, for the first time, Donald Trump actually has been knocked
out of the lead. Dr. Ben Carson is now not only leading in the last four
Iowa Republican polls, Dr. Ben Carson now as of today`s “New York
Times”/CBS poll is leading for the first time since the Fourth of July in a
nationwide poll of Republican voters. Dr. Carson is now ahead of Mr. Trump
by four points.

Donald Trump and Ben Carson are at 22 points and 26 points
respectively in this latest poll and look then what happened. Nobody else
in the Republican field is even in double digits. They`re at 26 and 22.
The next closest person in the race is Marco Rubio at 8 percent.

But still, with Ben Carson ahead of Donald Trump, that is the first
major lead change of the race. Contrast it with 2012 when it felt like the
lead changed every 10 days.

This today is the first time that Donald Trump has relinquished his
position at the front-runner in almost four months. As of tonight though,
he is running second. What a weird race. What a weird and exciting time
for them to be having their next debate.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: So, this is slightly late breaking news. It`s at least
something in politics that just happened. It was a very unusual campaign
appearance tonight in Iowa from the man who until recently was the Iowa
front-runner and the national front-runner but who now as we just mentioned
is trailing Dr. Ben Carson in four straight Iowa polls and in his first
national poll today, as well.

Apparently judging from what just happened at this campaign
appearance in Iowa, that whole not winning anymore thing is not wearing
well for the former Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
Watch this.


I`ve been at the top of the polls almost at the top. You know, we`re doing

Iowa, will you get your numbers up, please? Hey.


When you get these numbers up, I promise you, I will do such a good
job. Will you get the numbers up, Iowa, please? This is ridiculous.

I mean, what is my competition? In all fairness, in all fairness,
what is my competition? Do you think these guys – I`m not going to say
Carson. I`m not going to say Rubio who really is way down.

I mean, I am second. It`s not like terrible but I don`t like being
second. Second is terrible to me. So, we could we do, please do me a
favor? Let me win Iowa. I`m not leaving Iowa. I`m not leaving Iowa.

Now, if I lose Iowa, I will never speak to you people again. That I
can –


MADDOW: Candidates oftentimes ask for votes, candidates sometimes
beg for votes, candidates very rarely threaten to speak to the whole state
of Iowa again if they don`t win the Iowa caucuses. That again, all the
standard rules are kind of out the window this year. That just happened
tonight in the Sioux Falls. More ahead.



was so good that by the time the game was over someone had changed her
title on Wikipedia from midfielder to president of the United States.


Which by the way, the job`s about to open up.


What`s another candidate in the mix? I guarantee you Carli knows
more about being president than some of the folks who are running. But
that`s a whole other –



MADDOW: President Obama hosting the U.S. women`s national can soccer
team at the White House today, praising star midfielder Carli Lloyd and
throwing some shade at the current crop of presidential candidates. One
might expect that he meant most of that shade for the Republican candidates
who are starting to gather now in Colorado ahead of tomorrow night`s debate
in Boulder.

Joining us to talk about how the campaigns are approaching this,
what`s at stake for them, what we should expect tomorrow, is Robert Costa.
Robert Costa does great unparalleled reporting, particularly on Republican
ins and outs.

Robert, it`s great to have you here. Thanks for joining us.


MADDOW: So, this is the first debate in wit Ben Carson is the – is
leading in a national poll and in Iowa. His performances in previous
debates, at least to my mind, have not been all that memorable. What do we
know about how his campaign is approaching this tomorrow night now that
they`re in this new position?

COSTA: I`ve huddled with Carson`s campaign, his top advisors and his
friends and they said previous debates, Carson was just trying to survive,
introduce himself to the country. Now they expect Trump to be on the
attack. The key for them, they said, is to remain calm. To keep that cool
temperament that they think is helping them ascend in Iowa.

MADDOW: Do they worry at all that cool reads to some people as
sedated? As sleepy?

I feel like there are people who like him already, appreciate that
aspect of his demeanor, people who either don`t like him or who are new to
paying attention to politics can be either put off or at least a little
distracted by just how slow and softly he speaks.

