The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 2/19/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: February 19, 2016
Guest: Joel Sawyer, Mark Langley
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
There`s a lot to talk about tonight. There`s a lot of news to get to about
the choosing of the next president of the United States, for example. The
contests toward that end that will be taking place tomorrow both in Nevada
on the Democratic side and in South Carolina on the Republican side.
There`s tons of news to get to on that subject tonight.
Before we do that, just bear with me a second. Just how about a little
palette cleanser, right? You had wall to wall politics news, wall to wall
presidential race, just a little palette cleanser.
Here`s a tiny bit of news for perspective that is not on the subject of
choosing the next president of the United States, at least it`s not
directly on that subject.
This is the town seal, the official town seal of Crystal City, Texas.
That`s their official town seal. Bulging forearms, just the one good eye,
a can of spinach at the ready for strength.
Popeye is their town seal, and that`s because Crystal City, Texas, would
like you to think of them as the spinach capital of the world. That said,
what Crystal City, Texas, is more known for is the amazing spectacle there
earlier this month of the FBI swooping in and basically arresting the
entire city government all at once.
Crystal City, Texas, has a city council of five people. Four of the five
people on the city council were arrested. Mayor arrested, mayor pro temp
got arrested. City manager arrested. Even a former city councilmember was
arrested for good measure.
The city attorney got arrested as well for allegedly manhandling an elderly
woman who was trying to enter a city council meeting. That sounds nice.
Pretty much every single official in that entire town was arrested.
Now, I remember when this news first crossed the wire services. We`re in
the middle of our news meeting. It`s like me and the whole staff were
there banging out what`s going to be on the show that day and sort of
pinged on the wires. Somebody said out loud at the meeting, hey, this is
interesting. There`s an FBI raid on the city hall in Crystal City, Texas.
We all started Googling where is Crystal City, Texas.
I remember talking with the show staff that day saying, oh, we should keep
an eye on that. It`s probably some corrupt local official, but it`s a
federal case. Maybe that will make an interesting story down the road.
Let`s keep an eye on it. Let`s see if there`s some corrupt mayor or
It turns out it wasn`t a corrupt local official. They arrested the whole
city government. That was earlier this month.
And then, this week, the mayor of Crystal City out on bound despite his
federal felony corruption indictment, the mayor of Crystal City got himself
arrested again this week. He`s out on bond. I understand there was some
discussion with local residents about whether he would be recalled from
office or whether he would resign. In the end, the mayor on Tuesday night
got himself arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
So, that was Tuesday night in Crystal City. Then Wednesday in Crystal
City, this happened.
Starting Wednesday night, this is what started flowing out of faucets in
Crystal City, Texas. There`s an explanation. There wasn`t on Wednesday
night when the water turned blood curdling black and nobody had any idea
why or what it was.
But the next day on Thursday, yesterday, the city, whoever else works there
still now, the city on Thursday, the following day after this started
happening all over the town, they put out a notice to town residents saying
people might notice some sediment in their water for a while. Nothing to
worry about. Nothing to see.
They announced they were cleaning out the old town water tank. And that
did this to the drinking water supply, which understandably upset people in
town because they had no warning and no explanation until long after the
fact. It almost led to the shutdown of the schools in the town, right?
But if you`re upset about this sort of thing, where are you going to call
in Crystal City if you have a complaint about this? If you call city hall,
nobody is going to answer. What are you going to do? Call the jail and
ask to speak to the mayor?
Between a human trafficking ring allegedly run by one city council member
and FBI`s multiple felony count corruption and bribery and illegal gambling
sting, which resulted in the indictment of almost the entire city
government, and then the subsequent additional arrest of the mayor for a
second time just this week – I mean, despite all of these things happening
in Crystal City and thereby removing all city officials to all nooks and
crannies in the criminal justice system, despite all, before today, not a
single official who had been arrested in that town had actually bothered to
resign from their jobs.
So, even though they have been indicted or arrested, and gone to jail, none
of them have been doing their jobs, nobody else has been able to do the
jobs either. And so, who do you call when the water turns black?
And so, thank you. Crystal City, Texas, with your amazing town seal and
with – actually, in addition, your bold downtown life size statue of
Popeye as well. Thank you, Crystal City, Texas, for perspective, at this
auspicious and occasionally overwhelmingly moment in American politics,
because however crazy or presidential election is right now, our
presidential election is about the process of choosing elected officials
for our country.
And elected officials are a thing we need. And that can sometimes be easy
to forget until you contrast it with anarchy and a bath tub full of black
water in Popeye-ville, Texas. So, thank you, Crystal City.
And incidentally, I should just say, while we`re on the subject of
terrifying water that gives you nightmares and makes you want to die, I
have also have a glimmer of very slightly positive news to report about
Flint, Michigan. The governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, has finally
decided to cough up $2 million for the city of Flint to at least start the
Flint mayor`s plan of starting to replace Flint`s ruined pipes.
