The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 4/21/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: April 21, 2016
Guest: Gail Mitchell, Donna Edwards, John Stanton
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: Coming up at 10:00 p.m., special hour,
Brian Williams hosts “Prince: Purple Reign.” That`s in one hour.
But, first, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris, that was a super, super, super
smart discussion. Awesome.
HAYES: Oh, thanks. Thanks.
MADDOW: And you used the word “orthogonal” in a sentence, like just
read right through it, like didn`t even pause for emphasis to say I`m about
to say orthogonal. You just like dropped it and rolled. It was amazing.
MADDOW: I know. I can`t keep up.
HAYES: A little tribute. All right.
MADDOW: Thanks, man.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. There`s a lot of the
news tonight. We`ve got a big show ahead this hour.
We`ve got John Stanton here, my buddy from “BuzzFeed”, is here
Congresswoman Donna Edwards is here. She is maybe on the cusp of
pulling off what would be a huge upset in a big Senate race in Maryland
next week. She`s going to be joining us.
There`s a lot to get to over the course of this hour.
But we start with this – if you are ever going to testify before
Congress, or testify before the United States Senate, one thing, not the
most important thing, but one sort of important thing if you`re going to do
that is that you need to look the part, right? You need to dress like
you`re going to address the United States Senate.
On that score, Dee Snider from the band Twisted Sister has always
been at the top of my list for how to make the best visual impression
possible when testifying before the United States Senate. That same day
back in 1985, that Senate committee had heard already from Frank Zappa, who
was hilarious in his testimony, but who also wore a very nice, conservative
suit and a positively Trump-esque red Republican tie to give his hilarious
That same committee had also heard from John Denver that day, the
great John Denver, who was there to testify against censorship and against
the sort of soft-form censorship that you start to ease into when you start
putting official warning labels on different kinds of artistic expression.
John Denver was there to testify against that kind censorship. He was also
there to make clear his song “Rocky Mountain High” was not about that kind
But then in comes Dee Snider – God bless him – from Twisted Sister,
pride of Long Island. And no, Dee Snider did not wear a suit and tie when
he testified that day, far from it. But boy was he prepared for that
testimony and fired up. And when he walk the in wearing that muscle shirt
and slipped off his jean jacket vest with the arms ripped off and pulled
out that piece of paper out of his pocket, I am quite sure this is not what
the United States Senate was expecting from his testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEE SNIDER, TWISTED SISTER FRONTMAN: Thank you for having me here.
I don`t know if it`s morning or afternoon. I`ll say both. Good
morning and good afternoon.
My name is Dee Snider. That`s S-N-I-D-E-R. I`m 30 years old. I`m
married. I have a 3-year-old son.
I was born and raised a Christian and I still adhere to those
principles. Believe it or not, I do not drink, I do not smoke, and I do
not do drugs. I do play in and write the songs for a rock `n` roll band
named Twisted Sister.
I would like to use this occasion to speak on a more personal note
and show just how unfair the whole concept of lyrical interpretation and
judgment can be and how many times this can amount to little more than
Accusation number one. This attack was contained in an article
written by Tipper Gore which was given the form of a full page in my
hometown newspaper on Long Island. In this article, Ms. Gore claimed that
one of my songs, “Under the Blade”, had lyrics encouraging sadomasochism,
bondage and rape.
The lyrics she quoted have absolutely nothing to do with these topics
– on the contrary. The words in question are about surgery and the fear
that it instills in people.
As the creator of “Under the Blade” I can say categorically that the
only sadomasochism, bondage and rape in this song is in the mind of Ms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was 1985. Dee Snider and his band Twisted Sister had
been put on a sort of hit list by a group called the Parents Music Resource
Center which was founded in 1985 by, among others, then-Senator Al Gore`s
wife Tipper Gore, who you see on the left. Also Susan Baker, who was
married to the treasury secretary at the time, James Baker.
They co-founded it along with a bunch of other well-connected
Washington worthies who were very concerned about the filthifying of
America`s pop culture of that time.
This was one of the great cultural freak-outs of my lifetime. It is
burned into my childhood memories. In the short run, that fight led to
those black and white warning labels you used to find on American music
back when American music was a physical object that you bought at a store.
The Washington freak-out that led to those labels started with this
really specific hit list. It was a hit list of 15 songs, some of which
were hits, some of which were not, 15 songs the Parents Music Resource
Council singled out as being particularly troubling pieces of music.