COSTA: Well, there is a cool and calm surface to Dr. Carson. But
when you talk to Carson supporters and his team, they tell you that he has
a razor sharp message. He speaks in apocalyptic terms about the future of
the United States. He has a hard right view when it comes to his ideology
on most fronts. But he has appreciator like cadence, a doctor`s bedside
manner. They think that`s the right combination for electorate in the
Republican Party that embraces evangelicals, religious conservatives, but
at the same time wants things defined in stark terms.

MADDOW: Robert, are there any campaigns who see their candidate as
being in do or die mode with this debate tomorrow? Who has sort of the
greatest downside risk of needing a good performance, potentially being at
grave risk if they have a really bad night tomorrow? Who has the most to

COSTA: At the top of that list, former Governor Bush. His campaign
won`t say it , but Bush donors, Bush supporters long-time bush family
friends say this is in a sense a do or die moment for the governor because
he`s not catching on. He`s had to slice the salaries of his staff. He`s
looking for a moment. And he`s not as convincing in having that John
Kasich-type punch back at the outsiders.

So they need him to revive his campaign whether it`s talking about
his Florida record or going after Trump, they`re not sure exactly how it`s
going to unfold but they think he needs to have a big night.

MADDOW: Carly Fiorina was the big relative term winner of the last
debate. I think that`s inarguable. She got a big polling boost out of the
second debate. But she has not been able to sustain it. She sort of
disappeared since that initial polling bump.

Is the Carly Fiorina campaign any better positioned now to bottle
that lightning, to try to sustain any renewed interest if she does really
well tomorrow night on that stage?

COSTA: It`s hard to say because Fiorina has had a tough few weeks.
She`s not been able to sustain her momentum coming out of that Reagan
Library debate in terms of small dollar donations. She had a bounce.

But it`s hard, if you`re not a national media like every day in the
same way Trump is or Carson is doing on the campaign trail, getting those
conservatives excited, Fiorina shows the limitations of these debates. It
can give you a bounce but doesn`t sustain, it doesn`t give you everything.

MADDOW: In terms of stuff that`s breaking late that may be a factor
tomorrow, Marco Rubio tonight and announced he`s against lifting the debt
ceiling, against the debt ceiling bill agreed to in Washington. Rand Paul
said tonight he will filibuster that bill, even though it seems like
technically under the rules you can`t really filibuster it.

Is that big Washington story likely to travel to Colorado and to
factor in tomorrow night?

COSTA: Certainly. When you speak to every campaign who has
participated in these debates, they say that Trump, Carson battle, that
dynamic is going to paramount. It will likely dominate.

But the debt ceiling, the budget deal coming out of Washington, a new
speaker in Paul Ryan, look for Senator Cruz to harken back to his days of
the government shutdown. Senator Paul, Cruz, and others to say, we`re
going to go against what they call the Washington cabal to really draw the
fault line between the establishment and grassroots. Washington is an
issue at the top of the agenda.

MADDOW: It will be interesting to see if there`s a lot of inveighing
against the debt ceiling deal, if it changes the weather around in
Washington. In Washington, it feels like it`s going to pass if we get a
full two hours tomorrow night from the leading Republican lights on that
stage inveighing against it. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Robert Costa, national political reporter for “The Washington Post” -
- thank you as always. It`s great to see you.

COSTA: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. So, today, I got to tell you on the eve of this
big third Republican debate, somebody played what is kind of a cruel joke
on Donald Trump.

Somebody apparently mocked up a terribly insulting cover of what
purports to be Donald Trump`s new book which is due to come out next week.
Whatever you think of Donald Trump, come on – he would not possibly call
his new book “crippled” something, right? He would not possibly use that
particular picture of himself on the cover.

This in fact seems like a joke today when was unveiled as the cover
of his new book. But that really is the cover of Donald Trump`s new book.
The new book really is titled “Crippled America.” I feel like I have to
apologize even for saying it out loud while reading it.

With regard to the picture, Mr. Trump said today, quote, “I wanted a
picture that reflected the anger and unhappiness that I feel.”

