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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/08/12

Guests: Chris Hayes, Tim Pawlenty, Douglas Wilson

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You bet. MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Last night, in the midst of Rick Santorum winning the Minnesota caucuses and the Colorado caucuses and the Missouri fake thing that didn`t count for anything, there was an odd and heretofore unexplained moment that was caught on camera. OK. Here it is. This is Rick Santorum walking on the stage last night during his big victory party in St. Charles, Missouri. Can we freeze it? OK, freeze it right there for a second. This is a big roomful of people that Rick Santorum is about to talk to. And as you can see, there is a small group of people who are also going to be standing behind him as he speaks. Now what you`re about to see is Rick Santorum turning to those people, to that smaller group of people up on the podium with him, and he shakes their hands one by one. OK. Let`s play the tape. He`s hugging his wife, Karen, and then he shakes that guy`s hand, and then he shakes that guy has hand. And then he gives that guy -- shakes that guy`s hand. Gives that guy a thumb`s up. He awkwardly passes over the guy in the green tie, doesn`t shake his hand and just keeps going right down the line. Did you see that? Watch it again. Can we play it again? Watch. So, the guy until blue, right, gets a handshake. Guy next to him gets a handshake, thumb`s up after the handshake, and then, whoop, not you, dude in the green tie gets totally passed over. What about the green tie guy? That guy, who Rick Santorum would ostentatiously not touch during his event last night, even as he touches pretty much everybody else on that platform, that guy would be Rick Santorum`s billionaire benefactor. The guy in the green tie who he wouldn`t touch, that is a man named Foster Friess. A month ago, way back when Jon Huntsman was even still in the race, did a feature story on three billionaires who will drag out the race. They talked about three non-leading candidates who nevertheless might be able to stay in the race indefinitely because they had billionaires who could fund them indefinitely. For Jon Huntsman, it was his dad. For Newt Gingrich, it was the casino guy, Sheldon Adelson. And for Rick Santorum, it`s the green tie guy, it`s Foster Friess. And so, last night, in Rick Santorum`s moment of triumph, there was Foster Friess right there, right at Rick Santorum`s elbow, in the green tie, ostentatiously not being touched by Rick Santorum. You can imagine one of Mr. Santorum`s accountants telling him, right, don`t be photographed shaking the hand of your billionaire, you and your PAC aren`t supposed to coordinate. Maybe a handshake is coordinating, don`t touch him in public. The last time that Rick Santorum had a really good night in this campaign trail, the last night that Rick Santorum won a state, that was, of course, Iowa. And once again, in Iowa, look, who`s that? There`s Rick Santorum giving a speech, and who`s that up there behind him? There`s his billionaire again. We went through the tape from Mr. Santorum`s victory speech in Iowa. We went through it inch by inch, frame by frame, and it appears that Mr. Santorum may have touched his billionaire at that event. Watch this. This is right after Mr. Santorum finishes his speech. His billionaire slides over to I guess kind of congratulate him, and then the two of them appear to engage in about 10 seconds of conversation, it`s not definitive from this tape Mr. Santorum is actually touching his billionaire at the moment, but it appears to be sort of a handshake type of situation. This is the Citizens United world we are living in. You don`t really need campaign donors anymore. You need a donor. And Rick Santorum has got one. In Iowa, where Mr. Santorum, the Rick Santorum campaign, the campaign proper for which he actually needs campaign donors, the campaign itself spent $22,000 in Iowa on ads, $22,000. How much did his billionaire spend on him? Five hundred and thirty- seven thousand dollars in Iowa. That`s how much the Rick Santorum PAC spent. I think we are capable of putting this on a graph, can we try? All right. Yes. Here we go. This is Rick Santorum`s total campaign spending on ads in Iowa compared to what the PAC for Rick Santorum spent, the PAC that is supported by his billionaire. I believe this is to scale, if it is not to scale, I quit this job. I hope you will enjoy the new two hour long "ED SCHULTZ SHOW" or whatever it is they decide to put on in my place. I think that is to scale. But this is what billionaires can do for you now, right? You just need one. You just need one person. You do not need to attract anybody else`s money. And that is good for Rick Santorum, because he cannot seem to attract anybody else`s money. After his big wins last night, Rick Santorum went on the cable news morning shows today to brag about how thanks to his big night last night, he had raised -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One million dollars. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: No, actually. That laughably small sum from the Austin Powers movie, that would be actually four times what Rick Santorum was bragging this morning that he had raised. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think last night, we raised about a quarter million dollars online. So, we`re doing really well. