The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 1/18/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: January 18, 2016
Guest: Hillary Clinton
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You`re exactly right. The big question in the
Republican Party is who`s the Republican Party, especially on foreign
policy and national security after Bush and Cheney. And in the Democratic
Party, it`s who do Democrats want to vote for –
MADDOW: – in the Democratic Party after Barack Obama. Both totally open
questions at this point.
HAYES: And we don`t know anything. That`s what makes this interesting.
MADDOW: That`s what makes it fun coming to work every day. Thanks, my
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Martin Luther
And in addition, if you are a resident of Mississippi, Alabama, or
Arkansas, technically, I should also wish you happy Robert E. Lee Day. I`m
not kidding. In those three states, they have decided to celebrate their
official state observance of Martin Luther King`s birthday coincident with
an additional state holiday celebrated on the same day to commemorate one
of the Confederate generals from the American civil war.
People don`t believe me – I try to say this every year. I try to do this
as a little public service reminder. People do not believe me. But look.
This is the official announcement on the website of the great state of
Mississippi. You see it there in the upper left-hand corner, the secretary
of state official seal for Mississippi. And then there`s the listing for
today`s holiday in Mississippi. Martin Luther King and is Robert E. Lee`s
birthdays. Both celebrated the third Monday in January. That`s
Here it is on the website, official website of the state of Alabama. They
just conveniently put it on this little calendar. And you can see on their
calendar they actually put Robert E. Lee first.
In Alabama today is Robert E. Lee/Martin Luther King`s birthday. And on
the calendar actually right next to today`s date that got a little thumbs
In Arkansas, and this is a particularly awkward listing, you can download
the announcement of the joint holiday honoring both Martin Luther King and
Robert E. Lee from the Arkansas state website. And Arkansas state
government conveniently gives you the choice of downloading that holiday
bulletin either in color or in black and white.
Maybe, you know, you can post them over the drinking fountain or whatever.
Today, marks the 30th year that Martin Luther King`s birthday has been
honored as a federal holiday. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday
into federal law in 1983. It was observed for the first time federally in
1986, 30 years ago today.
But because of ongoing conservative opposition to any sort of honor for Dr.
King, even though the federal observance technically started 30 years ago,
it was not until the year 2000 that every last begrudging state in the
Union finally started to celebrate it.
And again, I swear, believe me when I tell you, Alabama and Mississippi and
Arkansas still only celebrate it by combining it with an equal honor for a
slave-holding confederate general.
Today on the campaign trail, as best as we can tell, most of the Republican
presidential field did not do special events or go to special
commemorations for Martin Luther King day today.
One exception is Ben Carson. Dr. Carson rode in a parade in a very snazzy
black convertible in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He participated in that
king day event.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump does not appear to have
gone anywhere or done anything that he was not already going to do today
because of the holiday specifically.
But when Mr. Trump did give a speech today at Liberty University, he did in
his own inimitable Donald Trump way, give Dr. King kind of a shout out,
which also managed to be all about himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wow. Oh, this is so – you get
those teleprompters out of here. We`re going to have some fun, right?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Get those teleprompters. We have a president – you know, our president.
And I`m not talking about this – I`m talking about that president. We
don`t like those teleprompters.
I will say this. It`s an honor to be here and especially on Martin Luther
King Day. We broke the record. You know, we had the record for about
three or four years the last time.
And the first thing I said to Jerry and Becky when I got here, did we break
the record? They said yes, you did, by quite a bit. So, we`ll dedicate
that to Martin Luther King, a great man. And that`s a little bit of an
achievement, I will tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: To be clear, the achievement he is talking about there is his own
crowd size, which he has decided to sign over as an accolade to the memory
of Martin Luther King on the occasion of the federal observance of his
On the Democratic side, all three Democratic presidential candidates woke
up today in South Carolina after their South Carolina debate last night,
and incidentally, we just got the audience figure, speaking of crowd size,
for the NBC debate last night in South Carolina.
This had been expected to be a bit of a bust in terms of viewership because
they scheduled it for Sunday night in the middle of a holiday weekend when
most people have Monday off. In fact, the debate did pretty well. It did
better than the last two Democratic debates, got over 10 million viewers on
NBC last night.
So, that was last night. South Carolina. This morning all three
Democratic candidates participated in events in South Carolina to
commemorate Martin Luther King Day. There was a prayer breakfast. There
was a march. There was also this year`s observation of what has basically
become a modern civil rights tradition in South Carolina. It`s called King
Day at the Dome.