Mission accomplished. That is a very unhappy making thing all
around. And it could be yours for the low, low price of $24.99 on sale
next week.


MADDOW: A few days ago, on the House floor, just after he had locked
up the support of his Republican colleagues in his bid to become speaker of
the House, Congressman Paul Ryan was handed a letter. He was handed this
letter. It`s from Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama. If the name Mo Brooks
is ringing a bell, it`s because Mo Brooks is also the congressman who just
that said if Hillary Clinton is elected president, she should be impeached
on her very first day in office. That`s Mo Brooks.

And this is what Mo Brooks wrote to Ryan in this letter:

“Paul, yesterday during discussions about the speaker race, you made
two representations about immigration that stood out. One, it`s unwise or
unproductive to bring up any immigration legislation so long as Barack
Obama is president. And, two, as speaker, you will allow any immigration
bill to reach the House floor for a vote unless the immigration bill is
supported by a majority of the majority of Republican House members.
Although you talk faster than I can write your words down, I believe the
above statements properly reflect what you said. If your assurances as I
have portrayed them are accurate, then I am much more comfortable voting
for you for speaker on the House floor. If, however, you would use the
speaker`s chair to advance an immigration belief system that is
unacceptable to the Americans I represent, it will be very difficult for me
to vote for you for speaker on the House floor.

Sincerely, Mo Brooks.”

It says handwritten at the top of the letter. It says hand delivered
on House floor to Paul Ryan at approximately 4:00 p.m., October 22nd, 2015.

Paul Ryan then called Mo and confirmed accuracy of letter at 5:20
p.m. Smiley face star. Not really.

So if you`re wondering what exactly it was that Paul Ryan had to do
to get his party`s hardliners on board with him being speaker, well, there
it is in writing. Paul Ryan doing a written deal with Mr. Let`s Impeach
Hillary Clinton on Day One, to make sure, to promise that immigration
reform absolutely positively will not happen. Keep that in mind the next
time somebody gives you that facile Beltway lip service about how
Republicans really want to do immigration reform, too.

Tonight in Boulder, Colorado, just down the street from the site of
tomorrow`s Republican presidential debate, tonight in Boulder, Republican
and conservative Latino groups gathered to a big public event which they
described as a warning to their own party. A warning to Republican
candidates ahead of that debate tomorrow these conservative and Republican
Latino activists convening this meeting tonight and telling the press
basically to tell the Republican candidates that they must stop race-
baiting and insulting Latinos even though that has really been the hallmark
of this presidential campaign thus far.


expect us to come to your side during the general election. You are not
with us now, we will not be with you then. You don`t need our vote now,
you won`t have it then. You insult us now, we will be deaf to you then.
You take us for granted now, we will not recognize you then.


MADDOW: Wow. Heed our warning.

These are not liberal immigration reformers. This is not like La
Raza or something, right? These are conservative activists many of whom
have worked in high level positions in Republican administrations. This is
Republican Latinos begging the party to come to its senses in the way they
talk about Latinos and deal with the issue of immigration.

That is happening tonight at the site of the next Republican debate.
And meanwhile, today, we learned in writing in a letter introduced into the
congressional record now, in writing in order to become speaker of the
House, Paul Ryan had to promise his own caucus that immigration reform is
definitely 100 percent dead. I won`t even try.

I do not think the Republicans are heeding this warning from
beleaguered Latino members of their own party.


MADDOW: So, the country`s been fairly transfixed for the last 24
hours by this shocking and hard to look at tape of a police officer inside
a South Carolina public high school classroom, really brutalizing a young
female student, throwing her to the ground, dragging her across the floor.
It is just a terrible scene to see in any context. It is made all the more
terrible because it is in a classroom.

The officer in this incident is white. The student, the young woman
in this case, is black. This is a very upsetting thinking and part of a
pattern of police behavior toward African-Americans that has been driving a
pretty intense national conversation for the past couple of years now.

Well, in terms of how this particular incident is being handled,
here`s what you need to know. The officer in this case has been suspended
without pay. The sheriff you see here who leads his department made
remarks tonight about the internal investigation into the case. The
sheriff is being criticized for having noted in his remarks as a seeming
non sequitur that this deputy has been dating an African-American woman
recently. Great.

