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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/26/12

Guests: Dahlia Lithwick

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Our studios here in New York City are at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which is awesome. In part because it means there`s a subway station right in our building. It also means that you never really forget the address of where you work -- 30 Rock is a really convenient thing to remember. But also, they shoot "Saturday Night Live" here. They shoot that show a few floors up from this studio. And one of the weird implications for us as employees that work in this building is that when we leave here to go home at night on Friday, or sometimes even on Thursday, there`s often a very tidy little cue outside of the door, little line outside of the door of our building. People sleeping on the street, waiting to get in to go see "Saturday Night Live." As a general rule, the hotter the musical act and/or host, the longer and the younger the line outside our building. The hipper and more emo the musical act and/or host, the more likely the line of people outside of the building gets confused with an Occupy protest, which happens all the time. But it is cool to see. It`s one of the cool things about working here. And I always thought that for the people who work in this building, who work at "Saturday Night Live" in particular, it must be really cool to see, right? People care enough about what they do for a living that they will camp out for it on the sidewalk, even in bad weather. I think that must be cool for the people that work at "SNL". I also think it must have been cool today for the people who work at the Supreme Court, for the justices and everyone, to see the big scrum of people waiting outside of the court, camping out as of this weekend, to try to get in to see the oral arguments in the health reform case. The arguments in the case are going to be stretched out over three days. They happened in the mornings. So, it was an hour and a half oral arguments this morning. It will be two hours tomorrow morning. And I think it`s hour and a half on Wednesday morning. And there are some seats in the courtroom. And if you want to get one of those seats in the courtroom, you have to get a ticket -- a ticket that you get from this policeman. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) POLICEMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention. This is a reminder: I`m only giving out tickets for today`s argument only -- today`s argument only. And I`m giving out tickets for the first 60 seats for regular seating to hear the entire argument. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I mean, it`s not exactly, you know, Justin Bieber is going to be here often "Saturday Night Live." But you have to admit, if you work at the Supreme Court, that has got to be cool to see all of those people lining up to come to where you work every day for a living. All of the attention on this case turned out not just people lining up to get in, trying to get tickets to the see the arguments, it also turned up all sorts of protesters. Now, apparently, reporters who are on the scene say it was mostly protesters who were pro-health reform, who want health reform to survive this Supreme Court challenge. But there were also some anti-health reform protesters. And also, randomly, there was Rick Santorum right there at the court. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum turning up in the middle of the protest outside of the Supreme Court today. He was not there to hear the case be argued inside. He was there to participate in the outside the court expression of feelings. Now, for the lucky people who got inside the courtroom today, let me give you just a little sweet taste of what it was that those people got to feast themselves on inside of that hallowed chamber. This is actual audio from the Supreme Court`s oral arguments today which all of those people lined up to see. What you`re about to hear is an exchange between the U.S. solicitor general and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Listen. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) DONALD VERRILLI, U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: I do think that`s the strongest textual indication, Justice Ginsburg, that 7421(a) is a jurisdictional. JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, U.S. SUPREME COURT: The question that I asked you is if you are right that this penalty is not covered by section 7421, if you are right about that, why should we deal with the jurisdictional question at all? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I`m sorry. I`m sorry. I`m a civics dork. I love policy. I love litigation. I love fighting about policy. I love courtroom argument. I`m really interested in what happens with the health reform act at the Supreme Court. But today actually was a jurisdictional discussion about the applicability of the 1867 Anti- Injunction Act, which is hard to stay focused on. Oral arguments about the Anti-Injunction Act, even to lawyers, even to people who are dorkier about this than I am are not in and of themselves riveting enough to explain the scene of people lining up for tickets and people running around with signs and presidential candidates making cameo appearances at the Supreme Court today. It was not that exciting on its face. The reason everybody is turning out for this thing is because it has been built up to be the Super Bowl of partisan arguments. I mean, literally, today called it the, quote, "Super Bowl for Supreme Court watchers." It was bilked as the health law showdown, the Supreme Court showdown. Supreme Court showdown on Obamacare begins today. And it is. It`s a huge showdown. It`s a matter of principle. Here`s the principle, right, the defining difference between the parties is that the Republican side of this argument. Remember, the plaintiffs in this case are the states, specifically Republican attorneys general from 22 states and in places that had Democratic attorneys general who would not do it, would not sign on to the case, it`s four Republican governors who stepped in and put their name to it. So, it`s all Republicans from the states and what these Republicans are complaining about, what they`re suing about specifically is the individual mandate -- the part of the law that says everybody has to have health insurance. The individual mandate is what this Super Bowl of all political partisan fights is all about. