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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/08/12

Guests: Steve Kornacki, Welton Gaddy

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for this hour on what has turned out to be a big day in the news about the politics. Republicans in the United States Senate filibustered on student loans today. How is that youth vote coming along, Republican Party? Interest rates on student loans are set to double this summer unless Congress takes action. As recently as last month, Republicans were set to let that happen last month, to let student loan rates double. But after pressure, very public pressure from Democrats and from President Obama himself, Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president and the Republicans in the House of Representatives changed their mind on the issue. They dropped their previous position. They said they would, in fact, agree to act to keep student loan rates where they are. As of today, though, apparently the deal is off. Republicans in the Senate today filibustered the bill to keep student loan rates from going up this summer. So, if this does not get fixed, somehow, everybody`s student loans all across the country are going to double their interest rate this summer. And you can thank Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown for that. Amazingly, even a vulnerable incumbent like Scott Brown sided with the Republican filibuster on this issue. Just incredible. Also, incredible, the long awaited endorsement of Mitt Romney for president by the last contender left standing against Mr. Romney, at least the last one who`ve ever seen like he had a shot maybe at beating him. Rick Santorum`s endorsement of Mr. Romney was sent out last night in an email, in the middle of the night. No press conference. No Twitter announcement. No mention of the actual endorsements after 13 paragraphs in to be 16-paragraph email. Yes, as endorsements go, this one was a full octave below low key. It`s like the lowest note you can play on an ode. It was almost imperceptible to the human ear. But it did happen. Also in today`s news, Mitt Romney caused a national case of whiplash on the car industry. After Mr. Romney lost to John McCain in the Republican primary in 2008 after he dropped out, really the only thing Mitt Romney made any further headlines for that year was him coming out as super against the government bailout of the auto industry. Now in today`s news, Mr. Romney says he wants to take, quote, "a lot of credit" for the government bailout of the auto industry, the bailout which he opposed. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On my own view, by the way, was that the auto companies needed to go through bankruptcy before government help. And, frankly, that`s finally what the president did. That was the right course I argued for from the very beginning. So, I`ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I`ll take a lot of credit. Wow. We`ll have more on that coming up. But today was a day of surprising and big news about politics, right? In the midst of all this surprising and big news about politics today, in the midst of all of that, some actual politics broke out. Today is election day in four states. Now, in none of the states holding Republican presidential primaries today is there any doubt that Mitt Romney will win. In the great state of West Virginia, it should be noted there`s a Democratic candidate who is not President Obama on the ballot for the Democratic primary. He`s Keith Judd, a convicted felon currently in prison at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Texas. He paid his $2,500 filing fee and he was on the ballot today in West Virginia for president. But yes, even with Mr. Judd, not much suspense in the West Virginia voting today. In Indiana, a very, very consequential in the United States Senate race. At this hour, NBC News can project remarkably that Senator Dick Lugar has lost his Senate seat in the Republican primary in Indiana. The man who beat him, Richard Mourdock, is currently the state treasurer in Indiana. He has run for Congress three times before and he has lost each time. But, regardless, the Club for Growth and the NRA and Dick Armey`s group FreedomWorks and all the people left on the Tea Party side of things decided that Richard Mourdock was the guy they wanted to dump money on and get behind to end the 36 year career of Richard Lugar. Senator Lugar has never actually been controversial in Indiana. He`s won past elections by more than 30-point margins. The last time he ran, in 2006, he won by more like 75 points. The Democrats couldn`t even run somebody against him. He was running against a libertarian. Seriously, though, he got 87 percent of the vote. Temperamentally, and in terms of policy, Senator Dick Lugar has always been just a mainstream conservative, one with particular emphasis and expertise in foreign policy and arms control. Those are not always very partisan things. They are the kind of political issues on which there`s often room for bipartisan agreement, which is why Senator Lugar turned up in a Democratic presidential campaign ad in 2008. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2008) BARACK OBAMA, THEN-RESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The single most important national security we face is the nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorist. What I did was reached out to Senator Dick Lugar, a Republican, to help lock down loose nuclear weapons. We have to lead the entire world to reduce that threat. