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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/14/12

Guests: Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Keenan

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. We`ve got Elizabeth Warren on the show coming up in just a moment. We`ve got the latest on Ron Paul not quite suspending his race for president but doing something that will kind of look like he`s suspending his race for president. We`ve got an exclusive coming up on tonight`s show on the issue of reproductive rights. There`s a political earthquake that`s about to happen on that issue today. We`ve got the exclusive coming up tonight on the interview. That`s all ahead this hour. We`ve got a really big show. But today in politics -- today in politics weirdly was the day that President Barack Obama took the baton from Texas Governor Rick Perry. On January 9th of this year -- that was right after Iowa and right before New Hampshire -- January 9th of this year, this was the campaign trail itinerary for the various candidates in the race. Mitt Romney was campaigning in Nashua, New Hampshire. Newt Gingrich was campaigning in Dover, New Hampshire. Rick Santorum was in Somersworth, New Hampshire. Jon Huntsman was in Concord, New Hampshire. Ron Paul was in Hollis, New Hampshire. And Rick Perry - -Rick Perry was in Greenville, South Carolina? Huh? Rick Perry decided to skip New Hampshire. Where he didn`t think he would do very well as a candidate. And he was right. Rick Perry got less than 1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire. Specifically, 0.7 percent of the New Hampshire vote. But while he was ostentatiously not focusing on New Hampshire while everybody else was up north, Rick Perry was focusing on South Carolina and he was focusing there on his brand new message that he brought to the campaign starting that one lonely southern day. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: You go to Gaffney and that little company down there that Bain Capital shut down, they`re handing out pink slips in Gaffney, South Carolina, there are people out of work down there because of what Mitt Romney and Bain Capital did. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Newt Gingrich ultimately gets more credit than Rick Perry does for having gone after Mitt Romney`s business career and all the American factories that he closed and all the people he laid off when he was at Bain. Newt Gingrich gets more credit for that as a political tactic but Rick Perry really is the one who pioneered it this year and pioneered it in sometimes gross terms. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: I will suggest they`re just vultures. They`re vultures that are sitting out there on the tree limb waiting for the company to get sick. Then they swoop in. They eat the carcass. They leave with that and they leave the skeleton. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Just skipping the part about them vomiting the chewed car vas into the mouths of their young. You hit all the other details there, Gov. But this line -- not this venture capitalist but vulture capitalist line, this criticism that if Mitt Romney wants to say you should trust him on job creation because of what he did at Bain, then his record at Bain which was about the opposite of job creation. It was about firing people and bankruptcies and businesses closing that nevertheless made him a profit -- well, if you`re going to say Bain is the reason you ought to be assessed as experienced enough to be the president, if that`s going to be the part of your record that you run on, then the whole of that record that you built up at Bain is going to be what you have to run on. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Is capitalism about the ability of hand full of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money? Or is that, in fact, a somehow a little bit of a flawed system? Look, I`m for capitalism. I`m for people who go in to save a company. I`m for people who take real risk. But if somebody comes in and take the money out of your company and leaves you bankrupt while they go off with millions, that`s not traditional capital. NARRATOR: Mitt Romney became CEO of Bain Capital the day the company was formed. His mission: to reap massive rewards for himself and his investors. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney and them guys they don`t care who I am. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s for small businesses. No, he didn`t. He`s not. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The last clip there you saw with the ominous music was from the anti-Mitt Romney documentary called "King of Bain." Remember that? Newt Gingrich`s side used "King of Bain" against Mr. Romney like a political cannon when they were heading into the South Carolina primary. If you go to right now, it automatically redirects you to this happy red, white and blue, I love Newt Gingrich super PAC page. If you go through Google and you go through the cached version of, you can see what was there before, you can find the entire 28-minute documentary called "When Mitt Romney came to town." Mr. Gingrich is now, of course, a supporter of Mitt Romney. But before he was a supporter, at the time he was using this line of attack, frankly, Newt Gingrich was beating Mitt Romney by 13 points in South Carolina. Now that Mr. Romney`s locked up the nomination, the "you want to talk about Bain, OK, let`s talk about Bain" baton has been handed off from Rick Perry and then Newt Gingrich no now President Obama`s campaign. This new ad for which there is a two-minute version and six-minute version was released by the Obama re-election campaign today. It highlights a Kansas City steel factory that Mitt Romney and Bain Capital shut down. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They made as much money off it as they could and they closed it down, they filed for bankruptcy without any concern for the families or the communities. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like watching an old friend bleed to death. It makes me angry. Those guys were all rich. They all have more money than they`ll ever spend, yet they didn`t have the money to take care of the very people that made the money for them. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bain capital walked away with a lot of money that they made off of this plant. We view Mitt Romney as a job destroyer. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The last time the gory details of how Bain did business was used to beat Mitt Romney in a general election is when Senator Ted Kennedy used ads like this one against Mitt Romney in a Massachusetts Senate race back in 1994. This is a 1994 ad. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: SCM: Mitt Romney`s firm bought the company and fired all 350 workers. Now some former workers talk about Romney`s business practices. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s cut our wages to put money back into his pocket. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re not creating jobs. You`re taking them away from us to put money in your pocket. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just wants to take money out of your pocket and put it in his. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`d like to say to the people of Massachusetts, if you think it can`t happen to you, think again because we thought it wouldn`t happen here either. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mitt Romney lost that Senate race by 17 points. Substantively, you can see the similarities between the ad President Obama campaign`s running as of today and what Ted Kennedy did back in 1994. Right now in 2012, Mr. Romney does not want to run on his record as Massachusetts governor. He wants to run on Bain. He wants to run on what he did for America at Bain. It`s because he has put Bain at the center of his campaign, as really his sole credential for the presidency, that explains why details about what he did at Bain can be so devastating to his candidacy. What he actually did at Bain may be the most devastating things that will be said about Mr. Romney throughout the entire campaign. So, if that`s the case, you have to wonder strategically, is president`s re-election campaign doing this too soon? It is only May, after all. You would think they would want to save the Bain thing so it would be ringing through voters` ears 5 1/2 months from now when people are going to the polls. Turns out, don`t worry. There`s plenty more where this came from. One thing the Ted Kennedy campaign used against Mitt Romney back in 2004 -- excuse me, back in 1994, that the Obama campaign has not yet used is the fact that as Mr. Romney and company shut down the American factories and made tens of millions of dollars for themselves and put hundreds of Americans out of work, they also sometimes shut down the factories and put people out of work and a way that made sure that you, the American taxpayer, would have to cover the laid off workers` pension costs. Yes. So Bain and company profited. Taxpayers had to clean up behind them for all the people they laid off. Private profit, public risk. Does that sound familiar? Big action by big business. That is hugely profitable. But when it goes bad, the people who took those big risks, they who got rich off them, they didn`t have to pay for them going pad, taxpayers had to pay for them going bad. That is part of the Romney at Bain story the Obama campaign is going to roll out later in the campaign. The taxpayers having to pick up the pensions after Romney and company ran off with the company`s money? Yes, I think that`s still to come. But that story -- that story about the public having to clean up after people in private business got very rich taking a big risk, that story is also, of course, the exact same story of what caused the financial collapse in 2008, the great recession. Right? The reason our economy still sucks even though it`s getting better -- big banks taking huge risks that they got rich off but when they inevitably went bad, taxpayers had to come to the rescue. All of the upside is private. All of the potential downside is public. That`s a very special kind of capitalism, I mean socialism. I mean capitalism. Since the Wall Street collapse at the end of the Bush administration and the bailout of the financial sector, think what you will about that rescue, whether or not it ought to have happened. Since then, since the financial sector got rescued by the taxpayer, things have been awesome on Wall Street ever since. Corporate profits are at a record high. I mean literally a record high. The combined earning of the Fortune 500 corporations rose 16 percent from 2010 to a record high of $825 billion last year. Record high. Here is what the Dow Jones Industrial Average was when President Obama took office in January of 2009. Where is it now? Oh, right. In terms of that whole too big to fail thing? Before the crash you used to have a bunch of banks like JPMorgan chase and Bear Sterns and Washington Mutual. After the crash, you now have JPMorgan buying those other two banks, just eating them up to form even one bigger super bank. The top five banks in the country are now bigger than they were before the crash, 13 percent bigger. Financial power is more concentrated in the hands of a few large financial firms than before the disastrous collapse. They are bigger institutions when they were when we were all horrified to learn when they were too big to fail and their failure would destroy the American economy. So, since the