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: It is a monumental, historic, insertion of federal power in the one-sixth of the economy, the likes of which I think the American people clearly have indicated they do not favor and that they oppose. If the government can tell people that, where`s the line of what they couldn`t tell people? SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: We`re begging the federal government to please leave us a shred of freedom. Please. Don`t make us buy a product that we don`t want to buy. Is that asking too much? We need to wake up in terms of the issue that is at stake here. It is our freedoms that are at stake. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: A shred of freedom -- that`s what this whole thing is about, right? The individual mandate. Republicans are against it. Republicans hate the individual mandate. Also, the individual mandate is the Republicans idea. This is the relevant, but often left out context for what is happening at the Supreme Court this week and for what it says about the principles or lack thereof of the Republican Party. Republican senators and Republican presidential candidates are holding photo ops outside of the Supreme Court to decry and vilify and demonize this thing that they invented and that they introduced 19 years ago. In 1993, when Bill Clinton was president and he was trying to overhaul the health care system, he argued essentially that employers should have to provide health coverage for their employees. Employers were going to be mandated to provide health coverage. The Republican answer to that, the Republican plan was to say, no, no, no. It shouldn`t be employers who have to provide health coverage. It should be individuals who take that responsibility. The 1993 Republican health care plan in the Senate included -- look at that -- something called an individual mandate, a requirement that individuals must purchase health insurance. The author of the plan was a Republican senator named John Chafee of Rhode Island. But it was not just John Chafee`s idea. Nearly half of the Republican caucus in the Senate signed on to this plan at the time. And the individual wasn`t just some small detail of the Republican`s big idea on health reform. It was pretty much what they had to offer. It was right at the center of what they were all about. This is from the "National Journal" at the time. "The Republican Senate plan would create an individual mandate for health insurance, similar to one that now exists for auto insurance." From the "Associated Press": "Congressional Republicans pushed their own proposal which would require individuals to purchase insurance." If you went around and asked Republicans back in 1993, they weren`t just for the individual mandate, they were dying to tell you how much they loved it. Republican Senator John Chafee, the bill`s author, quote, "I and the majority of Republicans strongly believe the route to go with is an individual mandate." Republican Senator Bob Dole, quote, "Well, we have an individual mandate in our plan. We have an individual mandate as opposed to the employer mandate." Republican Senator Kit Bond of Missouri asked by a reporter in September 1993, "You have an individual mandate, where all persons would have the responsibility to have coverage? Is that correct?" Senator Bond answers, "That`s correct.| Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma, quote, "We do have an individual mandate. We do say everybody in America has to provide insurance for themselves." Leading the charge, leading the charge was the Heritage Foundation -- the right wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation. They put out a plan -- look at that -- that proudly features an individual mandate as its main component. Newt Gingrich was for the individual mandate as recently as 2008. Mitt Romney not only included an individual mandate as part of the health reform plan he signed as the governor of Massachusetts, he also came out in favor of a federal health care individual mandate back in 1994, back when it was a Republican idea. He wanted the Republican individual mandate idea, not just for Massachusetts but for the whole country. But now that it is President Obama who is for this thing. It is tyranny. Tyranny, leave us a shred of freedom! Tyranny in its purest form. If you want to see it happened in just one person, consider Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Chuck Grassley in 1993, he was one of the sponsors, one of the Republicans who sponsored the individual mandate bill. After President Obama was sworn in to office as the health reform debate was getting underway, Chuck Grassley was still arguing for the individual mandate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: When it comes to states requiring it for automobile insurance, the principal then ought to lie the same way for health insurance, because everybody has some health insurance costs. And if you aren`t insured, there`s no free lunch. I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: A bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates. After President Obama said, Chuck Grassley, I agree with you. I`m for an individual mandate, too. Watch what happened. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GRASSLEY: I personally think, and I think constitutional lawyers think that the mandate in itself is unconstitutional. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Oh, now you do. Really? See, it`s OK if you are a Republican. But if a Democrat has the same idea, tyranny! The Democrat has the same idea, it`s unconstitutional. When Republicans proposed it, great idea, conservative solution -- a conservative, small government solution. When a Democrat has the idea, it`s socialism, tyranny and unconstitutional. In case you were under any illusion that there is actually a matter of principle at work here. Joining us is Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent for "Slate." Dahlia watched these proceedings at the Supreme Court. Dahlia, it`s great to have you here. Thanks for being here. DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: I got to ask you if the arguments today at the Supreme Court were any less stultifying in person than they were listening to the audio. LITHWICK: You know, it takes a special kind of nerd to really kind of enjoy dusty, old, 19th century statutory construction. I personally found it slightly thrilling but I do appreciate the eye-glazing quality of particularly the little snippet that you just played. MADDOW: In terms of the -- everybody seeing this as a partisan showdown, the fight over the individual mandate, is that what you expect, that the justices are going to be into tomorrow? Are they going to get to the meat of what everyone is excited about in tomorrow`s arguments? LITHWICK: Yes, tomorrow is the big game, Rachel. Today was -- I described it as the court sort of coughing up a constitutional hair ball. They needed to get this out of the way. OK. It turns out this tax law doesn`t preclude us from hearing it and move along. And so, today was actually so not dramatic. And in that sense, kind of reassuring because you got to see the court I think almost unanimously come to a conclusion and you got to see them think through it and it was really what they do best. Tomorrow, I think the gloves come off. Tomorrow, I think we start hearing this talk of, you know, tyranny and freedom and broccoli everywhere. Broccoli. So I think tomorrow is the big day by every measure. MADDOW: What is the broccoli argument? You have been referencing this in our columns about this for LITHWICK: I`m obsessed with broccoli. I mean, the argument at its core is if the government, you know, can force you to purchase something that you don`t want to purchase, and that`s the argument here that has been made by the challengers is what`s unprecedented here is not that the government is regulating activity, but for the first time, they are regulating inactivity, right? You just want to be in your house. You want to be left alone. If your kidney failed, you want to pop it back in, sew it up yourself and be left alone. No insurance for you. And the argument is, if you don`t want to buy something and the government is forcing you to buy something, then what`s to stop them from forcing you to the buy broccoli, because after all, broccoli is even more highly correlated with good health outcomes than health insurance. And if they can force you to buy broccoli, the next step is the General Motors car to boost the economy. So, it`s a slippery slope argument that really did persuade some of the lower court judges in this case. MADDOW: And the countervailing argument, and again, correct me if I am wrong, but my impression of the countervailing argument is that health care isn`t just like any other market. It`s not just like the market for cars or the market for leafy greens. Health care is a market where people participate in the market even if they don`t purchase health insurance, and even if they don`t have any money. If you have a heart attack and you get dragged into the emergency room, somebody is going to pay for your care. And so, you can`t actually be an inactive partisan in the health care system unless you agree to never get health care. So, your inactivity isn`t guaranteed by you and therefore it isn`t regulated. Is that essentially the countervailing argument? LITHWICK: That`s it. That`s exactly it. The argument is that whether you choose to be purchasing health insurance or you choose to not to purchase it, you are making an economic decision that is rationally related to the entire economy, the entire health care economy. And, again, let`s remember, this is one-sixth of the economy, right? This is a huge, multi-state economy. It`s not something trivial like in some of the other Commerce Clause cases where you are looking at the court saying, oh, well, guns near schools may not have a basis to say that implicates interstate commerce. But this really does. And so, I think it is both the argument that, you know, this is -- this is you making a choice by not making a choice. The emergency room is not going to turn you away. And so then, everyone else`s premiums get jacked up by $1,000. And that loops back to your original point, I think, which is that`s why this is a conservative, a market-based idea. It`s anti-free rider idea that somehow got spun out in to a mandatory broccoli bill. MADDOW: Dahlia, I know that that part of it that we`re just discussing there, mandatory broccoli and all the rest of it is what they are getting tomorrow. Can I ask you to come back and help us explain how it went tomorrow once they do that? LITHWICK: I will, only if you drink every time I say broccoli tomorrow, Rachel. MADDOW: Actually, I can`t do it on the air but I`m keeping a tally for Friday`s cocktail moment. Thank you, Dahlia. I appreciate I want. LITHWICK: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Dahlia Lithwick is the senior editor and legal correspondent for Slate magazine. It`s going to be, tomorrow is actually, even though today was boring legally speaking tomorrow is going to riveting in terms of those arguments, whether or not you have been following it closely, I`m actually seriously looking forward to those audio clips coming up tomorrow. Duh! I`m a dork. All right. Still ahead, protests continue over the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin and Florida`s "Stand Your Ground" gun law. Senator Charles Schumer will join us on that, next. Plus, tonight for the interview, we`ve got Frank Rich. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It was one month ago today that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida. Some of the details of his killing are well known by now. Mr. Martin was unarmed. He was walking home from a convenient store carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. The man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin on the street, George Zimmerman, has confessed to the shooting. He says he did it in self defense. He has not been arrested or charged with any crime. This is the picture you have probably seen of him. This is a more recent photo of him. From Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, to Atlanta, to Indianapolis, to Iowa City, Iowa, and Detroit, Michigan, and San Francisco, people held rallies and marches and vigils in Trayvon Martin`s memory today. The rally in San Francisco was called an "emergency scream out" because organizers said at this point a speak-out was not enough. Speaking was not enough. It`s time to yell. Over the weekend, people wore hoodies to church in support of Trayvon Martin, protesting the assertion that Mr. Martin may have looked suspicious because he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Last week, thousands of people gathered in Sanford, the Florida city where Trayvon Martin was killed. Today, big crowds gathered there again. This time, marching to the Sanford Civics Center where Trayvon Martin`s parents spoke before the city council. This is his mother Sybrina Fulton. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: As a parent, you want some answers to your question -- as a parent. So I`m not asking for anything, any extra favors. I`m just asking for what you would ask for as a parent. I know I cannot bring my baby back. But I`m sure going to make changes so this does not happen to another family. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: At the backdrop of that hearing and protests in Sanford and across the country, anonymous law enforcement authorities have leaked to the media the shooter George Zimmerman`s side of the story. They leaked it to "The Orlando Sentinel" newspaper. According to these anonymous law enforcement sources, or specific source, Mr. Zimmerman says he had turned around and was walking back to his SUV when Trayvon Martin approached him from behind. The two exchanged words and then Trayvon punched him in the nose, sending him to the ground and began beating him. Mr. Zimmerman told police he shot the teenager in self defense. Remember, Mr. Zimmerman is 28 years old. He was carrying a gun and he initiated the encounter with this teenager after following him around the neighborhood. Trayvon Martin was totally unarmed. There were more anonymous releases of records today about Trayvon Martin`s suspensions from school, once for writing the letters "WTF" on a locker. His mother responded to those responders by saying, quote, "They killed my son and now they are trying to kill his reputation." A conservative Web site published what they said were tweets from Trayvon Martin`s Twitter account. As if that might shed light on whether or not he should have been shot. The Martin family`s lawyer Benjamin Crump spoke today before the Sanford City Council. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY`S LAWYER: Who was the officer who made a decision for whatever reason to not do a background check on George Zimmerman who had just shot and killed Trayvon Benjamin Martin? But yet saw fit to do a background check on this dead child on the ground? Can`t you understand that none of this would be going on if they simply would have treated George Zimmerman like they would have treated Trayvon Martin? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: With the furor over the case showing no signs of dying down, quite the contrary, with no further indication at this time that there will be an arrest in the case, the interwoven strands are outrage over the racial profiling that appears to have led to the shooting in the first place. Trayvon Martin`s seeming suspicious because of his race according to the shooter. The implicit excusing of violence against black men because of the racial profiling of black men as dangerous. The gun law that has been cited as the reason to not arrest the shooter in this case, the so- called "Stand Your Ground" law, even though chasing someone down on the street because they look suspicious to you is nobody`s idea of standing your ground. New York Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for a nationwide of so- called "Stand Your Ground" laws which Florida pioneered, but which exist now in more than 20 states. Senator Schumer is asking the Department of Justice to investigate whether these laws maybe creating more violence and whether potential murder cases are going unprosecuted because these laws make it harder to bring these cases in court. Joining us is Senator Charles Schumer, the