The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/28/2015
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: December 28, 2015
Guest: Paul Butler, Bernie Sanders
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Thanks, Chris.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: You bet.
HARRIS-PERRY: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Rachel has the night off.
We have a big show tonight. Bernie Sanders is going to join us live
in just a little while. Just ahead of his latest campaign event.
But we begin tonight with something off the campaign trail. Now,
“Time” magazine hasn`t always named a Person of the Year. In fact, all the
way up until 1999, the award was actually designated “Man of the Year.”
Now, that`s not to say that women didn`t sometimes get picked. They
were sometimes the exception to the rule. Queen Elizabeth graced the cover
in 1952, the year she took the throne.
The very first person to be named “Time” Man of the Year was Charles
Lindbergh in 1927. That`s the year he made the first solo nonstop flight
across the Atlantic Ocean. For completing that 33 1/2-hour flight he got
the magazine cover.
Since then, nearly every sitting U.S. president has won the honor. So
have three popes. And it`s understandable that people with that level of
prominence would be chosen because that distinction is supposed to be
awarded to someone who has affected the news and our lives over the course
of the past year.
What is interesting about this year is that one of the finalists named
for the award wasn`t a person. It was a movement. Black Lives Matter was
on the short list for consideration in 2015 because Black Lives Matter has
transformed our public discourse.
Indeed, by some measures 2015 has been defined by this movement. In
the words of “Time” magazine itself, Black Lives Matter has blossomed from
a protest cry into a genuine political force – a force that has engaged
media and local communities and the 2016 presidential contest. Activists
have staged interruptions, interventions and interviews with candidates
from both parties, including both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. They
met with Hillary Clinton to demand that racial disparities in policing be
acknowledged and substantively addressed.
Black Lives Matter has employed multiple strategies from social media,
to direct action protest. But the movement`s momentum is not only a result
of its strategy. Much of the momentum emerges from the very social
disaster that it seeks to address, where it seems like an endless repeated
narrative of police shootings and killings of unarmed black Americans.
Many of these shootings have been accompanied by video so that month
after month in city after city we all bear witness as young black men and
women are felled by bullets of local law enforcement. Nearly 1,000 people
have been killed by police in 2015. We know that fact because of reporting
done by the “Washington Post.”
You see, as it turns out, no single government agency keeps a record
of every fatal police encounter, even as the numbers climb to nearly 1,000
civilians this year. And while we tend to acknowledge the inherent danger
in policing and while each loss of law enforcement life is tragic, the
number of police fatalities this year is among the lowest on record.
By one tally, 124 officers have been killed this year, with 39 of
those deaths involving firearms. It`s also important to note that killing
civilians is not a routine part of police work. In fact, most officers
never even discharge their weapons.
But if you dive into the new database compiled by “The Washington
Post”, you will find certain unnerving details about civilian deaths.
Oftentimes, the shooting officers are repeat offenders. According to “The
Washington Post,” more than 50 police officers involved in fatal shootings
this year had previously fired their guns in deadly on-duty shootings. For
a handful of officers, it was their third fatal shooting. For one officer,
it was his fourth.
By now you know the names of some of those killed. It`s a drumbeat
that seems not to end. Unarmed Walter Scott in North Charleston shot in
the back by a police officer this April after fleeing from a traffic stop.
Eric Harris in Tulsa killed within two days of the first incident. He
was killed by a reserve deputy who says he meant to draw his taser but
accidentally pulled a gun instead, killing Harris.
Freddie Gray in Baltimore also died in April after suffering a spinal
injury and falling into a coma while in police custody.
Those all happened while other high-profile cases continued to play
out like Michael Brown and Eric Garner in 2014. And just last month, we
saw 2014 video of Laquan McDonald`s shooting by police in Chicago. And
many questioned the decision by the Chicago mayor and city council to
settle with the family and to not release that video for nearly a year.
They questioned whether city officials were worried that Ferguson-style
Black Lives Matter protests would break out in the middle of Chicago`s
mayoral election this spring.
Chicago officials deny it, but their critics openly wonder whether the
timing and the Emanuel campaign worried that reaction from Black Lives
Matter would derail the mayor`s hopes for a second term.
And now as we head into the final days of 2015, there is news of yet
another deadly police shooting, this time involving a college student with
mental illness and a grandmother of 10. Both killed in their homes, not in
the street. The incident happened early Saturday morning in a small two-
story home on Chicago`s west side. Police were responding to a 911 call
made by the father of a 19-year-old, Quintonio LeGrier.