rescue, since the collapse and the rescue, it`s been happy days on Wall Street. Right? The Obama years have been good to Wall Street. They are doing better than they have ever done. And Wall Street has recognized and rewarded that by fleeing en masse to support Mitt Romney against Barack Obama. Wall Street has fared very, very, very, very, very, very well under Barack Obama, but Mitt Romney, frankly, is offering them too sweet a deal to look away from. Mitt Romney is offering to not only get rid of any of the new rules that were put in place after the Wall Street collapse, but to wind the rules back even further, to make them even more lax than they were before Wall Street almost destroyed the entire American economy. The symbol of that on Wall Street is this guy who is the head of the biggest bank in the country. He was very famously a Barack Obama supporter back in 2008. He`s so opposed to any new regulations on Wall Street that he now describes himself as barely a Democrat and he`s been flirting with supporting Mitt Romney instead of Barack Obama. His name is Jaime Dimon and his bank is called JPMorgan. And JPMorgan just had their own mini-meltdown. They had a small version of what took down the whole economy back in 2008. Now, it doesn`t look like JPMorgan is going to need a bailout, but what they just did is the kind of thing that did trigger the system-wide collapse and the need for a bailout a few years ago. This guy, this particular banker, this particular bank, has been arguing since the financial collapse that there don`t need to be any rules. There don`t need to be any more burdensome rules to stop us banks from doing stuff. There`s no need for rules. We`re fine. We can take care of it ourselves. If is fine if you can take care of if yourself until you can`t take care of it yourself and then the taxpayers to have to take care of you because you`re so big the whole American economy is caught up in your big dumb bets. From the taxpayers` perspective, hey, if we`re going to be the ones that will have to come to the rescue, then you sort of have to be constrained from behaving in a way that`s going to constantly require rescuing. Wall Street, of course, would still prefer that there be no rules at all. They get rescued all the time by us no matter what they do. And so for this election they are supporting Mitt Romney against Barack Obama. And a tiny little step down the ticket, it means they are throwing their money hand over fist at one particular United States senator, a senator from Massachusetts. The man who holds what used to be Ted Kennedy`s senate seat. Scott Brown of Massachusetts has taken more money than any other senator from the securities and investments sector. He has taken more money than any other senator from the venture capital sector. He`s taken more money than any other senator from the private equity and investment firms. He`s taken more money from the hedge fund industry. Hold on. This guy isn`t even from New York. Nope. But Wall Street has a guy on the inside. And his name is Scott Brown. He`s running for office in Massachusetts. But in the first quarter of this year, the city of which he received more itemized donations than any other place is New York City, which is not in Massachusetts. They call him one of Wall Street`s favorite congressmen for a reason. Actually they call him that for two reasons. You might remember what Scott Brown did when they were first writing the Wall Street rules. You remember his specific contribution? They thought there was going to be $19 billion in implementation costs for the new rules. Hmm. Who should pay for those $19 billion in implementation costs after the Wall Street meltdown nearly destroyed the American economy? Who`s going to pay for that? Well, those implementation costs were going to be paid for by the banking sector. Seems like a no brainer. Scott Brown amended the bill so the banks would not have to pay the costs. You would. Taxpayers would have to pay them. So, $19 billion -- I mean, that alone probably worth Wall Streets investment in U.S. Senator Scott Brown. But more importantly, Scott Brown is the only thing standing between Elizabeth Warren and the United States Senate. Elizabeth Warren is the founder of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau. She`s the Democratic Party`s likely U.S. Senate candidate for Massachusetts against Scott Brown and she`s making news today by saying that the head of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, should step down from his position on the board of the New York Fed where his job is to essentially regulate his own bank. The Senate race in Massachusetts this year, it`s Wall Street`s favorite senator versus Wall Street`s toughest critic. Elizabeth Warren joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren joins us next. Live. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMIE DIMON, JPMORGAN CHASE CEO: It`s a stupid thing that we should never have done, but we`re still going to earn a lot of money this quarter. It isn`t like the company is jeopardized. We hurt ourselves and our creditability. Yes. That we have to fully expect and pay the price for that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: JPMorgan Chase Chairman Jamie Dimon who`s a critic of increased regulation on Wall Street talking about his company`s massive multibillion dollar trading loss last week on "Meet the Press" yesterday morning. The reason I think he`s saying it was a dumb mistake they made, this thing they did that they don`t understand why they did it, it was just stupidity, nobody else would have done something this dumb -- the reason I believe he`s talking about it that way is because he wants his company`s mini meltdown on Wall Street to seem like a one-time deal, to seem like something that could never happen again, just a freak accident. Certainly there don`t need to be precautions from stopping anybody else from doing. Certainly, there no need to be any rules, stopping Wall Street firms from taking on that much risk again. They definitely don`t need anymore new rules. Joining us now is Elizabeth Warren. She`s the Democratic candidate for United States Senate in Massachusetts, as well as the person who came up with the idea for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington. Professor Warren, thanks very much for joining us. It`s nice to see you. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS SENATE CANDIDATE: Oh, it`s good to see you, too. MADDOW: Does what just happened at this giant bank mean we should all be worried that Wall Street is as risky for the country, as out of control as it was when they crashed the whole economy in 2008? WARREN: Well, here`s how you have to think about it. They crashed the economy in 2008. We had to bail them out because otherwise we were headed for the Stone Age, financially speaking. So, what happened next? What happened was that the companies that brought the economy to its knees did not take any responsibility -- all during the question about financial reform they fought it tooth and nail. They side, no, no, no, we can`t go there, no matter what. They lost that fight. But then they just moved to a war and it was to spend in armies of lobbyists to lobby Congress, to weaken the rules, to go light, to describe to the regulators that really intended less and less regulation and to two after the regulators, and they just say to the regulators, you know, you`ve got to do less, let`s create this little technical part over here, another loophole over there. Let`s delay implementation. So in a sense, what`s been going on is that the banks have continued, these largest financial institutions have continued a kind of business as usual. They will decide how much risk to take on. They will decide how to run their business practices. They will continue to take the profits off the top. And they will continue to leave the risks out there for the American taxpayer. While they fight off any regulation off to the side. So far, it`s worked pretty well for them. The problem now is that JPMorgan has had to admit that, wow, it really did take on a whole lot of risk and that it really got bitten by that risk, but it still wants to hold off any form of regulation. So here`s -- that`s what it leaves us with. It leaves us in a situation where what we know for sure is there`s no regulator who`s really looking over the shoulder of these big financial institutions. There`s no cop on the beat to say, wait a minute. You can`t take those kind of risks especially if you plan to leave the American taxpayer holding the bag. That`s the world we live in right now. The banks are still in charge of their own risk practices, and that`s dangerous for all of us. MADDOW: When you hear the Republican candidate for president, Mr. Romney, talk about Wall Street, talk about regulation, he says that there`s already been so much post-financial collapse regulation that it`s choking off economic growth in this country. It tells exactly the opposite story to what you`re telling. He says it`s been an overzealous amount of regulation and cracking down on the banks to a degree that`s crimping business. What`s your reaction to that? WARREN: You know, you really want to say, did he hear what Jamie Dimon just said? Jamie Dimon`s own words were that this was stupid, this was sloppy -- so stupid and so sloppy that it wasn`t even picked up by a regulator. There was no one to say, hey, wait a minute, I want to review your risk practices. I want to see the kind of risk that this huge financial institution is taking on, because we`re just about 3 1/2 years past the time when you took on so much risk that you brought this economy almost to its knees. So, the idea that Mitt Romney thinks that the banks are overregulated, it just -- there is -- it`s an alternative reality. I mean, it`s just simply not true. MADDOW: You are -- sorry. WARREN: The problem right now is there`s not adequate regulation. MADDOW: You are running against Scott Brown who won his seat in a special election in Massachusetts. He`s not been there for a full term. You will likely be the Democratic nominee and will face him in November. Why is it that he as a senator from Massachusetts has become Wall Street`s favorite senator? Why is he the top recipient of donations from the securities industry, from hedge funds, from private equity? What is it about Scott Brown that is so attractive to the industry and what`s he giving them for his money? WARREN: Well, you know, this race will be about whose side you stand on. Scott Brown went to Washington two years ago when he was elected in effect holding the deciding vote on Dodd-Frank. And as you described earlier, he traded that vote for $19 billion in breaks for the biggest Wall Street financial institutions. You know, you can put a lot of millions of dollars into someone`s campaign, and $19 billion is a heck of a rate of return. And since then, Scott Brown has been out there consistently voting for Wall Street`s interests. You know, he voted to protect big oil subsidies. He`s voted to protect those who get paid through stock rather than getting paid through pay checks through the Buffett Rule. Scott Brown has been reliable for Wall Street. You know, you remember at the same time that we were debating the financial reforms, I was out there on the other side. I didn`t have a vote, but what I was doing was fighting for a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I was worried about families that were getting hammered on mortgages, on credit cards, on student loans. I was out there saying, we need real accountability on Wall Street and