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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/07/12

Guests: John Harwood, Tracie McMillan

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I will say I was a little fried at the end of the night. Even if it had just been us there for an hour just for the speeches, that would have been enough to have my eyes rolled back in my head by the end of last night. It`s seven hours. Whoo! ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: It was long one. Way to go. Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Yes. Thanks, man. Appreciate it. Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour -- for super Wednesday. It`s super Wednesday! Stop it. Ixnay on the music. Stop it. It`s not -- stop it! Thank you. It`s not super Wednesday. I`m not allowed to play the music. Just the day after Super Tuesday. And feels very super in part because Super Tuesday went on for so long. So, it sort of just feels like it`s still happening. It feels like it`s 30:00 on Tuesday. At one point I think in our seventh straight hour of coverage last night, and before my order of salami and eggs arrived from the deli, so I was therefore a little loopy and low blood sugar, at one point in anchoring our coverage last night, coming out of a commercial break to update you the you, the audience, on the big race that was yet to be called, I accidentally christened the one outstanding race at that point, Otio, which I did not mean to say, but it was accidentally apt, because that was the huge story of Super Tuesday, that it was not until 12:30 a.m. Eastern Time that NBC was able to call Ohio for Mitt Romney. And even that call was just Mitt Romney as the apparent winner, because for five hours after poll closing, it had been so close that it was impossible to say who had won the state. In fact right now Mitt Romney is the apparent winner of Ohio because his margin of victory is only 1 percent and the entire vote isn`t in yet. So, yes, Otio has technically been called for Mitt Romney but this was really, really close. Still though as Steve Schmidt argued very well last night, even when it`s really, really close there is no prize for second place. Even when it is that close a race. Even a one-point race or zero-point race you would rather be the guy who won even if it`s by a little than the guy who did not win. And so, Ohio goes down not as a tie, not as Otio but as a win, in the Mitt Romney column and that matters. It is a win that is frankly as important to Mr. Romney`s presidential prospects as his win was in Michigan a week ago. In both those big important bellwethery states, Rick Santorum gave Mitt Romney a run for his money. But Ohio and Michigan also show really clearly I think the two most important dynamics, the two biggest stories in the Republican Party`s efforts to pick their presidential nominee this year. Look at the two races. Look how close. This was the result in Ohio, and this was the result in Michigan. So close, right? In a race that close, you start thinking about all the little things that could have made a difference. If you picked up a point in this group or turnout two points higher when it is this close, my marginal change in any one group of reasonable size can make all the difference. So, you can parse results this close, you can parse these results to high heaven. If you want to know what is not subtle about these results, when you don`t need to do the math to understand the importance of? It`s this guy. Ding. To the extent that Republican primary voters are being asked, do you want Mitt Romney as your nominee or not, the "or not" vote between Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, really easily beats Mitt Romney in both those places. Even if Newt Gingrich dropped out of the race his voters would only marginally go more for Rick Santorum than Mitt Romney, even if it`s only just a little shading in the preference there, still, Newt Gingrich being out of the race would mean that Rick Santorum probably would have won in Michigan and in Iowa. And if Rick Santorum had beaten Mitt Romney in Michigan and Ohio, we would not be talking about Mitt Romney as the likely Republican nominee this year. Inevitable, shminevitable. So, that`s one of two big stories in 2012 politics right now. It`s why the Santorum people are pushing Newt Gingrich to get out of the race today. Mr. Gingrich keeps saying no, he keeps saying that he might win. But Newt Gingrich is not winning. Newt Gingrich is losing really badly to Rick Santorum and he is the reason that Rick Santorum is losing to Mitt Romney. He is the reason that no, non-Mitt Romney candidate can win. So, Newt Gingrich, who is long, is now one of the huge stories in politics. We`re getting all this crazy outsized focus on him, on what this third place guy with no chance is doing. Like today, there was news that Mr. Gingrich is skipping Kansas, whoo-hoo, who cares? Nobody would otherwise care about that except for the fact that Mr. Gingrich staying in the race is effectively handing the race to Mitt Romney. So, just numerically, the story of who is not voting for Mitt Romney in the Republican primaries, that split in the not Romney vote, that is one of the two big stories in this election this year. But the other big story in the race right now? Is not who is voting against Mitt Romney in the Republican primaries, but who is voting for Mitt Romney? How is Mitt Romney winning the states that he is win something I`m glad you asked because it turns out this is fascinating and I can`t believe it`s not getting more coverage. Let`s look at Ohio. If you break Ohio voters down, right, when it comes to voters making under $30,000 a year, Mitt Romney tied Rick Santorum in that group. They