Now, LeGrier was an engineering student home for the holidays who got
into an argument with his father and according to the “Chicago Sun Times”,
the young man`s father called police to remove his son, saying that he was,
quote, “a little agitated” and was banging on his bedroom door with a
He called his downstairs neighbor Bettie Jones and told her not to
answer the door until the police arrived. The “Sun-Times” says when police
did arrive on the scene LeGrier`s father heard Jones yell, “whoa, whoa,
whoa” as if she were attempting to intervene in the police confrontation
with his son. Shortly thereafter she died from a gunshot wound.
According to an autopsy obtained by “The Associated Press”, 19-year-
old LeGrier was also killed by multiple gunshot wounds. In a statement the
Chicago police officer said they were confronted by “a combative subject”
and added that Jones was, quote, “accidentally struck.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like I just want to wake up and have my
mom say that was a dream. But I can`t. She`s gone. She was murdered.
And that`s all in my heart.
My mom was so scared of my oldest son that`s 15 to get shot by the
police officers. But who instead gets shot and killed? Her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the taser? Don`t start shooting
people, innocent people!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: The case is now being investigated. But tonight,
Bettie Jones is dead. She was a grandmother who had been hosting family
for Christmas just a few hours earlier.
Also dead is Quintonio LeGrier, a college student, whose family says
he had developed a mental illness.
Now less than 48 hours after those shootings, we were reminded of
another shooting that gave us that same feeling. The case of 12-year-old
Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot by Cleveland police outside a city rec
Rice was carrying an air soft pellet gun when someone called police
and the 911 dispatcher was told Tamir was probably a juvenile and his gun
was, quote, “probably fake.” But that information was never relayed to the
responding officers and within two seconds of their patrol car`s arrival on
the scene, Tamir was shot.
And today, we learned that those officers will not face charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY J. MCGINTY, CUYAHOGA COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Given this perfect
storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications by all involved that
day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police. Believing
he was about to be shot was a mistaken yet reasonable belief given the
high-stress circumstances in his police training. He had reason to fear
for his life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Today, Tamir`s mother released a statement saying this
part, “I don`t want my child to have died for nothing, and I refuse to let
his legacy or his name be ignored.”
There was no indictment. But his name has not been ignored.
Today, former Ohio governor and presidential candidate John Kasich
appealed for calm in the wake of the decision. But he also acknowledged
that, quote, “Tamir Rice`s death was a heartbreaking tragedy, and I
understand how this decision will leave many people asking themselves if
justice was served.”
People are asking if justice has been served, but at least if nothing
else tonight, there`s a conversation and one that is desperately needed.
Joining us now is Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and now
professor of law at Georgetown University.
Thanks for being with us tonight.
PAUL BUTLER, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Great to be here, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: So I want to ask you about this question of justice and
this issue that we see in the “Washington Post,” data that you have more
than 50 officers who actually are repeat offenders in the sense that they
have multiple times discharged their weapons in the context of a deadly
Is something wrong with our ability to hold officers accountable?
BUTLER: Yes. So, for one thing, there`s no transparency. We don`t
hear about these officers until there`s some case with wretched facts like
this, and then there`s an investigation and police officers, police
departments reluctantly reveal this kind of data. So we need more
transparency and we need more accountability because the fact is when you
prosecute, you send a message. But, Melissa, when you fail to prosecute,
you also send a message.
So the message in Tamir`s town is that what happened to this 12-year-
old boy when the cops roll up on him, less than two seconds he`s shot dead.
To me the most revealing fact, if I were prosecuting this case and my
closing statement, what I would tell the jurors is that cop car hadn`t even
stopped rolling before Tamir was dead.
And the message, when you don`t prosecute that cop, is that that`s
legal, that it`s OK for an officer to do that or at worst it`s a mistake.
But again, that`s not the message I think we want to send.
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I want to ask you as a former prosecutor. In
part because if – you know, if you`re a person watching this, you think
oh, there are officers, there are citizens, there are prosecutors, but in
fact officers and prosecutors tend to know one another, maybe not in a big
city like Chicago but often in smaller towns and localities. Even in big
And I wonder if that reluctance is about officers and about policing
or if it`s also about the fact that prosecutors have long-term
relationships with officers. They need them to make their cases on a daily
BUTLER: Sure. So, it`s about both, Melissa.
