The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 2/25/2016

Jaime Harrison, Anthony Brooks

Date: February 25, 2016
Guest: Jaime Harrison, Anthony Brooks

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That was great. That was the HARDBALL college
tour town hall complete with a brass band on set.

Chris Matthews with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, live
from the University of Chicago`s Institute of Politics. This is a live
shot right now with that event having just wrapped up.

I`m Rachel Maddow at MSNBC headquarters back in New York. We do not have a
brass band. But that was a remarkable event.

There`s a lot going on in news and politics tonight.

On the political side, Nevada Republican Governor Brian Sandoval has taken
his name out of contention today as a potential Supreme Court nominee.
That`s after the White House floated his name as a potential pick for the

A whole new raft of polling has come out on the Republican side of the
presidential race today. Donald Trump continues to dominate the field.
The rest of the Republican field has now started amongst themselves inn
earnest as to who ought the quit in order to give some other candidate a
cleaner shot at trying to take on Mr. Trump. So, that`s all going on.
We`re going to be talking about all that stuff tonight.

But on the Democratic side of the race, we did have this remarkable, long
forum town hall with Bernie Sanders who now I think is safe to say back to
being the underdog, but one who is fighting really hard and has a lot of
resources and a lot of support on his side. But I would say back to being
the underdog in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination.

Bernie Sanders tonight taking questions from students at the University of
Chicago there. You see him shaking hands with students there. Again, this
is a live shot of the room.

But it was fascinating. This event also started off with what I thought
was a contentious and challenging and really interesting back and forth
one-on-one between Chris Matthews and Bernie Sanders, as Chris Matthews
tried to pin Senator Sanders down basically on the feasibility of what he`s
campaigning on.

And you`ll see – we`re going to show you a couple of clips from what just
happened here. You`ll notice, the senator got applause for some of the
answers. But it was a very heated back and forth.

I think potentially this one is going to stick in terms of what people
remember from this campaign. Watch this.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: Let`s say if you get elected, you take
office next January 20th and you walk up to the Senate and you meet with
the leadership and say, I have a program here. I have to have government
funded tuition for public universities. There`s things I want done on
Social Security to increase benefits. There`s things I want done on health
care so it can become Medicare for life. You have strong positions.

And Mitch McConnell looks at you the way he looked at President Obama and
says, “Forget about it.”

I say, hey, Mitch, take a look out the window. There are a million young
people out there who don`t want to be in debt for half their life for the
crime of going to college. If you want to antagonize those people and lose
your job, Mitch, if you don`t want to lose your job, you better start
listening to what we have to say. That`s the point. That`s how change
takes place.

MATTHEWS: How do you squeeze a guy like him?

SANDERS: It`s not him. Mitch is – I know Mitch McConnell.

MATTHEWS: All the Republicans, how do you squeeze 60 senators? You need
60 senators.

SANDERS: Let me tell you.

MATTHEWS: You need 60.

SANDERS: Let me tell you this: absolutely, positively, 100 percent. If we
rally young people in this country to say, you know what? Germany,
Scandinavia, other countries, they have free tuition in public colleges and
universities. I have been all over this country, Chris. I have talked to
kid, $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, $100,000 in debt paying a huge percentage
of their income, OK?

Young people stand up and say, we are sick and tired of it. We don`t want
to go in debt for our whole lives because we got a college education.

You know what? We`ll win that fight immediately.

But the trick is not to appeal to Mitch McConnell. It`s to say take a look
at your e-mails coming in.

MATTHEWS: OK. What evidence do you have this has worked for you? Have
you increased the turn out in these elections?

You know, as a U.S. senator, have you been able to get 60 votes in the
Senate for anything? Have you ever been able to do this what you`re
talking about doing? You say I can get 60 senators –

SANDERS: I`m not the president. What I am saying, Chris –

MATTHEWS: What evidence do you have that you can do it?

SANDERS: What evidence do I have?

MATTHEWS: That you can do it?

SANDERS: The evidence is that`s the only way change is enacted in this

MATTHEWS: Right, I agree with you.

SANDERS: That`s what the civil rights movement was about. That`s what the
women`s movement, the gay movement.

MATTHEWS: It`s necessary. But is it sufficient?

SANDERS: That`s called, that`s they way –

MATTHEWS: Is it sufficient to get it done? These guys running their own
states with their own conservative constituencies that will say, fine,
Bernie Sanders is a liberal president. He`s a progressive. I`m not the
one (INAUDIBLE) vote against him.

SANDERS: Let me give you an example, let me give you an example.

MATTHEWS: How do you know you can do it?

SANDERS: How do I know? I don`t know anything. I think we do the best
that we can do. We try.


MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders with Chris Matthews tonight at the
University of Chicago. That event just wrapping up live there. The
HARDBALL college tour, an hour long format there with Senator Sanders live.

