The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 3/17/2016

Guests:
Bernie Sanders
Transcript:

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: March 17, 2016
Guest: Bernie Sanders

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Is your tie technically green?

CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: It is technically green for the holiday.

MADDOW: See, I have a secret thing that`s green. I`ll tell you
later.

HAYES: OK. All right.

MADDOW: I`ll see you later.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We will see
Chris Hayes later. We`ve got a big show tonight.

We`ve got presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joining us live
tonight for the interview. Woo-hoo! Super excited to have Senator Sanders
here tonight.

We have spoken on this show twice with former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton – Bernie Sanders his opponent – we have spoken with her
twice since we have last spoken with Senator Sanders. So, we`ve been
really eager to get him back on this show and his campaign made it happen
for us today.

Super exciting. Particularly at what feels like a real crossroads
moment in the Democratic race, Senator Bernie Sanders will be here live in
just a couple of minutes.

There was an epic Washington showdown today on the Flint water crisis
as a big national audience tuned in to see Michigan Governor Rick Snyder
get absolutely grilled about Flint by Democratic members of the
congressional oversight committee today, while Republican members of that
same committee basically complimented his tie color and brushed his hair.
I mean, it was alternately riveting and super weird at that hearing today.
We`re going to have a report on that coming up later on tonight.

But we have to start tonight with what else, Nazi prison tattoos
because, hey, it is 2016 and that`s what it`s like this year. In your
life, I hope for you that you have never reason to develop expertise when
it comes to Nazi and white supremacist tattooing. But if you do have to
develop that expertise, there`s basically three things you learn right off
the bat other than the obvious stuff that needs no explanation.

I mean, if somebody has white power tattooed on themselves or they
have the Nazi SS or Nazi swastika or nice picture of Hitler, that kind of
thing is too obvious you don`t need to study.

But the next most obvious layer of this stuff is probably these three
symbols. The first one is the number 14. That`s an American white
supremacist thing specifically. It`s very common in neo-Nazi prison
tattoos, but also just in your average, run-of-the-mill American white
supremacist on the street.

“14” stands for the 14 words that make up the white supremacist
mantra written by a guy named David Lane. David Lane was a white
supremacist terrorist and murderer. He died in prison about 10 years ago.

But his 14-word mantra for the movement was we must secure the
existence of our people and the future for white children. So, that`s the
first thing that you learn below all the obvious symbols, 14 stands for
that mantra. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists will often have that number
14 somewhere on their body.

The other number they will frequently have on their body is 88, and
88 has a double meaning. There`s apparently some 88-word long section of
Hitler`s book “Mein Kampf” which supposedly inspired that 14-word mantra
from David Lane. So, 88, on one hand is a reference back to that same
mantra.

“88” is also just bad number code for Heil Hitler. Heil and Hitler
both start with H, ABCDEFGH, H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. So,
HH stands for “Heil Hitler”.

So, those are the first two. The third one, the other most common
vaguely coded neo-Nazi white supremacist thing you see around particularly
in tattoos is this. It`s a variant of Celtic cross that`s sometimes called
Odin`s cross.

The Anti-Defamation League does a sort of online viewer`s guide to
Nazi junk. And according to the ADL, that cross is the symbol that was
used by Norwegian Nazis in 1930s and 1940s, and then after World War II, a
variety of white supremacist groups and movements adopted it. Today, it`s
used by Neo-Nazis and racist skinheads and Klan members and virtually other
type of white supremacist.

It`s also part of a logo of Storm Front, which is the oldest and
largest white supremacist website in the world. And I think that is why
because its part of a logo of Storm Front, I think that`s why this one pops
up in a lot of places in the white supremacist world, not just necessarily
in tattoos.

You might, for example, remember late last month when the great
reporter Dave Weigel at “The Washington Post” did an interview with a guy
who we met at a Donald Trump rally in Oklahoma. And the guy who had gone
to the rally wearing this T-shirt, “white pride worldwide”.

And the words on that T-shirt, “white pride worldwide,” surrounded
this symbol, right, overlaid on that Odin`s cross. And that`s very common
in white supremacist neo-Nazi circles.

So, you know, you don`t have to be an expert at this stuff, but what
I just said, that`s basically a neo-Nazi tattooing and symbology 101. Neo-
Nazis for dummies.

And so, God bless PBS, but couple nights ago, the good folks at “PBS
NewsHour” who really do amazing work. They are a national treasure, they
aired a heartwarming little feature about a family of North Carolinians who
are not just voting for Donald Trump in the primary on Tuesday night this
week, they had been volunteering for Donald Trump to the point where the
mom in the family had taken their 11-year-old son out of school so he, too
as an 11-year-old could phone bank in North Carolina for Donald Trump
instead of going to school.