You know, being a police officer`s like a lot of other jobs. It`s
just a few people who do most of the work. Most cops don`t make a lot of
A few cops make a whole lot of arrests. And as a prosecutor, those
are the police officers who you get to know. So you need them to make your
Every prosecutor including me has had the experience of having a cop
on the stand. He catches attitude against you. He turns against you. And
you lose your case. So, you need them to win your cases.
The other thing is when you work with cops every day, you realize they
have the hardest jobs, some of the hardest jobs in our society and they`re
some of the bravest people. You couldn`t pay me to do that work because I
don`t have the bravery.
And so, you do respect the work that they do. And you know, there`s
nothing that makes a cop madder than if you ask him too many questions. He
calls it treating him like some suspect. I had so many cops tell me,
“Don`t treat me like some suspect.”
So is it easier to turn a blind eye? Absolutely, yes. That`s a
reason why a lot of people have called for independent prosecutors,
independent investigations in cases involving cops because we just can`t
trust the prosecutors in many cases to keep a safe distance to evaluate
these cases objectively.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, let me dive into that a little bit when you talk
about treating an officer like some suspect. It feels to me like part of
Black Lives Matter, which is where we started, part of the work that they
have done in changing our discourse is to say, we in fact do need to treat
police officers in the ways that we would treat other potential suspects in
That seems tough to me. I mean, the fact is we do in fact give police
officers weapons. We do expect that they would – that they will use their
weapons, you know, in the course of their normal job duties in a way that
we don`t, for example, with TV hosts or prosecutors.
And so, I wonder about that capacity that Black Lives Matter is
saying, listen, we need to actually look at the justice system as an even
thing when in fact we know that officers are likely to be held to a
BUTLER: Yes, that`s right. So, with the power of a license to kill
comes a responsibility and an obligation to use that power carefully. So,
in both Chicago and with little Tamir, these are situations in which cops
respond to all the time, in Chicago, someone in a mental health crisis with
a weapon. So there`s a procedure.
With Tamir, if you get a call as an officer for someone with a weapon
out in the open, it`s police academy 101. What you do is conceal and
communicate. You don`t roll up on the suspect, expose yourself, and then
use that as an excuse to gun him down.
Again, that`s officer in the Tamir Rice case, he almost flunked out of
the police academy. He clearly wasn`t well-equipped to be an officer. So
the fact he`s allowed to be on the streets, license to kill, again, that
really does send the message that black lives don`t matter in this police
You know, we have to think about what Bernie Sanders said about Sandra
Bland, that if she were a white woman she would be alive today. And I
think a lot of people will look at Tamir and say, if this were a 12-year-
old white boy playing with a toy gun, the cops would not have killed him.
They certainly wouldn`t have killed him less than two seconds after
HARRIS-PERRY: I hear you, Mr. Butler. It is – it should take
courage to be a police officer. It should not take courage to be 12 years
old and playing on the playground.
Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor and Georgetown law professor.
I thank you for your time tonight.
And he brought up Bernie Sanders. And in fact, Senator Bernie Sanders
is going to join us live in just a moment.
But first, along with everything else to watch in Chicago right now,
tomorrow is expected to be a big day in court in the police killing of
Laquan McDonald, again, he was killed in October of 2014, so well over a
year ago. Tomorrow, the officer charged with first-degree murder in that
case is scheduled to be arraigned.
His lawyer has said he will fight the charges vigorously. So, we`re
expecting the officer to plead not guilty.
But the officer`s attorney has also objected to Mayor Rahm Emanuel
saying the officer violated the standards of professionalism and moral
standards when he shot Laquan McDonald 16 times. The defense attorney says
he will seek a change of venue because he says his client can no longer get
a fair trial in Chicago.
We will be right back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Senator Bernie Sanders has proved that he can draw a
really, really big crowd. But the knock on Sanders as a presidential
hopeful in part was that he comes from one of the whitest states in the
So, can he convince voters of color that he understands issues like
police accountability and develop an effective plan to deal with it? I`ve
not yet had a chance to interview Senator Sanders about that. But on this
news day, with the Tamir Rice story and the police killing in Chicago over
the weekend, I`m about to get my chance.
Senator Bernie Sanders joins us next.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve been discussing Black Lives Matter and the
movement`s demand for accountability for deaths at the hands of police. On
the campaign trail, the first candidate Black Lives Matter decided to hold
publicly accountable was Bernie Sanders.
