The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 2/24/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: February 24, 2016
Guest: Michael Medved
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now in its
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: We`re just trying to keep everybody on their
toes this year. We`re just skipping around. You might see us at any time.
HAYES: You never know.
MADDOW: At some point, we`re going to be broadcasting from under people`s
beds. Hey, it`s time!
Thanks, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this particular hour. It`s nice
to see you.
If Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz goes all the way this year, either of them would
make history as the first ever Latino presidential candidate for a major
political party. That would be a huge deal.
Had Carly Fiorina gone all the way this year, she and Hillary Clinton could
each have been in contention to make history as the first female
presidential candidate nominated by a major political party. You know,
frankly, while we`re on this train of thought, if Donald Trump goes all the
way this year, he would be the first Trump nominated for president by a
major political party.
There are lots of ways that history could have been or could still be made
this year, particularly in this Republican presidential contest.
But one of the ways the Republican presidential candidates` field already
made history this year is with this guy, because when Rick Perry declared
his candidacy for president last year, he became the first person ever in
U.S. history to mount a major party candidacy for president while
simultaneously being under criminal indictment. Whoa!
That had never happened before. Rick Perry was indicted on two felony
charges in 2014, abuse of power charges related to his time as Texas
governor. This mugshot was taken in August 2014. The governor made sure
to take a handsome mugshot with a big smile, and he actually turned that
arraignment that day into a big happy political event. He had cheering
supporters outside the courthouse. He gave kind of a simultaneously
triumphant and defiant speech from the courthouse steps.
Afterwards, he invited reporters to go out to ice cream with him after his
arraignment. I`m not kidding.
Rick Perry put the happiest possible spin on his felony criminal
indictment. But it still did seem to just kind of linger on like an old
cooking smell you can`t quite get out of the kitchen even when you open the
As 2014 turned to 2015 and he tried to mount his second run for president,
this indictment thing just hung around. It had to be mentioned by anybody
who talked about him for any length of time. That run for president didn`t
last all that long. Governor Perry made basically no impression other than
the indictment thing and some favorable reviews for his smart new glasses.
He didn`t do very well at the early debates. It was only mid-September
when he became the first of all 17 Republican candidates this year to drop
out of the race.
And that is why it must have been bittersweet news today for Governor Perry
when he got word that the Texas court of criminal appeals just dismissed
the last charges left standing against him. As of today, Rick Perry is no
longer facing criminal charges and potential jail time in Texas.
But, OK, fine, heck of a lot of good that does him. He`s no longer
governor. He`s no longer even trying to run for president. His chance to
be a national figure in Republican Party politics appears to have up and
left him faster than the time it took to clear his name in the Texas
courts. So, he`s in the clear, but it must be very, very bittersweet for
And Rick Perry was not the only one-time presidential hopeful criminally
indicted Republican governor of a major state to get some very awkward time
in the spotlight today. No, today we also got a surprise appearance in the
political headlines in a very awkward way from the one other person who
fits the bill of criminally indicted Republican governor of a major state
in the whole country.
And it happened at a Donald Trump event at a college in Virginia today. It
was very unexpected and it happened like this. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, there are some who say that in the past you
have supported Democrat and liberal views. How can voters be sure that you
will truly hold and would actually continue to uphold Republican ideas and
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, it`s
interesting, as one of the magazines said, Donald Trump is a world class
businessman and it was sort of interesting, I`m all over the world and I
deal with all politicians, and honestly I never thought I`d be doing this.
I just got exasperated. I would have done it four years ago. I looked at
it seriously with Romney. I was actually leading in the polls.
And I decided I had a lot of jobs going, my children were younger. Now,
they can do a great job and I have excellent executives. But this is not
something I really was going to do or really wanted to. I loved what I was
The fact that as a businessman, you get along with all politicians or you
have a problem. I got along with Democrats, got along with liberals and
conservatives and Republicans. I get along with everybody. That was my
thing. It was very important.
I got along with Bob. Where`s Bob? I saw Bob in the audience. Where is
he? Where is he? By the way –
And a fantastic person, OK? You know that. Stand up, Bob. He`s a –
He`s a fantastic person. And – but I get along with everybody. I get
along with – and that was important. And I tell people, and people will
forgive me for that, they`d say, well, you know, it`s true.
But as a businessman, you want to get along with Democrats, Republicans,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: As a businessman, you want to get along. Republican presidential
front-runner Donald Trump today giving this big sort of tangential shout-
out in the middle of his remarks to former Republican Governor Bob
McDonnell of Virginia, who was in the audience at Donald Trump`s event
today at Regent University. Regent University is the college founded by
televangelist Pat Robertson.