And so, PBS did this feature and here is that mom. And the tattoo on
the right hand, see the really big tattoo on the right hand, remember that
from the white pride worldwide T-shirt, and then you wait like one more
minute into this PBS profile and then we get her left hand and what`s on
her left hand – oh, what`s – that`s the 88. Hi, Hitler.

So, “PBS NewsHour” feature on these folks, these Donald Trump
supporting family, it`s not explicitly captioned or headlines as neo-Nazi
family or white supremacist mom phone banks for Donald Trump, but that is
actually the feature that they did. That`s what they aired. And so now
PBS is sort of caught up to what they have done here, people noticed.
They`ve now had to run an editor`s note alongside the online version.

I don`t know how you clean that up. Go back and retrack the voice-
over or something to make note of the “Heil Hitler” thing on her hand, I
don`t know. Maybe a subtitle. A flashing red arrow, a clickable footnote
that goes to the how to decipher Nazi tattoos website. Seems like relevant
context.

But these are the kinds of journalistic challenges that we are
stumbling upon as a nation because of what the 2016 presidential race is
this year and who is winning it on the Republican side.

The prospect of Donald Trump winning the Republican presidential
nomination has taken a couple of interesting twists today. We`re going to
be talking about some of these tonight.

The most striking one, I think, was that Donald Trump`s opponent, Ted
Cruz, Texas Senator Ted Cruz got his second endorsement today from a member
of the United States Senate. It`s a little bit weird to be a senator
running for president without a lot of endorsements from your colleagues,
but he`s only got two so far. The first one was from his friend Mike Lee
of Utah that came a couple weeks ago. The second one came today former
Republican senator who until today seemed like probably the least likely
Republican senator of all to ever endorse Ted Cruz under any circumstances.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: A good Republican would
defend Ted Cruz after tonight. That ain`t happening.

(LAUGHTER)

If you kill Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate and the trial was in
the Senate, nobody could convict you.

(LAUGHTER)

I was asked the hardest question in my political life, do you agree
with Donald Trump that Ted Cruz is the biggest liar in politics?

(LAUGHTER)

Too close to call.

(LAUGHTER)

If you`re a Republican and your choices are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz
in a general election, it`s the difference between poison or a shot, you`re
still dead.

I don`t think you can be president of the United States if you`re
going to tell a raped woman she has to have the child of a rapist. That`s
Ted Cruz`s position. Ted Cruz at his core is an opportunist when it comes
to his political career. He has an ideological bent that won`t sell with
the American people.

And when it came time to say what Ted Cruz has done in the Senate,
what he`s done is run down other Republicans. He hasn`t solved any
problem.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You don`t have any confidence in him
basically to be commander-in-chief?

GRAHAM: I think he has been just as wrong as Obama if not worse.

Can I just add that Senator Cruz has been wrong on almost everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Senator Lindsey Graham has never seemed to like Senator Ted
Cruz, quite the contrary, but today Lindsey Graham endorsed Ted Cruz or
said he would do a fundraiser for him on Monday, a $1,000 a plate
fundraiser.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: I`ve known you and watched you particularly with Ted Cruz
over the past several years. I`m actually waiting for pigs to start flying
down the street.

GRAHAM: Yes, it`s one of those big days. Well, it tells you a lot
about where we are as a party.

REPORTER: It sure does.

GRAHAM: It does.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: The Republican effort to somehow keep their presidential
nomination away from Donald Trump is getting both frantic and strange.

The Democratic effort to pick a presidential nominee is neither
frantic nor all that strange, but it does seem to be at a critical turning
point. The major super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton has now announced
they will stop running ads in support of Secretary Clinton`s primary
contests against Bernie Sanders. They will leave the primary field and
instead start focusing on the general election and what they are apparently
expecting to be a fight between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump this fall.

Also, “The New York Times” and “Washington Post” reported today on
remarks that President Obama made in Texas recently to Democratic donors
behind closed door. There`s no direct quotes in either story but “The
Times” headlined their story as President Obama basically making a case
that Democrats should start to unit behind one of the two candidates for
the Democratic nomination and that candidate should be Hillary Clinton.

Now, the Bernie Sanders campaign obviously doesn`t agree with that.
They also say that they`re about to start winning lots and lots and lots of
states. They acknowledge they did poorly in the five contests this week,
but they say they`re about to start winning and they say senator Sanders,
not Hillary Clinton will ultimately get the Democratic nomination.