Joining us now from the room from University of Chicago is MSNBC political
correspondent Kasie Hunt, who`s been covering the Sanders campaign for
MSNBC and our national correspondent Joy Reid who joins us tonight
fittingly from Columbia, South Carolina, ahead of the Democratic
presidential primary in that state, which takes place two days from now.

Joy and Kasie, it is great to have you both here live. Thank you both so
much for being here.



MADDOW: Joy, let me start with you. I know you were able to watch this as
it happened, this town hall that just happened in Chicago. The polls say
Senator Sanders is not looking like he`s going to do well in South Carolina
where you are for the primary this weekend.

Looking at what he just did with Chris, looking at how he`s campaigning
right now, is he adapting? Is he changing what he`s doing in a way that`s
likely to better his chances in a place like South Carolina in?

REID: You know, it`s interesting, Rachel, literally before when I sat down
to get miked up and ready to come on, I got introduced to a couple of
students who were undecided. One young lady said she`s trying to decide
between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Her knock on Bernie Sanders is
whether or not what he was saying, was it realistic that he could pass it?
I think that`s very telling. This is a very young person, a college

And as I was driving around, I just happen to have spent three hours in my
rental car today just listening to the radio, right? To R&B and hip hop
radio where you would think there`s lots of radio ads and the Sanders
campaign was aggressive early on advertising on the radio. I heard one
Sanders ad. I heard a lot of different Hillary Clinton ads, about four
different ads running over and over.

So, I think even the Sanders campaign, though, when I spoke to them today,
they said they are not pulling out of South Carolina, you get feeling and
the sense they are sort of moving past this state and moving on.

And tonight, what we just heard with Chris Matthews, you heard what makes
people love Bernie Sanders and what`s problematic for him. This sort of
passion he`s invoking in young people that they are the revolution, that
they can make Congress do what they want. The problem is he hasn`t shown
that in the turnout so far in the young people in this primary. He just –
he hasn`t demonstrated it can be done that way.

MADDOW: Kasie, on that point, the Sanders campaign is getting more and
more sensitive to that point. They are being asked about it as the senator
continues to make this pitch that the way he`s going to bring the political
world around to his way of seeing things is by prompting big voter turn out
and getting a lot of people involved. Is that issue getting under their
skin? Do they have a different answer for that? How are they handling
that and do they see that as a real issue for themselves now?

HUNT: Well, I think they saw some of that tonight, Rachel. And I think,
you know, and think, you know, when Chris asked this crowd, that, of
course, are still very patiently sitting here behind me, they all said that
they would indeed vote. There`s a bit of quirk in this calendar coming up
which is a lot of these kids here and at the other universities voting in
March will go on spring break.

So, not only are they fighting against the uphill current of getting
students to turn out to vote but they have to deal with that as well.

When I pressed Bernie Sanders on this when I interviewed him a week or so
ago, a couple of weeks ago, saying, you know, how if President Obama
doesn`t represent getting this system completely changed, doesn`t represent
historic different turnout, then, of course, it`s a challenge for Bernie
Sanders to be able to prove that he`s going to be able to do that. So far,
you`re right. The turnout hasn`t shown that.

One thing I would say is some of these bigger states will prove to be the
first test of whether these crowds that Bernie Sanders is drawing can
convert into votes. Iowa and New Hampshire, a different case, smaller
states where a lot of handshaking is typically done. Tulsa, Oklahoma, for
example, where we were last night, one of those bigger states – we`ll see
if the crowds make a difference, Rachel.

MADDOW: Kasie, let me ask you, just your impression of the confidence
level for the candidate and the campaign right now. Do they feel
confident? This is where they expected to be?

Kasie, did I lose you?

Oh, I lost Kasie. I`ll turn to Joy. I never have two people at once. I
never get to do this.

Joy, bonus question for you. Joy, I want to ask you about something
different, which is the Univision/”Washington Post” poll of Hispanic voters
nationwide just came out. It shows Secretary Clinton leading Sanders among
Latinos by nearly 30 points. Her advantage is stronger with African-
American voters, you`re talking a little bit about what sounds like on the
ground, in a heavily African-American state like South Carolina.

The advantage Sanders has is a really big advantage with younger voters,
which is a better building block for states that are still ahead right now.
I mean, obviously, they both got bragging rights. But which would you
rather have?

REID: Yes, I mean, this is another central conundrum of the Sanders
campaign. He has the young voters and when I talk to people basically
under 40, whether they are black, white, or Latino, they love Bernie
Sanders. Hillary Clinton is more solid with voters who are over 50 and
particularly over 50.