So, just culturally, this is kind of an amazing snapshot on a lot of
levels, like, right?
I mean, number one, a televangelist like Pat Robertson founded a college.
Number two, that televangelist college is now playing host to the
Republican presidential front-runner right in the middle of the heat of the
Republican presidential race.
Number three, the Republican presidential front-runner is Donald Trump.
Number four, in the audience of that event at Pat Robertson U is the former
governor of Virginia convicted of multiple felony charges for having an
inappropriately cozy relationship with a rich businessman who cultivated
the governor`s friendship basically in order to bribe him into helping out
the businessman`s company.
And so, at that event, in the heat of the presidential race, Donald Trump
sort of departs from his prepared remarks or what he was going to talk
about more broadly in order to point out the convicted governor in the
audience so he can say that as a rich businessman, he, too, had a close and
great relationship with Governor McDonnell because rich businessmen like to
do that sort of thing with all kinds of politicians.
If there`s one thing that Governor Bob McDonnell does not need right now,
it`s a big high-profile public reminder of how cozy he got with a rich
businessman who wanted things from him when he was governor. That`s what
he was just convicted for. But that`s exactly the shout-out that he got
from Donald Trump today at Regent University.
The reason that is terribly awkward, and even dangerous for Bob McDonnell
today, is because he is currently awaiting his last-ditch effort to avoid
having to report to start his federal prison sentence. Bob McDonnell`s
case is getting its last appeal. Bob McDonnell`s case is due to be heard
by the U.S. Supreme Court.
If the court overturns the lower court ruling in Bob McDonnell`s case, he
could be vindicated, the Supreme Court could overturn his conviction. If
the Supreme Court leaves the lower court ruling in place, though, Governor
McDonnell will have to report immediately to federal prison to start
serving his time.
Now, it was widely believed that the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin
Scalia, it was widely believed that he would have been a vote in favor of
Bob McDonnell in this case. With Justice Scalia`s passing, he loses a
vote. Governor McDonnell is now in the unhappy position where if the eight
remaining justices deadlock 4-4 on his case, that leaves the lower court
ruling standing, and the lower court ruling is that he has to go to prison.
Governor McDonnell may, therefore, be one of the only high-profile
Republicans in the country who really wants the Supreme Court to get back
to full strength to fill that ninth seat vacated by Justice Scalia`s death.
The other high-profile Republican who definitely wants that seat on the
court to be filled is probably Brian Sandoval, the current governor of the
state of Nevada. “The Washington Post” this afternoon dropped the
bombshell news that the White House is currently vetting Governor Sandoval
as a possible nominee for the Supreme Court.
Now, there are lots of reasons why that seems particularly crazy to
Democrats. Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada is a Republican. It`s almost
unimaginable to imagine a Democratic president using one of his Supreme
Court picks to put a Republican on the court for a lifetime appointment.
Governor Sandoval substantively is a strong anti-union pro-big business guy
on a court that is already really starkly anti-union and pro-big business.
Governor Sandoval also has the distinction of having vetoed a very popular
bill in his state that would have established background checks for gun
sales in Nevada. The bill, it was very popular. It passed both houses of
the legislature in Nevada, but Governor Sandoval vetoed it. He vetoed on
the six-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
So, there are a lot of things about Brian Sandoval that give Democrats
There are also a lot of things about him that are moderate. He`s pro-
choice. He`s pro-immigration reform. He expanded Medicaid under Obamacare
in his state. He increased school funding. He`s not against gay marriage.
Even just on the guns thing, alone, setting aside the very important
business and labor issue, right, just on the guns thing alone, President
Obama just said recently he would no longer support or campaign for or even
vote for political candidates who don`t support what he calls commonsense
gun reform. It is, therefore, very hard to imagine President Obama putting
on the Supreme Court a governor who vetoed commonsense gun reform when he
had the chance to sign it.
So, there`s lots of reasons why when the White House leaked to “The
Washington Post” that they`re vetting Governor Brian Sandoval for the
Supreme Court, there`s lots of reasons why that gave Democrats a little
agita today. The people it was supposed to give agita were, of course,
Senate Republicans, particularly Senate Republicans who have hard re-
elections ahead of them this year, but who are nevertheless towing the
Republican Party line that the Supreme Court vacancy must be held open for
at least a year while the Republicans in the Senate refuse to vote on, hold
hearings on, meet with or even discuss the possibility of any potential
court nomination by this president.