arguing for tougher rules in the financial reforms. And so, it`s a pretty clear choice. And Wall Street, a lot of Wall Street, knows which side they want to invest on in this. MADDOW: Elizabeth Warren, likely Democratic candidate for Senate in Massachusetts -- thank you very much for your time. It`s nice to have you here. Thank you. WARREN: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: I should note we have invited Senator Brown to come on this show many, many, many, many, many, many, many times. He`s welcome any time he wants, but he doesn`t even return the call. Just so you know. Republicans focusing on rolling back women`s health rights. Couldn`t be. They`re the jobs, jobs, jobs folks, aren`t they? More on that ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It is rare that the most lurid thing on your local TV newscast is the story about politics. But if you were watching KFOR, which is the local NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City this weekend, that rare lurid political thing came true. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) REPORTER: Most of the contention was captured on cell phone video. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This woman right here has physically assaulted me. REPORTER: The video you are watching is being recorded by a woman who said she was just hit in the back, UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And with a fist to my back. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did not. UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you most certainly did. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: I have no idea if she most certainly did, but what all that was about is just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And now, now, we`re going to have a fight over women`s health. Give me a break. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The Republican strategy so far for dealing with that party`s problem with women, the problem, for example, of the party`s presidential nominee being on the wrong end of a 12-point gap of women voters in dozen key swing states, the way Republicans have tried to deal with that problem is to say it doesn`t exist. They say it was invented by Democrats to try to make Republicans look bad. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA: Many in mainstream media are trying to make an issue out of that straw man/straw women, this war on women that supposedly the GOP is waging and making a big darn deal about that. REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: The Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about everyone has a war on caterpillars, then we`d have a problem with caterpillars. The fact of the matter is it`s fiction. BOEHNER: This is the latest plank on the war on women entirely created -- entirely created by my colleagues across the aisle for political gain. MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The describe Republicans as anything as extraordinarily pro-women is totally missing the mark. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Republicans are extraordinarily pro-women. It`s marvelous so says Mitt Romney. Arizona`s Republican Governor Jan Brewer agrees telling "The Associated Press" quote, "We are the party of women, particularly here in Arizona. We like women." What`s the problem? We like them. The official Republican line is the war on women idea is a conspiracy cooked up by the Democrats in the media. Republican officials who secretly watch this program and will tell me this privately away from camera. You won`t admit to it publicly. I have something to tell you about this -- if you`re ready to give up the comfort of your conspiracy theory on this issue, I`d like to help you understand where this is coming from. People saying the Republican Party has a war on women, it`s coming from a real place. It is not made up. Here is what you are doing that makes it a coffee out the nose laugh line when you say you`re extraordinarily pro-woman or the party of woman, right? Here`s the stuff you are doing to earn the war on women title. It`s tonight`s inaugural edition of where that whole war on women idea came from. We`re going to name it. We`re going to start in Jan Brewer`s great home state of Arizona. On Friday night governor Brewer signed into law a bill to roll back access to contraception. A new amended version of tell your boss while you`re on the pill bill. Last Friday night, Governor Brewer signed into law a plan to defund Planned Parenthood in Arizona. It targets birth control and care for about 4,000 low income Arizona women. Last month Governor Brewer signed in a bill deciding when women are allowed to have an abortion in Arizona. Moving on to Utah, last week in Utah thanks to the Republican governor, the state of Utah has a three-day waiting period for women who are seeking an abortion. That`s the longest waiting period in the country. It`s because women are too dumb to know what an abortion means until they have been forced to think about it for three days -- oh not to mention all the time off work. In Alabama, the Republican-led legislature sent the state`s Republican governor there to ban coverage for abortion in the new insurance exchanges. In Oklahoma, that state`s Republican governor signed into law last week a bill that makes it easier for doctors to be sued but not any and all doctors. It only makes it easier to sue abortion doctors. Earlier this month, that same Oklahoma Republican governor signed a bill putting new restrictions on abortions. New regulations that make it easier for doctors who describe the abortion pill to be sued. In Kansas last week, Republicans in the House approved an omnibus anti-abortion bill. It revamps the state`s tax code to financially punish women who seek abortions in Kansas. It