Every year, civil rights groups and politicians and South Carolinians
convene at the state house in South Carolina on Martin Luther King Day.
And it`s usually basically a protest of the fact that the Confederate flag
is still flying on the state house grounds in South Carolina. That`s what
this day has been for years in that state.
Well, this year, for the first time, King Day at the dome was among other
things a celebration of that flag being down once and for all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s wonderful to be here in
South Carolina facing the rising sun of this new day begun and to be here
in the absence of the Confederate battle flag.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, South Carolina!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
What a beautiful morning for King Day at the Dome, and how wonderful it is
to be here together without the Confederate flag overhead.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
That flag always belonged in a museum, not at the state house. I want to
thank Governor Haley and the legislature for finally taking it down.
And, by the way, Brie Newsom deserves credit too for doing what a lot of
people wanted to do, shimmying up that flagpole.
But you know who else deserves credit? Each and every one of you, because
every year you`ve gathered right here and said that that symbol of division
and racism went against everything Dr. King stood for.
We couldn`t celebrate him and the confederacy. We had to choose. And
South Carolina finally made the right choice.
Oh, I know that some of you have never missed a single King Day at the
dome. And I hope you feel a lot of pride today, because a lot of people
are grateful to you, not just in South Carolina but across our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this morning while
speaking at the South Carolina state capitol.
When she mentioned Brie Newsom there, do you remember who that is? She was
talking about the activist who took the Confederate flag down herself as an
act of civil disobedience before the South Carolina legislature voted to
take it down.
You probably remember that just very dramatic footage of her climbing that
flagpole. She was wearing climbing gear, grabbing the flag in her hands
and then her coming down. Praying out loud as she very peacefully
submitted to being arrested for having done that.
That was illegal, what Brie Newsom did that day. And that`s why she got
arrested for it. But what she did, taking down the flag, is now truth.
It`s now the law of the land in South Carolina. And the flag is down.
And so, she got that shout out today from Hillary Clinton as a direct
action activist for helping make what happened in South Carolina possible.
I should tell you that we think, we cannot promise but we think that we
might be getting a phone interview, a live phone interview with former
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this hour. It`s a bit of logistic –
the reason I think, it`s because it`s a little bit of a logistical matter.
Secretary Clinton just wrapped up a campaign event in Iowa.
We are hoping to catch her before the end of this hour. It`s a little
dicey in terms of the logistics, what we think we`re getting here. I will
keep you posted. We might be speaking to Hillary Clinton live in just a
Today marks two weeks exactly until the Iowa caucuses. Even though she and
Senator Sanders both got pretty high marks from observers in terms of their
performance in last night`s debate, it is Secretary Clinton who got the
very, very good news today in polling.
Today, the new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” national poll came out on the
Democratic presidential nomination and that poll has Secretary Clinton
leading Senator Sanders by 25 points nationwide. Clinton at 59, Sanders at
34, and Martin O`Malley trailing way behind at 2 percent. Again, a
national poll, NBC/”Wall Street Journal.”
Interestingly, though, in addition to that straight up polling, Nate
Silver`s Web site, fivethirtyeight.com has also started doing its state by
state predictions. And it`s a little controversial. What they do at
fivethirtyeight.com is looking at not just straight up polls but also other
things like endorsements that they think are important factors for
predicting who`s going to win a particular state.
At fivethirtyeight.com, they combine polling with a whole bunch of other
kinds of data and thereby produce a percentage likelihood for who they
expect to win in each state. They don`t predict how much they think
they`re going to win by. They just predict who they think is going to win.
What the likelihood is that one candidate or the other will win.
And whether or not you like that kind of hybrid approach where you combine
polling with other data, whether or not you like that form of analysis or
are comfortable with it, I should tell you this system at
fivethirtyeight.com correctly predicted the outcome of every single state,
plus the District of Columbia in the 2012 presidential race. So, it is of
And today, exactly two weeks from Iowa, fivethirtyeight.com says the
likelihood that Hillary Clinton will win Iowa is 80 percent. Bernie
Sanders likely, 20 percent likely to win. Hillary Clinton 80 percent
likely to win.
And look at this, this is New Hampshire. If you just look at straight-
ahead polling in New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders is ahead by a pretty good
margin in that state. But fivethirtyeight.com today says that Hillary
Clinton actually has a 57 percent chance of winning in New Hampshire and
Bernie Sanders has a 43 percent chance of winning in New Hampshire.