Presumably, at least, it makes it harder to sustain that stance when you
are talking about blind obstruction like that even for a nominee who is a
Republican governor. A Republican governor who`s wildly popular in this
home state and who is a Latino at a time when the Republican Party,
frankly, could stand to stop offending Latinos in this country. So, who
knows what`s going to happen there.
Governor Sandoval`s name notably is the only name that has been leaked off
of the White House vetting list so far.
For Governor Sandoval`s part, it`s hard to imagine what it must have felt
like to him today to see his name pop like that in “The Washington Post.”
I mean, think about what`s going on in his life right now. Last night, the
Republicans in his state overwhelmingly chose Donald Trump as their choice
to be the Republican Party`s next presidential nominee. Governor Brian
Sandoval never made an endorsement in the Republican presidential race in
his state, heading into last night`s caucuses.
But Governor Sandoval did say publicly months ago that the one candidate in
the race he could never imagine supporting was Donald Trump. And then in
his state, Donald Trump went on last night to beat the rest of the field by
more than 22 points. He had just a huge win, a devastating win.
Donald Trump won in Nevada last night with every single demographic group
that voted in the Republican primary except for one tiny stripe. There was
one group of voters by age, voters under the age of 30, didn`t support
Donald Trump. They supported Marco Rubio.
But other than that, Donald Trump won every age group. He won both men and
women. He won all income groups. He won all races. He won evangelicals,
he won non-evangelicals, he won moderates, he won conservatives, he won
He won with 46 percent of the vote, which frankly shatters the wishful
thinking argument that Donald Trump has some sort of 30 percent ceiling in
the Republican Party where he`ll never get more votes than that, 46
Heading into Super Tuesday, which is the next round of races on the
Republican side, to the extent that there is polling in the Super Tuesday
races, Donald Trump is leading all across the country and basically all of
the Super Tuesday states.
Looking a little down the field, I can also tell you he`s leading in the
polling right now in the home states of both John Kasich of Ohio and Marco
Rubio of Florida. Donald Trump is going to beat them in their own home
states if the polling holds.
The only place down field at all where Donald Trump does not look like he`s
in control of the Republican race is maybe in the state of Texas, where
home-state Senator Ted Cruz appears to have the state wired. He`s reported
to have nearly 30,000 volunteers active in the state of Texas. He`s
reported to have locked up a large proportion of the early vote in Texas,
which has been going on for just over a week now and which ends on Friday.
Most of the vote in the Texas Republican primary is expected to be people
who early voted. So, Ted Cruz may have already banked a win in Texas
before his ship started to sink this week after his disappointing third-
place finishes in both South Carolina and Nevada.
So the polling is actually very close right now between Donald Trump and
Ted Cruz in Texas, but the only place, the one place on the calendar right
now where it even arguably looks like Donald Trump might not wind is that
one state, it is Texas.
Ted Cruz`s good standing in Texas today was reinforced by this video
endorsement for him for Ted Cruz. This is created by the serving governor
of Texas, Greg Abbott. Greg Abbot endorsing Ted Cruz, the only endorsement
Ted Cruz has from a settle governor anywhere in the country.
It`s the single highest profile endorsement he`s had from any elected
official anywhere, except maybe that other endorsement that he got a few
weeks ago from the previous governor of Texas whose criminal charges were
just dropped today. Couldn`t come at a more auspicious time for Ted Cruz.
Probably could have come at a more auspicious time for Rick Perry, but you
win some, you lose some.
And this time, Texas might be the only place in the country where Donald
Trump really might be expected to lose one, on his way to the Republican
We`ve got lots of news to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last night`s caucuses in Nevada marked the fourth time in a row
that Republicans have set a record for voter turnout this year.
Republicans have voted in four states so far this year and in every single
one, they have broken the voter turnout record for that state.
By comparison in every state so far, turnout for Democrats is down.
Compared to 2008, Democratic turnout is down 20 percent in Iowa, 13 percent
in New Hampshire and 33 percent in Nevada.
South Carolina, you`re the Democrats` only hope to get turnout numbers up
Looking past this weekend to Super Tuesday, it`s not good. At least the
indications aren`t good so far. The latest early voting numbers out of
Texas are bad news for Democrats. This time eight years ago to the 2008
race, Democrats had cast twice as many early ballots as they have this year
And, yes, I know, 2008 was a very exciting year. But that`s also the last
time Democrats won an open seat for the White House. So falling well short
of the voter enthusiasm from that year is not a good thing for the
Democratic Party this year.
I mean, whatever you think of the comparative merits of the Republican
field and the Democratic field right now, the Republican field is
consistently making way more people turn out to vote. They`re setting
records. Democrats aren`t getting anywhere near their records.
