The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 3/28/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: March 28, 2016
Guest: Kyle Cheney, Chase Strangio
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: What did the Buffalo Bills do?
HAYES: It`s a long story. But you Google that and you`ll get some great
photos of him in very `80s, Zubaz pants, like the sort of Cavaricci. Or if
there`s a shorts. It`s a great photo. Google it.
MADDOW: I`d be happy you`re blaming that than the media, because I`m just
going to – even without Googling it, say that`s my choice.
HAYES: It`s the Bills.
MADDOW: Yes. Thanks.
Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour.
You know, on Monday nights, I`m used to saying thank you for joining us on
this blah blah, blah eve, right? Monday has become the eve of things
whether it`s the eve of Super Tuesday or the eve of SEC Tuesday or super
western primary Tuesday night or something.
I`ve now sort of gotten into a groove where every Monday night, it`s the
eve of some important election that`s going to take place in the
presidential race on Tuesday. This is tonight, in fact, the first Tuesday
eve, sorry, Tuesday eve/Monday night, yes, that`s right, since mid-February
when there isn`t a big primary or two or three or four or ten scheduled for
the next day. There`s nothing tomorrow.
So, that means you do not have to stay up until 2:00 in the morning with me
and Brian Williams and everybody else tomorrow night. Congratulations.
That said, you probably need to catch up on sleep any way because this
weekend was riveting. This weekend was a big deal on the Democratic side
of the presidential race. Just as one measure of how big a deal this
weekend was, the Bernie Sanders campaign says they have raised over $4
million since the polls closed on Saturday in Alaska and Hawaii and
The Bernie Sanders victories in those three states this week, they were
expected heading into those contests, but the margins by which he won many
those states, those were very impressive. Senator Sanders won by 64 points
in Alaska. I don`t mean he got 64 percent of the vote, I mean he got a 64-
point margin of victory.
Senator Sanders had margin of victory in Hawaii of 40 points. In
Washington state the margin of victory was 46 points.
Those were just absolutely massive wins for him this weekend. And no
sides, no states on the Democratic side are winner take all, but when you
win by margins that big, it ends up being winner take most in terms of the
When you look at Senator Sanders` overall delegate haul for this past
weekend, it looks like he pulled in roughly 55 pledged delegates.
Secretary Clinton this weekend pulled in only 20 pledged delegates. So,
that`s just the pledge delegates. Leave aside the issue of the super
delegates. That`s a whole different discussion. Looks like Senator
Sanders cut into Secretary Clinton`s overall pledged delegate lead by about
35, give or take.
And here`s how that delegate race looks overall in perspective. I mean, as
you can see, a change of 35 delegates one direction or another, it`s not a
substantive enough change in the Democrat standings to feel like it`s
changing the race, but for the Sanders campaign it`s, A, better than
nothing. B, it does give Bernie Sanders bragging rights for winning the
states. Not just winning them but winning convincingly. And, C, it
arguably also gives him a sense of some momentum.
I mean, I`m sure Senator Sanders campaign wishes that this was Tuesday eve.
I`m sure they wish there were some contests tomorrow after these three huge
wins this weekend. But even just looking back instead of forward, on the
Democratic side, there had been six states that have voted since March
March 15th was a bad night for Bernie Sanders. He`s won all five of those
big states. Since then, there`s been six contests, Bernie Sanders has won
five of the six.
Now, if you`re a Bernie Sanders supporter, five of six, five of the last
six, that`s got to be very exciting news, right?
If you`re a Clinton supporter, though, or if you`re the Clinton campaign,
that run of five out of six victories isn`t good news for the Clinton side,
but there`s an easy reason to understand why that string of Sanders
victories isn`t causing major freak out on the Clinton side, and that`s
because of those last five states that Bernie Sanders has won, every single
one of them, Idaho, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, all five of them were
For whatever reason, Bernie Sanders and his campaign have done great in
caucuses this year. There are 12 states that have held caucuses on the
Democratic side so far in this entire primary campaign, and Senator Sanders
did get off to a slow start in the caucuses. He lost the first two
caucuses by barely in Iowa and by a little bit in Nevada. But since then,
of all the caucus states, he`s won ten straight and he`s won those ten
straight caucus victories by big, big margins.
I mean, that`s kind of – look at the margin of victory he`s got there.
Frequently up over, you know, 40 percent. That`s an amazing record in
caucus states. Ten of the 12 of them he`s won in big wins in all of them
that he`s won.
Here`s the weakness, though, in that track record for the Sanders campaign.
