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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/27/11

Guests: Nicole Wallace; Steve Schmidt; Sherrod Brown>

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Two really consequential things are going on in U.S. politics right now. Two things in which the thing that makes them really consequential events will not be overtly discussed. There`s the surface event, the sort of headline and then there`s the important thing that is below the surface. The first of these is something being done by Texas Governor Rick Perry. He`s hosting a gala lobbyist fund-raiser tonight at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. As legend has it, the word "lobbyist" exists because of the Willard Hotel. The Willard is close to the White House. And back in late 1800s, people who were trying to get favors done in D.C. would supposedly hang out in the opulent lobby of the Willard Hotel, waiting for politicians or cabinet officers or maybe even the president to come by that hotel so they could schmooze that person. Those Willard hotel lobbyists helped give the whole lobbyist profession its name. At least, that`s the somewhat spurious legend, which the Willard Hotel itself enthusiastically promotes. Well, tonight, the Willard Hotel lobbyist fundraiser for Rick Perry constitutes what his campaign is describing as his Washington kickoff for his presidential run. NBC`s Michael Isikoff obtained an invitation to the event. It lists a 28-member host committee. At least 20 of the 28 people on the host committee are high level K Street lobbyists. And all 28 of the people on the host committee had to agree in order to get their names on this invitation tonight to give Rick Perry`s campaign at least 10,000 bucks. So, on the one hand, sort of surface level, this will be a nice night to Rick Perry. He will go to this nice hotel that gave lobbyists their name in the first place. He will clear at least 280,000 bucks for his campaign. That will pad his fund-raising numbers nicely for when he has to turn them in on Friday. On the surface, this is all good news for Governor Rick Perry of Texas. The thing that will go unsaid, however, the thing perhaps roiling beneath that calm service is what else NBC has been able to report about tonight`s Perry event. Quote, "A D.C. lobbying source tells NBC the host committee for Perry`s fund-raiser tonight remains a list in flux because organizers have had trouble nailing down commitment from other top lobbyists they had hoped to include. The problem reflects new doubts about Perry, both because of his stumbling debate performance last week and questions about whether he will have the staying power to make it through the primary gauntlet, says the D.C. lobbyist who had been courted by organizers of the event." And who is now spilling the beans about it to NBC`s Michael Isikoff. This is sort of trouble for Rick Perry. What does Rick Perry supposedly have going for him as a candidate? He seems really conservative. Well, all of the other Republican candidates have taken 10 notches out of him on that one. Supposed to be very charismatic, until he started showing up in the debates and going (INAUDIBLE) whenever anybody asked him a question. But, third, the most importantly, in the way we do politics now, Rick Perry is supposed to be a hand-over-fist fund-raiser, right? The idea was that, sure, Mitt Romney personally is a zillionaire, but all the zillionaires in the country who aren`t Mitt Romney are supposed to want to give their money to somebody like Rick Perry. Apparently not, at least apparently not tonight. So, that is one of the two big events going on in U.S. politics tonight where the headline for what is going to be happening overtly at the event is not the most important thing about that event. The other big thing going on right now tonight in politics, as we speak, where the true importance of the event will not be overtly spoken of is this. This is the podium that at any minute, in any minute now, will be hosting Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. Chris Christie is the governor of New Jersey. He is the sitting governor of a state that is on the East Coast and that means frankly he has no official reason for being at this podium which is at the Reagan Library in southern California, but there he is expected to be any moment. This has been a real grass is always greener year for Republican presidential candidates. The Republican with the most and best buzz has consistently been whoever is not in the race but might someday get in. Chris Christie has enjoyed putting himself in the position to be asked over and over and over again if he is running and before tonight, he has consistently said, no, no, no, no, I couldn`t possibly, thank you for asking, please ask again, but no. Tonight, even though his aides are telling reporters that he has no intention of declaring that he definitely is going to be running for president, the reason everybody is paying so much attention to this speech he`s giving in California tonight is because there is word that tonight may be the night that Chris Christie -- well, he doesn`t exactly say yes, but tonight may be the night he stops saying no. And, yes, that does sound kind of gross. That`s Beltway politics for you and that does seem to be what`s happening. We`re told to watch not necessarily for a statement in the speech, itself, but for the way he answers questions immediately after the speech. These two political events happening simultaneously in U.S. politics tonight are related to each other. The renewed speculation about Governor Christie is in part because of Rick Perry`s little problem tonight in D.C. as lobbyists and big money donors are start to spill the beans and some say they`re not so sure about Rick Perry -- lobbyists and really, really, really big money donors are coming out of the proverbial closet about their support for Chris Christie: folks like the billionaire founder of Home Depot, the hedge fund magnate Paul Singer, personal investment guru Charles Schwab, cosmetics baroness Georgette Mosbacher, and -- drum roll, please -- the richest man in all of New York, David Koch of the famous Koch brothers. We have known for some time now that the Koch brothers are big fans of Christie. Earlier this month, "Mother Jones" and Brad Friedman reported that Governor Christie was a guest at the Koch brothers, at one of their secret masters of the universe summit outside of Vail, Colorado. The security of that summit was reportedly so tight that they set up loud speakers on the periphery of the event to broadcast white noise, to broadcast static, so nobody could listen in on the event. Here`s some of what they`re apparently hoping to keep quiet. This is reportedly David Koch praising Governor Chris Christie. