The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/23/2015
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: December 23, 2015
Guest: Dan Kildee
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC GUEST HOST: April Ryan, Matt Welch, Mike Pesca,
happy Festivus to all of you, merry Christmas, happy holidays.
That is “ALL IN” for his evening. I`m Steve Kornacki. Chris Hayes is
going to be back next week.
And THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, and happy Festivus, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much, Steve. That was
excellent use of lizard in a sentence about politics, to wind up the year.
KORNACKI: It was.
MADDOW: Yes. Well done. Thank you.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Merry Christmas.
Happy December 23. Whether or not you personally celebrate Christmas, the
day before Christmas Eve, which I`ve always thought of as Christmas Eve
It`s always a little bit weird day in the news and if your job is to
work in the news, Christmas Eve eve also tends to be a weird day at work.
This year here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, we made a deliberate
decision to try to mitigate that weirdness and awkwardness and stress and
Christmas blues that sometimes can happen this time of year. We saw that
coming this year and so, we decided we would try to mitigate it by this
year on Christmas Eve eve – today, at work, inaugurating our new office
His name is Henry. He`s 2. He may look like a little guy. In his
mind he`s enormous. That may be because he`s from Texas.
I should also tell you that his little feet smell like Fritos. We are
technically not allowed to have an office dog here at Rockefeller center
but today it is Christmas Eve eve and we`re all at work and so we did it.
And Henry`s presence brought us much joy. Much, much joy, which ended
up being handy, because today`s political news opened with this – which is
the new CNN poll in the Republican presidential race. I know, I know.
It`s just another new poll.
But, basically, for all intents and purposes, this is the capper for
the year. There may or may not be another major poll between now and New
Year`s Eve. We now have had with this one a long string of polls that look
like this. They all back each other up and tell us the same story. So,
they all tell us basically the story of how this year is coming to an end.
However we expected our American politics to go in the year 2015, I
don`t think anybody expected they would end like this. Since the last
Republican debate of the year, there have been six Republican national
polls, all six put Donald Trump in the lead. Five of the six put him well
above the 30 percent threshold in terms of his support, which when you got
a field this large is a huge proportion of the vote to have locked up.
Of the six polls, four of them put him at or close to the 40 percent
threshold in terms of his support from Republican voters, which is almost
impossible to believe. But today`s CNN poll has Mr. Trump beating his
nearest rival by 21 points. He has a 21-point lead over Ted Cruz. He`s
more than lapping the second place contender.
If you want a metric to summarize – one metric to summarize the scale
of Donald Trump`s lead over the rest of the Republican field, this 39
percent that he`s got in the CNN poll that`s out today means that Donald
Trump has more support than George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee,
John Kasich ,Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson
and Marco Rubio combined with room to spare.
And, you know, Ted Cruz may be delighted to be in second place but
he`s in second place by a margin of 21 points. Donald Trump is out there
“Bloomberg Politics” put out a graph that`s sort of a poll tracker for
2015 today, lining up Mr. Trump`s position in the polls alongside the
specific dates of each of these super outrageous things he said on the
campaign trail that led to widespread but always false expectations that he
would pay some price for those outrageous comments at the polls.
And when you look at this year on a line graph like this, you can see
plain as day how Republican voter enthusiasm for Mr. Trump in 2015 has just
broken that mainstream and longstanding political expectation that, yes, it
may be OK to be provocative in American politics but you can`t just be
desperately offensive without alienating too many people and it hurting
your political standing. That was what we believed before 2015.
Donald Trump and the Republican Party base broke that rule this year.
I mean, here is where he was in the polls. See – all right. OK, here he
was in the polls before he technically announced he was running, started
off at 4 percent. Then he announced he was running.
Remember, when he announced, in his announcement speech, that`s when
he said that Mexican immigrants to this country are rapists, Donald Trump`s
numbers immediately started shooting through the roof with Republican
voters after that announcement.
By mid-July, Mr. Trump said that John McCain is not a war hero because
he was captured in the Vietnam War. His numbers started going up at an
even steeper rate at that point.