I don`t want to take anything away from how impressive that is in terms of
all those wins in those caucus states. But it`s also true that Senator
Sanders cannot be expected to keep that up. And that`s simply because
there`s almost no more caucus states. We`re not yet halfway through the
primary, but there are only two caucuses left, Wyoming in April and North
Dakota in June.
And, yes, if past is prologue, Bernie Sanders will win the caucuses in
Wyoming and win the caucuses in North Dakota, and honestly if past is
prologue, he will crush in those caucuses. But there just aren`t enough of
those contests left to push him up ahead of Hillary Clinton overall in the
delegate count, unless things change radically, these caucus wins aren`t
And the Sanders campaign appears to know that. The candidate himself is
started to make a public case that he may not win the nomination on pledge
delegates but maybe he`ll win by persuading the super delegates to switch
their support to him. He wants to win on super delegates thinking he can
win in primaries and caucuses. That`s a way to win but it`s not the case
that Senator Sanders was making at the outset of this campaign. I think
it`s not the kind of case for how to win the nomination that supporters
would either expect of him or necessarily even support, if that`s going to
be the way he tries to win.
In addition, to the super delegate strategy, today, the Sanders campaign
advanced a new theory of the case for where they stand against Secretary
Clinton in the race for the nomination. Bernie Sanders senior strategist
Tad Devine told reporters that the only reason Senator Sanders is so far
behind Secretary Clinton in the overall race is because of Secretary
Clinton getting victories, quote, “where Bernie Sanders did not compete.”
Tad Devine told reporters, he gave them a list of eight states where he
said the only Secretary Clinton won is because Bernie Sanders didn`t try in
those states. These are states where he said the Bernie Sanders campaign
did not, quote, “compete with her.” He listed Texas, Alabama, Virginia,
Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Arkansas, all Super Tuesday
Now, it`s one thing to make the case that, yes, you`ve had some wins and
losses but here is the way you`re going to win. It`s one thing to make
that case. You try to sell reporters on that. All campaigns do.
It`s another thing to make the case that the only reason you`ve lost thus
far is because you weren`t really trying to win, but you`ll try to win from
here on out and that`s why you`re going to win the nomination. Honestly, I
think the Sanders campaign is going to have to walk back this line of
argument in coming days if they have not already.
I`ll tell you why, part of why I think they`re going to have to walk it
back, all of these states that the Sanders campaign identified today as
places that they lost because they didn`t even try to compete there, those
were all Super Tuesday states in the South. The Super Tuesday contest were
held on March 1st. You might remember on this show we did a bunch of
reporting on the lead up to Super Tuesday on what was going on with the
Clinton campaign and the Sanders campaign in terms of their ground
operations in Super Tuesday states.
So, not just tracking TV spending and candidate appearances, which is what
everybody else was looking at, we also took a deeper look at things like
opening campaign offices and hiring staffers in the state. In advance of
Super Tuesday, in advance of those big March 1st contests, one of the
things we reported I think exclusively here in terms of the national media
was something that we found surprising. We reported it in advance of Super
Tuesday. We reported it in February of this year.
What we reported was that the Sanders campaign was not only competing in a
whole bunch of those Southern states, we reported they were first on the
ground ahead of the Clinton campaign in those states. They had larger
campaign operations than the Clinton campaign did in those states. We
reported that in Texas, in Alabama, in Tennessee, in Virginia. Those are
just four of the Southern states where we were able to track well this
advance of the March 1st super Tuesday races, that the Sanders campaign had
actually been there first and opened more officers than the Clinton
So, if the Sanders campaign is now going to say they only lost the states
because they wanted to, because they meant to lose them, they didn`t even
try to win them – honestly, that is bullpucky. That is not what happened.
I think that`s not going to fly. So, I think they will have to walk that
I think there`s case to be made for why Senator Bernie Sanders still could
pull out the Democratic nomination. But this idea it`s because he`s going
to start trying and he wasn`t trying before, that is not a reasonable case
You know what, it`s not like there thing is over, and we need to be doing
the postmortems already, anyway, explaining away the more uncomfortable
losses. It`s not like this thing is over. It`s not even like this thing
is half over. I meant it when I said we`re not halfway through the primary
calendar yet. I know, believe it or not, it`s been nine weeks since the
primary season started.
There are 11 more weeks to go before the end of the primaries. We`re not
even at halftime yet.
And on the Republican side, at least, there`s a lot more to go even beyond
what we`re thinking of as the calendar I think, because on the Republican
side of the race, we`re going to have to start looking beyond just these
very exciting late Tuesday nights we keep spending together, right, as
various states hold their primaries and caucuses.