includes what amounts to a new tax on abortions. There`s also some personhood style language in the Kansas bill suggesting that a fertilized egg is a person in Kansas. There`s also new restrictions on when you`re allowed to have an abortion and new mandatory, anti-abortion script and reading materials doctors will be forced to give to Kansas women, including the factually untrue medically discounted myth that abortion can cause breast cancer, and as well a measure that makes it legal for doctors to essentially lie to women about their pregnancies in order to prevent them from seeking an abortion. That bill passed the Kansas House last week. Doing all of that and right now, it appears to be stalled in the state senate. The state`s Republican Governor Sam Brownback has told reporters, way back in February, that even though he had not yet read the bill at that time, he`d probably sign it. Regardless of what`s in it? He knew he`d sign it before he read it? While we`re on the subject of Republicans rushing to sign off on any and every antiabortion bill that wanders anywhere near them, Republicans in Georgia passed a new ban this year on when Georgia women can get abortions. It was signed into law by the state`s Republican governor earlier this month. Last week, Republicans who supported it in the legislature were asked by constituents to explain that vote at a neighborhood forum. One Republican lawmaker said he did have concerns about the bill, but he hoped that doctors could find a way to make it work. Quote, "Yes, I voted for it, but I had a lot of questions in my mind about what the implications are." So, he didn`t know what the bill would do, but he figured he go ahead and vote for it anyway. I hope they can work it out. That`s how indiscriminately Republicans are supporting antiabortion measures this year. Slap an antiabortion label on it. Apparently this year`s model of Republican lawmaker will automatically vote for it. This is what it`s like when Republicans are in charge. Democrats did not make this up. This is how Republicans are governing this year, wherever they have power, anywhere in the country. Republicans are prioritizing using that power to block women from having choices that they might otherwise have. It is true in the states. It is also true in Congress. "Roll Call" highlighting two different federal level Republican efforts to force new abortion restrictions on Washington, D.C. Because why not? Isn`t that why America sent this Congress to Washington to work on? New abortion restrictions for the District of Columbia? Republican Congressman Steve King has just today introduced a bill to put new federal restrictions on medication abortions. Among his 47 co- sponsors are 46 Republicans. Democrats did not make this stuff up. This is not a liberal plot to make it sound like Republicans are prioritizing attacking women`s access to health care and abortion. They really are. I could do a segment like this pretty much every other day. Every week, every day, all over the country, denial that you are actually doing this stuff does not count as a defense of this record. On the other side of the abortion rights fight, there`s just been a major, major shakeup. The leader of perhaps the most prominent and focused abortion rights group in the country has announced she`s stepping down and for a very surprising reason. That exclusive interview is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know we are better off when women are treated fairly and equally in every aspect of American life, whether it`s the salary you earn or the health decisions you make. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Obama being very well received today giving the commencement address at Barnard College in New York. Politics and policymaking around the issue of women`s health has been more of a battleground over the last couple years than at any other time since abortion rights were supposedly guaranteed nationwide in this country in 1973, amid a record number of new laws restricting abortion rights in the states. Look at this. We did not make this up. Look at this. More restrictions passed last year than from Roe v. Wade. With Republican lawmakers` unrelenting priority of pushing back women`s reproductive rights, as attacking access to abortion and even access to contraception has become essential will presidential level politics on the Republican side. The president one of the most vocal and active and focused abortion rights in the country has announced that after eight years, she`s stepping down after eight years. She`s NARAL president, Nancy Keenan. She says, quote, "Roe v. Wade is 40 in January. It`s time for a new leader to come in and basically be the next person for the next 40 years of protecting reproductive choice." Joining us tonight for her first interview since making this announcement late last night is Nancy Keenan. She`s president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Nancy, thank you for being here. NANCY KEENAN, NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA PRESIDENT: Hey, my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: Tell me more about the decision to step down now. You`re giving people lot of notice. You`re stepping down at the beginning of next year. Why have you decided to do it and to do it with this message? KEENAN: Yes. Well, you know, there`s two things a leader can give an organization. One is the hard work, the dedication, the passion, the commitment and the heart and soul in doing the job. The second thing is to know when it`s time for someone else to build on the accomplishments of the organization and for the next generations to tell their stories of choice for the next five, 10, 15 years. And like you said, I`m going to be around for the 2012 election. I wouldn`t miss that for love