Pieces of music that presumably they found particularly helpful in trying
to convince the country that there was something deeply wrong in our
culture that we needed to be protected from or at least warned about and
these songs were it.
And Twisted Sister had a huge hit song at the time called, “We`re Not
Gonna Take It”. “We`re Not Gonna Take It” was number seven on that list of
15 for its supposedly violent content.
But number one on that hit list was, of course, a song by Prince. It
was the song “Darling Nikki”, which is, in fact, a really dirty song.
“Darling Nikki” was the last song on side one of Prince`s album “Purple
Rain” which came out in 1984. And “Darling Nikki”, thanks to the Parents
Resource Council very quickly became the poster child of what was so
terribly wrong with American culture and American music specifically. And
that came out in 1984 that record. By 1985, we had those black explicit
content warning stickers on records.
Even before the advent of those warning stickers in 1985, though,
Prince`s lyrics pushed the envelope so far, Prince`s lyrics were so
unapologetic and graphic about sex in particular, that even before we got
those rectangular black and white national warning stickers in 1985, before
that, Warner Brothers had started putting warning stickers on all of
Prince`s records starting I think with his first record in 1978.
They were all slapped with little custom stick there`s said, contained
language which may be unsuitable for some listeners. And, boy, were those
warning stickers effective.
As a child growing up in the 1980s, there was no more powerful
attractant to me in a record store than those little stickers. Come on.
Don`t look at this! It`s bad for you! Definitely don`t pick this one up
and take it home!
You know? So parents and even lawmakers were in this bind, right?
Because Prince was definitely their poster child for their own concerns
about music that seemed way too sexy to be safe.
But by making him their poster child for that concern, they ended up
making a really fascinating and sexy poster. Which made him not just
something you might discover at your local record store if it was an
excellent record store. It made him something you might discover on the
news. It made him something you might hear about even if you knew nothing
And, you know, we do this periodically as a country. It`s almost
like it`s on a timer, at least for music. The previous panic over Elvis
Presley`s hip gyrations had passed. Just enough time had passed and
America was ready for our next national freak-out/crush/panic/fascination
with an obscenely talented, genre-bending male musician and performer who
gleefully scrambled our fairly rigid ideas about not only race but
specifically what male sexuality is supposed to look like.
And so, apparently we got over Elvis enough that we needed a new one.
By the 1980s, it was Prince`s turn. And the freak-out and all the rest of
it was unsubtle in every way.
When his record “Dirty Mind” came out in 1980, Robert Christgau
review it for “The Village” newspaper. And he said, quote, “Mick Jagger
should fold up his penis and go home.”
I`m telling you, it wasn`t subtle. Even if you weren`t bothered by
it, even if you came to praise and not condemn, it was not subtle. Mick
Jagger and the Rolling Stones in fact asked Prince to open up for them at a
bunch of their shows right after “Dirty Mind” came out.
But it turns out Rolling Stones fans can handle a lot from Mick
Jagger, they could not handle it from Prince. They could not deal with
Prince on stage. According to news reports at the time, Rolling Stones
fans pelted Prince with food and bottles and booed him off the stage at
Rolling Stones concerts. So that arrangement did not last, right?
Such is the mind of America. “Sticky Fingers”, sure. “Dirty Mind”?
In 1981, “The New York Times” sent Steven Holden to review Prince at
a live show he did in New York City while he was touring in support of
“Dirty Mind.” Steven Holden called Prince in that review, called him a
wunderkind, said he was electrifying, called him a renegade in the manner
of such black rock artists as Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix.
But then the culmination of his review was this. And I said that the
freak-out over Prince and Prince`s frankness and glorification of six was
an unsubtle thing. It was very, very unsubtle. Even in the pages of the
old gray lady, the “New York Times.”
Just check this out. I`ll quote directly from Steven Holden`s review
of that Prince show in 1981. Ready?
“Prince sings exclusively in a falsetto which he pushes at times to
an eerie caterwauling intensity. This style is ideally suited to the
theatrical lasciviousness that is central to Prince`s act. On stage,
Prince displays an unbridled street eroticism, wearing black bikini briefs,
fringed high heel boots, thick thigh high stockings. He is sexual license
I don`t even know how Steven Holden got home from that show that
night, if that was the experience that he had in that club. You`re sure
you can still walk, sir?
But actually the way he ends that review is just as important. This
is the end of the review. “Prince is such a charismatic performer, though,
that his stylized salaciousness does not offend. With his sassy grace and
precocious musicality, he is heir to the defiant rock `n` roll traditions
of Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, and Jimi Hendrix.”