Those predictions again are just predictions. But they have to be very
satisfying predictions for the Hillary Clinton campaign coming off of last
night`s debate. Again, because of the ridiculous Democratic Party debate
schedule. There will not be another Democratic debate before the voting in
the Iowa caucuses on February 1st and the New Hampshire primary on February
Now, on the Republican side, fivethirtyeight.com has also put out its
predictions for both New Hampshire and Iowa. On the Republican side in New
Hampshire, it looks like a heck of a race. Fivethirtyeight.com today says
that Donald Trump has the highest possibility of winning New Hampshire, but
they still only give him a 39 percent chance of winning. And yes, that`s
higher than everybody else, but it`s still not all that high.
Marco Rubio according to their calculations, has the second highest
probability of winning New Hampshire according to fivethirtyeight.com.
He`s at 19 percent. But that`s a tough one, New Hampshire.
In Iowa, this is fascinating. You`ve seen all the recent polling that puts
Ted Cruz in the catbird`s seat in Iowa. Fivethirtyeight.com as of today,
they do pick Ted Cruz as the most likely Republican to win in Iowa but they
only give him a 51 percent chance of winning.
So, if you believe fivethirtyeight.com and their hybrid prediction model of
combining polling with endorsements and other data, if you believe them the
Democratic race is not as close as it might otherwise appear. And the
Republican race is even closer than you think.
We will talk – if the logistical gods concur, we will be talking with
Hillary Clinton about that and much more in just a moment, coming up.
MADDOW: Look at this big room. This is an event that is under way right
now. I think just wrapping up right now in Birmingham, Alabama. Look at
the size of that room.
This is a rally in Birmingham, Alabama, of all places, held as you can see
here by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. This is tonight.
Really big turnout, obviously. Senator Sanders was introduced at tonight`s
rally by Professor Cornel West.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both started the day today in South
Carolina. Senator Sanders then went to Alabama. Secretary Clinton then
flew from South Carolina to Iowa.
And then after her Iowa event tonight, in a hot minute she`s going to be
talking to me. That`s just ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: When Ronald Reagan ran against President Jimmy Carter in the
presidential election of 1980, one of the huge national security issues
that hung over that election like a rain cloud was the more than 60
Americans who`d been held as hostages by Iran since November the previous
Iran had its fundamentalist revolution in 1979. In November 1979, radicals
stormed the U.S. embassy and took all those Americans hostage.
And then the following year, nearly a year into that ordeal, while the U.S.
presidential election was coming to its end, Iran`s view of the world and
of its most pressing problems in the world changed pretty dramatically
because Iran got invaded.
In September 1980, Saddam Hussein`s Iraq invaded their much larger neighbor
to the east. Iraq launched a full-scale conventional warfare invasion of
Iran and thus started the unbelievably bloody Iran-Iraq war which would go
on for eight solid years without a break and that would kill more than a
million people including lots and lots and lots of kids.
So, that started, the terrible Iran-Iraq War started. It started five
weeks before the U.S. presidential election in 1980.
And even though Iran by that point had been holding all these Americans
hostage for more than a year, Iran decided that they would do a deal to let
the American hostages out. And one of the reasons why is that they knew
the deal would involve a lot of money. One of the things they would be
trading the hostages for was the freeing up of Iranian assets. And they
desperately needed that because of the giant conventional land war they had
just entered into with one of their neighboring countries. They needed the
And so, as President Carter campaigned for his re-election in the 1980
campaign, Carter administration officials were hard at work in negotiation
with the Iranians to get the American hostages out.
And the Iranians, by all accounts, really hated President Jimmy Carter. I
mean, they hated America generally but they particularly hated President
Carter. And they negotiated a deal to free the hostages that would go into
effect the day that President Carter left office.
And so, Ronald Reagan had his Inauguration Day. At 8:31 that morning, the
outgoing president jimmy carter advised the incoming president, Ronald
Reagan, oh, by the way, the hostages are getting out today.
And then, Ronald Reagan was sworn in and in Tehran the planes carrying the
hostages took off. At 2:00 in the afternoon that day the newly sworn-in
President Ronald Reagan was able to make the announcement that at long last
after 14 months those hostages were coming home.