At least on the Republican side, we`re also going to have to start watching
and covering state Republican Party conventions because the prospect that
Donald Trump might not get enough delegates to win the Republican
nomination out right before their convention starts in July, that prospect
on the Republican side means the contest to win the Republican nomination
is basically moving away from these election nights now and into, instead,
the much lower profile processes which Republican parties in every state
use to choose their delegates for the national convention.
This isn`t what`s been on everybody`s political calendar. But these local
state by state processes for picking delegates, these are the state by
state processes that the Ron Paul campaign gamed to pretty dramatic effect
in 2012 when they stole a bunch of Mitt Romney`s delegates that year,
right, and made for some unexpected drama and even some violent and arrest
on the way to the national Republican convention that year.
It was Ron Paul in 2012 who went after the delegate process in way the
national media didn`t much cover. But this year, it`s the Ted Cruz
campaign who appears to be infiltrating the state party processes meetings
and conventions to turn states that look like they have gone to Donald
Trump into states that instead are kind of secretly for Ted Cruz. It`s the
Ted Cruz campaign that seems to be most effective at organizing slates of
delegates in state after state after state that appear to be actually
planning on working for Ted Cruz at the national convention regardless of
how that state voted this year in their primary or their caucus.
Now, the rules are weird, and the rules differ from state to state in a way
that means that different delegates will have different amounts of freedom
to campaign for the candidate they really like instead of who they`re state
voted for. But this process of locking up double agents, right, sending
your own loyalists to the convention in states all across this country,
this process is under way. And all the campaigns are doing it on the
Republican side. But most reporting seems to indicate that the Ted Cruz
campaign appears to be furthest along in their organizing.
In response, the Donald Trump campaign is now threatening to sue. They`re
threatening a lawsuit in response to basically Ted Cruz out organizing
Donald Trump in Louisiana to get delegates out of Louisiana even though
Donald Trump technically won the primary in that state.
Mr. Trump has tweeted this threat that he`s going to sue Louisiana over the
delegates slate out of that state. After that tweet from Mr. Trump
himself, a representative for Mr. Trump`s campaign told MSNBC today that
yes, maybe it would be a lawsuit or maybe it would be some sort of
otherwise formal complaint.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI MELBER, MSNBC: Barry, why should Trump be able to sue anyone when it`s
literally your job to try to win these delegates under the rules at the
BARRY BENNETT, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, the problem we`re having here
is there was a secret meeting in Louisiana of the convention delegation.
And apparently, all the invitations for our delegates must have gotten lost
in the mail. There`s a process to deal with this. It`s in the
certification process. I`ve been with our legal team most of the morning
now, and we`re moving forward with a complaint to decertify these
MELBER: You`re moving forward with the complaint? Are you telling me
you`re meeting with Trump`s lawyers today? Are you telling us you`re going
to file a legal complaint?
BENNETT: Well, it`s not something you file with the court. It`s something
you file inside the party, but it`s a desertification so these delegates
and rules committee members and folks don`t get seated.
MELBER: Are you saying that will function instead of the lawsuit that
Trump threatened or in addition?
BENNETT: No, I mean, that is the lawsuit that he talked about.
MELBER: Understood. So, that`s with the RNC as a private party appeal.
Interesting news you`re breaking there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ari Melber today on MSNBC.
Apparently, the Donald Trump campaign is going to sue or at least file some
sort of legal complaint with Louisiana to try to change the make up of the
delegate slate that Louisiana is going to send to the national convention.
Of course, they`re going to file a legal complaint, right? Of course,
they`re going to sue.
I mean, since Donald Trump has been running for president, he`s threatened
to sue John Kasich over anti-Trump ads that Mr. Trump heard that a pro-
Kasich super PAC might eventually start running against him. Mr. Trump
threatened to sue John Kasich over that before any such ad had run.
Then, he threatened to sue Ted Cruz for being born in Canada. Then, he
threatened to sue the Ted Cruz campaign, as well as the Club for Growth
when they ran anti-Donald Trump ads that Mr. Trump didn`t like.
It`s kind of the nice window into the mind of a rich businessman, right?
If you ever felt like the legal system and court system are just two more
weapons that rich people use to get what they want in life, Donald Trump is
giving us a window into that mindset.