So that was the spring of 1981 after “Dirty Mind” came out. But by
that fall, Prince would have another incredible record out called fittingly
“Controversy.” key lyrics in the title track, am I black or white, am I
straight or gay, do I believe in God, do I believe in me?
That`s the song that features him reciting the whole Lord`s Prayer
beginning to end. Our father who art in heaven, he says the whole prayer,
followed shortly thereafter by saying, people call me rude, I wish we all
The pace at which Prince came out with these unbelievably good,
seminal records, and I mean that in both senses, the pace at which he
worked was incredible. Remember that song, “I Want To Be Your Lover”?
That was on his self-titled record that came out in 1979. So, “For You,”
his first record 1978, “Prince” 1979, “Dirty Mind” came out in 1980,
“Controversy” came in 1981, “1999” came out in 1982.
“1999” had that huge title hit, “Party Like it`s 1999,” right? And
also, that also had “Little Red Corvette”, and “Delirious”. Then only two
years after that in 1984, he came out with “Purple Rain” which is one of
the all-time greatest records ever made by an American musician.
The title track “Purple Rain,” “Let`s Go Crazy”, Take Me With You”,
“When Doves Cry”, “I Will Die For You”, all those hits on that one regard.
Not to mention “Darling Nikki” which curled Tipper Gore`s hair, which
scandalized the country to the point of distraction, and which brought us
Dee Snider in the United States Senate, looking amazing, sticking up for
Christian values of Long Island, and sparking some interesting conversation
about the fear of surgery in his lyrics.
And all of these years later, all of these albums later, all of these
remarkably eclectic hits later, after changing his name to an
unpronounceable symbol after the one album he released that you see here
which was called “Love Sexy”, with the kind of adorable naked picture of
himself on the cover, that was the record he insisted all nine songs of the
album be released as a single track on the CD. So you could not skip
between them. You had to listen to them all at once even though they were
nine different songs no matter what.
After all his eccentric brilliance, after his epic fights with his
record company, after one of the greatest Super Bowl halftime performs of
all-time, after all of this, there may be an American somewhere who still
sees Prince as a news story, who still sees him as a scandal or as a risk
to the nation somehow. My guess is if you still believe that, you probably
also believe that Twisted Sister is violent and threatening as well.
But for all the ways that he was used politically for all the
resistance and fear he engendered, you know, for all the radio stations
that wouldn`t touch time for years, he still stands apart from almost every
other musician and artist who found themselves vilified by politicians or
objectified as some sign of cultural degeneracy. I mean, a lot of artists
have had that put on them.
But he stands apart, at least in the modern music world, for one
reason, which is that basically, in his generation of musicians, no one was
as good. No one was in his league. Prince was not like anyone among the
other musicians of his time.
I mean, part of that you could tell from the small print on his
records. Flip over one of his records, open up the insert that comes with
the record, and there it is on all of them. Produced, arranged, composed
and performed by Prince. Look up at the credits for “Purple Rain” alone,
just for that one astonishing record.
In “The Washington Post” obituary for him today, they quote the all
music credits for “Purple Rain,” all music is basically an index listing –
in this case who did what on that record. All the credits are done in
alphabetical order. So, for “Purple Rain,” with all of those hit singles
So, for “Purple Rain” , alphabetically, the arranger was Prince. The
bass was played by Prince. The composer was Prince. The guitar was
Prince. The keyboards were Prince. The primary artist was Prince. The
producer was Prince. The vocals were Prince. The background vocals were
He was his own studio band. He produced all of his own records
starting when he was a teenager. He wrote everything he ever did. In
addition to writing everything he ever did, including some of the best pop
songs of all-time, he wrote some of the other best pop songs of the 1980s
that were recorded by other people.
“I Feel for You” by Chaka Khan, that was Prince. “Manic Monday” by
the Bengals, that was Prince. “Nothing Compares to You” by Sinead
O`Connor, that was Prince.
In terms of his live performances alone, there are fans of Bruce
Springsteen who will wax as rhapsodic about the experiences of seeing a
live Springsteen show, but other than that, I`m not sure there is any
comparison in his era.
From the previous generation, the best comparison ever made for him
as a performer was James Brown, which of course then leads to the famous
tape of James Brown in 1983 inviting Prince up on stage with him at a
concert in Los Angeles whereupon Prince, standing next to James Brown,
promptly steals the show.