both got the same percentage of the vote. Voters making between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, Mitt Romney loses to Santorum. Voters making $50,000 to $100,000 a year, Mitt Romney loses to Rick Santorum. So, how do you tie at best or lose every single income bracket in the state and still win the state? Oh, I see. Mitt Romney cleaned Rick Santorum`s clock among Ohio voters making more than 100 grand a year. Mr. Romney won that group by 10 points and thereby won the state. Mitt Romney tied or lost every other income group in Ohio, but when it came to the wealthiest sliver of the electorate, he won big and that is how he won. And in Michigan, same thing, voters making under 30 grand a year, Mitt Romney loses. Voters making between 30 grand and 50 grand a year, Mitt Romney loses. Voters making 50 grand to 100 grand a year, Mitt Romney loses. How do you win a state when you loose every single income bracket in the state? Oh, again, Mitt Romney wins among the wealthiest sliver of the electorate. Voters making over 100 grand a year. That is the only group of Michigan voters that Mitt Romney won. That`s the only group of voters that Mitt Romney won in Michigan or in Ohio. He lost the primary or at best tied with voters in every single income bracket in both states, except for the wealthiest sliver of the electorate. How do you win a state when you were only winning the wealthiest sliver and losing everything else? Aha! Mitt Romney is not just appealing to the rich people in these states. He is inspiring the rich people in these states. It turns out Mitt Romney`s candidacy is driving up voter participation by the richest people in the country. This is amazing. Look at this, in 2008 in the Republican primary in Ohio, the proportion of voters in that primary that year that were making over 100 grand, 21 percent. That was 2008, 21 percent. But this year, 30 percent of the electorate is making over 100 grand. And those are Mitt Romney`s people. In Michigan, same deal, in 2008, in the Republican primary in Michigan, voters making over 100 grand were 22 percent of the electorate. This year? Thirty-three percent. Mitt Romney is turning out 33 percent of the electorate among his core voters who are people making over $100,000. There are more rich people voting. Now, the fact there are so many more rich people voting in Michigan and Ohio primaries may be that is great news about Michigan and Ohio, right? Maybe that`s because Ohio and Michigan are a lot richer as states than they used to be? Maybe? Not really. This is the change since the primary, right, since that last primary. In terms of personal income, Ohio and Michigan residences have stayed relatively the same over the past few years. But even in a bad economy or a static economy, you do have some rich people and what rich people there are in these states are motivated. They have found their candidate. Mitt Romney is inspiring a tiny minority of Americans to stand up for their rights and their guy. Rich people are moved to come out and vote for one of their own. What is most incredible, though, is that this is not just an Ohio and Michigan phenomenon. This holds true as an iron-clad rule for the entire primary process, for the entire election, for all states. So far, a total of 23 states have voted in the Republican primaries, and there`s been exit poll or entrance poll data in 14 of those states. So, that`s the states in which we know, for example, the income level of the people who are turning out, 14 states. Of those 14 states, Mitt Romney has won 9 of them. But in every single one of those 14 states, even the ones that he lost, Mitt Romney has won the wealthiest sliver of the electorate. Every single time, we have found his base. So, in Ohio, as I mentioned, Mitt Romney wins the state and he wins the wealthiest by a huge margin. In Michigan, Mitt Romney wins the state and wins the wealthiest by a huge margin. In Tennessee, Mitt Romney loses to Rick Santorum but look, he still wins the wealthiest voter voters. In Massachusetts, Romney wins, and he wins the wealthiest. In Vermont, Mitt Romney wins and he wins the wealthies. In Georgia, Mitt Romney loses to Newt Gingrich and loses badly, but again, he wins the wealthiest voters there even while he`s losing the state. In Virginia, Mitt Romney wins and he wins the wealthiest. In Arizona, Mitt Romney wins and he wins the wealthiest. In Oklahoma, Mitt Romney loses to Rick Santorum, but even as he is losing the state, look how he cleans up with rich people in Oklahoma. In Nevada, Mitt Romney wins and he wins the wealthiest. In South Carolina, Mitt Romney loses, to Newt Gingrich but look at that. Look at the margin by which he wins the wealthiest people there even as he`s losing the whole state. In Florida, Mitt Romney wins and he wins the wealthiest. In Iowa, Mitt Romney loses to Rick Santorum but look at that margin -- look at the margin by which he wins the wealthiest people who are voting that day. And, finally, in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney wins the state and, of course, look at that, he really, really, really wins the wealthiest. There has not been a single state in which Republicans have voted this year where we have exit poll data in which Mitt Romney did not win the wealthiest sliver of the e electorate. It is an iron-clad rule. No data works like this in politics, right? There is always some exception that proves the rule. In this case, it`s the rule. It`s the rule, that`s it. It`s like a rule of physics. And in the states where it counts, where he really needs these rich people to turn out for them, not only does Mitt Romney win the wealthiest, but he drives up voter participation of the wealthiest people. This is one of those clarifying moments where looking at the numbers, looking at the math makes all the words we have been expending on this campaign seem kind of worthless in comparison. I mean, there`s been all this hand-wringing, myself included -- all this worrying whether or not Mitt Romney seems out of touch, right? Well, it`s not out of touch generically. There`s a common theme to all of the different incidents in which Mr. Romney seemed out of touch, right? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ll tell you what, 10,000 bucks, $10,000 bet? GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I`m not in the betting business. ROMNEY: OK. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. I`m not concerned about the very poor. Corporations are people, my friend I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pick up truck. Ann drives a couple Cadillacs actually. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: When Mitt Romney seems out of touch, he`s not generically out of touch with humans. He is very specifically out of touch with the people who are not voting for him. With the fact the people who are voting for the other guy. With the people he is losing. If it seems like Mitt Romney is not a man of the people, he is not a man of the people. And the important thing here is: who cares whether he seems like a man of the people? He doesn`t need the people. He is winning the most important states in the country by only winning the richest people voting in those states and by losing everybody else. He wins the richest sliver of the population by so much, he has so locked up the rich people vote that he does not need anybody else`s vote and he knows it. And that`s not me accusing him of having some bad world view, that is the math. And, again, there`s been all this handwringing and consternation over the new economic that Mr. Romney just released. He released an economic plan last month and a new one this month. Actually, do we have the Steve Benen graph that we had on the blog of the impact of Mitt Romney`s economic plan. Do we have that? That we can put that up. Yes. All right. There is all this consternation that Mitt Romney`s economic plan looks like this, right? It actually makes the poorest people in the country, the lowest quintile of income pay more and it really gives a big benefit to rich people. The richer you get the more you get from Mitt Romney. There`s been all of this consternation over this, right? But if all you need to win the election is rich people, this shouldn`t cause consternation. This isn`t awkward. This is perfect. As long as voter participation is low enough and rich people are inspired enough by their champion to turn out in great droves and vote essentially 100 percent of the time for Mitt Romney, you might even be able to win the general election with the strategy like this. You might just need some sort of voter ID variation where the only way to get your ballot is if you flash the pole worker your top hat and tails. Joining us is John Harwood, CNBC`s chief Washington correspondent. Mr. Harwood, thank for your time. It`s nice to have you here. JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Hey, Rachel. MADDOW: How far can you go winning only voters at the top of the income chart and losing everybody else? It worked in Ohio, and in Michigan. Can it work other places? HARWOOD: Well, it can`t work nearly as well in the general election as it can in primaries, which as you mentioned are low participation exercises. In the 2008 general election, people making over $100,000 a year were just a quarter of the electorate, three quarters below that. So Mitt Romney does have the ability in primary states to maximize his appeal to that group and really make it count. And you explained it earlier in your discussion a moment ago, Rachel, it`s the one of us issue. You`ve got business, economic-oriented Republicans who look at Mitt Romney, identify with him, see him as somebody like them with similar values, just as the way we all identify when we vote, whether it`s by ethnicity or geography or personal background. And he`s also taking a little bit of advantage of the split in the Republican Party between the Tea Party, evangelical, social conservatives who Rick Santorum is appealing to and other people who don`t share their values, and they want to vindicate the candidate they believe will pursue their interests as president. MADDOW: Do you think that explains -- I mean, one of -- the thing I found most striking today and the reason I wanted to do this segment about the data is because I was so struck by the information that not just wealthier voters are preferring Mr. Romney, but their participation is rising, as a proportion of those who are voting, we are seeing more wealthier voters turn out? Do you think that it`s the same dynamic driving people to vote for -- wealthier people to vote for Mr. Romney that is driving them to actually turn out to vote when they wouldn`t otherwise? HARWOOD: Well, it`s hard to tell, Rachel, whether some of that is also a backlash against what they are hearing from Rick Santorum. Before the Michigan results and the electorate was skewed from 2008, the primary electorate, with higher participation at the top of the income scales, some of that may have been in response to some of the things that Santorum was saying, because I talked about values a moment ago. People at the higher end of the income scale don`t share the same value, they are not as religious more secular, they don`t share Rick Santorum`s views, say, on the contraception issue, which is something that Mitt Romney has not echoed the same rhetoric.; And, by the way, it`s one of the reasons why President Obama`s advisors have been jumping Mitt Romney for not more aggressively going