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) DAVID KOCH: Five months ago, we met in my New York City office and spoke -- just the two of us -- for about two hours. At the end of our conversation, I said to myself, I`m really impressed and inspired by this man. He is my kind of guy. Who knows? With his anonymous success in reforming New Jersey, some day, we might see him on a larger stage where God knows he is desperately needed. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Zillionaires like David Koch who at one time were hoping to keep their Chris Christie light under a bushel are now apparently, according to the press this week, apparently willing to be named as Chris Christie supporters. reporting that some would be Christie donors are people who said they supported the Democratic ticket in 2008, not necessarily because for their enthusiasm for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but because explicitly they were turned off by Sarah Palin running as John McCain`s running mate. It would make sense why those Palin-phobic donors would not want to support, say, a Rick Perry candidacy. But why wouldn`t they want to support Mitt Romney? What does Chris Christie offer them that Mitt Romney doesn`t? Substantively, when you look at the things they support, there`s not much daylight between Chris Christie and Mitt Romney. They`re sort of offering the same things roughly speaking on the most important policy issues. Maybe it`s not a matter of substance. Maybe it`s a matter of style. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t send your children to public schools. You send them to private schools. So, I was wondering why you think it`s fair to be cutting school funding to public schools? GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: What`s her name? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s her name, guys? Real quick. The governor`s talking. What is it? Gail. Talk to Gail. CHRISTIE: Hey, Gail, you know what? First off, it`s none of your business. I don`t ask you where you send your kids to school. Don`t bother me about where I send mine. I, as governor, am responsible for every child in this state, not just my own. The decisions I make is to try to improve the educational opportunities of every child in this state. So with all due respect, Gail, it`s none of your business. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re not compensating me for my education and you`re not compensating me for my experience. CHRISTIE: Well, you know what? Then you don`t have to do it. I mean, the simple fact of the matter is -- (CHEERS) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Teachers -- teachers do it because they love it. CHRISTIE: The simple fact of the matter is this. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Teachers do it because they love it. CHRISTIE: Well, that`s good. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s the only reason I do it. CHRISTIE: You know, Tom, you must be the thinnest skinned guy in America, because you think that`s a confrontational tone, then, you know, you should really see me when I`m pissed. Let`s start with this. I sat here, stood here and very respectfully listened to you. If what you want to do is put on a show and giggle every time I talk, well then I have no interest in answering your question. If you`d like to conduct a respectful conversation, I`m happy to do it. If you don`t, please go sit down and I`ll answer the next question. What`s your choice? (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: The most important thing about the videos is where you get them from. These are the sort of videos posted online by Chris Christie. It is somebody`s job who works for the governor`s office in New Jersey to post videos online of the governor being rude to constituents. When Republicans talk about Chris Christie`s charisma, this is what they`re talking about. This is not like, the downside, the rough side, the abrasive side of his personality. This is what they`re marketing about him as his charisma. This is what Chris Christie is frankly marketing about himself on the national stage. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTIE: I think that people are coming on to, you know, on YouTube and other media outlets are seeing town halls and they think they like the back and forth. I`m not one of those politicians who thinks because I`m in public office, I have to be nice all the time. If you`re not nice to me, I`m not going to be nice to you. