The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/18/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: May 18, 2016
Guest: Tim Kaine, Saikat Chakrabarti
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: Good evening, Chris. That was awesome. That
was fun. I loved that.
HAYES: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour.
This is it the governor of California. His name is Jerry Brown. Forty
years ago today, the governor of California was also a man named Jerry
Brown. Not a different guy awkwardly with the same name, not the son or
the grandson of Jerry Brown or something, it was the same guy.
Jerry Brown did take some time off to do other things between his two
desperate stints as California governor but it is the same man who is
governor now at age 78 who was also governor in 1976. Jerry Brown was
actually the first governor elected in California after Ronald Reagan was
the governor of California. But not long after he was elected back then,
that young Jerry Brown all of 37 years old, when he was just over a year
into what would be the first of his four terms as California governor, 40
years ago today on this date, may 18th, 1976, Jerry Brown won his first
state in the Democratic Party`s presidential primary, 40 years ago.
In 1976, the Democratic presidential primary was wild. You know how 17
Republicans ran for the Republican nomination for president this year? In
1976, it was 17 Democrats who ran for the Democratic nomination that year.
Seventeen people in the Democratic primary.
Now, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter ran the best campaign, the savviest
campaign that year and, ultimately, he ended up winning the nomination.
But it was not clear until the very end of that primary process that Carter
was going to end up being the nominee, and the party was very unsettled
about the prospect of him being the nominee. He was basically a complete
unknown at the start of that campaign. A lot of people were very
uncomfortable with him as the potential nominee, and that`s why at even
this late point in the calendar, even at this late date in the process in
1976 new people were still getting into the race and winning primaries for
the first time.
On May 11th of that year, a senator named Frank Church won his first
primary in Nebraska. On May 18th, 40 years ago today, Jerry Brown got his
name on the board and won his first primary in Maryland.
I mean, imagine if people were just now getting into the presidential race
this year. If somebody was just joining the presidential race now and
winning their first primaries now at this point in the race. It would be
kinds of nuts, right?
That was also nuts in 1976. It`s not like the calendar was wildly
different back then. The election was still held in November just like it
will be this year. The Democratic convention this year was held in mid-
July just like it will be this year. The calendar was basically the same.
But even still, this far into the race, in mid-May, new candidates were
still getting in and they were winning when they did so.
When we look back now at 1976, we look back at that presidential race ten
cycles ago, 40 years ago, we don`t necessarily remember that Democratic
Party drama that year. I think historically, the Democratic Party drama
that year has been overshadowed by what happened on the Republican side of
the race that year. That`s the year that Ronald Reagan forced a contested
convention in St. Louis to try to deny President Gerald Ford, the
Republican nomination with a big floor fight among the delegates. So, we
remember that, especially because of what ended up becoming of Ronald
But for all the Republican drama, for all the great news reels of the, you
know, the contested convention on the Republican side in 1976, it`s easy to
forget that Democrats had their own near crisis that year, including this
bizarre, late-breaking anybody but Carter movement that tried to head off
Jimmy Carter`s nomination in 1976 by throwing new candidates into the race
well into the spring, almost into the summer. At this point in the
calendar people were still getting in to try to get carter off the top for
the Democrats. And that`s kind of nuts, right?
I mean, in the end, the anyone but Carter movement fizzled out. It didn`t
achieve its aims. Jimmy Carter ultimately prevailed over the other 16
Democrats who were in the race that year. Jimmy Carter got the nomination.
He ended up beating Gerald Ford to win the presidency.
Jerry Brown got to go back to California to keep being Linda Ronstadt`s
boyfriend, and the 30-something boyish governor of California, and then
later he would be governor all over again even when he was old. It all
worked out for everybody.
But that is a reminder that primaries do get nuts. They get complicated,
even the ones we have forgotten about and we have to look up in order to
remember whether or not they were nuts, even the ones that we have
forgotten about, even the ones that don`t stick in history, they`re pretty
nuts, pretty complicated, when you go back and look at them closely.
Right now, on the Republican side of the presidential race this year, we
have sort of just now stopped talking about the 2016 Republican
presidential primary as being somehow the nuttiest, the most acrimonious,
the craziest Republican primary ever. The Republican primary is basically
settled now. All this talk of the Republicans having their first contested
convention since 1976 that talk is over. Today, even the quixotic effort
by some Republican dead-enders to try to find a third-party or independent
challenger to Donald Trump today even that seems to have fallen apart.