And then the first thing that he did as a former president, Jimmy Carter,
who negotiated the release of the prisoners and who got it done as his last
act as president, the first thing he did as a former president is that he
flew to Germany to greet the freed Americans. And the crowd held signs
that said, “Thanks, Jimmy.” He did it. Took him to the last moments of
his presidency but he got them out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is worth emphasizing that
Iran released our hostages in 1981 the day Ronald Reagan was sworn into
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Which is true. But he didn`t do it. Ronald Reagan didn`t do it
by waving a magic wand as soon as he got inaugurated. Jimmy Carter did it.
It`s funny, though. This year`s Republican presidential candidates, they
like to bring up Ronald Reagan whenever Iran comes up in any conversation.
Rand Paul did it at that same debate where you just saw Ted Cruz was
speaking. Chris Christie randomly brought up Ronald Reagan in his first
campaign ad about Iran.
This weekend, Marco Rubio raised the specter of President Reagan while he
lambasted the Obama administration for getting four Americans freed this
weekend from Iranian prisons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: So, under President Rubio, you would not have
negotiated any sort of prisoner exchange for those four American hostages?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDDIDATE: When I was – when I
become president of the United States, our adversaries around the world
will know that America is no longer under the command of someone weak like
Barack Obama. And it will be like Ronald Reagan, where as soon as he took
office, the hostages were released from Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Because Jimmy Carter made the arrangements. It really wasn`t
But Senator Rubio is saying essentially that he himself is like Ronald
Reagan in that he would never trade anything with Iran. He would never
negotiate with Iran on American prisoners or anything. Just like Ronald
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: A few months ago, I told the American
people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions
still tell me that`s true. But the facts and the evidence tell me it is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After Jimmy Carter got the 1979-1980 era American hostages freed
from Iran, President Reagan during his presidency had to deal with a new
slew of American hostages, taken by groups supported by Iran, particularly
in Lebanon, and not only did President Reagan negotiate with Iran to try to
get those Americans freed, he negotiated a deal that involved illegally
shipping Iran a bunch of weapons in secret.
And did I mention it wasn`t legal? And it didn`t work. And it was the
biggest scandal of his presidency and one of the larger and more salacious
presidential scandals of all time, particularly since it resulted at one
point in the criminal indictment of most of the president`s serving
national security staff.
But that, Ronald Reagan, that is who today`s Republican presidential
candidates like to cite as a role model for handling Iran. They like to
cite the president who made an Iran deal so bad that he secretly sold Iran
weapons and he still didn`t get the hostages out.
The great and big-hearted E.J. Dionne at “The Washington Post” has an
excellent book out called “Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism from
Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond.” And it is a great book, and the
central thesis of the book is, that I`m quoting E.J. here, “The history of
American conservatism is a story of disappointment and betrayal.”
In the opening chapters of the book are about Ronald Reagan and among other
things, this fascinating and weird development in our time in which Ronald
Reagan is basically deliberately misremembered on the right. How Ronald
Reagan`s real record has been submarined and all of his faults and
compromises have been ascribed to other people and not to him.
So, conservatives can have one hero in modern history about whom they don`t
feel terrible disappointment and betrayal. They basically reinvented
Reagan as perfect. Even on Iran of all things, because they need something
to believe in, even if it`s fake.
But because he`s E.J. Dionne, he says it much more nicely than that and
with way more footnotes. Joining us now is the great and big-hearted
“Washington Post” columnist E.J. Dionne.
E.J., it`s great to see you. Congratulations on this.
E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: I – the whole book is not about Reagan, but this element of
Reagan being remembered as perfect because modern conservatives need a hero
is a very evocative thesis to me.
DIONNE: Well, I think it`s absolutely true. And right at the beginning of
the book I quote a conservative Charles Krauthammer who says you can choose
DIONNE: Because I think one of the ways in which conservatives can hold
Ronald Reagan up is – there`s different kinds of conservatives, remember
different Reagans. A lot of the Tea Party conservatives remember the
movement Reagan. At the beginning I quote Chris McDaniel, that right-wing
candidate down in Mississippi who remembers this really hard-line Reagan.
And then I quote Governor Haley Barbour who remembers Ronald Reagan as a
very flexible guy. Purity is the enemy of victory says Hailey Barbour.
But if you actually go back at that time, there were a lot of conservatives
who were very critical of Reagan, among other things for being too dovish.
He committed those troops to Lebanon. I was there at the time. It was a
terrible mistake. But then he pulled them out. And he –
MADDOW: He said he wouldn`t pull them out and then he pulled them out.