If the Democrats cannot fix those by November, that`s going to be an
ominous sign for the general election. And it is, therefore, something
that the Democratic Party and both their candidates should start having
both an explanation for and a ready plan to fix it, as part of their basic
pitch for electability.
Because this kind of thing, look at this, look at those numbers from
Nevada. That is not good news for Democrats. That needs a Democratic
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What a fantastic crowd
and I want to thank all of you for being here and the few thousand people
outside trying to get in.
When I look out at this crowd, I don`t think there`s any way we`re going to
lose on Tuesday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders earlier tonight
speaking to a crowd of 6,800 people. That was just a little while ago
tonight. A big Bernie Sanders rally tonight and there were approximately
2,000 people outside that event trying to get in.
This afternoon, it was a crowd of over 7,000 people who showed up to hear
Senator Sanders speak. Crowds lined up for hours before the event, again,
at that event despite 7,000 people, more than 7,000 people at that
afternoon event, again, there were many people overflowing from the venue
who could not get inside.
And here`s the interesting thing: these two events this afternoon and this
evening, these were not in Democratic strongholds where Bernie Sanders was
speaking today and tonight. These crowds were in two red states. The
afternoon event, he was in Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri. That`s where
he got 7,000 people to turn out and had to turn lots of other people away.
And tonight, he was in the people`s republic of Oklahoma, 6,800 people
turning out to see Senator Sanders tonight in the great city of Tulsa,
2,000 people outside the venue unable to get in.
Now, just as a refresher, the last time Oklahoma voted Democratic in a
presidential election year, the year was 1964.
So, that`s one reason. It`s a little counter-intuitive to see Bernie
Sanders speaking before these just immense crowds of enthusiastic
supporters in this deep red states.
The other reason is a little weird to see him speaking at these venues
today is because neither of those places is in South Carolina. And the
next race of the Democratic side is not in Missouri or Oklahoma. It`s in
South Carolina in three days. But Senator Sanders is not there right now.
Today, as he left South Carolina to go start a whole string of these other
events in Missouri and Oklahoma and all these other states.
He was asked about that strategically by NBC`s Andrea Mitchell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: This from day one was going to be a very difficult state for us.
We`re not writing off South Carolina. You all know that on March 1st,
there are a dozen states that are holding elections, and the nature of the
world is that we got to go out – I think I`m leaving for Oklahoma in a
little while we think we have shot to win. We have a shot to win in
Massachusetts, Colorado, Minnesota, and other states. My own state I think
we were 80 percent in the polls so I think we`re going to win there as
But we are fighting here in South Carolina as hard as we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders today saying he is fighting as hard as he
can in South Carolina, but that was right before he left South Carolina and
flew off to Missouri. Senator Sanders was in Massachusetts on Monday. He
was in Virginia on Tuesday.
He did make a pit stop back in South Carolina last night for a town hall TV
event and to do that press conference this morning. But then he did head
right out to Missouri and on to Oklahoma today.
Tomorrow he`s going to be in Ohio. He`s also making his first stop in
Flint, Michigan, to do a community forum in flint tomorrow afternoon. Then
tomorrow night, he`s going to go to the University of Chicago for a town
hall hosted by our own Chris Matthews at 8:00 Eastern.
And all of those states are great places. In all of those states happen to
not only be South Carolina, they are all voting sometime between Super
Tuesday next week and March 15th.
Now, Hillary Clinton is polling 20-plus points ahead of Bernie Sanders in
South Carolina. In the face of that, in political science terms, it is not
dumb to take your candidate and put them elsewhere, right? It`s not dumb
to put your candidate`s time and energy into states where you got a better
But does the Sanders campaign have a plan that makes sense overall? That
gets them on the path to the nomination?
Right now, Hillary Clinton is leading in the polls in eight or nine of the
11 states that are going to be voting next week on Super Tuesday. Given
that, and given her 20-plus point lead in South Carolina, what do we make
of the Sanders campaign`s overall strategy and their travel plans for the
senator and their priorities? Does the Sanders campaign have a master plan
that will give them a shot at winning this thing?
Joining us now from the Bernie Sanders campaign bus in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is
MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt.
Kasie, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPODENT: Rachel, thanks for having us.
MADDOW: I have to ask you, given that you`re on the campaign bus, are you
allowed to speak freely? Is there anybody listening in on you who you have
to impress with what you say?
HUNT: Well, Rachel, they could also easily be watching your program, so I
think I`m pretty free to speak. I apologize for the slight bumpiness.