after Rush Limbaugh because they know that in general election, many of those high income voters are much more secular, much more liberal on the social issues and will vote Democrat. Remember who won the voters over 200,000 in 2008. It was not John McCain. It was Barack Obama. MADDOW: That`s right. John, does the Romney campaign have a Southern strategy for these upcoming races in Alabama and Mississippi and beyond? Or do you think that they are OK just letting Gingrich and Santorum fight the out, it doesn`t matter if they win any Southern states? HARWOOD: Well, they are hoping the Southern states because the delegates are awarded proportionately, even if they lose them, they`re going to come out and continue marching toward 1,144. You know, they`re making a mathematics argument now, as you made a mathematics argument for those exit polls and it`s pretty difficult to refute because in this process, when you do proportional representation, or proportional delegate selection, it`s very difficult for somebody in second place, by a lot, to make up a lead all at once. And so, the states where they do have winner-take-all, like Utah, like New Jersey, are very favorable to Mitt Romney. He is the one likely to extend his lead. MADDOW: John Harwood, CNBC chief Washington correspondent, John, I always like talking to you about this stuff because you always have brought data from the reporting world on which you operate into these discussions and makes you more valuable than your average bear to talk to about this stuff. I really appreciate it, man. Thank you. HARWOOD: My pleasure. MADDOW: All right. Now that the Sandra Fluke thing has not worked out so well for Mr. Limbaugh, the interview tonight on this show is the next young American woman who Rush Limbaugh has decided to come after. It`s kind of becoming a badge of honor. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hey. It turns out Rick Santorum can`t be Googled problem is getting worse, not better. Neat. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The history of this election year is going to be really annoying, because in the future, when people go to compare 2012 to other years, to look at like delegates and trends and who won what races and what order and who was still in the race when, the stuff we`re all doing now, this year about previous years in order to make sense of this year, when people do that about 2012, it is going to be super annoying to calculate this year in any broader understanding of what happens overtime in presidential politics. And that`s because 2012 has to have this giant asterisks on the state of Virginia, right? Virginia was part of Super Tuesday, yesterday, but Virginia Republicans inexplicably set rules this year so that only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul could be on the ballot. Virginia`s election did count all of the 46 delegates are being allocated on the basis of that race in Virginia, but nobody considers Virginia last night to have been a real race because there was only those two guys on the ballot. That is the kind of nuance that will be lost in translation in future years. And therefore, the modern history of presidential politics will mostly be a little off because Virginia will be misunderstood. You can see it from here. You can see it coming, but there is almost no way to stop it from happening. The asterisk will get edited out when people compile the date over multiyear sets. Still though, if we refuse tonight to start making that inevitable error already, an honest map of who`s won what this year looks like this. That`s Mitt Romney states in green, Rick Santorum states in yellow, Newt Gingrich`s states in red. And actually, for the purpose of really understanding this, can we just combine Santorum and Gingrich? So instead of yellow and red, they are all orange. Now, it`s states won by Mitt Romney in green, states won by candidates other than Mitt Romney in orange. We are excluding Virginia because as I said it was a hot mess. If you are Mitt Romney or you are a Republican who wants Mitt Romney to be the Republican nominee, or just thinks Mitt Romney is likely to be the Republican nominee, what is wrong with this map? Aside from Florida, which is its own thing and not part of the South, there is no south in this. None. I mean, you may be could put Virginia in there, but Virginia was a mess. Mitt Romney has not won in the South and it is impossible to remember a Republican presidential nominee in modern history who didn`t have support in the South. I mean, this what electoral maps look like in general elections in modern presidential politics, right? Look at the lower right hand quadrant and its redness. Even when Republicans win nowhere else, Republicans win in the South. So, as the returns were coming in last night, with Romney losing Georgia and losing Tennessee and losing Oklahoma, there was this glaring problem, right? How does Mitt Romney compensate for being unable to win in the South? A Republican has to be able to win in the South. I asked essentially that question of NBC`s political director Chuck Todd last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: I think it may mean more pressure on Romney to have to have a running mate that is of the South, a son of the South in some form or another. I mean, the perfect person might be Bob McDonnell. He`s a Catholic 00 evangelical Catholic, if you will, sort of would play well with -- this goes -- this has been Chris` theory for some time that if there`s a perception that Romney has got a Southern problem with some evangelicals, that he`s going to have somebody who will speak to them, who will speak to them directly and say, no, no, no, don`t worry about Mitt Romney, I got him. You can trust -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This is how people think about ticket balancing, right, and the vice presidential selection. Mitt Romney may have a lot of things going for him but he can`t seem to win in the South, so he needs a guy from the South on the ticket why not Bob McDonnell? Mr. McDonnell has made clear he wants the job. Today, how did Bob McDonnell make clear that he wants the vice presidential job? He signed the ultrasound bill today. Governor ultrasound made it official today. After weeks of protests, after dozens of arrests, after tons of national attention, after denying this was ever part of his agenda in the first place, after sitting on it for days after the legislature passed it, implicitly raising the prospect that he might not sign it, Virginia Governor Bob "ultrasound" McDonnell decided to keep the nickname. Virginia women will now be forced by the state to undergo and to pay for a procedure that is not medically necessary, that is mandated by Mr. McDonnell`s state government, that your doctor has no choice about and you have to undergo against your will. The governor justified the government- mandated medical procedure by saying that it is necessary to determine the gestational age of the fetus before an abortion is allowed, saying that in most case, you have to do an ultrasound to make that determination. But for the majority of abortions, the jelly on the belly abdominal ultrasound that is now mandated by this bill will not help determine gestational age. The only kind of ultrasound that will give you that information is this kind -- the internal transvaginal probe kind, which has made the V.P. next to Bob McDonnell`s name stand not so much for vice president anymore as for vaginal probe. An earlier version of the bill that was supported by Governor McDonnell would have mandated a vaginal probe ultrasound. The amended version of the bill that he signed mandates the other kind of ultrasound but it says if that ultrasound doesn`t help determine the gestational age, than in most cases it won`t, the woman has to be offered the internal vaginal probe ultrasound. If she says no to the vaginal probe one, is she still allowed to have an abortion in Virginia? Unclear. We asked the governor`s office if the state government isn`t still effectively mandating vaginal ultrasounds by playing doctor this way, by forcing these medically unnecessary procedures to determine information that can only be obtained up and through your genitals -- again, by order of the state. We have had no answer from the governor`s office on that yet. But the governor has signed this bill in law as of today, saying in a statement he released on the matter the whole reason he`s doing this is to, quote, "help the mother." What do you think American women? Is this the kind of help you would like? It would seem that governor ultrasound has insured that he is not going to be the Republican Party`s vice presidential pick no matter how much help Mitt Romney might need in the South. But you know, then again who knows. There seems to be two trains of thought in Republican politics. There are the Bob McDonnells of the world who are fall steam ahead on forced ultrasounds, government mandated medical procedures, even as they want to be seen as small government guys. Rick Santorum brought up his opposition to expanded contraception coverage last night during the victory speech, nobody asked him about it. He just brought it up on his own. There is a Bob McDonnell-Rick Santorum issue of thinking about this issue. Maybe in 2012, that is what Republicans want to hear. On the other hand, the anti-contraception amendment in the Senate, remember the Blunt-Rubio amendment, after Republican senators lost the vote on that amendment in the Senate last week, the Republicans said they would press on, they would bring it up in the House, they would keep at it in the Senate. Yes. This week they are caving on that. Roy Blunt, the sponsor of the Blunt-Rubio amendment, vowed when he lost the first anti-contraception vote that, quote, "this fight is not over." He said he would vow to work, quote, "in both chambers of Congress on continuing to fight for the anti- contraception bill." That was his stance last week. This week, he`s telling "Talking Points Memo," you know, I think we have as many votes as there were to get on that. Now he`s defending the Republicans are shelving the anti- contraception bill even when she said they would keep fighting for it. In the House, where John Boehner said he would keep on fighting for it, he would keep up the fight on the anti-contraception bill that failed in the Senate, in the House, where he said they would bring it up -- they are not bringing it up. They are not bringing it up in the House any time soon. Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who is running for Senate, telling "Politico," quote, "We`ve got a lot else on our plate." Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who voted for the Blunt-Rubio thing, voter for the anti-contraception bill on the Senate, now already is publicly repudiating her vote. She cast that vote last week. Now, she`s saying she would not do it again after talking to women who told her what they thought. Linda Lingle is the Republican running for Senate in Hawaii, she did a fund-raiser with Roy Blunt personally, but she`s now telling Hawaii voters, oh, no, geez, no, are you kidding? I would never vote for a thing like that. Gosh, no way, don`t mistake me." Most of the Republican Party is in full retreat on the anti- contraception/Rush Limbaugh agenda the way this has gone. By guys like Rick Santorum and governor ultrasound, they still this is the way forward. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Rick Santorum began this campaign season as the candidate whose name you could not Google on family television. But, Rick Santorum has almost managed to outlast his reputation as senator man on dog. For a new generation of voters, Rick Santorum is now better known as senator contraception is not OK. Also, senator pass the flashlight I have no campaign staff, including advance teams to rig some lights before I talk. But Rick Santorum`s original problem of being un-Google-able that problem is changing. It`s not necessarily getting better. It may, in fact, be getting worse, but it is changing in a remarkable way. But we`ve got an update on that coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Here`s an on screen graphic you may have seen a lot of lately. You`ve seen it on MSNBC, CNN, online. Maybe even on FOX, I don`t know. But this is the graphic that has been all over the place and it is the shorthand version of telling the story of this month`s Rush Limbaugh scandal. These are all the companies that have said they are dropping their advertisements from Rush Limbaugh`s conservative radio talk show since the start of this latest Rush Limbaugh is outrageous controversy. This latest controversy was, of course, over the Republicans anti- contraception legislation and Mr. Limbaugh`s decision to support that legislation by attacking a Georgetown law student as a slut and a prostitute and someone who ought to post sex videos of herself online because of her temerity in advocating health insurance coverage for contraception. All of these companies used to advertise on the Rush Limbaugh program, and now they do not. And unless you listen to the Rush Limbaugh program, there are probably a bunch of these companies up here that you have never heard of before, that you`ve never seen the logo before, that you`ve never seen displayed on television described or even referenced. But now, these companies are getting probably 98 percent positive national attention for rejecting their sponsorship of Mr. Limbaugh`s program in the wake of his comments that horrified just about everyone, even if you agreed with his underlying political position. Now, this is a lot of advertisers, look at them one by one, a lot of advertisers to lose. And Mr. Limbaugh has lost a couple of radio stations already that carried his program. And so, I do think this scandal has hurt Mr. Limbaugh`s bottom line a little bit. Mostly though he`s got a pretty big bottom line. And mostly I think he doesn`t mind the scandal all that much. I think that Rush Limbaugh is of the even bad publicity is good publicity school of thought. We`ll have to see as this thing develops. It`s possible he might have pulled a Don Imus, pulled a Glenn Beck and he might be done. But it`s also possible that this is one of those periodic be outraged by me Rush Limbaugh scandals that just pops up every now and then but have the effect of making him more famous. Could we put up some of the sponsors? Sponsors list? Thank you. Feast your eyes on that. For these companies, their role in this scandal has turned out to be positive, right? They are famous for a positive reason now. And perhaps more importantly, because of Mr. Limbaugh`s singular role in Republican Party politics, even if the scandal does not hurt him or his radio show, it can hurt Republican politicians who can`t bring themselves to criticize Mr. Limbaugh, because they are afraid he`ll criticize them back. And so, because of their fear of his power over Republican base voters, some Republican politicians end up not condemning if not implicitly endorsing his comments and that can hurt them very much. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Ms. Fluke and the rest of you Feminazis, if we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I`ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch. MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ll just say this, which is, it`s not the language I would have used. My campaign is about jobs and the economy and scaling back the size of government, and I`m not going to weigh in on that particular controversy. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I don`t want to talk about it. After those comments from Mitt Romney last night in Massachusetts, David Axelrod from the Obama reelection campaign, he held a conference call with reporters today in which he asked Mitt Romney if he couldn`t stand up to, quote, "the most strident voices in your party," meaning Rush Limbaugh, "how can he stand up to Ahmadinejad, how are you going to stand up to the challenges of the presidency? These are test. Presidential campaigns are tests. You are tested every day in different ways. The Limbaugh thing was a test of leadership you have them all the time, and Mitt Romney has failed those tests in the campaign." In an overall sense, the scandal is disgusting, right? But in terms of the short-term effects, it is a blessing from on high for any Democrat lucky enough to be running a campaign against a Republican who is too chicken to criticize Rush Limbaugh even for comments like these that have horrified the nation. It is also priceless free advertising for those sponsors -- can we put up the graphic -- for those sponsors who took a brave stand against Mr. Limbaugh`s horrific comments. This has turned to be great for them. Today, the ongoing moral catastrophe of Rush Limbaugh had one more unintended positive consequence, which had to come by Mr. Limbaugh attacking another young smart American woman and dragging her name through the mud for something she did not do wrong. But sometimes, having a universally reviled enemy is more valuable than having the greatest, most powerful allies. The latest woman to be attacked inexplicably by Rush Limbaugh joins us for the interview tonight. And that is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LIMBAUGH: Every time I find evidence of a massive, forthcoming event to take away little bit of our freedom here and there, under the guise of improving our health or our safety or our security, I`m going to warn you about it, because the ultimate end game is to take away your freedom. And so, now, we have a book by a woman named Tracie McMillan, "The American Way of Eating," which has, according to "The New York Times," as the premise that only the fancy and snobs get good food. What is it with all these young, single white women? Over educated, doesn`t mean intelligent. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Joining us now exclusively for the interview is Tracie McMillan for her first interview since she was attacked by Rush Limbaugh, all the day long, for doing nothing wrong, but for being a woman while doing it. Ms. McMillan is the author of this new book, "The American Way of Eating: Undercover of Walmart, Applebee`s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table." Tracie, thank you so much for joining us tonight. It`s nice to have you here. TRACIE MCMILLAN, AUTHOR: Yes, thanks for having me. MADDOW: In the way of the Sandra Fluke controversy with Mr. Limbaugh, which has gotten all these national attention, I imagine you had no clue at all that he would spend today on his show, going after you for hours. MCMILLAN: I have absolutely no clue. I`m on deadline for a reported piece and so, yesterday, I was about to shut off the Internet for the day so I can get some work done. And then a few emails and tweets sort of came in and I said, I need to take a look at this. It was about an hour before we figured out he spent I think it was half an hour, 45 minutes talking about my book, and reading "The New York Times" interview on air. So, it was very interesting surprise. MADDOW: It is an interesting detail about this, is that Mr. Limbaugh does not seem to be angry about the book, when he did this on his show yesterday. He seemed to be angry about a positive "New York Times" article about your book and article that came out two weeks ago, is that right? MCMILLAN: Yes, so the book came out two weeks ago, "The Times" review came out the same day as it was published, February 21st, I think Rush said in his broadcast that, you know, I have been holding on this a couple weeks. So I guess he thought it was really important he warn everybody that somebody was talking to working Americans about food. MADDOW: I mean, the way that he works, part of his shtick is that he`s going after you personally, attacking you for being overeducate and single and white and all these things. MCMILLAN: Right. MADDOW: But he`s doing that -- he doesn`t know you from Adam. So, he`s doing that as a way of undermining the cause of what you represent and what the book represents. What do you think it about your reporting on the food industry and American way of eating that he finds so appalling and from -- the way he was attacking you, anti-conservative or anti-freedom? MCMILLAN: Right, yes, there is a couple ways to respond. Like one is to be flip and be I write about food and food obviously is very important to Rush, so maybe that`s part of his concern. But, you know, if I`m going to engage more directly with that, you know, it`s a little bit weird, right? Because mostly what I did is I went and I did my job and I worked as a farm worker in California, worked at a Wal-Mart outside of Detroit in the grocery section and worked at Applebee`s in New York and I wrote about what food is like for people in those jobs and did what reporters do, which is I went and talked to people and gathered information and tried to explain what is going on. And I think probably what`s most confusing for somebody like Rush is that I`m from a working class background, I`m from the Midwest, I`m from a rural area, and, you know, I`m part of the working class as much as anybody else is, and I think it`s really confusing to all of a sudden have somebody who is from that part of society and can`t just be dismissed on these charges of an elitist problem. And then I come back and say, well, I think maybe the private sector isn`t meeting all our needs right now. And I think that is something that like conservatives don`t necessarily have a good framework for dealing with. MADDOW: I know that the book the "American Way of Eating" is a reference to one of my favorite works of expository non-fiction, "The American Way of Death" by Jessica Mitford, who`s always been one of my heroes. And I was thinking about, I was out at the John Steinbeck Center at San Jose University this past weekend talking about the way that Steinbeck -- I mean, Steinbeck was writing novels, exposes of the ways that Americans were living in his time and things that Americans didn`t want to read about our own country. Reading about -- reading exposes, reading journalism, reading accounts of things that are wrong in the country makes people mad. And when people get angry about hearing that things aren`t great in the country, do you think that -- do you have any empathy from where that comes from? Do you think people don`t want to hear bad things because they love the country so much or do you have insight why it makes z angry to hear bad news about the country? MCMILLAN: Well, I think some of it is just that it`s really hard to have people criticize a place that you love and identify with, right? And so, I think all of us grow up with this story of all this great opportunity in America and to see it not being offered to everyone equally I think on a basic level that is upsetting to anybody, right? At the same time I think that if you`re struggling really hard in your work and job, it can just be really depressing