But it`s one thing to use the court system to get your way with the zoning
board, right, or to settle a dispute with the Miss Universe pageant. It`s
another thing to try to get yourself the presidential nomination of a major
political party. That`s apparently where this is going. Buckle up.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: South Carolina was the third state to vote on the Republican side.
You may remember it was a winner-take-all state and Donald Trump supposedly
won all 50 of state`s delegates. Well, now, “Politico” reports that many
of those actual in the flesh delegate humanoids will be, quote, “anti-
Donald Trump agents who will defect to Ted Cruz and John Kasich at the
first available opportunity.”
Joining us now is “Politico” reporter Kyle Cheney and he`s been on this
beat for Politico.com.
Kyle, it`s nice to see you. Thanks very much for being with us tonight.
KYLE CHENEY, POLITIKCO “CAMPAIGN PRO” REPORTER: Good to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, we`re starting to see this story play out in bunch of states.
South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, maybe Colorado and Michigan ahead.
What do you make of this as a beat? Is it your sense that this is actually
materially where the Republican Party is going to pick its nominee?
CHENEY: I think it`s equally as important as the primaries and caucuses we
have been obsessing over for months, maybe almost a year now. In a sense
that if Donald Trump is the nominee ahead of Cleveland, then maybe this is
all a moot point. But if it`s still undecided when we get to the July
convention, this delegate selection process is going to matter just as much
as the primaries and caucuses themselves and gotten far less attention and
it`s playing out in rapid fire as we speak.
MADDOW: I think this is the only place where it`s gotten lots of attention
because I`m obsessed with this kind of arcane – and because we followed
this in 2012 when the Ron Paul campaign proved good at yanking delegates
out from the Mitt Romney campaign. We thought that they had them all sawed
I wonder, this part because I`m obsessed with this, and in part because
you`ve been watching this up close: do you got – do you have a sense that
one of the campaigns is better at this type of work than the other
CHENEY: There`s no question that everything we`ve heard so far suggests
that Ted Cruz is dominating this part of the race. He connects with the
Republican activist class in way that Donald Trump does not. Donald Trump
performed particularly well among independents and people who are not
traditional Republican voters necessarily. And they`re not the people who
participate in the delegate selection process. So, Cruz has just been
running the table in these early processes so far.
MADDOW: We saw today that Donald Trump had hired a very old school
Republican operative named Paul Manafort, I think is his name, to lead his
delegate efforts. What`s your sense of the Trump campaign? They obviously
are – it may be playing catch up, but it seems like they are trying to
organize some sort of top tier operation of this kind.
CHENEY: They have a team in place and it`s actually a pretty well-skilled
team – a veteran campaign team. They aren`t necessarily building on top
of anything. Ted Cruz has built these ground-up organizations across the
South, across a lot of the states he thought he would perform better in the
primaries. Well, he didn`t necessarily win the primaries, but he does have
these teams in place where Donald Trump was really built on this sort of
indescribable energy that carried him to big victories with new voters, but
not a big operation or infrastructure there to do that delegate fight.
MADDOW: We have gotten threats from the Trump campaign that they`re going
to start suing. They`re going to bring legal complaints at least in
Louisiana to try to get the slate that they want in place. Is that – can
you see that coming? Is that a major part of this fight, that they`re
going to try to do this through the courts or through formal complaint
CHENEY: I have a feeling. I mean, there will be some formal complaints
lodged. I wouldn`t be surprised if we see some contest of certain state
delegations. But to be honest, the rules have been out there for a long
time, and just because Ted Cruz has been better a maneuvering through them
so far, I don`t think the Trump campaign is going to get a lot of traction
in those kind of suits.
MADDOW: Kyle Cheney, reporter for “Politico”, Kyle, I also want to thank
you. It`s been a lifelong dream to interview any member of the Cheney
family. You`re as close as I`ve ever gotten, my friend. Thank you.
CHENEY: Glad to help fulfill that for you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. I would just say, to all other members of the Cheney family,
you see how well Kyle did. You see how well that went? It was very
informative. Everybody got a lot out of it.
Maddows and Cheneys, we could do this. Come on.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So, last week, one of the more unlikely and frankly sort of
shocking political scandals to erupt out of nowhere concerned Alabama`s
Republican governor. Yes, this guy facing explicit allegations of a sex
scandal, facing those allegations from a fired member of his cabinet.
If that was not shocking enough, those allegations were followed up several
hours later by a tape of the governor having phone sex being publicly
Part two of that tape has just been released. Oh, God. That`s next.
MADDOW: Hope you had a good Easter weekend.
The governor of Alabama spent the Saturday of Easter weekend catching what
appears to be an enormous large mouth bass. Look at that fish.