You know, through this whole crisis, not a single pipe has been replaced
yet. The mayor of Flint has absolutely forced this to happen despite
incredible continued resistance at almost every level, but she has pried $2
million out of the governor now. And this first $2 million in funding the
mayor says will be enough to start.
It will be enough to pay she thinks to pay for the first several hundred
lead pipes to be replaced in Flint out of a total of more than 15,000 that
are going to have to go. The mayor plans to start digging up Flint`s first
pipe and training local workers how to do the pipe replacement as of next
week, thanks to the shear force of will of that city`s mayor there. They
are finally going to fix the water system in Flint next week.
And I`ve got one more for you. One more. Do you remember the Porter Ranch
ginormous natural gas leak in southern California? That thing started
leaking back in October. Thousands of people evacuated from their homes.
Schools closed and moved.
This thing was pumping out a quarter of all of the emissions for the entire
state of California every single day, every day, seven days a week since
October. A week ago tonight, we reported that they finally got a temporary
plug into that billowing hell mouth of a leak in southern California. Now,
we can report it`s been confirmed that Porter Ranch gas leak is finally
capped. It`s cemented shut.
So, you know, sorry about having to depopulate a portion of southern
California. Sorry about cooking the planet and making everybody sick for
months. But it`s finally stopped. It took them four months to stop the
leak. So, it`s good news about a bad situation.
So, I know I digress, but there is news in the United States right now that
is not at all related to the presidential election, except to the extent it
can give us some perspective on it. Some of it is bad news. Some of it`s
surprisingly good news.
But that very fact, the fact that the world continues to spin on its own
axis and our national experience hasn`t collapsed into the gaping mow of
our acrimonious politics right now, that probably would come as a surprise
to some of the candidates out there today who are now so used to this Klieg
lights of this election that I`m sure they found it hard to believe that
there is anything happening in the country, let alone – or even in the
world that doesn`t relate to them.
It`s also, I imagine, a comfort to some of the candidates for whom the
spotlights, the Klieg lights of the campaign, have been burning a little
too hot recently. And that means, yes, I`m talking about former governor
Jeb Bush of Florida.
The Jeb Bush campaign, God bless them, they woke up in South Carolina today
to this. This 5:00 a.m. headline from Politico.com, “Bush machine running
on fumes”. The lead quote, “Some of Jeb Bush`s most steadfast allies think
Saturday night be the end.” Quote, “Governor Bush`s close confidants and
longtime friends are dejected.”
Now, one person who “Politico” describes as a long time Bush ally is quoted
saying, “The fact of the matter is there isn`t strength anywhere.” About
the decision by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to not endorse Jeb Bush
and instead endorse Marco Rubio, a person described as one of Bush`s
closest supporters tells “Politico”, quote, and forgive me for this, I`m
just going to say it, quote, “What a kick in the balls.” Sorry. Now I
regret saying that. I want to go back in time and not say that.
This is just terrible for any campaign, right? I mean, it`s terrible.
Dejected. We`re done. These morose critical quotes from people who are
described as Bush`s closest supporters.
You know, a fund-raiser who was close to Bush who up until now had remained
optimistic about his chances, Florida based Bush donors, long time Bush
donors, people described as being close to Jeb Bush.
There`s there quote from somebody who is described as a Florida Bush
supporter who has been close to the Bush family for the better part of
three decades. Quote, “The question is, will Jeb Bush do what`s best for
the country, especially with Trump in a position to run away with it or is
it too personal for him to quit? This is a gut check moment Saturday,
depending on the outcome.”
Imagine you`re Jeb Bush, right? You wake up and read this. All these
donors, all these supposed supporters and lifelong family friends, the
family who not just most want you to be president, these are the people who
are supposed to be helping you become president. Instead, they are begging
you through blind quotes to do your duty and quit the race for the good of
your country. If there was any morale left on the Jeb Bush campaign, this
is the sort of thing that could end that forever.
That said, this kind of thing has been going on for a while with Jeb Bush.
Specifically, with the publication Politico.com. I mean, if you look at
the string of stories that are been ran about Jeb Bush that are just like
this, it`s now been a couple of months from “Politico”, over and over and
over again. This is like a specific beat that they`ve got at that beltway
publication for telling the doom of Jeb Bush, blind quoting people close to
him saying terrible things about him.
Look, this is more than just a trend, right? It`s almost weird. This is
from the beginning of December. Headline, Jeb Bush is convincing donors
the polls wrong. One Bush donor quoted as saying staffer morale is
Another Bush donor quoted as saying, “We`re not going to sugar-coat it.
It`s bad.” That was December.
Then in mid-January, we got Bush donors await green light to jump ship.