DIONNE: Which was the right thing to do. Only it was too late. There
were conservatives who criticized him for not sending troops down to
But I think one of the things that saved Reagan is the presidency of George
H.W. Bush. In a way, George H.W. Bush died for Ronald Reagan`s sins,
because when Reagan raised taxes seven or eight times that didn`t matter,
but when Bush raised taxes, that became a great sin.
MADDOW: He became sort of a heat shield in that sense? Anything that
Reagan had done that conservatives didn`t like, they decided it was a Poppy
DIONNE: Exactly. And I think the border problem is – I appreciate your
doing the opening sentence because I think this sense of betrayal on the
part of conservatives, even if they hold Reagan off, reflects the fact that
ever since Goldwater`s time, and I take it all the way back to Goldwater,
conservative politicians have had to make a series of promises to the
conservative base that they couldn`t possibly keep.
They promised a much smaller government but the country doesn`t really want
it. Even Tea Partiers who are on Social Security and Medicare don`t want a
smaller government. They promised to roll back cultural change, but guess
Most of the country actually supports the cultural changes since the 1960s.
Most of the country supports equality between men and women. Now, most of
the country supports gay marriage.
So, you have all these conservatives out there who feel we elect our guys
and then they don`t get done the things that they said they get done, and I
think that gives us this campaign, where Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the
two leading candidates of the primaries.
MADDOW: And the – I mean, it`s not incidental that Goldwater who sets
this tone is the Goldwater who lost and never had to govern by the
principles that he was articulating. And the Goldwater who ended up
repenting later in life when some of his hardest-line positions is one who
would have not been welcome in the party today.
DIONNE: Right. And Ronald Reagan did a lot of things that would not be
welcomed in the party today as well. And when you look at – I also had a
lot of fun in the book talking about Richard Nixon because Richard Nixon is
such an ambiguous figure. In some ways he was one of the most liberal
presidents we have had if you look at the creation of EPA, the creation of
the Occupational Safety Administration, but he was also one of the hardest-
line presidents on race, on law and order.
And if you go back to history, his staff reflected this double mind of
Richard Nixon. And again, he really contributed to this cycle of
disappointment on the right.
MADDOW: E.J. Dionne, the book is “Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism
From Goldwater To The Tea Party and Beyond.” Everybody keeps talking about
Donald Trump and to a lesser extent Ted Cruz like they`re a big surprise.
This is the explanation of why it`s not a surprise. Congratulations.
DIONNE: Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead. And if all goes well, I`ll
be speaking with Hillary Clinton in a second.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Lester, I spent a lot
of time last week being outraged by what`s happening in Flint, Michigan.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
And I think every single American should be outraged. We`ve had a city in
the United States of America where the population, which is poor in many
ways and majority African-American, has been drinking and bathing in lead-
And the governor of that state acted as though he didn`t really care. He
had requests for help that he basically stonewalled. I`ll tell you what.
If the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated
water and being bathed in it, there would have been action.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Secretary Clinton was
right, and what I did, which I think is also right, is demanded the
resignation of the governor – a man who acts that irresponsibly should not
stay in power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Democratic presidential candidates were not asked last night
about the lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan. But first Hillary
Clinton and then Bernie Sanders went out of their way to bring it up of
their own accord at the close of the debate last night.
This weekend, on Saturday, President Obama granted Michigan Governor Rick
Snyder`s request for a federal emergency declaration in Flint. That frees
up $5 million in federal money for bottled water, water filters, and lead
testing kits. So, the president said yes to the federal emergency
But the president said no to Governor Snyder`s request that the federal
government should also spend tens of millions of dollars to replace Flint`s
ruined water pipes. The Snyder administration is appealing that part of
the decision. But even if the state wins that appeal and gets everything
it has asked for, it would still just be a fraction of what Flint needs.
In Governor Snyder`s letter to the president this weekend requesting help,
the governor estimates that the total cost of replacing Flint`s damaged
water infrastructure is more like 3/4 of a billion dollars. They`re not
asking for anywhere near that. Whether or not they get it.
Where`s that kind of money going to come from? Especially because the only
reason the pipes are all ruined is because of something the Snyder
President Obama is heading to Detroit the day after tomorrow. He`s going
to be there on Wednesday. No word on whether he might pay a visit to Flint
on that trip. But it is only about an hour`s drive north. Just saying.
When pressed in an interview with the “National Journal” tonight, Governor
Rick Snyder said that it is fair to call the Flint crisis his Katrina. He
also said in that same interview that he is not considering resigning as
governor but he said he is considering releasing all of his e-mails
released to the flint crisis, something he has not yet done, but that the
“Flint Journal” and the “Detroit Free Press” are now basically hounding him
daily to do.