This is actually the press bus in the Sanders motorcade heading back to the
Tulsa airport. We were on the ground for only a couple of hours before we
head – Sanders is a little bit of a night owl, so we`re supposed to land
after mid-night in Ohio.
MADDOW: OK. We`ve been looking at footage today of the massive event that
he did in Kansas City, Missouri, and the massive event he did in Tulsa,
Oklahoma. In part that`s great political sociology, great to see a Vermont
senator getting red states like that in Missouri and Oklahoma.
But is it clear to you from the campaign`s perspective that trips like this
into these states that this time three days ahead of South Carolina that
this is part of some sort of master plan where they actually see a path to
the nomination and enough delegates to be competitive?
HUNT: Rachel, Bernie Sanders, himself, claims, and we talked about this in
the press conference earlier today, that he does have a math to the
The math is difficult for him especially on Super Tuesday through the
South. Texas, Georgia, huge delegate totals, large minority populations,
really tough road there. And if she can rack up delegates by a significant
margin, it`s going to be hard to overcome.
What they`re trying to do is get to the point where they at least increase
margins in states that they think they can win and try to win in places
that might be a little bit unexpected.
So, of course, you read through the schedule. That tells you exactly what
their strategy is. It`s not just a Super Tuesday focused strategy. It
goes on to these primaries March 8th, March 15th, a little bit further out
going to Kansas City, obviously hits Missouri and Kansas. Both of those
states vote later in March.
They`ve basically written off South Carolina although they don`t
necessarily want to say that out loud at this point. But I think one thing
that links a lot of these places together, frankly, is that they have a
higher percentage of white voters in the Democratic primary electorate than
a lot of these states where Hillary Clinton seems to be doing well, and in
many ways that`s a reverse of 2008 when Hillary Clinton carried working
class white voters and Barack Obama dominated with African-American voters
and other minorities.
So, I think what this is setting up for is a long-haul stretch and Sanders,
himself, will say he`s going all the way to the convention. I asked him
today what he wanted at the convention should he show up there without the
nomination but a significant pile of delegates from this effort they`re
doing there. I will say, Rachel, one thing the campaign does believe is
that putting Bernie Sanders in front of as many people as possible is
effective for them, so if she`s able to have a huge rallies, and these
rallies today are the bigger ones we`ve been to with very excited crowds, I
I actually talked to a couple of young kids, not old enough to vote. They
were 17, 18. I said, the socialist thing, does that word have negative
connotations to you at all? They all said, absolutely not.
When I ran into someone who is probably about their father`s age, he said,
well, you know, I`ve been a Democratic socialist my whole life but liberal
was a dirty word back in the 1980s when I first started following Bernie
Sanders. It`s amazing that we`re at the point that he can socialist.
But I think that kind of help explain some of his appeal among young people
in these otherwise seemingly red states.
MADDOW: MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt doing this report from a
bus that is actively moving down a bumpy road at speed while facing
backwards in the dark. Kasie Hunt, you need a raise. Thank you, my
HUNT: My cameraman, Kevin, does, too, because he`s also doing a great job.
MADDOW: Kevin, I owe you a beer. Absolutely, man. Well done. Thank you,
Live from the bus. That was incredible.
You know, I will say the Bernie Sanders campaign strategy is not a
traditional campaign strategy both geographically and in terms of the way
they are trying to reach voters, but to see him turn out 7,000 people at
two separate rallies in two separate states tonight is an achievement. If
that was happening on the Republican side right now, we`d be like, oh,
somebody is competitive with Donald Trump.
Anyway, lots more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The U.S. Army right now has a vacancy in one of its key position,
maybe in its key position. Back in September, President Obama nominated
Eric Fanning for the top civilian role in the army, secretary of the army.
Eric Fanning has been waiting for the Senate to confirm him ever since he
was nominated. His nomination has been held up by one senator, Pat Roberts
Pat Roberts of Kansas last seen on this show crumpling up the president`s
plan for closing Guantanamo and throwing it into the trash can like a
melodramatic tough guy.
Senator Roberts says the hold on Mr. Fanning for secretary of the army is
nothing personal, he say it`s about Guantanamo. But regardless of the
reason for the hold, it appears to be semi-eternal. There appears to be no
end in sight.
So, officially, Eric Fanning is not able to perform the duties of army
secretary. And nobody else is either.
Acting in his place right now is this guy who you know, former Congressman
Patrick Murphy is an Iraq war veteran. He was the first Iraq war veteran
to serve in Congress. He opposed the Iraq war. He was outspoken about it.
