The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/3/15

Tom Brokaw


Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks.

HAYES: You bet.

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

We`ve got a big show tonight. We are expecting more election night
results from a bunch of really different really interesting races across
the country tonight, including Kentucky which Chris has been talking about.
“The Associated Press” has called the governor`s race for Republican Matt
Bevin in Kentucky over Democratic State Attorney General Jack Conway.

We will have more on that Kentucky race ahead, including what the
Kentucky results tonight might mean for Rand Paul`s presidential race and
specifically for all the people in Kentucky who have been telling hip to
quit that presidential race and instead start focusing full time on trying
to hold on to his U.S. Senate seat next year. So, we`ve got that story

We`ve also got President Obama tonight on the record about something
that he previously had not been on the record about, just a fascinating
answer from President Obama tonight to a very, very pointed question.
We`ve also got Tom Brokaw here in studio tonight to talk about what is so
strange about the presidential race this year. We are 90 days out from the
Iowa caucuses as of tonight.

And it`s, of course, the first Tuesday in November. It`s election
night 2015. Mr. Brokaw will be here live in studio to talk about what
really is new and unprecedented about our strange, strange politics this
year, particularly the presidential race. Really looking forward to that

In terms of the latest headlines in that presidential race tonight,
former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton got some very good polling
news today on the Democratic side. She`s up over Bernie Sanders by 31
points nationally in the new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll.

In the latest New Hampshire poll, where Bernie Sanders has sometimes
recently been holding the lead, Hillary Clinton is actually up by three
points in the latest New Hampshire poll from Monmouth.

In addition to that polling news today, Secretary Clinton today also
announced her support for a $12 an hour federal minimum wage. Minimum wage
right now is $7.25 an hour. It has been that for six years now. President
Obama has proposed raising it from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

But, today, Hillary Clinton in Iowa proposed should be going to $12
an hour. She said that would make the minimum wage today roughly equal to
what it was in 1968 in terms of purchasing power.

Hillary Clinton out today for a $12 an hour minimum wage. Her
opponent Bernie Sanders, of course, is up for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Bernie Sanders also got himself some good polling news today. NBC
polled on how Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders would do against some of
the leading Republican presidential contenders in a hypothetical general
election match-up. And in those hypothetical match-ups, you see the
Hillary ones on the left side, the Bernie ones on the right side of your
screen in what the NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll was able to tell about
these hypothetical general election match-ups today, Hillary Clinton as you
see, she either beats or ties all of the Republicans they matched her up
against in this new polling.

Bernie Sanders also beats the people he is matched up against in the
new polling but if you look at the point spreads there, against Donald
Trump, Bernie Sanders actually beats Donald Trump by one point more than
Hillary Clinton does.

And when it comes to Marco Rubio, Bernie beats Rubio by two points
more than Hillary Clinton does. Somewhat inexplicably, there was no Bernie
Sanders, Ben Carson match-up. So, we don`t know about that one yet. But
overall, these numbers are happy making for Democrats and particularly
happy making for Bernie Sanders and his supporters. Those are headlines on
the Democratic side.

On the Republican side of the race today, there are a couple of small
developments. And one development that I think might be a really big one I
think you probably have not heard about yet. In terms of the smaller
stuff, first is the news that the effort by all the Republican presidential
campaigns to join together, to negotiate debate terms directly themselves
instead of going through the Republican Party, that effort which formed
late last week after the CNBC debate and crested over the weekend. That
effort appears to have crashed and fallen apart today when Jeb Bush`s
campaign today announced that they would join the campaigns of Carly
Fiorina and Chris Christie and John Kasich and arguably, maybe the Donald
Trump campaign as well, in saying they will not sign onto the other
candidates` list of demands about the debates about the debates.

So, I think that kind of settles it. I mean, we`ll see. Any
leverage that the campaigns might have exerted on the TV networks or on the
Republican Party to basically mutiny as a group and blow up the debate
process and instead start their own debate process on their own terms that,
does sort of appear to be falling apart now as the candidates decide they
don`t really want to stick together on this. With this many candidates
peeling off from that group effort, it looks like that group effort is not
necessarily going to go forward.

Now, what does that mean for the debate process going forward? Who
know? I don`t know. We still don`t know how that`s going to resolve.

But there is one other big development today and it`s on the
Republican side. It concerns a candidate who`s already teetering on the
brink of not even making the next debate.