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Maybe this is the contrast Republicans want to draw this year. Maybe this is the emotional distinction between the Democrats and Republicans this year. After last week`s Republican debate in Florida, the one moment that a FOX News focus group bristled at the most from the debate was Rick Perry`s defense of in-state college tuition rates for illegal immigrants in Texas, and specifically, Governor Perry`s line that anybody who opposed that policy doesn`t have a heart. According to Frank Luntz, his Republican focus group watching that debate nearly turned their dials off their axles at the "have a heart" line from Rick Perry. It was their most hated line of the night from any candidate and it was the Republican focus group`s most hated line of all the Republican debates so far. Have a heart. No. Maybe that`s the mood that we are in right now. Both President Obama and Vice President Biden have been commenting in recent days about members of the audience at Republican debates doing stuff like booing a gay soldier in Iraq, applauding a high number of executions in Texas and cheering for letting uninsured people die without getting need medical care. Maybe that is the mood. Maybe that is the mood that the Republican electorate is in right now for electing their candidate. Maybe Chris Christie`s style fits that mood. Contrast that with President Obama getting called the antichrist by a heckler last night in Los Angeles. Nothing specific here about the antichrist heckle; what`s specific and perhaps nationally important here is the spectacularly un-Chris Christie way in which the president responded to the guy screaming at him that he`s the antichrist. Did you see what the president did after the guy screamed the antichrist stuff? This is what happened right after the heckler was removed from the audience. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Is that his jacket? Is that his jacket? Is that his jacket? I think the young man may have left his jacket. So make sure -- make sure that he gets his jacket. Oh, that`s yours. Hold on, hold on, hold on. It`s hers. And I think somebody`s car keys are in there, too. We`re having all kinds of confusion here. Oh, goodness gracious. There you go. All right. I wasn`t sure. Don`t leave your jacket around like that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Maybe we can get the guy`s parking validated, too. Are we sure that he`s got all -- we can take -- has somebody made sure that young man has crossed the street, the crosswalk, is he OK? If it`s Obama versus Christie on the emotional level, does it come down to that contrast? Joining us now is Nicolle Wallace, who is White House communications director under President George W. Bush and the senior adviser to McCain/Palin campaign. The sequel to her best-selling political novel "18 Acres" is called "It`s Classified." It is out today. And in "It`s Classified," the Republican president is a woman who is not trying to be the meanest person in the room, but she does choose a Democrat to be her vice president who it turns is coo coo for cocoa pops. Nicolle Wallace, thank you so much for joining us tonight. Did I give away too much there? NICOLLE WALLACE, "IT`S CLASSIFIED" AUTHOR: It`s perfect. MADDOW: All right. Also joining with us -- joining us tonight, Steve Schmidt, senior campaign strategist of the McCain/Palin campaign, campaign manager of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger`s `06 re-election campaign, as well as a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush. Thank you both so much for being here. STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Great to be here. WALLACE: How did you do this? Two of us here to pick on? One wasn`t fair. MADDOW: One of us is going to be struck by lightning at the end of this discussion. I can tell you. Yes, having two Republicans here and on the night that Chris Christie might stop saying, no, I feel like I`m sort of crossing fingers. I don`t know what`s going to happen. On Chris Christie, we are he`s about to start his speech at the Reagan Library. The word on the street, which is usually wrong, is that this is the day he stops saying no, even if he doesn`t explicitly say yes. Would Chris Christie joining the race, do either of you think that would substantially change the race because he would become a plausible front-runner? SCHMIDT: I think absolutely. I think that he jumps right away to the front tier in the race. He`s going to be a very formidable candidate if he got in the race. He`s going to be able to raise the resources necessary to communicate a message. And there`s a reality here is that he`s been an extraordinarily effective governor of an incredibly dysfunctional state. And I think one of the untold stories in American politics right now is the two most successful governors in the country were the governor from New York, Andrew Cuomo, and the Republican from New Jersey, Chris Christie. Chris Christie gets a lot of the attention because of, you know, the national implications if he runs or not. But he`s been a very effective governor. And I think that people are craving somebody who can take the fight to the president, who can communicate clearly and Chris Christie fits that bill. MADDOW: I think -- of course, I think there are other people who would look at more liberal governors and say they`re doing stuff under the radar but they`re not getting national attention because nobody`s looking for liberal governors to be running now. But I think if he tries to run on his record, it raises this issue of whether or not his crusade against the unions in New Jersey is the kind of thing that can be nationalized into a winning message. I mean, we`ve seen that in Wisconsin, we`ve seen that in Ohio, we`ve seen that in Florida. We`ve seen that with all these Republican governors. Chris Christie nationally marketed it. Do Republicans really want to win on we hate unions? WALLACE: Look, I think it`s more problematic than simply Christie has to go out there and stop saying no. I think that this entire dysfunctional dating that the party has done by continuing to disparage the guys who are on the field -- running for president is excruciating. I mean, anyone who does it on either side is to be heralded for getting in the arena. He hasn`t stepped in that arena yet. I think it will come back to bite the Republican Party in the butt that they have continued to lust after all the guys who are not interested in running. You know, it`s like always