Mr. Trump both got rude and astonishingly juvenile shortly thereafter
when he readout Lindsey Graham`s personal cell phone number to a roomful of
Trump supporters. Republican base supporters ate that up. His numbers
kept going up.
He took a teeny tiny micro little hitch after he declared war on FOX
News, in part by speculating on the menstrual cycle of one of their prime
time anchors. That was literally just a hiccup for him though before his
numbers started heading back up.
And from September through November, basically, his poll numbers
actually looked a little bit normal in the sense that they looked like the
normal pseudo EKG pattern of a normal candidate that goes up and down
depending on what`s going on in the race. Although it should be noted that
even during that period, his overall trend was still upward.
If you want dramatic action, it turns out the next time he takes off
like a rocket is after he calls for a complete ban on Muslims entering the
United States. He goes through the roof.
Now, he appears to be an untouchable, prohibitive front-runner in the
race for the Republican nomination for president. And none of these newest
polls, the polls taken since the last debate, none of them fully reflect
the impact of his latest over the line, do not just cross the Rubicon but
nuke the Rubicon deliberate causing of offense, which he did this week in
Grand Rapids, Michigan. But we have seen how Republican-based voters have
responded in 2015 to his previous provocations and, therefore we have new
expectations that we have grown as a nation this year because of him.
And with those new expectations we have been forced to grow, we can
guess now what the next round of polls is going to show about Republican
voters` reaction to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Where did Hillary go? I
know where she went. It`s disgusting. I don`t want to talk about it.
She was favored to win, and she got schlonged, she lost.
They said he has killed reporters, and I don`t like that. By the way,
I hate some of these people but I`d never kill them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The newest polling on the Republican presidential race, as I
said, does not yet reflect Republican voters` reaction of these latest
comments from Mr. Trump. If this year was like any normal year in history,
you would expect a performance like that from a presidential frontrunner to
hurt his standing in the polls. You would expect his numbers to go down.
But this year is not a normal year, and this year, what we have
learned in watching the Republican Party react to this candidacy, this year
what we have learned to expect that these most recent comment also probably
push his numbers even higher.
Hi, Henry. Hi. Hi, sweetheart. Hi. Hi.
It can be a comfort to have an adorable little, you know, sweet-
smelling doggy around when otherwise the world does not make sense, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s very excited to see you.
MADDOW: Uh-oh. Too excited? It`s nice to see you, Henry. You`ve
made me feel better all day.
It is nice to have a dog around when, it turns out, that the rules
don`t make sense anymore, when deliberately defending huge swaths of the
population and being crude to the point where other people are afraid to
quote you, when that helps you run for president, it is nice to have a
four-legged friend who doesn`t really have words. He does know a few
commands. And I mean a few. But he doesn`t know.
It`s also helpful, though, to have somebody who does use words and who
can explain, and, in fact, is trying to do a deep explanation of what`s
going on now in his new book.
Joining us now is E.J. Dionne, political columnist for “The Washington
Post” and author of the upcoming book “Why the Right Went Wrong:
Conservatism from Goldwater, to the Tea Party and Beyond.”
E.J., I want to thank you for joining us. I want to apologize for not
getting you your own dachshund for this segment.
E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: I almost brought in our dog Casey.
I sent in a picture of Casey to your office. She is a little dog, but she
isn`t as well behaved as that little guy.
MADDOW: Having a little dog around just to be distracting and to be
apolitical and to be a happy thing, turns out, is a very comforting and
DIONNE: And merry Christmas Eve eve to you.
E.J., let me ask you, you`ve been doing all this work on basically the
history of conservatism, the history of the Republican Party. Are there
historical parallels for the kind of support we see for Mr. Trump where his
support goes up the more he pushes the envelope, the more he not only
defies political norms but really offends people?
DIONNE: I don`t think there are any precedence for anything quite
like Trump. I mean, you did have George Wallace who said outrageous
things, but he never hit this kind of level of support, briefly, oddly, in
Democratic primaries in 1972.
But I think that, you know, to try to figure out why has Trump done
this, we have to ask ourselves why did we all miss this? Everybody said,
oh, he`s gone by Labor Day. Wrong. Gone by Thanksgiving. Wrong.
What did we miss this? I think there are several things.