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: See, for a Democratic candidate saying and showing that you crossed partisan lines to work on a substantive issue of policy, that is worth bragging about. Putting that in a campaign ad as a Democrat, you might win a red state like Indiana, with the record like that to brag on. But if you are a Republican, even being seen as on the receiving end of bipartisan outreach -- as you can see from tonight`s result -- that is political suicide. The successful primary challenger to Senator Lugar today in Indiana, as I mentioned, has an 0-3 record running for Congress from Indiana. He says that Social Security and Medicare are both unconstitutional. But Dick Lugar will now be off the Republican side of the ballot come November, and this man, Richard Mourdock, will replace them. The Democratic Party is frankly rubbing their hands in glee, about what has just happened in Indiana. They are palpably excited about the chance to turn that Indiana seat blue now that they will no longer have to run against a known quantity, respective mainstream conservative who can win by over 30 points every time like Dick Lugar. Democrats say they see Richard Mourdock as this year`s Ken Buck, this year`s Christine O`Donnell, somebody who the Tea Party loves, but who the state will be horrified by come time for the general election. If the Democrats are right, then meet this guy. Meet Congressman Joe Donnelly, the next senator from the great state of Indiana. Congressman Joe Donnelly is the Democrat against whom Richard Mourdock will be running in November. In North Carolina today, the focus is on a constitutional amendment to doubly, triply, quadruply ban gay marriage in the state of North Carolina even though it`s already banned there. Much of the campaign against the anti-gay amendment in North Carolina has focused on the fact that if language would not just ban marriage rights for same sex couple, it would ban all legal rights for all unmarried couples in the state, straight and gay. There are hundreds of thousands of unmarried couples in North Carolina who have some recognized legal status, whether it`s around child custody or visitation rights in the hospital, or police and prosecutors being able to protect you from domestic violence. That point about unmarried couples who aren`t necessarily gay, that point and the fact that some business interests have said the anti-gay amendment will hurt them in North Carolina by making the state an unattractive place to recruit top talent to work, those arguments and not the gay rights arguments specifically were the focus of this robocall against Amendment One from former President Bill Clinton. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S PRESIDENT: Hello, this is President Bill Clinton. I`m calling to urge you to vote against Amendment One on Tuesday, May 8th. If it passes, it won`t change North Carolina`s law on marriage. What it will change is North Carolina`s ability to keep good businesses, attract new jobs and attract and keep talented entrepreneurs. If it passes, your ability to get those businesses, get those jobs and get those talented entrepreneurs will be weakened. And losing even one job to Amendment One is too big a risk. Its passage would also take away health insurance from children and could even take away domestic violence protection from women. So, the real affect of the law is not to keep the traditional definition of marriage, you`ve already done that. The real affect of law will be to hurt families and drive away jobs. North Carolina can do better. Again, this is Bill Clinton asking you to please vote against Amendment One. Thanks. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Bill Clinton`s robocall, part of the campaign against Amendment One. At this hour, the results that we have in from North Carolina, with 30 percent in, the side that Bill Clinton was advocating for there, the against Amendment One side with 43 percent of the vote, 57 percent of the vote coming in in favor of the anti-gay amendment in North Carolina. Before tonight, over the past 15 years, there have been 33 statewide votes on marriage rights for same sex couples, 33 votes in the state -- 33 votes, 32 of which have gone against gay rights. Tonight, that very consistent streak of what happens when you ask for a majority vote on minority rights appears headed that direction in North Carolina. The last major race in tonight`s elections is in Wisconsin, where Democrats are choosing their candidate to run in the recall election against Republican Governor Scott Walker on June 5th. At this hour in Wisconsin, we do not have any results heading into tonight`s voting. The former Governor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett, was favored. But he`s facing some good competition from Kathleen Falk, who has been the favored candidate of organized labor in this race. The winner tonight, however it is in Wisconsin, will have less than a month to put together a statewide run against Governor Walker. He`s been raising millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars for a long time now -- lots of it from out of state conservative groups. Democrats and other opponents of Governor Walker do not think that they will be able to out gun him in the money department. But keep in mind that to get him on the ballot to be recalled in the first place, opponents of Scott Walker in Wisconsin got nearly a million signatures. In order to get those million signatures, they had an army of 35,000 volunteers collecting those one million anti-Scott Walker signatures. So, what the forces behind the Democrats may lack in money and now in time heading into this June 5th race, those forces may very well make it up in terms of organization and sheer kick the bum out enthusiasm. I am among those that think the recall Walker election next month, on June 5th, is going to be the most significant election in the country this year other than the presidential election. It`s a huge deal for what it means for Wisconsin directly and but also for its resonance around the country. That said, I mean, depending on where you are, tonight`s elections in North Carolina are huge -- a huge deal for civil rights in that state, and in terms of how the gay marriage issue is being address