It started back in July when activists interrupt a town hall with
Senator Sanders at Netroots Nation Conference, in Phoenix. A month later
in Seattle, Senator Sanders was interrupted again by Black Lives Matter
And Bernie Sanders at first just seemed frustrated by the
interruptions. Pretty soon, we saw him undertaking a genuinely substantive
response to the movement`s demands. The senator now regularly incorporates
issues of racial and criminal justice into his public speeches and
interviews. He`s released a racial justice plan and he`s hired a young
African-American criminal justice advocate as his national press secretary.
Bernie Sanders` embrace of Black Lives Matter has made the movement
even more visible as a Democratic primary campaign issue. And it may have
also pressured Hillary Clinton into having a couple of meetings with Black
Lives Matter activists earlier this year.
Last month Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator from Cleveland who
was both a Clinton supporter and a prominent voice on the police killing of
12-year-old Tamir Rice, surprised many by endorsing Bernie Sanders instead
of Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton still enjoys a substantial lead in the polls with
African-American voters. But as 2016 voting begins in a matter of weeks,
can Senator Sanders offer a meaningful alternative to black voters?
Joining us now for the interview is Democratic candidate for president
and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. He joins us live from Las Vegas where
he is just about to hold a rally.
Senator, thank you so much for being with us.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My pleasure.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I want to ask you first obviously about today`s
decision out of Ohio not to indict the officers involved with the shooting
death of Tamir Rice.
Do you have a reaction to that?
SANDERS: Well, I do. I`ve been on the road here all day in Nevada.
I haven`t studied the issue. But obviously, it`s disconcerting to see a
12-year-old shot because he had a toy gun. It was obviously something that
all of us are concerned about. I think we need to have a federal
investigation to take a hard look at that.
But I will also tell you that we need nationally to take a hard look
at the use of force. I was a mayor for eight years and I worked very
closely with police officers. They have an impossibly difficult job.
But I think as a nation, what we have got to recognize is that lethal
force should be the last response, not the first response, and we`re seeing
too much of shooting I think in this country.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Senator, obviously as I was introducing you I
pointed out you that were among the very first candidates to be held
accountable by the Black Lives Matter movement and I think one of the first
candidates to really offer a substantive platform.
When you are often making the case to African-American voters, you
will discuss your experiences with the civil rights movement, a movement
which many of these young activists were born a good decade, sometimes even
two decades later. How do you think that is received by this new
SANDERS: Well, look, what I did 20, 30, or 40 years ago is
interesting but it`s not important. What is important is what I`m fighting
for today and what I`m advocating. And we`re advocating on two separate
Number one, economically. We are seeing a middle class and African-
Americans disproportionately suffering in the economy today. We`re seeing
almost all new income and wealth going to the top 1 percent. We`re seeing
African-American young people, high school graduates having a 51 percent
rate of unemployment or underemployment, which should give us a clue as to
why we end up having more people in jail than any other country.
So, what I`ve been saying loudly and clearly, we have got to invest in
jobs and education, not more jails, not more incarceration. We are talking
about raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, creating 13 million
jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, pay equity for women
workers, a national health care program guaranteeing health care to all
people, having the United States joining the rest of the industrialized
world in guaranteeing paid family pay and medical leave.
So, Melissa, I think all of those issues resonate with working people
all over this country. I think disproportionately, to be honest with you,
with an African-American community which is really hurting economically.
HARRIS-PERRY: When you were talking about the community that would be
impacted, for example, by a $15 an hour minimum wage, you got into a bit of
a dust-up with Mr. Trump this week when you suggested that some of the
folks who were supporting him might actually be more naturally your
constituency because you had a response to their economic concerns which in
your language generated these kinds of fears that Mr. Trump has been able
to, again in your language take advantage of.
Tell me about that overlapping constituency between you and Mr. Trump.
SANDERS: Look, here`s what`s going on. There is enormous anxiety
within the middle class of this country.
People are working for longer hours for lower wages. Older people
have sometimes nothing in the bank to retire on. Young people cannot
afford to go to college.
We have enormous problems. Not to mention, you know, what we saw in
San Bernardino and the fears about terrorism.
So, people are anxious. They`re nervous. They`re fearful.
What Trump is doing is saying, OK, I have the solution. We should
hate Latinos. We should hate Muslims. Vote for me. Meanwhile, what Trump
is also telling the American people is that we should not raise the minimum
wage, which is $7.25 an hour.
What Trump is telling the American people is that low wages are good,
that`s good for America. What he is telling the American people is he
wants to see hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the top .2
of 1 percent.