The last date for national polls to come in to qualify or disqualify
candidates from making it onto the main stage in the next Republican debate
next week, that deadline for new polls coming in is tomorrow. And
depending on how the Fox Business Network is going to count those polls
which – they won`t say which polls they`re counting – but depending on
which polls they decide to count, arguably, Chris Christie is not on track
to make the main debate stage next week.

So, we`ll see how Fox Business Network counts the polls, which polls
they count. But just as Chris Christie teeters on the edge of not making
it into the debates anymore, just as that is happening for him as he`s on
the eve of finding out if he`s even in the next debate, something is
happening for Chris Christie right now that is mostly off the radar of the
beltway press. But I think it is real and I think it`s potentially a big

It is a videotape and it`s not a scandalous videotape. It`s a pretty
remarkable videotape that was shot recently by “Huffington Post” of all
places. They shot video of Chris Christie in New Hampshire. He`s at a
meet and greet event at a bar in New Hampshire. And he`s talking to a
relatively small crowd in this bar about the issue of addiction.

And what happened here is that “Huffington Post” kind of quietly
posted this video online without much fuss and without much attention to
it, but it has taken off like a rocket since they have posted online. It
almost entirely driven by Facebook alone with no external traditional media
drivers for this at all.

This video really has as they say gone viral. That is an annoying
term that is overused which is why you never hear me say it, but it
absolutely applies this in this case. This is the five-minute video that
“Huffington Post” has put on Facebook where it`s had most of its views.

All of a sudden, with no attention to this, this has had more than
2.3 million views, more than 2.3 million views just on Facebook.

And, yes, Chris Christie has terrible poll numbers teetering on the
edge of political existence because of those bad poll numbers, but just
watch this. If you want to know why people think even with his terrible
numbers, if you want to know why people think that Chris Christie is still
a contender, I think this is a very good indication of why.


smoker. She smoked her whole life. She was addicted to nicotine. She
started when she was 16 years old which was 1948. But by the time 1964
came the surgeon general`s report came out, and she was in her mid 30s, she
knew that smoking was bad for you.

And I`ll tell you, I watched her as a kid growing up, she tried
everything she could to quit. She had the gum, the patches, hypnosis, she
tried everything. She couldn`t quit.

Now, when she turned 71, a little after that, she was diagnosed with
lung cancer. No one came to me and said, don`t treat her because she got
what she deserved. We know the lung cancer was caused by smoking. We know
it was.

But no one came to me and said your mother was dumb, she started
smocking when she was 16, and then after we told her it was bad for her,
she kept doing it. So, we`re not going to give her chemotherapy, we`re not
going to give her radiation, we don`t give her any of that. You know why?
Because she`s getting what she deserves. No one said that, no one said
that about someone who had cancer.

Yet, somehow if it`s heroin or cocaine or alcohol, we say, well, they
decided they`re getting what they deserved.

I`m pro-life. And I think that if you`re pro-life, that means you
got to be pro-life for the whole life. Not just for the nine months you`re
in the womb. All right? It`s easy – it`s easy to be pro-life for the
nine months you`re in the womb. They haven`t done anything to disappoint
us yet. They`re perfect in there.

But when they get out, that`s when it gets tough. The 16-year-old
teenage girl on the floor of the county lockup addicted to heroin, I`m pro-
life for her, too. Her life is just as much a precious gift from God as
the one in the womb. And we need to start thinking that way as a party and
as a people and the president needs to say those things.


MADDOW: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie campaigning in New
Hampshire recently. What happened here is that “Huffington Post” shot this
video quietly uploaded it to Facebook and it has taken off. It has been
viewed more than 2.3 million times, in the few days since they have posted

And on the issue, I mean this issue of addiction is something that
Christie is not alone in tackling even on the campaign trail this year.
Hillary Clinton has made it a centerpiece of her campaigning both in New
Hampshire and in Iowa, she explained she didn`t expect to be talking about
addiction as a centerpiece of her campaign until she went and did her
listening tour in places like New Hampshire and Iowa, and families kept
bringing it up over and over and over and over again with her anytime
anybody got a chance to talk to her. And so, she has been focusing on it.

And other candidates have talked about it. And in those remarks you
just saw, you heard Chris Christie raise the issue of abortion rights there
at the end. So, maybe this talk, maybe that`s a signifier that this talk
was aimed at a Republican audience. But other than that, aside about
abortion rights, you can tell this is sort of a least partisan thing

And whether you like Chris Christie as a candidate or not, whether
you like him as a politician or not, his kind of skill at communicating the
way you saw him communicate there on an issue like this, that`s why he
still seems like he could be a contender despite all the numbers,
everything on paper saying otherwise.

