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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/06/11

Guests: Bob Herbert, Tammy Baldwin, Buddy Roemer

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, "THE LAST WORD" HOST: There you go. You can have "THE LAST WORD" online, on our blog, You can follow my tweets @Lawrence. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is up next. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And it`s been another 20 seconds since then and still no announcement. Nice to see you, Lawrence. Thank you. O`DONNELL: Thanks. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. In the decade since 9/11, if you were looking for the single point at which America deviated the most from the way we have always been before, if you were looking for the one point at which Washington took the most radical departure from American history and American tradition and American political values, if you were looking for the one point where U.S. policy completely divorced itself from our national interest after 9/11, I would argue that that point happened in May 2003, May 2003. And it`s not what you think. When George W. Bush had been inaugurated in January 2001, the nation had a budget surplus. Not only did not have a deficit. We had a surplus of more than $100 billion. However torn up everybody was about Bush v. Gore and that big fight, the Clinton presidency had left the country in an enviable fiscal position. We were on track to have no debt at all. Not only no deficit, but no debt at all within 10 years. In that context, the brand new president, George W. Bush, administration passed a ginormous new tax cut. The Bush tax cuts of 2001 were $1.3 trillion worth of tax cuts that essentially undid that whole budget surplus thing rather fast. But whatever you think of the fiscal wisdom of those Bush tax cuts in `01, morally and I think politically and historically, what was retrospectively most important about the `01 tax cuts is that they happened before 9/11. George W. Bush signed the `01 tax cuts into law in June 2001. When 9/11 happened three months later, of course, America then went to war, we went to war on a global scale and on a footing that even from a very start looked to be rather permanent. Never before in American history would the country try to wage a hot war and cut taxes at the same time. There`s a pretty good case to be made I think that the sober thing to do at that point in 2001, the fiscally responsible thing to do would have been to rescind those brand new Bush tax cuts, to say -- you know what America, we need to change course. Something very unexpected has happened. We are going to rescind those tax cuts, because we need that money to pay for the wars. Let`s all sacrifice a little bit. If George W. Bush had said that at the time, nobody would have blinked. But, of course, he didn`t. We kept the tax cuts and we waged the war at the same time. So, 9/11 happened, we kept the Bush tax cuts, we went to war in Afghanistan, and we kept the Bush tax cuts. We decided then to stay in Afghanistan even after the fall of the Taliban, we kept the Bush tax cuts. And then in March 2003, after already being engaged in one war, we decided to start another war simultaneously in Iraq, and not only did we keep those Bush tax cuts still then, but then just two months after starting our second war, two months after invading Iraq, came that single moment in which we divorced ourselves from our history and from our reality. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Bush will sign a more than $300 billion tax cut today. He says it will help boost the economy. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Another round of tax cuts, a second round. This should have been a wait, wait, flashing red lights, bells and whistles, what the heck are we doing sort of moment for the country -- a second round of tax cuts. Not only fiscally astonishing, but also rather morally astonishing. What kind of country starts a war and cuts taxes by which we would pay for that war at the same time? What kind of country responds to starting a second war by passing a second round of tax cuts? If that turned up on an economic textbook about some hypothetical country, you know, country A or something, you would think that it was a typo about country A. But that is, in fact, what we did. If you look at the factors driving our debt right now, yes, it is the war themselves. Yes, it is the impact of the recession caused by the fiscal crisis, financial crisis, excuse me, of 2008. And, yes, it`s some of the recovery and rescue measures put in place to try to stop a Great Depression after the financial collapse in 2008. But the big kahuna, the big thing, look at this making up the debt problem, the huge disaster here, is those Bush tax cuts. That`s the big deal in the debt and the deficit -- those morally and fiscally catastrophic Bush tax cuts. One of their main architects, particularly the 2003 cuts, was this gentleman here. President Bush`s chief economic advisor at the time, Glenn Hubbard. Glenn Hubbard is known today as the man who brought us the 2003, ignore the two wars, tax cuts. After leaving the Bush White House in 2003, Glenn Hubbard then moved back into the private sector. At the time, Wall Street was starting a game of gambling with risk in the way they had never done before. They were lumping mortgages together, then selling them to each other and making really big profits for themselves along the way. The risk of whether any one person would pay back a loan like a mortgage was totally divorced from the buying and selling of these things as Wall Street casino chips -- risk itself