The Sanders` campaign is now swimming against a tide of common wisdom
that`s against them on that subject, which I`m sure they don`t mind. But
if this reporting about the president`s comments is right, then they might
also find themselves up against the force of this White House and a
president who is both a friend of Senator Bernie Sanders and someone who
has an 87 percent approval rating right now with Democrats.

With all this going on right now, I`m fairly desperate to talk to
Senator Bernie Sanders about this moment in his political career and in our
country. And he is here live with us for the interview, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: I`m very pleased to say that joining us now for the
interview is Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Senator Sanders, it`s really nice to see you again. Thank you so
much for being here. I know it`s a busy time for you.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with
you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Let me start right in on the other big news story that has
not about your race for the president right now, which is about the Supreme
Court. What do you think of President Obama`s nomination of Judge Merrick
Garland for that vacancy?

SANDERS: Well, probably not the most progressive pick that he could
have made, but I will strongly support the president`s selection of justice
– of Judge Garland. The idea that the president should not be able to
make a nomination is totally absurd. Republican obstructionism just tells
us what`s been going on for the last seven years.

I will do everything I can to see that there is hearings, that a vote
takes place and that Garland becomes seated on the Supreme Court.

MADDOW: One of the things that has been – I think one of the most
compelling story lines and evolving things we`ve learned about President
Obama over the time he`s been in office is to watch how he has responded to
Republican obstructionism, whether he has, you know, continued to expect
them to cave, whether he`s been optimistic, whether he has become
pessimistic about these things. I don`t know where you are on that score.

Do you actually think the Republicans on an issue like this will
eventually cave, that they`ll eventually do the right thing, or is there no
chance that Garland will get a hearing?

SANDERS: Rachel, it`s hard to say but this is what I do believe. I
think the vast majority of the American people certainly Democrats, most
independents and a number of Republicans do not believe that it is
appropriate for the Republicans to act in an obstructionist way when the
Constitution is 100 percent clear.

The president of the United States has the right to nominate someone
to be a justice of the Supreme Court. Senate`s function is to hold
hearings and to vote. I think the Republicans will pay a very heavy,
political price if they continue to obstruct on this issue. I think you
could go forward with a strong candidate and play it out.

MADDOW: If you get the Democratic nomination and you are elected
president in November, would you ask President Obama to withdraw that
nomination in a lame duck so you could name your own nominee?

SANDERS: Yes, I would. And I think I`m 100 percent prepared to
support Judge Garland. I think he`s clearly very knowledgeable and can
serve ably on the Supreme Court.

But between you and me, I think there are some more progressive
judges out there. I have said over and over again that I do have a litmus
test for a Supreme Court justice and that litmus test is that justice must
be loud and clear in telling us that he or she will vote to overturn this
disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

I am very worried about the future of American democracy and about
the ability of billionaires to buy elections. That is my litmus test and
that`s what I would insist on.

MADDOW: Let me ask you about something that`s actually based in your
fund raising theory of the case here, one of the things that has been
stunning about your campaign is how many small donors you have, how people
have been willing to give to you again and again and again in small
amounts.

You`ve raised so much money and have shown such fundraising prowess.
Obviously, you can – no matter what happens in primaries and caucuses, you
can stay in this race indefinitely. You`re never going to run out of
money.

You are right now behind in the delegates. Because you won`t have
that kind of constraint on your campaign, though, I wonder if you can
imagine a scenario in which you`re still behind Secretary Clinton in terms
of delegates, but you went all the way to the convention this summer and
tried to make a case for yourself by persuading the super delegates to
support you instead of her.

Is that something you can imagine doing that?

SANDERS: Well, here`s the scenario: Secretary Clinton has done
phenomenally well in the Deep South and she has picked up a whole lot of
delegates there. We are now moving beyond the South. We`re moving West
where we think the terrain favors us. West Coast is probably most
progressive region of the United States of America.

We think we have a good shot, can`t guarantee it, of winning a whole
lot of states, of winning a whole lot of delegates, of perhaps winning
California, state of Washington, Oregon, many of the smaller states and
winning New York state. We think if we come into the convention in July in
Philadelphia, having won a whole lot of delegates, having a whole lot of
momentum behind us, and most importantly perhaps being the candidate who is
most likely to defeat Donald Trump, we think that some of these super
delegates who have now supported Hillary Clinton can come over to us.

Rachel, in almost every poll, not every poll, but almost every
national matchup poll between Sanders and Trump, Clinton and Trump, we do
better than Hillary Clinton and sometimes by large numbers. We get a lot
more of the independent vote than she gets.

And, frankly and very honestly, I think I am a stronger candidate to
defeat Trump than Secretary Clinton is and I think many secretary – many
of the super delegates understand that.