He won a Bronze Star as an airborne major in the war. Mr. Murphy brought
his family to his confirmation hearing at the Senate a couple of months
ago. The Senate ended up approving him just before Christmas. Today, he
was finally officially sworn in as the 32nd undersecretary of the United
States Army who is – which means right now he is the top civilian official
in the U.S. Army, at least until Senator Pat Roberts decides to let our
country have a secretary of the Army sometime again.
This is a really big deal for Patrick Murphy. It`s also just a really big
deal. And pardon me for saying this, couldn`t happen to a nicer guy.
So, congratulations, Patrick Murphy, undersecretary of the United States
Army. Well deserved. You have a big job ahead of you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM RICKETTS, CHICAGO CUBS OWNER: It`s a little surreal when Donald Trump
threatens your mom. But, you know, the fact is whether it`s my mom or my
dad on his ending spending stuff or my sister on marriage equality or my
brothers, what they do, or what we do with the team, you know, we`re pretty
much an open book. I mean, we stand up for what we believe in. We support
the causes that we think are important. That`s what America should be.
That`s who we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, that is Tom Ricketts who`s the owner of the Chicago Cubs
baseball team. He took some time during an unexpected press availability
concerning the Cubs to instead talk about the fight between Donald Trump
and his mom.
Tom Ricketts` parents are really big-time Republican donors. They were big
supporters of the presidential run by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, but
obviously, Scott Walker poofed out of the race pretty early. Since then,
the Ricketts family has been figuring out where else they might want to
spend their money this year in the Republican campaign.
Marlene Ricketts, aka, mom, she decided to donate $3 million to an anti-
Donald Trump super PAC in January. That`s according to campaign finance
reports. This is a PAC that spent more than $4 million so far, so do the
math. Many of their dollars came from Marlene Ricketts. They`ve spent
about $4 million running attack ads against Donald Trump in states like
Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
When the finance reports from that PAC came out, and Donald Trump found out
who was bankrolling these ads, he responded, indeed, with a threatening
tweet. Quote, “I hear the Ricketts family who own the Chicago Cubs are
secretly spending against me. They better be careful. They have a lot to
But they`re not alone in this effort to try to stop Donald Trump from
within the conservative movement in the Republican Party. The conservative
group, Club for Growth, is now launching another round of attack ads
against Mr. Trump, about $1 million worth of ads. They`re set to launch in
Super Tuesday states including Arkansas and Oklahoma. They`re going to be
running the same ad in those states that they ran against Mr. Trump in
And Club for Growth is convinced that these ads they`ve got against him
will work, that they will do the trick and that they denied him a win in
the state of Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tested these in Iowa last fall in real time playing
for it`d ads and did work. They took Trump out of first place into second
place. What they do is tell the truth about Donald Trump, his vision for
America will bankrupt us, essentially.
If Donald Trump is the nominee, the polls show it`s the one Republican that
almost guarantees Hillary Clinton will win the race in the fall, will lose
the Senate, and now with Justice Scalia`s passing will lose the Supreme
So, the ball game – there are a lot of stakes here in the next three weeks
in the primaries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Whether or not you like Donald Trump as a potential president, or
a potential presidential nominee even, we now do have a new thing to try to
grasp in understanding Republican politics. This new thing we have to
figure out now is political exertion, in some cases well-funded political
exertion, that is not intended to elect any one particular candidate. It`s
instead intended to block the election, or at least block the nomination of
a particular candidate. A particular candidate that a portion of the
Republican Party finds so odious they will do almost anything to stop him
from becoming the standard bearer of their party.
The hawkish editorial page of “The Washington Post” is now running
increasingly upset, increasingly harsh editorials overtly begging
Republican leaders to do something to stop Mr. Trump from being nominated.
The conservative “National Review” magazine devoted a whole issue to what
they called a symposium against Donald Trump.
So, there is a real effort on the right. It`s not like people aren`t
trying. You keep hearing people saying in pundit world like, oh, why
didn`t anybody stop Donald Trump when they had the chance? Why isn`t
anybody trying to stop him now? There is an effort. It`s not like people
aren`t trying. They`re trying.
But what I do not understand is the strength of that effort or what else
could be done that isn`t already being done that isn`t already being done.
And I don`t understand if there`s some other escape hatch, some eject
button that the anti-Trump Republican Party, the anti-Trump conservative
movement feels like it can activate – if Mr. Trump`s march toward the
nomination gets much further down the road.
Do they have anything else that they could do? Do they have anything else
up their sleeve?
Joining us next is someone who actually does understand those things and is
part of them. And, oddly, he`s a person who doesn`t mind talking to
liberal mugs like me about it. This is going to be very good. We`re all
about to learn something.