Mitt Romney who was the Republican Party`s nominee in 2012, he reportedly
had personally taken it upon himself to recruit candidates to try to run
independently against Donald Trump this year. Today, it was reported that
even that effort by Mitt Romney is over. It`s done. Like this headline,
“Romney no longer searching for anti-Trump candidate.”
On the Democratic side of the presidential race, today`s news was not
really dominated by last night`s primary results, which you might think in
a more normal primary. I think the Oregon and Kentucky results didn`t
dominate today`s news mostly because those results don`t change anything.
Last night`s victory by Bernie Sanders in Oregon and Hillary Clinton`s
apparently narrow win in Kentucky, they are interesting for a lot of their
own reasons but they don`t do much to alter the overall state of that
Democratic race. Heading into last night`s contest, “The Associated Press”
and NBC`s delegate count in the Democratic race heading into last night had
Hillary Clinton 94 percent of the way there to securing the delegates she
needs to get the nomination. After last night`s contest, she is no longer
94 percent of the way there, she is now 96 percent of the way there.
So before you couldn`t reasonably round up to 100, but now you could. Is
that the big change?
I mean, the primary process itself on the Democratic side doesn`t feel much
like a burning question anymore. The burning question on the Democratic
side now is not the numerical results at the end of the primary, you can
see what that`s going to be.
The burning question on the Democratic side now is whether the acrimony in
the party right now is going to be too much for the Democratic Party to
reasonably bear, whether this acrimony and this fight, this dissention
within the party is going to be too much for the Democrats to survive.
I think there are two things to consider when trying to come up with an
answer to that burning open question in the Democratic Party. And the
first one is about the exact nature of the acrimony in the Democratic Party
right now and how it`s being expressed.
The reason the fracas in Nevada this weekend, the state`s Democratic Party
convention, the reason that has become a national story and a national
source worry for the Democratic Party is not just because of the drama of
the fight in that one state, although it is an inherently dramatic
situation and it`s an interesting fight in that state particularly given
that Nevada is a swing state, right, it is inherently interesting in
Nevada. That`s not why people are so worried about it nationwide. The
reason people are worried about it nationwide is because Democrats fear
that that Nevada fight, including the physical aspect of that altercation
in that convention hall, Democrats fear that`s not just a weird thing that
happened in Nevada, but it may be a foreshadowing of what Democrats should
expect at their national convention this summer in Philadelphia.
Yamiche Alcindor, who covers the Sanders campaign for “The New York Times”,
she has been a guest in this show numerous times, great reporter, she
reported on that prospect today for the Democrats convention. She reported
on that somewhat ominously from Democrats` perspective.
Quote, “The party`s convention in Philadelphia in July with protests and
nonviolent disobedience over a nomination system that they say has treated
Mr. Sanders unfairly.” She talked about Sanders supporters raising the
prospects of those kinds of protests.
Quote, “In e-mails, on social media and on websites, Sanders supporters
have traded advice about protest tactics and legal services in case of mass
Quote, “Sanders supporters remain defiant, raising the possibility of
unrest on the streets outside the Philadelphia convention.”
One of the underappreciated things about Bernie Sanders` run for president
this year is that he really hasn`t run as a protest candidate. He hasn`t
run as a message candidate.
Do you want to know who run as a message candidate this year? Lawrence
Lessig. He tried to build the whole campaign around the signal issue of
campaign finance reform. That was a message campaign.
On the other side, arguably, Lindsey Graham ran a message campaign in the
Republican presidential primary. He basically admitted he had no chance of
winning, no real intentions of winning, but he hoped that by participating
in the process, he could change the message, he could bring the focus of
the campaign back to the issue of national security, which he thought were
the most important issues for his party and the thing on which he wanted
the party to focus as it was picking a new president.
Those are message campaigns. That`s not what Bernie Sanders has been doing
this year. Bernie Sanders has been running a campaign this year not to get
some point across, but to win the Democratic Party`s nomination for
president. He`s trying to win.
I mean, back to 2014 and 2015 when Sanders was talking about running before
he ever got in, he made it clear from that beginning, from before the
beginning that his intention was to get in and try to win the nomination
full stop. There`s no use in running if you`re not going to try to win.
From Bernie Sanders` mind, I think, and Bernie Sanders strategic thinking
about this race, there was no point in running a protest campaign. No
point in running an asterisk campaign. The only reason to run was to be in
contention to win it.
