The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 2/29/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: February 29, 2016
Guest: Tulsi Gabbard
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: As I was eating another fast food salad at my
desk today, Chris, I was thinking you`re probably having a much better work
food source in your life right now.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: I had a brisket sandwich for lunch. I`m
considering another one for dinner. But I don`t think that`s a good idea.
I`m going to sit on that after the show.
MADDOW: If you bring me home some brisket, I`ll make it worth your while.
HAYES: All right. I`ll do it.
MADDOW: Thanks, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Super Tuesday
In the 2012 Republican presidential race, so in the last race, the
presidential debates that year started so early. The Republican started
debating in 2012, a year and a half before the election. They started in
the spring of 2011.
Ultimately, there were 20 different Republican debates in the 2012 race.
And you will remember those debates, they were amazing, right? Michelle
Bachmann and Herman Cain with the 999 thing, and Newt Gingrich denouncing
the moderators. It was nutty.
But what might have been the nuttiest presidential debate of all that year
got scheduled for late December 2011 and then ultimately never happened.
It got cancelled. A very conservative Website called Newsmax had planned
to do a Republican debate that year between Christmas and New Year`s. They
had a venue all picked out in Des Moines, Iowa. It was right ahead of the
They had a TV network that was set to broadcast the debate. They invited
the Republican candidates to be there. Everything was going swimmingly,
until the candidates started saying no. The candidates started RSVP`ing no
that they wouldn`t attend.
And the reason they wouldn`t go, the reason they were offended by the whole
prospect of this Newsmax debate is they were offended by the person who
Newsmax chose to moderate that debate. The first campaigns to object were
the campaigns of Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman. They both said they would not
do that debate as long as that one person was moderating.
Ultimately, Mitt Romney said the same thing, said he wouldn`t be there
either. Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann, they opted out as well.
Finally, Newsmax had to cancel the whole thing because their moderator
choice was so controversial, was so obnoxious to basically all of the
Republican candidates that year that it became impossible for them to host
the debate. None of the candidates would agree to it.
And that`s because the person Newsmax chose to host that debate in Iowa
right before the Iowa caucuses was Donald Trump.
This was in the 2012 campaign. It was right ahead of the Iowa caucuses.
They picked Trump to be a moderator.
Ron Paul`s campaign at the time said, quote, “Mr. Trump`s participation
would contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere.”
That caused Mr. Trump to respond at the time, “Few people take Ron Paul
seriously and many of his views and his presentation make up a clown-like
So, Mr. Trump ended up withdrawing as the moderator for that Newsmax event.
The debate ended up getting cancelled. And the Republican primary in 2012
lumbered on for a really long time. A lot of people considering it to be
quite clown-like or quite circus-like anyway, even without Donald Trump
moderating one of their debates.
Ultimately, in 2012, Mitt Romney emerged as the party`s nominee at the end
of that long, very funny primary process. But when Mitt Romney got
trounced in the general election by President Obama, the Republican Party
decided that maybe their own primary process was part of what set Mitt
Romney up to lose in November. So, they made some changes to their primary
The first thing they changed was the Republican Party debate schedule for
2016. They decided next time around, there`s not going to be another
primary with 20 freaking debates. They decided they would only allow
candidates to participate in events that were sanctioned by the party.
The other thing they changed was the nominating process itself. The party
believed that Mitt Romney was basically the inevitable nominee from the
start in 2012. But he had to slog on for too many months with these other
basically hopeless candidates dragging him down and throwing punches at him
even though they had no real chance to win themselves.
Because that`s the way Republicans viewed what happened in 2012, they
decided what they would do for 2016 was shorten the primary campaign. They
shortened it on both ends. At the end of the process they moved Republican
convention up. So, instead of happening like Labor Day, now, it happens
way earlier in summer. The choice of the nominee technically will happen
earlier in the process.
They also changed the front end of the process. They changed the
allocation of the delegates in the early state so that basically the early
front-runner in the Republican race can lock up the Republican nomination
without giving any of those second tier straggling candidates a chance to
ever catch up.
I`m sure the Republican Party feels like that would be an excellent change
to apply retro actively to the 2012 process that chose Romney. I mean,
looking back at the Romney candidacy, they`re probably right. The process
that they put in place after Romney lost is a process that would have
helped Mitt Romney in 2012.
But you can`t go back to 2012. You can`t go back this time. You can`t
fight the last war. You can only fight the next wear.