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s great. That`s a quarter of a million dollars that you did not have before. But in the context of your presidential campaign at this stage, a quarter million dollars, after winning three states? That`s nothing. "BuzzFeed" posted this graph yesterdays as an explainer of the problem with Rick Santorum`s candidacy. Just look at this for a second. OK. At first glance you`re thinking, what does this mean, Maddow? What does this mean? This tells me nothing, it`s just a wiggly blue line. Actually, though, look very carefully, this is two different lines. The wiggly blue line is Mitt Romney`s fundraising over time. The peaks on the Romney graph for a single day are like $2.5 million one day, and up above $1.5 million another day. That wiggly blue line is the Romney line. But there is another line on this graph. That red line at the bottom, that`s not just the X-axis at zero in the graph, that`s Rick Santorum`s fundraising, over an eight-month period. See how it looks basically just like zero? Rick Santorum, as the headline says, couldn`t ever raise any money. But again, this year you don`t need donors, you only need one. And Rick Santorum has got one, green tie guy. This is the brave new world in which this presidential race is happening, anybody can play. Any junior leaguer can compete in the major leagues. All you need is one guy in a green tie who won`t touch you in public, even if your last electoral contest, you lost your Senate seat by a whopping 18 points when you were an incumbent like Rick Santorum did -- this year, if you got one billionaire who smiles at you on stage, one guy who loves you, that`s all you need, you`re top tier. Of course, money isn`t everything. It also helps if your main opponents have favorable/unfavorable ratings that are this bad. That one on the left is Mitt Romney. The one on the right there is -- the good thing we made them tiny. The one on the right is Newt Gingrich. Both of them if you get out the microscope, you can tell are upside down. The red numbers being -- red lines being unfavorable, the gray lines being favorable. You would like your favorable numbers to be higher than your unfavorable numbers. In both of these cases, they are drastically not. So it helps to be running against guys who the electorate dislikes as much as they dislike Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Still though, even in today`s anyone-with-a-billionaire-can-play atmosphere, evidence went Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney so dramatically disliked by the electorate, at least by their favorable and unfavorable numbers, still, last night`s results are stunning. I mean, less stunning in terms of how far up Rick Santorum has come, anything could happen there. But mostly stunning for how far down Mitt Romney has fallen. Last time around in Colorado in 2008, Mitt Romney won in a landslide. He got 60 percent of the vote in 2008. This time around, he dropped 25 points. He got less than 35 percent of the vote, and he lost the state. The total vote count is even worse. He got roughly 42,000 votes in 2008. But last night, that number dropped by almost half. In Minnesota, same deal -- Mitt Romney had 41 percent of the vote and he won the state back in 2008. Last night, he got, look, look, less than 17 percent of the vote. That is a drop of 24 points. And again, the total vote count is even worse. He had about 26,000 votes in the state last time around. This time, he got only 8,000. Now, Missouri`s primary last night was non-binding. But Mitt Romney lost there as well to Rick Santorum. Like those other states, Mr. Romney also got a smaller percentage of the vote in Missouri this year than he did the last time around and he got fewer votes overall. That said, I still think it`s not worth reading into the Missouri numbers very much because it`s not binding, and there`s going to be another contest in Missouri next month that will count so we`ll count it then. But Mitt Romney, if you look at last night, technically did lose three contests. And even if you I think appropriately discount Missouri, just looking at what happened in Minnesota alone is an almost inexplicable disaster. Can we put the Minnesota slate back up? Look at those numbers. A 24 point drop for Mitt Romney from 2008 to this year? Which is 17 percent of the vote -- Mitt Romney did not win a single county in the entire state of Minnesota. This is a state he won the last time around. And it is probably appropriate for me to mention at this point that Mitt Romney didn`t even come in second in Minnesota. Mitt Romney won it last time, but he came in third this time. Rick Santorum won, and Ron Paul came in second. Mitt Romney could not even beat Ron Paul in Minnesota. Now, if the delegates are awarded at that Minnesota convention this spring in a way that follows last night`s results, which is supposed to be what happens, Rick Santorum will get every single one of Minnesota`s 37 delegates. Mitt Romney will get zero. Rick Santorum will get them all. Mitt Romney won this state in 2008. Did the entire Republican population of Minnesota move out of state to be replaced by all new Republicans in the last four years? What happened? Was there some sort of mass exodus that was missed by the national media? There is no way this makes sense on its own. I need a Minnesota Republican to explain to make sense of this for me. I hear we have one. Joining us tonight from his home state of Minnesota is the state`s former governor, a former presidential candidate himself, an outspoken supporter of his former rival, Mitt Romney, and man who cringes when I call him my very welcome guest -- my very welcome guest, Tim Pawlenty. Governor, thank you so much for being here. TIM PAWLENTY (R), FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: Well, Rachel, thank you for having me. Now, I know why my campaign didn`t work. I didn`t have a billionaire; I didn`t have the guy with the tie or the woman with the tie. But the light bulb has gone on. I particularly appreciated that Austin Powers clip that you played. That was good. Can you remember, by the way -- MADDOW: Yes? Go ahead. PAWLENTY: Rachel, can you remember the name of the hairless cat or dog that was Austin Powers pet in the movie? MADDOW: No. What was it? PAWLENTY: It was Mrs. Bigglesworth. Mrs. Bigglesworth. MADDOW: Well, you needed a Mrs. Bigglesworth. I mean, you dropped out of the race in August, that you said at the time that you were dropping out because for the simple fact that you were out of money. Were you just not there at the cocktail party where eccentric billionaires attached themselves for the various candidates? How come you did not get one? PAWLENTY: Well, it could have been a Mrs. or Mr. Bigglesworth. That would have helped. Now, look, we just -- I`m not going to go back and relive all that. We had a chance couldn`t get it done. One of the reasons we couldn`t get it done is we ran out of money. But, look, the thing that you mentioned about last night in Minnesota, the turnout in Minnesota dropped by 20,000 or more votes, 60,000 in `08, about 40,000 last night. Mitt in