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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/21/12

Guests: Steve Kornacki, Bernie Sanders

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. OK. Pop quiz, Republican primary pop quiz. 1988, Ronald Reagan has just finished his second term. His vice president is Poppy Bush, George H.W. Bush, who, of course, wants to be the next Republican presidential nominee. But Poppy Bush does still have to win the nomination of the Republican Party. His main rival for the nomination that year? If it wasn`t going to be Poppy Bush, who is it going to be? It was going to be Senator Bob Dole, right? Senator Dole came in second in the Republican primary that year. So here is your pop quiz -- 1988 Republican presidential primary. Who won Hawaii and Alaska? Was it Poppy Bush? (BUZZER) MADDOW: No. Ah, so it was Bob Dole. (BUZZER) MADDOW: Actually, neither of them. Actually in Alaska and Hawaii and Nevada and Washington state, in the Republican nominating contest in 1988, neither Poppy Bush nor Bob Dole won. It was Pat Robertson. Pat Robertson the televangelist. Pat Robertson carried those four states in the Republican primary in 1988. In Iowa, he beat Poppy Bush but he came in second behind Bob Dole. Pat Robertson had a bang-up year. He got a speaking spot at the Republican convention that year. He magnanimously released his delegates to support the eventual nominee, to support Poppy Bush. And then Mr. Robertson returned triumphantly to his televangelist college. I`m sorry, to his televangelist university I should say. Ten years before he ran for president, televangelist pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network, had founded something called the Christian Broadcasting Network University. Remember when Glenn Beck tried to do that? Well, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell had the idea first. Eventually, Pat Robertson would change the name of the Christian Broadcasting Network University to Regent University, which is what it`s called now. But at the time of his presidential run, it was still CBNU. And at that time, the year after Pat Robertson`s presidential run, a young executive at a company called the American Hospital Supply Corporation decided that he was going to jump off the corporate merry-go- round and follow in Pat Robertson`s footsteps, first to the televangelist university and then into politics. That man`s name was Bob McDonnell. And in his official biography now on his Web site as Virginia governor, it is noted that in the mid-1980s, when Bob McDonnell was in his 30s, he was, quote, "moving rapidly up the corporate ladder. But something was missing." That something was Pat Robertson. Specifically, Pat Robertson`s televangelist school, the year after Mr. Robertson ran for president. Now, Bob McDonnell was not a kid at this point in his life. He was married. He had kids of his own. This is a mid-career change undertaken by an adult. And at Pat Robertson`s university while Bob McDonnell was in his mid- 30s, he wrote a thesis that was titled, "The Republican Party`s Vision for the Family : The Compelling Issue of the Decade." "Leaders," Bob McDonnell argued, "must correct the folklore about the separation of church and state." He called on, quote, "every level of government to use public policy to punish, quote, `cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.`" He says, "Man`s basic nature is inclined toward evil, when the exercise of liberty takes the shape of pornography, drug abuse or homosexuality," hey, that`s me, "the government must restrain, punish and deter." Bob McDonnell said the Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut which said states can`t criminalize contraception, he said that ruling was illogical. He then came out raging against, quote, "The perverted notion of liberty, that each individual should be able to live out his sexual life in the way he chooses, without interference from the state." So, that was Bob McDonnell`s vision for what exactly the state should interfere with in your life and why, while he was at Pat Robertson`s televangelist university when he was in his mid-30s. Now, of course, Bob McDonnell these days is being considered as perhaps the top candidate for the Republican Party`s vice presidential nomination. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Romney said McDonnell would be on any candidate`s short list for vice president. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whomever the nominee is, I hope they would choose Bob McDonnell as their vice presidential candidate. NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: I could be looking at the next running mate here. GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: Well, let`s not let everybody else worry about that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would be open to it? MCDONNELL: Look, if somebody called in and said, you could help our country, help our ticket, I think any of us would think about it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy sitting across from me would be a pretty number two in the ticket, interested? MCDONNELL: That`s completely up to somebody else. I think any governor you get a call from a nominee and said, you can help the party, you can help our country, of course, you`d consider doing that. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Bob McDonnell has all but said he would like to be picked for vice president, please. And his eagerness on the subject is why, even though he`s governor of Michigan, last night you could find him in Michigan, on the campaign trail for Mitt Romney, since Michigan`s all important primary is just a week away. But when Governor McDonnell does make his way back to Virginia, back to the state capitol, he can look forward to some decision making. Both houses of the Virginia legislature have passed legislation that would force women seeking an abortion in Virginia to have an internal vaginal probe ultrasound at the direction of the state, that is not medically necessary, and they`re going to do it against her wishes and even if the doctor objects. Now, Bob McDonnell has said that he will sign the measure. And that`s no surprise. When he was in the state legislature in Virginia himself, he sponsored a bill a lot like this. Two years after he wrote that thesis at Pat Robertson`s university is when McDonnell started his political career. He got elected to the Virginia legislature. And by the time a decade-and-a-half later, he was running for attorney general and then governor of the state, a "Washington Post" analysis looked at that thesis found of the 15 things that were listed in Bob McDonnell`s televangelist university thesis, about what government should do, of his 15 action points in his anti-fornicator thesis of the 15 action items in that thesis he wrote for the Pat Robertson`s televangelist university, Mr. McDonnell had already worked on legislation to address 10 of those 15 points. So, that meant his anti-abortion ultrasound bill and numerous other anti-abortion measures. He sponsored four bills to make divorce more difficult in Virginia. He even co-sponsored legislation that could have made it illegal to swear in an e-mail that was sent from Virginia. Now, everybody agrees swearing, very, very bad, right? But a government big enough to be able to regulate whether you swear in your e-mails? That`s a very specific kind of conservatism. Bob McDonnell`s thesis had said that the quote, "trend of working women" was, quote, "ultimately detrimental to the family." Once Bob McDonnell got into the state legislature, a long time later, he voted against the resolution calling for the end of pay discrepancies between men and women. The resolution essentially said, we think men and women ought to get paid the same if they do the same work. Bob McDonnell voted no on that. By 2009, when Bob McDonnell was running against a Democrat named Craig Deeds for governor of the state, he referenced his Pat Robertson televangelist school thesis in an interview, and it had not previously been publicly discussed. But when he brought up during the campaign, that sent "The Washington Post" to the school, to go to the school`s library to look up thesis that Bob McDonnell had started mentioning on the campaign trial. And in the resulting hullabaloo over punishing fornicators and the evil of women having jobs, in this is thesis, Bob McDonnell promised that he did not hold those views anymore. For example, he told reporters when he was running for governor that now, he no longer believed that government should discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. And now, he no longer believed that government should ban contraceptives. Then, of course, Bob McDonnell got elected governor. And one of his first acts is to move -- to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation legal in the state of Virginia. He has just said he didn`t believe that anymore, he just said that right before the election. But that is one of the first things he did right after he got elected. We covered it at the time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The new governor, McDonnell, still in his first month in office, went to the trouble of rescinding an executive order concerning discrimination in state workers. Thanks to Bob McDonnell`s overt action, his overt order in the case, you can be asked what your sexual orientation is in a job interview in Virginia and your answer can legally be the reason you don`t get the job. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Apparently, since then, my chair has grown, did you notice that? Usually just my hair goes like this when we see clips. Anyway. But that was just the sort of thing that Bob McDonnell could do by executive order, making sexual orientation discrimination legal in the state. He could do that just as governor, by signature of his own pen. Bob McDonnell really started getting what he wanted this year, though, when Republicans took control of both houses of the Virginia state legislature. Back when he was at televangelist college, Bob McDonnell had said that states ought to be able to make contraception illegal, right? Then in order to get elected governor, once that thesis came to light, he said he no longer believed that. But now, now that he is governor and now that Republicans control both houses of the state legislature, and now thanks to his old buddy with whom he co-sponsored that "you can`t swear in an e-mail" bill, now as governor, Bob McDonnell, is about to get his chance. Bob McDonnell is finally about to get to decide whether or not Virginia ought to ban contraception, at least hormonal contraception, the kind that most American women use. That`s thanks to Virginia`s personhood bill which would ban all abortion in the state and likely the pill as well. Before he had Republican control of the legislature, the Bob McDonnell administration had also changed regulations in the state about adoption. The state approving rules last year allow adoption agencies to discriminate against couples for being gay, and for much, much more. The new rules on adoption in Virginia that were brought in under Bob McDonnell, those new rules reserved the right to discriminate against you in adoptions, not just on the basis you sexual orientation, but also on the basis of your age, your gender, your disability, your religion, your political beliefs, your family status. The McDonnell administration already made that change, right? They already changed the rules to say you can be blocked from adopting a child in Virginia because you`re a registered Democrat or because you`re a Jew. They have already changed those rules. But now, now that Republicans control the entire state legislature, Bob McDonnell is going to get a chance to make that essentially permanent, to sign a version of that new rule into law. So it can`t be reversed by somebody else`s executive