He also spent a portion of the same day also taunting one of his staffers
for catching a much smaller bass on the same trip.
Alabama`s Republican Governor Robert Bentley tweeted this weekend, quote,
“Enjoyed fishing this afternoon with @zlee025, but I think he was using the
I believe @zlee025, the guy with the little fish, I believe he`s a man
named Zach Lee who would be the director of federal and local government
affairs for the state of Alabama working directly for Governor Robert
Mr. Lee started with Governor Bentley on his gubernatorial campaign in
2010. He`s been a top staffer ever since they won that race.
And Governor Robert Bentley staffer Zach Lee is now famous in Alabama
politics not just for his job title, not just for his closeness to the
governor. But now, he`s also famous because he makes a special guest or
appearance on the governor`s phone sex tapes. When the governor seems to
explain to his alleged mistress that he sent texts that were intended for
her to Zach instead by accident.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY (R), ALABAMA: You know, it`s just, a while ago, a
while ago I text you and I said, “I`m sorry I have not been able to call.”
I said something along the lines of “how much time” or something like “I`m
sorry I`ve not had – it went to Zach.
So, well, he said he text me back high pressure he said did you get the
videos. He said. He said, “You sent it to the wrong person, did you get
the videos?” And I text him back and I said, “Yes, I did, Zach.” I said
thanks. I said, “I didn`t mean to send to you. I had some people I need
So, I mean, it was fine. He couldn`t – cause he couldn`t – well, I know.
He couldn`t tell who I was sending it to. It didn`t say, “Hey, baby, I
love you so much. I`d like to spend the rest of my life with you.” And,
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama assuring his alleged mistress
that while he did accidently text one of his top staffers when he meant to
be texting her, he did not say in that text, “Hey, baby I love you so much,
I`d like to spend the rest of my life with you.” So, no worries.
Zach Lee was apparently spared those kinds of details by the luck of the
draw. And we now know that in Alabama Republican politics, getting texts
intended for the governor`s mistress by mistake and thereby getting named
check on the governor`s phone sex tape with his alleged mistress, that`s
not enough to cancel a sweet bass fishing trip the weekend of Easter with
the governor after he tries to humiliate you in public about the size of
You think your job is still sucking. Wow.
Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama did today make his first official public
appearance since last week`s press conference in which he admitted to
having some sort of inappropriate relationship, at least inappropriate
contact with his senior political advisor. At that press conference, he
said he was not considering resigning as governor. But since then, things
have changed in terms of what Alabama knows about their family values
social conservative marriage campaigning Governor Bentley.
The position he staked out at that press conference last week was that
although he did admit to making inappropriate comments, which he would not
discuss or elaborate on, he said that was all he had to apologize for,
because he insisted emphatically that he never had an affair. He said he
never had a physical relationship with this staffer, never had a physical
affair with the senior advisor.
He said last week he was not resigning. He said he never had a physical
affair of any kind. Since then, it`s become harder for the governor to
maintain that position in public in part because of the tape appearing to
have phone sex with his mistress, which was released hours after that press
conference, and in part because of the new extended audio of him apparently
having phone sex with his mistress that was just released late last night
by “Yellow Hammer News” in Alabama.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BENTLEY: You`d kiss me. I love that. You know I do love that. That,
when you know what, when I stand behind you and I put my arms around you,
and I put my hands on your breast. And I put my head on your (INAUDIBLE)
and just pull you in real close. I love that too.
Putting my hands under you.
That did you in?
Oh, babe. I know. I`m thinking about that right now, so I better quit.
You were thinking about it? Yes, I could tell you were thinking about it
Hey, I love you. I love touching you. I do. Hey, I do. I do love
putting my hands on your (INAUDIBLE) and just pulling you in real tight.
I do. I do. I do enjoy it.
Baby, let me tell you what we`re going have to do, we`re going to have to
start locking the door.
If we`re going – if we`re going to what we did the other day, we`re going
to have to start locking the door.
You know, it is – you know what, it is kind of scary. Somebody open that
Yes, I know. He came this morning before I had my clothes on. He just got
to see my boxer shorts. No. Hey, hey, you`ve seen those.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: You`ve seen those. Maybe she does his laundry.
That audio was just released late last night. After promising the people
of Alabama that he never had a physical affair with his senior political
advisor, Governor Bentley was asked at the end of that press conference
last week if he would resign. He said he would not consider resigning.