Gets on stage with James Brown, grabs somebody else`s random guitar
from some member of the band who was previous playing on stage, Prince
grabs the other guy`s guitar, wanders around looking for a pick, finally
gets the guy to give him a pick, settles the guitar on his hip having never
touched that instrument before, takes over and absolutely shreds. James
Brown looks on in disbelief.
So that was his marching order, right? James Brown, the giants of
previous generations. And we all only get to live in one period of time
called a lifetime. And over the course of all of our lifetimes, there will
not be that many cultural geniuses and cultural giants who we live among.
There are only a few in every generation.
And as you can tell, I am no good about talking about culture. But
it is almost impossible to believe that Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead
today in his home just house Minneapolis at the age of 57.
We don`t yet know the cause of death. The local sheriff`s office and
medical examiner say they are investigating. They say he was unresponsive
when they were called to his home, they were not able to revive him. He
never came back. He was pronounced dead before they got him to the
hospital before noon eastern time today.
He had recently canceled some appearances because of illness. He`d
had to have an emergency landing on a flight home from a concert on Friday.
He was briefly hospitalized after he landed for what they said at the time
was flu or dehydration. That was Friday night.
But then on Saturday night, he was well enough to invite fans to come
to his house for a dance party where he made an appearance and local press
in Minneapolis reported that he basically wanted to assure everybody that
his health was fine and that`s why he threw the party.
So, he died this morning. We don`t yet know the cause of death. We
don`t yet know what was going on with him health-wise. But he was only 57
years old when he died today.
And there will certainly be other American musicians who will
scandalize us, who will freak us out and upset our parents and make our
politicians embarrass themselves in public. But there will never be
anybody else like him.
Joining us now is Gail Mitchell. She`s a senior editor at
“Billboard” magazine. She`s written extensively about Prince and his place
in the culture.
Ms. Mitchell, it`s really nice to have you here tonight, thank you so
much for making time.
GAIL MITCHELL, BILLBOARD MAGAZINE SENIOR EDITOR: Thank you for
MADDOW: I experienced Prince just as a fan. And I`m not great at
putting words on cultural phenomena, cultural experiences.
How do you put anymore in the pantheon of the artists of our time,
how big a deal is he to the American world of music?
MITCHELL: I think there`s the word “diva,” then you have the word
that people say is overused, the word “icon.” which people kind of throw
around a lot.
But I think there`s a very small universe of icons who stand out and
are going to stand out over time. So we`re talking like a Michael Jackson,
we`re talking a Stevie Wonder, we`re talking the Beatles and Jagger and the
Stones. But certainly Prince.
And just listening to your commentary, opening up this segment, it
just took me down memory lane to really – it`s just amazing, everything
that he accomplished, pushing the envelope, multi-instrumentalist. He was
doing DIY before all the indie artists today were doing DIY.
It`s just – he just opened the door to a lot of different things and
a lot of the different influences on his generation and certainly the
generation that`s emerging now.
MADDOW: The upset that he caused, particularly thinking back to the
beginning of his career in the early `80s and the mid `80s, what I was
trying to highlight around the warning labels and the freak-out about the
sexual content of his lyrics and everything, obviously, that`s something
that started his legacy. It did not become the end of his legacy. He grew
so much larger than that in terms his influence.
I wonder, though, if you feel like what he did there, the shock that
he accomplished there, if that made other things more possible in his wake
that wouldn`t have been possible without him.
MITCHELL: I think you have a point there. I think he was just – he
– it`s cliche to say that somebody lives, breathes, eats, sleeps and
drinks music, but I think Prince was one of those and I think he had
something he wanted to show and he wanted to make this big breakout
You mentioned the first album for you, “Soft and Wet” was on that
album, and he just made everybody stand up and go, who in the heck is this
guy? What does he think he`s doing?
And it was interesting to see you go back to the whole Tipper Gore
thing, when prior to that you had somebody like Marvin Gaye who had the
“Let`s Get It On” album which was certainly very salacious for that time in
the late `70s. And here`s Prince to just take that to the next level and
push it. And just say, you know, this is how I feel, this is what I want
to put out in my music and I`m not going to be censored. If you like it,
fine. If you don`t, fine. And in his instance, because he was so
talented, a lot of people the world over liked it.
MADDOW: Gail Mitchell from “Billboard” magazine – I should say
Prince was one of the people who a lot of music journalists said was
basically impossible to interview. Your interview with him for the big
feature you did in “Billboard” in 2013 I thought was one of the best
interviews I ever read with him.