That piece I just showed is the first half of his – of these remarks
that have these millions of views over the last couple of days online.

Just watch the second part of it here. This is sort of the more
personal part. This is – I think that just as a political observer, this
is pretty compelling no matter what you think of Chris Christie otherwise.


CHRISTIE: Give you a second example. I`m a recovering lawyer.
Thank you.

And so I went to law school and for any of you who went to law
school, if there`s anybody here who is a lawyer too, you can admit it
privately if you want later, but the people that you`re closest to from law
school are in your first year study group when you`re nervous as heck, you
don`t know. You don`t know what is up and what`s down. Are you going to
make it or not make it? You have this small group of people that everybody
puts together. There were eight of us in my group and we studied together.

And you get to see everybody at their absolute worst. These are your
best friends in law school. One of the guys that was in my study group
give me his profile. You know, he came – we went to law school at Seton
Hall University in New Jersey. He came from an Ivy League School to Seton
Hall. He was the smartest of all of us.

He became an editor of the law review. He was the first one of us
who got a job, out of school. He got it at a big prominent law firm in our
state and he`s making more money than any of the rest of us.

He married an incredibly beautiful woman who is a doctor. They have
three gorgeous daughters, one cuter and happier and more talented than the

He was the first one among us to become a partner at his law firm.
He bought a great house. He had great a great car and worse yet, he was
really good looking and in perfect shape. The guy used to run 10, 12 miles
a week every week.

So, we loved him but we hated him, because the guy had everything,
right? He was running one day in his normal routine. He hurt his back
running. He was in his early 40s, and was not giving in to age. And he
was running his normal time and he hurt his back.

And so, he went to the doctor because he was having trouble working,
really hurt. So he said listen, we`re going to give you some treatment.
In the meantime to help get you through, we`re going to give you Percocet
help numb the pain.

Well, about a year later, I get a call from his wife. And she said,
he`s addicted to his painkillers. And he won`t listen. And I kicked him
out of the house. And he`s living at his parents` house and you guys need
to have an intervention with him, those friends from law school. You need
to go and get him to go to rehab.

So, we all went over there and had an intervention and it started a
ten-year odyssey of him being in and out of rehab. During that period of
time, she divorced him. He lost his right to see his girls. He lost his
license to practice law. He lost his driver`s license. He lost his home.
He bought himself a condo and she kicked him out. He lost that. He lost
all the money, spent all the money he had saved and spent through most of
his retirement.

When a year and a half ago on a Sunday morning, Mary Pat and I got
the call we had been dreading forever that they found him dead in a motel
room with an empty bottle of Percocet and an empty quart of vodka. Fifty-
two years old.

By every measure that we define success in this country, this guy had
it. Great looking guy. Well-educated. Great career. Plenty of money.
Beautiful loving wife. Beautiful children. Great house. He had

He`s a drug addict and he couldn`t get help and he`s dead. And when
I sat there as the governor of New Jersey at his funeral and looked across
the pew at his three daughters sobbing because their dad is gone, there but
for the grace of God go I.

It can happen to anyone. And so, we need to start treating people in
this country not jailing them. We need to give them the tools they need to
recover because every life is precious. Every life is an individual gift
from God. And we have to stop judging and start getting them the tools
they need to get better.


MADDOW: Everybody`s looking for the Jeb Bush comeback in the
presidential race, the Jeb Bush turnaround.

Well, if that discussion by Chris Christie on the issue of addiction
moves people in general as much as it has already moved millions of people
to watch that and share that online since it was uploaded by “Huffington
Post” just a couple of days ago, if that has as much salience in the polity
as it does online, then it may not be the Jeb Bush comeback we should be
watching for. It may be the Chris Christie comeback we should be watching

Tom Brokaw is here next. We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: Tonight, we`re going to be joined by legendary “NBC Nightly
News” anchor Tom Brokaw. He`ll be here to talk about the 2016 election and
more. We`ve also got more on the big Republican victories tonight in

That`s all ahead. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Thirty years ago, the Democratic Party broke one of the
really big glass ceilings in this country. It was 1984 and for the first
time ever, one of the major political parties in this country nominated as
their vice presidential contender somebody who was not a dude. The
Democrats in 1984 picked Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro as the vice
presidential running mate for their presidential nominee Walter Mondale.
And that was a landmark decision by the Democrats and strategically, it was
interesting, presented some totally novel challenges for the Republican
side. Nobody had ever run against a female presidential or vice
presidential contender before and the Republicans were pretty confident
about their chances in that 1984 race overall but did worry about the
Ferraro factor. They worried specifically if there might be hidden risks
in going up against her.