It is therefore a little bit of a leap to imagine his campaign now being
converted into a protest movement, to denounce the Democratic Party or to
dramatize its flaws with mass arrests in the streets.
That said, if the Sanders campaign does turn into that kind of protest
movement, it`s not like we haven`t seen that kind of thing before. That
would not be an outrageous shock to the system.
Democrats will hold their convention this summer in Philadelphia. You may
remember the last national political convention was held in Philadelphia
was in the year 2000. You may also remember that nearly 400 people were
arrested at really big protests in the streets of Philadelphia that year.
Four years later, at the Republican convention in New York City, it wasn`t
400 people who got arrested. It was more like 2,000 people who got
arrested, protesting in the streets, just massive, massive uprising against
that political convention.
Four years after that, the Ron Paul movement within the Republican Party
convened 10,000 people for not just a protest, but for an entire shadow
convention run in parallel with the Republican Party`s convention. The
Republican Party convention was in St. Paul. The Ron Paul parallel shadow
convention was just across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, 10,000
people not just demonstrating their differences with the Republican Party,
but basically declaring themselves a schismatic offshoot of the party, one
that could probably never be reconciled with these decisions by the party
elite and the party establishment that they disagreed with so strongly.
Street protests, breakaway movements, demonstrations of different kinds,
they are the American way. They are cathartic. They are occasionally
interesting. They are occasionally violent. They are sometimes fun, but
They`re almost part of the process now. We expect them. In the news
media, we cover them. In politics, they get covered, they get noticed,
they sometimes get in the way, and then we move on.
Incidentally, if you go back today to look at the website that the protest
organizers used for the big Philly protest in 2000, I remember, because I
remember going to some of those protests. And the organizing website for
Philadelphia 2000, the website was R2K, remember, it was like year 2000, so
it`s Y2K, that is R2KPhilly.org.
Today, I went back and checked it, that website still exists. But now,
it`s a different thing. This R2KPhilly.org now. Headline, “Make him
desire you.” “Love can often be an overwhelming issue to the people
associated with it.” And it goes on.
It`s kind of amazing, right? It`s a snapshot of my life. This website
that coordinated this fierce and awesome and super aggressive protest at
the last Philadelphia national political convention, now it`s this like
creepy Kama Sutra romance thing that I think possibly infected my computer
with something gross today.
The headlines today and the worries – look at these headlines, right?
“Passion of Bernie Sanders and supporters turns against Democrats.”
“Democratic Party leaders, Bernie Sanders spar over Nevada convention
chaos.” “Bernie Sanders and the DNC are fighting again.” “Bernie Sanders
is defiant, strains ties with top Democrats”.
You look at the headlines today. The worries in the Democratic Party today
are big and they are focused. They are worried that Bernie Sanders is
going to turn his political campaign for the nomination into, instead, a
protest movement that will protest against the Democratic Party and
specifically against its convention this summer and specifically against
its nominee, Hillary Clinton.
My personal take on that as a long time keen Bernie Sanders observer is
that it seems unlikely that will happen given that Senator Sanders has
never been a protest candidate himself. He has never signaled any interest
in running a protest movement.
That said, if that is what happens to his campaign, it`s not like that will
be an exogenous variable in American politics. We know how that works.
Protest movements happen, they happen all the time.
That`s one thing to keep in mind, the character of the acrimony in the
Democratic race right now.
The other thing to keep in mind about the Democratic anxiety today
concerning Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is that at this point in the
primary process, it`s always like this. There is always acrimony and upset
between remaining candidates at this part of the race.
Parties just do this. It is to be expected. It`s very, very rarely fatal.
Vice President Joe Biden was in Ohio to talk about Obama administration
economic policy. We`re going to talk a little bit more in detail about
that later on this hour. But when he was asked today in Ohio about these
big, acute Democratic worries about the situation between Bernie Sanders
and Hillary Clinton right now, this was his response.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: What about Bernie Sanders and his supporters, are you at all
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I`m not. Bernie
Sanders is a good guy. Bernie Sanders is – look, I think – let Bernie
run the race. I mean, there`s nothing wrong.
REPORTER #1: Did he adequately condemn his supporters?