But in terms of what to watch for next here in this case, that has
obviously been upsetting to a lot of people for clear reasons, the FBI says
it`s going to look into the case. But what to watch for tomorrow is that
the sheriff`s department itself says they`re going to release their own
independent investigation into what happened here very, very fast. They
say they`re going to release their findings of their independent internal
investigation tomorrow.

So, that`s worth knowing about tomorrow, because we are expecting to
hear that from sheriff`s department tomorrow, you should expect tomorrow to
be another full day of focus on that very, very upsetting tape from that
South Carolina high school.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: So last week, we got the stunning news out of Iraq that
American Special Forces reported to be Delta Force launched a dramatic last
second raid on an ISIS facility where ISIS was apparently holding more than
70 hostages and was preparing to execute them all in a mass execution the
next morning at dawn. This is video supposedly of that raid that was
provided exclusively to NBC News. It appears to have been taken on helmet
cameras from Iraq by Iraqi Kurdish forces during that raid to free those
ISIS hostages.

That mission was not – we`re told – designed as an American-led
mission. These American commandos were there in support of Iraqi Kurdish
forces but it was the Iraqi Kurdish forces who themselves were supposed to
be leading, they were the ones carrying out that raid.

That said, things don`t always go accord according to the plan and
what the Pentagon says is, once a considerable fire fight started on that
site, with ISIS forces on the ground, the American forces moved out of
their support role to instead participate in direct combat. And it appears
that on the ground that was a hell of a fight. We`ll have more on that in
a moment.

Since those initial reports though about that dramatic raid and
rescue, there have been a couple of fairly stunning further developments in
the story.

First of all, the Pentagon released this tape of cockpit camera
footage showing a coalition aircraft going backing to that ISIS site on the
same day of the raid after all those hostages had been freed and you can
see whatever is dropped by this plane blows that place to smithereens. So
that is prison in which they were holding all those hostages, that facility
is now gone, leveled.

Also, as soon as we got word of the raid, we were told right away
that one American had been killed in action during the raid. They didn`t
at first release the identity or any information about that soldier.

We have since been told that the American who was killed is Master
Sergeant Joshua Wheeler. Master Sergeant Wheeler was 39 years old. Which
to us civilians probably sounds old for a frontline soldier involved in
direct combat, but apparently that is not all that unusual for very
experienced high level Special Operations forces. They can tend to be
older than you might expect because it has taken them that much time and
that much experience to rise to such an elite level of the U.S. military.

In addition, it`s almost unbelievable to say but what we know about
Master Sergeant Wheeler`s military record is also fairly typical of those
incredibly elite forces like Delta Force which is that the number of
deployments he had to Iraq and Afghanistan is measured in the double
digits. The Pentagon says that he had been deployed to Iraq and
Afghanistan 14 times, which is almost impossible to wrap your head around.
I mean not just imagining the demands put on a soldier like him, also just
imagining the demands put on his family, 14 deployments.

The third piece of information that we have learned since the
stunning news about that raid is that direct combat by U.S. forces
literally with boots on the ground doing the fighting against ISIS, at
least according to the Pentagon, that is not going to be an exceptional
circumstance anymore.


ASHTON CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We won`t hold back from supporting
capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL or conducting such
missions directly, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the


MADDOW: Direct action on the ground. Secretary of Defense Ash
Carter testifying today before Senate promising honestly what sounds like a
big change in U.S. policy, promising that U.S. forces are now going to
start engaging in ground combat against ISIS rather than just helping out
the Iraqis or Syrian rebel groups to do that fighting on their own.

So, first, it was U.S. air strikes against is in Iraq and Syria.
Then it was U.S. troops on ground in Iraq in an advising and training
capacity against ISIS. Then, of course, it was U.S. special operations
raids in Syria and in Iraq.