And that`s the word we have got to get out to working-class people who
are inclined to support Trump. It`s old-fashioned trickle-down economics.
The rich will get richer, under Trump`s ideas, and the middle class will
continue to decline.
We have an agenda that speaks to the real needs of working families.
How we can rebuild the middle class. How we can demand that the wealthy
stop paying their fair share of taxes.
So, that`s the appeal we`re making to some of Trump`s supporters.
HARRIS-PERRY: You mentioned the San Bernardino shootings and the
obvious tragedy there. Certainly one important way to analyze that is
through the lens of terrorism. Another way that we could think about that
has to do with the accessibility of guns in this country. And you have a
bit of a mixed record on this. Can you tell me –
HARRIS-PERRY: – how you will address this question in 2016?
SANDERS: I don`t think I have a mixed record. I come from a state
that has virtually no gun control at all. I probably lost an election in
1988 because I was the only candidate running who said that maybe the idea
of selling assault weapons might not be a good idea.
I have voted to strengthen and improve the instant background check,
voted against – to deal with the gun show loopholes. Believe we have to
deal with the straw man situation in which people are legally buying guns
and selling them to criminals. So, I think my record on this is very
strong. And I think that coming from a state that has no gun control, I
think that we can put together a consensus. Not 100 percent of the people.
But I think we have a strong majority of the American people who are
saying loudly and clearly we`ve got to do everything we can to make sure
that guns do not fall into the hands of people who should not have guns,
people who have criminal records, people who have mental illnesses.
And I think there is a broad consensus to support that effort and
that`s an effort I look forward to leading.
HARRIS-PERRY: We talked about a couple different constituencies for
you. I`ve got to say one that has proven to be quite strong for you is
millennials and particularly millennials of color. I mean, hip-hop is like
completely down with you. You appear on world star hip-hop more often than
What do you think is so interesting about you for the kind of hip-hop
SANDERS: Well, you`re having me compete with the Kardashians. You
know, that`s tough competition there. And if we`re holding our own with
the Kardashians, I guess we`re doing pretty good.
Look, I think for two reasons. Millions of young people understand
that everything being equal, unless we get our act together, unless we take
on the billionaire class, their generation will for the first time in the
modern history of America have a lower standard of living than their
parents. They understand that.
They understand that college is increasingly unaffordable and that
many of them are leaving school deeply, deeply in debt for what? For the
crime of trying to get a higher education and make it into the middle
They understand that we are the only major country on earth that
doesn`t guarantee health care to all people as a right. They are concerned
deeply about climate change and the need to transform our energy system.
So, I think that the ideas, the programs that we`re bringing are
resonating with young people from their own economic self-interest as well
as their idealism. They want to see this country do all of the things that
they know that we can accomplish. And that`s what –
HARRIS-PERRY: Senators Sanders –
HARRIS-PERRY: Senator, I was just going to say you identified many
existing problems and inequities, particularly facing young people of
color. Would a Sanders presidency and administration be better for young
black America than an Obama presidency and administration has been?
SANDERS: Well, you know, Barack Obama is a friend of mine and I work
on many, many issues. And I`ve supported his election and his re-election.
I think, you know, what a Sanders administration would do is make it
very clear that in this great country, the billionaire class cannot have it
all. That it is absolutely insane that the top 1/10 of 1 percent now owns
almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That 58 percent of all new
income is going to the top 1 percent.
That is not an economy that works for anybody except the billionaire
class. It is especially not working for the African-American community
where unemployment is much higher than the general population.
So, we are going to put people to work in meaningful jobs. We`re
going to provide free tuition at public colleges and universities. We`re
going to fight for health care for all people. And I think that`s an
agenda that will work for young African-Americans but in fact it works for
our entire society.
I`ve got a couple of thousand of people waiting for me, Melissa. So
I`m going to apologize, but I think we`ve got to get going. Thank you very
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie
Sanders, thank you very much. There is much more ahead tonight. Please
stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sometimes you just really cannot believe that a thing
exists until you see it. For example, a 13-foot-long giant squid – I
repeat, a 13-foot-long giant squid. This recently surfaced off the coast
of Japan, which they almost never do. Scientists say that this particular
bad boy right here is one of the largest ever recorded at this depth.
Now, what if I were to just tell you something this squiggly and
creepy and a huge beast like this shares the planet with us? You might not
believe it. But see it with your own two eyes. You simply cannot deny its
existence, as much as you might like to.