One is that Trump has been working these conservative networks for
years. He has been working a right wing conservative radio. He was the
birther in chief. He never gave up on that even when the president put out
his birth certificate. He is well-liked in that part of the party.
Secondly, everybody thinks they know Trump. He has been with us
forever. He had his TV show. He has had this TV presence. You read the
I mean, you know, in a sense, Trump built this to use the phrase
One things I talk about in the book is that there are a lot of angry
working class Republicans, white working class Republicans who have voted
Republican year after year and they don`t really have anything to show for
it. And Trump turns out to be a perfect way to express their anger. And
he`s not a “Wall Street Journal” editorial page or Club for Growth
DIONNE: He attacks trade treaties. He says he`s going to protect
Medicare and Social Security. He attacks big donors.
So, he has really put together this interesting right wing populist
thing and it looks now like it`s pretty durable.
MADDOW: If, because it is starting to look like he is likely to be
the nominee – obviously they haven`t even voted in Iowa yet. But his lead
looks prohibitive. Nobody else has been this far ahead at this point in
the Republican race and then not gone on to win the nomination, at least
not in modern times.
Now that it looks like he might win, is there any way to extrapolate
in terms of history that Democrats might run against him, in ways that
Democrats might recognize what you`re describing as the legitimate
grievances, driving interest on the right and sort of head him off at the
pass in the general?
DIONNE: I think there are two things here. One is, if Trump is the
Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, she
becomes the candidate of the upper middle class. The whole class
relationship that we have traditionally associated with politics, you know,
blue collar folks who are new deal Democrats. This is going to be flipped
on its head. I think all kinds of suburban areas would go to Clinton.
But I also think that Democrats should sort of be a little bit – not
only concerned, but a little ashamed of themselves, because a lot of these
voters, people who are hurting in this economy, people whose wages have
gone down, who lost well-paying jobs, those are people that Democrats are
supposed to talk to. Bernie Sanders has talked about that very explicitly.
Hillary Clinton has talked about it a little bit.
But I think Democrats really have to figure out how to talk to these
people even though they can probably win the election just with those
middle and upper and middle class votes.
MADDOW: E.J. Dionne, columnist for “The Washington Post”, E.J., thank
you for being with us on Christmas Eve eve. It`s great to have you here.
Congratulations on the book.
DIONNE: Well, thank you very much.
MADDOW: I`ve got to say, in addition to that one political science
rule about offending people, not being a good way to help your poll numbers
– in addition to that rule being completely rewritten this year in 2015,
the other political science thing that stopped making sense in 2015 is
something that we thought was a hard and fast rule in American politics
concerning money. Spending. Specifically ad spending.
Last night, we got the summary numbers basically for political ad
spending in 2015. What they showed is that this year, for whatever reason,
ads basically don`t work. Spending lots of money on ads doesn`t seem to
have an affect on the polls. Donald Trump has spent less ad money than any
other significant candidate. He spent I think zero dollars on TV ads
In contrast, Jeb Bush has spent more than $35 million. He spent what
the entire Republican field had spent combined by this point in the race in
the last presidential cycle. For his troubles, he is 3 percent in the
polls. He is losing to Chris Christie. He is losing to Rand Paul in the
latest CNN poll.
So, for whatever reason, ads are not working this year. At least
they`re not working in that top-level calculation of spend money on ads,
see poll numbers go up. Usually, that`s the way it works. This year,
doesn`t work anymore, which is fascinating.
But it has led to a really interesting byproduct of the presidential
race this year, which is that nobody is talking about the ads. Have you
noticed that this year?
It used to be when we covered presidential election years, we talked
about what ads they`re running, what affect they`re going to – no
attention to the ads this year because top line level, we can tell they`re
That, however, does not change the fact that this year has been a
really good year for political ads. I mean, not in their effectiveness in
moving the needle, but in terms of there being really good ads better than
any other political cycle in recent memory. And it has this weird other
factor this year, which is that even the great ads have mostly been
invisible. People haven`t seen them.
And the good ads are from both parties. I personally think it`s a
very close call. Very hard decision between two specific ads this year as
to which one is the best ad that has been run in the country this year and
I think both of them are contenders for one of the best political ads in my
We`ve got two ads. One of them is Democratic, one of them is
Republican. They are both awesome.