And now, it is apparently U.S. ground combat direct action on the
ground by U.S. forces and not just in Iraq but in Iraq and in Syria, as

This seems like a biggest escalation. This seems like a big policy
change to be announced in a pretty soft spoken way in unheralded testimony
before a Senate committee that basically had no spectators there.

Is it actually as big a change in policy as it seems? Are we now
moving to a boots on the ground combat operation in Iraq and or Syria? And
is this agreed to already or is the Pentagon just announcing this is
something they would like to do?

“The Washington Post” says today President Obama is considering this
as a change in policy, but the way the defense secretary put it today
basically sounded like it was a done deal and this is the new way things
are going to be.

What is going on here? This does seem like a really big deal.

Joining us now to try to sort it out is Courtney Kube, NBC News
national security producer.

Courtney, thanks for your time tonight. It`s nice to have you here.

having me.

MADDOW: Is this a big policy change? Isn`t this boots on the

KUBE: So, if you ask the White House, they insist this is no change,
this is just an extension of what`s already been happening there.

But our question back to them was, well, then give us other times
there have been raids that the U.S. has been involved in like the one in
Hawija that we saw in Iraq last week that freed all the prisoners?

The reality is, this is a change. The U.S. has been in Iraq in an
advisory role. They`ve had a counterterror mission, as well and they`ve
had, of course, a force protection mission.

But now, they`re talking about offensive raids. And the way that the
Pentagon and U.S. military and the White House is justifying this is by
saying that they will be partnered with what they called capable partners,
capable forces who are there on the ground and that they`ll be there still
in somewhat of an advisory role, but there`s the potential for us to see
what happened last week where these U.S. forces, these U.S. Delta Forces
were there in what we`re told is an advisory role.

Again, it`s the continuing problem that we have in much of Iraq and
Syria, right now where we really have to rely on what the military is
telling us is happening because we don`t have people there. We don`t know
necessarily what`s going on.

They tell us they`re there in an advisory role and that when things
heated up, when the Kurds were pinned down, the U.S. became – was entered
into this more combat role on the ground in Hawija.

MADDOW: Courtney, if there is not misunderstanding and not
miscommunication but if there`s sort of spin I guess around whether or not
this is a new decision as you`re saying it appears that this is a policy
change. The White House is saying it`s not a policy change. The way that
Ash Carter announced today, it sort of sounded like it`s going to be a
policy change.

What should we read into that in terms of whether or not this is
something that is being floated or proposed? I mean, is there going to
have to be a formal agreement to or announcement by the president that this
will be the new way going forward?

KUBE: So, Ash Carter actually sort of telegraphed this last week
after the raid in Hawija when it came to the briefing room and said we`re
going to see a lot more like this. And it was sort of lost. But he, in
fact, acknowledged that there`s going to be more raids like this.

And so when you look back at exactly how the one last week began, the
Kurds said, we need some help. The U.S. said, OK, the Kurds are our strong
allies, our strong partners, so we`re going to help them. There`s really,
when you think about it, there`s almost no limit to what this could
potentially mean for the U.S. role on ground there in Iraq. Every time the
Kurds need help, the U.S. says, yes, we want to continue to help out our
ally, there`s a potential for raids like this to happen all the time, not
necessarily at a prison but for the U.S. to work in conjunction with the
Kurds and frankly, by extension with the Iraqi security forces in Iraq.

And so, as far as whether this is going to need some sort of a new
approval, we`re not talking about enormous deployments of troops. We`re
not talking about brigades, like the surge that we saw in Iraq almost 10
years ago now. We`re talking about small, most likely special forces,
special ops troop, that are going to go in, but they will be more forward
than what we`ve seen.

Right now, the U.S. troops that are there in Iraq, they`re inside the
wire, inside the line. Now, they`re going to be out on a – you know,
pretty much on the frontlines with some of these Iraqi and Kurdish forces,

MADDOW: Courtney Kube, NBC News national security producer – that
is imminently clarifying. Thank you. We really appreciate it.

KUBE: Thank you.

MADDOW: I will say – to Courtney`s point there about knowing what`s
happening and taking the military`s word for it, one of the hallmarks of
operations that are, special operations, raids, special operations actions
is that even when the military – even when the media has a hard time
getting access to what the military is doing, special operations actions
are a matter – a different magnitude in terms of whether or not the press
is allowed to be in on those things.