his campaign put most of the time and energy and resources in other states. You discounted the Missouri result because it was non-binding, well, so was the Minnesota result. And each of these years, in cycles, you have to put them in context. In `08, Mitt was the conservative alternative to John McCain. And in this campaign, particularly in Minnesota, Ron Paul had a big contingent, and more attracted to the libertarian part of the party, and Rick Santorum campaigned here. And so, it`s nonbinding. It doesn`t change delegate count. And the fact of the matter is, there`s only one candidate in this race who`s got the campaign, the message and the vision to go the distance and that`s Mitt Romney. MADDOW: I`m reluctant for anybody to compare this year`s Missouri results to any previous Missouri results because of the big difference there this year. But I do feel like in 2008 and 2012 in Minnesota, it is sort of apples and apples because it was a caucus then, too. It was not technically binding, in the same way it was not technically binding this time. Why do you think some fewer Minnesota people turned up? PAWLENTY: Well, Rachel, you know, there`s 3 million or so registered voters in my state, only 40,000 showed up. And, you know, a 5,000 vote swing this way or that way changes the outcome, basically. So, I think you have a caucus system where the people who attend the caucuses in my state and many others, tend to gravitate towards who they perceive to be the most conservative candidate. And they perceived for last night that to be Rick Santorum or Ron Paul, and certainly Mitt Romney is a conservative by any reasonable definition. But as Rick Santorum`s record gets more fully reintroduced to Republican and conservative voters and Mitt and he have a full fledge campaign, not where Mitt didn`t campaign in a state, I think you`ll see the Romney campaign regains its momentum and continue with its momentum. I don`t think that`s going to be an issue. MADDOW: Do you worry at all about turnout being down overall? I mean, turnout was down in Minnesota. Turnout was way down in the other states last night -- again, discounting Missouri. It was down in Colorado, too. It`s actually down everywhere except for South Carolina where it was up and where Newt Gingrich won. When you look at the turnout numbers overall, are you worried about that? PAWLENTY: Well, I don`t worry about it too much because I think when the campaign gets into high gear and the main objective is to try our best to defeat Barack Obama and get him out of office, Republicans and conservatives will be energized and mobilized. So, I`m not too worried about it. It is certainly something to keep an eye on, but I`m not too worried about it at this early stage. MADDOW: In terms of the big picture here, the sort of 30,000-foot view. Mitt Romney just lost your state to Rick Santorum and to Ron Paul. You dropped out of the race in August after you lost the Ames straw poll to Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul. And I don`t mean to cast aspersions on Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum or Dr. Paul, but they all seem like junior leaguers compared to you and Mitt Romney. I mean, the country takes you seriously and does not take those guys very seriously. Why are those guys beating guys like you in the Midwest this year? PAWLENTY: Well, actually, Michele Bachmann beat me in the straw poll, and I think I came a little ahead of Rick. But nonetheless, look, it`s early on and people get acquainted or reacquainted with these candidates for the first week or month where they have a surge. You know, it`s a lot of media hype, a lot of hype. But then, of course, the media and opponents go through the record and introduce or reintroduce candidates. And there`s only one who`s been able to stay at or near the top of the heap throughout and that`s Mitt Romney. He personally is a sturdy person. He`s somebody who can endure not just a campaign but actually be president. And as you know, if you`re going to go through this process, the gauntlet of running and actually be president, you got to be on your A game or nearly so every day all day. And with all due respect to the other candidates, Mitt Romney has got that kind of sturdiness. I don`t believe the others do. And his record -- look, it isn`t perfect, Rachel. None of these candidates are perfect. I`m not perfect. There is no perfect conservative, but Mitt Romney is a conservative by any definition. And to suggest Rick Santorum is somehow the perfect conservative, it just isn`t accurate. His record doesn`t support that. And when you go through the earmarks and the pork barrel spending and the votes to raise the debt ceiling and the like, he`s got his clunkers, too. So, as that gets reintroduce to the conservatives, I think you`ll see migrate or stay with Mitt Romney. MADDOW: So, you think the future stabilizes for Mr. Romney when people hear bad news about Rick Santorum? PAWLENTY: No, no. (CROSSTALK) MADDOW: What I would be worried if I was you, if I was working with the Mitt Romney campaign is that the more people hear about Mitt -- PAWLENTY: God help us all, Rachel. God help us all. MADDOW: I could help, really, I swear. PAWLENTY: I`m sure you could. I`m sure you could. MADDOW: Give me a chance. PAWLENTY: Oh, man. MADDOW: Now, I would worry the more people hear about Mitt Romney, people are not flocking to him. People -- he`s not building his base of support when people hear more about him. People are turning to him when they hear bad things about the other guys, and that just seems like a cynical and sort of shaky path forward for trying to lock up the presidency. PAWLENTY: Well, I think what you have is first of all his results in states, many of the states have been extraordinary. I mean, New Hampshire result was terrific across all demographic groups, Republican and beyond, the Florida result, in terms of how he did with various groups in Florida was terrific. Nevada, the same. Obviously, he didn`t do as well in South Carolina, M Minnesota and a few others. But keep in mind, when John McCain was trying to put together the states to win the nomination, he lost 19 states. And anybody who studied this closely knew a week ago or two weeks ago when they saw the Mitt and his campaign wasn`t putting the same kind of time and