lusting after the guy who isn`t available emotionally or otherwise. It`s unhealthy and I think it`s going to come an in a year when Republicans are united in opposition to the Obama agenda in a way that`s far more wholesome for them to run on than the kinds of things you talked about. You know, there are some elements in the right that we shouldn`t be proud of and shouldn`t be animating our presidential politics. But our opposition to Obama`s agenda and his record on the economy is one that can unite, that gives us an opportunity to win back independents who are truly up for grabs in the way they haven`t been since the year 2000. And I think this constant lusting after the guys that really are ambivalent about running is a dangerous game. MADDOW: Well, let me -- I mean, so, are you saying that in the disparaging of the people who are already running, you`re talking about Republicans piling on their own candidates? WALLACE: Exactly. And I think, you know, obviously, Perry hasn`t impressed people in his time as a late entry into the race. And that`s legitimate. To look at the rest of the field, to look at Huntsman who`s an impressive intellect and a guy that`s certainly to be respected, with something to say about international affairs and otherwise, and to look at Romney and to look this field and say, nah, none of them will do, and to, you know, run out and be looking for someone who has expressed over and over again not just ambivalence of running for president but his disinterest in running for the White House is a dangerous game. I think it will come back to hurt Republicans if Christie doesn`t get in and win. MADDOW: Steve, let me do something counterintuitive and ask you about Nicolle Wallace`s book. SCHMIDT: It`s a great book. MADDOW: It is a great book. And the sort of the frame for this book is that a crazy person and treated sensitively, not made fun of, but treated sensitively as a person who has mental illness issues, ends up getting to be vice president, because we have a political process that allows that to happen. There is a very rigorous process for choosing a vice president in this country. But the overall process is supposed to sort of weed out people who shouldn`t be qualified to hold that office. Do you think our nominating process actually does adequately test people for whether or not they`re going to be good at being president? SCHMIDT: I do believe the nominating process for president is an excruciating process, as Nicolle just described. And, you know, President Bush made this point once when we worked for him in the White House. And it was the presidential campaign strips away all the artifices. You`re fully revealed, you know, for who you are in front of the American people. And I believe that. I think you`ve seen that in recent years on the Democratic side and on the Republican side. So, I think as you go through this process, you are stripped bare, and the American people see you for who you are. I think that there have been failures in the vice presidential vetting process. I was involved in one of them. And I think both parties have had failures in the vetting process. You know, John Edwards clearly and, you know, and the nominee in 2008. And I think, you know, there are rooms -- that there is substantial room for improvement about how the vice president is selected. It`s a process that is marked by fundamentally a lack of transparency in the selection. It`s marked by, you know, tactical considerations. It`s too political. It`s about how do we step out of bounds, how do we get a couple points here, how do we reshape the race? And the first and foremost consideration should be: is this person qualified to be the commander in chief? Because there are plenty of examples in the history of the country when the vice president`s been called on to take the oath of office. And I think if you look back at, you know, the last couple years of American politics, both on the Republican side, but also on the Democratic said, there`s been deficiencies in that area. MADDOW: In terms of not to get -- not to put you guys on the spot too much, but if Chris Christie tonight at the Reagan library -- he just started speaking. If he does not get in, if he says, you know, really, I know there`s a renewed speculation but really I`m not getting in -- the last person on the sidelines who could conceivably get in before the filing deadlines start piling up is Sarah Palin. Most people think she`s not going to run. Would either of you -- what would either of you say to Sarah Palin getting in the race? I have a feeling neither of you would support her as a candidate. But what would you say? WALLACE: Well, further, I don`t think she`d take either of our calls. MADDOW: I don`t think she`d be calling you to run. SCHMIDT: No. WALLACE: You know, I think that if she were to step back in the arena, she`d have to -- she`d have to play by some of the normal conventions. And I think that will enrage her base of supporters. But the truth is the times are too dire to run as the man or woman for the right or the left. I think that was the difficult lesson Obama learned and the price he`s paying for pushing an agenda that appealed maybe too much to the left. People don`t like that. MADDOW: The left do not feel like they`ve gotten a lot. WALLACE: I mean, he has the constitution to govern the whole country and he has missed an opportunity to do so with his policies. So, my advice for anyone, particularly for her -- and she has a whole nest of problems that would, you know, that she`d have to confront. But the first one would be to resist her most partisan and most polarizing instincts because that would make her the wrong candidate for the moment. MADDOW: Does she have anything to offer beyond that? WALLACE: Look, you know, I was inspired by her to write a book about someone who was coo coo for coca puffs. So, don`t ask me. MADDOW: Steve? SCHMIDT: Well, you know, look, I think that, you know, the