order. The legislature has passed a bill allowing adoption agencies explicitly to discriminate against anybody who doesn`t share their religious beliefs. So, not you could be block forward adopting in Virginia because you`re gay, but you could be blocked for any reason anybody claims has anything to do with their religion. Any reason, anybody thinks you don`t follow their religious beliefs -- no adoption for you. And, of course, there`s the ultrasound bill, which Republicans seemed to have spooked themselves about a little bit. After yesterday`s protest delayed what was expected to be a final vote on the measure in the house, Republicans today again delayed that vote. So here`s the big picture: put yourself in the shoes of Bob McDonnell, or put yourself in the shoes if you can`t imagine yourself as Bob McDonnell, put yourselves in the shoes of a Republican political consultant trying to advise Bob McDonnell about how he can achieve his ambition of becoming the vice presidential nominee of Republican Party. What would you tell him about that bill? Would you tell him to sign it? I mean, think about what he`s got on his desk, or heading to his desk right now -- the forced ultrasounds, the abortion and contraception ban, even the adoption rules. If you want to be the vice presidential nominee for the Republican Party, as badly as Bob McDonnell plainly does, is stuff like this radioactive? Or is this exactly what you need because this is what the Republican Party is looking for in a nominee in 2012? Joining us now is Meghan McCain, contributor for "The Daily Beast" and MSNBC. She`s the author of the book, "Dirty, Sexy Politics." Meghan, it has been too long. It`s good to see you. MEGHAN MCCAIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you. It`s good to see. I don`t even know how to follow all that. Great. MADDOW: I talk too much. MCCAIN: Hey kids, Republican after all that, it`s crazy. MADDOW: Well, you have progressive views on some social issues, particularly on gay rights and stuff. But you`re definitely anti-abortion, right? Your are pro-life Republican. MCCAIN: I`m pro-life, yes. MADDOW: So, when you think about -- MCCAIN: But I`m not pro-vaginal probing. I feel like I have to go on national television and delineate between the two things. I`m horrified by the bill as a woman. As a Republican woman, I`m horrified. It scares me that this can go on, it scares me a woman could be vaginally probed without consent or doctor`s consent, and I think this is completely radioactive for Governor McDonnell, and I have no idea why he would even go on any form and say that he would pass it. MADDOW: So, that`s -- and the radioactivity of it is the part that I feel like is a real open question, because I would have thought, you know, invading against contraception would be radioactive, like that would be a mistake or something that people would accidentally hint that if they sort of forgot what audience they were in. But invading against contraception is now mainstream Republican position this year. So, I`m -- MCCAIN: This year. MADDOW: This year. MCCAIN: Yes. MADDOW: So, this year, maybe it`s not radioactive. Maybe this is how you lobby to be vice president. MCCAIN: I still think it gets -- I think it gets a lot of media attention, a lot of play on right wing blogs and in the conservative evangelical movement. But I think when it comes to mainstream, more moderate Republicans, especially with independents, it`s completely radioactive. I mean, Governor McDonnell may get a lot of the evangelical vote if he passes this, but he will alienate almost every single woman possible, especially if they are independent voting for him, you know, if he becomes the vice presidential nominee. But I still think Marco Rubio is still the number one candidate. MADDOW: You think so? MCCAIN: Yes. MADDOW: Marco Rubio has not ended up being a great candidate, though. Marco Rubio doesn`t seem to -- I mean, there is a total different discussion, I`ll book you again. I think Marco Rubio has the Rick Perry problem, where he`s great on paper but then when he starts talking, people are like, who is this guy? MCCAIN: No, I love him. MADDOW: Really? That`s a whole -- you`re coming back to talk about Marco Rubio. MCCAIN: OK. MADDOW: But on the subject of the -- on the contraception subject, let`s talk about this personhood thing. Personhood was -- which says from the moment of fertilization or conception, a woman is two people. That you define life that way throughout the state code and that was rejected by voters twice by more than 40 point margins in Colorado, then they figured they could get it passed in Mississippi, sure, and it lost by double digit margins there. All of the Republican presidential candidates say they are in favor of this. So, Bob McDonnell, this is heading towards his desk, vetoes it. Is that -- is that a vote to say that the Republican Party ticket will be roughly to the left of the Mississippi electorate or is that actually poison? Would he be seen as not pro-life enough? MCCAIN: I think this is toxic, I think there are some things that hit the mainstream, I would say moon colonization is the last one. Vaginal probing is something I had friends texting me about what does this mean? I`m not into politics, but what does this say? This is something that will penetrate beyond politics, and I do think it will make him a completely toxic candidate and apparently end his life- long dream of being a vice president. MADDOW: What about the contraception stuff? I mean, personhood is not just forced ultrasound thing, but we had that big fight about access to contraception as part -- in terms of health insurance. But the personhood stuff has failed. A lot of pro-life people have been against the personhood stuff. A lot of the Mississippi campaign was women who identify as anti-abortion, pro-life women who were saying, and I still need to have guaranteed access to the pill. MCCAIN: I always say the best way to prevent