But you know what? It`s the over 50 who vote, Rachel. And especially when
you`re talking about African-American voters, it`s the churches. That`s
who is getting people out. It`s women who are watching the sort of
“Scandal” generation of women, generation X and older, those are your super
voters. And particularly as you go up the age scale with both African-
Americans and Latinos, though Latinos with median ages are much, much
younger, these are constituencies that don`t turn out at the youngest

So, Sanders has a challenge because he has the most unreliable voters. And
then, you know, we were just talking about some of the sort of x-factor,
things like spring break, there`s a big regional college basketball
tournament that just happens to be this weekend. It culminates on Saturday
in the neighboring state, in North Carolina. So, yet another issue that
the Sanders campaign has to deal with when turning out their base voters,
because they might not be here. They might actually be in the neighboring

So, there`s so much more of complication with turning out the voters that
love Bernie Sanders. They really do love him. It just might not be enough
of them.

MADDOW: MSNBC political correspondent, national correspondent Joy Reid.

I also want to thank political correspondent Kasie Hunt. She`s at the
Bernie Sanders town hall event tonight.

Both of you, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.

On the issue of the turnout and whether South Carolina can make Bernie
Sanders dreams come true, they maybe behind in the polls, but that turnout
question is absolutely central to his theory of the case for why he`s doing
what he`s doing and why he can be successful of it.

We`re going to have the ahead of the Democratic Party in South Carolina
joining us live tonight to talk about whether or not South Carolina might
sort of break the Democratic Party`s turnout curse that they have had so
far in first three states.

If South Carolina can turn out a large number of people, large raw number
of people even if it`s not just a huge number of young people or a huge
number of specific kind of people, if they can turn out a large raw number,
I think Democrats are going to be much more comfortable where they are
looking ahead to the general election than the first three contests have
left them.

I`ve got one more piece of sound I want to play from this back and forth
between Chris Matthews and Bernie Sanders tonight in Chicago. There was
some very constructive conversation between the two of them about Bernie
Sanders as a young man and his own time at the University of Chicago in the
1960s, a lot of policies in the room.

But between Chris and Bernie, between Senator Sanders and Chris Matthews,
there was a very contentious back and forth and some very blunt remarks.
And like I said earlier, I think some of this stuff is going to stick.


SANDERS: You and I look at the world differently. You look at it inside
the beltway. I`m not an inside the beltway guy. I am an outside the
beltway guy.

MATTHEWS: But the people that vote on taxes are inside the beltway.

SANDERS: And those people are going to vote the right way when millions of
people demand that they vote the right way. On this issue, I have no
doubt, as president of the United States, I can rally young people and
their parents to say that if Germany does it, Scandinavia does, countries
around the world do it, we can do it. And yes, we can bail out –


MATTHEWS: Can you bring – OK –

SANDERS: It is Wall Street`s time to help the middle class.


MATTHEWS: The next Senate leader, Democratic leader, is probably Chuck
Schumer of New York. Can you deliver his vote tonight? Can you tell me
one senator is going to follow you for these proposals? They`re all good
decent proposals. In fact, the moral proposals.

Tell me the votes. Who`s going to vote with you?

SANDERS: I know Chuck very, very well.

MATTHEWS: Is he going to vote with you?

SANDERS: Well, call him up. I don`t know.


MATTHEWS: You gave us one vote. You said, I will give you 60 and pass it.
And you can`t give me one vote.

SANDERS: Chris, Chris, I didn`t say it.

MATTHEWS: Your vote, but you won`t be in the Senate anymore.

SANDERS: Chris, I didn`t say I couldn`t give you one vote. Look, what
you`re not catching on – I have to say this respectfully, all right?

You`re a nice guy. You`re missing the point. All right? You`re missing
the point.

If you look at politics today as a zero sum total –


SANDERS: – if you`re looking at 63 percent of the American people not
voting, 80 percent of young people not voting, billionaires buying
elections, you`re right. I`m not looking at that world.

MATTHEWS: How is that going to change the day you`re in office? You won`t
have a Supreme Court on your side, will you? How are you going to get –

SANDERS: What I will have is millions of people demanding –

MATTHEWS: You need 60 votes to get a Supreme Court nominee.

SANDERS: OK, we`re going around in circles here.

MATTHEWS: No, we`re starting at the point of can you do what you say
you`re going to do?

SANDERS: Yes, damn right, I can do what I say.

MATTHEWS: How do you do it?


MATTHEWS: Have you ever done anything like this? Have you ever gotten 60
votes for anything in Senate?

SANDERS: Yes, actually, we have.

MATTHEWS: Which was it?

SANDERS: My veterans bill.


SANDERS: The comprehensive veterans bill, the strongest veterans bill
passed in many, many years. But that`s as a senator. Now I`m hopefully
president of the United States and we have the bully pulpit.

So, the difference you and I have –

MATTHEWS: So does Obama.

SANDERS: The difference that you and I have is you`re looking at politics
in the way it is today. What I`m trying to do is not just pass
legislation. I`m trying to change the face of American politics.


MADDOW: Is absolutely the crux of the matter. That was such a good

Bernie Sanders saying you and I look at the world differently. You look at
it inside the beltway. I`m not an inside the beltway guy. I`m an outside
the beltway guy.

