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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/08/12

Guests: Frank Rich, Martin O`Malley

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. There 100 United States senators -- 83 of them are men, 17 of them are women. Of the 17 women in the Senate, 12 of those women are Democrats. All 12 of those senators, all 12 Democratic female senators today threw a proverbial political bomb into the lap of the Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner. Back went Republicans thought they had a winning issue in trying to roll back women`s access to contraception in America, they introduced an anti-contraception amendment in the Senate that Democrats, who control the Senate, were super happy to hold a vote on. Democrats were happy about that because they wanted to get all of the Republicans in the Senate on the record with an anti-contraception vote -- talking to you, Scott Brown -- and because the Democrats in the Senate knew that it would fail when they voted on it. It did fail. But once it failed, Republicans said they were still convinced need great political issue with this anti-contraception thing. Their amendment was called the Blunt-Rubio Amendment, Rubio for Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who`s widely considered to be in the running for the Republicans` vice presidential nominee this year. Now, of course, he would be the vice presidential nominee to whose name is on the anti-contraception bill if he is tapped for that job. The other sponsor who had his name on the bill is Roy Blunt -- Blunt- Rubio, right? Blunt is Roy Blunt. And Roy Blunt said after his anti-contraception amendment failed, quote, "This fight is not over." He said that even if his and Marco Rubio`s anti-contraception amendment failed in the Senate, he would continue to work with colleagues, he said, in both chambers of Congress. He would keep fighting for the anti-contraception cause not just in the Senate, but in the House. Republicans said they were not giving up. That was last week. And as we reported on last night`s show, Republicans this week appear to be giving up. That same Roy Blunt telling "Talking Points Memo" this week, quote, "You know, I think we have got as many votes as I think there were to get on that." So much for fight, fight, fighting on to the end, right? Remember, it was just last week that all the Republicans in the Senate, all of them except for one, the one who said that she is quitting now, Olympia Snowe, all of the other Republicans in the Senate voted for this thing. That was only last week. But this week, Republicans are sprinting from it. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska is already saying she would take her vote back if she could. The Republican Senate candidate from Hawaii had the misfortune to have just had a fund-raiser with Roy Blunt himself. She has since been at pains to say that just because she did a fund raise we are Roy Blunt of the Blunt-Rubio anti-contraception amendment doesn`t mean she supports him, doesn`t mean she supports Roy Blunt on this anti- contraception thing. She would never vote for that. Today, that got worse for her after being teased on Twitter for having the anti-contraception guy, having Roy Blunt at her financer, whoever it is who ghost-writes this candidate`s tweets, responded by saying the candidate, Linda Lingle, had no idea Roy Blunt was going to be there at the fund-raiser. She certainly didn`t invite him. Ow. Not only are Republicans dropping this issue in the United States Senate, it is becoming a political liability to even be seen with the guy whose name was on the legislation, good luck, Mr. Rubio. But after anti-contraception bill was lost in the Senate, it was John Boehner over in the House who vowed to continue the fight on his side of Capitol Hill. He said just before the Blunt-Rubio thing was failing in the Senate, Boehner said, "I think it`s important for us to win this issue." So the fight continues, right? No. Republicans said they would keep fighting against access to contraception in the Senate but then they quietly drop it had in the Senate. Republicans said they would keep fighting against access to contraception in the House, but they have been trying to quietly drop it there, too. But now, these 12 Democratic female senators have written a letter to John Boehner demanding that Mr. Boehner say what he is going to do on this issue. And lo, a miracle is upon us. Just a solid note. I sort of thought it was going to be hallelujah, hallelujah. There`s mystery to these things. And that`s why we love them. For once in our lives, we are seeing Democrat using a wedge issue against Republicans -- instead of Republicans using a wedge issue against Democrats. This never happens. Democrats never do this. Wedge issues are one of the most effective and diabolical things you can do in politics and Democrats don`t do them, but they are doing it now it. A wedge and the Republicans use it against Democrats to something like abortion rights, or something like gay rights, or maybe prayer in schools, race often. They take something that is the kind of issue which some Democratic voters might not agree with the majority of the rest of their party. And so, by making that issue, even if it`s a small issue, a huge deal with tons of attention, and tops of focus that Democrats have to deal with, Republicans can then drive a wedge between those voters who disagree with most Democrats on that particular issue and the rest of their party. You make people think -- oh, well, if I`m against gay rights, I can`t possibly be a Democrat. Wedge those voters away from their party. You drive them, if not into the Republican Party, at least you drive them