The art of making ads about Donald Trump itself has become an
interesting ad-making genre with interesting results.
The main Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have
had this interesting challenge because each of them has basically been
running eye-catching ads that are not mean about each other. It`s hard to
do great, memorable ads that are positive ads. But we are seeing that this
Honestly, there has just been amazing political ad making this year
that nobody has seen. And I don`t know if that means they`re going to go
down in the memory hole and nobody is going to know this happen this had
year. But you should see some of these. Particularly these two, this
Democratic one and Republican one that I think are contenders for the
greatest political ads in a very, very long time.
MADDOW: I think that it is likely that the best political ad made
this entire year is an ad made for a Democrat. It`s one of the all-time
best political ads I`ve ever seen.
But I have to tell you, even though I am a liberal – really I am not
just playing it on TV. My thoughts are liberal. My emotions are liberal
But even so, there is a Republican ad this year that is so well done -
- it`s from one of the Republican presidential candidates. It is so well
done that it has literally made me cry at my desk, twice. The second time
I knew it was coming.
But it is also up there this year as one of the all-time best ads I`ve
ever seen. They are both spectacular. Tell me which one you think is
better. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now the poor guy, you`ve got to see this guy, uh, I don`t know
what I said. Uh, I don`t remember.
TV ANCHOR: He appeared to mock a reporter with a disability.
TRUMP: He`s going like, I don`t remember. Maybe that`s what I said.
TV ANCHOR: That reporter he is talking about is Serge Kovaleski, who
now works with “The New York Times.” As you can see right there, he
suffers from a chronic condition that impairs movement of his arms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump says he wasn`t mocking the reporter because
he didn`t know what the reporter looked like. But in truth, they have
known each other personally for years.
TRUMP: He`s going, I don`t remember. Maybe that`s what I said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John Kasich has run a number of anti-Donald Trump ads this
year, except some of the other candidates, I think John Kasich`s are better
than everybody else`s. I think that`s his best one.
John Kasich is nowheresville in the polls. But I think John Kasich
also ran the most effective straight-up biographical ad run by any
Republican candidates this year. Of all the Republican, here is who I am,
here is what I have done ads, I think John Kasich did the best job and did
a good job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, what about us?
JOHN KASICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My dad carried mail on his
back. They called him John the Mailman. They loved him because he looked
out for everyone in those neighborhoods.
I learned something from my father. Do your best to look out for
other people. We turned Ohio around. And we created jobs and cut taxes
and balanced our budgets.
I spent 18 years on the Armed Services Committee with some of the
finest defense minds in the world. I was one of the chief architects of
balancing the budget the first time we did it since man walked on the moon.
We haven`t done it since. It can happen again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Kasich`s for us.
ANNOUNCER: New Day for America is responsible for the content of this
(END VIDEO CLI)
MADDOW: I think that – whatever you think of John Kasich, that is
the best biographical ad any Republican candidate has run this year.
Best biographical ad run by a Democratic candidate this year was run
by Senator Sanders. He is such an unconventional candidate. I`m not sure
that we knew what to expect from him in terms of a presidential campaign.
But it turns out Bernie Sanders raised a ton of money. Apparently, he is
on track to outraise Hillary Clinton.
Some of what he has spent, his unexpectedly large amounts of money on,
are some very good, conventional TV ads, including this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: The son of a polish immigrant who grew up in a Brooklyn
tenement. He went to public schools, then college where the look of his
life began fighting injustice and inequality, speaking truth to power. He
moved to Vermont, won election and praised as one of America`s best mayors.
In Congress, he stood up for working families and for principles, opposing
the Iraq war, supporting veterans. Now he`s taking on Wall Street in a
corrupt political system, funded by over a million contributions, tackling
climate change fighting for clean jobs, fighting for living wages, equal
pay and tuition free public colleges.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are sick
and tired of establishment politics and they want real change.