He said, you look at politics today as a zero sum total. Chris coming back
and saying, listen, how is that going to change the day you`re in officer?
I`m starting at the point of can you do what you`re going to do?

Senator Sanders says, damn right I can do what I say. You`re looking at
politics in the way it is today. What I`m trying to do is not just pass
legislation, I`m trying to face of American politics.

I`m trying to change the face of American politics. That – that is the
essence of what Bernie Sanders is trying to do in his campaign, absolutely
in his own words. And he didn`t volunteer it. It had to happen through
that contentious back and forth between the two of them with Chris pushing
him so hard on it. But he got it.

If you`re a supporter of Bernie Sanders, that is absolutely music to your
ears. If you`re skeptical he can change face of American politics, then
you may like him, but you may think he can`t get it done.

And that`s the fight that`s happening in this fascinating Democratic
primary, which is nothing like the Republican primary because in the
Democratic primary, Democratic voters basically like both their choices.
They like both candidates. They say they have respect for both candidates.
They have a difference of opinion between them as to whether or not one of
them is practical or one of them is asking too much.

And that is why the Democratic primary is a constructive thing because
these two candidates are not destroying each other. They`re not tearing
each other down. They are presenting two different ways of approaching the
future, basically, reform versus revolution.

And that kind of a fight is constructive because it will make the
Democratic Party make better arguments and thereby win more arguments. And
that`s why this primary is so exciting. What a great event.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: So, there`s some tragic breaking news tonight out of Kansas.
There`s multiple deaths after a mass workplace shooting in Kansas. It
happened in Hesston, Kansas, in Hesston, Kansas. It`s about 40 minutes
north of Wichita.

The first reports of gunfire in this incident came around 5:00 local time.
The first reports were that a man was shooting at people from his vehicle
near a manufacturing plant called Excel Industries. After those first
reports came, further reports of gunfire inside that plant itself.

Turns out those were consecutive reports. There was apparently just one
shooter in this incident. Witnesses say the gunman worked at the plant.
He was carrying a rifle and handgun.

Moments ago, the county sheriff announced more bad news. Between four and
seven people have been killed in this incident, including the shooter who
was killed by law enforcements. Tonight, agents of the FBI and the ATF
have joined what is turning out to be a complicated crime scene with lots
of victims and several crime scenes in and around this manufacturing plant.

We`ll keep you posted on this mass shooting in Hesston, Kansas, tonight, as
we learn more.


MADDOW: If you`re a Democrat looking at the presidential race now, one of
the things that may be causing you heartburn is turnout. Turnout is down
in all three Democratic contests thus far compared to the last competitive
Democratic race in 2008.

That`s all happening at the same time that Republican turnout is up, big.
The Republicans have had four contests so far. They`ve had record voter
turnout in all four states.

Now, say what you will about Republican front-runner Donald Trump, he is
apparently driving Republican voters to the polls in droves. Compared to
this time four years ago, Donald Trump has won way more votes than Mitt
Romney had at this time in the race.

Of course, there are competing theories right now as to how worried
Democrats should be about this disparity between Democrats and Republicans
in terms of voter turn out so far. But it is inarguably a troubling
development for one candidate who really has made the issue of turnout
central to his running for president pitch. Senator Sanders says he can
win the nomination. He says he can win the general election in November.

He told Chris Matthews he could pass his policy agenda as president all
because of one thing. He said he can motivate huge numbers of otherwise
disaffected Americans. He can get people who aren`t in the process now to
join the political process, to participate, to get involved, to turn out
and vote.

This past hour, Senator Sanders faced the question of why those big numbers
aren`t turning out so far in terms of voter turn out in the Democratic


SANDERS: Barack Obama, in 2008, ran in my view one of the great campaigns
in the history of the United States of America. You and nobody else has
ever heard me say that we`re going to run a better campaign than he did.
In terms of voter turnout, no, the voter turnout was not what Obama did in
2008. And, by the way, though, in that election, to talk about little
politics, you had John Edwards, you had other candidates in there bringing
in votes. The voter turn out actually in Iowa was strong. In New
Hampshire, very strong. In Nevada, not strong, which is why we lost.

So, our job is to make sure that these young people come out, working class
people come out to vote.


MADDOW: Yesterday, NBC`s Andrea Mitchell pressed Senator Sanders on the
same question. Senator Sanders said at that point that we should not say
Democratic turnout is down by comparing it to 2008. He said we should,
instead, compare it to this year`s turnout to what happened in the
elections in the year 2000 and the year 2004.

If you do that, then, yes, comparing this year`s Democratic turnout to 2000
and 2004, it does look better. That`s because 2000 and 2004 races saw the
lowest total primary turnout going back to 1980.