abortions is to supply birth control. I`m pro-birth control, something that has alienated me with a lot of pro-lifers. But I`m not an extremist. So -- MADDOW: I think the politics are fascinating and moving so fast it`s really hard to know where they are going next. MCCAIN: It`s scary as a woman. I`m a young, single woman and I -- the idea of this regressing back in the 1950s, and entering Pleasantville is quite daunting. MADDOW: Yes. Meghan, I`m very happy to see you. Will you come back and talk to me about Marco Rubio? MCCAIN: Any day. MADDOW: I promise I won`t (INAUDIBLE) until he said something -- we`ll do on it neutral ground. MCCAIN: OK. Thank you. MADDOW: All right. Thanks, Meghan. All right. Mitt Romney has two huge advantages going into the critical Michigan primary. Number one, lots of billionaires want to give him big checks. Number two, Newt Gingrich, it turns out is a huge Mitt Romney asset. Trust me, evidence for both matters, that`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hello, America. Have you met Mitt Romney billionaire? He`s a casino guy. He lives in Las Vegas. His name is Sheldon Adelson. He is Mitt Romney`s billionaire. Now, I know what you`re thinking. Now wait, hold on, I thought the casino guy was Newt Gingrich`s billionaire. It turns out, not really, sort of, in the sense that anybody who is keeping Newt Gingrich in the race right now, by which I mean this guy, this billionaire not only given $11 million to Newt Gingrich already but says he`s about to give another $10 million. He`s even floated the idea in an interview with "Forbes" today that he might give $100 million to Newt Gingrich. Anybody who is keeping Newt Gingrich`s campaign alive right now is Mitt Romney`s best friend. And I can prove it, data. Look at this. This is the latest that we have out of the state of Washington. Washington holds their caucus on Saturday, March 3rd, that`s right before Super Tuesday. Right now, Rick Santorum is leading in the state of Washington. OK, right? That`s Rick Santorum on the left there. He leads Mitt Romney 38 to 27. Ron Paul has 15 percent, Newt Gingrich has 12 percent. But if Newt Gingrich were to quit the race, if Newt Gingrich were to drop out before the Washington caucus on March 3rd, watch what happens to the results. Boing! Santorum goes from beating Mitt Romney by 11 points to trouncing him by 21 points. Santorum gets essentially all of Newt Gingrich`s supporters there if Newt quits. Here is the latest out of Michigan. Right now, Rick Santorum leads Mitt Romney in Michigan 37 to 33. Ron Paul, 15, Newt Gingrich, 10. But again, take Newt Gingrich out of the equation and watch what happens. Boing! Rick Santorum takes what was a 4-point lead over Mitt Romney, and he blows it open in a 9-point lead. Newt Gingrich dropping out kills Mitt Romney in Michigan. Now, let`s go to Arizona. Finally a little bit of good news for Mitt Romney in Arizona, Mitt Romney has a small lead in Arizona right now. He`s beating Rick Santorum 36 to 33. Newt Gingrich, 16, Ron Paul has nine. But watch what happens if you take Newt Gingrich out of the picture. Watch. Oops, hey that`s a reversal. Rick Santorum goes from losing to Mitt Romney in Arizona by three points, to beating Mitt Romney in Arizona by 2 points. So, the next three contests on the Republican side are Michigan, Arizona and Washington. The latest polling shows that if Newt Gingrich gets out of the race before those contests, Rick Santorum wins all three. The continued presence of Newt Gingrich in this race right now is the only thing keeping the words front-runner and Mitt Romney anywhere near each other. And that brings us back to the billionaire casino guy. When Newt Gingrich received his first $5 million injection from the casino guy last month, Mr. Gingrich supporters spent the money, of course, going after Mitt Romney. Remember the half hour long "King of Bain" documentary that they purchased and aired in South Carolina? That was thanks in large part to Sheldon Adelson`s $5 million. But according to new reporting from Michael Crowley in "Time" magazine, and this is fascinating, the casino guy, Sheldon Adelson, was not all that psyched about how his money got spent there. Mr. Crowley reporting, quote, Adelson was not thrilled with the Mitt bashing his money funded in South Carolina. Sheldon Adelson had famously said he is not a fan of Rick Santorum at all. He doesn`t want Rick Santorum to be the nominee, but he says it would be all right with either Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney. And it is now at least being hinted that any new infusion of cash to Newt Gingrich from Sheldon Adelson comes with a string attached. And the string attached is, do not use this money to make Mitt Romney look bad. Go after Rick Santorum all you want, but leave Mitt Romney alone. The quote from Mr. Crowley`s reporting, "It is possible that Adelson is giving on the condition that Gingrich`s camp doesn`t disembowel Romney. Here`s another $10 million. Spend it on positive ads, spend it slamming Santorum, especially in Michigan, please, but go easy on Mitt. Mitt Romney essentially needs two things right now. He desperately needs Newt Gingrich to stay in the race. So, Mr. Gingrich supporters don`t flock to Rick Santorum and thereby beat Mr. Romney. Also, Mr. Romney needs the Gingrich camp to please stop attacking him. So how about killing both of those birds with one $10 million stone? Or one $100 million stone? See, I told you he`s Mitt Romney billionaire. Joining us now is Steve Kornacki, political news editor at Salon.com. Steve, it`s good to see you again. STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Good to be here. MADDOW: You have been writing about this and looking at this dynamics. And horse race stuff is not my favorite politics, but I do find this dynamic to be fascinating. Do you see it this way? Do you think that is what is going on here is the three-way dynamic? KORNACKI: Yes. No, absolutely. When you start