And this process they created to help the early front runner lock down the
nomination and not give anybody else a chance, that is now what they are
stuck with. In a year when the front-runner is not somebody like Mitt
Romney – it`s freaking Donald Trump. The guy who was too ridiculous and
circus-like to be even be allowed to moderate a conservative website debate
the last time around but now is running the table and locking up the
nomination for himself.
With Mr. Trump having won three of the first four states, with him leading
in ten of the 11 states that are going to vote on the Republican side
tomorrow, that Republican Party decision to change the process so that the
nominee gets picked early. So, the front-runner gets to lock in an early
lead and convert that into the nomination, that`s the whirlwind that
Republicans are reaping right now as they freak out about the prospect of
Donald Trump becoming their nominee.
Here`s the other thing that`s going on that explains a little more about
now just who is winning the Republican nomination, Donald Trump, but the
tenor of the race as he steams toward getting that big prize, because at
the same time the Republican Party made this change to get the nominating
process over and done with more quickly, as they made this change to
increase this influence of early states, they also simultaneously made a
separate decision that the early states from here on out should be way more
Southern than they used to be.
Just look at Super Tuesday. These were the states last time around when
Mitt Romney was having his hard time wrapping up the Republican nomination.
This is who was voting on Super Tuesday in 2012. This is not the same
group of states that`s going to be voting on Super Tuesday this year.
The party this year decided on a substantially different mix of states.
They dropped Idaho and North Dakota and Ohio, and instead they added in
states like Alabama, and Arkansas and Texas. When you add Alabama, and
Arkansas and Texas to the other sprinkling of Southern states that already
were on Super Tuesday, and you combine that newly, deeply southern Super
Tuesday with the delegate allocation process that makes it basically
impossible to stop a Republican front-runner any time after Super Tuesday -
- then, yes, what you end up with a presidential nomination in the
Republican Party that gets decided according to who can appeal to the hard
right, all white deep conservatives on the Republican Party.
In the Republican Party`s new primary process which they built because they
thought it took Mitt Romney to look up the nomination in 2012, in the new
process, where it`s almost impossible to catch the front-runner after Super
Tuesday, these are this year`s Super Tuesday states for the Republican
And no, it`s not all in the South, but it is primarily in the South –
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia. And we
don`t have exit poll data for recent Republican primaries in a few of those
states, but where we do have that exit poll data about who turns out for
Republican primary, look at the racial break down of the vote in those
states on the Republican side.
Look – Alabama`s Republican primary, 94 percent white. Georgia`s 94
percent white. Oklahoma, 96 percent white. Tennessee, 97 percent white.
Look at Virginia, Virginia is state that`s only 71 percent white in terms
of its population. But at the Republican primary, it`s 94 percent white.
And so, you know, what you start ends up finishing, right? Process
matters. Choosing to have your nominee selected by all white, deeply
conservative, hard core Republican voters across the American South, that
has consequences for who gets picked. That has consequences for what a
winning campaign sounds like this year in the pursuit for the Republican
This was Donald Trump in Madison, Alabama, this weekend, in front of a
crowd that local law enforcement described as 15,000 people. The Trump
campaign described it as more than 30,000 people, naturally.
At this huge Alabama event, no matter who`s counting, Donald Trump was
endorsed by the first U.S. senator who has signed onto his campaign,
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Jeff Sessions is known as the most virulent
immigration opponent in the U.S. Senate. That`s in part why this
endorsement was seen as competitively important in the Republican race
because Ted Cruz has been dropping Jeff Sessions name throughout his
campaign in order to make himself seem as hard line anti-immigrant as
And Ted Cruz campaign is already in trouble, right? They already have to
be worried they may not be able to compete anywhere outside of Ted Cruz`s
home state of Texas tomorrow on Super Tuesday. With that in their plate
already, Jeff Sessions endorsing Donald Trump in Alabama, that is a
particularly blow for Senator Ted Cruz.
So, in competitive, immediate competitive terms, that`s what the Jeff
Sessions endorsement of Donald Trump in Alabama means. The Jeff Sessions
endorsement of Donald Trump in Alabama, though, is also a good reminder of
who Jeff Sessions is.
Before Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was ever elected to the United
States Senate, he was rejected by the United States Senate as a nominee for
federal judgeship in the 1980s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLI)
TV ANCHOR: A federal judgeship is a lifetime appointment and President
Reagan has been nominating young men for these jobs, 32 to 38 years old,
people who could keep the Reagan influence around for a long time.
However, one of Mr. Reagan`s nominees is in trouble in Washington, in
troubling for saying that NAACP is a pinko organization and that a white
civil rights attorney from his home state of Alabama is a disgrace to his
NBC News national political correspondent Ken Bode is in our Washington
studio this morning with more on that nomination.