senior senator from New York, and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Schumer, thank you very much for joining us tonight. It`s nice to have you. SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Good evening. MADDOW: You have asked the Attorney General Eric Holder, to investigate these "Stand Your Ground" laws. You have been calling them a "shoot first, ask questions later" type of law. Why do you think the Justice Department federally should look in to this? SCHUMER: Well, these laws which have been all passed very recently change the common law and the law we always observed, the law I was taught in law school 30 years ago, which is when is when you are outside of your home and you are faced with a very troubling situation, you don`t shoot, you try to avoid doing that and try to invoke law enforcement whenever possible. The "Stand Your Ground" law seems to say that if you imagine that you might be in physical danger you can shoot. And "The Orlando Sentinel," the local paper in the Sanford area, studied 13 instances where "Stand Your Ground" was invoked and a police officer -- sorry, a person invoked that law. In all but one of the cases, the person who was shot or shot at did not have any weapon at all. Now, six people were killed and four people were injured. So, clearly, something is amiss here. And, you know, I have a lot of faith in our Justice Departments, in our sheriffs and in our police. They are trained. They do a lot better in most situations, in almost all situations than a civilian. For instance, had Mr. Zimmerman actually listened to the police when he called because he saw Trayvon, they told him not to pursue him and to let the police come and pursue him. Had Zimmerman listened, things would be a lot better today than they were then. So, we need a broad investigation for two with reasons. One, this law, which is now, as you said, Rachel, in 20 states could well be causing more violence than it prevents. And second, it seems to be preventing the law enforcement from being able to prosecute cases that would otherwise be actionable. And those are pretty serious things. And so, I think we need a quick and thorough investigation of how this law`s working and maybe the states on their own when they saw that would repeal them. Maybe it will require federal action. That remains to be seen. But we certainly should examine these laws which have been passed sort of in a rushed way by 20 -- more than 20 states. MADDOW: One of the things that`s interwoven with the concern over these, as you say, relatively recent "Stand Your Ground" gun laws -- "Stand Your Ground" anti-self defense laws in these states, is there a concern of how race factors in to this? You identify the idea -- the core idea of these laws is you have to imagine you might be in danger. Imagination is inflected by all sorts of things including prejudice. It happens whether or not we think of ourselves as racist people or bigoted people. When we imagine threats, we imagine them coming from all sorts of place that aren`t legally actionable course of -- a legally actionable course. Do you think that the concerns -- the long-standing concerns about racially biased policing -- about selective prosecution can be addressed at the same time? I realize the gun laws are novel but those concerns about race and policing and prosecution are old. SCHUMER: Well, you know, my call is for an investigation of this law which is new. We do have a civil rights division, which of course has investigated cases where race may well be at issue over and over and over again. But I will tell you this -- I`m dubious of these laws which encourage vigilantism, even if there weren`t a racial component involved. The idea that anyone, when they think that they are in serious physical harm, that they are going to be punched, that they should take out a gun and shoot the person who they think might be punching them is really, really troublesome. And we ought to get to the bottom of it before these laws become -- before they spread and before they are too engrained in our culture. As I said, it seems to encourage vigilantism when the right thing to do is rely on law enforcement. MADDOW: Senator Charles Schumer of New York -- thank you very much of your time tonight, sir. I really appreciate it. SCHUMER: Thank you, Rachel. Good to talk to you. MADDOW: Thanks. Right now, the most important figure in Newt Gingrich`s run for the presidency is named Ellis the elephant. That story and the interview tonight with Frank Rich, straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Programming note, I will be on "The Late Show with David Letterman" tonight. That`s on CBS 11:35 Eastern. I have a sneaky suspicion that Mr. Letterman will ask me about nuclear North Korea and about my pants. Tomorrow, I`m going to be on NPR with Terry Gross on "Fresh Air," which I have always wanted to do and never done before. Before I am back here with you again tomorrow night, I will also be appearing on "The Today Show" in the morning on NBC. I`ll be on the 7:00 a.m. Eastern Hour. And also, I`ll be on with Kathie Lee and Hoda and hopefully drinking something in the 10:00 hour on "The Today Show". That`s all before I am back here again tomorrow night. And this type of schedule for me can really only mean one thing, right? Books out. "Drift," my first book comes out officially tomorrow, which is very exciting. I`m very proud of it. I`m very nervous that it`s going out in the world. The book is about the civilian politics of the military. It is about Ronald Reagan running a war while wearing his PJs and a bathrobe at a golf cottage, pictured here. It`s about the connection between our war in Pakistan and an a really enormous bird called the Hubara bustard. It`s bout LBJ yelling