into independent land. That`s how Republicans have used wedge issues always. It is on the really gross, but it is often really works. And it explains why you get a lot of super inflammatory culture war stuff around election time. But here`s an example of Democrats using this tactic in the other direction. Amazing. This never happens. Now, there isn`t any disagreement among elected Republicans on abortion rights. After this many cycles of purification, the Republican Party is essentially 100 percent uniformly anti-abortion rights -- at least all their major elected officials are. If there is an elected pro-choice Republican in a significant position anywhere in American politics right now, please call me, because I cannot figure out that you exist by Google. So the split among elected Republicans is not over whether or not you think abortion ought to be illegal. They basically all think that abortion ought to be illegal. It ought to be a criminal act to have an abortion in the United States. The divide between them though is on whether or not fighting against abortion rights and access to contraception and all these other women`s health issues ought to be what Republicans talk about in public and make lots of political noise about. Some Republicans think that. They think that is what the Republican Party ought to be known for and that`s what they ought to work on whenever anybody`s paying attention. Some Republicans believe that. Some don`t. Frankly, a lot more Republicans believe that last week than believe it this week. John Boehner had hoped to bridge that divide in his own party by saying he would never give up in the fight against access to contraception in the House of Representatives. By saying that he was pleasing the people who think issues like that ought to be front and center on the Republican agenda. But he thought he might also be able to appease the people who don`t think that should be the focus of Republican work in Congress -- by the fact that he was not actually going to move on it. He was planning on letting it sort of just sit there and percolate in committee forever. Democratic senators with this letter are now putting John Boehner on the spot, saying, you know what? Pick a side. Which one are you? They say to John Boehner, quote, "We are asking that you abandon the promise you have made to bring legislation to the house floor similar to the Blunt amendment." You made that promise. Are you going stick with it, Mr. Speaker? I mean, think about it. Think about the dilemma here. He can stick with that promise and keep the Republican Party fighting against contraception on a national stage as we inch closer and closer to the general election this year, or John Boehner can abandon that promise and say, no actually, I`m not going to work on it, and he can seem to be abandoning that promise by the base of his party. How are the anti-abortion conservatives that have purified the Republican Party on this issue over the years, how are they going to like that? They might primary him. They might try to throw him out of office. John Boehner was already having a bad week. It is looking today like he lost his pet highway bill. But now, John Boehner is having a really bad week because of this split in the Republican Party about how big a deal to make over abortion and contraception -- the punditocracy, the Beltway, the professional Republicans really all think that Republicans should mostly shut up about it. Republicans who are actually elected to office around the country, though, are the ones who really want to keep it front and center. This is what`s happened with anti-abortion legislation in the state since the Republicans took over so many state legislatures and governorships in 2010. Here is 2010. Here`s what happens last year after all of those Republican victories in 2010 -- anti-abortion legislation. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there were 600 anti-abortion measures introduced in state legislatures last year, 600. Out of those 600, more than 90 new anti-abortion laws were enacted by Republican-led state governments. This is unprecedented. Nothing like this has ever happened in the entire time that abortion has been legal in this country. And this year, we are apparently on pace do it again. Already, the folks at the Guttmacher Institute tell us there are 430 anti-abortion measures pending in state legislatures around the country and it`s only March. Republicans in Washington may be divided on whether or not abortion and contraception ought to be at the center of what Republicans prioritize in governing but Republicans in states where they are actually in charge -- they are pretty unified on this. They are pretty unified in believing that this is what they want to do, almost more than anything else. It is at the top of their agenda and that is having consequences in the states. This was the scene in Boise, Idaho, today, where more than 200 people in Boise gathered to protest that state`s forced ultrasound bill which has been introduced in Idaho state Senate. This was the scene in Montgomery, Alabama, today -- Alabama -- where demonstrators gathered to protest against that state`s forced ultrasound bill. The state senator who introduced the bill under apparently pressure from Republican Governor Bentley has already announced plans to amend his legislation to give women a choice of which kind of state-mandated ultrasound them have, but opponents in Alabama are not backing down or calling off their protest, saying explicitly on their Facebook page, advertising today`s rally, that they will not be appeased by amendments. This was the scene in -- look, look at this, all right. This was the scene in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday of this week, where more than 100 people turned up to protest a move by Republican Governor Rick Perry`s administration to defund women`s health care program in the state. They say they plan to be back next Tuesday as well. Next weeks, as a result of an anti-abortion policy in Texas, Texas Republicans are poised to cut off 130,000 women from their primary source of health care. They are not cutting off abortion access. This is not going to affect abortion access at all. This is going to make their health care providers go away. This was the scene on the Senate floor -- look at this Senate floor in Georgia yesterday. What you are seeing is eight of the nine women senators in the Georgia state Senate walking out of the chamber in protest as the Republican-led Senate passes anti-abortion and anti-contraception legislation. This is just this week. These protests have been local and spontaneous and sort of happening on their own steam. In Texas,, the protest in the Texas capitol was organized by the great singer/songwriter Marcia Ball. I thought, oh, how interesting. The protest organizer has the same name as Marcia Ball. No, really, is, that Marcia Ball. It started when she sent a single e-mail to a few friends. She invited people to spend three Tuesdays with her at the state capitol. She sent it out days ahead of the first time she wanted to do it, but by Tuesday of this week, there was this big protest. And demonstrators say they are going to back again on Tuesday. And then Tuesday after that, too. The places were these protests are cropping up, they are not blue states. I mean, today`s protests we showed you were in Idaho, Alabama, Texas and Georgia. There was also one in Arizona today as well. This is not a blue state. This is a red state phenomenon, too. People are angry, angry enough to be spontaneously moved to go protest to the nearest symbol of their Republican-controlled state government, because of Republicans` focus on abortion and contraception and women`s health. You can gateway this stuff for a little while before anybody really realizes what you were doing, once people caught on your agenda, I think you should expect this. And Democrats at the federal level have caught on to Republicans` agenda on this and are trying to force Republicans to defend it in public instead of quietly getting away with it where they only talk to their own base about it. And the Republicans have to figure out which way they want to go. The latest bill with vice presidential hopeful Marco Rubio`s name on it is an anti-abortion bill. And the Republicans chose today, International Women`s Day, to bring Marco Rubio`s latest anti-abortion bill up for a hearing. This is how wedge issues work when even Democrats use them. You may not change their position but you can make their position very, very famous. Joining us is Frank Rich, "New York Magazine`s" writer at large. Mr. Rich, it`s good to see you. FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Good to see you, Rachel. MADDOW: Do Democrats know how to use wedge politics? RICH: It seems like they are learning and here -- this is bigger than a wedge. It`s like a boulder with which they could crush the Republicans. We must say the people being crushed most are women, like those women in Texas who are being denied, you know, pap smears, cancer screening. It is up believable. But as you point out in, in red and blue states alike, this is a very powerful issue. The Republicans really gave the Democrats a softball right over the plate because in the past, the way Republicans have used abortion as a wedge issue is to focus on very rare late pregnancy abortions and use gruesome imagery and all that. Now, they have sort of even half forgot about abortion as they go against contraception, women`s health care, even in Texas, some of the money that would be eliminated goes abstinence programs for school -- you know, for children in school. So I think Democrats, even they can`t screw this up. I mean, they could. I think -- and also this it is the right thing to do. And who are they taking the side of? They are taking the side of a majority of Americans. MADDOW: You know, it`s fascinating though. In 2010, very soon after the Republican legislators, Republican governors are sworn in all over the country in January of 2011, we started covering on this show this big tide of anti-abortion legislation and legislation around all sorts of sexual health issues and reproductive rights issues. And I sort of -- I feel like I ended all of those segments in the same way, which was -- I understand why Republicans are doing this, but what are Democrats going to do about it? And are Democrats going to make a national issue about this? Do you see the lead on this coming actually from the White House? I did not know if the White House in their re-election campaign was going to be willing to go there. They have been aggressive in terms of their statements on this issue the last month and then the president weighing in personally in the Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke controversy. Is this leading from the top on this issue? RICH: I think so. First of all, Obama, he`s wavered on some cultural issues, for instance, certain gay rights issues, as we know -- he`s always been, as far as I can tell, pretty unwavering about choice. And certainly, he was going to be unwavering about women`s health issues. And I think it`s something he deeply believes and it is a winner for him and then it`s been helped by the fact that the Republicans have been exposed by people like Rush Limbaugh or by that hearing where they had only men speaking about birth control. That`s been a disaster for them and they are trying to -- Republicans are screwing around and trying to