attention and resources into Minnesota and Missouri that Santorum or Paul was going to do well, they left Florida early, then to go campaign in those states. Mitt stayed in Florida, put his money and time and energy in Florida. So, you look at contests in Minnesota and Missouri, Mitt really didn`t campaign very robustly, financially or personally, because he had to dedicate resources elsewhere. So, it`s understandable. But, now, you look at Michigan, look at Arizona, look at Maine, states where the campaigns in full force, I think you`ll see a very different result. And people are turning to or turning back to Mitt Romney after they get to see the alternatives. And not just because negatives on the others, Mitt Romney has a great record. I mean, he cut taxes, cut spending, reduced unemployment, reduced employment when he was governor, turned around Olympics, stood for conservative causes more broadly, he was an effective governor, he`s a good guy, he`s not involved in scandals and bad behavior. And so, he`s equipped to be president. Those are very positive things. MADDOW: Former Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, singing the praises of Mitt Romney better than anybody else on this network as far as I can tell. You have to come back and talk to me after Michigan and Arizona and Maine, especially if your guy doesn`t do as well there as you just said he`s going to. PAWLENTY: Rachel, I`m the only one singing his praises on your network. So, that`s no a very high standard. MADDOW: Anybody else who wants to, I would have him, man. Thank you, Governor. I appreciate your time. PAWLENTY: Good night, Ms. Bigglesworth. Good night, Ms. Bigglesworth. MADDOW: Thank you. All right. The one and only Chris Hayes coming up. Plus, the piece of tape from Rick Santorum`s past that dudes in the Beltway media apparently think is good news for Rick Santorum, but I really think it is bad news for him. That`s all ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: "One More Thing" about Foster Friess, Rick Santorum`s billionaire. He`s described everywhere as Rick Santorum`s billionaire. But Mr. Friess is now troubling those descriptive waters. Mr. Friess telling "Forbes" magazine, quote, "The billionaire designation popped out of nowhere in the media many weeks back. When people dub me a billionaire, my wife came to me and asked if I was squirreling money away. So, I`m not there yet. Hope I make it some day." In other words, Foster Friess wants you to know he`s actually just a multi-multi-multi-millionaire, and does not want to be thought of as a billionaire. So, there you go. Maybe Rick Santorum can now be cleared to start touching him in public. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you count Missouri which you shouldn`t, Rick Santorum has won more states than anybody else in the race for the Republican nomination for president. He has won four, Mitt Romney has three, Newt has one. If you don`t count Missouri, which is reasonable because Missouri is going to vote again next month, and that time, it will count, then, Mr. Santorum and Mr. Romney are tied with three each. Mitt Romney, of course, has all the money in the world. He has Tim Pawlenty. But that doesn`t seem to be buying him any love, including in Minnesota. Right now, the main dynamic in the race is that Mitt Romney is losing states that everybody expects him to be winning, and Rick Santorum is winning states that everybody thinks he shouldn`t have a chance in. So, it`s not impossible given those dynamics, Rick Santorum could end up being the Republican nominee for president. Here is Rick Santorum speaking about one of the issues which he has staked his political career, speaking in October. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANTORUM: One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is, I think the dangers of contraception in this country and the whole sexual libertine idea -- many of Christian faith have said, "Well, that`s OK. I mean, you know, contraception is OK." It`s not OK. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s not OK. Rick Santorum explaining how if elected as president he would use the power of the presidency against birth control in America. In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not ban birth control. In a state called Griswold v. Connecticut, Mr. Santorum is against that decision. He says states ought to have the legal ability to ban birth control here. He says abortion should be criminalized in all instances. He says homosexuality is equivalent in his words to man on dog. He says he would bring "don`t ask, don`t tell" back. He would take all the people who are now out of the closet in the military and shove them back in the closet, forget what you heard. Rick Santorum`s national reputation is being the extreme social conservative, the man on dog guy. I think it`s part of the reason Pennsylvania voters turfed him out of the Senate by such a huge margin in 2006, the last time he ran for office. His obsession with government getting its way in the most private parts of your private life didn`t jibe with an electorate that was prioritizing that year ending the war in Iraq and focusing on the economy. Being the man on dog guy just did not make electoral sense in 2006. But this cycle, until now, Rick Santorum sort of had the opposite problem. Everybody is a man on dog guy now. In the race of the Republican nomination, Rick Santorum doesn`t stand out as furthest right anymore. All of the other candidates have run to his position, so that he hasn`t really seemed unique. There hasn`t been anything to distinguish him. But ultimately, if Republicans pick Rick Santorum for their nominee, they will have picked a guy who wants to use the power of the presidency to crack down on contraception. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANTORUM: Many of the Christian faith have said, "Well, that`s OK. I mean, you know, contraception is OK." It`s not OK. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s not OK. PPP this week, asked voters what they thought about the Republican candidates competing for Rick Santorum-style social issue conservatives by attacking the Obama administration`s decision that health insurance plans must cover contraception. It`s just a Rick Santorum joint, not just a Newt Gingrich joint, it is also a Mitt Romney joint. And PPP asked specifically about Mr. Romney`s pledge to eliminate the birth control health insurance benefit. Does that make you more likely or less likely to vote for him? Asked of all voters, voters split against Mitt Romney on that issue, by 17 points. They are less likely to vote for Mitt Romney because of his opposition to what the Obama administration is doing to cover contraceptives, less likely, 40 percent less likely, only 23 percent more likely. And when you ask just Catholic voters, the split is even worse. All voters split on that question against Romney by 17 percent, Catholic voters split against him on that issue by 18 percent. People are less likely to vote for somebody who is against the Obama administration`s position that health insurance should cover contraception. And it`s by a lot. Taken away from Mitt Romney specifically, just ask generically about Republicans in Congress who want to do away with birth control health insurance benefit, do you support or oppose them on this issue? The answer is oppose them. Look at that, 58 to 33 -- a 25-point margin. The old boys club that dictates Beltway common wisdom has never been more unified than they have been this week in wagging their fingers at the Obama administration, saying what a political misstep it is to have health insurance cover contraception. To do what 28 states already do in a variety of ways, to give exemptions for churches but to otherwise say that anybody else who provides health insurance has to cover contraception as a basic part of health care. The old boys club that dictates common wisdom has also never shown more stupefying ignorance for the fact that they are an old boys club, and not everybody is an old boy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: My colleagues decide they will take this issue on in the face of overwhelming support for this policy by the American people, I say we`re ready. SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: This is a fight to protect the rights of millions of Americans who do use contraceptives. BOXER: This is the 21st century. Wake up. Look at your calendar. It`s the 21st century. And women ought to be respected and women ought to be trusted, and their families ought to be trust and respected. SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: I`m dumb-founded in the year 2012, we still are fighting about birth control. We stand here ready to oppose any attacks that are being launched against women`s rights and women`s health. BOXER: I`m not afraid of a fight. I welcome it. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: The great Chris Hayes joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANTORUM: One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is, I think the dangers of contraception in this country and the whole sexual libertine idea -- many of Christian faith have said, "Well, that`s OK. I mean, you know, contraception is OK." It`s not OK. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s OK. Listen to President Santorum. Joining us now is Chris Hayes, host of "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES" on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Chris, thank you for being here. CHRIS HAYES, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES" HOST: Thanks for having me. Hilarious intro. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: President Santorum. HAYES: Yes. MADDOW: The Beltway media din for the last week and a half would have you believe what we just heard from Rick Santorum is a great campaign asset. That only the left caricatured as some sort of obscure form of political protest from the `60s. HAYES: Right, libertines. MADDOW: Libertines -- care about issues like this and that serious people in Washington care about the Catholic Church and their exemption from any health insurance-related mandates. Are they right? HAYES: Well, they`re not. And I would say this is one of those times when sometimes polling feels like it`s obfuscates as much as it reveals, like there`s so much data and you and I spend a lot of time sorting through it, and sometimes they counter each other and different polls are mutually exclusive, it depends on how you ask a question. This is one of those great instances when people were having a discussion detached from any empirical evidence and some empirical evidence showed up being like you`re completely wrong. MADDOW: Right. HAYES: Like actually we just went out and polled it and yes, the Beltway media is totally wrong about this. Ands I have to say, I was a little persuaded by it. I mean, I think partly because I was raised Catholic and I know that there is a tendency among Catholics to get this kind of back-up defensiveness when the church is under attack, even if they themselves day in and day out are frustrated as hell about the church, that I thought it`s an open question, that it could have been a politically misstep. But now we have data that shows that it isn`t, and I think that`s really important because I`m hoping it sort of provide as course correction for how people were talking about this. MADDOW: Looking in terms of data on this, DePaul University is the largest Catholic university in the country, Think Progress helpfully noted that DePaul does in fact already provide contraception coverage in their employee health plans. So, the idea that Catholic institutions, major Catholic institutions are going to be forced to do something they are not already doing and that they are very opposed to, is disproven by the empirical evidence -- what does that tell us about the politics here? HAYES: I think it tells us that that politics that, well, first of all, the bishops are looking to pick a fight, I think is actually what part of this is about. But second of all, like everything about the Affordable Care Act, the mythos and the reality don`t match up, that everything about from the very inception of this tortured process that we have gone through, watching this piece of legislation first be crafted and then be implemented and the rules promulgated to guide how it`s implemented, at every step along the way, there were warnings that made it sound like some colossal, historically unprecedented imposition of tyranny by the state, the jackboot coming down on the