difference between the two is that he was an accomplished governor with a stellar record. You know, at the end of the day, when you give consideration to her, she`s known by 100 percent of Republican primary voters and you look at some of the new polling out today. Republicans overwhelmingly do not want to see her in the race. If she gets in the race, her poll numbers are in the second or somewhere between the second and third tier of the candidates. She`s not going to be the Republican nominee. If she runs and she`s in a space somewhere between Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain right now. But certainly not -- you know, her entry wouldn`t make this a three-person race. You know, if he doesn`t get into this race, it remains really a two- person race at this point, you know, between Perry, between Romney, with Jon Huntsman gaining altitude in New Hampshire, which is what he needs to do to be a factor. MADDOW: Governor Palin, if you`re looking for phone numbers for Steve Schmidt or Nicolle Wallace, you really think about getting in, you cannot get them from me. Nicolle Wallace, former White House communications director under President George W. Bush, senior advisor to the McCain-Palin campaign in `08, and author of the new novel "It`s Classified," which is really good and I`m not just saying that because she`s here. As well as Steve Schmidt, senior campaign strategist to the McCain- Palin campaign -- thank you both so much for joining us. I appreciate you coming in talking to me. Thanks a lot. SCHMIDT: Good to be here. Thank you. MADDOW: All right. If you are a fugitive from the law, your time as a free person statistically speaking is winding down. It is a bad year for people on the lam. Some incredible news about that today coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: All right. So you`re in the car, it is not a real car. It`s a video game car. You`re playing "Burnout Paradise." You are pure liquid flowing through a city of pixels, except, unexpectedly, this city of pixels has billboards in it everywhere, billboards carrying this message: early voting has begun,, with Barack Obama`s face on the billboard. That`s a campaign ad in the video game. In the 2008 presidential race, the Obama campaign, look, begin the first presidential campaign to advertise inside video games. At the time, it seemed a little strange maybe, certainly forward thinking. But what mattered to the Obama campaign was the message that it was getting out to people playing the games in states that had early voting. The message was early voting has begun. That`s what the campaign cared about. Getting people to the polls in states that let you cast a ballot early. Among voters who actually went to the polls on Election Day in 2008, John McCain and Sarah Palin won the state of Florida by nearly five points. The McCain/Palin ticket carried the day. But if you look at the results from that election, you will see Florida is blue. Obama and Biden won Florida. That`s because even though people who voted on Election Day mostly voted Republican in Florida, Obama and Biden won big among people who voted early. And that`s a big part of why Obama and Biden are in the White House now. Flash forward to 2010, when Republicans whomped Democrats in the midterm elections. Republicans now control more state legislatures than at any time since 1952. And what have Republicans done with their new power in the states? Well, in Florida, they`ve decided to crack down on early voting. Florida Republicans made it so they can cut the state`s early voting time in half. Also in Georgia, Republicans there have cut Georgia early voting by more than half. In Wisconsin, they cut the time for absentee voting in half so you get less time to vote and you have to jump through more hoops at the polls. At the beginning of this year, only Georgia and Indiana required you to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Now, Republicans in five more states, including Wisconsin, have passed laws saying you can`t vote unless you show ID you did not used to have to show and frankly not all people have. Across the nation, elected Republicans have been hard at work, making it harder to vote wherever they can, however they can. Republicans in Maine, for example, this year passed a law ending same day registration in the state. Thanks to Governor Paul LePage and the Republicans in the state legislatures, Mainers can no longer register and vote on the same day as they have been able to since the early `70s. Today, a Maine group that`s working to get same-day registration back pointed out that Governor LePage, himself and nine other elected Maine Republicans themselves registered to vote immediately before elections. The thing they have just made illegal, saying it somehow made Maine`s elections unsafe. So, it`s not fit for others and has to be outlawed -- but it`s OK for them? In South Carolina, new Republican Governor Nikki Haley signed a law making it harder to vote in South Carolina. Nearly 200,000 people in her state, 200,000 South Carolinians do not have the photo ID that will be required to have your ballot cast and counted on election day in South Carolina. And in Colorado, the Republican secretary of state there is suing Denver, suing the city and county of Denver over voting. In the elections this November, this upcoming November in Denver County, pretty much the only way to vote is by mailing in a ballot. That`s the way it works. The county mails you a ballot, you fill it out, and you mail it in. The Republican secretary of state in Colorado is suing to force Denver to mail ballots only to people who voted in 2010, hmmm, which you`ll remember was a huge year for Republicans and Republican turnout. If you didn`t vote in that election and you haven`t answered a follow-up postcard from the county, the Republican secretary of state in Colorado is suing to keep Denver from mailing you a ballot to vote this time around, so