So, yes, this year is better than that. But also 2000 and 2004 were both
years when Democrats lost the White House to the Republicans. Democrats
won in 2008, which is why the Democratic Party would love to see turnout
numbers again like they were in 2008. Not like the years when the party

So, Republicans have set the turnout records in all four states thus far.
Democrats have only voted in three states, so far. Their turnout has
fallen short of 2008 levels in all three states. That said, Democrats are
going to hold their fourth contest in two days this Saturday in South
Carolina. Will Democrats break the curse in South Carolina? Will South
Carolina Democrats break what has been a bad streak for the Democratic
Party in turn out so far?

I know just the person to ask and he joins us live, next.



anything you can do between now and Saturday. I will always remember South
Carolina and I`ll be back to see if we can turn South Carolina a little
more blue come November.


MADDOW: Hillary Clinton this afternoon in Florence, South Carolina urging
her supporters to get out to the polls in South Carolina this Saturday.

Joining us now is Jaime Harrison. He`s chairman of the South Carolina
Democratic Party.

Mr. Chairman, it`s great to see you again. Thank you so much for being

Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: So, we have been talking about this, you and I, on and off, for a
little while now, the idea of turn out. The Republicans at the Republican
South Carolina primary – they had record turnout, as they had record
turnout in every state they`ve been through.

Are the Democrats going to do anything like that in South Carolina on

HARRISON: Well, early indications, Rachel, are that we`re going to do
well. I don`t know if we will reach the 2008 level. And that`s because
2008 was a special year, particularly here in South Carolina, where you had
Barack Obama on the path to be the first African-American president. You
had Hillary Clinton on the path of being the first woman. You had John
Edwards who`s a native son of South Carolina, had won the primary in 2004,
and was coming back for a second try.

And so, it was just a different dynamic. I wish I would bottle that and
keep it for every four and eight years, but we can`t.

But nonetheless, early indications are that we`re going to do well. So
far, there are about 40,000 absentee ballots that have been cast that are
at the register`s office. Comparing that to 2008, there were a total
35,000. So, that`s something that is positive for us.

We`ve been doing everything we can in this election as a party from
newspaper ads to web ads. Everything that we can to make sure we drive up
turnout and educate voters on Saturday is the say they can go and vote.

MADDOW: I know that you as the party chairman have to maintain a certain
impartiality in terms of the choice between the two candidates, but do you
have any generic advice for both campaigns in terms of what they ought to
do between now and Saturday to get the most turn out they can get to reach
the most voters, the turn people out.

We`ve seen reporting that some of the innovative techniques for reaching
black voters in South Carolina in 2008 have not been duplicated. There
haven`t been big campaigns targeting, for example, barber shops and hair
salons and things like that.

Do you have any advice to the campaigns these last couple of days?

HARRISON: Yes, you know, I think radio is an important. I know it sound
like so 1980s, but still here in South Carolina, running radio ads is very
important. That morning drive in, the afternoon drive back home, is so
important in the African-American community.

Also, you know, I think there`s so much now on social media that you can
do. There`s a lot of targeting that`s taking place. These campaigns have
been knocking on doors and making phone calls for months now. And so, they
both have done a good job of doing that. All I say is continue to push.
Continue to reach out to leaders in these churches to make sure they drive
their vote out as well. And that`s all they can do at this point.

MADDOW: Mr. Chairman, you`re going to have a big organizational challenge
on your hands over the next couple of days. I hope you get some sleep
through the rest of it. I hope you take care of yourself and I hope you`ll
check in with us on Saturday night. Good luck, sir.

HARRISON: I will, Rachel. Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. Thanks a lot, Jaime. Jaime Harrison is the chairman
of the South Carolina Democratic Party.

And I will say, even though right now he`s busy running that party. I
think he`s a rising star in the Democratic Party nationwide, just an
incredibly, incredibly smart guy who is being so responsible and just
handling the reins well in state that`s gotten a lot of spotlight on it.
Jaime Harrison, remember that name.

Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders` path to nomination has taken him all over
the country this week with the idea that his campaign is focused more on
gathering delegates from everywhere they might get them rather than trying
to win just the next state.

We do some have exclusive information coming up next. Brand new data
exclusive to us that gives some real insight into whether that strategy is
working. That`s exclusive. It`s here next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Back in January, I marveled on the air about why Republican
candidate for president, Donald Trump, kept going to Massachusetts to do
big campaign events.


MADDOW: This is a question I legitimately have no answer for. I cannot
explain this. Perhaps you can.

We are 28 days away from the Iowa caucuses. We`re 36 days away from the
New Hampshire primary. Can you spot what is weird about this video of
folks waiting outside in the cold tonight for a Donald Trump rally?

What`s weird about them is that they are in neither of those two states I
just mentioned. These folks waiting in the cold tonight, this huge long
line outside the Donald Trump are in deep blue, Taxachussetts. This is the
line to get into a Donald Trump rally tonight in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Lowell, Massachusetts, yes. And this is the third campaign event that
Donald Trump has mounted in the state of Massachusetts recently.