AD NARRATOR: Bernie Sanders, husband, father, grandfather – an
honest leader, building a movement with you, to give us a future to believe
SANDERS: I`m Bernie Sanders and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Best Democratic biographical ad this year.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have been running a campaign
against each other this year that`s interesting. It`s been almost entirely
positive. They sometimes take shots at each other but they`ve both made a
pretty obvious effort to not campaign for president by tearing each other
And that has led to a kind of competition in a very difficult space
which is positive ads, ads that aren`t about your competitors being a jerk,
right? That are about stating their own case but still need to be
memorable and moving.
Hillary Clinton did her own very good biographical ad that was
interestingly not about her own biography but about her mother`s biography.
But I think the single best ads that Hillary Clinton has run have been
these short ads that she`s done where she says what she wants to do in
terms of policy but says it by showcasing other real people. Watch, watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mindy Wool will work 179
shifts to earn what the top CEO makes in a single day. Join the fight for
higher incomes. Join the fight for Mindy.
I`m Hillary Clinton and I approve this message.
It took Alexis four years to earn her college degree. But it will
take her 25 years to pay off her student loans. Join the fight to make
college affordable. Join the fight for Alexis.
I`m Hillary Clinton and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Really good Hillary Clinton ads that did not get a lot of
national attention. In a year where people were really paying attention to
the ads, I think those would have because they were so good.
I should say Bernie Sanders also had one really notable good ad this
year that didn`t break new ground in terms of the script or anything, but
it caught this moment on the campaign trail with a young woman, you can
see, on a head scarf got up and expressed herself with a lot of emotion
about how upset she was about what was going on in the country and Senator
Sanders took her hand and brought her to the podium with him, answered her
questions, then gave her a hug.
This is one of the ads where the visuals really made the point. It`s
also a very powerful one.
But I said there were a lot of good Republican ads this year, and I
mean it. Regardless of whether these candidates are winning in the giant
Republican race, whether you personally like these candidates or not, in a
year where political ads are not at all part of the national discussion,
not at all part of the punditry, they`re basically seen as irrelevant to
This year, you should know that there are two really – I think really
good Republican political ad this is year. Two of them. This is not the
best one. This is the second best one.
This is Carly Fiorina`s ad. It was her response after Donald Trump
was quoted saying about her, quote, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote
for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next president? Really,
folks, come on. Are we serious?”
That quote from Donald Trump about Carly Fiorina`s face led to this, I
think, very good ad from Carly Fiorina this year. I will warn you in
advance, she says Democrat Party in the middle of this like it`s an
epithet, which how she means it, and that`s annoying. But if you put that
aside, I think you will enjoy this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ladies, look at this face.
And look at all of your faces. The face of leadership. The face of
leadership in our party. The party of women`s suffrage.
The face of leadership in your communities, in your businesses, in
your places of work and worship.
Ladies, note to Democrat Party, we are not a special interest group.
We are the majority of the nation.
This is the face of a 61-year-old woman. I am proud of every year and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Carly Fiorina, currently at 1 percent in the polls.
But still I think that is the second best Republican political ad that
has run this year. Here is the first best. Here, I am convinced, is the
best Republican political ad that has run this year.
It is the best Republican political ad I`ve seen in a lot of years.
That is tight competition, I think, as to whether it is the best ad of the
year in total.
I`ll show you what I think is its Democratic competition right after
this. But this ad from Ben Carson, of all people – I cannot believe this
didn`t become a national news story, just how good it is, how moving and
effective it is.
It completely redefines him in a way that ought to have some effect in
the polls if ads worked anymore, which they stopped doing in 2015.
I`m quite sure you have not seen this, but check it out. I think this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m Ben Carson and I approve
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ben Carson right now is bottoming out in the race for the
Republican nomination. He had been flying high. He is now falling in the
polls like a stone falls through water, but that is a brilliant freaking
The only ad that has run this year that is as good as that spot from
Ben Carson is for a Democrat. It was not run by a Democrat but to get this
Democrat to throw his hat into the race for the presidency. It is really
good. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a pretty
good idea what all those families, all you Americans in trouble were going
through, in part, because our own families had gone through similar
When I was a young kid in third grade, I remember my dad coming up the
stairs of my grand pop`s house where we were living, sitting at the end of
my bed and saying, Joey, I`m going to have to leave for a while. Go down
to Wilmington, Delaware, with Uncle Frank.