More blind quotes including one urging him to get out of the race. Also,
bonus, super sad picture of Jeb Bush with that one.
Less than a week later, “Politico” again, the Bush blame game begins. One
person described as a Florida Bush backer is quoted saying, you might as
well light all of this money on fire.
Then, February 7th, “Politico” is back at it again. The headline, February
7th, Bush loyalists concede the end may be in sight. Ten days later, Bush
struggles to mask mounting frustration. That one also came with an extra
super sad picture. That was two days ago.
Now, today, this Bush machine running on fumes.
One, one, one, one, one, one after the other, in “Politico”, each story all
with the same angle, with the same desperation, the incredible undercutting
of any moment Jeb Bush might ever hope, any movement, any momentum Jeb Bush
might ever hope to get from anywhere, right? Every one of them, every one
of these pieces quotes his supposed donors and allies and supporters just
talking incredible smack about him, right?
Of course, that helps make their worries about the campaign come true.
They`re not just idly worrying about whether or not Jeb Bush`s campaign
doesn`t have enough momentum or gets too much bad press. They are telling
the press these horrible things about the campaign.
That becomes a true perception of the campaign because you as a Bush
supporter and donor are telling reporters these things and they`re printing
them and that becomes the weather in which the campaign, the Jeb Bush
campaign rains every day.
And so, you know, who knows? South Carolina, it may be the end for Jeb
Bush. If it`s not, I`m sure it will not be the end of terrible
politico.com Jeb Bush headlines proclaiming that the end of Jeb Bush is
near. It`s a beat for them now. It must drive Jeb Bush crazy.
Who are the Bush donors are going to talk to when Bush finally does quit
and the stories stop, right? So, they`ll be so lonely. Reporters aren`t
calling them to talk smack about Jeb Bush all the time. Presumably,
they`ll all then write tell-all books blaming each other from what went
As we head into tomorrow, South Carolina primary, the Republican polls are
tightening. There`s no South Carolina poll that doesn`t show Donald Trump
still in the lead but in the few polls where we can do apples to apples
comparisons, right? The same poll being taken over time, so you can see
sort of the trend within that same poll, it does look like there`s
tightening in the race.
We saw that, for example, in the “Augusta Chronicle” poll where Mr. Trump`s
lead has gone from 16 points to just three points. We saw it in the FOX
News poll, where Mr. Trump`s lead went from 20 points to 13 points.
We saw it pretty dramatically in the NBC/”Wall Street Journal”/Marist poll
that just came out in South Carolina. Last month, that poll had Mr. Trump
leading by 16. Now, it has him leading by five.
Now, again, he`s leading in every poll and leading by five isn`t as good as
leading by 16, but it`s better than losing by five.
The tightening of all these polls may show the momentum in the race in
South Carolina is working against Mr. Trump. Is it possible the momentum
could be moving fast enough that he will not win tomorrow in South
Stay tuned. Polls open in South Carolina tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. Eastern.
They close at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. If Mr. Trump is going to have a run for
his money in terms of first place in tomorrow`s primary, you know, there`s
always a chance it could be from Jeb Bush. Hard to believe, but
theoretically possible. Probably not worth speculating on.
More likely any challenge to Mr. Trump tomorrow will come from Ted Cruz
and/or Marco Rubio.
Marco Rubio did poorly in New Hampshire. But he`s been riding recently in
part because of an endorsement from South Carolina`s governor, Nikki Haley.
Also though, I got to say, his campaign just seems very excited about Marco
Rubio`s prospects in South Carolina.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott who has endorsed Mr. Rubio, you see him
there between the governor and Mr. Rubio at a campaign event in South
Carolina. Tim Scott probably went out on a limb this week when he raised
expectations sky high for how Marco is going to do in South Carolina. Tim
Scott told reporters this week that Mr. Rubio could place second in the
state or quote, “we have a long distance shot at first.” First place.
That is awesome has a pep talk, right? That`s awesome to show you`re
psyched and you`re confident. It`s bad idea, though, to say it to somebody
other than your campaign volunteers. It`s a bad idea to say that to the
press because then you`ve raised expectations that you may not meet.
And now, if Marco Rubio doesn`t come in first, we`re going to know that his
campaign thought it was possible that he might. Nobody wants to look like
they placed lower than they expected to.
The latest last-minute endorsement in the South Carolina race though did
not go to Senator Rubio, and this is really intriguing one. In part,
because we don`t know what the influence will be of this endorser in South
Carolina because of the unusual political history of the endorser. But
it`s also intriguing because this particular endorser had a really hard
time handling the Donald Trump factor in the Republican race, earlier on
Back in August, this was “The Post and Courier” newspaper in South
Carolina. Quote, “U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford has not decided which
Republican running for the White House he will endorse, but he knows which
one he won`t, Donald Trump.”