MADDOW: I just want to be super clear with you about that, just to
make sure that I understand. Are you saying that even if you were behind
in pledged dell gates, I know you think you won`t be, but if you were
behind in pledged delegates, you would still take that case all the way to
the convention and try to convince the supers?

SANDERS: Well, we`re going to do the best we can in any and every
way to win. But I think when you have states, for example, say in New
Hampshire where we won by 22 points, in other states where we won by 25 or
even 30 points, I think it is not unreasonable for the people of those
states to say to their super delegates, hey, how about representing the
people of our state and the outcome of the caucus or the primary?

MADDOW: I`m just going to push you and ask you one more time. If –
I`ll actually ask you from the other direction. If one of you – one of
you – presumably, there won`t be a tie. One of you presumably will be
behind in pledged delegates heading into that convention. Should the
person who is behind in pledged delegates concede to the person who is
ahead in pledged delegates in Philadelphia?

SANDERS: Well, I – you know, I don`t want to speculate about the
future and I think there are other factors involved. I think it is
probably the case that the candidate who has the most pledged delegates is
going to be the candidate, but there are other factors. And the other
factors will be the strength of each of us in taking on the Republican
candidate.

What I think is most important to all of the delegates, including the
super delegates, is that we have a candidate who will win and not allow
Donald Trump to end up in the White House.

MADDOW: Senator Sanders, can you hold on for just one moment? We
take a quick break and come back?

SANDERS: Absolutely.

MADDOW: Thank you very much. Senator Bernie Sanders is our guest
tonight for the interview. We`ll be right back. Don`t go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: We`re back with Democratic presidential candidate, Senator
Bernie Sanders.

Senator Sanders, thank you again.

SANDERS: My pleasure.

MADDOW: Let me ask you a question about Missouri. Missouri is the
second state so far in this crazy primary process this year where it was
almost imperceptibly decided. Secretary Clinton both in Iowa and Missouri
appeared to come in ahead of you, but by a fraction of a percent, less than
half a percent.

Now, you did not appeal that and ask for a recount in Iowa and today
you said you won`t ask for a recount in Missouri. Why not?

SANDERS: Well, first of all in Iowa, it`s not a question of a
recount. In Iowa, we`re going through the county process and the statewide
process. So, that process is under way in the final decision in terms of
national delegates has not been made.

But here is the truth: the media makes a big deal about, you know,
winning Missouri or winning Illinois or winning Michigan. We won Michigan.
Secretary Clinton won Illinois and won Missouri. You know what? You add
them all together, there is no difference in delegates.

What we`re talking about, Rachel, now is the number of delegates that
we need. And what we proved in Illinois and in Missouri that what happened
in Michigan was not a fluke. We have real strength in the Midwest and we
have real strength, I think, as we head west in California and Oregon and
state of Washington.

The issues that are gaining us support in the Midwest, for example,
is the disastrous trade policies that have cost this country millions of
decent paying jobs. I`m talking about NAFTA, permanent normal trade
relations with China and many others. Workers in the Midwest and, in fact,
all over this country are demanding is that we have a trade policy in which
corporate America starts investing in this country and not just in China
and other low wage countries.

Yes, we have got to do everything we can to support poor people
around the world, but my view is you don`t have to destroy the middle class
of this country to do that. So, I think the issues that we are talking
about, raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, rebuilding our
crumbling infrastructure.

I was in Flint, Michigan. What I heard there is literally beyond
belief in terms of a crumbling infrastructure and water systems to a lesser
degree is happening all over America. We can create millions of jobs
rebuilding water systems, roads and bridges. We can make public colleges
and universities tuition free. We can demand the wealthy start paying
their fair share of taxes.

So, I think what you`re seeing in the Midwest and around this country
is a desire for transformation in our political and economics and to elect
a candidate who is prepared to fight for working families.

MADDOW: You brought up Flint there, Senator. Today, there was this
very dramatic hearing on Capitol Hill where Governor Rick Snyder, also the
head of the EPA, Gina McCarthy, were both called before this hearing, and
had at times intense and slightly surreal questioning, in my opinion.

One of the things that was striking, though s that both Governor Rick
Snyder and House Republicans on that committee really spent a lot of their
time blaming Flint on the EPA and saying that the EPA is the problem, and
that`s what happen in Flint.

What`s your reaction to that?

SANDERS: It`s absolutely untrue. I mean, the initial responsibility
was taking local power away from the citizens of Flint. Decisions being
made over their heads. Knowledge accruing, people knew what was going on
but forgot to tell the people of Flint whose kids were drinking poisoned
water.