things to reporters from his toilet about Ho Chi Minh. And the book is dedicated to Vice President Dick Cheney, who I have to say I really do wish all of the best in his recovery from his heart transplant this week. In any case the book is out tomorrow. Nervous. I`m with David Letterman later on tonight. And we will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Three new things to report tonight on 2012 and on the Newt Gingrich campaign specifically. First, all major paper print reporters have been pulled off the Newt Gingrich for president campaign. They did not coordinate it or anything, at least it doesn`t seem that way. But the Illinois primary was the last Gingrich stop for the "Associated Press". Then, on Friday, and the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," the last holdout, pulled their embedded reporters from the Gingrich campaign, too. So, that leaves just the television networks including NBC out there on the campaign trail with Newt Gingrich but no print reporters. Second, Newt Gingrich has cancelled his campaign events in North Carolina this week. Although, the campaign would prefer that we call it a postponement. Mr. Gingrich will instead stay close to his home in northern Virginia and go to campaign events there. The North Carolina primary is on May 8th. Virginia`s already done. And that brings us to our third new thing to report about the Newt Gingrich presidential campaign. It`s about Mr. Gingrich`s wife, Callista Gingrich. She is out campaigning for her husband all week in a very important state, her home state of Wisconsin. And this is a new thing for Mrs. Gingrich. This is not something that she has made a habit of. She doesn`t go out to events on her own all that often. But, for example, here is Mrs. Gingrich today. She seems to be at, yes, that is an elementary school. The Trinity Academy in Hudson, Wisconsin. It`s a kindergarten through eighth grade school. She took a tour of the school and did a book reading from her book "Sweet Land of Liberty" -- which is a great and effective campaign stop if you are courting the K to 8 vote. Callista Gingrich is actually doing a lot of that this week. Mrs. Gingrich has nine scheduled campaign stops, four of them are to elementary schools. Kids cannot vote, but they can buy books. The Gingrich campaign has been defined in part by its -- let`s call it multitasking -- part campaign, part book tour. This is at a National Federation for Republican Women event in Kansas City, Missouri, back in October. Mr. Gingrich was the featured speaker at the convention luncheon and then right after the speech, he and his wife walked off the stage and went outside and where they had set up tables for a good, old fashioned promotional event to sign their respective books. Remember, Mr. Gingrich`s wife`s book is about a character called Ellis the Elephant. Here`s the Ellis the Elephant of Mrs. Gingrich`s book brought to life by a person in a big flushy elephant costume. The person in the costume, the real life Ellis the Elephant is a Gingrich campaign staffer. Look a campaign staffer has to put on the costume to promote Callista Gingrich`s event at a campaign event because oh, right, that`s what the campaign is for. This is Ellis back in October. And this is Ellis again today with Mrs. Gingrich at her elementary book signing/campaign event and scene, right? But in campaign -- Mr. Gingrich is reportedly pressing on. Even after losing the Louisiana primary this weekend, the former speaker of the House came in a very distant third in Louisiana. And that`s a problem for Newt Gingrich even if his strategy is to go to the Republican convention in Tampa and try to win the nomination there through a contested convention. As NBC`s "First Read" has been reporting, the Republican Party`s rules say that in order to compete for the nomination, in order to have your name put forward you have to win at least five states. Any candidate needs to win a plurality of the delegates in five states to even have their name put forward for the nomination. Mr. Gingrich has so far won two states. His home state of Georgia and South Carolina. And no matter how bad you are at math, two does not round up to five. So, it`s not looking good for Mr. Gingrich, but I bet it`s still looking good for book sales. That`s what`s happening at the lower echelons of the Republican primary right now. But there seems some trouble at the top as well. Take a closer look at the results from the primary in Louisiana this weekend. Rick Santorum won the state overall. He got the most votes in every single income bracket. Republicans who made under $30,000 a year, Santorum defeated Romney there by 53 points. People making $30,000 to $49,000 a year, Santorum won there by 29 points. Again, in the next income bracket, Santorum defeating Romney by 15 points. But then Mitt Romney does run away with it in the tippy top income bracket, right? Look at that, among people making more than $200,000 a year, that`s what Mitt Romney wins. Mitt Romney was the winner in Louisiana only among the richest sliver of the electorate. Even when Mitt Romney loses, he wins the rich people vote. And we have seen it over and over and over again. Now, if you are Mitt Romney or you`re a strategist working on his campaign, you got to be wondering at this point, how do you put together a national win when your base -- the only people you can really count on everywhere are the tiny sliver of the richest people in the country that happen to be voting that day? It`s a tough strategy. But here`s the good news for the Romney campaign, it`s been done before. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It is an impressive crowd, the haves and the have mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Worked once. Maybe they can be Mitt Romney`s base, too. Frank Rich from "New York Magazine" joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The great Frank Rich joins us for the interview, his next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Newt Gingrich was out on the campaign trail tonight, speaking in front of local Republicans in Delaware. Delaware votes on April 24th. Mitt Romney was out on the trail today in San Diego, giving a speech and doing a couple of fundraisers. California votes on June 5th. Rick Santorum was out and about being visibly political today, but we cannot say that he was on the campaign trail because Rick Santorum specifically was in Washington, D.C. today. And Rick Santorum is not on the ballot in Washington, D.C. when D.C. votes next week. It`s not a conspiracy against him or something. His campaign just did not get it together to even ask for him to be on the ballot. The Santorum campaign didn`t pay the fee. They did not ask for a petition for signatures to get him on the D.C. ballot. They didn`t bother. But, nevertheless, Rick Santorum was in Washington, D.C. any way today. While the Supreme Court was hearing arguments in the health reform case, Rick Santorum was outside of the court with all of the protesters. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: What do you say those protestors who are saying health care is a right? Is it a right? RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe basic rights are guaranteed under the Declaration of Independence and recognized under the Declaration of Independence. Rights come from our Creator. They are protected by the Constitution of this country. Rights should not and cannot be created by a government where because anytime government creates a right they can take that right away. And they can force you, as you`ve seen with Obamacare. They can force you to do things that are against what you believe is right for you and your family. They can do things that you believe are against the tenets and teachings of your faith. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Nobody asked Rick Santorum about the tenets and teaching of his faith as they pertain to health reform, nobody asked about religion, whether or not your church is cool with contraception. He was just asked open-ended question, is health care a right -- like all of these people are chanting behind you? Is that correct? Is health care a right? And Rick Santorum goes right to the lady parts. This is what the campaign is like on the Republican side this year. As Frank Rich writes in "New York Magazine" out today, "Santorum, flaky though he may sound is not some outlier in his party or in its presidential field. He was an advance man for a rancorous national brawl about to ambush an unsuspecting America that thought women`s access to birth control had been resolved by the Supreme Court almost half century ago." Joining now us for the interview is Frank Rich, writer at large for "New York Magazine". Frank, thanks for being here. FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Delighted to be here. MADDOW: How do you think that Rick Santorum got to be the Republican Party`s as -- you put it -- their advanced man on birth control? I`m not surprised that he went there. But why did everybody else follow him? RICH: He owns it but they all did follow him. I think this party has moved so far to the right that you have even a so-called moderate by the standards of this crowd, like Mitt Romney being against Planned Parenthood, wants to the defund Planned Parenthood, wants to end Title X, Title 10, this important program that helps so many poor women just get basic health care, let alone birth control can. They`ve, sort of, gone off the rails. I mean, the biggest thing I think and I know you talked about a lot is the Blunt Amendment. That was an amendment that passed with every single Republican in the Senate, 45 of them voting for it except for Olympia Snowe who`s fleeing, and essentially allowed employers to get rid of all health care for women and for men, at that matter, if they had a moral objection. So, goodbye to mammograms, contraception, pap smears -- whatever it is. And I think they`ve sort of lost touch with reality. They certainly lost touch with the American voters. MADDOW: Is there -- is there a parallel Republican logic that you can see at work, though, that explains what they are doing? And I ask not because I`d be surprised they are moving farther to the right than their electoral fortune should indicate, but because it was the Blunt-Rubio amendment -- Marco Rubio very obviously wants to be chosen as the vice presidential nominee of his party. He put his name on the secondary name on that amendment. People like Scott Brown, who is facing a very difficult electorate, a very moderate electorate in Massachusetts, running against the very popular Elizabeth Warren. He voted for that thing. I mean, Olympia Snowe didn`t vote for it on her way out the door but other people who got really big aspirations in general election, big races are going with this. Is there a logic that explains it? RICH: I don`t get it. Do you? I mean, it seems to me if you are from a state that`s completely red state, you can do whatever you want. But in a state like Massachusetts, for instance, I don`t get the logic of it. I don`t think that there is a majority that wants all of the stuff stripped away and the majority of the country is women. And while there are some women, including the Republican Party who, defend this policy, most women, according to polls, are against it. So, just -- you have to wonder if they are an echo chamber. I just -- I look for some Machiavellian theory that would explain how this would pay off in November but I don`t see it. MADDOW: Do you see -- you write about the right on this side, on the Republican side here, sort of playing a long game, that this didn`t just emerge now. That this is something that`s had longer horizons from the party. Where do you think this came from? RICH: I think it came from the 1960s so like so many sort of neurotic things, if that`s the word for it, in the Republican Party. What`s important to remember is that the Republican Party had a history of being pro-suffrage for women, most state legislators that approved the 19th Amendment in 1920 were Republican-controlled. Richard Nixon supported the Equal Rights Amendment. It started to change in the early `70s when strategists saw, well, we can play the Southern strategy to bring over a certain kind of particularly white, male, Democratic voter, that would later -- the Reagan Democrats on race. There was also reaction to the feminist movement. And so, you see, even in think early `70s, before Roe v. Wade was decided, before legal abortion was a political issue in this country, there were running campaigns against the idea that women should work and be outside of the home and have equal pay. They -- like uppity women. That was sort -- they were sort of against it. And I think that`s the seeds of it, not abortion. Although, obviously, the religious right would rise and abortion would be a big issue, too. MADDOW: Frank Rich, writer at large for "New York Magazine," I have to say, hearing your sort of -- reading you exploring the roots of this and hearing you talk about it here makes me feel like we are on to something and being puzzled by this, but I`m still puzzled by it. I definitely feel like this is one of those things that requires more work. RICH: I agree. I agree. MADDOW: Frank, thanks very much. RICH: Thanks for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: Sure. Right after the show, hey, this is big news actually. On "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell, his guest tonight is the lawyer for George Zimmerman, the lawyer for the man who`s alleged to have shot Trayvon Martin. So, you will not want to miss that. And here, the new issue Republicans are hoping will be their big win against President Obama this fall, I think they are wrong, but I`ll tell you what it is, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All told, thousands of pounds of nuclear material have been removed from vulnerable sites around the world. This was deadly material that is now secure and now can never be used against a city like Seoul. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Obama speaking today in South Korea. The plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan, at the end of World War II was called, of course, The Enola Gay. This is a photograph of that nuclear bomb blast at Hiroshima. The plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki a couple of days later was a plane called Bockscar. This is a photograph of the nuclear bomb blast on Nagasaki. You can see the almost perfectly symmetrically mushroom cloud over Nagasaki there. The reason we have these photos of these two nuclear bombs going off in these two cities in Japan is because along with Bockscar and the Enola Gay, the planes that dropped the bombs, we flew planes with them that took pictures of the explosions. The plane that photographed the Nagasaki explosion was called Big Stink. The plane that photographed the Hiroshima explosion was called Necessary Evil, because history is written by deeply, deeply cynical poets. The first of those bombs killed 75,000 people instantly. The second one at Nagasaki killed 40,000 more people instantly. Within a couple months, 150,000, possibly 250,000 people were dead, killed by just those two bombs. Now, the nuclear bombs we`ve got today are roughly 10 times the yield of what we dropped on Hiroshima. The Hiroshima bomb remember, instantly killed 75,000 people. Imagine a bomb blast 10 times that size. Can you imagine us using a bomb like that now? A bomb that size. We`ve got 1,800 bombs that size deployed right now -- 1,800 nuclear bombs, each ten times the size of the Hiroshima bomb, all deployed and ready to be fired. And we`ve got thousands more in our stockpile. If you can imagine us dropping another nuclear bomb, like we did on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, how many can you imagine us dropping? How many more nuclear bombs do you think America could ever conceivably launch in our future as a nation? Could we launch two more? Ten more? Could we launch 100 more? A thousand? More than 1,000? More than 1,000 bombs each 10 times the size of Hiroshima? What would be left? President Obama is in Seoul, South Korea for his summit on locking up vulnerable nuclear material to keep nuclear material out of the hands of terrorist and off the black market. In a visit to a South Korean University, the president said today, quote, "We have more nuclear weapons than we need." This is not yet a central issue in the president`s re-election campaign, but Republicans want it to be. Republicans are banking on us, the country, thinking that the ability to blow up Hiroshima 10 times over, thousands of times over and then thousands more times over is not enough. And that reducing the number of nuclear weapons we`ve got, either all together or deployed and ready to fire, reducing the number of nuclear weapons we`ve got would be a sign of weakness because, hey, who knows? Maybe we will have to drop 2,000 nuclear bombs at some point. As the president comes home from South Korea, Republicans are thinking this is going to be a good political issue for them to use against President Obama. I do not think they are right. But I`m kind of looking forward to them trying to make the case. 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