blame it all on Limbaugh. But Limbaugh really just gave away the game by being so vulgar and obnoxious that he called attention to the policies that underlie his misogynistic rhetoric. MADDOW: On the -- on the purification process, the Republican Party, I thought about this when Barbara Bush endorsed Mitt Romney and did those robocalls for him recently for recent primary contests. Barbara Bush has in the past described herself as pro-choice. George H.W. Bush had been pro-choice until he became Reagan`s vice presidential nominee. His father had been a major activist in Planned Parenthood -- RICH: Absolutely. MADDOW: -- and birth control activism as far as back as the `40s. Are there any -- are there any people who aren`t anti-choice? Are there any pro-choice Republicans left? And does it therefore become a liability to have a Barbara Bush endorse you as one of the last of the aging anti-choice Republicans left in this country? RICH: Well, it may not -- it may not help, but the fact is they have been driven out. The Barbara Bush generation and the younger generations, including those Republican women who fought strenuously in the 1990s, it`s the religious right sort of took over the party, to keep -- to try to stop horrific planks and, you know, Republican convention and try to keep a pro- choice sector alive within the GOP, they basically all have been expelled. They have been purged. And it doesn`t matter if there`s someone like say a Linda Lingle or who -- who slightly deviates from the line because every single presidential candidate for this party, and they are the standard bearers, are completely -- they are all for the Blunt Amendment, not to mention being extreme on the abortion issue. MADDOW: All four of the Republican presidential nominees left would eliminate Title X, which is all federal support for family mapping. So contraceptives, cancer screenings, all of that would be gone. RICH: All that would be gone. Then you were talking about Marco Rubio who is a potential vice presidential pick being attached to the Blunt Amendment -- Bob McDonnell, the Virginia governor, also thought of as a potential vice presidential moderate, if you will, by Republican Party standards, was, although he claimed not to know what was in it, endorsed a bill where basically women who had been raped and wanted to find abortions would, in my view you be raped a second time by the state with these probes and this ultrasound stuff. So, that`s the whole feel. It doesn`t matter if there`s some apostate pro-choice Republican somewhere in New York City or New York state or California. It`s all completely wiped out by what`s happening in the national party. And wait until the convention and we see what the planks are in their platform. It will be pretty bad. MADDOW: It is fascinating to watch it in the Republican Party. It will be all the more fascinating to watch to see what Democrats are able to turn it to. Frank Rich, thank you very much for being here. It`s good to see you. RICH: Good to see you. MADDOW: Frank Rich, of course, writer at large for "New York Magazine". All right, voting for Mitt Romney? It turns out its a privilege, not a right. That`s ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Yesterday, the guy who Frank Rich was discussing who used to have a shot at the Republican Party`s vice presidential nomination, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, signed into law the forced ultrasound state-mandated medical procedure against your will law that will now follow him around forever, no matter what else he does in politics. Last month, while he and the phrase "transvaginal ultrasound" were still just becoming nationally famous, Governor McDonnell`s neighboring state governor, Maryland`s Martin O`Malley, appeared with Bob McDonnell at a event. They were sitting just inches away from each other. And while sitting just inches away from Bob McDonnell, Governor Martin O`Malley of Maryland just let Bob McDonnell have it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: I would also dare to predict that in Virginia, where they have seen what happens when you put Republicans totally in charge, they have seen their legislature take a hard right turn -- and that`s exactly the sort of overreach that they saw in Wisconsin, which has a 49th worst job creation rate, the sort of overreach they saw in Ohio, which has the 30th worst job creation rate, and also what they`ve seen in Florida, which has the 45th worst job creation rate. They say vote for us, things will get better. And then you vote for the Republicans, and the they take a hard right turn outlawing gay relationships, outlawing women`s right, outlawing unions, outlawing -- and throwing all sorts of social wedge issues out there when what people really care about is jobs and the economy. REPORTER: Governor, I had a hunch we would mix it up eventually here. I better let you respond to that. Then I do want to get questions over on the wings where I haven`t gone. GOV. BOB MCDONELL (R), VIRGINIA: All I can say is Governor O`Malley is the only one who`s got social issues at the top of his agenda. I don`t. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, you do. And you always have. And signing that ultrasound bill is not the best way to make people forget your social issues agenda. Governor Martin O`Malley of Maryland, who you just saw there, is my guest tonight for the interview. That`s just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: At this hour, the final results from Tuesday`s big Republican presidential primary in the great state of Ohio look like this -- Mitt Romney`s, 38 percent of the vote, Rick Santorum, 37 percent of the vote. Even though the polls have been closed more than 48 hours, Mitt Romney remains the apparent winner of Ohio rather than the official winner of Ohio, according to NBC News. The reason, as you can see there at the bottom of the screen, we still don`t have all of the vote in from Ohio. Only 97 percent of the state`s vote has been reported to us here to NBC. In a one-point race, that can be a big deal. Now, its` unclear what the delay is reporting the rest of the Ohio vote. But one thing we do know is that there was more of a vote to count there this time around. Ohio, bucking the national trend so far for Republicans, actually saw a higher turnout this year than they had for the last Republican primary in `08. In Ohio, 1.2 million Republicans cast ballots on Tuesday. But that doesn`t mean that everybody who wanted to vote in Ohio on Tuesday got to vote. This is from "Cleveland`s Plains Dealer" on Tuesday night. Quote, "A Portage Country World War II veteran was turned away from a polling place this morning because his driver`s license had expired in January and his new veteran`s affairs ID did not include his home address." Ohio`s one of a number of states across the country where you can`t get a regular ballot to vote anymore without showing documentation that you didn`t used to have to show to vote. Now, you can`t vote in Ohio unless you can show documentation, usually with a photo included, that proves, among other things, your address. So, even though this 86-year-old World War II veteran who has been living and voting in Aurora, Ohio, for almost 40 years, even though he had an ID on him, he was not allowed to vote on Tuesday because it wasn`t the right kind of ID. Eighty-six-year-old Paul Carol (ph) told the "Plain Dealer", quote, "My beef, I had to pay a driver to take me up there because I don`t walk so well and I walk with this cane. And now, I can`t even vote. I went to war for this country and now I can`t vote in this country." He`s 86 years old. It is not weird that he doesn`t have a valid driver`s license. A few states to the south of Ohio, it`s the great state of Tennessee. Tennessee also held a presidential primary on Tuesday. But this year`s primary was different from other years because back in June, that state`s Republican governor signed a new law that, like Ohio, says you can`t vote in Tennessee anymore unless you can show documentation at the polls that you never had to show before. And like Ohio, not every voter who wanted to vote on Tuesday got to vote. In this case, though, it wasn`t an 86-year-old World War II veteran. It was rather a 55-year-old retired U.S. Marine. This Tennessee Marine had the right ID to be able to vote. But he chose not to submit at the cost of getting his ballot. He chose not to in protest. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Ex-Marine Tim Thompson considers himself a true patriot. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I voted for the last 37 years. REPORTER: When he came here to the Dalewood Baptist Church in Nashville this morning, he had no intention of casting a ballot, even though he has a valid ID. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m standing up for the college student that can`t get an ID, or hasn`t had time because he is working or she`s work. I`m standing up for the poor people that don`t even know about this law. REPORTER: Thompson is protest the new photo ID law, which requires every Tennessean to show a state or federally issued photo ID in order to vote. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: One of the interesting and unexpected developments of the Republican primary so far this year has been looking at who exactly has been making up the Republican electorate, who is coming out to vote and who is not. As we reported last night, one group coming out to vote in huge numbers this year are people in the top income bracket, the wealthiest Americans. In Ohio, voter turnout among those making 100 grand or more went from 21 percent of the electorate in 2008 to 30 percent of the electorate this year. In Michigan in `08, people making 100 grand or more made up 22 percent of the vote but made up 33 percent of the electorate this year. The wealthiest voters across the country are flocking to the polls. They are turning out in huge numbers. We don`t know why overall but it may be that they have finally found a candidate they can get behind. In every single state where exit polling has been done so far, Mitt Romney has won among the wealthiest sliver of the electorate. Even in states were Mitt Romney loses, he still whips big among the wealthiest voters. In states were it has mattered the most to him, the very wealthy are turning up to vote in larger numbers this year than they did the last time around and they are voting for Mitt Romney. Rich people, a larger share of the electorate. That is a -- that is great for a candidate who`s only reliably winning rich people, right? I mean, the trick is to make sure that rich people are as big a share as possible of the electorate if they are the only people you can reliably win. And that means you not only need to inspire the wealthy, you need to keep away the un-wealthy on election day. As Republicans in Pennsylvania prepare to hold their own presidential primary next month, Republicans in the state legislature there have been busy doing what Republicans all over the country have been doing, trying to enact new obstacles to voting that have never been in place before in modern times. Pennsylvania Republicans hope to have their new voter ID law in place for November`s presidential election. And that means come November, the new barrier to casting a vote in Pennsylvania that has never been there before will disproportionately block from voting groups like low-income voters. A recent study found that more