And famously, that year, 1984, the advice to George H.W. Bush, Ronald
Reagan`s vice president, the advice to him getting ready for the vice
presidential debate that year against Geraldine Ferraro was that he should
be very careful to not talk down to her as a woman. Whatever you do, Vice
President Bush, don`t be patronizing. Women can see it a mile away. It`s
not a good look.

Famously, George H.W. Bush was warned about that in advance (AUDIO
GAP). And then the debate happened.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH, THEN-VICE PRESIDENT: I think I just heard Mrs.
Ferraro say that she would do away with all covert action. And if so, that
has very serious ramifications as the intelligence community knows. This
is serious business. And sometimes, it`s quiet support for a friend, and
so, I`ll leave that one there. Let me help you with the difference, Ms.
Ferraro between Iran and the embassies in Lebanon.

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Ferraro?

first of all, that I almost resent Vice President Bush your patronizing
attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy.


MADDOW: In that vice presidential debate in 1984, George Bush did
not follow the “don`t let anyone accuse you of being patronizing” advice.

But Vice President Bush still thought he did pretty well in that
debate. He thought he did great in that debate.


TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening. I`m Tom Brokaw with “NBC
Nightly News.”

And today, it was round two of the vice presidential debate between
George Bush and Geraldine Ferraro. While, everyone was arguing about who
won last night, Bush offered his own judgment and it immediately got him
into trouble. He said, “We tried to kick a little ass last night.”

Roger Mudd tonight on the Bush comment and who won/who lost dispute.

REPORTER: Everybody claimed victory today and in various ways.
George Bush claimed victory on the docks in Elizabeth, New Jersey, using
anything he could get his hands on to prove it.

But Bush then let his victory claims get out of hand when he bragged
that, quote, “we kicked ass last night,” an inelegant phrase he would not
rebate but said he stood behind it.

GHW BUSH: It`s an athletic expression. I stand behind it. I use it
all the time. My kids use it. Everybody that competes in sports uses. I
just don`t like to use it in public.


MADDOW: That was 1984. And that year, Ronald Reagan and his Vice
President George Bush, they did win re-election against Mondale and

But when Reagan and Bush won that `84 election, they won Ronald
Reagan a second term in office. You only get two. When it came time to
pick another nominee for the Republican Party four years later, it was
George Bush`s turn to try to win in 1988 on his own without Ronald Reagan.
For better or worse, George Bush was not seen as having the same gift of
communication as Ronald Reagan had.

So improving that aspect of George Bush as a candidate became a major
priority for the Republican Party and for the White House. Tuning up
George Bush for television, getting him to lower his sometimes high pitched
voice, training him to speak in a way that indicated command and ease,
getting him to act and comport himself and speak in a way that just worked
better on television. Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush worked not for
weeks, not for months, but for years. He worked for two solid years when
he was vice president in advance of his presidential campaign. He worked
with two media gurus, with two Republican experts in the art of how to
appear on television.

And one of those gurus was a man named Roger Ailes who went on from
being a Republican operative and a media consultant, to becoming the
creator and head of the FOX News channel. In the 1980s, George H.W. Bush
had his only manner of speaking and campaigning and appearing on television
overhauled by Roger Ailes who is now the president of FOX News.

But alongside Roger Ailes, he also worked with a man named Jon
Kraushar. And today in 2015, Roger Ailes is obviously still very busy
running the FOX News Channel. But Jon Krausher is still around too and Jon
Kraushar today is also back in the news because Jon Kraushar reportedly,
today, all these years later, just got himself a new client in the Bush

According to a report today in “New York Magazine”, the Jeb Bush for
president campaign has just hired Jon Kraushar to overhaul the
communications and debating and TV skills of the latest of George H.W.
Bush`s sons to make a run for the presidency. Roger Ailes and Jon Kraushar
were seen as absolutely critical to getting George H.W. Bush into the White
House in 1988.

Can the exact same guy and the exact same type of training also do it
for Jeb 30 years down the road? If the Jeb Bush for president campaign is
going to turn this thing around, the place they are at now from which they
are trying to execute this turn is a place that I think is much farther off
course than they imagined it to be.