KEN BODE, NBC NEWS: Morning, Jane. The man who said those things and
would be a federal judge is Jeff Sessions.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Mr. Session is a throw back to a
shameful era which I know both black and white Americans thought was in our
past. It`s inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude is qualified
to be a U.S. attorney let alone a United States and federal judge.
BODE: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, he was brought face-to-face with
things he personally had said. For example, that the NAACP and the Civil
Liberties Union are un-American organizations.
JEFFERSON SESSIONS, THEN-FEDERAL JUDGESHIPS NOMINEE: These comments that
you could say about a commie organization, I may have said something like
that in a general way and probably was wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOWE: Commie organizations.
Jeff Sessions first rose to national prominence as a man with a record that
was too racist for him to be confirmed as a federal judge in the Reagan
era. At his confirmation hearing, a black assistant U.S. attorney in
Alabama testified that Jeff Sessions had called him boy and warned him
about the way he spoke to white people.
That did not ultimately stop Alabama Republicans from electing him to the
United States Senate. Now, he`s the first endorsement from the United
States for Donald Trump for president.
Donald Trump also picked up an endorsement today from the man who authored
the “papers please” anti-immigrant law in Arizona a few years ago. His
name is Kris Kobach. He`s the secretary of state in Kansas. He and the
man with whom he co-wrote that papers please law explained to “The
Washington Post” why they wrote that bill in Arizona and why they hoped
other states would adopt the Arizona language as a model.
They described their motivation as such, quote, “Immigration is on track to
change the demographic make up of the entire country, you know, what they
call minority-majority. How many countries have gone through a transition
like that peacefully, carefully. It`s theoretically possible but we don`t
have any examples.”
And so, therefore, we need anti-immigrant legislation so America doesn`t go
through this dangerous process of becoming a minority-majority, and that`s
the stated justification for the papers please law, for this anti-
immigration law, right? We need good anti-immigrant legislation to make
sure America stays white enough. We need to keep the number of non-white
people in America as low as possible, so we don`t become minority-majority.
Donald Trump just got the Kris Kobach endorsement, too.
He also recently picked up a gubernatorial endorsement from this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R), MAINE: Now, the traffickers, these aren`t people
that take drugs. These are guys that are named D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty,
these types of guys that come from Connecticut and New York. They come up
here, they sell their heroin and then they go back home. Incidentally,
half the time, they impregnate a young white girl before they leave.
I was going impromptu and my brain didn`t catch up to my mouth. Instead of
saying Maine women, I said white women. I`m not going to apologize to the
Maine women for that. If you go to Maine, you`ll see that we`re
essentially 95 percent white.
If you want to make it racist, go right ahead. Do whatever you want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s Maine Governor Paul LePage in the brief interregnum when he
was still insisting that he didn`t mean to say anything about race at all.
That was before a few days later, he finally just said this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LEPAGE: I had to go screaming at the top of my lungs about black dealers
coming in and doing the things that they`re doing to our state.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, Donald Trump just got Paul LePage`s endorsement as well.
I mean, this is race where in Iowa and New Hampshire there were white
supremacist robocalls literally from groups that identify themselves
overtly as white nationalist group, sending out robocalls to Iowa and New
Hampshire Republican voters, telling them to vote for Donald Trump
basically as a matter of white prides.
That was already happening in Iowa and New Hampshire before the Republican
presidential contest took their turn to the Deep South. But now, the
Republican presidential contests have taken their turn to the Deep South.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here`s what`s going to happen
100 percent. They`re going to call me back, and they`re going to say Mr.
Just get them out. Get them out.
Are you from Mexico? Are you from Mexico, huh? Are you from Mexico?
The hostility toward me by the judge, tremendous hostility beyond belief.
I believe he happens to be Spanish, which is fine. He`s Hispanic, which is
fine. And we haven`t asked for recusal, which we may do. But we have a
judge that`s very hostile.
We have a very hostile judge. Now, he is Hispanic, I believe. He is a
very hostile judge to me. I`ve said it loud and clear.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: I want to ask you about the Anti-Defamation League that
called you to condemn unequivocally the racism of former KKK grand wizard
David Duke who recently said that voting against you at this point would be
treason to your heritage.
Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don`t want his
vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?
TRUMP: Just so you understand, I don`t know anything about David Duke, OK?
I don`t know about what you`re even talking about with white supremacy or
white supremacists. So, I don`t know.