I mean, you can get embedded as a reporter with regular troops. You
can`t really get embedded as a reporter with the kinds of raids that we saw
in that Delta Force action last week. It will be interesting to see if
there is going to be a big new frontline presence by U.S. troops, whether
there`s always going to be a commitment that the American people are
allowed to know about it. This is hairy stuff.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: The good news in the polling for Hillary Clinton today is
pretty stark. In North Carolina, the new PPP poll has Hillary Clinton
leading Bernie Sanders by 37 points. In South Carolina, the new Clemson
poll has her leading Bernie Sanders also by 37 points.

In two new polls out of Iowa today, the Monmouth poll and the Loras
College poll, they both have Secretary Clinton leading by big margins, by
41 percent and 38 percent respectively in Iowa.

So the polling news right now is pretty unequivocally positive for
Hillary Clinton.

But here`s something to keep an eye on. In the Monmouth poll out of
Iowa today, the one that shows Hillary Clinton with a 41-point lead, look
at the bottom. It`s Martin O`Malley in third place at 5 percent. Same
thing in the North Carolina poll today. Hillary Clinton, way out in front,
but Martin O`Malley at 5 percent.

Martin O`Malley is nowhere near Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.
And there are plenty of sands for whom 5 percent would be a very bad day in
the poll, but there are candidates this year for whom 5 percent would be
freaking Christmas. And Martin O`Malley is one of those guys.

And with Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee now out of the Democratic race,
Martin O`Malley may only be at 5 percent, but honestly with the smaller
field now, he has never been more poised to actually start taking up space
in the Democratic race.

And at this auspicious moment for him, I am pleased to announce that
after our Hillary Clinton interview on Friday night and Bernie Sanders
interview last night, tomorrow night, we`ve got Martin O`Malley here for
the interview! Very excited.

Much more to come tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: So tomorrow night is obviously a big deal in American news
and politics. Republican debate in Boulder, the first one in which Donald
Trump is no longer the Iowa and national Republican front-runner. Ben
Carson now leading both in Iowa and nationally. That`s going to be

But before all that happens, tomorrow during the day, here`s
something to watch for in the news that could be pretty dramatic. Former
Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, the longest serving Republican
House speaker in history, is expected to plead guilty tomorrow in federal
court in Chicago to charges that were brought in a shock and ruinous
indictment back in May. Prosecutors alleged in that indictment that Denny
Hastert paid an unnamed individual more than $3 million to compensate for
and conceal what was described in the indictment as, quote, “prior

The indictment never spelled out the alleged prior misconduct, but
federal officials tell NBC News that the alleged misconduct took place when
Denny Hastert was a high schoolteacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville,
Illinois, in the 1960s and the 1970s. They said the conduct was
specifically sexual in nature and that it involved a student at the high

That news broke in May, with the unsealing of the indictment.
Earlier this month, lawyers for Mr. Hastert said they had reached a plea
agreement in the case, a plea deal. That, of course, means Mr. Hastert
would avoid a trial. At which presumably details of the alleged prior
misconduct might be discussed.

We now know that trial will not happen. And now that they`ve got a
plea deal, Denny Hastert is expected to appear in court personally tomorrow
to enter a guilty plea on two charges, one of trying to hide those outsized
bank withdrawals, and one for lying about it to the FBI. Again, one key
issue here is that by pleading guilty now, the former House speaker will
avoid having his alleged sexual misconduct or predatory behavior portrayed
in detail in open court. What he does seem unable to avoid, though, is

Denny Hastert tomorrow will be facing a potential sentence of ten
years in prison. In terms of expectations, he`s expected to get between
six months and two years in prison. We don`t know, we won`t know until the
judge pronounces the sentence. But it appears in this case, actions will
still have some very considerable consequence, even for a man who was among
the most powerful people on earth when he served as the longest-serving
speaker of the house in the history of the Republican Party.

Watch for that tomorrow.

That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.


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