Stay with me. That`s straight ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So, tonight, we had 45 percent, 46 percent, and tomorrow you`ll be
hearing, you know, if they could just take the other candidates and add
them up, and if you could add them up, because you know the other
candidates amount to 55 percent, so if they could just – they keep
forgetting that when people drop out, we`re going to get a lot of votes.
You know, they keep forgetting. They don`t say it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One strategy by the anti-Trump elements inside the Republican
Party is to argue that the presidential race on that side has to thin out.
That more Republican candidates have to quit that race because a one-on-one
fight against Donald Trump is the way Donald Trump is going to lose, has to
be one-on-one then people will start beating him. Mr. Trump is publicly
laughing that suggestion off and increasingly, the numbers are bearing him
Now, the other strategy that anti-Donald Trump Republicans and anti-Donald
Trump conservatives are using is more simply just to go at him directly,
criticizing him directly – making the case that he should never be the
Republican Party`s presidential nominee. In part because he`s not really a
Republican or at least he shouldn`t be seen as a Republican in good
How is that direct effort working out?
Joining us now is somebody who is effectively part of that effort,
conservative talk show host, contributor to the “National Review`s”
“Against Trump” special issue, Michael Medved.
Mr. Medved, it`s really nice to have you here. Thank you so much for being
on the show tonight.
MICHAEL MEDVED, CONSERVATIVE TALK SHOW HOST: Thank you. Great to talk to
you again, Rachel.
Let me just say, I was anti-Trump before it was cool. I mean, very early
after his announcement speech, I don`t believe that our party, which after
all, is the party of Lincoln and Reagan, should be welcoming someone who
spews the kind of hatred that Donald Trump does.
I am concerned about the message for the future because one of the things
I`ve been talking about for 20 years in Republican circles is that we have
no future as an all-white party. It cannot continue that way.
Mitt Romney won 60 percent of the white vote in 2012 and lost the election
because he did so poorly among Latinos and Asians because of his position
on immigration and did horribly among African-Americans. We have to build
a big tent party and I think Donald Trump accomplishes the opposite of
For instance, he has said to Muslim-Americans who are a growing group of
Americans and most of them, nearly all of them patriotic citizens, he said
we don`t want you, we don`t want to allow a Muslim to come visit the United
States. It`s outrageous and people of conscience who want to build a
larger, more viable Republican Party with any kind of future at all have to
speak out against it.
MADDOW: Well, in terms of how that speaking out is going, I take issue
with people who say that there is no anti-Trump effort in the Republican
Party or in the conservative movement.
MADDOW: I mean, it was you early on, but it`s a lot of people now. At
least it`s becoming –
MEDVED: You bet.
MADDOW: – more visible.
As a conservative, I mean, from somebody who`s inside that world, how
strong do you think the organized effort is against Mr. Trump? Is there –
is it growing or is it shrinking at this point?
MEDVED: There`s no question that it`s growing, and –
MEDVED: – I think part of what`s happened here has been the falling out
in the bromance that used to be going on between Trump and Cruz.
But here`s the basic point, Rachel. The other strategy other than what you
mentioned is simply this, is I actually think it`s good that Governor
Kasich and Senator Cruz are staying in the race. Governor Kasich can win
Ohio which is a winner take all state. And Senator Cruz is likely to win
in Texas and win the majority of the delegates.
I think it`s very probable at this point that Donald Trump will have more
delegates than any other single candidate. But I also think it`s probable
he will not have 50 percent of the delegates. That brings us to the
convention in Cleveland in July, with Trump having the most delegates but
not having the majority.
So we could go for the first time since 1948 to a second ballot or even a
third ballot where I can assure you that Trump will not be the nominee
because the people who are supporting other candidates are united in one
thing which is, again, what Donald Trump would mean to the future of the
party and to senatorial candidates.
I mean, there are some great U.S. senators who I greatly admire. People
like Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, and Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. If Trump is
our nominee, they go down. The Democrats get the U.S. Senate and, again, I
know that`s kind of a dream scenario for folks on your side of things, but
it is not healthy for the republic to become a one-party state. And that`s
the risk we`re running.
MADDOW: In terms of what has been done, I hear you in terms of the
possibility of things being possibility o f things being worked out at the
convention, but between now and then in terms of trying to give other
people a chance, trying to hold him back in terms of getting towards 50
percent of the delegates, do you feel like there are other things that
could be done inside the Republican Party or inside the conservative
movement that aren`t being done yet? Is there another card to play in this
hand? Is there something else that hasn`t been done yet that feasible?