Should the EPA have done a better job? Should they have been more
out front earlier on? Yes, absolutely.

But the core responsibility for that was with the state of Michigan.
That is why I asked for Governor Snyder`s resignation.

But, Rachel, the point I`m making here is that while Flint may be the
worst example of a crumbling infrastructure, it is not the only one. We`ve
got to think out of the box. We have to ask why in the wealthiest country
in the history of the world, why our infrastructure not just water but
waste water, roads, bridges, why our rail system is falling behind other
countries.

And what I`ve asked for is a trillion dollar investment. Thirteen
million people go back to work, rebuilding this infrastructure.

Children in America should not be drinking poisoned water, end of
discussion.

MADDOW: Senator, there were reports today in “The Washington Post”
and more pointedly in “The New York Times” that didn`t quote President
Obama but they described remarks he made apparently at a closed door event
on Friday in which he told donors, at least it`s reported that he told
donors that the Democratic Party needs to start to unite behind a nominee,
and in “The New York Times”, there was a strong suggestion that the
president indicated that he beliefs the nominee will be your opponent, it
will be Secretary Clinton.

I know that you consider President Obama to be a friend. I just have
to ask your response to that.

SANDERS: Well, I don`t want to speculate on what he said or what he
didn`t say. In fact, I heard there has been some push back from the White
House, kind of indicating that he didn`t say that.

But the bottom line is that when only half of the American people
have participated in the political process, when some of the larger states
in this country, people in those states have not yet been able to voice
their opinion on who should be the Democratic nominee, I think it`s absurd
for anybody to suggest that those people not have a right to cast a vote.

I am extremely proud that in state after state we are winning the
votes of working people. Overwhelmingly, we`re winning young people who
are the future of this country.

A study just came out today, I believe, we have received more votes
from people under 30 than Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump combined.
Many states were winning the votes of people under 45. That is the future
of America. That is the future of the Democratic Party.

So to suggest that we don`t fight this out to the end would be, I
think, a very bad mistake. People want to become engaged in the political
process by having a vigorous primary and caucus process.

I think we open up the possibility of having a large voter turnout in
November and that is exactly what we need. A low voter turnout, somebody
like a Trump can win. High voter turnout the Democratic candidate will
win.

I think we have the issues. I think the American people are prepared
to vote strongly against Trump. But we need to have a 50-state process by
which the American people can – in which the American people can
participate.

MADDOW: Senator, I know your time is limited. I just have one last
question for you and it`s because you raised the issue of Donald Trump.

Obviously, Mr. Trump has had an issue with violence at his events.
He has blamed you. He recently blamed your supporters for showing up to
his events and mounting protests that are disruptive.

What advice – obviously, I don`t blame you. But what advice would
you have for your supporters or for protesters who show up for any reason
to Trump events, whether they`re to protest on your behalf or someone
else`s?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, Rachel, you may know at least in my
view, Donald Trump is a pathological liar. There`s very little that he
says that one can at face value believe to be correct.

We have never, not once, urged any supporter of ours to disrupt a
meeting. I think that`s kind of counterproductive. Having a respective
demonstration, a protest, is I think absolutely right. You have a guy here
in Trump who has insulted Muslims, insulted Mexicans, insulted women,
insulted the African-American community, insulted veterans, you know, and I
think it is totally right for people to protest.

Disrupting rallies is not my style. I would urge people not to do
that.

MADDOW: Senator Sanders, thank you so much for your time tonight.
Please come back soon. It`s been too long, sir.

SANDERS: OK. Thank you very much.

MADDOW: Thank you very much.

All right. We got much more ahead tonight, including Chris Hayes
joining us in just a moment to talk about the kind of big news that Bernie
Sanders just made there about how he thinks the Democratic convention is
going to go this year. Wow.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: I just want to be super clear with you about that just to
make sure I understand. Are you saying that even if you were behind in
pledged delegates, I know you think you won`t be, but if you were behind in
pledged delegates, you would still take that case all the way to the
convention and try to convince the supers?

SANDERS: Well, we`re going to do the best that we can in any and
every way to win. But I think when you have states, for example, say in
New Hampshire where we won by 22 points, in other states where we`ve won by
25 or even 30 points, I think it is not unreasonable for the people of
those states to say to their super delegates, hey, how about representing
the people of our state and the outcome of the caucus or the primary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: So, maybe we`re going to have a contested convention in
Cleveland and in Philadelphia?

Joining us now is my dear colleague and friend Chris Hayes, host of
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES”.

Is that what he just said?

HAYES: I think he said the following: we will fight for this
nomination. The rules of the nomination are such that there are bound
delegates that we`re going to fight to get as many as possible.