it`s a lot harder for you to participate in the next election. We have been reporting on this all year long, on this broad and sustained effort by Republicans in the states to make it harder to vote. The question has been whether there would be any kind of response by national Democrats. Today, there is one. It comes in the great state of Ohio, where new Republican Governor John Kasich signed a bill this year that would cut the time for early voting in half and cut absentee voting by almost as much. Today, the re-election campaign for President Obama announced that it would join the fight for a citizens` repeal of John Kasich`s make it harder to vote bill. The Obama re-election national field director sending out an e-mail saying, quote, "At a time when we should be expanding the number of people voting, there are some in Ohio trying to shrink it. It`s pure politics." The Obama campaign telling people in Ohio that it will help get the 230,000 signatures need to put that make it harder to vote law on the ballot so it can be repealed. The deadline for signing the petition to get it on the ballot is Thursday, the day after tomorrow. Joining us now in studio is Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat from the great state of Ohio. Senator Brown also served two terms as Ohio secretary of state from 1983 to 1990. Senator Brown, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here. SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Great to be back. Thank you. MADDOW: The Obama campaign jumping on this drive to get enough signatures by the end of the week to put Ohio`s new voting law on the ballot. How is the campaign helping out? And do you think that Ohio needs the help here? BROWN: Well, we always welcome the help from -- these are mostly activists, citizen activists, people that have volunteered for the Obama campaign in the past. But this is a huge volunteer effort -- people from all corners of the state. We`ve gotten signatures from all 88 counties. Anybody that wants to sign in Ohio that hasn`t yet should call the state, Ohio Democratic Party headquarters. And there are petitioners in every county that they can find you or you can find them. But this is something Republicans do. They`ve never done it in this much of an orchestrated way to roll back voting rights. Make no mistake, that`s what they`re doing state after state, as you point out, Rachel, they`re rolling back voting rights. But every presidential year, they try something. They`ve stationed people at the polls that look like off duty -- they look like police officers to intimidate people. They`ve challenged voters. They`ve had secretaries of state that have issued as in Ohio a few years ago to issue all kinds of conflicting regulations. They have called people on the phone saying the polls close at a different time. They play these games because Republicans sometimes win elections by depressing turnout. It`s really un-American and it really does in so many ways, it undercuts our values. And in Ohio this year, there`s been an assault on voter rights. There`s been -- from the legislature and the governor, assault on worker rights, assault on women`s rights, and really unraveling from these radicals in the legislature -- unraveling what there was consensus about. We in this country have had a consensus around Medicare and student loan and Pell grants and voting rights and collective bargaining rights and women`s rights. And these radicals want to unravel all of that. And it`s a state by state effort, the likes of which we`ve never seen. MADDOW: Ohio is going to have a chance to vote again in 2012 like the rest of the country. Ohio voted very Republican in 2010. Do you sense when you look at the activism that`s happened in Ohio since the 2010 election -- do you sense that Ohio is changing its mind, that the Republicans that were elected and the agenda they have pursued since they`ve taken over in Ohio is not what people expected? BROWN: Absolutely. I mean, the campaign in 2010 was about lost jobs. They blamed the 400,000 lost jobs to the governor, Governor Strickland. That was not fair. But politics often isn`t. But that`s what they campaign on, lost jobs. As soon as they left office they went after collecting bargaining rights, and women`s rights, and voting rights and rolling back what was once a consensus in our state and our country. If you look at Governor Kasich`s polling numbers, if you look at the number of petitions that were submitted a couple months ago to repeal -- to do the referendum on the collective bargaining repeal, we needed 250,000, roughly, signatures. We turned in about 1.3 million. To the point the secretary of state`s office, when the boxes of petitions were brought in had to bring in a structural engineer to make sure the floor could support the weight of these petitions. I mean, that`s what activism has been. I`ve never seen anything in my state where this many people are upset and this many people are engaged in the political process who never were before. MADDOW: Watching what you were describing there in Ohio, watching things like that happen in places like Wisconsin and other places where there`s been real mobilization over the past year, year and a half, it makes me wonder not about whether or not people in the states are capable of good activist organizing. Boy, they`re impressive when they put their minds to it. It makes me wonder whether or not national Democrats, whether the Democratic Party and its sort of controlling forces in Washington takes power from those things, is able to channel that sort of activist example and energy into national results. BROWN: Well, I think that`s a very good question. I look forward to going back to the Democratic Senate Caucus the day after we win on the referendum on collective bargaining and say, look what it means when you don`t move to the middle and stand for nothing but you really do say what side you`re on, who`s back you have. And