REPORTER #2: Did you watch the videos from Las Vegas? They were pretty -
BIDEN: No, but that`s not Bernie. Bernie, you know, I think what Bernie
is going to have to do if that happens again is he`s going to have to be
more aggressive in speaking out about it, but look, it`s – this is – here
we are in May. You know, as you pointed out, you know, Barack was –
Hillary was still in this in May, in June and, you know, it`s – I`m
confident that Bernie will be supportive if Hillary wins which the numbers
indicate will happen.
And so, I`m not – I`m not worried. There`s no fundamental split or
anything in the Democratic Party.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s Vice President Joe Biden in Ohio today saying there`s no
fundamental split in the Democratic Party. He also said, quote, “The
numbers indicate that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination.”
He said when that happens, quote, “I`m confident Bernie will be
So there`s a lot going on right now. This upset over what happened at the
Nevada Democratic convention this weekend and all the ugliness that
followed particularly from Sanders supporters toward the Democratic Party
leadership out there, that upset is real. That`s not yet healed.
Today, the Sanders campaign also made a big deal of accepting a debate
invitation from FOX News, to debate Hillary Clinton in California, sometime
before California votes on June 7th. Now, there`s no indication from the
Clinton campaign as to whether or not they intend to debate in California
before that primary.
There`s also absolutely no reason why if there is a debate, that debate
should be going to FOX News. Why would it be FOX News? But that drama is
In Oregon last night if you need something else, consider this – the
Democratic Party turnout once again fell short of the numbers that the
Democrats turned out in its contested primary in Oregon in 2008. While,
once again, on the other side of the aisle, the Republican turnout numbers
in Oregon last night were the highest they`ve ever been, even though Donald
Trump is the last remaining Republican in that race.
The Republicans broke their turnout record and the Democrats did not, and a
lot of people say those turnout numbers in the primaries don`t mean
anything for the general election. There`s no reason to worry about that
whatsoever. But looking at the turn out in almost every Republican primary
so far, and the Democrats well short of their records on their side of
primary in almost every state now, if you had a choice of which party to be
in that scenario, wouldn`t you rather be the Republicans?
So, there`s a lot going on right now. You now, pick your poison.
The Democratic Party have a lot of real fish to fry right now. They`ve got
real things to work on. They`ve got a primary that is still happening.
They`ve got disputes still to settle.
But this idea that the Sanders/Clinton split will be fatal or even a
Sanders protest movement would somehow be catastrophic if one emerges, we
know from history that that`s just what it feels like at this point in the
I mean, the acrimony is real. The tension is real, the differences are
real. The anxiety over it is real in the Democratic Party and on the
But you know what? It`s kind of what primaries are for. It`s why they
take this long. That`s how it`s supposed to feel at this point in the
process. This isn`t a bug in the system this year. This is just the
MADDOW: Today was a beautiful day in Springfield, Illinois, and I can
prove it to you.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Look at all those people. That is Springfield, Illinois, today.
Just an enormous crowd there, an enormous rally at the state capital.
Now, when they`re talking about who is not going to turn them around, what
they`re saying there is Governor Rauner. Illinois is a blue state but
they`ve got a Republican governor, Governor Bruce Rauner now. He`s been
trying to strip union rights in the state and today, I think much to a lot
of people`s surprise, 10,000 people turned out at the state capital today
to rally against that, to rally against him and in favor of union rights.
I know we`re all obsessed with national level politics right now and for
good reason, but keep an eye on this thing in Illinois. Looking at those
images today it`s starting to look like Wisconsin-esque there from a few
years back. Big time rumbles against Republican governors in the states,
these sometimes end up being big important national stories.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says that the last
Republican convention in 2012, the one that nominated Mitt Romney, Donald
Trump says that that convention was very dull. He says this year, his
convention is going to be way more exciting, more showbiz and part of the
excitement this year is that he says he is going to use that convention to
announce his running mate.
However, much everybody loves speculating on who Donald Trump might select
for his vice presidential running mate, the Trump campaign says they plan
to keep everybody guessing until the very last second. Not incidentally,
that will also mean they get to keep all vice presidential prospects bowing
and scraping to them until the last possible minute until the convention.
Now, on the Democratic side, no such promises. The likely if not
presumptive Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton. Her campaign says that
they have started the vetting process for a number of potential running
One of the names that keeps popping up on Clinton V.P. shortlist is Senator
Tim Kaine. He was the former governor of the great state of Virginia.
He`s the former head of the DNC, which is a position he took at the request
of President Obama when President Obama became President Obama. In 2008,
Senator Kaine was vetted to be a possible V.P. running mate for President
Obama. He was one of three finalists for the gig.