MADDOW: Right. That`s the primary and caucus process.

HAYES: That`s right. And there`s a bunch of super delegates.

MADDOW: Yes.

HAYES: And we`re going to fight for the super delegates as well.
Yesterday, throw into that, you had Tad Devine on the call basically
saying, well, bound delegates aren`t really technically bound.

MADDOW: Yes.

HAYES: You know, look, one of the things we`re seeing from the
Republican side is that the rules that we tend to think of just sort of the
background quickly become the foreground when there`s enough contests
between different clashing political entities. That`s ultimately what will
decide this, right? It`s going to be the weight of the amount of support
Bernie Sanders has.

MADDOW: Right.

HAYES: And he and his campaigns personal decisions about how to
leverage the weight of that support. If he has enough support and he is
committed enough to a big contentious thing happening in Philadelphia, they
can probably make that happen.

MADDOW: I asked as a follow-up, I said how did I phrase it exactly?
I said –

HAYES: Should the person who that one?

MADDOW: Yes. Here it is. One of you presumably will be behind in
pledged delegates going to convention, should the person who is behind
concede. He said, I don`t want to speculate about the future. There will
be other factors involved. I think the candidate who has the most pledged
candidate will be the nominee. But the question is, who has the strength?
Who has – I mean –

HAYES: So that to me was the most fascinating part of that article.
If you said to me when Bernie Sanders announced his campaign last year, if
you said to me, fast forward to spring. Bernie Sanders is going to be
arguing that he`s the most electable candidate in the race –

MADDOW: Right.

HAYES: That is what he kept referring to. The polls show us beating
Donald Trump. It`s all about –

MADDOW: Head-to-head polls against the Republican.

HAYES: Everyone`s analysis at the time was this is essentially a
contest candidacy. It`s a contest candidacy around a core of issues and,
obviously, the argument against Bernie Sanders will be the guy is
completely unelectable and he will remain cordoned off in some sort of
fringe of the primary. To have him now making this argument, an argument
that I think there are a lot of very good counter arguments to, but is not
facially ridiculous in so far as what he`s saying about head-to-head
polling is true.

MADDOW: Right now, yes.

HAYES: Big question whether that holds up, that is a kind of
remarkable turn around.

MADDOW: Yes. Everything has changed.

HAYES: Everything is upside down.

MADDOW: He himself you can tell was expecting to be an asterisk
candidate when he started. You could tell by his announcement speech which
he did on a coffee break and ran back inside to the Senate.

But the way his candidacy caught fire, what they`re banking on now is
that they are by all accounts even the Clinton campaign will say the
Sanders campaign is about to have a run of wins. There`s five caucuses in
one primary over the next week or so, they think they could win five of
them. We`ll see. See how he does in Arizona, too.

They`re saying that will not only up end the perception of momentum
here but it will also call to question the electability thing in a way that
means that this has to end in a way that it otherwise wouldn`t have us
doing this thing at the convention.

HAYES: Here`s the question – I mean, accumulating delegates and
fund raising in the way that he has and the core of support that he has,
which is obviously profoundly powerful as we`ve seen, that is power, right?
The question for Bernie Sanders is what does he want to do with that power?
And how does he want to wield that power as we go forward.

MADDOW: Uh-huh. He is saying he wants to wield it to win.

HAYES: That`s right. That is what he is saying. The campaign says
we want to wield that power to win the nomination and go up against Donald
Trump in the fall. That is their statement.

Now, you could also say, what else are they going to say? I mean,
you know what I mean, they have never from the beginning said this is just
a symbolic thing. They have said which they said –

MADDOW: You can never say that.

HAYES: You`re running to win. You have to run to win. You can`t –
if you run to win and do a good job running to win and you don`t win, maybe
then you can accomplish some other things, but you never can accomplish
those if you don`t run to win.

MADDOW: Unless you`re running to win and this is the most aggressive
statement he said tactically about he`s going to win.

HAYES: Agreed, and they are running to win and they have been
running to win.

MADDOW: Chris Hayes, the host of “ALL IN”, also my best friend on
100-yard radius.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW: Nice to see you my friend. Thank you.

HAYES: It`s just the two of us in 100 yards.

MADDOW: Exactly. We banished everyone else.

All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT (D), PENNSYLVANIA: You admit here today that
even after the whole world knew that the Flint residents were exposed to
unimaginable levels of lead, you did not declare a state of emergency until
January 2016, isn`t that true?

GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: I took immediate action. As soon as
I leaned there`s a lead issue, we started issuing filters to people, doing
water testing, doing blood testing. I wish more would have been done.