that`s when Democrats win elections, when we stand for something. It`s not left, right. It`s whose side are you on? You contrast what we believe with what they believe. We`re doing that in collective bargain. We`re doing that on voter rights. We`re doing on women`s rights. I think -- it`s certainly the right thing substantively and it pays off politically. When I`m on the ballot next year, the voters are going to see a very clear choice between me and the ultraconservative that will likely run against me, the anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-worker right winger that will be my opponent. I think you run that way, you stand for something, voters who are independents like candidates that do that, that actually stand for something, stand for jobs, stand for better -- for fair trade, not free trade -- all the kinds of things that I know you`ve talked about on this show that really do energize voters. MADDOW: Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, served two terms as Ohio`s secretary of state and is therefore uniquely qualified to discuss this stuff with me tonight -- Senator Brown, it`s always really nice to have you here. BROWN: Thank you. MADDOW: Thanks for coming in. Good to see you, sir. All right. Attention: longtime notorious fugitives from justice, A, thanks for watching; B, whatever bunker or compound or remote mountain shack you have been hiding out in, you may want to have a plan B ready and a go bag packed. Statistically speaking, 2011 is not your year. Details ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: On Monday, November 16th, 1987, the Ohio State University fired its football coach, a man named Earl Bruce. Earl Bruce played football for Ohio State. He loved Ohio State. And up until that moment, Mr. Bruce had been extremely successful in nine years coaching at Ohio State. But Ohio State was sort of having a bad year in 1987. Five wins, four losses and one tie. That record was not good enough and the administration abruptly fired the coach. Five days ahead of Ohio State`s game against Michigan, Ohio State`s big rival, one of the greatest rivalries in the country, and Ohio State fires their coach. And the fans of Ohio State lost their minds. They are infuriated by this decision. And the expression of public anger took the form of one of those college sports moments that makes our executive, Bill Wolff, cry at meetings when he tries to explain them. In the evening of that Monday night in 1987, hours after Coach Earl Bruce was fired, about 150 members of the Ohio State marching band marched to Earl Bruce`s house and serenaded their old, deposed, devastated coach with Ohio State fight songs. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: Coach Earl Bruce was not a man who wants to reveal his emotions. But that night, he wept openly with the band on his lawn. And five days later, Ohio State traveled to Michigan and somehow beat their arch rivals and the Buckeye players carried Coach Earl Bruce off the field on their shoulders. Serenading leads to weeping, leads to upset victory and redemption. Earl Bruce`s week in November 1987 was the standard in which tearful marching band stories must -- must be judged. And "The Best Thing in the World Today" is right up there with it. It is maybe even as good. "Best New Thing in the World Today" is coming up at the end of the show. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: A lot of airport security measures are the result of specific security breaches in the past. Taking off your shoes, for example, that became a new feature of airport security when this man Richard Reid tried to turn his grody shoes into grody shoe bombs on the flight from France to the U.S. That was 2001. Thankfully, the only thing Richard Reid achieved was making us all have to think harder about what socks we are wearing while we`re traveling since everybody in line with us at security sees our socks now. We also can`t take more than three ounce containers of liquids or gels in our carry on bags when we fly anymore. That new rule is put in place after British authorities uncovered a plot in 2006 to bomb U.S. bound planes using liquid explosives. Christmas Day 2009, the would-be underwear bomber got law enforcement thinking more seriously about travelers` underwear and the dangerous things people could hide in their skivvies and ta-da, the full body scanner which was already in existence became very, very popular at airports around the country. The Transportation Security Administration just purchased 300 more of them. Even the most basic baggage screening, which feels like it`s been around forever, was the result of a giant security breach. It started with a prison break. A man named George Wright escaped from the Bay Side state prison in New Jersey in the year 1970. Mr. Wright stole the warden`s car and drove it to Detroit where he successfully evaded law enforcement for two years, in part reportedly while working as a model. After two years in Detroit, George Wright and five accomplices were able to hijack a Delta Airlines flight departing from the Detroit airport. Back then, bags were not screened and so Mr. Wright dressed up as a priest, smuggled a gun on to the plane in a hollowed out Bible. Seriously. George Wright and other hijackers held 88 people hostage on the plane. They flew the plane to Miami and demanded $1 million ransom. They got that ransom in return for releasing the hostages and had FBI agents bring them the $1 million while dress the only in bathing suits so the hijackers could be more sure the FBI guys were not carrying guns. See? Unbelievably, the hijacking and hostage staking worked. After refueling in Boston, George Wright and the others flew to Algeria. The president of Algeria welcomed them after relieving them of their $1 million ransom and let them stay in the country. Over the years, George Wright`s accomplices were rounded up and arrested in various countries. But George Wright