MITCHELL: Thank you so much very.
MADDOW: Congratulations on having gotten close enough to him to do
that. Thanks for being with us tonight.
MITCHELL: Thank you for having me again. Thanks.
MADDOW: All right. So, today`s the kind of day where no matter what
else you plan to talk about, you are going to end up talking about Prince.
Case in point is coming up later on in the show.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: I have a story about a political contest in this country
that`s being fought really hard and passionately and at close range and
with totally unpredictable results. And it is playing out not at the
presidential level but in the shadows of the presidential race. It`s
coming to a head in just a couple of days. We`ve got one of the combatants
here tonight, she joins us next.
Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Comments on Prince`s death?
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I feel
badly about Prince. Not really, though. I never really – I never saw him
in concert. That was a mistake for me not to have been able to follow him,
to see him in concert, because he was an extraordinary musician. And they
say they have enough unrecorded music now to last, they could put an album
out every year for 100 years. Remarkable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, weighing in today
after he was asked his thoughts about the passing of music icon Prince.
Governor Kasich was campaigning in Pennsylvania today. The latest
polling has him in third place in Pennsylvania, only 2 points behind Ted
Cruz. So could be worse.
Pennsylvania is one of five states that`s going to be voting in next
Tuesday`s elections. Along with Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, and
Now, Donald Trump has huge leads in the most recent polls in
Pennsylvania and in Connecticut and in Maryland. Delaware and Rhode Island
don`t really have polling at this point but we`re expecting a poll in Rhode
Island tomorrow, so we`ll see if that`s also true in the nation`s smallest
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders also spent the day in
Pennsylvania today after he took a day off at home in Burlington, Vermont,
yesterday. Today, he held three events across Pennsylvania.
On the Democratic side, the polling is late bit of a mirror of what`s
going on in the Republican race where the front-runner, in this case
Hillary Clinton, is leading in all the states where there is polling.
Although at least in Connecticut, for example, her lead is not as big as
Donald Trump`s is.
But the prospect of an exciting, potentially closer race on the
Democratic side, one that elicits lots of attention from the candidates,
one that drives lots of voter turnout because of that, that is an exciting
prospect, not just for the Sanders versus Clinton race at the presidential
level. That`s also an exciting prospect because both in Maryland and in
Pennsylvania, those states have another big primary race on the ballot that
day. Each of those states have a big primary race on the ballot that day
on the Democratic side other than the Sanders versus Clinton matchup at the
In Pennsylvania, it`s a Senate seat that`s currently held by this
guy, Republican incumbent Senator Pat Toomey. He is seen as one of the
most vulnerable Republican incumbent in the whole Senate this year.
Democrats think they have a really good chance to pick off his seat in
November. Depending on who they pick as their Democratic candidate.
And that is going to be decided on Tuesday where the two leading
Democratic contenders in Pennsylvania are Joe Sestak, he`s a former
congressman, Navy admiral, former Senate candidate, he almost beat Pat
Toomey once before. And also, Katie McGinty, she`s been chief of staff to
the current Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. She has lots of institutional
Democratic support in the state.
Joe Sestak has been up in the polls in recent weeks. But today
there`s a Monmouth poll in Pennsylvania that shows Joe Sestak and Katie
McGinty tied, 39 points each.
But then there`s John Fetterman who`s running for the same seat. The
tattooed, telegenic, Harvard-educated 6`8” size of a silo mayor of the rust
belt town of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Even though Fetterman doesn`t have
the same name recognition or the establishment that support his opponents
do, John Fetterman did just get a major endorsement from the Pennsylvania
Media Group today, which is an important media outlet in the state. So,
Pennsylvania. Then there`s Maryland, which is going to have its
hugely important primary on the same day. Not just for the presidential
race but for the chance to take over the seat of legendary Democratic
Senator Barbara Mikulski. The leading contenders are grist Chris Van
Hollen, who`s been a member of Congress since 2003, and Donna Edwards who`s
been in Congress since 2008.
Now, polling has been relatively close the last few weeks, but the
latest poll out today from money moth has Congressman Van Hollen up by
Right now, in the United States Senate there are only two African-
American senators in the whole Senate. Democrat Corey Booker from New
Jersey, Republican Tim Scott from South Carolina. If Donna Edwards were
elected to the Senate, she would be the first African-American senator ever
from the state of Maryland and only the second African-American woman to
serve in the Senate from anywhere ever.