I mean, I don`t know – did he endorse me or what`s going on? Because, you
know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white
supremacists. So, you`re asking me a question that I`m supposed to be
talking about people that I know nothing about.
TAPPER: But I guess the question from the Anti-Defamation League is, even
if you don`t know about their endorsement, there are these groups and
individuals endorsing you. Would you say, unequivocally, you condemn them
and you don`t want their support?
TRUMP: Well, I have to look at the group. I mean, I don`t know what group
you`re talking about. You wouldn`t want me to condemn a group that I know
nothing about. I have to look.
If you would send me list of the groups, I will do research on them and
certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.
TAPPER: The Ku Klux Klan.
TRUMP: You may have groups that are fine and it`s totally unfair. So,
give me a list of the groups and I`ll let you know.
TAPPER: OK. I mean, I`m just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux
Klan here, but –
TRUMP: I don`t know anything. Honestly, I don`t know David Duke. I don`t
believe I`ve ever met him. I`m pretty sure I didn`t meet him, and I just
don`t know anything about him.
TAPPER: All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican front-runner Donald Trump on CNN yesterday, refusing to
condemn David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan, which is a little weird because
Mr. Trump had previously said he would disavow David Duke`s support, now he
claims that whole CNN exchange happened because his earpiece did not worked
properly and he couldn`t hear the question and he did not understand what
he commented on, even though he himself a number of times said the name
David Duke during that interview.
So, if you believe that it was all an earpiece problem, there`s some very
nice swamp front property you might want to invest in scouting locations
for your March 15th Florida primary hootenanny.
When George Wallace ran for president on an explicitly segregationist
political platform in 1968, one of the things we have been able to find in
the old news footage of his rallies that I always think is interesting is
people holding up signs with swastikas on them and things that say things
like “Sieg Heil” and Hitler II.
Those were not neo-Nazis at George Wallace rallies. Those were protesters
showing up trying to sound the alarm to the country about what kind of
racist demagogue George Wallace was and the racist demagoguery that he
represented with his campaign.
And that kind of denunciation of George Wallace, it worked in 1968. It
worked in most places, but it did not work everywhere. George Wallace on
his explicitly segregationist platform in 1968, he won five states in the
general election. And three of those five states, Georgia, Alabama and
Arkansas are going to be voting tomorrow and all of them are strongly
favored to go to Donald Trump tomorrow.
And because of the front loaded importance and influence of states like
that in the Republican process this year, the big wins he`s expected to get
in those George Wallace states tomorrow will go a long way toward
propelling him to the Republican presidential nomination and toward putting
that nomination out of reach of anyone else in the field. If you design a
system like this, it will produce an outcome like this.
MADDOW: Tomorrow is Super Tuesday. I`m supposed to sleep tonight to get
ready for it but I`m too excited.
There`s too much going on, including a lot to get to on tonight`s show,
just over the course of the next hour. One of the things we`re going to
get to tonight is some legitimately good news out of place that`s only been
giving us bad news for months. We have a happy story out of Flint,
Michigan, of all places.
And still ahead, we get some keen insight into why the South is expected to
go so big for Donald Trump tomorrow night.
We`ve got lots more ahead. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI VITALI, NBC NEWS: Are you planning on voting on Tuesday?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes.
VITALI: Is there anything that Donald Trump can say today that might make
you not to support him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no. I agree with everything he says.
VITALI: And I was asking that gentleman over there any reaction that you
had there were certain white supremacist groups, former grand master KKK,
David Duke, has come out and endorsed him. Does that bother you at all?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No comment. I don`t –
VITALI: Recently he`s come under some scrutiny because some white
supremacist groups, former grand master of the KKK have endorsed him. Does
that bother you at all?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody`s a person. I don`t choose (INAUDIBLE).
So, if they want to support him, that`s their choice. Like my choice.
VITALI: Does it bother you that he`s attracting those kind of people?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Why should it?
VITALI: Are you planning on voting on Tuesday?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am.
VITALI: And you`re going to vote for?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump.
VITALI: Are you planning on voting on Tuesday?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I am.
VITALI: And are you planning to vote for Mr. Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
VITALI: Anything he could say to change your mind?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all.
VITALI: And recently, within the news, there are some white supremacist
groups have come out to support him, David Duke, former grand master with
KKK. Does that bother you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re the same age. I grew up in the `60s.
VITALI: So, it doesn`t bother you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn`t. It doesn`t matter to met at all. I`m for
VITALI: OK. But none of these endorsements matter to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: NBC`s Ali Vitali interviewing folks in Valdosta, Georgia, ahead of
a big Donald Trump rally there tonight.