To top it all off, tomorrow night, Rick Snyder is scheduled to deliver his
State of the State address in the middle of all this. He`s going to have
to make the case to the people of Michigan for how he`s going to continue
to lead the state when he has become such a poster child for bad governance
that the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination is now
making his name part of her stump speech.
Hillary Clinton talked about Flint again today at a Martin Luther King Day
event in South Carolina. She called the Flint water crisis a civil rights
Secretary Clinton joins us live, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: When African-American kids are 500 times more likely to die from
asthma than white kids and when the children of majority black Flint,
Michigan, have been drinking and bathing in lead-poisoned water for more
than a year, making sure all Americans have clean air and water isn`t just
a health issue. It`s a civil rights issue. We would be outraged if this
happened to white kids, and we should be outraged that it`s happening right
now to black kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Hillary Clinton today in Columbia, South Carolina, saying the
spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King on his birthday lives on in the national
outrage over the lead poisoning of the kids of Flint, Michigan.
Joining us now from Iowa is the former secretary of state, Democratic
presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Madam Secretary, thanks very much for joining us tonight.
CLINTON (via telephone): Thanks so much, Rachel. It`s good to talk to you
MADDOW: I know you are casting Flint, Michigan, as a civil rights issue,
which makes it a federal issue by extension. This weekend, President Obama
approved $5 million in some limited aid for FEMA. He did deny Michigan`s
request for more help to rebuild Flint`s infrastructure.
I wanted to know your reaction to that decision by the president.
CLINTON: Well, first of all, I think it`s really important for the federal
government to get in. It`s been unconscionable, as you`ve pointed out, for
the residents of an American city to be living with water so dangerous that
G.M. won`t even use it because it was corroding their car parts.
And I think it`s important that the federal government really push the
government of Michigan, particularly Governor Snyder, to ask to set up a
comprehensive health monitoring for kids who`ve been exposed. I know that
the Obama administration is standing ready to assist, but the governor
needs to make the ask. And he needs to make it now for the sake of those
The state of Michigan also needs to do its part in dealing with the long-
term health and infrastructure issues. They created this disaster in the
first place through their negligence and incompetence, and the governor and
his administration apparently knew or had reason to know that the water was
contaminated and chose not to take action.
So, this is an environmental (INAUDIBLE) issue, a health issue, in every
way that we can imagine a crisis of the first order. So, we`ve got to keep
pressing the state to ask for what the federal government can provide, and
as I said on your show, we need to keep helping and pushing the federal
government to see what it can do to actually intervene and do more for the
MADDOW: When you brought up the Flint crisis at the debate last night, you
went out of your way to do so. You weren`t asked about it directly but you
brought it up. Senator Sanders then talked about it too. Senator Sanders
says that he wants Governor Snyder to resign over this issue. The governor
of Michigan responded to you two on Twitter. He said, “Political
statements and finger-pointing from political candidates only distract from
solving the Flint water crisis.”
Do you have any response to that?
CLINTON: Well, I do, because thanks to what we have done, and you`ve been
a big part of this, the national spotlight is shining on the horrible
situation in Flint. And it`s clear that as attention has increased so has
the governor`s apparent willingness to deal seriously with the issue. I
don`t call that politicizing. I`d call that getting results.
And I think we should take advantage of the fact that the country is coming
together behind the people of Flint. But I think we`ve got to make sure we
do everything we`re supposed to do to help the children and families that
have been drinking and bathing in this poisonous lead-contaminated water
while their representatives in state government did nothing. That`s why I
keep reiterating the governor needs to request comprehensive health
monitoring of kids who may have been exposed to lead. I think the state
should set up what I think should be called a future fund to take care of
children who`ve been poisoned.
And looking at where the state of Michigan is, the governor is actually
sitting on a budget surplus and a rainy day fund, and as far as I`m
concerned, if there were ever a rainy day in Flint, it`s right now and the
money should be forthcoming.
MADDOW: Last night`s debate, Madam Secretary, was the last Democratic
debate until mid-February. I`m struck by the fact that even though the
Republicans just had a debate and they`re about to have another debate
before Iowa, there isn`t another Democratic debate before Iowa or before
the primary in New Hampshire.
Do you wish there were more debates? Are you enjoying these debates when
they do happen?