looking at sort of the demographics, it gets particularly pronounced when you get beyond these next three contests and you move to Super Tuesday in the middle of March, because that`s when this race shifts back to the South, back to the Deep South. We`ve seen at least the basis, the foundation for a regional cultural divide in terms of how the vote has been distributed in the Republican primary so far where Romney has done sort of well in the coasts more or less, broadly defined. Santorum has been the candidate of the Midwest, but Gingrich in South Carolina and in the panhandle region of Florida has done really well with the sort of white evangelicals down there. And those evangelicals tend to be more sort of Pentecostals, Southern Baptist. And I think when you look closely at Pentecostals and Southern Baptists down in the South, you see, there`s -- we always talk about sort of resistance to a Mormon candidates in Mitt Romney, that`s going to be particularly pronounce. But there may also be an issue there for Rick Santorum, too, in terms of being a Northern, Pennsylvania-born Roman Catholic. He may not be an ideal outlet for them if they don`t consider Mitt Romney to be an ideal nominee. So, it may be that Gingrich, by virtue of his Southern roots, I know he`s not originally a son of the South. His identity as a Georgian -- MADDOW: And he`s a Catholic convert. KORNACKI: Right, a late in life Catholic convert. I mean, he isn`t perfect, too, but he does have the Georgia thing going, maybe the name Newt has resonance, I don`t know. But, you know, he did much better than Santorum down there. So, one of the things that`s interesting about, you know, Santorum going so far to the right on the social issues the last few days, at least vocally to the right, is I wonder if he feels that pressure that he needs to prove to sort of the Southern evangelicals, that Newt Gingrich can be spending a lot of money here they should not consider him a viable option. They should consider Santorum one of their own. I think that`s a very live dynamic down there. MADDOW: So much of the campaign this year has been about psychologically parsing the individual whims and motivations of specific billionaires. The post-Citizens United world is a very specific world. We know them all by their first names. What do you think the odds are Sheldon Adelson as Newt Gingrich`s essentially sole funder is keeping Gingrich in the game in order to protect Mitt Romney`s flank? KORNACKI: Yes. And it`s one of those we may never know the full story, because you really have to get in his head for that, but we`ve seen evidence, clear evidence of outreach, sort of sustained outreach from Mitt Romney himself and for the people in the Republican establishment who are sort of, you know, supportive of Romney and who are in touch with Sheldon Adelson, we`ve seen consistent outreach from them. And one of the things that I found so interesting, you talk about this dynamic of the billionaires really holding sway over the process, you can think back to that debate, it was in Florida where there was a Palestinian Republican questioner who got up during the debate and put a question to Mitt Romney basically about the perceived insensitivity of the Republican Party to Palestinian concern. Romney gave one of the most sort of hard- line harsh, you know, answers that I`ve seen him give as a candidate, and again, you have to get in his head for this, but I wonder if the subtext was that he knew Sheldon Adelson was watching. MADDOW: The hard-liner of all hard-liners. KORNACKI: Sheldon Adelson`s issued is Israel. He doesn`t really care about the social issues. That`s why he doesn`t like, you know, Rick Santorum particularly. His issue is Israel. And Mitt Romney may know, hey, look, if I can make Sheldon Adelson comfortable that I`m ultimately with him on this issue and more comfortable to win, maybe it brings about what we`re seeing now. MADDOW: Yes. He supports Newt Gingrich, there`s nothing dishonest about a support there. But if it has the benefit of helping Mitt Romney in the end, then it`s so much the better. KORNACKI: Right. MADDOW: It`s fascinating. It`s creepy that we have to try to get inside one guy`s head to figure it out. But that`s the world we live in. Steve Kornacki, Salon.com political news editor -- thanks, Steve. KORNACKI: Sure. MADDOW: Appreciate it. All right. Senator Bernie Sanders is here for the interview. That is still ahead. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Frank Luntz, Republican word guy. He`s guy who tells Republicans to say like "job creators." Frank Luntz tells Republican: don`t say government spending, call it waste instead. Frank Luntz is the one who told Republicans to called health reform a government takeover. So Republicans call it a government takeover. According to Frank Luntz the words "climate change" are less frightening than the words global warming. So, Republicans don`t say global warming anymore because that`s too scary. Frank Luntz is a Republican consultant who calls himself a wordsmith. He is an utterly mainstream figure in Republican politics and his message is: words matter. Frank Luntz is not just a guy on FOX. This past Thanksgiving in Iowa, he hosted a presidential candidates forum in Iowa. And last night in Michigan, Frank Luntz warmed up the crowd at a campaign event for Rick Santorum. Reporter Cori Morris (ph) posted this video of the introduction for the Grand Rapids press. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FRANK LUNTZ, REPUBLICAN PARTY STRATEGIST: I want your forgiveness because you all might get up in crack jokes. Like when I came in to Grand Rapids, I stopped in McDonald`s. Did you see they have that new Obama happy meal? Order anything you want and the guy behind you has to pay for it? Or I would stand up here and tell you I actually have a "run, Barack, run" bumper sticker but put it on the front of my car. That of all the places Hillary Clinton could choose to live she Chappaqua, New York. Do you know Chappaqua is Indian for separate bedrooms? That`s not the normal stuff I do. Can we play the second joke? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Don`t mind me. This is just a normal stuff I do. Can we just play the second joke again, please? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LUNTZ: I would stand up here and tell you that I actually have a "run, Barack, run" bumper sticker, but put it on the front of my car. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Get it? The "run, Barack, run" sticker is on the front of his car so it`s like Frank Luntz is trying to run down the resident of the United States with his car. So says the Republican Party words matter wordsmith guy. We have been looking today for any follow-up remarks, any apologies for example for Mr. Luntz, or for Mr. Santorum, again, whose event that was -- we have not seen any yet. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you watched the top of the show and maybe thinking Bob McDonnell, Virginia`s Republican governor, is not going to be that party`s vice presidential nominee anymore. So, you`re thinking, I don`t know, maybe instead it could be Mitch Daniels, the Republican governor in Indiana? Maybe it could be. I suppose. Maybe if Rick Santorum is the nominee, he might pick Mitch Daniels -- also maybe not. In Indiana right now, one of the things going on in Republican politics is the on-going legal trouble of a man named Charlie White, who`s the Republican secretary of state. In Indiana, as in most states, that makes him the top elections official, the guy in charge of elections and voting and making sure the whole process is by the book and executed with integrity. Charlie White at least was that guy in Indiana. Until earlier this month, he was found guilty of six felony charges including voter fraud. When Charlie White voted in an election in Indiana m May, it turns out he was registered at his ex-wife`s house even though he had already moved in with his new fiance across town. So there, finally, a documented case of voter fraud with an actual conviction. Only Republicans, that self-appointed voter fraud hawks, are fighting this thing in Indiana. The day after tomorrow, Charlie White has a sentencing hearing, and if the judge reduces his six felony convictions to misdemeanors, then Mitch Daniel, the governor and potential vice presidential nominee says he might give Charlie White his old job back. That would be his old job overseeing integrity of Indiana`s voting. When Charlie White was convicted of voter fraud, the governor appointed Mr. White`s deputy as secretary of state. But he made sure at the time to point out that he was making that appointment on a temporary basis only. He said, quote, "I have chosen not to make a permanent appointment out of respect for the judge`s authority to lessen the verdict to a misdemeanor and reinstate the office-holder." So, Mitch Daniels says the guy maybe gets his job back supervising state elections if the judge softens the voter fraud charges for which he has already been convicted. Do as I say, not as I do. Indiana`s top election official could be a guy convicted of voter fraud, really? Elsewhere in Indiana Republican politics Senator Dick Lugar is running for reelection against not just against a Democrat but also a Tea Party challenger within his own party. And Senator Lugar is having to answer for the fact that his place of residence in Indiana, the address that`s on driver`s license is a house that he sold in 1977 and he hasn`t lived in since. That`s Mr. Lugar`s the primary challenger there standing in front of said house in which Dick Lugar does not live. Dick Lugar, as a good Republican, voted for federal voter ID requirement a few election cycles ago, one which would presumably prevent him from voting in his home state, depending on what address is on his driver`s license and how you`re supposed to qualify to get that. So, do as I say, not as I do. And in Iowa, the Republican Party has been trying to push through a bill that would require to you show photo identification in order to vote. They want that for the whole state, particularly I guess for general elections in which Democrats and Republicans are both voting and the two parties are running against each other. But when Iowa Republicans were running their own election last month, when only Republicans were voting in the Iowa caucuses, Iowa Republicans chose not to enforce that rule for themselves. Of course, not, by making hard for some people to vote, if you know what I mean. So, do as I say, not as I do. Or it`s OK if you`re a Republican. If Republicans do have this problem on voting issues, if they purport to be so concerned about voter fraud but then they don`t live by their own proposed remedy to the problem when given the chance, what are the chances that with all these voting laws, these changes that they are trying to push through, what are the chances they are really for something else? Today, a group of four U.S. senators sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office asking for a comprehensive study of just that issue. One of those senators joins us now for the interview. It`s Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from the great state of Vermont, who caucuses with the Democrats. Senator Sanders, it`s nice to have you here. Thank you for your time tonight. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Good to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: Why did you request the study on voting law and voter registration law changes in the states? SANDERS: Well, it`s clear to me, Rachel, that what right wing Republicans are doing is trying to suppress the vote. What they are trying to do and I have to tell you I really think it`s an absolute outrage, people can have differences of opinion, but to go out of your way to try to make it harder for poor people, for minorities, for students, for older people to participate in our democratic process is totally unacceptable to me. So, what we want is the General Accountability Office to document such issues as how extensive is voter fraud in this country? My understanding is thank goodness it is not a serious problem at all. And I want to use that study to expose what the Republicans are doing. Also, we want documentation of exactly how many people would be impacted by these voter suppression laws. MADDOW: We have been following a lot of these laws in individual states as they have been enacted. Today, in fact, was the first election - - a series of municipal elections in Wisconsin which photo ID was required in Wisconsin. These things have been going in effect since Republicans won so many governorships and state legislature seats in the 2010 elections. I have heard people say that as many as 21 million Americans may not have the ID that Republicans are trying to require to vote. Do you think that these laws are so sweeping that they could affect the outcome in national elections? SANDERS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, what you`re talking about is sometimes we forget, you know, not everybody is middle class. There are a lot of poor people who do not own cars, who do not have drivers` licenses, a lot of old people don`t drive as well. They do not have in many cases government-issued IDs. And then what the states are doing is making it very, very difficult and sometimes expensive for poor people, for old people to get to the places they have to go in order to get these photo IDs. Very few people I think who study this issue doubt that what the Republicans are about in this area is simply making it harder for those people who might vote against them to participate in the political process. And if I might say, Rachel, this is the other side of what Citizens United is about. Citizens United is to give billionaires and corporations the opportunity to buy elections and candidates -- and voter suppression is the effort to deny those people who will vote against the Republican agenda the right to participate in the political process. MADDOW: Because -- I was highlighting the it`s OK if you`re a Republican, the do as I say, not as I do aspects of this in order to point out this does not seem to be a universal concern about voter fraud. And the groups you describe as having the least access to photo IDs, which is the thing that is being put up as a hurdle to voting in this country tend to be people that vote Democratic and therefore these changes will benefit Republicans. When you look at all these things together, it makes me wonder if you as a senator, when you talk to your Republican colleagues, when you talk to Republicans in your home state of Vermont, are there Republicans who are concerned about how difficult these state law changes are making it to vote or this is really purely a partisan thing? SANDERS: I think this is 100 percent partisan. It goes even further than we`ve talked about. They are trying to create a situation where if you`re a college student, you can`t use your college ID card to register to vote. They are trying to roll back same day registration. Eight states have same day registration where you can register on the day you vote. There are states that want to repeal that, they want to repeal or move back early voting which has been very, very successful in getting more people to participate. The bottom line is that some of us think that in a democratic society, the goal is to bring as many people as possible into the political process. It`s very clear what the Republicans want to do is drive as many people, especially poor people, old people, minorities, out of the political process. And that is just reprehensible. MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- thank you for being with us tonight, sir. It`s nice to see you. Thank you for being here. SANDERS: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. Best new thing in the world, still to come. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I am hypersensitive to visual stimuli. I can`t have moving images and pictures around me too much or I get distracted and I can`t concentrate on anything else. That`s why I`m not great with action movies any time after they started digitizing the explosions. It`s also why my future career as air traffic controller is not very bright. But the way it affects me every day to be hypersensitive to visual stimuli is that when we are prepping this show, what material we have available to us to make the TV, I have to look at transcripts. I look at transcripts of things that happen on tape rather than looking at the tape, itself. I`m not bragging about this. This actually makes me worse at my job and not better at it. Because sometimes the most important thing going on, even just in politics news, is not what`s being said at on event and therefore what makes it into the transcript, but what`s happening visually, while the words are being said. Por ejemplo, here`s Mitt Romney speaking in Newton, Ohio. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the people I`m running against, Senator Santorum, goes to Washington, calls himself a budget hawk. Then after he`s been there a while, he says he`s no longer a budget hawk. I don`t believe it`s appropriate for us to keep raising the debt ceiling every year. He voted five times to raise the debt ceiling. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So that`s what Mitt Romney said in Ohio. And that was all in the transcript. But what is important about that thing that happened in Ohio what was it looked like. See, that`s Mitt Romney at that event in Newton, Ohio, while he was giving that speech. Who`s that guy standing next to him at the event? There he is at the same event. Right, there he is. Same blue shirt, right? Looking like he might grab Mitt Romney`s belt loop there. Who is that? Who is that guy? That`s Ohio Senator Rob Portman. While Mitt Romney is laying in to Rick Santorum in Ohio for voting to raise the ceiling, like he`s also doing in his ads, like he`s doing in all of his speeches against Rick Santorum, while Mitt Romney is going hog wild on how awful it was to raise the debt ceiling, he`s standing there with his endorser, Ohio Senator Rob Portman. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: We have in Washington a malady that affects so many there, not your senator, but many others, that somehow think it`s OK to spend money that they don`t have. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Not your senator. Ha, ha. Other senators. Senator Portman, ha, ha, would never do a thing like voting to raise the debt ceiling. Right? Quote, "As Mitt Romney slammed GOP rival Rick Santorum for repeatedly voting to raise the debt ceiling on Tuesday, he was standing alongside Senator Rob Portman of Ohio who also cast several ballots to raise the cap on the nation`s debt." Quote, "Portman during his time in the Senate and the House repeatedly voted to raise the debt ceiling, most recently in August." Here`s a statement from Senator Portman`s office at the time. He called the debt ceiling vote a step in the right direction. "I support the agreement," he said. And before Rob Portman was a senator for Ohio, Rob Portman -- what was his previous job? George W. Bush`s budget director -- George W. Bush who raised the debt ceiling seven times. Which Mitt Romney never complained about. Presidents inevitably raise the debt ceiling. Republicans do it. Democrats do it. George W. Bush did it. Ronald Reagan did it. Mitt Romney has never seen it as a scandal before. Now, though, he`s try to make a scandal about it, hoping nobody can bear to look at the pictures while we are also listening to him talk. And how about you, Senator Portman? You`re just going to go to appear at that event with Mitt Romney, with a big smile on your face and you`re not going to peep while your candidate lies about your record? Really, Senator Portman? You`re happy to take credit for something you didn`t do? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Best new thing in the world. Last May, when Rick Santorum`s presidential candidacy was a crazy long shot, just a glean in the eye of Foster Friess, we here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW had the foresight to snap up a piece of Santorum-related Internet real estate. This was a headline to the story in the "Sarasota Herald Tribune" last May, recounting an anecdote Rick Santorum told about how early in his political career, he was going door to door and he found himself in a little old lady`s living room with an incontinent dog in his lap and how he then got up and with a giant dog pee stain on his pants, he kept right on campaigning. Now, we found it so hard to believe that Rick Santorum would tell this anecdote about himself, particularly given the problem he has what comes up as the first entry when we Google the word Santorum. We found it so hard to believe he was telling a urine-related anecdote about himself and his pants on the campaign trail that we had the journalist in question place us his audio tape from the event over the phone just to verify Rick Santorum really did tell the dog peeing on him story, that he thought the mental image of a pee-covered Rick Santorum pair of pants could somehow make him seem more presidential. Once that he journalist convinced us that it really happened, we decided to seize the opportunity. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And to help you out so no one takes it -- no one else takes it and does something rude with it, we, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, have purchased and safely thereby taken off the market dogpeecantstopsantorum.com. Today`s "Sarasota Herald Tribune" headline about Rick Santorum`s new stump speech, dogpeecantsantorum.com will now live forever as a redirect to our Web site. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: We still own that URL to this day. If you type dogpeecantstopsantorum.com into a web browser, it will take you to the Maddow Blog. And it turns out we were smart to grab that because this weekend that piece of Internet real estate suddenly got way more valuable, because we now have video proof that Rick Santorum really does tell the dog pee can`t stop me story on the campaign trail. Here he is Saturday night, Lincoln Day dinner, Akron, Ohio. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She hands me a glass of water, the dog jumps up and hops in my lap. OK. Fine. So, I pet the dog, have a sip or two of water. We`re chatting. The next thing I know, there is a warm sensation on my lap. And I -- and I jump up and on my tan pants is a huge wet spot where you don`t want a huge wet spot. And so, I jumped up to look at it and she was aghast. She reached for my pants and said, let me dry that off. I backed away and said, no, that will be fine. She goes, let me get a hair dryer. Heaven forbid. She goes, I said, no, thank you very much. I start to move out the door. She goes, take your pants off, I`ll put them in the dryer. That was the last I heard from her because I was out the door. So, now, I`m walking down the sidewalk at the end of the sidewalk -- I`m two hours into my walk, I`m a mile at least from where my car is, it`s still lots of daylight left. What do you do? Undeterred, I soldiered on. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So what did we pay for the URL, 15 bucks? Cheap at 10 times the price. Dogpeecantstopsantorum.com. Tell your friends. Best new thing in the world today. It`s finally worth something. And, Mr. Santorum, we will renew the offer. If you want the URL for yourself, if you want dog pee can`t stop Santorum to go to something that you want, just call. I would be happy to give it to you for free. You can use it for whatever you want. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night. Now, it`s time for "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