Joining us now is Elise Jordan. She`s an NBC News and MSNBC political
analyst, a former senior policy advisor to the Senator Rand Paul campaign
and a legitimate born and bred Mississippian.
Elise, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here.
ELISE JORDAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, I think that the Republican Party, by stacking the primary, so
that stuff got decided earlier and simultaneously putting a whole bunch of
Southern states at the start of the primary process might have created this
situation inadvertently, but they may have created this situation that
we`re having in the Trump campaign right now a little bit by their own
JORDAN: Well, it`s ironic this was done for Mitt Romney and to help Mitt
Romney on some level back in 2012 and, you know, there was, back then, I
remember in Mississippi hearing some people say like Mitt Romney is the
Mormon question was huge in that election. And now, you look at this year
how it`s just come back to really bite the party.
And then is the rule going to hold, say, this brokered convention scenario,
Rule number 40? In 2012, it meant a candidate had to have won eight states
to have any possibility to go through this brokered convention scenario.
Who knows if Rubio and Cruz will ever even come close to that? It`s
bizarre how this year has really broken literally ever rule in the book.
MADDOW: I mean, that issue about the convention, it doesn`t have to be a
brokered convention. It could be contested convention.
The way the NBC`s “First Read” does the delegate math right now, as they
say, basically, Donald Trump can lock up the nomination before the
convention. He`s won three of the first four states. He`s going to run
the table tomorrow with the exception of Texas. He`s – you know, by March
15th, he could be well on his way to having enough delegates to win the
There`s nobody else will have a chance to do that. Anybody else will have
to win by going into the convention with nobody having clenched the deal
and it gets decided at the convention.
What kind of incentives does that create for the rest of the primaries?
JORDAN: Well, I think also the Republican Party establishment has this
fine line to navigate of not alienating Trump supporters who are going to
be a huge part of the overall turnout. So, what does that do to the other
races? Is it better to just, oh, let Trump will get the nomination and
just not be perhaps as supportive and, you know, hope he doesn`t do as well
because of what it will mean for the party long term. I personally don`t
think it will destroy the party.
But these are very tenuous balance to strike. And then I don`t know if you
saw the story about the RGA call this morning but the Republican Governor
Association, they did a conference call this morning with all the governors
and Governor Martinez was on the call and she was encouraging non-
endorsement of Trump whereas Chris Christie outlined the reason he was
So, this is going at all levels of the party. There`s a furious debate
over Trump and what he means to longevity of the Republican message.
MADDOW: “The New York Times” also reported this weekend on a remarkable –
just a jaw dropping plan that`s apparently been hatched by Senator Mitch
McConnell. He`s got to worry about his majority in the Senate, right? And
there`s a bunch of vulnerable senators who are up for re-election.
And apparently, the plan, according to “The New York Times”, is that
vulnerable senators or maybe all Republican senators, with the exception of
Jeff Sessions, will not only divorce themselves from Donald Trump
stylistically in terms of endorsement and things like, but they might in
their own Senate re-election campaign run negative ads against Donald
Trump, try to defeat Donald Trump, consider it as a given that he will lose
and essentially try to talk voters into electing a Republican Senate as a
counter-balance to Hillary Clinton. That sounds too clever by half to me.
JORDAN: It seems too difficult considering so far today, Donald Trump was
supposed to be the one month summer fling and look at where he is now. I
just – I can`t believe we`re into February – at this time last year,
Senator Rand Paul who I worked for was leading the polls. His message was
one of bringing in people to the Republican Party, if not alienating them,
of bringing in people concerned about criminal justice reform, going and
speaking at University of California-Berkeley, and appealing to privacy
advocates. And it really – that was absolutely not the message that
resonated this primary season.
MADDOW: To say the least.
JORDAN: It`s very dark and depressing to me.
MADDOW: Well, maybe it`s always darkest before the dawn. Other problem
that means nothing to make you feel better.
Elise Jordan, thank you so much. It`s really good to have you here. Thank
JORDAN: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Elise is an NBC News and MSNBC political analyst.
All right. It turns out someone else in this race, besides Donald Trump,
is giving folks a run for their money in a very unexpected way. That story
is coming up tonight on “The Interview”.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what, I look
around this crowd tonight, I think we`re going to win here in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in Milton, Massachusetts,
tonight, holding his final campaign rally ahead of tomorrow`s Super Tuesday
You see the kind of turn out he got tonight. There are 11 Democratic races
tomorrow on Super Tuesday. Ad spending data shows the Hillary Clinton
campaign or super PAC supporting her, they are spending money to try to win
tomorrow in all 11 Super Tuesday states.