across the country. And tonight`s election in Indiana, this means that no matter who wins in November, Indiana is about to have a very, very, very junior senator instead of the dean of the delegation that they had in Dick Lugar. This has been a big day in politics. Joining us now is Steve, senior political writer for Steve, thanks for being here. It`s nice to see you. STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Good to be here. MADDOW: The Senate is governed by old and complicated and varied rules that if you are able to master them, you have a real advantage in terms of being able to get stuff done, not just in favor of your national issues but also for your home state. What did the Republican Party lose tonight in ousting Dick Lugar? KORNACKI: Well, the Republican Party is moving away from that tradition and is moving slowly but I think steadily the Senate away from that tradition. I mean, this is something that happened in the House I think on the Republican side, already. And it`s now a trend in the Senate where basically the bottom line for any Republican who wants to serve in the Senate is absolutely rigid party. Basically no pragmatism, no reaching across the aisle, no cutting deals with the other side`s president. And if the other side`s president is basically the enemy at all cost. And if you`ve breached that, if you violate, that not on a regular basis but one or two profile instances, then you`re going to face the wrath of your party in a primary. And it`s more than being about Dick Lugar in that case, because Lugar was 80 years old. He wasn`t going to be around the Senate that much longer anymore. So, this is about every other Republican senator who`s left in the Senate. And the message that they take from this is, if I don`t want to end up having what just happened to Dick Lugar happen to me, then I`m going to think twice before going to the White House to work on this tax bill, going to the White House to work on this treaty, whatever it is. It`s that chilling affect. That`s the real, you know, fallout from this. MADDOW: I should mention right now that the "Associated Press" has just called the North Carolina race. It`s no great surprise there. But Amendment One in North Carolina, according to the "Associated Press" will pass. This is a very, very broadly drawn Amendment that not only doubly, triply, quadruply bans already banned gay marriage in North Carolina, but denies any sort of legal recognition to any other form of bond between an unmarried couple. There had been, I think, wishful thinking on the part of the No on One forces that the change in opinion polling on the issue of same sex marriage rights might make North Carolina an exception to this horrible losing streak that gay rights have in terms of statewide ballot measures. Is it impossible to imagine that a statewide ballot measure on an issue like this could ever go the other direction, or is this something where the polling numbers can presage future different outcomes? KORNACKI: Yes. No, I think it can in certain instances and in certain states. I look at this way. At the national level, there was a Gallup poll that came out today that said basically it`s 50 percent in favor of gay marriage, 48 percent opposed. That`s nationally. Now when you start looking at swing states that are a little more conservative traditionally, North Carolina being one of them, that number is going to fall lower. It`s going to fall lower in a place like Ohio, North Carolina, places like that. The flip side is, it`s going to be higher in place like, for instance, New Jersey. Chris Christie has been forced to deal with gay marriage. His solution has been I don`t want to deal with this myself. I want to put this on the ballot. And it`s put Democrats in the New Jersey in sort of interesting position because, yes, there`s the principle of we don`t want to put minority rights to a majority vote. But I think there`s a strong sense in the state like New Jersey, if you put this on the ballot, it might pass. MADDOW: In Maine, it was interesting. In 2009, the legislature had passed a pro-gay marriage, pro-gay rights measure that was then put to citizens` recall. Citizens recalled it. So, there was anti-gay vote at the statewide level. The same people who lost that vote in 2009, are now seeking, the pro-gray rights side, is seeking to put it on the ballot for this November for 2012. That will be I think the first time that the pro-gay right side has sought out a vote. One they think they might be able to win. I mean, when you got a record of now 33-1 against you, I tend to be skeptical that it might work in Maine. But you see the advocates thinking about this differently. KORNACKI: Well; the pace of change on this is really kind of amazing when you stop to think about it, because this issue really became a national issue in 2004. That`s when you had the Massachusetts ruling. At that point, the first poll on it said 30 percent nationally favor it, 62 percent opposed. Now, we`re basically consistently seeing plurality or even small majority support for it. Take it a step further. Look within the Democratic Party right now. That number, that 67 percent nationally favor this. I look at ,you know, we`re having this whole debate right now for Barack Obama, should he or should he not come out for gay marriage, I almost think it`s an irrelevant question, because move the calendar forward, pass this November`s election, or into the 2016 presidential cycle. Start looking at who the Democrats are who are lining up to run, you know the names were other, whether it was Russ Feingold or Andrew Cuomo, I could think of other names, I`m stumbling right now, but I wrote a piece about this. They are basically all in favor of gay marriage. That`s how I read Joe Biden`s comments on "Meet the Press" the other day. This is a guy, among other things, who has said he`s interested for running for president in 2016. So, of course, he`s starting to take sort of more aggressive steps to align himself with the gay marriage side, because that`s where the party is and that`s increasingly where people are. MADDOW: It is increasingly where people are. I think you`re right. The more ambitious Democrats, the Democrats who see themselves as having a longer political horizons, are all moving toward the progressive position on this. But again, tonight in North Carolina, still the losing streak for gay -- (CROSSTALK) KORNACKI: Not yet there, right. MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, senior political writer for -- thanks for being here, Steve. I appreciate it. KORNACKI: Sure. MADDOW: All right. Do you remember how discipline the Republican Party always seems, had they always stayed on message no matter? Things are changing. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Breaking politics news at this hour, the "Associated Press" has called the race in the North Carolina anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment. That amendment has passed in North Carolina. Also, Indiana Senator Dick Lugar has lost his seat in the Republican primary in his state tonight, ending a 36-year Senate career. We`re also right now awaiting results from Wisconsin to see which Democrat will be facing off against Republican Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin in the June 5th recall election. We`re watching for the results. Stay with us here on MSNBC. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you`re interested being around breaking news as it`s breaking, do your best to try to be near Andrea Mitchell as much as possible. It is now an unquestionable axiom of news that when news breaks, when there are big developments, particularly in the world of politics, NBC`s Andrea Mitchell is always somehow right at the center of it. Andrea Mitchell`s 1:00 p.m. hour here on MSNBC had the first interview with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe after she announced unexpectedly announced her retirement. It was the Andrea Mitchell`s green room for her 1:00 p.m. MSNBC show where President Obama personally called Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student at the center of the big contraception fight. The story of the Susan G. Komen Foundation defunding Planned Parenthood is the story broke wide open on Andrea Mitchell`s 1:00 p.m. MSNBC show. This is not me doing a commercial for Andrea. This is my giving you advice for you, because this keeps happening. It happened again yesterday. Yesterday, Andrea Mitchell interviewed the chairman of Republican Party Reince Party and she asked him about that same-sex marriage amendment that`s passed today in North Carolina. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: I think Governor Romney and the Republican Party has been clear. We believe marriage is between one man and one woman. We believe ultimately you can`t federalize that kind of mandate which is why we believe that individual states can make that decisions on their own. And they are doing that across the country. So, we`ve been clear. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: What you just saw was the chairman of the Republican Party blowing it. Listen to how he describes Mitt Romney`s position on this issue. Listen specifically. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRIEBUS: I think Governor Romney and the Republican Party has been clear. We believe marriage is between one man and one woman. We believe ultimately that you can`t federalize that kind of mandate. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You can`t federalize that. The individual states have to make that decision on their own. You can`t federalize that. No federal mandate defining marriage is the union of one man and one woman. That`s my position. That`s Mitt Romney`s position so says the chairman of the Republican Party on Andrea Mitchell show. The chairman of the Republican Party made huge news there because he`s totally wrong. I mean, look, there`s Mitt Romney in writing calling for a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If you do that federally, that means the states don`t get to decide. So, now, everybody has to ask the head of the Republican Party, hey, did you mean that Mitt Romney`s changed his position on making marriage a federal issue or did you just misunderstand his position? But the Republican Party disagrees with his position about that or did you misunderstand your own position and you really do agree? In which case if you did misunderstand your own position, how do we believe it is your position? What a mess. What a mess, right? This is not just a one off thing. This is not just a Reince Priebus misspoke sort of thing. I think that Reince Priebus might not be very good at his job. I think that at least the Republican Party under Reince Priebus keeps making a lot of mistakes. I do not mean this in a personal way. I`m sure Reince Priebus is a very nice guy. I`m sure the people that work at the RNC are all very nice people. But this year, this election season, I don`t know why this isn`t getting more coverage, but the Republican National Committee keeps screwing stuff up substantively and badly. They seem to be bad at what they do. Here is another example. Last week, ahead of President Obama`s first campaign event in Ohio, the RNC held a conference call to attack President Obama for failing to create jobs here in America. They then proceeded to step all over their own Republican message when it was revealed that the call center hosting their "Obama is bad on U.S. jobs" conference call was a call center in the Philippines. Unforced error. Here is another one. This is what happened last month when an RNC spokesman tried to explain Mitt Romney`s economic plan during a radio interview. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) RADIO HOST: How different is that concept from what was -- what were the policies of the Bush administration? Is this a different program or is this that program just updated? SPOKESPERSON: I think it`s that program just updated. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Mitt Romney`s economic plan is the same as George Bush`s just updated. That was not a liberal blogger attacking the Romney economic plan, as just an update of the George W. Bush plan. That was the Republican Party spokesperson apparently trying to help Governor Romney by saying he`s just an update of George W. Bush. Here is another example. When the Republican Party decided to defend themselves that they were waging war on women. The way the RNC chose to mount their defense was to attack the use of the word war. An RNC spokesman named Sean Spicer told reporters, quote, "I find it offensive that the Democratic National Committee is using a term like that to describe policy differences. It`s downright pathetic they would use a term like war when there are millions of Americans that have engaged in a real war. To use a term like that borders on unpatriotic." It is borderline unpatriotic to use the term war in the context of a policy debate. That turned out to be awkward for Mr. Spicer since the RNC itself has been accusing President Obama of waging a war on everything from Appalachia to coal. Do they believe their own actions are borderline unpatriotic? They`re just sort of bad at this. It`s unforced errors over and over again -- and on substantive stuff, and it`s starts right at the very top. Another example, another one from the whole war on women issue. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRIEBUS: The Democrats said we had war on caterpillars, and every mainstream media outlet talk about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we had problems with caterpillars. I mean, the fact of the matter is, is it`s a fiction. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Imagine the Reince Priebus strategy session that led to that. I`ve got it. Let`s win back women by comparing them to insects. Hold on I`m going to say it on TV. Let`s see how it goes. What are you doing? You didn`t have to do say that. Then there was the fake Hilary Rosen controversy, right? Hilary Rosen, the Democratic strategist who criticized Mr. Romney`s wife when she described her as his economic adviser. She criticized her by saying she may not be the best person to be in touch with women`s issues in this economy since she in fact, didn`t have to hold down a job while raising her kids. In a course of trying to take advantage of that momentary media created scandal, the same RNC spokesman, Sean Spicer, the don`t say war guy, he accidentally came out and endorsed gay couples being able to adopt children, which the Republican Party opposes as a matter of policy. But in his excitement over the Hilary Rosen controversy, Sean Spicer came out as an RNC spokesman endorsing gay adoption and then he had to take it back by Twitter. That`s not what I said. But, oh, wait, there`s more. Today, the RNC has outdone themselves. Today, in response to the huge gap that exists between President Obama and Mitt Romney among Latino voters, today, today, the RNC held an event highlighting Republican Party outreach to the Hispanic community, an event at which the RNC`s director of Hispanic outreach was asked about something you might think you`d get asked about at an event like this. The RNC spokesperson on Hispanic issues was asked about Mitt Romney`s position on immigration. She said this in response, quote, `As a candidate, to my understanding, he`s still deciding what his position on immigration is." OK. For the record, Mitt Romney says he would veto the DREAM Act. Mitt Romney has called Arizona`s immigration laws a model for the nation, papers please. Mitt Romney is in favor of self deportation as an immigration policy. He specifically sought out the endorsement of former California Governor Pete Wilson, who is only nationally famous for trying to make life miserable for immigrants. Mitt Romney has advocated policies as anti-immigrant as they come up. And according to the RNC, he`s still deciding what his position is on immigration. So, take your pick, Latino voters. Mitt Romney is either actively outrageously hostile or no one knows what he thinks, not even the RNC. This is the person whose job it is to reach out to voters from the RNC. The RNC is bad at this. Whether or not you are in favor of what they are trying to do, they are not good at what they are trying to do. I don`t know if this will turn to matter in presidential politics this year. I mean, maybe the Republican presidential campaign is going to be run out of the drawing rooms of eccentric billionaires and they won`t actually need the actual party apparatus. But it does seem important that the party apparatus under Reince Priebus is kind of a mess. I think that Reince Priebus might not be good at the job of running the Republican Party, or maybe there`s some secret genius at work here that I`m missing with my big, dumb caterpillar girl brain. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I was in Detroit this weekend. I want went to the annual dinner of the Detroit branch of the NAACP. They gave me an award in recognition of the coverage we have done on this show about Michigan politics. It was really nice of the NCAAP to do that. It was -- I have to say, a little overwhelming to receive the award. But I have to say, the thing that was most overwhelming about the whole event was the size of the room. The NAACP annual dinner in Detroit is apparently the largest sit-down dinner in the entire country. Imagine in excess of 10,000 people all having formal dinner at the same time. When I was my turn to speak in order to not get freak out by the size of the room, I decided to focus on something I could see in the distant far end of the room, just to calm myself down. It was like a little fleet of toy cars I could see, like little play cards for kids or