Quoting, Mr. Sanford, “Being crass and rude in your references to other
people is not the way to run for president”, Sanford said. “I think the
position of the presidency requires a measure of self-control and
So, that led to this very clear headline in “The Post and Courier” in
August. Mark Sanford rules out endorsing Trump for president.
Well, that was before Donald Trump started leading constantly in every
South Carolina poll for months and months and months. And that led to up
with of the all time great, on air hamana-hamana-hamana moments when our
own Steve Kornacki asked Mark Sanford recently if he was really sure that
he was going to ever, ever, ever endorse Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: What about your role in all this? I saw you over
the summer when Donald Trump made some comments about Megyn Kelly, you
seemed to say at the time, that would rule out Donald Trump for you. Is
that still true?
REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I like every other procas – what`s
the word I`m looking for. Anyway, I couldn`t – he has broken every single
mold, every single piece of political convention out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Every single mole could not find the word that Mark Sanford was
looking for there. But, today, he did finally make up his mind. And today
in South Carolina, he endorsed Ted Cruz. Who knows? Ted Cruz might win
this thing tomorrow.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Weekend politics time. Everybody, freak out.
OK. Here`s what`s going to happen for your weekend. Tomorrow, we`re going
to be doing wall to wall live coverage of the crucial elections in two
states starting in Nevada, with the Democratic caucuses. Chris Matthews is
going to kick off the Nevada coverage tomorrow afternoon, 2:00 Eastern.
Then, starting at 6:00, Chris will be joining me and Brian Williams for
full live coverage of the Nevada returns and a South Carolina Republican
So, this is your Friday night warning. Get some rest. You`re going to
need it. Saturday politics. Attendance is mandatory. I will secretly be
wearing jeans with my suit jacket.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: What about your role in all this? I saw you over the summer
when Donald Trump made some comments about Megyn Kelly, you seemed to say
at the time, that would rule out Donald Trump for you. Is that still true?
SANFORD: I like every other procas – what`s the word I`m looking for.
Anyway, I couldn`t – he has broken every single mold, every single piece
of political convention out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was just last week. But today, Mark Sanford found the word
he was looking for and he endorsed Ted Cruz in the state of South Carolina.
Joining us now is Mark Sanford`s former spokesman from when he was
governor, the South Carolina Republican in good standing and now works with
the digital ad firm called Campaign Grid, Joel Sawyer, joins us tonight
from MSNBC`s unofficial South Carolina headquarters, which fittingly is a
bar, the Liberty Tap Grill in Columbia.
Joel, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
JOEL SAWYER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
MADDOW: So, all right. If the number line starts with like at the low
end, bad news, dentist visit, and at the high end, it`s like front seat on
the new roller coaster – how enjoyable would you say this South Carolina
primary has been compared to others you`ve been involved with?
SAWYER: That`s a tough call because we had so many very, very special ones
You know, I`d give it a seven. It`s good. It`s a good South Carolina
primary. But there hasn`t been this mean, terrible dirty tricks that
everyone talks about that make great television fodder. So, it`s been a
good race for some ups and downs and some momentum shifts and endorsements.
It`s been fun to watch it.
MADDOW: In terms of those momentum shifts and the way things have been up
and down, it looks, without much data to base this assessment on, it looks
kind of if you squint like the race is tightening, like the momentum is
against Donald Trump and is in favor of some of the sort of second tier
candidates like certainly Ted Cruz and maybe Marco Rubio.
Is that your sense on the ground in South Carolina that that`s what the
polls are right about that?
SAWYER: Yes, no. I think it`s a totally fair assessment. I mean, like,
you know, Donald Trump`s last debate was not good to be charitable. I
think it was a bit of a momentum shift here. If you look at Rubio`s
momentum with Trey Gowdy and, you know, Tim Scott having a good debate, and
following that up with Nikki Haley.
Add to that, you know, Ted Cruz had a very good ground game, rounded up a
lot of people in the evangelical community to go out and do get-out-the-
vote stuff for him. So, you know, I think that the momentum is in their
favor and it`s against Donald Trump.
I think Donald Trump is going to underperform in the polls. I`m not ready
to say he`s not going win yet, but I think he`s going to underperform.
MADDOW: In terms of that ground game that you`re talking about, obviously,
this isn`t a caucus state. This isn`t a place where you need to round up
people to go do something that takes hours and hours and hours. But we`ve
been hearing more and more that the ground game really does matter in South
Carolina. Ted Cruz has been really bragging about his ground game in terms
of doing voter turnout and stuff and mobilizing volunteers and door
knockers and stuff.
Do you see a big difference in terms of Ted Cruz versus the rest of the
field on that score?