There`s good jobs down there, honey. In a little while, in a little
while I`ll be able to send for you and mom and Jimmy and Val. And
everything is going to be fine.
For the rest of our lives, my sister and my brothers, for the rest of
our life, my dad never failed to remind us that a job is about a lot more
than a paycheck.
It`s about – it`s about your dignity. It`s about respect. It`s
about your place in the community. It`s about being able to look your
child in the eye and say, honey, it`s going to be OK, and mean it. And
know it`s true.
You never quit on America! And you deserve a president who will never
quit on you!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joe Biden did not end up running for president this year but
that ad to try to get him to run is one of the best political ads I have
ever seen, as is “these hands” by Ben Carson that I played right before
That Ben Carson ad, because he`s running, that ad at least would be a
big part of our political discussion this year, if we were talking about
ads at all this year, if ads worked this year. But apparently because they
don`t work anymore, we`re not talking about political ads.
That doesn`t change the fact, though, that there have been some
spectacular storytelling done this year in the name of American politics.
And however you think this election is going to go, and however cynical
this election may be making you feel about American politics, we are still
good at telling these stories about American politics and that is
And some day, it will matter again.
MADDOW: So earlier tonight, I offered the presence of Henry, our new
show office dog, our 2-year-old dachshund dynamo, sort of Sal for Sol (ph),
to make you feel better about the soaring popularity of a Republican
presidential front-runner who is now using vulgar Yiddish slang for penis
to attack the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
Don`t listen, Henry, I`m sorry.
He`s inviting his increasingly rowdy, raucous crowds to think of
Hillary Clinton as a disgusting human being because she`s a woman. I
thought, you know, if that makes you feel bad, then maybe having Henry
around might help.
Henry doesn`t work for you, though, I have another possible cure. His
name is not Henry, though. It`s Bernie.
You`ve seen a little bit of this, but you have not seen the best part
of it. And that`s next.
MADDOW: Here is a question we never had to ask before this 2016
presidential cycle. It is this: what is the appropriate way to respond
when a front-runner for a major party`s nomination for the presidency, he`s
frontrunner by a mile, makes reference in a campaign speech to one of his
opponents going to the bathroom?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`m watching the debate and she disappeared. Where did she
go? Where did she go? I thought she quit. I thought she gave up.
Where did she go? Where did Hillary go? They had to start the debate
Phase two, I know where she went. It`s disgusting. I don`t want to
talk about it. No. It`s too disgusting. Don`t say it. It`s disgusting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, what happens after that? In our country, what happens
after that, after something that nakedly misogynist and weird happens at
top tier level politics? What do we do with that?
If I were Hillary Clinton in this situation, I think I would have done
what she has done, which is basically to decide not to dignify the comments
with a response to not engage.
As the person who was the subject of that kind of attack, I think
that`s the only response that makes sense. Bernie Sanders, however, was
not the subject of the attack which is part of the point, right? Senator
Sanders decided to not leave this alone. You have probably seen a little
bit of this. You have not seen all of it, including his Donald Trump
But it is awesome and I think that Senator Sanders may have hereby fix
this had particular problem. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I don`t know if any of you have follow this had in the TV or
in the papers, but there`s another new development, never-ending
development from the Trump world. And I don`t know how to break this to
Donald Trump is very upset, very hard for him to deal with – I don`t
know what his relationship with women has been in his life, but he has
discovered that women go to the bathroom. And it`s been very upsetting for
him. And this is what I quote. I was there at the debate we had on
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
But I`ve got to be honest with you – I`ve got to be honest with you.
I`ve got to lay it out on the table. I also went to the bathroom.
I know. I know. I have to admit it. I guess I`m a man. Men are
allowed to go to the bathroom. But women, what can we say? This is the
quote. This is the pathology. This is the guy who is leading in the
This is what he said, quote, “I know where she went. It`s
disgusting!” This is Hillary Clinton going to the bathroom. This is the
“It`s disgusting. I don`t want to talk about it. No! It`s too
disgusting. Don`t say it! It`s disgusting.”