neck of the poor American. And at every point, it`s proven to be the actual facts of the matter are that it`s a very gentle piece of reform, that it -- MADDOW: For which there is lots of precedent. HAYES: For which there`s lot of precedent. And in fact the reason it was structured in the crazy Rube Goldberg way it was, was because they did not want to do anything that there was not precedent for. MADDOW: Right. HAYES: Right? So, to me, it`s in keeping with all the hysteria going back to death panels, that this was somehow some radical break, when in fact the Affordable Care Act is if anything small c conservative. It mostly preserves the system we have, and there are tons of states that already implement exactly the directive that is now being hailed as some sort of unprecedented tyranny. MADDOW: With the example of DePaul, for example, and with what you said looks like the bishops are picking a fight, this is not a substantive issue. They`ve gone out of their way to call this tyranny when it`s something they`ve been doing of their own accord already, with 28 states already having mandates like this, given the political polling out there that says that people actually are very, very interested in having contraception covered by health insurance -- how does the Beltway media narrative get entirely captured by the other side? HAYES: I think -- I think part of it is an age thing. The generation that sort of came of age in the 1960s, had seared in their brains the famous line about the Democratic operative talking anonymously about George McGovern, amnesty, asset and abortion, that the left was going to shoot itself in the foot by pursuing cultural issues, that wedge issues always beat the left, that you break the country in half and the right gets a bigger half in the words of Richard Nixon, and it is no longer the case. The polling on all these issues showed the wedge works in the other direction, right? And it is very hard for everybody who came of age during an entire 20-year period in which that wasn`t the case, right? In which a lot of these were controversial, were unpopular, were minority positions, to understand that the tide has actually turned, that these are majority positions. There`s still, there`s this bestial sense that this is risky, that this outre, that this is avant-garde and it`s not. MADDOW: Yes. And majority of voters are women and more than 90 percent of women use birth control. HAYES: And John McCain lost by 13 points, this is not something Republicans can afford at all. MADDOW: Chris Hayes, thank you very much for being here. I realize this is off hours for you. Thank you. Chris Hayes, his weekend show is called "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES." It is must-see viewing. Must-see, that`s what you`re supposed to say? HAYES: I take it. MADDOW: Must-see watching? It`s must-see. A reminder, by Saturday morning, 7:00 to 9:00, Sundays, 8:00 to 10:00 Eastern, here on MSNBC. All right. Getting permission to throw a parade for Iraq war veterans, apparently in New York means going through channels. And one of those channels is Assistant Secretary of Defense Douglas Wilson, who joins us for the interview, straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Four years ago last night, Mitt Romney quit. He dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for president. And now, conservative world is giving him a happy anniversary present. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: World War II ended in Europe when the Nazis surrendered May 1945. The commander of American forces in Europe, of course, was General Dwight David Eisenhower. And after the Nazi surrendered in May, when he came home from Europe in June, New York City threw a ticker tape parade to welcome him home, to mark the end of the war in Europe. Here`s the thing, though -- on that day in June, when Eisenhower felt the adulation of New York and the nation at that parade, American troops were still at war. The Nazis, Germans may have surrendered in May, but the Japanese did not surrender until August. And so, that June 1945 parade in the Canyon of Heroes did not mean that every American who had been in harm`s way was safe at home. That parade was held because we were a country that had gone to war, and fighting the Nazis was done, and that was worth throwing a heck of a lot of paper out the windows for. Similar deal at the end of Gulf War I, June 10th, 1991, a parade to mark the end of that war in Iraq, the war to protect Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. When that war ended, Saddam Hussein was still in power, and thousands of Americans still deployed to the region, particularly U.S. Air Force personnel, enforcing no-fly zones to contain Saddam, even after the end of the war, even after the parade to mark the end of the war. We were a country that had gone to war, and it`s worth throwing a whole heck of a lot of paper out windows to mark the end of the war, even with troops still over there. So far, since the eight-and-a-half-year-long Iraq war ended at the New Year, the only American city to hold the parade to mark the end of the Iraq war, to say welcome home to the troops who fought there was a grassroots thing in St. Louis, started by a couple of guys who thought it ought to be done. The city of St. Louis jumped on board and it went great, 100,000 people, many, many very grateful veterans and frankly, not a dry eye in the house. It was what you might call cathartic. So, so far, St. Louis, yes, but New York, no. Even though two New York City counselors have been pushing for it for weeks now and the powerful speaker of the city council is for it. She explained it last night on this show and even though the nation`s largest association of veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which is headquartered in New York City says they`re for it too. So far, the answer is no for New York. And I think that might be because of a miscommunication. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has not said that he`s against the idea of a parade. In fact, he said he likes the idea but he says the Pentagon told him not to do it. A statement from the mayor`s office last week saying, "We`ve sought the Pentagon`s guidance since they are the real experts and there is a question about whether a parade puts troops still in the field at risk." That struck some people including me as strange. After all, the parades to mark other wars had happened with troops still in the field somewhere. Nobody thought those troops, those parades put anybody at risk. After all, the St. Louis parade had gone off without a hitch, with national news coverage even and the only risk anybody suffered was tear duct exhaustion and sore cheeks from smiling so much. And then the White House announced that they would be holding a gala White House dinner to welcome home Iraq veterans at the end of the month. Why would a celebration like that not put troops at risk but a parade would? The Pentagon really told Mayor Bloomberg`s office a parade in New York to mark the end of the Iraq war would put troops in Afghanistan at risk somehow? Really. It turns out no. In an interview with today, a spokesman for the chairman of the joint chiefs clarified, telling`s really excellent reporter Bryant Jordan, quote, "A national level parade in New York City to honor Iraq veterans would not harm our efforts in Afghanistan." Ah, so it`s all been a big misunderstanding, ala "Three`s Company" with Jack and Chrissy, and Mr. Roper, and actually, Jack`s gay, no, he`s not. The New York City Mayor`s Office thought the Pentagon was saying don`t do the parade. It will put troops at risk. But, really, the Pentagon says it was not saying that at all. Now that`s cleared up, can we have a parade? No. No, apparently, we still can`t. The rest of the quote from that same spokesman after he said a parade would not harm our efforts in Afghanistan, he then says, "But we feel it would be in appropriate at this time given ongoing deployment and combat operations there," meaning Afghanistan. The same arguments being made by assistant secretary of defense, he said so on NPR yesterday. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) DOUGLAS B. WILSON, ASSISTANT DEFENSE SECRETARY: There are many Iraq vets who are now fighting on the battlefield in Afghanistan and the feeling was that the appropriate time to have a national New York-style ticker tape parade was the time when combat troops were back home. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: To be clear, the Iraq war is over. The idea is to hold a parade to mark the end of that specific war. Not to mark the end of war altogether. Military officer a decorated combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan wrote to me today on the subject to say this. "If they are waiting until combat ops are over in Afghanistan in a couple of years, who`s to say there won`t be another conflict somewhere else at that time that would preclude a celebration then? Who is to say something won`t happen in Afghanistan to delay our planned exit? Let`s thanks vets now." "They are trying to be sensitive," he writes, "but I think seeing big parades and celebrations would be good for morale of our troops deployed to Afghanistan. If I was deployed right now and I saw a huge parade for Iraq veterans, I`d say how cool to see how much the American people support us." He writes and concludes, "We should have a parade to thank Iraq vets now, and a parade to thank Afghanistan vets when those ops are officially over." Joining us for the interview from Washington, D.C., the man from the Pentagon who disagrees, and has been making the Pentagon`s case on this matter, assistant secretary of defense, Douglas Wilson. Mr. Wilson, thank you for being here. I really appreciate the chance to talk with you about this. WILSON: Thank you very much for having me. I appreciate it. MADDOW: I think that New York would go ahead with the parade to mark the end of the Iraq war if the Pentagon were saying, no, don`t do it. What`s the harm? Why are you stopping this from happening? WILSON: Rachel, I think we do need to have a conversation in this country about how to properly honor and welcome home those who served on the battlefield, but I think we`re having the wrong conversation. We`re having a conversation about a major ticker tape parade in New York, whether the Giants, the New York Giants deserve it and those who served in Iraq do not. It`s a very specious argument. MADDOW: I didn`t say anything about the Giants. WILSON: No, no, but I want to make the point that in terms of the New York ticker tape parade, those who were winding down the war in Afghanistan are military leaders and troops who are fighting there, made clear last fall that they thought it was not the time to have such a major national parade because there were still individuals on the battlefield in Afghanistan, many of them. As you know, our troops are rotating, and those -- a lot of those who are fighting in Afghanistan are themselves Iraq vets. Instead, I think we need to be having a conversation about how we honor the troops in a lasting way in this country. You read just a second ago a quote from an Iraq vet who did want a parade. On a Facebook page today, there was another Iraq vet who wrote a statement saying parades are ridiculous when suicide rates of military and veterans community exceeds combat casualties. He said, "I don`t want a parade, I just want this country and I want the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration to treat us like we are more than a burden in our nation after what we have done." And that is the point. The Pentagon does not oppose parades. Our military leadership does not oppose parades. What happened in St. Louis was a template. That was a parade that grew up continuously and allowed that community not to just attract hundreds of thousands of people to shed tear and have their tear ducts dry, but to understand just who these men and women are who that have served our country and to ask the questions, when, where and how can we help them? Well, the answer is to "when" is always, and the answer to "where" is everywhere, and the answer to "how" is all kinds of simple, direct things that can be done daily. Let me give you some examples. If you`re an employer, reach out and offer a vet a job, and not just offer a job, help the vet to be able to succeed in the job. If you are a teacher or a school administrator, understand that kids of military parents who are deployed have issues and problems and are dealing with things that may show up in their behavior and how