CLINTON: I love the debates. I really do. I feel that it gives me a
chance to get up on the stage and explain my positions, answer questions
from the moderators, draw contrasts with my opponents. So, it`s been a
good experience for me so far. And I think it`s helped me make my case for
MADDOW: The sparse Democratic Party debate schedule this year,
particularly when compared to the Republicans, a lot of people in the
political press have ascribed that to your campaign, have ascribed that
decision to your campaign essentially wanting a low-profile and spare
debate schedule. Whether or not now looking back you think it was a good
decision, is it true that your campaign advocated for a light schedule and
particularly these debates being on in TV Siberia, on weekends and
CLINTON: Well, Rachel, I really don`t have any knowledge of that. I`m not
saying that nobody representing me or the other campaigns didn`t express an
opinion. But it was my understanding that in looking at the sequencing of
these debates, looking at the numbers of people who watched back in `08,
there was a decision to try to have a monthly debate once people were
beginning to pay attention and try to drive more viewership. And actually
I believe that we`ve had more viewers on average this year than we did back
So, I`m not going to substitute my judgment for whatever the thought
process was. But as to when they`ve been scheduled, again, what I`m told
is that they were partnered with broadcast and networks that wanted to
provide the time. And indeed for most broadcast networks, Saturday or
Sunday was preferable.
But because the viewership has been above average, I think people feel like
there is a message in their process.
MADDOW: Well, if you and Senator Sanders and Governor O`Malley ever decide
that you want more and you don`t want to negotiate, it you can all just
show up here and I`ll help.
CLINTON: Well, we did have that great forum that you moderated.
MADDOW: In South Carolina. That`s right.
CLINTON: I think that got – yes. That got a lot of good response. So,
we sure have enough attention to this campaign.
So I hope whatever the format is for getting us before the voters, it will
encourage even more people to come out and caucus and come out and vote in
MADDOW: Let me ask you, one last question about the sort of state of the
Democratic race. I know that you say you that don`t follow poll to poll
and you don`t necessarily think that every poll tells a compelling story.
But there`s new polling analysis that`s out today from fivethirtyeight.com
and they`ve got a very good predictive track record.
And they say that – today that you are more likely than Senator Sanders to
win both in Iowa and in New Hampshire, despite his particularly good
numbers in New Hampshire right now. If you – if they`re right, if you do
beat him and you become the nominee, what is your plan to try to get
Senator Sanders`s supporters to back you?
We just showed footage of him tonight in Alabama. He`s got this huge
crowd. We all know from public information that he`s got millions of
individual donors. If you win the nomination, how do you win Bernie
Sanders supporters over, especially now that you`re being so tough with him
and his record?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, Rachel, I don`t pay attention to the polling
when it`s good or bad because I think it`s distracting. I`m just going to
keep working as hard as I can to convince as many people to support me as
possible. So, I don`t want to put any, you know, carts before the horse
I think it`s important to stay focused on what we have to do in Iowa, in
New Hampshire, in Nevada and South Carolina, and then right after South
Carolina, we have March 1st, where there`s a large number of states that
will be holding contests.
But if I am so fortunate as to be the Democratic nominee, I`m going to work
as hard as I can to reach out to supporters of my opponents and
particularly to help do what I hope would be successful in making the case
for their support going into the general election. You know, I remember
how hard I had to work back in `08 to convince a lot of my supporters to
support President Obama. And you recall, I nominated him at the Democratic
Convention in Denver, put my whole self on the line to make the case that
whatever differences we might have had in our very long primary, they paled
in comparison to the differences we had with the Republicans.
And I believed with all my heart, it would be a terrible result if by some
combination of misfortune or indifference, the Republicans were to take
back the White House. I can`t even imagine everything that would be
disrupted and the clock turned back on.
So, I`m not going to – I`m not going to talk about what hasn`t happened
yet. But if it were to happen, I would work very hard to earn the support
of anybody who either supported my opponent or wasn`t involved in the
primaries or even people who under normal circumstances might have voted
for the Republican Party, but if they nominate someone who is likely to be
a very contentious presence in our country, you know, making sure that
everybody understands what`s at stake. And I hope I could be successful in
MADDOW: That last prospect that you raised, are you talking specifically
about the Republican front-runner or is there a number of candidates you`re
thinking of there?