In 2012, he was elected to the United States Senate. And in the United
States Senate, he has not been a shrinking violet. He has taken point and
been discussed on this show many times because he has taken a point on some
of the biggest constitutional concerns of the whole Obama era.
Today, for example, the House of Representatives finally debated whether or
not Congress should vote to authorize the U.S. war against ISIS in Iraq and
Syria, which we have been fighting with thousands of troops but no
congressional authorization. That was Congresswoman`s Barbara Lee`s bill
they debated today in the House and that they are voting on tonight.
That`s in the House.
In the Senate, the champion of that idea that Congress has to weigh in and
authorize these wars, the champion of that idea in the Senate has really
been Senator Tim Kaine. In addition to that, this week in the Senate,
Senator Kaine used the anniversary of brown versus the board of education,
that landmark decision desegregating Americans schools, he used that
anniversary this week in the Senate to rail about the Senate refusing to
fill the vacant seat on the United States Supreme Court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: The Brown case was originally argued in 1952
and the court that heard the argument was hopelessly divided, so divided in
fact that they ask that the case be reargued in 1953. And then to make
matters worse, Chief Justice Fred Benson died before the re-argument. By
many accounts, his death left the court evenly divided, evenly divided,
over an issue of the most fundamental importance.
President Eisenhower nominated former California Governor Earl Warren to
fill the vacancy. The Senate did its job, held a prompt hearing and
confirmed the appointment. And Chief Justice Warren then used his skill to
cut through the division and convince his colleagues that the court should
speak unanimously and say a child`s skin color should not determine which
school he or she should attend.
Because the Senate did its job, the court was able to do its job and all of
America was lifted. I`ve listened to my colleagues and Virginia citizens
about the vacancy for three months. I think the Senate is treading on
dangerous ground here. The position we would refuse to consider Judge
Garland on his own merit seems contrary to me to the very notion of justice
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now for the interview tonight is Senator Tim Kaine of
Senator Kaine, it`s really nice to have you here. Thanks for being with us
KAINE: Great to be back, Rachel.
MADDOW: So you intimated in these remarks about Merrick Garland that the
Senate may not be proceeding, withholding hearings on his nomination
because of basically a fundamental disrespect for President Obama, sort of
delegitimizing him as a president. What were you getting at there?
KAINE: Rachel, I think that`s a very serious concern. The rational that
the Republicans choose, we want to wait until the next president and let
the people decide is what we call in civil rights, and I use to try civil
rights cases, a complete pretext.
That`s not the way it`s been done in the past. The Constitution doesn`t
take away a president`s or Senate`s powers in the final year of a
presidential term. And so, they`re doing something with this president
that they`ve never done with the 43 presidents that preceded him.
My parishioners and my church, my neighbors, my friends in Virginia, they
look at it, either it`s got to be an attack on the nominee but we know
that`s not the case because they announced the blockade before Garland was
even nominated, an attack on the legitimacy of the president or an attack
on the legitimacy of the court. There`s a lot of concern that this
president`s nominee has been given second class treatment not because of
the nominee but because of the character of the president himself.
And that is very, very painful for people to contemplate about the nation`s
first African-American president, that they wouldn`t pay him the respect of
having a hearing and having a vote on a nominee in the way they`ve done
with other presidents.
MADDOW: Do you think – sorry, sir.
KAINE: So, this is a very, very painful perception that`s being left by
the actions of the Senate, especially in the case of a Supreme Court
nomination where the court says equal justice under law engraved in stone
over the entry into the court itself.
MADDOW: I`m sorry to have half interrupted you there, sir. What I was
going to ask is raising the issue of this being the first African-American
president, that issue of legitimacy, do you think that is the through line
that explains the way Republicans and the conservative movement have
treated President Obama, do you think fundamentally it is about race, that
there`s a racial element to the resistance to him that people should be
more explicit in discussing?
KAINE: Rachel, there is an attack on his legitimacy that I think is just
fundamentally different than what`s come before. You can attack him on his
policies. I have argued with the president over this unauthorized war.
But, look, they met to decide right when he was inaugurated, that their
success was going to be trying to stop him from being reelected.
You`ve seen a congressman shout “you lie” to him on the floor of Congress.
You`ve seen people question if he was born in the United States, question
his faith, question his patriotism.