But in Congresswoman Edwards` quest to make this run, she has not
necessarily gotten support from people you might expect her to get support
from. One typical – excuse me, not typical. One interesting example
featured today by Politico.com concerns the support that she`s gotten or
not gotten from her colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus. Only
four of the 46 members of the Congressional Black Caucus are backing Donna
Edwards in this Senate race. None of them are backing Chris Van Hollen,
but all the rest of the Congressional Black Caucus has chosen to stay out
of it, which itself is a very intriguing thing.
Joining us is Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland. Congressman
Edward, it`s really nice to have you here tonight. Thank you so much for
REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I have to ask a favor, I desperately want to talk about this
race and it`s very exciting. But my producers told me, casually mentioned
you have a Prince story that I need to hear. Is it true that you have a
EDWARDS: I do. And I was so saddened by his transition today. I
actually did a lot of domestic violence work many years ago and happened to
be in Albuquerque, new Mexico, for a conference. And in my hotel, Prince
was staying there and I ran into him in an elevator. I told him why I was
in Albuquerque. And he gave me stage passes for his concert. And I never
had so much fun.
MADDOW: Oh my God, wow. Wow. That`s a very good story, I`m glad I
Now I`m going to ask about this race on Tuesday. Congressman Van
Hollen was pretty heavily favored for the seat as soon as anybody figured
he might run for this seat.
Knowing that, why did you decide to run for it? You knew it was
going to be uphill, you knew he would have a lot of institutional support.
What was it in you, what was it in the things that are facing Maryland, the
prospects for this year, that made you decide this was the year for you to
go for it?
EDWARDS: Well, I also knew that Maryland is a great state and we
have a lot going for us. But the fact is that the voices of so many
Marylanders who are middle-class families, people who are struggling to get
into the middle class, families like mine, and our voices are really
missing from the United States Senate.
And I thought that in my candidacy I could offer a really unique
perspective for the young men and women who may have committed an offense
and want to get a second chance, or for those families who are struggling
to pay the rent and the electric the way I did and juggle day care
expenses, and the voices of ordinary Americans, ordinary Marylanders, are
really missing from the United States Senate.
I believe that I provide a unique perspective as a woman, as an
African-American woman, as a mom of a young man that I`ve had to raise
mostly on my own. And I think that that is something that`s missing when
it comes to our public policy. And those are voices when all of our voices
are at the table, I think we make better decisions.
MADDOW: With so much focus on the presidential race this year, at
the beginning of the calendar you`d never know this deep into the
presidential primary calendar that Maryland would be crucial and that it
would be still so important in this fight on the Democratic side. I have
to ask if that has meant that your race has gone differently that you might
have expected it to. What is the Clinton versus Sanders fight, how has
that affected how you`ve been running and how this contest has gone for you
EDWARDS: You know, I`ve been very focused on my race. But the fact
is that now we have a pretty hot presidential contest that`s coming to
Maryland. And I think, frankly, many of the supporters of Bernie Sanders
who are really sort of pushing against the establishment are people who
have a natural alliance with me. But I also believe that there are many
supporters of Hillary Clinton`s, of Secretary Clinton`s, who have an
alliance as well.
And I believe that the higher the voter turnout is in Maryland, the
stronger chance that I have of winning this election.
And you know what, it`s really not about me. It`s about all those
families there who want somebody and deserve somebody to take Senator
Mikulski`s seat who is a fighter like she is, who wants to fight for our
middle-class families, our small businesses, grow jobs in our economy.
They need a voice around the table.
You know, it`s kind of an irony. Here we are a day after Harriet
Tubman`s face was announced to appear on the $20 bill. And Harriet Tubman
spent a bit of her lifetime, was born in Maryland. And I think in the
great state of Maryland, we have an opportunity to make history by electing
me as the first African-American woman elected to the Senate, only the
second in our nation`s history. But also to make a real difference in the
lives of the middle class and those who are struggling to get in it.
MADDOW: Donna Edwards, Democratic congresswoman from Maryland, now
running her party`s primary for Senate which will happen on Tuesday in the
midst of that big presidential fight there too, it`s going to be a real
exciting day on Tuesday.
Good luck, Congresswoman. Thanks for joining us tonight.
EDWARDS: Thank you.
MADDOW: We`ve got much more ahead on what has turned out to be an
unexpectedly busy news night. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: You almost pity these guys. Almost. Almost.