This is a guy who wants to be president of the United States.
He must have a very unusual relationship with women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders saying what Hillary Clinton should not
have to, basically being her wing man on this subject. If there`s one
thing that can bring even strong rivals together, it`s an absolutely beyond
the pale revolting sexist attack by the guy leading the other party.
Bernie and Hillary for the win here on this one.
MADDOW: So, judging by what we hear from you guys, it is difficult to
talk about anything but rage when we talk about Flint, Michigan, a town
whose water was poisoned by lead after the state`s appointed emergency
manager switched to drinking water source to save money. The state allowed
corrosive river water to go through Flint`s pipes without proper treatment.
Despite a warning from the EPA about lead in the water back in
February, despite evidence of lead levels rising in the blood test of Flint
kids, the administration of Michigan`s Republican Governor Rick Snyder
continued to insist publicly for months that Flint water was safe to drink.
The people of Flint could tell something was seriously wrong with their
water. In March, the Flint City Council voted 7-1 to go back to their old
safe clean water from Detroit.
But in Michigan, in Rick Snyder`s Michigan, that kind of a vote
doesn`t mean anything, because instead of local elected officials having a
say over what happens in their town, in Michigan, in this particular town,
the town happened to be run by an emergency manager, who was appointed by
and who answered to Governor Rick Snyder.
And that emergency manager called the city council`s little vote on
the subject incomprehensible. He said water from Detroit is no safer than
water from Flint.
Since we have been covering this story, we have had a lot of feedback
from our viewers, from you guys. The story is apparently striking a nerve.
It is apparently making people all around the country really mad. We`ve
also had a lot of people contacting us, asking how they can help these kids
in Flint who have been irreversibly poisoned by their state.
And that urge to help, to do something, that is a powerful, human
thing. And honestly, if you want to find redemption in this whole sordid
mess, it may be found in the acts of individual heroism in Flint over these
past months as people started to realize that they were going to need to
help themselves. The people of Flint held water drives at malls and high
school football games where people could donate bottled water for the local
schools and for their neighbors, local food bank convinced FEMA to truck in
thousands of liters of bottled water to give away for free.
The Michigan armed of the Kroger grocery chain lowered the price of
bottled water specifically in its stores in and around Flint.
And then people like Lanice Lawson (ph), that`s her on the right in
the sunglasses there. She started an online fund-raising campaign to bring
in bottled water for kids at Flint schools. She started it herself
personally. She called it Bottles for the Babies. She has raised almost
$2,500 in her online campaign. Periodically she loads up a truck and
delivers a few thousand bottles to a school, daycare center or senior
Considering Rick Snyder thought the people of Flint were so incapable
of governing themselves that he installed someone to do it for them, the
way, the people of Flint have coped on their own with the damage that Rick
Snyder administration has done to them, it is inspiring.
But by themselves, the people of Flint are not going to be able to fix
all the harm that has been done to the town or to its kids. That is why
the mayor declared a state of man-made disaster in Flint. That`s why she`s
calling on Governor Snyder to get in gear and do more. That`s why Flint`s
state representatives and its U.S. congressmen are now pressing for more as
Joining us now is Representative Dan Kildee. He represents Flint in
Congressman, I know two nights before Christmas is not the easiest
time in the world to be here. I really appreciate you being here tonight.
REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: What does Flint need from the state, from the Rick Snyder
administration right now and are you confident you`re going to get it?
KILDEE: Well, we need more than an apology and an acknowledgement
that they failed. We need them to make it right. We need the state to
step up and to help us establish a fund to get the kids who have suffered
lead exposure, the kind of environmental – or the nutritional support that
will offset some of the damage done by lead, early childhood education for
all of them, to overcome the developmental challenges that come with lead
exposure, long-term support for their educational experience going forward.
We need and can help these kids. But if the governor just continues
to sit and wait and say that he has done enough, every day these kids lose
is a day they can`t get back. And so, among the many things that he needs
to do, fixing the lead service lines, helping with infrastructure, he needs
to step up and help these kids, because if we help them now, they can have
a better future. If we simply say, well, we`re sorry, or he says he`s
sorry, it`s these kids who are the victim of just a terrible mistake that
they made while the state was running the city of Flint.