Since then, we have had two rounds of audio tapes of him having fairly
explicit conversations with the staffer in question about what he liked to
do with her and what he enjoyed having done with her in the past.
And since those tapes were released, Governor Bentley has not, again,
addressed the issue of whether he might resign, but members of his own
party are calling on him to do just that. In Montgomery County, Alabama,
the Republican Party there passed a resolution this weekend calling on
Governor Bentley to leave office. Montgomery is one of the largest
counties in the state.
The main online news site in Alabama, which is Alabamalive.com, the home of
Birmingham News, “The Press Register”, “The Huntsville Times”, they just
did a poll of their readers. It`s not a scientific poll, but it`s had more
than 20,000 response, 89 percent of people responding say they think that
Governor Bentley should resign in Alabama. Only 8 percent thinks that he
should stay in office.
So, I know. I know you. Now is about the time when you`re thinking about
hitting pause on your remote and going to Google the name of the lieutenant
governor of the state of Alabama.
I`ll save you the trip. If and when Governor Bentley resigns, this will be
Alabama`s new governor. Her name is Kay Ivey. She`s been the fixture in
Alabama politics for decides. She`s the first Republican woman to ever
hold the office of lieutenant governor in that state. Kay Ivey is her
Alabama, meet your potential next governor. Watch this space.
MADDOW: Programming note. Whatever your plans are for Wednesday night,
you need to change them or take a rain check or do whatever you want to do
to get out of them because get a load of this:
Wednesday night, starting at 7:00 Eastern, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd
will be hosting a special town hall with Republican presidential John
Kasich. That`s at 7:00.
Then, at 8:00 that same night, Chris Matthews is going to be hosting a town
hall with the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. That`s at
Then, at 9:00, we will have an extra special super sized edition of this
show. I`m going to have exclusive back to back interviews Wednesday night
with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, which means we`ll probably be
on the air longer than our usual one hour, because that`s a lot to get in.
It`s all going to be happening right here on this network, Wednesday night,
starting at 7:00 Eastern, then at 8:00, and then at 9:00, and who knows how
long it goes. So, tomorrow, again, you got Tuesday night primaries
tomorrow night, but then, Wednesday, it`s Katy bar the door. Get ready.
This is your Monday night warning so you can plan. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: There are now three candidates for the Republican nomination for
president. Not that long ago, though, there were 17. And before there
were 17, there were 22. That`s what we started with. We`ve had to poof an
awful lot of people off this list, because it started with 22 Republicans
who were either talking about possibly running for president or who were
not ruling it out when the idea was suggested to them.
Of those initial 22 potential Republican candidates this year, one of them
was Indiana`s Republican Governor Mike Pence. Just one year ago, a lot of
conservatives were pretty excited, in fact, about the prospect of a Mike
Pence run for the White House.
But then this happened. That`s Indiana Governor Mike Pence surrounded by
invited guests of a very specific stripe, signing a bill that protected the
right of people in Indiana to discriminate on the basis of sexual
orientation. There was so much backlash to that Indiana law that companies
including Salesforce and Angie`s List pulled their business from the state.
Huge corporations like Apple, and Accenture and Eli Lilly condemned the
law. The NBA and the NCAA said they were reconsidering their events in
Indiana became such a pariah for that law that within a week the Governor
Mike Pence had to backtrack and amend the bill that he had just signed. He
had to amend the discrimination bill to make it seem like somehow less of a
discrimination bill. It`s just a disaster.
And despite Mike Pence`s supposed after the fact fix to the bill, that law
appears to have cost Indiana at least $60 million in lost revenue from
companies and organizations moving their business elsewhere. And no, Mike
Pence is not a candidate for president, obviously.
Mike Pence and the disaster of his discrimination bill and the way he
handled it, that became an object lesson for other American governors.
While Mike Pence was writhing his way through that mess in Indiana, the
legislature in Arkansas simultaneously passed its own version of that
discrimination bill. After getting pressure from a little company you
might have heard of called Walmart and from mayor of Arkansas`s largest
city and even from the governor`s own son, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson
ended up rejecting that bill that Mike Pence had just signed.
Well, today, that same thing happened in Georgia. Georgia Governor Nathan
Deal announced today that he`ll veto the discrimination bill the Georgia
legislature just sent him. That means that Governor Deal may among others
have just saved his state from some fairly serious economic repercussions.
Big companies like Delta, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, they`re all based in
Atlanta. They had all been super critical of that bill. Disney and Marvel
said they would stop filming in Georgia if this bill became law. Georgia
has a multibillion dollar film and TV business now. The NFL said Atlanta
might not be allowed to hold a Super Bowl. Over a dozen conventions said
to move out of the state if this thing became law.