and draining, right, to hear about how much worse it for someone else because it might make you feel like -- well, it could be a lot worse than what I have. That makes it hard to sort of engage with those kinds of stories. So, I`ve always felt that there`s a special kind of anger that you find from a lot of folks -- often, at least in my experience, like a lot of the men I grew up with in the working class in Michigan, right, a lot of white men grow up being told they have every opportunity, and yet life is still really, really hard. And I think it can be very difficult to sort of deal with how hard all that is without feeling like why is everybody telling me this is supposed to be so easy, because it`s not. MADDOW: Yes, it`s about making anger constructive, which is a biblical pursuit as much as a national pursuit in some ways. MCMILLAN: Right. MADDOW: Tracy McMillan, congratulations on "The American Way of Eating." MCMILLAN: Thanks. MADDOW: It feels a little bit weird, but this the book is going to in fact get a lot more attention because you`ve been bizarrely singled out for being who you are, and doing this work journalism. And that is a blessing. So, I hope it gives you even further luck with the book. Thank you very much. MCMILLAN: Thanks so much. MADDOW: All right. Right after this show, on the last word, one candidate who did very, very, very well in Ohio last night is named Barack Obama. Lawrence has the explanation of that coming up. And still ahead here, Rick Santorum`s Google problem and Rick Santorum`s new Google problem -- both are I think maybe equally problematic. But that`s straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We have an update for you, on the Rick Santorum Google problem. You know what the Rick Santorum Google problem is, right? I might have mentioned it a couple times on this show. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: It is the problem he has, and then you have when you Google him. If you do not know what I mean, you can Google Santorum, do not do it at work, do not do it in front your mom. That`s because if you put Santorum into the Google search engine, you get information, you get vivid, vivid information, but you don`t get what you were looking for about Rick Santorum. I am not going to ask you about Rick Santorum and campaigning against MSNBC and what he can or cannot Google. CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: I mean, there`s no way to find out about Rick Santorum. You can`t just type that into the Google. MADDOW: I cannot research it. HAYES: There`s nothing that come back. MADDOW: I should say, I can research at home, but I can`t research it at work. You can Google it, it`s safe. It`s not like Rick Santorum. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Until recently when you typed the word Santorum into the Google search box, the first result even more prominent than Rick Santorum`s campaign Web site was a Web site called Spreading Santorum. Spreading Santorum was a created in 2003 to frankly retaliate against Rick Santorum for equating same sex relationships with bestiality. That`s why everybody calls him the man on dog guy. That`s what he said it was like to be gay, man on dog. That`s what he said. The Web site turned Mr. Santorum`s last name into a euphemism for something I will not describe on television. But its creator, the genius, Dan Savage, got so many people linked to that it became the most prominent search result on Google for the word Santorum, for years. But then over the past week or so, something changed. Now, this with a first noticed by a Twitter user named Anthony Hick, who asked, quote, "Did Google de-rank Spreading Santorum? First or second result for seven years and suddenly busted off the main page." And you know what? It`s true. As the blog Search Engine Land pointed out with screen caps that they posted, the first result used for typing Santorum Google, right? If you go to, type in Santorum, the first result used to be the site Spreading Santorum. But last week, the first result change to Mr. Santorum`s official campaign Web site and Spreading Santorum got bumped down to the bottom of the first search page. So, so far down it wouldn`t appear on your screen unless you scrolled. Then all of a sudden, though, Spreading Santorum started moving back up the search results page. So, of course, figuring this out, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW has been Googling Santorum madly ever since, despite my strict instructions not to do so at work. Interestingly, not all of us are getting the same results. Some of us have gotten even better result in the number one spot. The definition of Santorum courtesy of We have to redact a lot of it, as you can see here. It is an even more graphic description than what was up at Spreading Santorum. It`s, in fact, stunningly graphic. Now, why the Santorum search results page is constantly changing is at this point unclear. Google released a statement on Wednesday saying, quote, "We make more than 500 changes to our algorithms in a typical year. With each of those changes, sites will shuffle the different positions in our search results. We have not manually taken action to change the ranking of the site." So with this added dose of unpredictability in terms of what your results are going to be, I think Rick Santorum`s Google problem if it didn`t get worse, got a lot more interesting. Now, there`s more of a reason to keep typing the word Santorum into the search box and hitting return, you never know what you`re going to get. You should definitely wash your hands regardless. And probably don`t do it at work. And don`t talk to your mom, just alone. That does it for us tonight. 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