SAWYER: You know, I would say Cruz and Rubio both have a really good
ground game. You know, Cruz has made a lot of hay about his support in the
evangelical community and all the evangelical leaders that he has rounded
up to – you know, for his ground game. I think South Carolina, as you
noted, rightly, is a paid media first state, the ground game is not as
important here as it is in Iowa and New Hampshire, but it is still
important to do all that block and attack (INAUDIBLE), your voters, get
them to the polls tomorrow.
MADDOW: So, bottom line, Joel, it sounds like you think that Donald Trump
might be in trouble tomorrow? Are you not expecting him to win?
SAWYER: No, no, I`m expecting him to win, but I think he`s going to
underperform in the polls. I do not think his margin is going to be a
crazy margin. I think he`s on a downward trajectory. I think it will be a
lot closer than people expect.
MADDOW: Joel Sawyer, Mark Sanford`s former executive director, former
spokesman, former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party
– Joel, I really appreciate you playing with us throughout this lead up to
the primary. It`s going to be a lot of fun. Appreciate it, my friend.
SAWYER: Thank you. Good to be with you.
MADDOW: All right. In the other election tomorrow, in the Democratic
caucuses in Nevada, we think we have noticed a certain distinct and kind of
important turning point in that race and how it`s being fought and possibly
how it`s going to be won.
And that story is ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Little known perk of this show, comes with its on theater troupe.
It mostly consistent of whoever is unlucky enough to be standing by the
office copy machine at the wrong time when we have a bad idea like this.
But regardless of whether they have been press ganged into it, behold, the
When something happens in the news that`s almost impossible to tell, when
words fail, when video fails, we occasionally will boldly take it upon
ourselves to act something out that needs acting out. We call our awesome
props department. We assemble the casts. If we`re lucky, we squeeze a
quick rehearsal before show time, not usually but sometimes.
Tonight, the TRMS players are back. We have something that cannot be
explained in words, but it can be shown to you. That`s straight ahead.
Stay with us.
Oh, God, Nick. Watch out – watch out for that!
MADDOW: All right. This is going to be good or totally terrible. We`ll
All right. In every election cycle, there`s always a point where one party
raises the specter of crossover. Republicans posing as Democrats, or
Democrats posing as Republicans in order to basically sabotage some phase
of the voting process for the other side.
You might remember, in 2008, talk show host Rush Limbaugh tried to do
something that he called “Operation Chaos”. He wanted Republicans to vote
as Democrats in open primaries specifically to try to keep the long, bloody
race going between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Mr. Limbaugh wanted
that because he thought the longer that race went on, the worse it would be
for Democratic chances in the general election.
So, that was 2008. In every cycle, somebody really discovers this idea and
a lot of us suspect that it might be at work somewhere.
But you know what? It never really amounts to much. The main reason is
because of the basic incentives at work. The very people who would be
motivated to purposely register for the party they oppose, the most
excitable, most activist part of one party`s electorate, in order to do
something like this, they have to give up something they value in order to
participate in one of these schemes. They actually have to give up their
right to vote in their own primary, on their own side in order to mess with
the other party instead.
And honestly, there aren`t a lot of people who want to do that. So, even
though these party crossovers shenanigans get a little news attention in
every cycle, honestly, that don`t amount to much.
But there is a contest tomorrow where that usually means this isn`t a big
deal, that usual incentive structure is missing in tomorrow`s Democratic
caucuses in Nevada. Republicans can mess with the Democrats caucuses this
Nevada tomorrow and they can do it for free without giving up anything they
want to do for themselves.
And it`s because of a weird loophole that opened up in the process.
Republican caucus registration closed in Nevada last weekend. But on the
Democratic side, you can still register for the Democratic caucus on-site
tomorrow, just show, register as a Democrat and vote. And that can lead to
some shenanigans and I will show you what I mean.
All right. Let me set the scene. You`re now looking one day into the
future. This is a Democratic caucus site tomorrow at an undisclosed
location in Nevada.
Now, we`ve got some people here. People in blue shirts are registered
Democrats showing up to caucus for their Democratic candidate. Behind
them, behind the people in blue shirts, that is Wendy. Sneaky Wendy.
Wendy for the purposes of this production is not a Democrat. Wendy is a
registered Republican, hence the red shirt.
But Wendy wants to mess with the electoral process in the Democratic side.
Wendy wants a particular Democrat to win the caucus, one who she thinks
would be easier for a Republican to beat in the general election.
Nevada`s rules allow her to register on the day of the caucus as a Democrat
and then caucus with the Democrats that day.
So, Wendy gets to the location, registers as a Democrat, puts on her blue
Democratic shirt. She heads onto caucus with the Democratic Party and
nobody is the wiser.
OK. So, Wendy just voted in the Democratic caucus. That`s tomorrow.
That`s the Nevada Democratic caucus tomorrow.
Now, scene change.
Oh, yes, there we go. Well done, my people.
All right. It`s now Tuesday. Tuesday, February, 23rd. You`re looking now
at a Republican caucus site in Nevada. Note all the changes.