Just when you thought it could not get any worse for these two red
state governors, when you thought there could not be more backlash to the
new discrimination laws they just signed, today it got much, much worse for
them. And way more high profile at the same time.
Political pressure turned up to 11. That`s next.
MADDOW: The United Kingdom has just issued a travel advisory warning
British travelers about a dangerous tourist destination called the United
States of America. Specifically the U.K. is warning its citizens about
traveling to the states of North Carolina and Mississippi, because both of
those states recently passed new laws allowing or mandating discrimination
against LGBT people.
The British government is warning its own citizens, quote, “LGBT
travelers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of
North Carolina and Mississippi.” The British government offers some advice
for how British citizens might stay safe when traveling in hostile environs
like some American states. The advice includes tips like, avoiding
physical shows of affection, ignoring unwelcome attention or remarks.
So, congratulations, North Carolina and Mississippi. Your Republican
governors and Republican legislatures have now given your states a new
global reputation that you didn`t necessarily have before.
Today, the commissioner of the NBA said that if North Carolina`s new
discrimination law stays put, Charlotte, North Carolina, can likely say
good-bye to next year`s NBA all-star game, that comes after a string of
other business and cultural decisions that have essentially orphaned those
states because of these new laws.
And all of these myriad forms of pressure do seem to be making at
least North Carolina conservatives a little antsy on this subject. The
night before last, conservative groups in support of North Carolina`s
discrimination law, they sent out a pledge to state lawmakers asking the
state legislators to sign a paper swearing that they would never repeal
discrimination law and they promise never to pass any laws that would
protect LGBT people from discrimination in the state of North Carolina.
Lawmakers were supposed to sign that pledge and send it back by
Monday, April 25th, at 3:00 p.m. But then yesterday, just the day after
they sent it out, the groups behind the pledge rescinded it. They sent an
e-mail to the same lawmakers telling them to ignore that pledge thing we
sent out last night, quote, “We decided not to move forward with this
pledge and respectfully ask that you disregard yesterday`s e-mail. We
apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused.”
So, the pro-discrimination side in North Carolina is either doing
some really, really boring drunk e-mailing or they`re getting just a little
wobbly. And that was before this happened today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: Mr. Trump, please be specific. Tell us your views on
LGBT, how you plan to be inclusive as president. Speak about North
Carolina bathroom law in particular.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, I had a feeling that
question was going to come up. North Carolina did something that was very
strong, and they`re paying a big price and there`s a lot of problems.
And I heard – one of the best answers I heard was from a commentator
yesterday saying, leave it the way it is right now. There have been very
few problems. Leave it the way it is.
North Carolina, what they`re going through with all of the business
that`s leaving and all of the strife, and that`s on both sides, you leave
it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is.
People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate, there has
been so little trouble.
And the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife
and the economic – I mean, the economic punishment that they`re taking.
So I would say that`s probably the best –
INTERVIEWER: Do you have transgender people working in your
TRUMP: I don`t know, I really don`t know. I probably do, I don`t
INTERVIEWER: So, if Caitlyn Jenner were to walk into Trump Tower and
want to us another bathroom you would be fine with her using any bathroom
TRUMP: That is correct. OK?
INTERVIEWER: Different issue also a social issue –
TRUMP: You know, there`s a big move to create new bathrooms. The
problem with that is for transgender. That would be a – first of all, I
think that would be discriminatory in a certain way. It would be
unbelievably expensive for businesses and for the country. Leave it the
way it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Leave it the way it is says the Republican front-runner for
president, Donald Trump – which was a very exciting moment for Ted Cruz,
of course, who then immediately fired back with his rehearsed riff about
grown men in girls` bathrooms. He makes sure to call it the girls`
bathroom, not the women`s bathroom. He made sure to never talk about what
he expects in terms of appropriate toileting from grown men like this guy,
So interesting moment. Elected Republican officials and high-level
candidates have recently been uniformly and aggressively anti-LGBT. Now,
they`re having a full-on fight about this particular issue, which is still
absolutely rattling the state of North Carolina itself.
This is truly a most unexpected development in the most unexpected
presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: North Carolina, what they`re going through with all the
business that`s leaving and all of the strife, and that`s on both sides,
you leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it
is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Donald Trump today at an NBC town hall coming out against
the anti-transgender bathroom bills in North Carolina and other places.
The culture wars just got very weird, at least in terms of personnel.
Joining us now is John Stanton, our weirdness correspondent. Oh, no,
D.C. bureau chief for “BuzzFeed.”