So, if you`re looking for immediate context for why a Republican governor
would veto Republican legislation like this, you can probably thank those
business concerns but you also thank Mike Pence for making such an example
of himself and his state, in a bad way.
That disaster in Indiana did apparently scare off Arkansas. Arguably, it
scared off South Dakota as well whose governor vetoed an anti-transgender
bill earlier this month. It also appears today to have dissuaded Governor
Nathan Deal in Georgia.
But that same apparently did not get to Governor Pat McCrory of North
Carolina. North Carolina`s legislature last week called an emergency
session. They spent more than $40,000 in state money to rush the entire
legislature back from vacation so on an emergency basis, they could pass a
law that combine the greatest hits of both Indiana`s and South Dakota`s
bill and for good measure overturned every local anti-discrimination
ordinance in the state of North Carolina.
They rushed back and introduced and passed that bill. Governor McCrory
signed it in the space of 12 hours. And now, predictably, not only are
Apple and Facebook and Bank of America, and American Airlines, and PayPal
and a bunch of other companies basically freaking out that they are doing
business in state with a law like that, not only is the NBA considering
pulling the all-star game out of Charlotte and ESPN is rethinking holding
the X Games there, not only does Pat McCrory have hundreds of protesters
outside his house, now the state is about to get their pants sued off them
by the ACLU.
Joining us now is ACLU staff attorney, Chase Strangio. He`s one of the
lawyers that file this lawsuit.
Mr. Strangio, thanks for being here.
CHASE STRANGIO, ACLU, LOST & AIDS PROJECT: Yes, thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Sues the pants off is not a technical term.
STRANGIO: That`s the official term.
MADDOW: Why do you contend that this law is unconstitutional?
STRANGIO: Yes. So, this morning, the ACLU, along with our partners at
Lambda Legal, filed a lawsuit against Governor McCrory and other officials
in North Carolina over HB2. To us, it`s very clear that this law is
unconstitutional, that it violates the equality and liberty protections
under the Constitution. It also violates federal law – federal law that
protects against sex discrimination and educational institutional receiving
So, our lawsuit has both constitutional claims as well as Title IX claims.
MADDOW: You`ve named – you have plaintiffs in this case. Some of the
defendants include the governor himself, the University of North Carolina
system. Tell us about your plaintiffs and why this would have a day-to-day
effect on their lives.
STRANGIO: As you mention, one of the things about this law that`s so
disturbing is it does combine all the horrible things we have seen in the
almost 200 bills that have been introduced targeting LGBT people. And so
many of those laws target transpeople in particular. And this law
specifically mandates that transgender people use the bathroom and locker
room in public in government buildings and in schools across the state.
That is according to what`s listed on their birth certificate and not based
on who they are.
So, our clients are two transgender men who are men, who live their lives
as men, who had up until this emergency legislative session gone to school
and used the bathroom along with other men, and they were gone to work,
used the bathroom along with other men at work. Now, all of a sudden, the
legislature said, no, you can no longer do that and our clients are
impacted by this, as are all the transgender people in North Carolina.
And I think, you know, what we know about this conversation and I think
it`s really important to note this is that there`s been a lie that`s been
peddled, several lies actually that have been peddled across the country in
pushing this anti-transgender bills, as well as in trying to push back
against affirmative nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. And
those lies are first, that protecting trans people somehow allows predators
into restrooms to assault not transgendered people, and the even more
insidious lie is that somehow transgender people are a threat to the
existence of other people.
And so, our clients are standing up and saying that`s not true. Trans
people deserve to have access to public space. It`s not a threat to
anyone`s public safety to extend on discrimination protections to people
based on gender identity and sexual orientation. And there has never been
ever in the history of nondiscrimination protection or anything in the
United States, an example of someone exploiting a non-discrimination
ordinance for the purpose of assaulting someone in a bathroom.
Because as you mentioned, there`s been a whole rash of these laws proposed
and enacted in some cases across the country. But a ton of them proposed.
Is this new legal ground that you`re on if you win, if you prevail in this
case in North Carolina, are you going to be setting a new benchmark in
terms of non-discrimination law, or do you feel like you`re following
STRANGIO: I think we`re following pretty basic precedent here. I mean,
two things. On the sexual orientation side with the LGBT protection that
had been stripped, you know, there`s a long history of the court, saying it
is not a legitimate government interest to pass a law just because you
don`t like a politically unpopular group. And so, you can trace that back
to Romer versus Evans in 1996, where we saw really the beginning of the
jurisprudence that led to the decision by the Supreme Court this last June
in the marriage equality decision.