MADDOW: You`ve been very vocal that there ought to be essentially a
health fund to support these kids who were poisoned, again, by no fault of
that you are own. The people of Flint did nothing wrong. This is a
decision that happened against the will of their elected officials in some
cases and it was done by the state.
Do you have an estimate of how much you`re describing here might cost?
How big an endeavor that would be?
KILDEE: We don`t right now. I`ve been working with Dr. Mona Hanna
Attisha, who is really one of the heroes of this.
KILDEE: The pediatrician at the Hurley Medical Center. We have a
group that will put together what we think it will take. But it`s
nutritional support, it`s early childhood education.
There`s about 7,000 kids under the age of 5 who should get this kind
of direct help. It`s not something we cannot do. It`s not a problem so
big that it can`t be solved.
But if the governor continues to try to deflect blame and not deal
with actually doing something to offset the damage that they`ve done,
they`re going to leave these kids behind. We can do this, we just need the
people who made this mistake, not just to accept accountability, but take
responsibility to make it right.
MADDOW: Do you believe that the state deliberately withheld
information, or actively mislead the public about what they knew about the
lead levels in the water?
KILDEE: From what I have seen, it is very clear that the state was
aware that there were elevated lead levels and they tried to keep it from
going public. They actually tried to sort of criticize one of the EPA
officials who helped to reveal that this problem was real by calling him a
One state official told city residents should just relax. That was
the word that was used.
So, they did try to minimize this, cover it up. I think they were
thinking that the people in Flint would just let it go.
They don`t know the people in Flint. They`re not going to let this
go. I`m not going to let it go. They need to make it right.
MADDOW: Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee who represents Flint,
Michigan – sir, again, I appreciate you being here two nights before
Christmas. I hope you don`t mind when we call you again soon to ask you
back. This is not a story we are going to walk away from. I feel like
we`re right in the middle of it.
KILDEE: Well, I thank you for that. This helps.
MADDOW: Thank you, sir. Appreciate.
All right, we`ve got one more big story coming up from today`s news.
It is a big threat that has been made, but it is a truly excellently
pointless threat, which, of course, has been made with a giant exclamation
point on it. And that story is still ahead.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: By popular demand, if you were five inches tall and had four
legs and shiny black fur and you spent your entire day catching a sock not
in an office, your world view might look like this. That`s a GoPro on
Thank you, Henry the miniature dachshund, today`s office dog. The
person who made me feel a lot better about Donald Trump today. Well, the
person. The thing, the being that made me feel better. May Santa bring
you the right side kibble, Henry.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Here`s something small, something specific to watch for in
the news over Christmas holiday and after. Last night, we mentioned on the
show that the new qualifying criteria has come out for the FOX Business
Republican debate which happens next month. It happens January 14th.
The big headline out of that announcement so far is that FOX seems to
essentially trying to narrow the Republican field with an all new set of
Right now, at least, it looks like with this new criteria, FOX is only
going to include six Republican candidates on the main stage for that next
Now, the first Republican to balk at that is to say that if he`s put
at the kids table, he won`t even show up. The first one to balk is Rand
Rand Paul said today he`s not going to let any network tell him he`s
not a first-tier candidate and he won`t participate at all if he doesn`t
make the same stage, which is fascinating, particularly coming from a man
who only made the main stage debate the last time around because CNN
cheated for him. CNN decided to break its own rules and cheat for him and
let him have a main stage podium even though he didn`t qualify to be there.
Still, though, keep an eye on this over the holidays. As each new
poll comes out over the course of the holidays, both national polls but
also Iowa and New Hampshire polls, watch to see who else is not slated to
make it into the next debate, because it really looks like FOX is aiming at
only having six or so Republican candidates in the next debate, which will
be a significant change. Watch for that, watch for the new polls.
Watch also to see if other candidates like Rand Paul start saying
explicitly that FOX`s plan is not OK with them, that they may not
participate at all unless the shoes are changed to benefit them. This is
something that will develop over the holidays. This is crunch time now.
Watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. Happy Christmas Eve eve. We will see
you again very soon.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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