CLINTON: Well, I think a number of them – in fact, all of them – have
said things that I find not only factually wrong but divisive and problems
we face in the country. I`ve just been coming from an event we had in a
small town here in Iowa, and I said, I don`t know who the Republican
candidates talk to. They sure aren`t talking to the people I`m talking to
or, you know, struggling with three jobs, or trying to afford college or
burdened by debt, or unable to pay for their description drug costs, and so
many more of the very personal problems people share with me.
I don`t know who these people talk to on the other side of the aisle
because I think maybe they just have a cast of actors that they move from
site to site because they`re sure not hearing the stories and the concerns
about what the next president is going to have to try to deal with. And
so, I think all of them would be a very bad choice for our country.
MADDOW: Former secretary of state, Democratic presidential candidate
Hillary Clinton – I really appreciate you taking the time to call in
tonight from Iowa. Thank you so much, Madam Secretary.
CLINTON: Thank you. Good to talk to you. Take care. Bye-bye.
MADDOW: You, too. Thank you.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: There`s been a pretty remarkable situation unfolding over the last
few hours in San Francisco. Earlier tonight, a big group of protesters
completely shut down one part of the Bay Bridge, which is the big bridge
that connects San Francisco and Oakland. Protesters stopped traffic
essentially by driving to the middle of the bridge, stopping their cars,
and then chaining themselves to their cars and to each other.
The group is apparently an offshoot of the Black Lives Matter movement.
They say they took this action on the bay bridge tonight to protest police
brutality. There were protests across the Bay Area tonight tying to the
Martin Luther King holiday, but this was clearly the most dramatic and most
consequential for people who did not expect to be caught up in a major
Traffic on the Bay Bridge shut down for more than 45 minutes. Those lanes
have now been reopened. Police say more than a dozens of the protesters
I`ll be right back.
MADDOW: I like Congress better, but I will say the British parliamentary
system has such high standards in terms of expected levels of elocution and
oratory from random members of parliament that even if they`re debating
like kibble versus wet food, even if they`re debating something that you
really do not care about, if it`s happening in the British parliament, it
almost always sounds awesome – and not just because of the accents but
because they`re really good at debating.
So, their debates are fun even when you don`t care. But when they are
debating whether or not Donald Trump should be allowed in that country,
when they`re debating if he is too odious a person to be allowed to cross
their border, that makes their usually fun stuff all the more riveting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL FLYNN, LABOUR MEMBRE OF PARLIAMENT: The first petition has been
signed by more people than any other in this parliament. It`s signed by
573,971 signatures. And it calls to block Donald J. Trump from U.K. entry.
THOMAS TUGENDHAT, CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Now, while I think
this man is crazy, while I think this man has no valid points to make, I
will not be the one to silence his voice.
PAUL SCULLY, CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: I`ve heard of a number of
cases where people have been excluded for incitement or for hatred. I`ve
never heard of one for stupidity.
TULIP SIDDIQ, LABOUR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Hate crime is being inflamed
and stroked by the words that Donald Trump is using.
JACK DROMEY, LABOUR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Donald Trump is a fool. He is
free to be a fool. He is not free to be a dangerous fool on our shores.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is a buffoon.
ALEX CHALK, CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Ultimately, buffoonery
should not be met with a blunt instrument of a ban but with the classic
British response of ridicule.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not buffoonery, that is absolutely repugnant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s be clear, Donald Trump is an idiot. He`s an
idiot. What he is, an idiot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This motion is actually embarrassing to the U.K. and
makes us look intolerant and totalitarian.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are simply adding fuel to this whole media circus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Division, hatred, and hostility have no place in our
VICTORIA ATKINS, CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: His policy to close
borders if elected as president is bonkers. And if he met one or two of my
constituents in one of the excellent pubs in my constituency, then they may
well tell him that he is a wazzock.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are united in condemning the comments of Donald
JAMES BROKENSHIRE, CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Best way to defeat
nonsense like this is to engage in robust Democratic debate and make it
very clear that his, Donald Trump`s views, are not welcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bonkers, a fool, a buffoon, and a wazzock.
If the Republican Party chooses Donald Trumps a their presidential nominee
and if, yes, it`s possible, he then goes on to win the general election
race for president, today in the British parliament, this is a nice little
taste of how the rest of the world will feel about us in that eventuality.
Ultimately, today, Mr. Trump was not banned from entering the U.K., but the
British parliament had a lively, healthy debate about it. And regardless
of party affiliation, they did all seem to feel more or less the same way
about our Republican presidential front-runner.
And now I have to go look up the word wazzock. Wazzock. How do you spell
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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