than 12 percent of low-income voters nationwide don`t currently have the types of IDs that they are now going to need in order to vote. Right now, Republicans in Illinois are pushing through two new voter ID laws that will disproportionately affect low-income voters, voters less likely to already have the ID they are going to need to vote now. A similar measure that was already signed into law in Wisconsin by Republican Governor Scott Walker was just ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge there this week. All of these new laws passed by Republican legislators this year will have the expected effect of suppressing the vote among the poorest Americans this year. The poorest Americans, I`m sure you will be shocked to learn, voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama over John McCain in 2008. The onslaught of new laws this year by Republicans all seemingly aimed at suppressing the vote among poor has led to a real backlash. My colleague here at MSNBC, the Reverend Al Sharpton, has been leading a week- long voting rights march through the state of Alabama in order to draw attention to the issue. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CROWD: Get out, stand up. Get out, stand up, stand up for your rights. Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up. Don`t give up the fight. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That march, which is happening on the anniversary of Alabama`s 1965 voting rights march is expected to end tomorrow with a rally at the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery, protesting the disproportion of these voting changes on the poor, on the elderly, on students and, of course, on minority populations. If you are the Republican Party looking ahead to what very well may be a razor-thin election result this November, then whether or not you win comes down to who turns out to vote, right? And who doesn`t turn out to vote, who is allowed to vote and who is not allowed to vote. If you can somehow find a way to drive up the participation of the wealthiest Americans and drive down the participation of poorer Americans - - frankly, that`s the ball game. Not only do you get the White House, you get the House, you get the Senate, you get the governor`s mansion, you get the state houses, you name it. Turn out the rich, keep home the poor, if you can do that and only that that`s all you need, game over, mission accomplished. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In New Jersey last month, on February 16th, the state passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. This is a picture of Democrats Reed Gusciora and Bonnie Watson Coleman watching the vote tally this day. And this, hey, was their reaction went legislation passed. Assemblyman Gusciora sponsored the marriage equality bill. The very next day, New Jersey`s Republican Governor Chris Christie kept his promise to veto it, saying the people of New Jersey should vote on whether or not same-sex couples will have their right to marry recognized in New Jersey. Governor Christie`s argument was essentially that the state assembly, the people New Jerseys elected to represent them, the state legislature, did not represent New Jerseyans enough when it comes to this issue. The governor claiming that certain civil rights should be given to certain people only if a majority of voters say it`s OK. Of course, if minority groups were only allowed to have rights the majority decided to give them, we would be a very different country. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The fact of the matter is that I think people would have been happy to have a referendum, you know, on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Of course, any such referendum would have gone against civil rights and the then what, Governor? Wait a few decades, wait a few centuries and just keep trying to, keep asking for the majority to grant you your rights? Maybe more referenda? The whole idea of rights -- the reason they are called rights is that they are supposed to be unalienable. No one is supposed to get a vote on rights. But that`s what Governor Christie is insisting that New Jersey should do. Governor Christie later tried apologize for the civil rights ought to have been voted on statement, he said he just didn`t go do a good job making himself clear. So, here he is clarifying. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTIE: What I said was juxtaposed against the civil rights movement where that was not an option for them because the political climate in the South in that period of time would not have permitted a referendum to have any chance of passage. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This is the strategy now for people who do not want gay people to have the right to get married in America. Take your chances on that political climate the governor was describing, put your civil rights up for a vote and hope it turns out OK. The general assembly in the great state of Maryland recently passed a bill granting legal recognition to same-sex marriages in Maryland. The state`s Democratic governor, Martin O`Malley, signed that into law last week and that made Maryland the eighth state in America to legalize marriage equality. But even before Governor O`Malley signed the bill into law, anti-gay activists were filing paperwork so they could start gathering signatures to put this on the ballot, to put these rights up for a vote in November. It does not take many signatures to do that in Maryland. This will almost certainly make this onto the ballot. A new Public Policy poll shows that 52 percent of Marylanders leaders would probably or definitely vote to support same-sex marriage rights in the state while 44 percent said