New signs, new sweater on Nick Tuths, also glasses. Very nice.
Republican voting roles in Nevada closed more than a week ago. So, you
can`t show up and register same day like you could as a Democrat. Only
those already registered in the state as a Republican can caucus with the
Republicans at this Republican caucus.
And so, you see some of these previously registered Nevadans are here.
These folks in the in the red shirts, they sign in. They`re registered
Republicans. They have been registered before February 13th. They head
into their caucus.
But, hey, look, there`s sneaky Wendy again. She`s a register Republican.
You can see her red sleeves.
While she just registers at the Democratic caucus three days ago, she`s
still on the Republican voting roles. Even though she just caucused with
the Democrats three days ago, Wendy can shed her recently acquired
Democratic affiliation and caucus with her own Republican Party now, too.
And while this kind of crossover voting in both party`s elections is
illegal in Nevada, there`s no such law about voting in the caucuses,
because the caucuses aren`t real elections. They`re just things run by the
So, nobody really seems to know if this is illegal. The Democratic Party
is threatening to push for felony charges for anybody who double-caucuses
on Saturday and again on Tuesday. But the Nevada secretary of state put
out a super ambiguous statement tonight saying voters who do this sort of
thing will be reported to both major political parties. Whoo, we`ll tell
mom. Whatever that means.
Members of the Nevada`s Republican Party, some of them have come out
strongly against this idea of double caucusing, but there are some
Republican groups making noise to have Republicans show up to vote in the
Democratic caucus tomorrow to try to wreak havoc in the Democratic side
before they then vote again in their Republican caucus on Tuesday.
In years past, threats for crossover voting like this to cause chaos,
mostly meaningless. In Nevada tomorrow night, the opportunity at least is
there. It`s a state that is notoriously hard to poll with a volatile and
transient electorate that is hard to keep track of. It is race that`s much
closer than almost anybody expected and now this.
Tomorrow is going to be very exciting for lots of reasons. Watch out for
sneaky Wendy, everybody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The kind of criticism that
we`ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president, I expect from
Republicans. I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic
nomination to succeed President Obama.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Madam Secretary, that
is a low blow. I have worked with President Obama for the last seven
President Obama and I are friends. As you know he came to Vermont to
campaign for me when he was a senator. I have worked for his re-election,
his first election and his re-election.
But I think it`s really unfair to suggest that I have not been supportive
of the president. I`ve been a strong ally on him – with him on virtually
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Up until about a week ago, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were
more ore less competing over who had more loyalty to President Obama.
Hillary Clinton had repeatedly been accusing Senator Sanders of not
supporting the president enough. Senator Sanders had repeatedly rejected
that. You know, I supported him on everything. We`re friends. We had a
fun get away in Vermont.
During the weeks and weeks and weeks of campaigning and debating and town
halling, the Democratic primary has, basically until this week, felt like a
hug-a-thon for Barack Obama`s presidency. Both candidates attaching
themselves to the sitting Democratic president, who, of course, remains
very popular among Democratic voters.
But it`s starting to feel like that basic fact, that basic big picture
fact, it`s starting to feel like that`s shifting a little bit. Last night
at the MSNBC-Telemundo town hall this question came up again when Chuck
Todd played tape of Bernie Sanders calling for a primary challenger for
President Obama in 2011 and he asked Senator Sanders to respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: Last week, you called – you said it was a low
blow for Secretary Clinton to bring up the past criticisms that you had for
President Obama. You said you had ever right to disagree with him.
But it went further than that. In fact, this is you calling for a primary
challenge. It was on a radio show, I`m going to play it and get you to
react to the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: One of the reasons the president has been able to move so far to
the right is that there`s no primary opposition to him. And I think it
would do this country a good deal of service if people started thinking
about candidates out there to begin contrasting what is a progressive
agenda as opposed to what Obama is doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: That was you in 2011.
SANDERS: That was –
TODD: I understand that.
SANDERS: That was in response to a question on radio show.
TODD: I get that. But there are some Democrats who want to continue the
president`s policies. Why should they trust you as somebody who wanted him
primaried? You thought it would have been good idea he had been primaried.
SANDERS: You know, by the way, there is one of the two Democratic
candidates here who actually ran against Barack Obama. It wasn`t me. All
Second of all, you know, I have worked very closely with President Obama
over the last seven years. He is a friend of mine. We have gone a long
way together to move this country forward from the disastrous position we
were in when Bush left office.
But to answer your question, do we have the right to have differences of
opinion with President Obama? I have had a number.
For example, I have disagreed with him very strongly on his views on trade.
He`s for the TPP. I`m against the TPP. He has, several years ago,
continued Bush`s tax breaks for the very wealthiest people in this country.
I was on the floor for eight and a half hours in disagreement with him.