As you recently pointed out, the president sent up a budget this year and
neither budget committee in either House and I`m on the Senate Budget
Committee, would even have a hearing to discuss the president`s submitted
budget which has never happened since the Budget Control Act was passed in
1974, and now, they`re treating his Supreme Court nominee in a manner
fundamentally different than they`ve treated any other presidents before.
And so, this is a deep concern of a lot of people.
There is another explanation. I`m not a psychologist. There is another
explanation, and that it`s an attack on the court itself. Just like FDR
didn`t like what the court was doing and so, he tried to take a nine member
court and expand it statutorily. What`s been said at nine justices since
1869, you can look at what the Republicans are doing here and saying they
are trying to maintain a vacancy at eight rather than nine to artificially
shrink the court and weaken it for more than a year to get what they want.
I think it`s one of those two explanations. Either it`s a fundamental
attack on the legitimacy of the president or it`s an attack on the
independence of the judiciary, and neither made me feel too good.
MADDOW: What did you think when the Republican presidential candidate
Donald Trump released a list today of 11 possible Supreme Court picks of
his own? I wonder what you think of who is on the list or about the fact
that he has released this list.
KAINE: Well, I think, you know what? I`m glad he`s released it, Rachel,
because I think what we`re going to be able to do in this presidential
campaign and Secretary Clinton I`m confident will be the nominee will be
able to talk about the cases that the court has before us cases dealing
with access to health care for women, immigration rights, the president`s
proposal to deal with climate change, collective bargaining, the civil
rights, for example, voting rights cases are before the court.
In presidential campaigns, usually the court is kind of theoretical, who
might you appoint in the future? But right now, we have a vacancy. The
court has deadlocked three or four times. This vacancy is going to cause
problems, and we`re going to get a chance to talk about what a Hillary
Clinton appointee would do in these fundamental questions, and what these
11 individuals would do.
I haven`t researched them enough to know how to predict that, but I have a
feeling based on everything I`ve heard from candidate Trump about the way
he would approach the court that we`re going to see differences that will
really matter to the American public.
MADDOW: I have to ask you a question that I know you are going to dodge,
but I`m going to ask anyway, because it`s my job, so I have to. A lot of
KAINE: Thanks for telegraphing the pitch.
MADDOW: Here we go. Here comes the pitch, ready?
MADDOW: You can surprise everybody by hitting it.
If Hillary Clinton asks you to be her running mate, would you say yes?
KAINE: You know, Rachel, I really love my job right now and I only have
one job for the Clinton campaign and that is just to be on the trail and
help them win. And my best work is in Virginia, because if she wins
Virginia and I`m going do everything I can to help her win Virginia, I
think she`s going to be president and that`s what I`m going to do.
MADDOW: So you wouldn`t say no, but you won`t answer whether you`d say
KAINE: Speculation is fine but don`t believe the hype. I got speculated
about in `08 and never felt it was that real and my gut tells me the same
thing this time. But the stakes are high and I`m going to do everything I
can to make sure she`s the next president of the United States.
MADDOW: Senator Tim Kaine, I appreciate you even telling us that much
about it. Thank you, sir. Thanks for being –
KAINE: You bet. Thanks so much, Rachel. You bet.
We`ve got an update for you. I just mentioned that the House was voting
tonight on the authorization to use military force, the question of whether
or not Congress should actually authorize this war that`s happening in Iraq
and Syria against ISIS.
Part of that debate tonight on the House side was Barbara Lee`s proposal
that the 2001 authorization to use military force which the administration
has been relying on to fight this war, that that should be repealed so then
the Congress can now authorize this existing war.
There was a vote on that tonight in the House as I was speaking with
Senator Kaine and the vote to repeal that 2001 authorization for the use of
military force was voted down. So, that`s happening, but Barbara Lee
succeeded in making them debate it, which itself is way more than anybody
else is doing.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: With so much air time and Beltway, let`s call it debate, on the
three remaining presidential candidates and their campaigns, what sometimes
gets lost is that these are not the only people that are going to be asking
for your vote this year. Along with the presidency, 34 U.S. Senate seats,
more than a third of the U.S. Senate, and all 435 congressional House seats
are going to be up for grabs this year.
And there is a new effort afoot on that front that is truly weird – weird
to the point of being wonderful. I mean, there is almost nothing new in
politics, but there is something about this that is new. A brand new idea
I think it`s kind of awesome. That`s next.
MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders is fighting on two fronts right now. He`s
campaigning in the rest of the primary states in the Democratic calendar,
trying particularly hard in California which has its huge pile of delegates
at stake on June 7th. But he`s also very busy right now fighting the
Democratic Party as he and his campaign continue to rail against the party
as being biased against him and biased against his supporters.
Senator Sanders` campaign manager went so far as to say the Democratic
Party chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is a committed opponent of Senator
Sanders for some kind of unstated personal reason. He did not explain what
that personal reason might be or elaborate on it, but he said it must be
Alongside those two very active fights though, trying to win the primary
and battling it out with the party, alongside those two fights there is
that question what happens to all that energy, all that passion and all
those supporters once these fights he`s in right now are over. If he`s not
president, is there a movement beyond the Bernie Sanders campaign?
Now, I asked Senator Sanders about this directly when I interviewed him
recently at his house in Vermont.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There is only a very small club of people who have turned
insurgent presidential candidacy into ongoing movements that had an ongoing
effort. President Obama tried and it really debate happen with Organizing
for America. The best example I know of is actually on the right is Pat
Robertson, who turned his presidential campaign into the Christian
coalition which ended having a dramatic effect on the Republican Party. It
made them get very hard line on social issues for a very long time, and
they`re reaping the benefit in the states right now.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.
MADDOW: Do you have that kind – whether or not you win the nomination, do
you have that kind of organizing model in mind?
SANDERS: Obviously, it would be a lot easier if I were elected president.
A president can galvanize the American people against the economic
injustices and racial injustices that are currently existing in America.
That`s what I would love to do. Now, if I do not get elected president,
are we going to continue the movement and work with our allies?
Absolutely, we will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Sanders telling me earlier this month that he envisions
his movement continuing even if he doesn`t win the Democratic nomination
and the presidency, but he went on to say he was sort of still at this
point unsure what exactly that might look like. It`s not something he`s
building right away.
Well, if the Sanders movement is going to be more than a protest movement
against the Democratic Party, and a protest movement at the Democratic
convention this summer, if it`s going to change the course of politics,
instead of just railing against the course of politics, how might that
Well, here`s one way it could conceivably happen and it`s something that
has come up with something that was brought up by a group of Sanders
volunteers, something that a group of Sanders volunteers and former
staffers are pursuing as a post-2016 plan. It`s a totally unique plan and
I think it`s fascinating.
They`re plan is to use some of the methods developed during the Sanders
presidential campaign to instead try to elect a better Congress, to elect a
more progressive House and Senate, not necessarily this year but in the
first mid-term election of the new president`s term. In 2018, whoever the
new president is, that first midterm, they want to elect a brand new
progressive Congress in that election.
And to do it, they want to elect this whole new Congress all at once. They
want to essentially run a presidential style campaign where there are 400
people running all the same campaign. They want to run a presidential
campaign where the candidate has 400 heads. There will be a progressive
candidate in every House race in the country and in every Senate race, but
it will all be one centralized presidential style campaign.
That`s the innovation. It`s not just that they want to work on Democratic
or progressive gains in a midterm election, they want to run a presidential
campaign with a 400 headed candidate.
It sounds a little funny, but it`s also the kind of outside the box
thinking which you hope is sort of constructive thing that comes out of
these strange and unpredictable and long and acrimonious primaries.
Is it a theory that could reasonably be put into practice? Is this the
constructive outcome of this very tough Democratic fight right now?
Hold that thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: And a president can galvanize the American people against the
economic injustices, racial injustices that are currently existing in
America. That`s what I would love to do. Now, if I do not get elected
president, are we going to continue the movement and work with our allies?
Absolutely, we will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bernie Sanders told me he is not working on a post-campaign
movement, but people who have been part of his campaign are.
Joining us now Saikat Chakrabarti. He is a former director of organizing
technology for the Sanders campaign. He`s also now the co-founder of
something called “Brand New Congress.”
Mr. Chakrabarti, thank you for being here.
SAIKAT CHAKRABARTI, BRAND NEW CONGRESS COFOUNDER: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, first of all, I think I understand what your idea is. I just
explained this idea of sort of running a presidential candidate with 400
heads. Is that – is that fair?