they would probably or definitely vote against it. According to the "Baltimore Sun," the 52-44 split is by far the rosiest result for same-sex marriage supporters to date. Two other recent polls have, quote, "put the issue up closer to 50-50." Since 1998, 31 times states have voted on ballot measures -- 31 times states have voted on ballot mesh sure about whether same-sex couples have the right to get married, 31 times. And gay rights have lost all 31 of those times. The record is 0-31. Does that mean that gay people should not have rights or does that mean that gay rights, like other minority rights, ought to be protected from the whims of majority rule? Maybe Maryland is going to be the state that breaks that 0-31 record. That new poll seemed to indicate it is possible. Maybe Maryland will not be the state that breaks that record. But the man who brought us far enough that we are about to find out is Maryland`s Democratic Governor Martin O`Malley who join us tonight for the interview. Governor O`Malley, thank you so much for being here. I`m happy to have you here. O`MALLEY: Rachel, thank you. Thanks for having me. MADDOW: Did I -- did I get that basically right in terms of how this legislation evolved in Maryland and what we should be expecting? O`MALLEY: Oh, I think you got it basically right. I mean, in our state, since I think around 1915 in our Constitution, it`s possible to petition things to referendum. So the likelihood is that this bill will go to referendum. But there has been a conversation that has been taking place among our elected representatives over the last year, the fruit of that conversation is we concluded that, in fact, we could pass a law that protects religious freedom and the rights of individuals equally. And do that at the same time. In the end, we concluded that human dignity -- the dignity of very person, the dignity of every child`s home was the principle where we could come together. And I think that`s what people are going to do now as they talk around their own kitchen tables and in their family living rooms and it works. So, if there is a referendum, I believe the people of our state will once again side on the side of human dignity. MADDOW: If there is a referenda in the state -- referendum in the state, looks like there probably will be. The threshold for signatures is not that high, probably will get onto the ballot, they need 50,000- something signatures in a state with almost 6 million people -- do you think there is a chance that vote, if it goes against the gay rights are, would actually setback the pursuit of gay equality in the state, would actually set backed civil rights discussion by essentially loudly proclaiming that Maryland isn`t down with it? O`MALLEY: Oh, I don`t -- Rachel, I don`t think that there is anything -- I don`t think there`s anything that turns around the march of progress. There is an absolute direction to growth, as a great man once said and life moves in that direction. And for people of many faiths, as we are in the United States, the way forward is always found through greater respect of the equal rights of all. So I believe that all of us have to focus on what`s best for our children and our children`s future and I think all of us want basically the same thing for our kids. We want all children in our country to be able to live in homes that are stable, that are caring, that are loving, and are protected equally under the law. And that`s clearly the direction of this. You cited some poll numbers. The march of human understanding, of mutual respect for one another, cannot be turned back, and we hope that leaders will always take actions on the leading edge of that history, on the edge of history that promotes greater understanding and greater respect for all of us. MADDOW: Governor, one of the reasons I was looking forward to talking to you tonight, the clip we played in the show, you and a joint appear perhaps of Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia. And you sitting next to him and confronting him in pretty blunt terms about what you see as the agenda, particularly the state level for Republican legislatures, Republican governors, on rights issues, talking about Republicans overall seeming to have an agenda to go against abortion rights and privacy rights and union rights and gay rights and -- O`MALLEY: Voting rights. MADDOW: Voting rights. Absolutely. Do you think there is sort of a meta issue going on between the different world view of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, not in terms of the way that candidates for president talk about it, not in the way they talk about it in Congress, but the way that Republicans and Democrats govern in the states? Is there a fundamental difference on rights? O`MALLEY: Oh, there absolutely is. Look, Democratic governors throughout our country are trying to do the things that work in order to accelerate this jobs recovery because we know there is no progress unless we are creating more jobs, and unless we are expanding opportunity. Republican governors right now, many of them, instead, when they get into office after promising to do good things for the economy, instead take these hard right turns -- now, trying to outlaw, you know, roll back women`s rights, roll back voting rights, roll back workers` rights, and I think it`s a very sad development, not just for their party but really for our country. We would be much better off as a people if we had a Republican Party that were more like the party of Lincoln, a party where there are actually some moderate voices. But sadly, that`s not what we are seeing and it`s a shame. In the meantime, what all of us have to do as Democratic governors is focus on the things that work and not on ideology, do the things that make college more affordable, that give our kids a better shot at a better future than the ones our parents gave us. MADDOW: Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley -- thank you so much for talking with us. O`MALLEY: Hey, Rachel, thank you. MADDOW: I appreciate it. All right. Right after this show on "THE LAST WORD," you know the new movie about the McCain/Palin campaign in `08 election, "Game Change," the director, writer of the book and one of the subjects of the new movie will be here with Lawrence O`Donnell on "THE LAST WORD." And here today, why Rick Santorum is never going to be president of Washington, D.C. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: D.C. holds its primary for the Republican presidential nomination next month. This is the official Republican ballot for that primary. Do you notice anything weird about it? I mean, besides the fact that it still lists Jon Huntsman, who is no longer in the race. Look at the names on the ballot: Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, John Huntsman. Who is missing? I`ll give you a hint, (INAUDIBLE). Rick Santorum is not on the ballot in Washington, D.C. And it`s because Rick Santorum did not try to get on the ballot in Washington, D.C. What? The Republican Party in our nation`s capital says that Rick Santorum for president campaign never expressed an interest in him getting on the ballot. You cannot win if you are not it, sir. But even where the Santorum campaign has tried to get on to the ballot, he has struggled in a remarkable number of places. Team Santorum had to ask for a review in Indiana after he was initially rejected for the ballot there. The state did eventually decide that he qualified. Mr. Santorum did not make it on to the ballot in Virginia. Virginia voted this week without him. Mr. Santorum did make the ballot Ohio, but he failed to submit the paperwork required to have eligible delegates in three Ohio congressional districts. In six other Ohio districts, the campaign turned in only part of their homework. Altogether, Rick Santorum sacrificed a chance at more than a quarter of Ohio`s delegates before the polls ever opened. And collecting delegates is how you win the nomination. In Tennessee, Rick Santorum won the popular vote but he appeared on the ballot with an empty slate of delegates. Despite that screw up, it looks like he will get Tennessee`s delegates anyway, but it doesn`t look good to have your opponent supporters openly asking where your delegates are even as you are winning the state. Today, Senator Santorum charged around the great state of Alabama where they vote on Tuesday and where he is doing well in the polls. His campaign has tried to get all the paperwork in in Alabama. They have tried to get a full complement of delegates for Alabama. But again, the campaign left gaping holes. Mr. Santorum cannot win everything in Alabama next week even if he whips everybody else in the popular vote. And then there`s Illinois, by which point you can almost feel sorry for Rick Santorum. He is on the ballot there, but he can only win 44 of that state`s 54 delegates because again the campaign failed to get the number of signatures it needed in four congressional districts. In another district, the campaign says said the signatures did not get there in time. And really you could almost feel sorry for Mr. Santorum at this point in the history, almost. Except that after their long season of dumb mistakes like this, the Santorum campaign is blaming this one on a volunteer. They said the volunteer went to the elections office, but, quote, "accidentally overlooked the envelope that had the paperwork and did not file it before the deadline." A local elections official later found said envelope in the trash which is how we know the volunteer got sent to the elections office with fewer than 50 signatures for Rick Santorum, when really, 600 signatures were what was required. That`s how many were in the envelope, fewer than 50. Not 600 or more. So, if the question was that envelope, the answer is that the Santorum campaign didn`t have enough signatures to begin with and never mind the poor volunteer they have chose tone blame for their mistake. Keep it classy, Senator. On the campaign trail, Rick Santorum likes to talk about how it`s him and his very small team. Sometimes just him in a sweater vest. You should vote for him because he`s the guy who`s got this campaign going on a shoe string. But even as his campaign has attracted a mere billionaire backer, even as he won a few states and moved on from the days of lighting his campaign events with a flashlight under his chin like he`s telling a ghost story -- even now, Rick Santorum has not gotten any better at the basics -- the basic logistics, the basic responsibilities of running for president -- which frankly redounds to him and his basic competence. No matter what volunteer he chooses to blame for his own mistakes. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It is my responsibility to wrap up tonight`s show, which I`m doing right now, but I have to you when we see you tomorrow night, we are going to relent and we are going to bring you our long overdue RACHEL MADDOW SHOW feature on oddly compelling creepy crime. I know this is not our usual area, I know. But when it`s necessary, it`s necessary. So, coming up next here on MSNBC is "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell -- which is important because he not only got Joe the plumber. He`s got the people from the "Game Change" movie. So, that`s next, Lawrence O`Donnell. But the next from me the next time you see me -- oddly compelling creepy crime. We call this programming diversity. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END