Latest national polling has Jeb Bush in fifth place. Latest New
Hampshire polling has him in sixth place. The latest Iowa polling has him
in seventh place, and that latest Iowa number from the PPP poll includes
Jeb Bush losing in Iowa right now to Bobby Jindal, who has been seen as
sort of a lost cause candidate in that none of the last three presidential
debates have even let Bobby Jindal onto the main stage. He`s a permanent
fixture at the kids table but he right now in this latest poll is ahead of
Jeb Bush in Iowa.

Jeb Bush has been in single digits in 21 of the last 24 polls in the
Republican race. He`s been in single digits in the last nine straight
national polls. He has not been in double digits in Iowa since August.

And maybe Bobby Jindal beating Jeb Bush in Iowa, maybe that shows
this year the debates don`t really matter or at least the debates are
unpredictable in their impact. If so, that would not be the first
supposedly reliable political metric to fail us this year.

And the Jeb Bush campaign and its unexpected failure to thrive may be
a part of this, it may be a microcosm for the larger story. But the larger
story feels like the old results and old metrics and the old expectations
don`t apply anymore this year because this year, there is some movement up
and movement down after the debates, but the candidates who continue to do
the best in the polls now that the debates have started, they`re two
candidates who have had really unmemorable debate performances from Ben
Carson and Donald Trump.

This year, money and poll numbers seem to be uncorrelated, I mean,
either in terms of how much money the campaigns and their super PACs have
or how much money the campaigns and super PACs spend. Donald Trump spent
more than 100 days at the top of the polls there summer and into the fall
without spending one dollar on any advertising whatsoever.

Conversely, Scott Walker decided his chances were hopeless and he
quit the race while he still had over $10 million sitting unused in the
bank accounts of his supporting super PACs. That said, Scott Walker is one
of only two Republican candidates who have gotten out of the race.

Another political rule or expectation that`s gone out of the window
this year is the idea that anybody who persists as the zero to 2 percent in
the polls can`t possibly remain viable for long and they have to quit. But
there have been multiple candidates happily simmering between zero and 2
percent in the polls for months now with no sign any of them are getting
out or there`s any pressure increasing on them to get out.

And, of course, there is the magna carta of all political rules,
which is ultimately it`s the establishment that chooses and protects and
then anoints the next nominee, particularly within the Republican Party.
This year, the ballot ballad of Jeb Bush seems to be disproving that rule
every day. Maybe it disproves it once and for all.

But this year feels like the year when all the political common
wisdom is flying out the window. The fact is, all that political common
wisdom came from somewhere. It was earned over a period of years and
decades by watching campaigns and elections happen the way they always do.
Nobody invented this political wisdom. It`s the lessons of political

Is this year that different? Is this year as unpredictable as it
seems? Is this year really breaking as many rules as it feels like it is
breaking? Is it fair to look at Jeb Bush`s tough times on the campaign
trail and basically see him as a canary in the coal mine for the collapse
of our modern political norms? How weird is this year?

Joining us now is Tom Brokaw, former “NBC Nightly News” anchor, now
special correspondent for NBC News.

Tom, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here.

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: It`s good to be back.

MADDOW: Is this in fact a weird year, or does every year feel this

BROKAW: No, and I`m not sure I would choose “weird” as the word. I
think what is so unconventional. We have never seen anything quite like
this – two leading candidates, no political experience whatsoever, say
very provocative things out there. Many of them don`t add up necessarily.
But they bring a certain amount of charisma each in his own way. That is
Donald Trump and Dr. Carson to the campaign.

And the big overriding message here is the country is fed up with
politics as usual. They`re fed up with people who held office.

Jeb Bush thought, you know, very successful governor of Florida, he
comes out on the campaign trail. He`s got a lot of policy positions. He
goes not just nowhere. He is in retreat at this point. Big difference
between now and what his father went through.

First of all, his father had one opponent in each of those cases.
His father was running against Geraldine Ferraro and Michael Dukakis and
will there wasn`t be social media. When he got in trouble, they positioned
him in a lot of photo ops. They brought in Ted Williams who is one of
those ops (ph).