was monetized and marked up and sold and resold in an increasingly complex but increasingly insane anti- common sense game that drove the housing bubble, of course, and that made Wall Street very rich. Who was one of the great champions of that game? Well, hello there. It`s Glenn Hubbard. Fresh from his time at the White House, Mr. Hubbard teamed up with chief economists naturally at Goldman Sachs in 2004 to write about how Wall Street`s new gain was enhancing the, quote, "stability" of the U.S. banking system. As for the impending threat of economic calamity, according to Mr. Hubbard, recessions are less frequent now and milder when they occur. So, if you`re wondering whatever happened to the guy who came up with the post- Iraq war fiscal disaster Bush tax cuts plan and who said Wall Street risk is fun casino action before the financial collapse is actually enhancing the stability of the financial system, if you`re wondering whatever happened to a guy like that, wonder no longer, he has a new gig as the chief architect of Mitt Romney`s new economic team. Mr. Romney`s new economic plan unveiled today. It calls, oddly enough, for more tax cuts. It features a picture of Mr. Hubbard and a long foreword written by Mr. Hubbard. He is now running Mitt Romney`s economic team. I don`t think the plan, yet, is for starting another Iraq war, but hey, keep the tax cuts coming. The reason Mitt Romney came out with his Glenn Hubbard foreworded jobs plan today is the same reason all of the other Republican presidential candidates are coming out with their jobs plans too. It`s essentially as a pre-sponse to President Obama`s big speech on jobs and the economy slated for the day after tomorrow. Like Mitt Romney, candidate Herman Cain also released his jobs plan. He wants corporate tax rates reduced to 9 percent. Not reduced by 9 percent, but reduced to 9 percent. Newt Gingrich will deliver his jobs plan tonight, I believe. That calls for -- surprise -- more tax cuts. Jon Huntsman released his plan last week, but he hyped it again. In a "Wall Street Journal" today, Mr. Huntsman lamenting the affect of high unemployment on Americans, quote, "pride that comes with self sufficiency" -- which is both true and a little hard to take from the man who is the heir to the McDonald`s Big Mac Styrofoam container invention. His dad invented that. That`s where the money comes from. United States Chamber of Commerce is not technically running for president this year. Sometimes, it`s a little hard to tell if corporations are people -- how far away are we from the Chamber of Commerce running for president? But they did just release their own jobs plan, like all the other candidates this week. Chamber`s tax plan, of course -- jobs plan, of course, calling for more tax cuts, naturally. Also, more oil drilling, naturally. But also, the Chamber of Commerce, in their plan this week, called for increased spending on infrastructure. Hmm. For all the gridlock on the issue of the economy, could that actually be a way forward? Last week, when Barack Obama talked up the idea of infrastructure at the White House, he spoke alongside both a representative of the Chamber of Commerce and the head of the AFL-CIO. The president gave his Labor Day speech in Detroit yesterday and the part that he said was a preview of what he`s going to offer on Thursday, he shouted out infrastructure specifically, and listen to how he did it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On Thursday, we`re going to lay out a new way forward on jobs to grow the economy and put more Americans back to work right now. I don`t want to give everything away right here, because I want you all to tune in on Thursday -- (CHEERS) OBAMA: But I`ll give you just a little bit. (CHEERS) OBAMA: We`ve got roads and bridges across this country that need rebuilding. We`ve got private companies with the equipment and the manpower to do the building. We`ve got more than 1 million unemployed construction workers ready to get dirty right now. There is work to be done, and there are workers ready to do it. Labor is on board. Business is on board. We just need Congress to get on board. Let`s put America back to work. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Labor is on board. Business is on board. He could have also said that the American public is on board. A pair of new polls out today show that the American people are very much in favor of infrastructure spending right now for job`s sake. When asked in a poll commissioned by "Politico" and George Washington University if they would support, quote, "a large scale federally subsidized nation- wide construction program," which is not the friendliest way to put it frankly, Americans responded that they like the idea by a 30-point margin, actually. Fifty-one percent in favor, 21 percent opposed. In the new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, basically the same thing. When asked how they feel about new spending on a new road construction bill, 47 percent of Americans said that would be a good idea, just 27 percent said it was a bad idea. That`s a 21-point margin in the policy`s favor. So, for all that`s not working and self-defeating and craven in Washington right now, could we actually get some real jobs help by investing in infrastructure? The president is on board. Democrats, obviously, are on board. Labor is on board. Business is on board. The American people are on board. Republicans? I`m pretty sure they are not on board, but I have to tell you, it is sort of hard to tell. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Twenty years ago, if you want to make a phone call at the airport, you took out a quarter and you went to the pay phone and you put it in the pay phone. Today, you got these things, all right? You got a smartphone. President Obama`s strategy is a pay phone strategy and we`re in a smartphone world. And so, we`re going to have to change. What he`s doing is taking quarters and stuffing them in the pay phone and thinking -- can`t figure out why it`s not working. It`s not connected anymore, Mr. President. Your pay phone strategy does not work in a smartphone world. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, the pay phone is still there. It`s a pay phone museum? It`s a pay phone that is standing but is not hooked -- he`s putting the quarters in the -- he`s against something, I can tell here, and I think it`s about phones, but I don`t know. If you are into infrastructure and you think that spending some money on infrastructure might be a good way to try to get some jobs to get us out of the economic problem that we are having here, there`s sort of a good news/bad news situation here. The bad news is that apparently the Republicans are against, I think, working on infrastructure to get us some jobs. But the good news is that totally inexplicable arcane pay phone metaphors are so far the best way they got to explain their position. So, that`s good. Joining us now is former "New York Times" columnist Bob Herbert, distinguished senior fellow now at Demos and a contributor to I tried to call you earlier, but I picked up the phone and no matter how much I was putting in the -- BOB HERBERT, DEMOS: It wasn`t connected. MADDOW: It was there still but not on the -- I love the idea that 20 years ago, what Mitt Romney was doing was standing in airport`s lobby putting quarters in the pay phone. HERBERT: Exactly. Yes, if you believe that one -- we`re in a weird place right now. MADDOW: Do you think in this weird place we`re in right now, there is little ray of sunshine that something could pass? HERBERT: No, no. MADDOW: All right. Very good. HERBERT: I think nothing is going to happen. We`re watching political theater. I don`t think the president is going to propose anything big and bold, which is what we need on Thursday night, and even if he did, the Republicans would not allow it to pass. I think that what we`re watching is the early stages of the presidential campaign. So, the president is trying to set the Republicans up as the do nothing Congress, take his fight to the people and hope that, you know, it results in a negative reaction to the Republicans. The problem is that this is what he should have done, I think, in the first year, year and a half, of his presidency when the Republicans were being obstructionists even then, and he should have made the case for a big infrastructure proposal, and then he should have taken that case to the American people, not for political reasons but in hopes of actually getting it passed. MADDOW: So, follow up the big stimulus proposal from his first year, from very early in his first year, with a separate infrastructure plan. HERBERT: Absolutely. Yes. MADDOW: In terms of -- HERBERT: And get rid of those tax cuts. This tax cut-mania, you`re talking correctly about the Republicans, you know, and Hubbard and the tax cuts and all that other kind of stuff. But apparently a big portion of the president`s proposal Thursday night is going to be about tax cuts, too. It`s exactly what we don`t need. (CROSSTALK) MADDOW: Go ahead. HERBERT: How can you talk about tax cuts on the one hand again and again and again while ranting on the other hand about the deficits that are allegedly killing the country, according to the politicians? It makes no sense at all. MADDOW: In terms of what we are hearing about what the president is going to say, it was reported tonight by "The Associated Press" that the president is going to propose a package that is a total of about $300 billion, less than $50 billion of that is spending on infrastructure, more than half of it is an extension on unemployment and an extension of the payroll tax cut. HERBERT: Right. MADDOW: Which is a tax cut but one targeted to people who cash paychecks. HERBERT: Which we need. I mean, you need the unemployment benefits, it does stimulate the economy, but you need it to help the people who are suffering from joblessness. MADDOW: How -- when you describe something big and bold from the president as something that we would need, what would you think of as something that would be big and bold? HERBERT: Well, the thing to look at now is that despite all the rhetoric, interest rates are very low, and while we have a long-term debt problem in this country, the big problem in the short to medium-term is employment. We need to get people back to work in order to get the economy moving again, because the problem now is that you don`t have the demand, and you need to get people on the payroll so that they are paying taxes again, and that begins to alleviate some of your deficit problems. It`s at that point you can pivot, to use a term the Obama administration likes to use, that you can begin to pivot to deficit reduction. But right now, we should be borrowing money at these historically low interest rates to invest in the economy, and I would invest a lot of it in infrastructure and that sort of thing, to put people back to work. I also think -- this will never pass in a million years -- but I also think we have such an employment crisis in this country that we need direct government job creation to put some people, and especially a lot of young people who are disconnected from the workforce entirely, to put them back to work again to alleviate some of the tremendous suffering out there. MADDOW: One of the things that seems to be