they want to interact with teachers and peers. Have a better understanding of how to deal with them. If you are a parent of a school-aged kid, make sure that kid understands that his pierce and counterparts who are our sons and daughters of military families are looking for normalcy and looking to be able to engage, reach out and make a friend. And if you interested, Rachel, in dealing with wounded warriors, don`t just say thanks for your service, ask how it happened. Get beyond the barrier of awkwardness and understand that they want to have a relationship with you and to be involved in the community. So, in terms of the New York City parade, Mayor Bloomberg said on this network I guess on Sunday to "Meet the Press," as soon as it is appropriate to have this parade, he was respecting the request of military leaders and that`s who`s made the request. The military leadership, all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all the heads of services, not to not have a parade but to wait until combat troops come home. That`s the request, and he said, when they do, we`re going to have the biggest banged up parade you`ve ever seen and we can`t wait to be part of that. MADDOW: Nobody is saying that -- all of the things you just listed shouldn`t be done for veterans. This is an either/or case. WILSON: That`s true. MADDOW: The parade case is coming from, as you said, in St. Louis, that was sort of a dry run for what it might be for the country. I don`t think anybody would say that any harm came out of that. WILSON: No, that`s correct. MADDOW: The largest Iraq veterans organization in the country supports doing this. And frankly New York City including the top leadership supports doing this. The Pentagon is saying no and that`s the barrier to doing it. It would otherwise happen. I guess my question to you is, it`s two-fold -- what is the case for listening to the top brass at the Pentagon and not listening to the largest organization of Iraq war veterans? And don`t civilians van interest in doing this, too. We should be a country that went to war. Not a country that watched its military to go to war. WILSON: Well, let me reinforce your last point. That is exactly right. One percent of this country has engaged in the battlefield, 99 percent has not. There`s a great disconnect between the 99 percent and the 1 percent that has served. But it`s not to find in terms of the timing of the parade, it`s to find in terms of we are reaching out and bringing our men and women back in uniform back in our communities and making sure that they can succeed in them. This is not an issue, Rachel, of the top brass saying no to New York. MADDOW: It is. WILSON: No. MADDOW: That`s exactly what Mayor Bloomberg said. He said, I would love to do it but the top brass at the Pentagon has told me not to. If the top brass at the Pentagon had not said it, we would have already had a parade by now. WILSON: Right. I think this is instead the senior military leadership, including those who served in Iraq and including others at lower levels, who had -- who were part of the discussion on how best to honor and celebrate the troops made the request. They are making a request that the White House is honoring. They are making a request that Mayor Bloomberg and others are honoring. I have to tell you the program you quoted me from yesterday on NPR was a call in program. There were three vets who called in. I guess they weren`t part of the e-mail or Twitter campaign about the parade, because all of them said, we understand why it`s best to wait. We understand that we would like to have our buddies back. And more than anything, we`d like this country to know when we come back here, it`s not that we want, you know, a show. We want to be treated like part of the community. We want jobs. We want veterans off the streets. That`s what our nation ought to be focusing on. MADDOW: And none of those things are preclude by a parade, sir. I have to say, I realize that you have got -- you have a story to tell about what you want. But the question remains what harm would be caused by doing this? Nobody else in the country sees any harm that would be done by doing this other than the Pentagon. And so, the Pentagon telling the largest group of Iraq veterans in the country that they are wrong about this and not the brass are right is stopping this from happening for the country, and the country needs it as a civilian institution as much as the military may or may not need it according to their feelings. So, I realize we disagree on this, but I think that you guys are being remarkably tone deaf and it`s hurting the country. WILSON: Yes, I would just say, I would respectfully disagree and say the kinds of things that we saw in St. Louis are the kinds of things we love to see around the country. All the military is asking is for a major national symbol like a New York ticker tape parade like you showed in your introduction, for that, they are asking that our combat troops be able to return from the battlefield as a request they are making. MADDOW: The Iraq war is over, sir. We could do it when the Afghanistan war is over, too, and I think we would all agree there wouldn`t be anymore harm caused by two parades rather than one. But this is something on which I`ve now just killed a commercial break and I`m in huge trouble, and I have to say good night. Thank you for being here as well. WILSON: Thank you so much. MADDOW: Thank you for being here, Assistant Secretary of Defense Douglas Wilson. All right. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This isn`t an easy decision. I hate to lose. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Four years ago this week, Mitt Romney quit the race for the Republican nomination for president at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. This week, CPAC is back. This year, it stars Kirk Cameron, and Donald Rumsfeld, the Chuck Woolery of "Wheel of Fortune" and "Love Connection" fame, I`m not kidding. It also stars all of the Republican presidential contenders, including Mitt Romney. It all starts tomorrow and CPAC is always amazing. And, frankly, that`s going to have to tied everyone over for a while because there`s no debates and primaries for a dog`s age now. Now, it is time for the "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END