MADDOW: That Donald Trump event at the UMass-Lowell, that was ginormous,
8,000 seats in that room filled to capacity. More people lined up outside.
It was like Donald Trump was Bernie Sanders or something looking at that

And Donald Trump kept turning out these big rallies, these big events in
the great state of Massachusetts. And yes, it did baffle me at the time
when Donald Trump was doing that in Massachusetts, ahead of Iowa, ahead of
New Hampshire, ahead of all the other early states.

But now, now, those huge rallies in Massachusetts may be paying off for
Donald Trump. And we have the big exclusive news about that tonight. News
you`ll not hear anywhere else.

We exclusive have the new polling numbers out of Massachusetts from WBUR,
and they are fascinating.

In the new WBUR data on the Republican side, Donald Trump is leading in
Massachusetts by 21 points. Wow. He`s at 40 percent in the state. Tied
for second place in Massachusetts are Marco Rubio you thought I was going
to say Ted Cruz. I`m not. Marco Rubio tied with John Kasich for second
place in Massachusetts.

What`s interesting about that is that, you know, Marco Rubio is racking up
Republican endorsements all across the country. The party seems to be
settling on him as the best chance to be an anti-Trump candidate – at
least the press is settling on that. I think some of that has sloshed over
into an argument that John Kasich ought to quit the race an get out of the
way. Clear the way for Marco Rubio.

But here`s the thing: Marco Rubio and John Kasich are polling in equal
percentage of the vote in this brand new poll that`s just out tonight from
WBUR. Does Marco Rubio really have that much better of a shot at beating
Donald Trump than John Kasich does?

I mean, if you look at in the road a little bit, look at March 15th. John
Kasich appears to have a shot at beating Donald Trump in his home state of
Ohio. While in Marco Rubio`s home state of Florida, new polling came out
today that should have rattled Marco Rubio boosters all the way down to
their little high heeled boots. I mean, despite Marco Rubio`s supposed
resent surge, Donald Trump still, consistently, in every single Florida
poll beats Marco Rubio, in Marco Rubio`s home state of Florida.

So, these new results from WBUR in Massachusetts showing John Kasich and
Marco Rubio in a tie, albeit one that`s 21 points behind Donald Trump,
that`s going to rattle the Republican race, or at least it ought to. Why
should John Kasich quit given these numbers and not Marco Rubio?

The state of the race on the Democratic side, of course, is very different
than what`s going on with the Republican field. Hillary Clinton won Iowa
by a fraction of 1 percent. Bernie Sanders had a blowout victory in New
Hampshire. Hillary Clinton had a fairly solid win in Nevada and next, the
Democrats will head to South Carolina.

In the recent polling looks absolutely solid for Hillary Clinton and fairly
devastating for Bernie Sanders. Every poll in South Carolina at this point
pretty consistently puts Hillary Clinton`s lead above 20 points. One poll
out from Clemson University in South Carolina, it might be an outlier, but
the Clemson University poll today in South Carolina puts Hillary Clinton`s
lead in that state at 50 points.

So, knowing that, the Bernie Sanders campaign has been plotting a course
that`s intended to keep his campaign alive well into March and hopefully
beyond because of a specific set of states they think they can win right
after South Carolina starting on Tuesday.


SANDERS: We think we have a shot to win. We think we have a shot to win
in Massachusetts, Colorado and Minnesota and in other states.

We think that right here in the great state of Massachusetts, we`ve got a
real chance to win on Super Tuesday. We`re going to win some other states
as well.

Massachusetts, in fact, has one of the largest states on Super Tuesday. It
has a whole lot of delegates and we hope to win here. And we hope to win
in a number of other states.


MADDOW: Massachusetts is the state with the, I think, the second most
delegates at stake after Texas in the all important contests of Super
Tuesday. Massachusetts is absolutely key to how the Sanders campaign says
how they plan to stay in the race and stay competitive after what`s
expected to be a bad night for them this South Carolina.

I mean, obviously, Senator Sanders expects to win in his home state of
Vermont there. He`s leading by more than 70 points in the last polling out
of Vermont. His campaign also expects to do well in the two caucus states
on Super Tuesday, which are Minnesota and Colorado. The Sanders campaign
looks strong in both states.

But the other big prize that they keep saying that they plan on collecting
on Super Tuesday is Massachusetts. And that is what makes this brand new
poll hot of the presses from Massachusetts by WBUR, which we got
exclusively here tonight.

That`s what makes this poll hugely important, because, look, look.
According to WBUR, Bernie Sanders is no longer leading in Massachusetts.
Hillary Clinton in the WBUR poll is at 49 percent. Bernie Sanders is at

There`s not been a ton of polling in Massachusetts thus far, but these new
numbers out of WBUR tonight. These are the first Massachusetts polls to
show Hillary Clinton leading in that state.