Overall, I think the president has done an outstanding job. And the idea
there can be a primary with different ideas get floated and debated, I
don`t think that that is terrible.
TODD: You actually still think he should have been primaried?
SANDERS: Look, this is – this is a media issue. This is one thing I said
one radio show many, many years ago. Media likes that issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There`s a lot of ways senator Sanders might have answered that
question. He chose to announce, “I`ve had a number of disagreements with
President Obama, for example,” and then he proceeded to list them without
been prompted to do so.
So, none of this is to say that Senator Sanders is against President Obama
or that he hasn`t been an ally of President Obama and the Democrats broadly
in Washington. But he is shifting now, in the presidential race, in terms
of how he positions himself with regard to the president.
And I think Senator Sanders is a pro. I think Senator Sanders is a really
good politician and I don`t think he does things by accident. So, I think
we`ve got a shift – a visible shift going on in the way the Democratic
race is now being run.
We also just got an advanced clip of Bernie Sanders interview that`s going
to air this weekend on BET in which Senator Sanders seems to try to turn
Secretary Clinton`s relatively unqualified support for President Obama
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Hillary Clinton now is trying to embrace the president as closely
as she possibly can. Everything the president does is wonderful. She
loves the president. He loves her and all that stuff.
We know what that`s about. That`s trying to win support with the African-
American community where the president is enormously popular.
You know what? I have enormous respect for the president. He`s a friend.
We have worked together. I think he has done a great job in many respects.
But you know what? Like any other human being, he is wrong on certain
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He is wrong on certain issues.
This is an important moment for the Democratic primary, right? The two
contenders of the Democratic presidential nomination are fighting over what
level of support from the sitting Democratic, how much distance, how much
light there ought to be between themselves and the guy who`s there now.
One of the candidates, Senator Sanders, is now saying that Hillary Clinton
tying herself to Barack Obama is essentially pandering. And he`s now
started in a new way going out of his way unprompted to list things that he
thinks are wrong with President Obama and his legacy.
So, these are two very different visions of what it means to be Barack
Obama`s successor, right? You can say – you can`t say one is better or
worse in terms of the electability factor yet, we don`t know. I mean,
would Al Gore have done better in 2000 had he run with the Clinton legacy
instead of away from it? There`s lots of theories on that. I`m not sure
history tells us the truth, one way or the other.
But in term of the history we`re living right now, between Hillary Clinton
and Bernie Sanders, we have very quickly started to get a new race. We
have very quickly started to get a much sharper distinction between the two
of them on whether they are running for president on the basis of President
Obama successes or whether they are running for president against President
This is new. This is a new turn in the Democratic race. It has just
started this week. Legacy time.
MADDOW: Look at this great picture posted from Josh Letterman at “The
A.P.” tonight. Not the clearest shot not taken from super close, but this
is kind of a breathtakingly important picture when you know what you`re
looking at. Here.
Look at the caption, “President Obama walks from the Oval Office with
dossier on Supreme Court candidates.” Oh, oh, that`s what`s in the binder.
It looks like they`ve got a long short list.
In addition to that remarkable snapshot of the president`s weekend
homework, we learned tonight that he started consulting with key senators
from both parties about the potential nominee.
The White House says the president has already spoken with Mitch McConnell
and Harry Reid, and Chuck Grassley and Pat Leahy on the judiciary
committee. That outreach directly to the Senate is something that Vice
President Biden basically prescribed when I spoke with him about the
Supreme Court yesterday. President Obama is now calling members of the
Senate to get the nomination process going. The process is very much under
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Brace yourself. Friends, brace yourself.
Yay! It`s the Friday Night News Dump.
Kent Jones, who`s playing tonight?
KENT JONES, TRMS: Rachel, tonight, we have Mark Langley from Kent,
Washington. He`s a former public defender. He`s a throat cancer survivor
and he used to work right here at MSNBC.com back in the day.
Rachel, please meet Mark.
MADDOW: Mark, it is very, very nice to meet you. See how we played that
game with a guy from Kent being introduced by Kent?
MARK LANGLEY, KENT, WASHINGTON: Yes, that`s very impressive.
MADDOW: Does MSNBC look different from when you were here?
LANGLEY: Well, you know, the Potemkin village of media never changes, does
MADDOW: I don`t know what you mean.
LANGLEY: Empress Catherine, cardboard villages and –
MADDOW: We like to think we`re high grade of cardboard, much nicer than
the other villages in the same neighborhood, if you know what I mean.
LANGLEY: Yes, that was always my feeling.
MADDOW: All right. Mark, we`re super happy to have you here.
LANGLEY: Thank you.
MADDOW: You probably know how this works. If you get two of the three
questions we`re going to give you, if you get two of them right, you`ll win
this worthless piece of junk.
Kent, please show it off.