back on the table, at least in terms of discussions is sort of a pseudo-version of that, a tamp program which pays private companies to hire existing -- people who are unemployed now for training purposes, something that was very successful, part of the initial stimulus effort, championed by a lot of Republican governors, including Haley Barbour at the time. HERBERT: Right, there was a lot of bipartisan support for that. One of the problems with that and the president`s infrastructure proposals to date is that they are too small given the scale of our employment problem. It`s not a problem, it`s really a crisis. I mean, we really need something huge, but I don`t think that it`s in the cards. And then towards the latter part of this year, they`re going to start talking again about deficit reduction, and austerity is just exactly what you don`t need right now. So, I think that we`re in for hard times for a long time. MADDOW: Bob Herbert, former "New York Times" columnist, now a senior -- distinguished senior fellow at Demos -- Bob, it`s always great to have you here even though you are sometimes -- HERBERT: Doom and gloom. MADDOW: -- Mr. Doom and Gloom. HERBERT: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: We do get a smile, which I appreciate it. All right. Democratic Senate hopeful from Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin will be joining us next. And the interview tonight is Republican presidential candidate Buddy Roemer, who has been charming everybody in the building since he`s been here tonight. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: With the president`s big expected jobs speech on Thursday and the Republican debate tomorrow night, everybody`s been saying it sort of feels like the presidential campaign is starting this week. I don`t usually find myself in agreement with the political common wisdom, but in this case, I got to say, it really does feel the presidential campaign is starting this week. And part of the reason it feels that way is because the White House did a couple of things over the last week and a half that felt like they were trying to get out of the way before the start of the actual campaign. As hundreds of people came to protest outside the White House and hundreds of arrests were made, including quite a number of celebrity arrests and arrests of prominent advocates, the Obama administration nevertheless gave an important green light to the Keystone XL pipeline -- a new oil pipeline designed to stretch from the Canadian oil sands of Alberta all the way down to Texas. And on Friday, the administration announced that it would not, after all, go through with new anti-smog regulations they had long promised. Now, did these actions by the president any goodwill from Republicans or business interests that criticize him on stuff like this? No, of course it didn`t. The Chamber of Commerce`s top lobbyist told "The Washington Post" the administration, quote, "Still has a heavy hand with regard to regulations," regardless of the fact that they are not pursuing regulations they had promised. So, the administration didn`t appease its critics on the right. Duh! And Mr. Obama`s presumed allies on issues like this are now very unhappy with him. You can`t help but think that this is the sort of maneuver you want to get done before the campaign starts. Because once the campaign does start, you`ve got to make sure you`ve got your base and your natural allies on your side and working for you and happy. They should be scared of what will happen if they don`t support you and enthused about what will happen if they do support you. So, the Obama administration in the last couple of weeks spent those couple of weeks kicking oil sand in the face of the Democratic Party`s base. But then this week, start with the pair of Labor Day speeches by the president and by the vice president, frankly, they were doing much the opposite. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) OBAMA: If you want to know who helped lay these cornerstones of an American middle class, you just have to look for the union label. (APPLAUSE) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president and I know that Labor Day is not about a day. It`s about a way of life. That`s what Labor Day is about. (APPLAUSE) OBAMA: America cannot have a strong, growing economy without a strong, growing middle class and without a strong labor movement. (APPLAUSE) BIDEN: The middle class would not exist if not for organized labor. (APPLAUSE) OBAMA: As long as I`m in the White House, I`m going to stand up for collective bargaining. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (CHANTING) (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: One of the things that Democratic politicians have had a hard time with in this past generation -- Republicans have no trouble at all with this. But Democrats have had a hard time, wit not just saying things their base will agree with, not just aligning themselves with the interest of the Democratic Party`s base, but recognizing that within the Democratic Party, there actually is a base and it is a base that exists not just on election day. It is a base that is a political actor, that wages political fights on behalf of working people, and it`s a base that needs support in those fights from powerful Democratic politicians. Whenever you hear Republican politicians talking to Tea Party rallies and saying I`m with you, I`m here with you to fight your fight, that`s what they are doing. Democrats, generally, has had a harder time with that dynamic. But when Vice President Biden spoke on Labor Day yesterday, he spoke in Ohio. And in Ohio, the Democratic base has had a