They put him in a snow plow up in New Hampshire. They made him the
guy`s guy. And he began to turn that around. But he didn`t run against
the tsunami of commentary that goes on 24/7. So you know, it`s going to be
tough for Jeb Bush I think at this point. And we`ll just have to wait and

MADDOW: One of the things I feel like has made me sort of worse at
my job or sort of explaining what`s going on, I feel like campaigning
doesn`t have a predictable effect anymore. Having Donald Trump be at the
top of the polls for so long without running any ads, having Ben Carson
have a style of campaigning that doesn`t extrapolate to anything else, we
were just talking about that Chris Christie tape that we played at the top
of the show and how remarkably effective is he in a small room like that.
That`s usually the sort of thing, what Chris Christie did, that translates
to big numbers.

BROKAW: That`s not the first time this has happened. Remember that
Ross Perot didn`t get to where he was with ads. He got to be where he was
because he was Perot, he was unique. He got a lot of time on television.

And it was that kind of I`m going to go to Washington and get under
the hood kind of thing that caught fire for him. And in this case, both
Trump and Dr. Carson are on television without ads 23 hours out of 24 hours
almost every day.

MADDOW: For free.

BROKAW: You cannot escape them. And we cannot overlook the digital
world. Social media. Everybody`s on their iPhone or on a computer all day
long and sooner or later Trump or Carson are going to pop up. They`re
saying the things that tap into a lot of frustration in this country in my

What Jeb Bush was a successful governor of Florida. He thought he
was going to be able to take that and his family`s name and the
extraordinary kind of court he has behind him advising him and the money he
had and he was playing by as someone said 1996 rules. The rules have
changed enormously.

I`ve never – I`ve been on this for 50 years, I`ve never seen
anything quite like this.

MADDOW: I`m not sure – we may have to rewrite some of the rules
after this campaign when we see how it settles out, particularly on the
Republican side.

BROKAW: It depends who wins. If the guys who win have gotten there
by these rules, they`re not going to let you change the rules.

MADDOW: Right.

BROKAW: It worked for me.

MADDOW: Does the Republican establishment, A, does the Republican
establishment exist? Is it fair for me to assign that value to a group of
people that I imagine in my mind and if they do exist? Do they have
options for exerting control over who the nomination goes to?

BROKAW: Not in the way that they once did. I mean, there was a time
when the kind of bare bones of the Republican Party would get together and
say, this is going to be our best hope here and we`re going to go forward
with that. You know?

The great phrase of Pat Buchanan, these are peasants with pitchforks
as he described his constituency. There`s a lot of that going on out
there. There`s the essence of a democracy, quite honestly. People are
coming in who hadn`t before because they want to shake their fist and say
this is what I want.

However you want to – whatever law of physics you want to apply to
this, it just doesn`t work because there`s a whole new set of rules being
established out there. The one thing that I`ve always liked is that it
does cause people to pay attention and when we have these debates you see
how their minds work. You have an idea where they are and where they want
to go. That`s a good thing.

MADDOW: Yes, seeing 24 million people tune into a debate this early
in the process –

BROKAW: Right.

MADDOW: – don`t assume the worst why people are watching. People
may be watching to learn something in a substantive way.

We just got some really surprising political news out of Kentucky
tonight. Would you mind staying with me to talk about that in just a

BROKAW: I would.

MADDOW: We`ll be right back with former “NBC Nightly News” anchor
Tom Brokaw with reaction to some of the Kentucky news in just a moment.
Stay with us.


MADDOW: Happy first Tuesday in November. Happy Election Day.

There has been a shocker tonight in the results of the election for
governor in Kentucky. Polls closed in Kentucky a few hours ago. And
voters in Kentucky have just elected Republican Matt Bevin to be their new

The reason this is a shock is because all of the polls coming in to
tonight showed this going the other way. So, the Democrat Jack Conway
leading by a pretty good margin.

Jack Conway is the state`s current attorney general. He`s already
won statewide office in Kentucky but the polls showing him leading were
apparently wrong. Matt Bevin has won by pretty good margin in this race
tonight in Kentucky.

The current governor of Kentucky, the outgoing governor who is term
limited is Steve Beshear, and he is a Democrat. So, that means overall, in
terms of the partisan ballot, this is a pickup for the Republicans. The
Republicans have taken control of that state house. Matt Bevin will become
only the second Republican governor of Kentucky in the last 40 years.

Still with us is former “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw.

Tom, thank you for staying. What do you make of these Kentucky

BROKAW: Well, the terror for the Democrats is that a metaphor for
the national election because Bevin ran a kind of Tea Party classic race
against the establishment down there, driving around the state in a gold
Cadillac. He had run once before as a hard Tea Party guy. He wins big.