MEDVED: Well, I think it`s beginning to be done. Nate Silver made this
point in his FiveThirtyEight blog, and I think he`s entirely right, which
is most of the negative advertising that has been used so far on the
Republican side has been against Marco Rubio, not against Donald Trump.
He`s been almost immune from it.
And most Americans who are behind Trump really don`t know that much about
him. And again, it is ironic that somebody who has made so much of his
money exploiting gambling, which is terribly unfair and a destructive force
particularly for poor people in the United States of America, that somebody
like that should beat Ted Cruz among evangelicals in South Carolina is
And frankly, I think that the more people know about Mr. Trump and here`s
my point – yes, he`s been scoring, but without goals. On the other hand,
he may score points, but there are no goals. What is he going to do?
Nobody honestly believes he`s going to build a big gigantic wall and get
Mexico to pay for it, or even that we should want to. Nobody believes
we`re actually going to have a deportation force as he`s called for and go
door to door and rip people out of their homes and deport 11 million people
who are residing in the United States of America.
I mean, trying to get people to focus – Dr. Johnson once said the gallows
doth wonderfully concentrate the mind – we`re not talking about a game.
We`re not talking about sports. We`re not talking about sports book or
casinos. We`re talking about the presidency of the United States of
John Adams said in his famous prayer when he was the first president to
come to the White House, he said may I pray that only wise and good men may
dwell here. And for the most part, that prayer has been answered. We`ve
had ineffective presidents, but I don`t think we`ve ever had somebody who
was in it for himself, and I think that`s a problem right here.
MADDOW: Michael Medved, host of the syndicated “Michael Medved Show”, a
contributor to the “National Review”, and a great guest and a really nice
guy, I`ve always enjoyed our conversations, Michael. I hope you come back
MEDVED: Me too. I look forward to it, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Thanks very much. All right. We`ve got much more
ahead tonight. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Set your Bernie alarm, the Chris Matthews is going to be at the
University of Chicago tomorrow night hosting a town hall with Bernie
Sanders. It`s going to be live here on MSNBC at 8:00 Eastern and that
means my other friend Chris, Chris Hayes, is going to do his show tomorrow
night at a special time. He`s going to be on at 7:00 Eastern.
So, it`s a little weird, but here`s how it`s going to go – Chris Hayes at
7:00 Eastern, the Bernie Sanders town hall at 8:00 Eastern, and then me at
9:00 Eastern. We`re just trying to keep you on your toes.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: The way a Saturday night drunk opens his eyes and accepts the
unwanted reality of painful Sunday morning, at least some part of the
Republican Party is coming around to accepting Donald Trump as the nominee.
Mr. Trump basically paved the field in the Nevada caucuses last night and
this morning, he got his first endorsements from seated members of
Donald Trump was endorsed today by Congressman Chris Collins from New York,
who had previously supported Jeb Bush, and Mr. Trump got the backing of
Congressman Duncan Hunter of California.
Duncan, Duncan, Duncan, who? Oh, God, that guy. Yes!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: I know that at least ten ISIS fighters
have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas. There`s –
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS: How do you know that?
HUNTER: Because I`ve asked the Border Patrol, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: And the Border Patrol, they just let ISIS members come
across the border?
HUNTER: No, they caught them at the border. Therefore, we know that ISIS
is coming across the border. If they catch five or ten of them, then you
know there`s going to be more that did not get caught.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Greta`s like, what now? That was 2014. The congressman said he
had it on good authority, like really good information, air tight, inside
info, that ten ISIS fighters had been captured at the Mexican border trying
to enter the United States. We captured them. We have them in custody, 10
ISIS guys. Wow!
And yet as he said, nobody was talking about it except for him. It turns
out the reason for that is that the Department of Homeland Security said
that was categorically false, not supported by any creditable intelligence.
Now, at the time he said that we e-mailed the congressman asking about
homeland security saying he was categorically wrong, his staff fired back
to what this day remains maybe my favorite congressional staffer e-mail of
all time. Quote, “Of course, homeland security is right, they`re always
right, aren`t they?”
Wake up sheeple, boy Duncan Hunter has got the scoop.
So, that`s our guy, totally in the know except for being wrong. He`s lent
his vote of confidence to Donald Trump`s campaign today. Congressman
Hunter saying, quote, “We don`t need a policy wonk as president. We need a
leader. I`m in and I`ve been in.” Oh, yes.
Any other Republicans wanting to hop on board the Trump bandwagon, the line
starts right behind, the ISIS at the border guy. It seems perfect somehow.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow from New York
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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