The Sanders campaign, in contrast, is only spending in five states.
They`re spending money in Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma and
they`re spending a little bit of money in Texas. That means the rest of
the field, they`re essentially conceding to Secretary Clinton, at least in
terms of the ad wars.
And it`s interesting, the Sanders campaign does not say they are trying to
win in Texas. The money they spent there, the rallies they held over the
weekend that got big turnouts, those efforts are aimed at not winning Texas
but at least trying to hold down Secretary Clinton`s margin in Texas and
claim some delegates out of that very, very delegate-rich state.
What the Sanders campaign says they are trying to win are these five states
on your screen right now. Minnesota, Colorado which are both caucus
states, Oklahoma, the senator`s home state of Vermont and the state of
Massachusetts, where we just saw him at that rally. Now, of these states,
Senator Sanders has a huge lead in his home state. It`s actually
surprising I think that Secretary Clinton is spending anything in Vermont,
but she has spent a little there.
He`s also expected to do well in Minnesota and Colorado. There`s not great
polling out of those states, but on the ground reporting suggests that he
is doing well in Minnesota and Colorado.
In terms of Oklahoma, the latest Monmouth University poll out today shows
Senator Sanders with a five-point lead in Oklahoma, 48-43 over Secretary
Clinton in that state.
And that leaves Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, it could be tougher for
Senator Sanders. A WBUR poll last week had Secretary Clinton up by five
points in Massachusetts. A Suffolk University just out this weekend shows
her leading in Massachusetts by a larger amount, shows her leading by eight
But those kind of poll numbers is why the Clinton campaign has added late
events in Massachusetts, including Secretary Clinton addressing some very
large overflow crowds today in Boston.
Massachusetts is suddenly an important battleground for the Democratic
nomination, if only because Senator Sanders had said he will win
Massachusetts. That means if he doesn`t win there, he will be
underperforming his own expectations. The Clinton campaign will take that
as a momentum boost and, frankly, a big psychological victory, not to
mention a whole big pile of Massachusetts delegates.
Now, after Super Tuesday, the Sanders campaign says they are focused on
Missouri, Illinois and Ohio. Those are all states that vote in two weeks
on March 15th. Senator Sanders in interviews is also saying and it rallies
now sometimes, is also saying that he`s looking further down the calendar
for some big wins as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Well, we are trying to win every delegate that we can and not
only are we fighting for Super Tuesday, we`re looking ahead to California,
the largest state of all, New York state. We think we`re going to do well
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Michigan, California, New York.
Michigan votes next week. But the New York primary is not until April
19th. The California primary is not until June 7th. That`s more than
three months away.
And in a usual campaign when a candidate just lost by almost 50 points in
South Carolina, it`s not even trying to win in more than half the Super
Tuesday states, it would be weird to be talking now about your hopes to win
a primary more than three months down the road from now.
That said this is not a usual campaign in either party, because even though
Senator Bernie Sanders` path to the Democratic presidential nomination
looks narrow, it even looks hard to follow at this point. Bernie Sanders
does inarguably have one huge thing on his side, which is that Senator
Bernie Sanders is drowning in sea of money.
He doesn`t take super PAC money, so this is just his campaign. The $21
million he took in January absolutely blew everyone else away from both
parties last month. Now, this month in February, he just doubled it.
This is nuts. Nobody else in the field could keep up with the $20 million
he raised last month. Now, this month he`s raised oaf $40 million. Of the
$41.6 million his campaign said today they raised in the months of
February, more than $5 million raised today alone.
That is a mind-bending amount of money to raise at this point in the race.
I know big numbers all sound alike. But honestly, Bernie Sanders raising
over $40 million in one month. That`s a qualitative difference with
everybody else. That is absolutely burying everybody else.
So, that turns out to be his wild card. He`s drowning in money. Can he
deploy that money to make his start winning in unexpected places? Or can
he deploy it that he starts winning in enough places to plausibly put him
in contention for the nomination?