And then when it comes to discriminating against transgender people, the
law is also very clear that it is impermissible sex discrimination to
target and discriminate against transgender people. So, in a lot of
respects, we`re following the precedent that`s been set for us in the
courts over the last 20 years. But the lawsuit is really just part of a
larger conversation that needs to happen and that is happening where people
are mobilizing outside the governor`s mansion, transpeople are coming out,
telling our stories and saying, you know what, this conversation needs to
shift, these lies have to stop being told and we`re going to demand that
people take us and our needs seriously through litigation and through
MADDOW: Chase Strangio, staff attorney with the ACLU, we`ve been watching
the economic part of this and the business argument about this and the
political argument about this. Now, we get to watch the legal part.
Thanks for helping us understand it.
STRANGIO: Absolutely. Thanks so much.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The Republican Party in the great state of Florida would like your
attention, please. Florida Republicans want you to know that seven
counties in their state have flipped to red, Bradford County, Columbia
County, Washington County. You get the idea. All, in those seven
counties, registered Republicans now outnumber registered Democrats.
Now, I should tell you, six of those seven counties already voted
Republican. Most of them went for Mitt Romney last time. But now, their
voter registration matches their voting pattern and there are more
registered Republicans in those counties than there are registered
“The Miami New Times” speculates that that`s due to Donald Trump, that some
conservatives in those counties may have finally gotten around to updating
their registration because they wanted to vote for Donald Trump in the
Florida primary. Or maybe they wanted to vote against him. Who knows?
We`ve checked those seven newly red Florida counties today and in six of
them the number of registers Democrats did drop over the past month. And
Donald Trump did clean up this month in Florida. He won every county
except the one that gave us Marco Rubio.
If voters who switched to being Republican meant to join the stop Trump
campaign, it didn`t work in that state. If they went to the trouble of
switching from blue to red because they like Donald Trump that much –
well, that`s a whole other thing for Democrats to worry about.
More on that ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor did not spend the morning of his
2014 primary out shaking the hands of his constituents or nervously
tallying up the internal polling numbers for his campaign. Eric Cantor
spent the morning of his primary 2014 at Starbucks.
Congressman Cantor was very confident he would sail to victory against his
anti-establishment Republican primary challenger that day that he didn`t
even spend the morning campaigning. He instead held a fund-raising meeting
at a Capitol Hill Starbucks.
By that night, however, Eric Cantor was out of a job. He was not just
defeated in his primary, he got laminated. He lost by double digits.
And to be honest, I don`t think his challenger really saw the upset coming
either. Congressman-elect Dave Brat ended up holding his victory rally
that night in what “The Washington Post” described at the time as, quote,
“the atrium of a nondescript building at an office park.”
I have never run for office but I promise you the atrium of a nondescript
building at an office park, that is not the venue you book when you think
you`re about to pull off one of the biggest and highest-profile
congressional upsets in American history.
It`s been nearly two years since Dave Brat ousted Congressman Eric Cantor.
But now once again we are seeing what maybe looks like an anti-
establishment insurgency in the Republican Party. From the time Donald
Trump started rolling up actual primary victories, establishment
Republicans have worried that Mr. Trump not only – might not only make the
party look bad at the top of the ticket this fall, he might generate a new
groundswell of anti-establishment throw the bums out enthusiasm among
So, maybe we`ll see lots more Republicans losing their seats in primary
fights just like Eric Cantor did in 2014. That`s been the worry. Now we
know, though, that`s not happening. Every single Republican incumbent in
Congress who has been primaried so far this year has won, all of them.
House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady faced the toughest primary battle
so far. He still beat his closest challenger by 16 points. Alabama
Senator Richard Shelby and Richard Burr from North Carolina, they were both
thought to be kind of vulnerable. Then they each won their primaries by
more than 35 points.
The future not having happened to us yet, it is hard to know the effect a
Trump nomination will have on down-ticket Republicans in the general
election, but for now at least we are not seeing a big rush to throw the
bums out. People don`t seem hell-bent on an anti-incumbent insurgency in
the Republican Party. That appears to be one of the myths perpetrated this
year that really isn`t borne out by the facts.
Republicans are not saying no to the Republican Party or to Republican
incumbents in any measurable way at all. They`re just saying yes to Donald
Trump. Everybody freak out.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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