John, it`s great to see you.
JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED: It`s good to be here.
MADDOW: Donald Trump, LGBT ally?
STANTON: Yes, wasn`t ever expecting that.
MADDOW: I mean, not really, but – what does this signal in terms of
the Republican race and how people outside the Republican Party should look
at these guys?
STANTON: Well – I think it`s actually interesting, because I think
that you`ve got Ted Cruz who`s clearly playing the sort of to type, like
2004 type. Like the anti-marriage equality stuff they did then worked well
for them. He`s playing to that. And that`s really – he`s found a moment
here to really sort of go – I wouldn`t call it conservative because he`s
essentially saying transgendered people are –
STANTON: – are predators, child molesters, which is just a crazy
thing to say.
And so, you know, he`s doing that and then Trump is sort of like, no,
no, no. This is a dumb issue. Probably because he`s got a lot of money
that – has lots of resorts and transgender people go to resorts, he
doesn`t want to mess with that.
MADDOW: He`s not taking a civil rights take on it, he`s like, hmm,
STANTON: This is definitely a money thing.
STANTON: So I think, you know, Cruz a couple of years ago might have
been right to play it this way in term of the politics of it. It seems
right now Trump may end up doing better on this because people kind of
don`t care about this really, you know? They care more about the economy.
That`s what his people are voting on, right?
MADDOW: That gets me – some people care about it very much. The
question of how it plays in a broader polity is unanswered at this point.
We are seeing in North Carolina to a lesser extent in Mississippi, I mean,
Trump`s got a point about the economic backlash, which is not going away,
which is still on the – is still widening in terms of the effect it`s
going to have on the states.
I wonder if Cruz is at all sort of in trouble here with taking such a
retrograde stance on this. We`re at the point where beyond the primary,
the general election looms quickly.
STANTON: Yes, I mean, you`ve got to assume the many people that are
going to have – are making these decisions about not putting their
businesses there, that are donors to the Republican party probably don`t
More fundamentally, they`re looking at this and they`re saying, why
are you doing this right now? You`re already very conservative compared to
a lot of Americans, we`re going into the general election, you`ve got to
find some way to come back to the middle and you`re going further away from
that place. So, I think it is a sort of an odd hill to try to die on,
right, at this point in the election.
MADDOW: At this point, I feel like Ted Cruz is running a Gary Bauer
campaign when he`s supposed to start running a John McCain-style campaign
and he`s just tacking further and further to the right. I think – I think
the estimations of Ted Cruz`s viability as a nominee are overstated.
STANTON: A little bit, yes. I think this is definitely like, he saw
this as a good way to get out from underneath the New York loss which was
really bad for him. It took all the wind out of his sails. I think he`s
hoping probably that this will take that off the table, he can maybe get a
little bit of support. But the states that are coming up, there`s not a
lot of evangelicals to vote.
MADDOW: Yes, good luck in Connecticut with that, guy.
John Stanton, D.C. bureau chief for “BuzzFeed” – John, it`s great to
see you, my friend. Thanks.
STANTON: Good to be here.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is a shot of downtown Minneapolis tonight. People are
gathering to celebrate Prince outside a hometown nightclub that he made
famous. First Avenue night club in Minneapolis is going to be hosting an
all-night dance party in Prince`s honor.
If you can`t make it to the Twin Cities to pay your respects stay on
MSNBC. We`ve got a live special about Prince that`s going to start here at
10:00 p.m. Eastern right after this show. So, just about five minutes from
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world. The geniuses at Bad Lip
Reading have done their magic on the last Democratic debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We like coffee that`s 3 percent boiled shrimp and
70 parts Bacardi. That would be so good.
But unlike my opponent, I have a glass child, I call the kid little
bong bong. We have one in a cave and I peek at them because it`s not a
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ha ha! Coke heads. What are you going to do,
right? Got to love Bernie boy. He`s crazy. Heh!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, we`re going to give you random phrases and
situations and you`re going to act these out, all right? It`s time to act,
Senator Sanders. Are you ready?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve had it with that guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You asked the waiter for the check. He`s on the
other side. You call out to your friend Curt who`s far away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Curt!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see a bee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, there`s a bee!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You poke Hillary on the forehead. Then you lick
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No! Nah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bad Lip Reading, you are always the best new thing in the
world. I needed you today. I thank you.
That does it for us. We`ll turn it over to Brian Williams for live
special coverage on the life and death of Prince.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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