real, real fight on its hands this year and the vice president frankly crossed the Rubicon when he was in Ohio, he named the fight of the Democratic base in Ohio, he voiced support for their position in the fight, and he tried to help them win their fight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: This, ladies and gentlemen, is the fight of your life. Across the country from here in Ohio to Wisconsin to Florida, they are reopening fights we thought we settled 50 years ago. Ladies and gentlemen, governors are rolling back collective bargaining rights. They are trying to pass paycheck deception laws. They are pushing the right to work for less again. It`s time to turn the tide in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, everywhere where basic rights to bargain fairly are under attack. And it seems to me that`s exactly what you`re doing here in Ohio, demanding a referendum on SB-5. Stand up now! Be counted! Repeal these laws these governors passed, and, ladies and gentlemen, vote, vote, vote your values. (CHEERS) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Vice President Biden in Ohio, supporting the repeal of Ohio Republican`s union-stripping bill. That bill will be on the ballot for repeal this fall in Ohio. The president speaking in Detroit yesterday also name checking the fight against Republican union-stripping in Ohio, as well as in Wisconsin. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: The values at the core of the union movement -- those don`t change. Those are the values that have made this country great. That`s what the folks trying to undermine your rights don`t understand. We are all in this together. That`s why those crowds came out to support you in Madison and in Columbus. We are one nation. We are one people. We will rise and we will fall together. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: National Democrats, the president and the vice president, connecting national politics to these raging fights that have been happening all year long in the states between Republicans and the Democratic Party`s base. The Democratic Party is starting to recognize its base, starting to nationalize the fights that base has been fighting all year long without any attention from Washington. And that is probably a good thing for the Democratic Party`s electoral chances coast-to-coast. Economic populism is not only fun. It happens to win elections. But what effect will nationalizing these fights have on those fights in the states? As you heard from Vice President Biden, the effort to repeal Ohio`s union stripping bill is going to be on the ballot in November. Does it help to have Vice President Biden on the stump there talking about it in Ohio on Labor Day? In Wisconsin, as of today, we have a much better idea what the fight for that state`s open U.S. Senate seat is going to look like. On the Republican side, one of the likely contenders for that seat is one of the two Fitzgerald brothers who run the Wisconsin Republican legislature. In this case, it`s the one who runs that assembly. You`ve heard Republican Wisconsin being called FitzWalkerstan this year? One of the likely Republican contenders for the open U.S. Senate seat in Wisconsin is one of those Fitzes. And on the Democratic side as of today in order to complete the standoff here, we now know it will be a progressive Democrat who has never been afraid to acknowledge the party`s base and its fights and who has never been shy who she is. Joining us now is seven-term Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin, who as of today has announced she`s entering the race for United States Senate from Wisconsin. Congresswoman Baldwin, thank you for your time tonight. REP. TAMMY BALDWIN (D), WISCONSIN: Well, it`s a pleasure to join you, Rachel. MADDOW: You have been in the middle of the fight against union rights all year. What did you make of the president and vice president name- checking that and bringing it up the way they did in their Labor Day speeches? BALDWIN: It was music to my ears. I have been in the front seat witnessing what has happened in the state of Wisconsin as progress that this state has made over decades was peeled back. And what happened is that the people of the state decided that if their leaders were not listening to them, they were going to speak out, and it has been incredibly inspiring to me. But, you know, we`ve been talking about why this is so important, why collective bargaining rights and the right to organize, but also we`re fighting right now, as you`ve been talking about, for the very survival of the middle class. It used to be that if you worked hard and played by the rules, you could get ahead. And I hear day after day by -- from Wisconsin families and individuals who are playing by the rules and are working hard, but they are not getting ahead. People are trying to save for their kid`s college, people having to dip into their retirement savings just to pay bills when they are just a few years away from retirement. The suffering is real, and the disconnect that we see both in the city of Madison at the state capitol and in Washington, D.C. is outrageous. And that`s why I`m running for the U.S. Senate. MADDOW: The last election in November 2010 was a very Republican election across the country, but it was particularly so in Wisconsin. Russ Feingold lost his seat. The legislature went basically completely red. Obviously, Scott Walker was elected governor. Why do you, as a Democrat, think that you will have a real chance at this Senate seat in this next election? BALDWIN: Well, as we`ve seen as Wisconsin has been on the national stage, people want to be heard and they want their