almost -- always managed to escape capture. But just because you remain on the lam for years or even decades does not mean that the agencies that wanted to catch you before just one day stopped looking for you. Agents may retire. But you as a wanted man or woman, you stay wanted. And this year, I don`t know why, this year has been a very bad year for the wanted and a very good year for the people charged with hunting them down. Osama bin Laden, for example, on May 1st, Navy SEALs, including some members of the elite and storied SEAL Team 6 raided Bin Laden`s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed the FBI`s most wanted fugitive. Later that same month, Ratko Mladic was captured after 16 years in hiding, living in Serbia under an assumed name. He`s believed responsible for the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia in 1995. He`s now at The Hague facing genocide charges. Getting Ratko Mladic meant there was one more fugitive wanted for Bosnian war crimes. At one point, there were 161 of these guys outstanding. But by May of this year, only one was left still wanted on the list. And then, in July they got him, too. Goran Hadzic, he apparently ran out of money. After seven years on the lam, they caught him when he was trying to sell a stolen Modigliani painting. This one, Portrait of a Man. And if that wasn`t enough, this summer, the FBI got the guy they wanted most after Osama bin Laden, a guy by the name of Whitey Bulger. Whitey Bulger wanted for 19 murders, wanted for 16 years. They caught him in California. And then today, to top that all off, George Wright -- George Wright on the run for 41 years. The FBI, U.S. Marshals and officials from the New Jersey Department of Corrections tracked Wright to Portugal when he tried contacting family in the U.S. Portuguese authorities arrested him. And he`s now being held without bail. So, think about that, in less than six months, Osama bin Laden, the last two Serbian war crime suspects, Whitey Bulger and now, George Wright, wanted for 40 years. Bad year for fugitives. Good year for fugitive finders. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: At the start of tonight`s show, we put a live picture of a podium, on a stage at the Reagan Library in California where New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would soon be giving what turned out to be a rather boiler plate speech praising former President Ronald Reagan. Why some many cameras covering an address that just about every nationally known Republican has given at some point in their career? Well, the whole national media was there to find out what Governor Christie would say after his prepared remarks about whether he plans to jump in to the Republican race for president. After a lot of renewed rumor that he was getting in this week and after a lot of very, very, very rich Republican donors came out of the closet this week and said they wanted him into the race, the first question to him was not about whether he was running. The first question was on immigration and education. The second question was, dude, are you running? Here`s how that went. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Governor Christie, you`re known as a straight shooter, one not guilty (ph) of playing games. Can you tell us what`s going on here? Are you reconsidering, or are you still not? (CHEERS) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Listen, I have to tell you the truth. You folks are incredible disappointment as an audience. The fact that that took the second question shows you people are off your game. That is not American exceptionalism. Listen, I really am succinct about this. I saw something great today on the political Web site, and I don`t mean to advertise for "Politico." But they put 1:53 of my answers strung back to back to back to back together on the question of running for the presidency. Everyone go to the It`s right on the front page. I`m not going to bore you with it now. Click on it. Those are the answers. Next question. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie tonight not saying no, but saying to listen to somewhere else where he`s on tape saying no. The "Politico" piece he`s describing is just tape of him saying no over and over again. Do we have that? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- Republican Party, but you is talking about that should be on the ticket in 2012 to run for the White House. You say? CHRISTIE: No way. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going to run? CHRISTIE: Nope, not going to happen. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re still saying categorically not running? CHRISTIE: No, I`m not. I`m not running. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: And he goes on no, no, no, no. Still no from Chris Christie -- referring people to that montage at tonight as a means for saying no. It`s still no -- which means that I just lost a bet with the Rachel Maddow show staff, and I have to buy everybody tacos tomorrow. Damn it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: "The Best New Thing in the World Today" has to be "The Best New Thing in the World" tomorrow, because Chris Christie took too long saying again tonight at the Reagan Library that he was not going to run for president this year. New Jersey Republican Governor Christie in the face of renewed rumors that he`s getting in to the race and new doubts about the current frontrunner Rick Perry and new public pleading from named Republican billionaires saying they want him to run, Chris Christie tonight asked tonight if he was going to get in the race, referred the question of a montage of him posted on, a montage of him saying, no, no, no, no, over and over and over again. So, "The Best New Things in the World" delayed until tomorrow. Renewed speculation about where Chris Christie might really run delayed until his next speech. "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