If this poll is born out on Tuesday, and Secretary Clinton wins in
Massachusetts, honestly, that would put the Democratic presidential contest
in a qualitatively different place than if this stage goes the other way.

Bernie Sanders is counting on Massachusetts. Massachusetts has so many
delegates, and demographically, it is so designed for a Bernie Sanders win.
You know, neighbor`s his home state, just as New Hampshire does where he
did so well. If he doesn`t win Massachusetts, Senator Sanders path gets
way, way narrower than anybody had previously imagined.

Joining us now is Anthony Brooks, senior political reporter with WBUR in

Mr. Brooks, thanks very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate
having you here.

Thank you for having me.

MADDOW: So, there hasn`t been a ton of polling in the Democratic race in
Massachusetts or the Republican race in Massachusetts thus far. Should we
take it to mean that Massachusetts is hard to poll or it`s one of the
places that`s hard to predict or is it just a matter that not very many
people have taken a look yet?

BROOKS: Yes, I think it`s the latter. There`s so much attention leading
up to the New Hampshire primary and it`s just poll after poll after poll
looking at New Hampshire, and now the attention is focusing on the states
that follow New Hampshire. So, as you suggested, this is really one of the
first polls of Massachusetts.

I think the last poll we had was back in November that showed Bernie
Sanders about 25 points behind Hillary Clinton. You can look at this poll
and say it doesn`t look so good for Bernie Sanders. The Sanders people
will spin it and say, well, yes, we`d like it to be better. But we have
come a long way since November.

MADDOW: OK. One of the things that stuck out to me, which looked like
good news for Senator Sanders in this poll, was his favorability ratings.

BROOKS: I know, aren`t they something?

MADDOW: It was really amazing. I mean, you look at somebody like
Elizabeth Warren, you`re polling Democratic voters in Massachusetts. She`s
got this incredible favorable number in this poll. Bernie Sanders has a
higher favorable number than Elizabeth Warren. And they both have such a
high favorable number, it`s approaching that of the pope in the state.

BROOKS: I know. He`s competing with President Obama and the pope. Those
are something.

Hillary Clinton has very high favorability ratings in this poll. This is
something that struck me as well. I think you`re referring to this a
little while ago in your show. That these two candidates are very, very
popular among likely Democratic primary voters. Those favorability ratings
are particular high for Bernie Sanders, but whether he can transfer those
into a win on Tuesday that remains to be seen.

Right now, I think you have to give the advantage to Hillary Clinton. As
you suggested, I think that`s a big challenge. That`s trouble for Bernie
Sanders, because Massachusetts is a state he should do well in.

It`s a very white state. It`s a very liberal state. It`s just over the
border from New Hampshire where he romped a couple of weeks ago. So, if he
can`t do well in Massachusetts, I think it makes this slog for delegates
that he`s engaged in a lot more difficult.

MADDOW: Anthony Brooks, senior political reporter with WBUR in Boston,
Massachusetts, really appreciate you being here. Thanks very much.

BROOKS: My pleasure, Rachel.

MADDOW: Those numbers, the favorable numbers, watch for this. You can
look at polls from here on out. Watch for the favorable numbers for
Sanders and Clinton at the Democratic race that`s coming up.

My prediction is we`re going to continue to see very high favorable numbers
for both of those candidates from Democratic voters in these forthcoming
states. And what means is no matter – I mean, the good news about that is
no matter who gets the m nomination, it won`t be hard for the candidate to
reach across to their opponents supporters and bring them on board for the
general election. I mean, we`ll see. These things have a way of changing.
But right now, Democratic voters like both their candidates and that is a
really good thing for the Democratic Party.

We`ll be back.


MADDOW: So, I want to update you on that mass shooting we`re getting word
of tonight in Kansas, between four and seven people were killed in the town
of Hesston, Kansas. I know it`s odd to be saying that range of people, but
that is definite a word that we have from authorities right now, between
four and seven people killed.

The number of injured is very high. Another 20 to 30 people were injured
in this mass shooting. That is a lot of people killed and injured.

It was a single gunman. It happened at a manufacturing plant called Excel
Industries. They apparently make things like lawn mower parts.

The gunman in the incident was killed. He reportedly worked at the plant.
He was killed by law enforcement in their response to this mass shooting.

It appears he began shooting at people from his vehicle along the streets
of Hesston, Kansas. And when he got to the workplace, he continued firing
in the parking lot and then inside the plant.

So, police say they have at least three crime scenes to go over, possibly
four or five crime scenes. In addition to the local police and the sheriff
tonight, the state police, the FBI and the ATF have all joined this

But again, very bad news. The death toll somewhere between four and seven,
20 to 30 people hurt tonight in this small town in Kansas. We`ll keep you
posted as we learn more.