The thing he`s been saying is, the Democratic governor had expanded
Medicaid. They also adopted Obamacare. Guess what, the new governor says,
we`re reducing Medicaid. We`ll see what happens to Obamacare.

So, if that is template for what`s going to happen come the fall,
these are big issues that are put in play tonight by what happened in
Kentucky. Charlie Cook was one of the best political analysts in the
country, said if it goes this way, he said it`s radioactive for the
Democrats, because it`s a rejection again of Obama and what the Democrats
are standing for at this point.

MADDOW: Well, it`s definitely a nationalized campaign in terms of
way Bevin ran against the Democrat. He basically ran against Conway as if
Conway was Obama.

BROKAW: That`s right. That had worked before for Mitch McConnell
for example, when he seemed to be in trouble when he was running for re-
election down there. But they made the race all about Obama.

MADDOW: One of the interesting calculations that Democrats made
about Obamacare was that once it went into effect and hundreds of thousands
and indeed millions of people got health insurance who didn`t have it
before because of this law, it would become something that became
politically impossible to take away because it would have such a
deleterious effect on people`s real lives to take something away from they

If Bevin follows through in what he`s been campaigning on, something
like 400,000 to 500,000 people in Kentucky will lose health insurance that
they`ve already got. But that`s what Kentucky just voted for.

BROKAW: Well, that`s right. And if you look at the big picture on
Obamacare, there are those who say look, it`s really working.

It`s working in some areas. But the fact is premiums are going up.
Fewer people are signing up. They had real trouble this last time when it
came time for eligibility about how many people are going to show up. And
the fewer people in the pool, the more the rates go up.

MADDOW: Although there are millions more people covered than there
were before.

BROKAW: There`s no question about that. There is that. But it`s
not any kind – there`s no light at the end of the tunnel yet. That`s the
big issue.

You know, how is this thing going to wind up? Where will we feel
secure as individuals that we`ve got a program that`s going to last for us
and there`s been a consolidation issue of these insurance companies.
Moreover, there`s a big consolidation in community hospitals in America.
Community hospitals are going out of business because only the big ones can
survive and manage this.

What really always aggravates me as much as anything – look, I think
the Obamacare was imperfect from the beginning, but I didn`t hear anything
from the Republicans here`s what we ought to be doing. They`re just saying
get rid of that. Still 18 percent of our national economy is spent on
health care in this country.

As someone who`s just been through the system, I know how tough this
is and I had all the gold plated advantages. If I`m out there in the
middle of the country and I kind of worked hard all my life and got two gas
stations and a convenience store, if I get hit with what I`ve got at age
45, man, they`re at sea. And that just shouldn`t happen.

It`s a national security issue to find a way to make health care work
for everyone.

MADDOW: And to have millions more people added to the roles is a
good thing but the political precariousness.

BROKAW: It is very politically precarious. That`s the problem.

MADDOW: Kentucky underscored that like nothing else.

Former “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw, thank you so much for
coming. It`s really great to have you here, Tom.

BROKAW: It`s a big evening. I`ve been doing this for a long time.
The blood still runs hot when it gets to the elections.


MADDOW: I love it. Thanks, Tom.

BROKAW: My pleasure. Thanks very much.

MADDOW: Thank you. It`s an honor to have you here.

All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us tonight.



United States should be putting boots on the ground I think would be a
profound mistake and I want to be very clear and very explicit about that.


MADDOW: That was President Obama a little over a year ago saying
what he has repeatedly said about Syria over the past few years, that he
would not put boots on the ground in Syria, it would be a mistake to put
boots on ground in Syria. Of course, we got word last Friday that the
president was sending several dozen operations troop into Syria.

The White House played down the announcement as not that big a change
in policy but it is boots on the ground in an ongoing way not just for a
raid here and there.

And now, for the first time President Obama has been asked directly
and personally about this change, about this break, and he gave these
remarks in response. This was in as interview with NBC`s Lester Holt.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: We haven`t heard from you since last Friday
when the decision was announced to put a small number of U.S. Special
Operations Forces on the ground in northern Syria. Many will look at and
say you`ve broken your promise about boots on the ground. Have you?

OBAMA: Well, keep in mind we have run Special Ops already. We
captured a high value target actually. Actually, he was killed but
captured his wife. We`re able to gather up enormous intelligence that
helped us to further constrain ISIL`s operations both in Syria and Iraq.