CARTWRIGHT: Governor Snyder, plausible deniability only works when
it`s plausible, and I`m not buying that you didn`t know any of this until
October of 2015. You were not in a medically induced coma for a year, and
I`ve had about enough of your false contrition and your phony apologies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Well, that went well. Wait until you hear the part that
made all the people from Flint who were in the room, wait until you hear
the part that made them all go, “ooohh”, that`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: It`s about a nine-hour trip, depending on the weather,
depending on the traffic, depending on the roads and what you`re driving,
about nine hours if you lead from lead poison Flint Michigan heading to
Washington, D.C., you can expect to be on the bus for nine hours or more.
Riding that bus all night long until the doors open in D.C. in the very
early morning.

If you`re coming to D.C. from Flint for the reasons these folks did
that today, you might not care how grinding that trip was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: So you rode all night on this bus?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All night.

REPORTER: And you did this because –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel Snyder needs to go to jail. He needs be
held accountable for his actions. He poisoned our kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: More than 100 people made the trip to Washington, D.C. from
Michigan to be there this morning when Michigan Governor Rick Snyder
testified under oath before Congress in his role in the mass lead poisoning
of Flint.

Families from Flint filled the hearing room, they filled the hallway
outside. Folks from Flint said they wanted their voices to be heard as
this thing gets talked about now even in Congress, but it still isn`t fixed
at home. And back home in Flint, the crisis continues without much change
on the ground even still.

Yes, more people have filters on their faucets to try to keep the
lead out and you can call a volunteer union plumber to make sure it works
on your faucet, if you`re able to manage that, but the filters don`t
necessarily make the water safe enough for kids and pregnant women and sick
and elderly people to drink. And still, even though we`re in month sixth
since Governor Snyder declared he was taking emergency action in the
poisoning of Flint`s water, still today, there is no regular house to house
door to door delivery of water, still.

The state senator from Flint told the local paper today that nothing
really has changed on the ground. Senator Jim Ananich saying, quote f you
go today in Flint, it`s not much different than it was in September with
the exception of you can go to the fire station and pick up water. That of
course assumes you have a car to help you carry that water home which is no
small thing to ask in Flint, Michigan.

Even as Governor Snyder was sitting there on Capitol Hill today, the
Snyder administration back home in Michigan is publishing a new round of
testing from Flint homes today. This past week, that testing found the
highest level yet of lead in family`s water: 15 parts per billion is the
EPA threshold for action, 150 is what filters are technically designed to
handle, 5,000 is considered hazardous waste.

But this past week a home in Flint rang in at 11,846 parts per
billion. That`s the highest level we have seen yet in Flint and it was
just posted today. Today.

That`s what Flint families left behind at home when they got on the
bus last night to make that nine-hour overnight journey so they could be
there in person when the governor testified, hoping that their voices could
be heard, too.

And during that hearing, there were times when you actually could
hear them. Watch this. Listen for their reaction from the Flint families
in the room here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM (D), NEW MEXICO: So tell me the
constituents you responded to based on that report.

SNYDER: The constituents, we`re out to talk to every person in
Flint.

GRISHAM: You`re talking to them?

SNYDER: In terms of a visit to their home –

GRISHAM: That`s your response today is to know who is affected maybe
by your report and then to talk to them?

SNYDER: No, not maybe. It`s to go to their homes to have an
opportunity to ask, would you like a filter? Would you like a water test?
How can we help support you in terms of getting water? I mean, we haven`t
hit every home but we`re tracking every detail.

GRISHAM: Let me ask you this question. This is my opinion of
someone who does this kind of work for my whole career, we would just fix
the water system so that it`s all safe, but what do you do with someone
like my mom, who`s got a cognitive impairment, you go to her house and ask
her, what about that constituent?

SNYDER: We ask them to dial 211 or get in contact so we can help
bring water to them.

GRISHAM: I think I have my answer, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Have your mentally impaired mom call 211 if she doesn`t want
to get – we haven`t gotten to every house.

Seriously. That is the response in Flint, Michigan, now. Today.
They can call us.

So, lots of this hearing today broke along expected partisan lines.

On planet Democrat, they blame Governor Snyder and his emergency
manager takeover of the city of Flint and his state agencies and frankly
his obtuse leadership where he suppose lid had no idea of what all his
senior staff and chief of staff were talking about and working on for
months.

On planet Republican, they blame the EPA, which makes political sense
for them. You don`t need a diagram to see why bashing the EPA fits for the
Republican world view for a crisis like this.