JONES: Oh, yes, Rachel Maddow cocktail shaker, accept no substituted right
MADDOW: Yes, we do not even guarantee that it doesn`t leak.
If you get extra credit, what is the random office swag tonight?
JONES: Oh, extra random. This lovely velveteen black cape which we
borrowed from Stevie Nicks. I don`t know why this was in our office. But
here it is.
MADDOW: Yes, Mark, I`m sorry about that. We will get it cleaned before we
send it to you if you win.
MADDOW: We`re also going to bring in Steve Benen from Maddow Blog. He`s
the man who will determine whether or not you`ve got the right answer.
Mark, Steve. Steve, Mark.
STEVE BENEN, MADDOW BLOG: Good evening to you both.
MADDOW: Good evening.
LANGLEY: Good evening, disembodied voice.
MADDOW: All right. First question, Mark. Tuesday, Jeb Bush told NBC News
that Governor Nikki Haley`s endorsement said it could with the most
meaningful endorsement in the South Carolina Republican primary. The very
next day, on Wednesday, who did that most meaningful endorser actually
Was it A, Jeb Bush, B, John Kasich, C, Marco Rubio, or D, Ted Cruz?
LANGLEY: As much as Jeb wanted it, it went to his Florida colleague, Marco
MADDOW: Steve, did Mark get that one right?
BENEN: Let`s check Tuesday`s show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Naturally, today, Nikki Haley did not endorse Jeb Bush but instead
endorse Marco Rubio.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BENEN: Yes, the answer is C, and Mark is one for one.
MADDOW: Never talk about the value of an endorsement you don`t yet have.
A lesson we all learned from Jeb Bush this week.
All right. Question two, on Wednesday, we reported that presidential
hopefuls, John Kasich, actually did a pitch perfect job of keeping
expectations nice and low for his performance this weekend in South
Carolina primary. Which of the following things did Governor Kasich say
about how he thinks he will do in South Carolina?
Did he say, A, it`s going to be a three-way split for third place, B, if I
get even one vote, that`s a victory, C, I think we`ll do better than a
fifth, or D, I think we`ll do better than squat?
LANGLEY: It was race up from the bottom. I think he said – I don`t think
he said – he named a number. I think he said better than squat, because
he was talking about squat.
MADDOW: Is squat the appropriate answer here, Steve?
BENEN: Let`s check Wednesday`s segment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think people
expected me to do squat. I think we`ll do better than squat, but we`ll
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BENEN: The correct answer is D and Mark is doing much better than squat.
MADDOW: All right. This is your ringer here. I`m going to through you a
little curve ball. For your last question you get a choice. Do you want a
slightly easier question about Donald Trump or a harder question that`s not
about Donald Trump?
LANGLEY: I`ll take the harder question, why not? Better to die now than
live in fear.
MADDOW: Well, I`ll tell you, the answer to the Donald Trump answer was an
ISIS attack on the Vatican. You don`t get that one.
All right. Here`s the question, this week we reported on three people
floated as potential nominees to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by
the death of Justice Scalia. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this
week, each one addressed the question with something between a dodge and a
firm no. Which of the following potential nominees has yet to address
speculation that he or she might yet be named to the court?
Is it A, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, B, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh
Johnson, C, Senator Amy Klobuchar, or D, Vice President Joe Biden?
LANGLEY: Well, let`s see. Amy Klobuchar said she liked her job.
Secretary Johnson didn`t seem the least bit interested. And Joe Biden said
that was the one job he never wanted.
So, I would have to say this would be A, Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
MADDOW: Process of elimination.
Steve, you`ve got the answer for us?
BENEN: Let`s roll the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I have to just ask you, are you saying if the president called you
and ask if you would consent to be vetted and said that he wanted to
consider you, that you would say no or would you consider it if the
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: I`m saying that like my job now.
MADDOW: I have it from a reliable source that Secretary Johnson told
friends he has, and I quote, “better chance to be pope than to be our
nation`s next Supreme Court justice.” I don`t even think he`s Catholic.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look at me now – I have
no desire to sit on the Supreme Court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BENEN: That leaves Loretta Lynch, and the correct answer is A, and Mark is
right once again.
MADDOW: OK, tell us the good news. Did Mark win everything?
JONES: Oh, he won. Prize, you tell me. You tell me.
MADDOW: Mark, you`re a ringer. It`s great to have you back in spirit here
at MSNBC. Thank you. You win all the loot. Really appreciate it.
LANGLEY: Well, thank you. You do a great job. I enjoy every minute I
watch your show.
MADDOW: That`s very kind of you to say.
Your stuff is coming right after it comes back from the cleaners.
LANGLEY: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Mark.
If you want to play the most awesome game in basic cable news, send us an
e-mail at Rachel@msnbc.com.
Now, though, I`m afraid you`ll have to go up river.
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