We don`t know. We will know part of that tomorrow with the Super Tuesday
results. Again, a lot of eyes tomorrow on Massachusetts. What we`re going
to learn a little more about that prospect right here next with a very
special guest who is here live for the interview. And that`s next. Stay
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: As these elections continue across the
country, the American people are faced with a very clear choice. We can
elect a president who will lead us into more interventionist wars of regime
change or we can elect a president who will usher in a new era of piece and
It`s with this clear choice in mind that I`m resigning as chair of the DNC
so that I can strongly support Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee for
president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You get to be the vice chair of the National Democratic Party
because your party thinks you`re going places. But you once you get a gig
like that, it comes with a price. You have to remain impartial in
Democratic primaries, like say the big one going on right now between
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii this weekend resigned her vice chair
position at the DNC, excuse me, in order to endorse Bernie Sanders for
president in this Democratic primary.
Now, as a very high profile Democratic member of Congress, as a rising star
in the Democratic Party, as an Iraq war veteran, this endorsement by Tulsi
Gabbard is a very big deal for Senator Sanders. I think it`s also a big
deal for Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
Congresswoman Gabbard joins us tonight now for the interview.
Congresswoman, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate you
being here tonight.
GABBARD: Thank you for having me, Rachel. It`s always great to talk with
MADDOW: So, as vice chair of the DNC, you had to be impartial. You
couldn`t say what you felt in terms of your opinion between the two
candidates, when did you come to the decision that you wanted to endorse
Bernie Sanders more strongly than you wanted to stay at the DNC and keep to
GABBARD: Rachel, I got to tell you – it`s been increasingly frustrating
over the last several months as I`ve seen these presidential primaries
continue, frankly, on both the Democratic and the Republican side, and how
cheaply both they and most of the media have taken the issues of war and
peace, and not challenging these candidates to really explain their
positions in depth, to examine what kind of commander in chief they will be
for our country, which I think is the most important job that the president
So, as I was going through this frustration and trying in my own way to
insert these conversations to push the media to be more accountable for
these candidates, it came to a point where I had to see where can I be most
effective, because there`s so much at stake in this election.
That`s why I endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders because I know firsthand, you
know, during my first deployment to Iraq, I served in a medical unit where
every single day, I saw the high human cost of war. Coming home, serving
in Congress now, or dealing with budgets and we`re seeing every day the
economic impact of how all of these resources in – that we as a country
have spent in these wars of regime change have cost our country and our
economy and our ability to really invest in nation build here at home.
So, I`m endorsing Bernie Sanders because he has that sound judgment and
that foresight, and that commitment to stopping these interventionist wars
of regime change. And there`s a very clear difference between him and
Secretary Clinton in that regard.
MADDOW: Well, Secretary Clinton has, I guess, I would say she has tried to
persuade Democrats that she would not be more hawkish than President Obama.
I asked her that question directly. She said she would not be more hawkish
than President Obama, and that perception was inaccurate.
She`s tried to persuade Democrats she`s learned her lesson why the vote for
the Iraq war in 2002 was the wrong vote.
You`re not persuaded by that argument from her, clearly. But do you feel
like if she won the nomination, you`d ultimately be able to support her, or
is this endorsement from Bernie Sanders an absolute rejection of what she
has to offer on this issue that`s so important to you?
GABBARD: Rachel, I`m glad you brought this up, because there`s a few
really important points there. I think there`s a very clear difference
between what someone says and what they actually do.
And that`s where we look at this most important question of who our next
commander in chief could be and what qualities we look for them. We can
tell what they would do by look at our past.
I have not heard Secretary Clinton actually apologize to my brothers and
sisters in uniform, military families for her vote for the Iraq war. She
said it`s a mistake and she`s learned from it. When you go down the line
and say how do you explain her being the architect and champion behind the
war, the military action to overthrow Gadhafi in Libya? And when you look
at that result of that action and that mission that she set out upon
successfully, we`ve got a failed state full of chaos, thousands of lives
lost, and now, ISIS and al Qaeda having a stronghold in that country.
Take another step forward, if she says she`s learned from Iraq, then why is
she championing this war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad and
essentially promising to escalate the war if she`s elected as president by
implementing a so-called no-fly zone?
And you`ve questioned Secretary Clinton on this issue of the no fly zone
and taking this action would put us directly in conflict with Russia, and
what the implications of that will be. So, again, this is why the issue of
judgment is so critical and how Hillary and Bernie differ very greatly and
where there`s a clear choice for those who are going to be voting tomorrow
and then the coming states about what they`re looking for in that commander
MADDOW: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, if you did this endorsement, as you
say, in order to try to get people talking about national security issues
in the primary in the way they haven`t been already, you have succeeded in
doing that by especially doing in way that`s so focused – thanks for being
with us tonight.
GABBARD: Thank you. We`re just beginning, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: Appreciate you being here.