But Governor Snyder said everybody should stop blaming anyone.
Everyone should work with him to fix Flint. And then he spent two then he
spent two hours at the hearing blaming the EPA for what happened.

At the close of the hearing today, the ranking Democrat on the
committee asked a final round of questions. Congressman Elijah Cummings
kept the mike for more than ten minutes question after question. Governor
Snyder answered almost in a whisper at one point and at the end, you could
hear those Flint families in the room again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It looks like everyone knew
about these problems except for you. You were completely missing in
action. That`s not leadership, do you think?

SNYDER: I was not missing in action. I`m going to have to live with
this my entire life.

CUMMINGS: On your website – Governor, you know what, I`ve heard you
say that, but I`ve got to tell you – there are children that have got to
live with it, the damage that has been done for the rest of their lives.
It is painfully painful to think that a child could be damaged until the
day they die and that their destiny has been cut off and messed up.

So, yes, you have to live with it, but they – many of these children
will never be what God intended them to be when they were born and
conceived.

I just have a few more questions.

When things got rough for you and your administration started being
investigated by law enforcement, you got the people of Michigan to pay your
legal fees. Governor, do you admit here today that you have asked the
people of Michigan for more than $1 million to pay for your criminal and
civil defense fees?

SNYDER: Yes.

CUMMINGS: It makes me sick to think you found a way to have the
state of Michigan pay over $1 million in legal fees, yet you thought so
little of the people in Flint that you could not be bothered to ask the
legislature for money to switch them over to clean water. You cannot be
trusted and I got to tell you, you need to – you need to resign.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: What is happening now in Michigan and with this particular
governor, it`s not normal politics. It`s not normal political fighting
over a normal issue, right?

But for all the politics that have been brought to bear on this issue
now, think about what it says about the state response that still there is
no clean water being delivered in Flint. Even today, today, still they
haven`t replaced the ruin pipes. Still, houses are testing at over 10,000
parts per billion of lead, 5,000 parts per billion is hazardous waste.
Still, still, you`re not getting clean water brought to your house in
Flint, still, and that`s regardless of who resigns or gets indicted.
Still.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Tonight we heard live on this show that Bernie Sanders is
not ruling essentially a contested convention on the Democratic side this
year. We have been expecting it now on the Republican side, but at the
Democrats` convention in Philadelphia. too?

We`ve got a special report that we are preparing for tomorrow night`s
RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. Here`s a taste of it. This is what the Republican
delegate selection process looked like in one state in 2012.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON PAUL SUPPORTER: I am being illegally held!

RON PAUL SUPPORTER: He`s handicap. He`s handicap.

(INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, back up. Back up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has a chance to walk. He has an artificial
hip.

RON PAUL SUPPORTER: I need a doctor. I need a doctor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That man in that video who says he was hurt in that
altercation, he was a Ron Paul supporter who was physically, bodily dragged
out of the Louisiana State Republican convention in a fight over that
state`s delegates in 2012.

The prospect of a contested convention looms over the Republican
Party this year like a ten-ton anvil, maybe over the Democratic Party, too.
A lot of the reporting is being done on how chaotic and conniving the
delegate selection process is going to be this year with a promise of a
contested convention. I promise you, it has always been chaotic and
conniving and occasionally violent.

And tomorrow night on this show, we`re going to prove it to you.
We`ve got a special report on that tomorrow night. Stay with us tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Senator Marco Rubio came to work today. This was a
surprise. His staff clapped for him when he came back to the Senate. He
seemed to enjoy that and then he awkwardly stayed 15 feet away from them
while soaking up their clapping adulation.

Senator Rubio also rode the little Senate trolley today. He seemed
to have a good time the first day back to work, but that might be because
in another instance of impeccable Marco Rubio timing, Marco Rubio decided
to come back to work today, quote, “just in time for recess”. He literally
came back to work for one day today and the Senate goes on recess for two
weeks starting tomorrow.

Before he worked his fingers to close to the bone, though, Senator
Rubio did talk to reporters, not a man to be humbled by what he just went
through. The senator today asked reporters to credit him for being a top
four finisher in the Republican presidential race, which if you think about
it is almost enough to get you a medal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: At the end of the day it was a 17
person field and I was one of the last four standing, in a field that ran
basically every major political figure in the Republican Party at the
national level ran for president. So, I`m proud of how far we`ve gotten.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: I was one of four still standing. Marco Rubio did indeed
place in the top four in the Republican Party primary. That is awesome for
him. As I said, though, not a man to be humbled by what he just went
through.

That does it for us tonight, one of the top 18 programs airing on
basic cable at 9:00 p.m. Check your local listings.

We will see you again tomorrow.

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
BE UPDATED.
END

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