Shriner cars way in the distant far corner of the room. It was as I was leaving the vent with 10,000 people that I realized, oh, those were full sized cars and trucks, like a dozen of them parked inside the room -- the room so big and so full of people that they looked like they were toys. So, lesson one of the NAACP branch in Detroit can fill a freaking room, 10,000 people. Lesson two, there`s no fancy event in Detroit that should not have a dozen cars to show off their thriving home town industry, an industry thriving so impressively right now, that even the people who said it should be left to die are now trying to claim for its success. That`s ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Back in the middle of the fight over health reform, a gathering of the notables from the far edge of the religious right got together to try to pray away health reform. They tried to use prayer in the battle against expanded insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions. The leader of the event, the leader of get God to kill health reform event, was this man, Lou Engle. He`s founder of the group called The Call. To give you a little flavor of The Call and Lou Engle, this is him on the issue of gay marriage in California. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LOU ENGLE, THE CALL: What happens in California will release a spirit that is more demonic than Islam. A spirit of lawlessness and anarchy, and a sexual insanity will be unleashed into the earth. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Is sexual insanity asked people to get together to ask God to strike down health reform back in 2009. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ENGLE: We dare to believe today that you overthrow, overrule kings that you rule in the Senate debates. So now we stand before you and worship you. The God who answers prayer arise, oh God. Hear, show mercy and turn this nation to you we pray. In Jesus name, break in, break in at this moment as we lift our voices all across America, come, Lord hear from heaven and intervene in Jesus name we pray. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Intervene to stop health reform. That was Lou Engle back in 2009 asking Jesus to please intervene in the Senate health reform debate. Right there with Lou during the pray away the health reform event, you recognize those guys. That`s Sam Brownback, now governor of Kansas, and then, a U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, two sitting U.S. senators there, headlining an effort to stop health reform with prayer. Now, whether or not you like the idea of the constitutional separation of church and state, the idea that is foundational to our country, foundational to the whole idea of why our country ought to exist, on the political right, the increasing hostility with the separation of church and state has manifest and there are being a lot of very overtly political sized religion. Alternatively, you can look at it as a very, very religious conservative politics. You saw that in the health form debate. You also saw that in the presidential campaigns this year. You may remember that Rick Perry, just as he was ramping to launch his presidential run, he less than half filled reliant stadium for a Christians only prayer rally to ask God to fix the economy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I`m all too aware of government limitations when it comes to fix things that are spiritual in nature. That`s where prayer comes in. And we need it more than ever. With the economy in trouble, communities in crisis, and people adrift in the sea of moral relativism, we need God`s help. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And then he ran for president. So, this is a thing in Republican politics right now. Very conservative Republican politicians presenting themselves almost as religious figures using religious language to make their policy advocacy argument, aggressively promoting religiously inform policy making, aggressively inserting religion into politics. And candidates obviously are free to do that. It`s part of how they are selling themselves, right? Part of how they are presenting what they would be like as a politician if we elected them. But what about handing over the United States Capitol to that kind of project? This is National Statuary Hall inside the U.S. Capitol. It was used as a meeting place for the House of Representatives for almost 50 years in the 19th century. Today, it`s home to 38 statues of prominent U.S. citizens submitted by the states. James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Millard Fillmore, they were all inaugurated in what is National Statuary Hall. Today, Statuary Hall can be used for special events like memorial services, receptions for new members of Congress, awards presentations, press conferences. It is essentially up to the speaker of House who can have access to Statuary Hall and for what kinds of events. Here are the kind of events that are typically approve to be held at Statuary Hall -- inaugural luncheons hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee, or a Capitol Historical Society reception for new members of Congress. Today, Statuary Hall, there was a different kind of event. Today, House Speaker John Boehner handed over Statuary Hall over to a prayer event. It was billed as part of the National Day of Prayer activities. It was time to coincide with George Washington`s inauguration and to celebrate how super religious George Washington was. Among today`s prayer at the capitol headliners was the guy named Jim Garlow, from a group called Renewing America`s Leadership, which says its mission is to preserve America`s Judeo-Christian Heritage. Mr. Garlow has said that gay marriage is part of an attack by Satan on the United States. He has compared being gay to not just man on dog like Rick Santorum said but specifically, man on horse. A guy named David Barton was also top billed at today`s prayer event. David Barton has said that we can`t find a cure to AIDS because AIDS is God`s punishment for people being gay. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) DAVID BARTON, WALL BUILDERS: The Bible again, it`s right every time, and studies keep proving that. That`s why AIDS have something that haven`t discovered a cure for, or a vaccine for, because it`s the fastest self- mutating virus known to mankind. Every time they just about get a vaccine discover for it, it transmutes into something new. And they have to start over again. And that goes to what God said, hey, you`re going to bear in your body the consequences of this homosexual behavior. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Today`s event was also headlined by a woman named Alveda King, representing anti-abortion group called Priests for Life. The head of Priests for Life says that support for abortion rights is just like supporting terrorism. Also top billed at the big Statuary Hall prayer event was a man named Dan Cummins. Dan Cummins has written a book called "The Church: In a State of Separation," in which he argues that the separation of church and state is a foreign communist concept. He says people who call themselves progressives are actually just communists. This kind of stuff, you know, exists in Republican politics. This is part of the way that Republicans campaign particularly when they are just campaigning among each other like in a Republican primary context. John Boehner okayed this event. This prayer event organized by people who say that AIDS is God`s punishment for being gay and if you support abortion rights you support terrorism, people who`s whole reason for doing this today was to make the case that the church and state are not and should not be separate in America. John Boehner welcomed that event into National Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol today. You and I and everyone else in this country owns statuary hall. I mean, as taxpayers, we keep it up, right? It`s ours as much as it`s anybody`s. And it was handed over today to a group of people who want religious politics, who want religious governance. Discuss. Joining us now to discuss is the Reverend Dr. Welton Gaddy, who`s the pastor for preaching and worship at the North Minster Baptist Church in Louisiana. Reverend Gaddy is also the president of the Interfaith Alliance. And full disclosure, he`s my pal. Welton, Reverend Gaddy, it is good to have you with us tonight. Thank you for being here. REV. DR. WELTON GADDY, INTERFAITH ALLIANCE: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Do you see a difference, a substantive difference between using religious events to promote your candidacy, like in a sports stadium or something, and doing something like this today inside the U.S. Capitol? GADDY: Well, it`s just a bigger version of the former. I kind of think we need to start wearing name tags on who is the preacher and who`s the politician, because the preachers are doing politics and the politicians are trying to preach. You know, Rachel, I`m stunned at what happened today. This is a group of people who are the finest in the world as revisionist historians. Our nation`s history didn`t provide them what they wanted for their agenda, so they changed the history. And David Barton has gone all over this country arguing that in the Constitution, there is no concept of church/state separation. There is this ongoing myth that the founders of our nation were architects trying to bring about a kingdom of God in the United States, a new Israel, that we are in fact, a Christian nation. These people, you know, I like to associate prayer and truth. I don`t see the connection on this one. Because -- go ahead. MADDOW: I`m sorry. I didn`t mean, well, now that I`ve interrupted, let me check here. When you look at the background of these speakers and when you see the kinds of history that they`ve got with dealing with American history, that you were just describing -- does the fact that this appears to be endorsed by John Boehner, this territory inside the U.S. Capitol handed over to them, does that send a message of people of varying beliefs in this country, or to people who do not have faith at all, or to people who do have strong faith, but don`t want it in their politics. What`s the message? GADDY: The message is you better watch out and you better get serious about understanding the First Amendment to the Constitution and supporting people who are trying to bring strength and defense to that amendment. Rachel, these people gathered to pray as with the backdrop the National Day of Prayer. The National Day of Prayer on the television, on the screens, all of its publicity says this is for Christians. This isn`t for the whole nation. It`s for Christian that pray just like these individuals do. Why in the world would the speaker of the House of the United States Congress want to send a message to people all over this nation that if you`re not a Christian like these people, your rights are threaten. They have an agenda to make nation just like them. There is no place for that in the United States Capitol. MADDOW: Reverend Welton Gaddy, pastor for preaching and worship at the North Minster Baptist Church in Monroe, Louisiana, president of the Interfaith Alliance -- Welton, thank you so much for being here. GADDY: You`re welcome. Thank you. MADDOW: Appreciate it. All right. OK. Still to come, it is hard to believe that just buying a couple of Cadillacs saved the American automotive industry. But it`s apparently true. That`s all it took. That story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: For most of the past decade, Mitt Romney has been running for president. Sometimes that has meant actively campaigning, shaking hands, kissing babies, asking for money. Sometimes that has meant playing pretend president from the sidelines, by saying what a hypothetical president Romney