You can`t avert your eyes and pretend like it`s not there. You can`t
deny this phenomenon. You just have to accept it. And then try to deal
with the consequences.
Now, I`m talking about a giant squid, of course. But the same could
apply to the Republican Party and the giant squid currently occupying their
world, if you know what I mean.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the people in Iowa,
I think we`re going to win it.
I really do. I think we`re going to win. Like New Hampshire, like
South Carolina, we have great friends in Iowa. And I think we`re going to
win. And my people think we`re going to win.
But we`ll find out. I mean, we`re going to find out. If we don`t, I
think we`re going to do well but I think we`re going to win it.
PPP – thank you. We`re going to win New Hampshire, right?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Trump, Trump, Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: In case you had your TV on mute, that was Republican
presidential front-runner Donald Trump earlier tonight at a rally in New
Earlier this week, Trump renewed criticism of Democratic presidential
candidate Hillary Clinton, focusing on her campaigning announcement that
former President Bill Clinton will begin stumping on her behalf.
Then, Mr. Trump went after Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders after
Sanders suggested he might be able to attract voters away from Trump.
Mr. Trump`s criticism was not limited to the opposition party. He
also offered an assessment of Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy of South
Now, recall that Congressman Gowdy is among Republicans a respected
member of congress, named by former Speaker Boehner to lead the House
Select Committee on Benghazi. Some in the GOP even float his name as a
presidential Supreme Court justice nominee.
Mr. Trump does not share the Republican Party`s assessment of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, his hearings were a disaster. Everybody was looking
forward to something that was going to be really productive, and he didn`t
win with those hearings. It was a total not good for Republicans and for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, it is important to note that a lot of people
including many in the Republican Party think that the Benghazi hearings
were a disaster. But Trey Gowdy is still generally respected among many
Republicans as an example of someone who stands up for conservative
principles no matter what.
And this weekend, it was announced that Trey Gowdy would make a big
endorsement in the 2016 race. And the candidate he plans to endorse is not
Donald Trump. It`s Marco Rubio.
Trey Gowdy came out in support of Marco Rubio`s presidential campaign
this weekend, and he`s expected to stump for Mr. Rubio in Iowa this week.
Now, in response to Donald Trump`s statements against Trey Gowdy, the head
of the South Carolina Republican Party tweeted, “Trey Gowdy is a public
servant in every sense of the word. Humble, focused, serious. Attack him
and you`re attacking all south Carolinians.”
This is not the first time Mr. Trump has provoked the ire of the state
party establishment in a crucial early primary state. Earlier this month,
after Donald Trump proposed to ban all Muslims from traveling to the United
States, the same Republican Party chair in South Carolina and the
Republican Party chair in New Hampshire both condemned the proposal. Just
this weekend, Trump attacked the Republican Party of Virginia for requiring
primary voters to confirm that they are Republicans, to sign a statement
pledging that they are only Republicans, to say they would not leave the
party to support Donald Trump should he decide to run as an independent.
So as of today Donald Trump is publicly at odds with the heads of
three important state Republican parties. Now, in previous primaries it`s
impossible to imagine that a candidate with this kind of resistance could
become the party`s nominee.
But Mr. Trump has been rewriting many of the rules of normal politics
this year. And right now, the question is, just what is the Republican
Party going to do about it?
Joining us now is Robert Costa, national political reporter for “The
Washington Post” and MSNBC political analyst.
Robert, thanks for being here.
ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Great to join you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Can you imagine a possibility where Mr. Trump becomes
the Republican nominee despite the fact that he`s, you know, really angered
many of these important parties?
COSTA: He`s angered much of the Republican establishment. But this
is a delegate math operation. And if he gets the delegates going into
Cleveland, he will be the Republican nominee.
Now, the establishment hopes even though they`re not spending money on
ads against him and they don`t really have a concerted effort against
Trump, they believe eventually he`ll fizzle out. But he`s been going for
six months, and so that`s quite a bet.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, here`s what I learned when I was in college, when
we wanted to elect a homecoming queen. We figured out that you could split
the vote of all the other sororities if you got together about five groups
that put your spirit all behind one. So, why not sit down with the other
candidates to say look, the fact is he`s still not over 50 percent, if a
bunch of us drop out there`s just one that would go for, it the rest of you
can be secretary of transportation.
COSTA: I`ve spoken to most of the mainstream campaigns about this.