leaders fighting for them. And that`s not what is happening in Madison. It`s not what is happening in Washington, D.C. I think the voters thought they were getting something different than they did in the midterms last year, but we see Wisconsin citizens coming alive, getting involved, and I think that`s a sign of what`s to come. People need a voice and a fighter in Washington. The middle class needs a fighter in Washington. We`ve had great representation from Senator Herb Cole, who has been a champion of the middle class and children and seniors. We need to continue that tradition in Wisconsin, and that`s why I`m running for the U.S. Senate. MADDOW: In terms of your decision to get in here -- seven terms in the House, why do you think this fight will be better waged by you in the Senate than where you are now? BALDWIN: Well, first of all, I have to say that the honor of being able to represent all of the working families in the state of Wisconsin would be enormous, and I was exploring whether or not I should run for reelection to the House or pursue a Senate seat, I had the chance to really travel the state, got a chance to speak with people all over. We`re in an epic struggle. This is really, in my mind and many others, about the survival of the middle class. This is about when we look at issues like reducing our debt and that`s certainly something we must do -- it`s about demanding shared sacrifice, not just letting the people who have had the privilege of climbing the ladder of success stand by the wayside. We all have to come together to respond to the problems that we face. And I think now is the moment, especially given what`s been happening in my state and people reengaging and understanding that they must speak out in order to be heard and understanding that they need a strong voice in the U.S. Senate. MADDOW: Tammy Baldwin, Democratic congresswoman from Wisconsin and now a candidate for U.S. Senate in that state -- thank you for your time. I appreciate you being with us on this night after you`ve announced. Good luck. BALDWIN: Thank you so much. MADDOW: OK. So, the answer to the question, hey, Maddow, when are you going to have one of the Republican presidential candidates on your show is mere moments from now, finally. Former Louisiana governor and Republican presidential Buddy Roemer will join us for the interview very, very soon. The political aisle is reach across-able. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Twenty years and five presidential elections ago, then-Vice President Dan Quayle was running for reelection alongside then-President George H.W. Bush. It didn`t work out, the whole reelection thing. But that`s not mean that Dan Quayle, campaigner, will not be famous forever. Dan Quayle immortalized for his inadvertent comedic genius. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vice President Dan Quayle has cast a rather strange spell on American education during a visit to an elementary in Trenton, New Jersey, on Monday. The vice president gave students a spelling test. DAN QUAYLE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Potato. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The boy wrote the word correctly, but Mr. Quayle wasn`t satisfied until he added an "E." Quayle was wrong, of course, but claims that was the way it was spelled on the flash card he was given, so he went with the potato with an "E" spelling. That`s the news with (INAUDIBLE). Back to Brian and Katy. (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wonder how tomato is spelled. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boy, oh, boy, doesn`t that give you confidence? Let`s go on down to Washington right now, Leonard Scott with two Ts is standing by with a check of our -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You know, when it`s the morning show hosts who are making fun of you, not David Letterman and the late-night guys, but the really nice, pleasant, cordial morning show people who are making fun of you, you know what happened is going on your permanent record. Five months later George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle, with the E in the end, lost their bid for reelection to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, also with an "E" on the end. And two decades hence, seriously, misspelling potato is just about all that anyone remembers about old Dan Quayle. In his vice presidential memoir, which is titled "Standing Firm" and featured him in a cuddly sweater on the cover, Dan Quayle laid the blame for his career-defining potato screw up on one specific campaign staffer. Quote, "`What are we supposed to do?` I asked Keith Nahigian, the advanced man who prepared this little photo op. `Just sit there and read these words off some flash cards, and the kids will go up and spell them on the blackboard,` the staffer said." "Has anyone checked the card?" another aided asked. "Oh, yes," Nahigian said. "We looked at them and they are simple words, no big deal." So, after telling the 6th grader to put an "E" on the end of the word potato, Mr. Quayle did not realize he had done anything wrong. It was after the photo op and then after the press conference after the photo-op that a reporter asked Mr. Quayle how you spell potato. Quoting from Mr. Quayle`s book again, "I gave him a puzzled look, and the press started laughing. It wasn`t until that moment that I realized anything was wrong. None of the staff people had told me." Wow. What happens to campaign staffers who screw up that badly, who essentially end a vice president`s career, who end a vice presidency? What happens to a staffer who does something that bad? Well, fast forward 20 years, and that staffer becomes Michele Bachmann`s new presidential campaign manager. Michele Bachmann`s old campaign manager stepped down last night to be replaced by Keith Nahigian, the potato guy. today making the connection between the Bachmann campaign decision and the great Dan Quayle potato fiasco of 1992. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann had been known throughout her national career before this presidential race as somebody who wasn`t exactly looked at more as a Dan Quayle, who was looked more of a loose cannon. She was seen as somebody liable to say anything, including potentially strange or shocking things with no warning. That`s sort of a big part of why she got so much cable news face time in the last few years. Michele Bachmann`s reputation has not been born out during this presidential campaign, by and large. It`s been a message discipline campaign. A message discipline attributed largely to her veteran campaign staff led by this man, Ed Rollins. That message discipline is a big part of why Michele Bachmann was seen to have done so well in the first major Republican debate. Now that Ed Rollins is out as Michele Bachmann`s campaign manager and Mr. Potato with an "E" is in, the first great unknown of tomorrow`s Republican presidential debate is -- will we see the same disciplined candidate, the same disciplined Michele Bachmann of the very recent past or a version of Michele Bachmann 1.0, the cable news celebrity Michele Bachmann we all loved for so many years? Or will we get something altogether new now that she has a new campaign senior staff? That`s question one. The second great question, the second great unknown of tomorrow`s debate is whether or not the new front-runner, Texas Governor Rick Perry will even be there. Right now, Governor Perry is back home in Texas dealing with his state`s ongoing wildfire crisis. A spokesman for his campaign telling NBC News that the plan as of this evening is for the governor to attend tomorrow`s debate. But that, of course, could change at any moment. The third great unknown for tomorrow night`s Republican debate is whether or not a Republican candidate for the nomination who is not on that stage tomorrow can still affect the race. Are Republican primary voters still looking for someone else? As the race is starting to look more than ever like a Romney versus Perry matchup, does that lead yet for more room in the field? One of the candidates who is trying to shake up that field will join us next for the interview. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I have been so looking forward to this. Joining us tonight for the interview is Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Louisiana, Buddy Roemer. He`s not one of the eight candidates expected to be on stage tomorrow night for the NBC New/"Politico" debate, but we are very happy to have him with us on this stage tonight. Governor, I can`t tell you how happy I am to have you here. BUDDY ROEMER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Me too, I`m honored to be here. MADDOW: I want to ask you the big obvious question and you can tell me if you think it`s rude and tell me if you don`t want to answer. ROEMER: All right. MADDOW: Jon Huntsman nationwide is polling at 1 percent, 1 percent, 1 percent when he`s lucky. How did he get this blessing as a candidate to be taken seriously as a contender with numbers like that and you did not get that same blessing? ROEMER: I had the same number, slightly better, 1 percent and 2 percent over the last two weeks. I don`t know the answer. My suspicion is it might have to do with money and my approach to it. I could be wrong, Rachel. I`ve been out of politics for 20 years. I`ve been a happy man in Louisiana building a small bank about $1 billion worth. We help jobs get created out in the real world, that`s what I do, I`m a jobs guy, not a lawyer, not a politician. But I`m the only guy running who was a congressman and a governor. And I know this business, and I`m concerned about America, so I entered four weeks ago. I have slowly crept up to my 1 percent and 2 percent. I will add to that over time, but here`s my difference, $100 limit, no PAC money, no super PAC money, and I fully disclose every penny that I collect. I`ve had all 50 states participate, Guam and Puerto Rico, I don`t know what`s wrong with those guys, but they are helping me. So, I am building. I will get on a debate, Rachel. It will happen. My issues are jobs and the corruptive power of big money in campaigns. Those are my two issues. No one else talks about it, no one else cares about it. I want a president with passion about jobs, and that`s what I expect from Mr. Obama the day after tomorrow. That`s what I`m looking for. Not a specific plan, but I want passion for jobs. This country`s in trouble. I don`t see it in the Republican Party. I don`t see it in the presidency. I`m concerned, that`s why I`m running. MADDOW: After 20 years or so out of politics, why jump back in at the presidential level? Why try to get back into politics without national name recognition, without a national base? ROEMER: That`s a good question, and I never really thought of it that way. And maybe the game passed me by. It used to be that I built my political career, and I served in the constitutional convention, I wrote a Constitution with the help of others, Congress for four terms, and governor, that I would build it slowly over time on the issues. I`m an issues wonk, I like it. I like how to improve the country. I have found since I`ve come back in the last couple of months, and I`ve been doing this for about seven months, exploratory, and now running, that the pace has picked