would do if he were in the White House at that moment. It was in that context that Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, made his now really, really famous argument for what the nation should do about the auto industry when it was at its worst. His advice was: let Detroit go bankrupt. At the time Mr. Romney wrote this, his Republican Party had already lost the White House to Democrat Barack Obama. The outgoing President Bush was about a month away from investing billions in Chrysler and G.M., in consultation with that new incoming Democratic president. And Mitt Romney, a son of Michigan and the auto industry, was having none of it. Let Detroit go bankrupt, he said, and don`t get the government, quote, "seal their fate with a bailout check." At that time, that seemed like sort of a courageous political stance. Wow, Mitt Romney is so anti-bailout that he is willing to kill the whole American auto industry. I mean, wow, that takes a certain kind of courage, right? Because if that bailout works, if it happens and it works, it`s going to be really hard to run for anything ever again once you become the "let Detroit go bankrupt" guy, the "don`t bail them out" guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s no question, but if you just write a check that you`re going to see these companies go out of business, ultimately. Bailouts of enterprises that are in trouble, that`s not the right way to go. And I know President Bush started it with the auto industry. I thought it was a mistake. My views with regards to the bailout that whether it was by President Bush or by President Obama, it was the wrong way to go. The bailouts were a mistake. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It turns out -- no, they weren`t a mistake. They worked. The auto industry got bailed out by the government when there was no one else on earth who could have done. And now, those companies are not only still here, they are thriving. Chrysler is up by 25 percent. Their reporting operating profit of $740 million. Business page stories about Chrysler look like this now -- "Chrysler posts best quarterly profits in 13 years." G.M. reported $1 billion for the first three months of this year. Business page headlines about G.M. now look like this -- "G.M. now the number one automaker in the world." In terms of sales, G.M., the largest car company in the work. G.M. takes from Toyota bragging rights as the world`s number one car company. Chrysler is thriving. G.M. is thriving. And Mitt Romney is running for president again, or still running for president, depending on how you think of it. Yesterday, Mitt Romney stumped his way through the swing state of Ohio, which happens to have a lot of auto jobs. It`s not just Detroit. It`s the whole base of the American manufacturing sector and the whole Midwest. They like their auto industry jobs in Ohio, very well, thank you very much. And they are therefore very much interested in Ohio, in Mitt Romney`s super courageous stand against bailing out the industry that their state depends on. But for the guy who said that bailout would never work and it was a mistake and we should let Detroit and the car companies go, it turns out that courage wasn`t the relative concept here for understanding Mitt Romney. Courage, no. Chutzpah, yes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done and help was given, the companies got back on their feet. So, I`ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry`s come back. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I`ll take a lot of credit. Of course, Mitt Romney would like to take a lot of credit. He`s out campaigning in Michigan and Ohio and Indiana, all states where the economy would be unspeakably worse if President Bush and President Obama had listened to him and turned a cold shoulder to the auto industry. I mean, if you were that guy who just said, just let Detroit go, if you had sufficient chutzpah, you might try to take credit too for what you were against. You might try to be anybody other than that guy that you were, but Mitt Romney is still that guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: My view with regards to the bailout was that whether it was by President Bush or by President Obama, it was the wrong way to go. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mr. Romney is still that guy and on tape, he is now trying to take credit for the good done for the country by the people who had the good sense to ignore him in 2008 and 2009, the people who had the good sense to ignore him and reject his advice. Chutzpah is one word for that. There are some other words, too. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It is election day and there is some major political news in tonight`s election results. In Indiana, longtime U.S. Senator Dick Lugar has lost his seat to a Tea Party primary challenger. NBC projecting that Richard Mourdock, the Indiana state treasurer, will win the Republican primary for Senator Lugar`s seat. In practical political terms, that means Democrats have a real shot at retaking that seat with their centrist Democratic candidate, Congressman Joe Donnelly. In North Carolina, the "Associated Press" reporting that voters have passed Amendment One, which doubly, triply, quadruply bans already banned gay marriage in that state, as well as all forms of legal recognition for all unmarried couples in North Carolina. State votes on gay rights were 32 and 1 against gay rights heading into tonight. They`re now 33 and 1. And in Wisconsin tonight, Democrats are choosing their challenger to face Republican Governor Scott Walker in the June 5th recall election. At this hour, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett leads Dane County executive Kathleen Falk 54 percent to 38 percent. That`s with about a quarter of the vote in. Keeping watching MSNBC for the latest results in that race. 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