All right. We`ve got much more ahead on this very busy Super Tuesday eve.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: As promised, I have some good news from an unexpected place. They
threw a party in Flint, Michigan, last night, and Stevie Wonder showed up.
The Justice for Flint concert was big. It was effective. They raised
almost $150,000 for Flint so far. That was kind of awesome.
Then, today, another party of a different kind in Flint. Look at this.
Mayor Karen Weaver just this morning celebrating the successful trial run
for finally starting to remove Flint`s ruined and toxic lead pipes. Flint
has been investigating a faster, cheaper way to replace its pipes. It was
a way that was invented by another Michigan city, by Lansing.
In Flint today, they dug up their first pipe using the new technique, and
it was a success. It worked. Mayor Weaver in Flint tells us tonight that
her plan to start removing all the city`s lead service lines will be full
steam ahead starting Thursday, as in tomorrow`s Tuesday and before the end
of the week, Thursday. Party in Flint, Michigan.
Flint, you are about to get some new pipes, finally, after all this time.
Feels like a miracle.
State government ruined the city`s pipes starting in the spring of 2014,
and that`s how everybody got poisoned. They are finally about to start the
work of replacing them, thanks to a fiercely determined mayor who will not
take no for an answer. It is a small first step, but finally, it is a
first step to fixing Flint. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: It`s the last day of the month. Happy leap day.
One of the things that happens is one month turns into the next, is that we
get these little giblets of data in terms of fund-raising and ad spending
and stuff in politics. And today, there`s one that I think says more than
anything else about who the next president is going to be and how we`re
going to get there. And that is this number.
This number, the circled one there, that`s John Kasich`s ad spending in
Alaska. That turns out to be funny on its face and also very important for
figuring out what`s going to happen next in our country. I will tell you
why that number is the key that kind of unlocks the Republican race right
now. I`m serious. That story`s next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Governor, we`re not used to getting much attention from national
politicians, especially in election years. I`m sure you really do like us
here in Vermont. But what`s the strategy behind spending so much time in a
state with so few delegates?
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, because we think
it`s a state that can understand me. Vermont shouldn`t be ignored. I
mean, this is not a country where we just ignore a small state.
I mean, if it was on the other side of the globe, you know, up in Alaska or
somewhere, it would be hard to get to. But it`s all part of this effort.
And I think – I hope that Vermont efforts get me and that we can have a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Vermont, you are part of the plan this year for Ohio Governor John
Also, Alaska, little shoutout there. Nobody ever thinks of Alaska in a
presidential election. But John Kasich does. He`s spending more than
$4,000 there for the Alaska caucuses tomorrow.
He`s spending the equivalent of this 2008 Ford Focus on radio ads in
Alaska, when he could be buying this 2008 Ford Focus instead.
I submit to you humbly that in John Kasich`s sudden love for Vermont and
Alaska, in these otherwise mysterious political doings, there lies a key to
the Republican presidential race right now. And it`s this: over the past
few days, it`s become clear that mathematically there`s only two
possibilities for this field. Either Donald Trump wins enough delegates to
lock up the nomination or nobody does, in which case the party`s nominee is
going to be decided at their convention this summer in Cleveland.
If it goes to a contested convention, there is a real path to the
nomination for John Kasich or for anybody, because if we`re headed to a
contested convention, primaries really don`t matter anymore. If this race
really is going to be decided at a convention, literally nothing between
now and the convention will matter. I mean, if you`re John Kasich, all you
have to do is get there. Stay alive and stay on people`s minds until
So why not stay in the race and pick up delegates in neglected states with
cheap ad rates like Vermont or Alaska? If you`re John Kasich, you don`t
need to win Texas or Florida. You don`t need to court the conservative
base. Heck, you can spend the day before Super Tuesday telling voters in
Vermont how you expanded Obamacare and it was awesome, which is what John
Kasich did today.
But if it really is going to go to the convention, you`re not worried about
Republican primaries. You just want to look electable come November and
you want to look alive come Cleveland.
And despite it bewildering the beltway, that calculus is why conservative
Republican Governor John Kasich can afford to be running a really moderate
campaign right now. He skipped the part of the process where you win the
primary from the right and then you have to sprint to the middle for the
general. He skipped that part because the only way anyone other than
Donald Trump has a shot at the nomination is an end game in which the
primaries really don`t matter.
And the Republican field really only has two ways forward at this point.
Donald Trump wins the nomination or nobody does and we get that convention.
That`s it. What he`s doing right now makes total sense.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow for our Super
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>