CHAKRABARTI: That`s a great description of it. Yes. Our idea is to run a
single unified presidential style campaign that looks a lot like the Bernie
Sanders campaign and use that model of a single web site for fund-raising,
you know, a single – like a giant national movement on volunteers
contacting millions of voters and really think that the trick year is,
like, I think the only way that model works is if you have a big goal
that`s focused on and that`s why, you know, we think this is not only a way
to galvanize that movement but to get voters and carrying the midterm
election because we`ll be giving them an option where their vote will count
MADDOW: A singular focus rather than disparate – everybody`s interesting
being dissipated. So that makes total sense in a sci-fi movie in which you
can clone one candidate who`s your ideal candidate, probably an old guy
with white hair and glasses.
CHAKRABARTI: Well –
MADDOW: And you can run him 400 times. But with 400 different people, how
do you run them on the same platform, how do you run the same campaign for
all of them?
CHAKRABARTI: So, we`re going to go around trying to find people who aren`t
career politicians. And part of the advantage of having a unified campaign
where the campaign infrastructure and fund raising is an aside from the
candidates is we can get working people to run without them having to focus
on fund-raising and do a lot of stuff. They can go around talking and
MADDOW: They can plug into a national campaign.
CHAKRABARTI: Exactly. Yes. So, I think the harder part will be getting
the best people – convincing them to run. The people we`re looking for
are, like leaders of the community. The people who have a record of
service, people who everybody respected, and who probably don`t want to run
for Congress because they think of that as something that`s going to debate
them or is – you know, for people who have a lot of integrity it`s not
something they want to do.
So, that`s going to be the hard part is convincing people to run. I think
we can do it if we get enough people on board. It`s going to be a
MADDOW: And then what do they have to sign on to in order to basically
qualify to be part of this movement? What`s the plan or the checklist or
the litmus test they need to pass in order to do this?
CHAKRABARTI: So it`s – the litmus test is going to be something where
we`re looking for people who are good at what they do, they`re honest
people, people can vouch for them. There`s going to be kind of a vetting
process and a selection process based on people in their community and in
their district, and then there`s – the plan they`ll sign on to is
something that looks largely like Bernie`s plan but focusing on issues that
kind of are bipartisan now – you know, income inequality, climate change
is becoming a bipartisan issue, a lot of people do actually believe in
climate change and believe it`s human caused, and massive incarceration.
And the big one is really trying to get rid of the influence of money and
politics. This is both on the Republican side and the Democratic side.
You know, people are kind of disillusioned with the party system right now
and they`re disillusioned with Congress. Congress has a 16 percent
approval rating and there`s this thing on John Oliver you probably saw, 20
percent, 30 percent of the time Congress people are spending their time
So, if we can people in who aren`t spending a lot of time fundraising
because we`re doing it the way Bernie Sanders did, raising money through
small contributions and are actually accountable to the voters, once
they`re in the office, that`s – I think that`s going to be a better
MADDOW: Saikat Chakrabarti, running a faceless 400-headed hoard that has
signed on to the issues of money and politics, income inequality, climate
and incarceration in the 2018 midterms. This is a remarkably constructive
idea. I think it`s an interesting thing to be focusing on when everybody
is focused so much on the fight between Sanders and Clinton. It`s also
brand freaking new and nobody ever comes up with anything in politics.
Thanks, good to meet you. Keep us in touch.
CHAKRABARTI: Good to be here. Of course.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I do not see this coming. It`s not prurient, it`s not mean, it`s
not out of bounds but today was the day when Donald Trump`s sister ended up
becoming the news. We`re there now. Stay with us. That`s ahead.
MADDOW: The Republican primary calendar ends June 7th, that`s California.
The day before California, one other piece of excitement and a total
unknown will be thrown into the race.
We`ve been reporting recently about the prosecution`s list of unindicted
co-conspirators in the bridgegate case out of New Jersey. And, of course,
the prospect that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie or other senior people
in his administration might be named as an unindicted co-conspirator on
Well, that`s now a perspective issue for the Donald Trump campaign because
Chris Christie is taking an increasingly operational role in the campaign,
planning the Trump transition, being affirmed as having on the vice
presidential short list.
We know the day before the California primary, there`s going to be oral
arguments in the bridgegate case about whether or not they`re going to
release the list of unindicted co-conspirators. The nice sidebar personnel
issue of all of this is that Donald Trump`s sister is one of the judges on
that circuit that`s going to hear those arguments.
We found out today she herself will not be one of the judges who will
listen to those arguments but she is on that court. Just in case you had
any worries the world was getting to be too big to paint. Don`t worry
about it, it`s the size of a small shed in the dark, it seems bigger than
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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