up. I like that, I`m getting up to speed in that. But it`s so television-oriented. Rachel, it used to be -- I won the governor`s race in Louisiana with no PAC money, with a limit. I spent $1 million, the guy that I beat spend $16 million, but I did it with newspaper support, newspapers were so important then. They are less important now. So, I`m learning kind of the new game, and that`s why I`ve slowly begun to build. I`m in New Hampshire. I rest my case in New Hampshire, it`s like I`m running for governor there. My limited funds will also be spent there. I mean, if I can get 1 million people to give me $10, I`ll spend it in New Hampshire. We`ll win the Republican nomination and revolutionize politics in this country. It`s all about the money. It`s about the big checks and special interests, Rachel, and it`s Democrat and Republican. I see no difference. MADDOW: And on the issue of campaign finance -- I mean, we have seen a gradual change over the course of a generation until the last couple of years where that gradual change has gone off a cliff. ROEMER: Yes. MADDOW: Five Supreme Court decisions that have dismantled the meager campaign finance laws that we had. Are you, and is anybody, structurally incapable of making a campaign finance case at the national level, because by definition, you can`t raise the money to make the case against big money? ROEMER: We`ll see. It`s a dilemma. I mean, I would have a rule that lobbyists registered with the federal government could not give a check to a candidate. I would have a rule that you`d have a 48-hour reporting period, not 90 or 150 days, Rachel. Let`s know where the money`s coming from. I would have a rule that PACs could give no more than individuals, whatever the limit is, $1,000, $2,500. I would have a rule there`d be no super PACs. I would have a rule that there would be criminal penalties for violation of these rules that does not abrogate the close Supreme Court vote 5-4 that money is speech. As a conservative I believe money is speech. But you can`t yell fire in a crowded theater incorrectly. There can be broad limits and I think the Supreme Court has said it. Now, one final point. Conservatives like myself have argued for full disclosure, sun light. Liberals, like yourself, often argue for limits on giving. Right now, we have neither. We have the worst of both worlds. We have Mitt Romney taking $1 million check in a super PAC and not disclosing it to anybody until forced to. We have campaign chiefs of staff, in Mr. Obama`s case and in several other candidates` case, who are running the so-called independent PACs. I mean, it is -- it is morally wrong in my mind and hurtful to the American politics. OK, if we have no limits, let`s have full disclosure. Now we have neither. MADDOW: I would say, sir, that whether or not you have a chance of winning the nomination of the structural constraints you are under, the fact that you are running has you on places like "The Daily Show" and this show and other shows across the country talking about this and embarrassing everybody else who will engage on the subject. And for that, I congratulate. ROEMER: I`m a proud Republican, but I`m a prouder American. This is about America, Rachel. Something`s wrong in our system, and it`s special interest money. Unfair trade with China, I love to talk about it all day. Now, that`s a jobs program the president ought to stand for. He ought to protect American jobs. I`d support him if he did. Nobody else is doing it. MADDOW: Buddy Roemer, Republican presidential candidate, former governor of Louisiana -- sir, will you come back during this campaign? ROEMER: Absolutely. MADDOW: Thank you. It`s great to have you here. ROEMER: Thanks, Rachel. Good to see you. MADDOW: We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Late last night, a very interesting convoy of cars was seen leaving the nation of Libya, crossing the border into Niger. First, it was a reported to be a convoy of more than 200 vehicles, then more than a dozen pickup trucks. And then, finally, fewer than 10 vehicles carrying lots of money, along with people loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, people like his security chief, as well as other, quote, "heavyweight political military and media officials and officers." But as far as U.S. national security officials say they can tell, neither Gadhafi himself nor any Gadhafi family member was part of that very interesting convoy. Niger`s foreign minister has now said the same thing. But it may not be that way for long. "Reuters" reporting tonight a Libyan official says Gadhafi was last tracked heading toward the Niger border about three days ago. Why would he be heading toward Niger? It`s possible that Niger might not be his final destination. To the west of Niger and accessible through it is Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso today offered asylum to Moammar Gadhafi. Regardless of where and when Gadhafi is eventually found, Libya is already starting to act as a de facto post-Gadhafi country. We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Programming note, tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, MSNBC will be the one and only place you can see the Republican candidates debate from the Reagan Library. NBC News and "Politico" putting on the debate. As soon as it`s over, I will be anchoring MSNBC`s post-debate coverage from here in New York, along with Ed and Chris and Lawrence and all your other MSNBC pals. That`s from right after the debate, until about midnight Eastern. We`ll see you then starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. But "THE ED SHOW" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END