So, we have been opportunistic where necessary, and really this is
just an extension of we were continuing to do. We are not putting U.S.
troops on the front lines fighting firefights with ISIL. What we can do is
in addition to the training and advising that we do, there are going to be
select situations in which there is an ISIL leadership camp or there is a
particular ISIL leader that we can capture quickly that the Iraqis don`t
have the capacity.

In Syria, we don`t have anybody on the ground who can execute those
kinds you have complex operations and what this really amounts to is us
prepositioning some additional select assets for us to be able to engage
where necessary.

But I`ve been consistent throughout that we are not going to be
fighting like we did in Iraq with a battalions and occupations. That
doesn`t solve the problem.


MADDOW: No battalions and occupations is definitely part of what
President Obama promised about the conflict in Syria, but he did also
promise no boots on the ground. Maybe this will be made out to be just a
matter of semantics, but it certainly seems like we have just had a
dramatic change. And that`s President Obama on the record about it for the
first time on the record about it with Lester Holt.

Much more of that interview with Lester Holt is going to air tonight
on “THE LAST WORD” here on MSNBC, right after this show.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: On this Election Day, in addition to the Republicans` big
win tonight in Kentucky, we`ve been following a number of races and ballot
measures across the country.

Tonight, for example, the great state of Ohio had a chance to vote on
legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. And in Ohio, they have voted
to reject that by a pretty big margin. Now, one thing to note, this could
have something to do with the actual literal production of pot in Ohio.
The odd Ohio-specific business model that they were also voting on tonight
would have only allowed ten rich investors to grow and dispense all of the
legal pot for the whole state. Ohio tonight said no to that.

And in the state of Virginia tonight, control of the state Senate has
been up for grabs. This is how the balance of power looks in Virginia.
There are 40 seats in the Virginia Senate. Right now, Republicans control
the Senate by a slim 21-19 advantage. Democrats had desperately wanted to
take the Senate back.

Tonight, all of the seats in the Virginia Senate were on the ballot.
Democrats only needed to pick up a couple of seats to reclaim the majority.

Results are still coming in from those Virginia races, but “The A.P.”
is reporting that from their projection, they believe Republicans will
remain in control of the Senate in Virginia. They`re projecting Republican
victories in 21 of 37 districts.

Election night, still happening. We`ll keep you posted as we learn


MADDOW: The nation of Yemen usually gets around four of five inches
of rain per year. Today, they got that, in some cases, maybe up to ten
times that much in one day. A rare tropical cyclone ripped through the
nation of Yemen today. It carried winds as high as 100 miles an hour.

But more importantly, perhaps, it dumped huge amounts of rain on a
country that is usually parched. It caused major flooding around the
country. In some parts of the country, floodwaters reached four or five
feet high. At least three people have been killed in the flooding so far.
Hundreds more people have been injured.

Yemen, of course, is right in the middle of a violent civil war right
now. But this huge cyclone made landfall near an al Qaeda stronghold on
Yemen`s central coast. The U.N. is in the process of rushing emergency
supplies there. This has been some very scary scenes in Yemen today in a
country that doesn`t have much reserve to take care of people in the best
of times.

Keep an eye on that both tonight and tomorrow. Those death tolls and
injury tolls may go up in Yemen.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Today, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives
put out their work calendar for next year, 2016.

Just wrap your head around this. The days highlighted in blue are
the days they`re planning on work. Anything not in blue is a day off.

If that looks like it`s not a lot of days working, that`s because
it`s not a lot of days working. The House is planning to work a grand
total of 111 days next year. There are only two weeks in the entire year
where they`re planning to work a full five days.

In each of the last three years Republicans have been in control, the
number of days Congress was scheduled to be inform session dropped. It was
starting to feel like the calendar for Congress couldn`t get any skinnier,
but yet, if all goes according to planned, next year, the House calendar
will shrink by more than 20 days from when it was last year.

This is how it works – look, next year, they`re going to come out of
the gates hot in January, ready to work a full ten days over the course of
the entire month. Then they ramp it up to 13 days in February. In March,
they`re tired. They go back to ten days for the whole month.

It`s 12 days total in April, May and June. Look out, they`re on a
roll. But then look at the date we circled here, July 16th. The House is
so gassed after those seven days of work in July, that they`re going to
begin their August recess this year on July 16th. August recess this year
starts July 16 and it ends in September.

They`re planning on working a total of 111 days for the whole year.
These guys should literally just get a second job and come to Washington
and work on sick days from their other job. It`s amazing. Nice work if
you can get it.

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

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD.” Alex Wagner in for Lawrence

Good evening, Alex.


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