They say there`s never going to be a meeting like that but if there is a
meeting, a winnowing opportunity, it`s New Hampshire because if you don`t
come out of New Hampshire strong and you`re Governor Christie, Senator
Rubio, Governor Kasich, then you`re not going to have an opportunity in the
future to really make the case that you`re the establishment pick.
So, come early February, it`s likely that some of those establishment
candidates will get out and the donor class will rally to someone.
HARRIS-PERRY: So you recently spent some serious time with Dr. Carson
and did an extended interview with him. Now, Dr. Carson is also an
outsider to the Republican establishment, but he doesn`t seem to cause the
same kind of existential anxiety for the party that Mr. Trump does. Why do
you think that is?
COSTA: A lot of it has to do with temperament. And there`s a sense
that Carson, his record as a surgeon is respectable, that base voters
connect with that in the Republican Party. But his campaign has really
turned south after the San Bernardino attacks and the Paris massacre. A
focus on national security hasn`t helped Carson because he`s seen as weak
on foreign policy according to many Republican voters.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, why hasn`t it – why hasn`t that same moment, for
example, done more to help Governor Christie, who I think a lot of folks
thought oh, the security moment will be his –
COSTA: I think it has helped Governor Christie. If you look at New
Hampshire, Christie`s on the rise. And then in Iowa Cruz is on the rise.
So, if Cruz comes out of Iowa strong, which is very likely at this
point, the question is where does Christie go in New Hampshire? If
Christie can win New Hampshire or come in second, you could see him really
eclipse Senator Rubio and Governor Kasich as the establishment favorite.
But there`s a lot of game to play. January`s four weeks, but it`s a
long four weeks.
HARRIS-PERRY: And no one has actually voted or caucused yet. We are
still talking in the land of polls and media speculation. Let me ask this
about Mr. Trump. For all of his capacity to manage media, to stay where he
is in the polls, does he have a ground game?
COSTA: He has an operation. It`s organized. He has top-flight
consultants for him in Iowa, people who`ve won the Iowa caucuses before. I
think Trump`s biggest benefit is he has enthusiastic voters and he`s
bringing in new voters.
There`s of course an open question. Do those new voters actually come
to the polls? Do they caucus for him on a cold winter night? Those are
legitimate open questions.
But in terms of my reporting, I`ve not met more enthusiastic voters.
I think Senator Cruz is a close second.
HARRIS-PERRY: So that idea of enthusiasm has typically been – and
turnout has typically been a Democratic story, right? That Republicans
actually benefit from a relatively low turnout normal politics election.
But in this case, it looks like the kind of normal politics candidate is
likely tome engineer from the Democratic side whereas the kind of populist
candidate may come out of the Republican side?
COSTA: It is. It`s a raucous campaign right now in the Republican
party and the dynamic is so different because usually it`s very crowded on
the conservative side and you have the establishment by the time voting
begins behind one candidate. But the establishment just hasn`t been able
to find who`s their pick. No one`s really catapulted ahead.
HARRIS-PERRY: Poor Jeb.
COSTA: Look, Bush has a lot of money on the sidelines. That super
PAC is sitting there with millions of dollars. He`s still in single digits
in the polls. If he can come out of New Hampshire with a decent showing,
he probably has an argument to stay in the race long term because of his
name, his reputation, and his money.
HARRIS-PERRY: Robert Costa, I appreciate you being here tonight.
National political reporter for “The Washington Post.” thanks for being
COSTA: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: And on the Democratic side of the 2016 race there may
not be a Joe Biden candidacy. But the vice president is quietly leaving a
mark on the presidential race. Details on that, ahead.
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve lost one of the greatest ever. And I mean quite
possibly the greatest of the greatest of all time. He was a hero who
regularly did what regular people very few people could do in earnest with
all their might. And his story`s coming up.
HARRIS-PERRY: Memorable presidential campaigns are about ideas.
Roosevelt`s New Deal, Johnson`s Great Society, Reagan`s Shining Sitting on
a Hill, and, of course, Kennedy`s New Frontier, which included a specific
proposal to go where no one had gone before – the moon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT: Why some say the moon? Why choose
this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain?
Why 35 years ago fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon.
We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things.
Not because they are easy but because they are hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Last week, while campaigning in Iowa, Democratic
presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton laid out a vision of her own,
making a claim for a big, ambitious goal that we as a country should strive
to achieve together.