nor money to help re-elect Barack Obama and, of course, build on our pro-choice champions we have in the House and the Senate. MADDOW: In terms of that generational divide, I am the same age as Roe v. Wade. I was born in April 1973. The decision was January. So, it`s three months older than me. That means that everybody my age or younger grew up with abortion rights being technically guaranteed nationwide in this country. Do you feel like having somebody of my generation and younger is going to make a material difference in how this fight is fought? KEENAN: Well, I think it`s about the future. Look, my generation was the generation that fought that our daughters and granddaughters would not have to worry about this. Yet, what we`ve learned over this time is that you always have to be vigilant. And so for me, the next generation stepping into this position are going to tell their own stories -- their own stories about their lives, their experiences, not looking back at the anniversary of roe being 40, but looking forward and saying what is it about our generation now that has to lead, to protect this right? I think it all came home around the fight on contraception where it became real. It became real. Now, for me, and for NARAL Pro-Choice America, it`s just a wonderful opportunity to connect to the millennial generation, these are that 18 to 30-year-old, who are by 2020 are going to be 40 percent of the voting population in this country. So, it`s a tipping point of this issue to talk about the stories of that generation moving forward. MADDOW: This -- I will be frank with you. I feel like the sunny side of this is for you to be stepping aside from this position specifically to make room for younger women leadership in this field I think is selfless and farsighted and I think is right about the politics in terms of where your advocacy position is strongest. On the other hand, this is the greatest assault on abortion right -- we`re in the middle of the greatest abortion rights since Roe v. Wade. That`s not hyperbole. It`s really numerically evident. You are the most experienced leader in the country on this issue. Is it a good time for fresh blood? KEENAN: I`m telling you they`re now. We have wonderful young leaders there now. It`s not like waking up now expecting somebody to show up. There are young women now poised and have been fighting for this issue, but poised now to take that reign of leadership in a very different capacity. Again, I want to go back to the stories, Rachel. Because it couldn`t be me sitting in front of that panel of Congress talking about birth control and really making the impact that Sandra Fluke did. And so, it is the face of the future. It is the face of the next generation and the stories that have to be told about the impact on their lives now -- not on the lives 40 years ago -- their lives today and the importance of being vigilant. MADDOW: Do you think the next year is going to be as successful for the anti-choice, anti-abortion side as this last year was? Do you think it`s waning? I know you`re from Montana. I know there`s a great conservative, small c conservative libertarian tradition even in Montana Republican politics. Do you see the Republican side dividing on this at all or continue these strides? KEENAN: Well, I think the American public is going to speak. I don`t care if it`s at the courthouse to the White House level. I think the American public shares the values of freedom and privacy. And I think they`ve seen the assault on women this past year and they have said, enough. That voice is going to be heard at the ballot box, I think, in November. And so, whether it`s the importance of having a pro-choice president in Barack Obama, whether it`s the importance of having leaders in the House, in the Senate that have stopped some of this insanity that came out of the House or whether it`s having a governor like we do in Montana who vetoed this absolutely obnoxious legislation. That`s the importance of connecting the personal to the political that we have to vote our values. I have great faith in this next generation of millennials that they will connect the personal to the political. MADDOW: Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, through the end of this year. Thank you for joining us tonight. A lot of people have been very curious about your decision and it`s nice to hear from you. Thanks. KEENAN: Thank you. MADDOW: Appreciate it. KEENAN: All right. Up next, they had a political convention in Oklahoma this weekend and a fistfight broke out, or maybe it was that there was a big fistfight in Oklahoma this weekend and a political convention broke out. It was kind of hard to tell. We have the videotape, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The Oklahoma Republican Party held a convention this weekend and it was kind of a street fight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) REPORTER: We`re told police had to get involved when a 70-year-old Mitt Romney supporter punched a Ron Paul supporter in the head after they disagreed on the vote. Most of the contention was captured on cell phone video. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This woman right here has physically assaulted me. REPORTER: The video you are watching has been recorded by a woman who said she was just hit in the back. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And with a fist to my back. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did not. UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you most certainly did. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I bumped into you. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A woman struck me with her fist in the middle of my spine and said it`s your own damn fault. REPORTER: This wasn`t the only commotion during the Oklahoma Republican state convention. This Ron Paul supporter said he was hit in the head by a 70-year-old Mitt Romney supporter. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moved on, got to the important business that everyone here is here for instead of wasting time on something else. I really did appreciate how great the police are. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: This is not how modern Republicans expect their politics to go. I mean, the Republican Party is supposed to be orderly. The Republican Party are supposed to be Gibsons by the pool with pearl onions. Very reasonable. Very nice. Don`t eat the garnish. But not this year. Witness Oklahoma where they booed and screamed at the state`s Republican Governor Mary Fallin when she said at the convention the party`s single goal was to elect Mitt Romney as president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. MARY FALLIN (R), OKLAHOMA: Sounds like we have Obama lovers here. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This is Oklahoma. This is the reddest state in the union in presidential politics. There are no Obama lovers there. Oklahoma is the only state in the United States in which Barack Obama lost every single county to John McCain. If the Republican governor of this super Republican state cannot stump for the party`s presumed nominee without getting loudly booed, the Republican Party is truly having trouble conducting the most basic of its business. This weekend it was supporters of Texas Congressman Ron Paul in particular lodging complaints about the way the convention was being run, right up until the lights went out, literally. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Attendees said there was disagreement throughout the day. Things came to a halt when the lights turned off and the conference room walls closed on one group. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My heart was totally broken when the convention just was put into shambles. They were turning mikes off and turned the lights off. They pulled the walls across to prevent delegates from voting. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: After the punches and the blackout and the booing and the walls being closed, the convention results seemed almost irrelevant. But for the record, Rick Santorum got 14 delegates, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich each got 13, Ron Paul whose supporters made up half the crowd, Ron Paul, the last non-Mitt Romney candidate still in the race, Ron Paul got no delegates in Oklahoma. We watched this year`s supporters made a big splash at convention after convention around. In Arizona this weekend, the Ron Paul crowd booed and yelled at Mitt Romney`s son, Josh. Mr. Romney had already won the Arizona primary by 20 points back in February. He won the Alaska caucus by three points in march, but in April at the state Republican convention in Alaska, the crowd Ron Paul, jeered a U.S. senator who dared to say they should support Mitt Romney. They jeered the idea of supporting Romney at all then they elected a Ron Paul supporter as Alaska`s new party chairman. In Nevada, Mitt Romney won the caucuses which were a mess. He more than doubled up Ron Paul in the caucuses. At the state convention, Ron Paul supporters took 22 of the 25 delegates free for the taking. In Maine, Mitt Romney won a bigger mess than the caucuses in Nevada. But at the Maine state convention, Ron Paul supporters grabbed most of the delegates. History will reflect the Maine caucuses were a wreck and at the convention Maine voted for Ron Paul. Today Ron Paul announced he`s suspending the part of his campaign that has to do with going out giving stump speeches in primary states. Instead, the campaign said he`ll focus on those conventions, winning more delegates at state conventions. He`ll travel to Minnesota for the convention there this week. He`s scheduled to speak in Iowa and Washington state. His supporters are hoping for the delegate best at the Idaho precinct committee races tomorrow. We don`t know for sure what Ron Paul hopes his growing stash of delegates is going to get him at the national convention. None of the possibilities is nearly as intriguing as watching Mitt Romney trying to win the hearts of his party faithful. Republicans are not by and large crashing the doors over Mitt Romney the way they are for Ron Paul. What happens to all that enthusiasm? What happens to all that feeling? Now that Ron Paul is dialing back on the speeches and crowds, now that the headlines say he`s admitting he cannot win, will Ron Paul Republicans keep up this fight? The campaign saying Dr. Paul is concerned by supporters shouting people down at the convention all over the country. Quote, "It concerns him. He wants to convey to everybody and our staff want to convey we`ll lose more than we gain if we go and we`re disrespectful. Respect and decorum are very important to Dr. Paul." Whether or not that stated concern from the candidate means the Ron Paul delegate strategy at these conventions is going to start to dry up now, too, or whether the Republican Party at the state level will continue to be as astonishing as Oklahoma was this weekend because of the Ron Paul enthusiasm, that remains to be seen. What`s going to happen to last candidate standing against him Mitt Romney is still a fascinating question. But, really at this point it`s beyond standard pundit capacity. It`s a question only the candidate, himself, can really answer. Ron Paul, come on. I would still love to talk to you. We used to talk all the time. I will love to have you. I will not interrupt. We`ll have a great conversation. We used to talk all the time. It was fun, right? Help us understand what you`re doing. Come on. It will be fun. 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