MADDOW: Sometimes in politics you get blindsided. You never see it
coming, right? And then all of a sudden, everybody is talked about can you
run for president if you were born in Canada, or replacing Justice Scalia
or whether a belt buckle can stop a stabbing.

Sometimes, political issues just sneak up on you and you never had any idea
you`d be talking about this. Sometimes though you can see it coming and
here is one that you can see coming if you know where to look.

Just ahead on the political calendar, candidates are going to be competing
in a state where the official flag looks like this. That on the left there
is the state flag of Mississippi. And what the Mississippi flag is, if you
want to take technical about it, is the national flag of Serbia and
Montenegro, right? They`re three-part flag, blue on the top and white and

But then to make the Serbia and Montenegro flag into the Mississippi flag,
you just add a little inset in the upper left hand corner for Mississippi.
You just add the stars and bars, the confederate battle flag, the symbol of
the south wagging war against the United States in the mid 1800s over
slavery. That`s Mississippi.

Now, the South Carolina state flag looks nothing like that. The South
Carolina flag has a palmetto tree and a crescent moon. It`s like a cross
between the Pakistani flag with its little moon, and the flag of Lebanon
with its nice cedar tree. But it`s the pretty blue. It`s very attractive

Despite that being South Carolina`s nice state flag, nevertheless, South
Carolina has been a huge source of political controversy over the
Confederate flag. I mean, despite having a good flag of their own, South
Carolina decided in the early 1960s that they start flying the Confederate
flag over the state capital, basically as a middle finger to the civil
rights movement and the activist effort to desegregate the South in the

Again, the confederate battle flag didn`t go up over the state capital in
South Carolina in the 1860s, because of the civil war. It went up in the
1960s as resistance to civil rights. And then after the 1960s, it stayed
up for decades. When South Carolina became the first in the South
presidential primary starting in the 1980s, the fact that the state was
still flying the confederate battle flag at the state capital, it very
quickly became a big provocative racial issue in presidential politics,
particularly on the Republican side.

Famously in the primary fight in the year 2000, between John McCain and
George W. Bush, John McCain first called the confederate flag offensive.
He said it was a symbol of racism and slavery. Then he almost immediately
backtracked and called it a symbol of heritage and said that his
forefathers had fought under the confederate flag.

Then after he lost the South Carolina primary and he lost the presidential
nomination to George W. Bush that year, he later revisited that decision
and said that it had been basically a craven walk back and he wished he
hadn`t climbed on down on what he initially said.

The Confederate flag flying over South Carolina state capital supported by
lots of conservative white South Carolina Republican voters, that has been
a racial drama for Republican presidential contenders for decades now.

This year, 2016, the Republican presidential field was basically spared
that drama for the primary this year, because South Carolina Governor Nikki
Haley finally acceded to take the Confederate flag down this past year,
after a white supremacist who fetishized the flag and used it as part of
his racist propaganda, walked into an African-American church and killed
nine black men and women in South Carolina during a prayer meeting in
Charleston. And the state after that brought the flag down, at last, over
the state capital.

And so, now, the Republican primary this year came and went from South
Carolina without that Confederate flag becoming too big of an issue in the
Republican presidential campaign.

So, that`s South Carolina. That`s how we usually expect for that issue to
come up in the presidential years.

But now there`s Mississippi. Oh, Mississippi, where the state flag still
looks like this. After that horrific Charleston shooting at the Mother
Emmanuel Church in South Carolina, the Democratic governor of Virginia and
the Republican governors of North Carolina and Maryland, they all made
moves to stop issuing license plates with the Confederate flag on them and
the deeply conservative Republican governor of Alabama made a one-man
decision to take down the Confederate flag from the Alabama state capital
grounds, and Walmart stopped selling merchandise and Amazon and Etsy and
Sears and Kmart and Target and NASCAR, and yet there`s Mississippi where
the Confederate flag is still sewn in to the state flag.

Would Mississippi change that? Would they drop it?

No, they`re not going to. They just decided. Mississippi lawmakers talked
about trying to change their flag, just as everybody else did, after the
Charleston massacre and all the rest.

But this week, Mississippi gave up on that. They said they couldn`t agree
on how to change their state flag, so Mississippi is keeping it for the
foreseeable future. So, now, this is a little bit of a test because now
here come the presidential candidates. Super Tuesday is this upcoming
Tuesday, it`s March 1st. The Mississippi primary happens on March 8th.
What do you think the Republican candidates are going to say about
Mississippi still having the stars and bars, the Confederate battle flag as
part of its state flag?

That does it for us tonight. We`re going to see you again tomorrow.

Now, I have good news for you, if you missed any of the HARDBALL college
tour with Bernie Sanders, Chris Matthews and Bernie Sanders at the
University of Chicago tonight, you`re in luck. You can see it again right
now, followed by a special live edition of HARDBALL.

Stay with us tonight.



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