Clinton suggested we should strive to cure Alzheimer`s over the next
decade and her plan calls for an investment of $2 billion per year in
Alzheimer`s research, with a goal of finding a total cure for the disease
Now, whether or not medical science can actually eliminate Alzheimer`s
within this time frame is less important than the potentially dramatic
effect that the idea itself can have, the ways it shifts what we think is
possible, marshals our resources and focuses efforts towards the goal. Big
And right now, there`s another public figure shooting for a moon, but
this one is not running for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe we need
a moon shot in this country to cure cancer. It`s personal and I`m going to
spend the next 15 months in this office pushing as hard as I can to
accomplish this, because I know there are Democrats and Republicans on the
hill who share our passion, our passion to silence this deadly disease. If
I could be anything, I would have wanted to be the president that ended
cancer because it`s possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Vice President Joe Biden in October,
announcing that he would not run for president and that, instead, he would
be dedicating himself to the fight against cancer. Now, that was way back
in October and now we know exactly how he`s doing it. The spending bill.
That omnibus spending bill that Congress passed last week and
President Obama signed before he left for the holiday, that bill included
in it a $2 billion funding increase for the National Institutes of Health
and a quarter billion increase specifically for the National Cancer
Institute. That is funding that we now know Vice President Biden
personally lobbied Congress to include in the bill. He delivered on it.
Increasing funding does not necessarily mean eradication of cancer,
but clearly the vice president meant what he said in the Rose Garden. He
is committed to eliminating cancer.
Still, I wonder, can you really marshal the public will, the
concentrated effort, the collective enthusiasm? Can you really shoot for
the moon without making a run for the oval?
HARRIS-PERRY: Before there was a Steph Curry, before there was a King
James or Russell Westbrook or Michael Jordan or a Magic or a Bird, really
before there was basketball as we currently know and recognize it, there
was Meadowlark Lemon, arguably the most famous Harlem Globetrotter of all
time. The man who Wilt Chamberlain described as, quote, “the most
sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I`ve ever seen.” Not
Dr. J, not Michael Jordan, Meadowlark Lemon. And that was coming from Wilt
But Meadowlark Lemon died yesterday at 83. And as we celebrate his
life, it`s important to remember that Meadowlark`s place in the game of
basketball is complex. It`s also important to understand his place in
You see, black culture has had a complicated history with Meadowlark,
who came to the Harlem Globetrotters in 1954, just a few years after the
NBA begins to integrate, and just as the role of the Globetrotters
themselves was shifting.
There`s two main things you need to know about the Harlem
Globetrotters. One, they are not from Harlem. They were actually based in
Chicago. Two, in the 1920s, `30s and `40s, the Globetrotters did not trot
the globe, per se – until the early 1950s when they were deployed across
Europe and North Africa by the U.S. State Department. There, they were
used by the State Department as a symbol of progress of America`s
democracy, a way to silence critics of America`s racial politics during the
Cold War by showing how content, happy and equal black folk were.
Now, keep in mind, when the team came back stateside and toured the
South, they were still very much subjected to Jim Crow.
So, when Meadowlark Lemon joined the Trotters, that`s what he was
walking into. But what he became is arguably the most famous basketball
player in history not to play in the NBA. Lemon was not just a personality
on the court, though he had plenty of personality. He was a brilliant
passer and ball handler, with a flair and sense of style that electrified
arenas, and it`s why he was enshrined into the Hall of Fame back in 2003.
By his own estimations, Meadowlark played in more than 16,000 games,
working at schedules that broke down to 300 plus games a year. He played
in over 100 countries and kept playing well into his 70s, even after he
left the Trotters ands started up his own team, like the Harlem Bucketeers.
And in between the gags and the jokes and the mock fights with
referees, and the half-court hook shots, Meadowlark helped to introduce a
better brand of basketball to the world. The way that he and the folks
that he was from were playing in cities like Chicago and New York and
Philly and L.A., the globetrotters had been a catalyst in integrating the
NBA and Meadowlark Lemon showed them some more of what they were missing.
In a lot of ways, Meadowlark Lemon was larger than life. He was one
of the original black basketball stars and grew up in a world where people
like him could not play in the NBA but he ended up in the basketball Hall
of Fame. He played more basketball in his 83 years than some whole NBA
franchises. And he kept his humor right up until he was subbed out for the
I know for sure that with Meadowlark there, heaven really is a
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, “THE LAST WORD” HOST: Hey, Melissa, when I was
watching Meadowlark Lemon when I was a kid, we all idolized him and the
pathetic attempts we made to duplicate his magic. Impossible. Just
fantastic to watch.
HARRIS-PERRY: Good to see you, Lawrence.
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