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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/10/12

Guests: Chris Hayes, Ted Strickland

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: I would say -- you know, Ed, I will do that if you and I can come to an agreement that we`re both going to wear the same outfit while doing that. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: I`ll wear -- I`m easy. I`ll wear whatever you want. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Excellent. Thanks, Ed. SCHULTZ: Have a good weekend. MADDOW: You, too. Appreciate it. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Happy Friday. If you want to buy a political ad on TV, legally speaking, the station you want to buy the ad on, they have to give you their lowest advertising rate for airing your ad. Advertising rates on good stations on big TV markets are still not cheap even if you`re getting the cheapest rate. But by law, you have to get the lowest rate for airing a political ad. And that`s because there`s a public interest in making sure political speech can compete with commercial speech. And we can all learn about the issues and the candidates before the election. Because there`s a public interest at stake, because political advertising is regulated in a different way than commercial advertising, information about political ad buys on TV is public information. You have a right to know. You have a right to know who is spending how much money to put what ads on your local TV station. Until recently, though, if you wanted to get that information, you had to physically go down to the office of your local TV station and ask them to see the physical papers from something called the public file. You could then copy that information down and then presumably, you could go to all of the other TV stations in your TV market to get the same information. You could aggregate that information at home, and then try to understand what was going on in your media market in terms of political advertising for that day. I mean, technically, the information is publicly available and you have a right to know it, but realistically, there was no real way to get your hands on it in a useful way. After some very effective prodding on this issue from the investigative news outlet "ProPublica", the FCC decided that they were going to fix that problem this, which is kind of great if you`re interested in getting your hands on this data. Now, in the top 50 U.S. media markets, all of the affiliates of all of the major networks have to post online basic information about who is paying how much money to put political ads on those stations. So, for example, now we know without having to drive to WSYX in Columbus, Ohio, and sweet talk the receptionist there and have a lot of dimes ready for the copy machine, now we know over the course of one week, the Koch brothers, astroturfy, corporate-funded right wing group Americans for Prosperity, they bought 40 separate ads to run on just that one station in just that one week. Neat. For that one week on that one station, in that one media market in Columbus, Ohio, in that one swing state, the Koch brothers group dropped $23,000 running those ads. That makes you appreciate -- when you learn that, it makes you appreciate where all of the millions go, right? In politics? I mean, however much it costs you to make a political ad, it`s really the cost of paying to put it on TV and all of these media markets in all of the different states all across the country, that is where the bills really add up. So, if you want to know who leveraged the best week in presidential campaigning this week, who made the biggest political impact while spending the least amount of money to do it, it is definitely no contest. It`s the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA. Now, it`s not just the Romney campaign outraising the Obama campaign, which they are doing month after month now. The super PAC on the right is just absolutely swamping the amount of super PAC money there is on the left. When we looked at it on the show a month ago, Republican versus Democratic super PAC money looked sort of like this. That was the ratio in terms of the money on both sides. My hunch is that it`s gotten worse since we looked at it last month. But Priorities USA, the pro-Obama super PAC, they are a very small fish in the big money pond. And this week, they were nevertheless able to be the small fish that ate everything else in the pond. They won the week, because their ad showing a laid off steel worker from a plant shut down by Mitt Romney`s Bain Capital, that ad not only dominated the political discussion this week, but it earned just a furious right-wing freak-out reaction. The Romney campaign`s seething the political press today with multiple stories about how upset they were about the ad and how horrible this ad is. The Romney campaign spokesman outdoing even his own typical hyperbole at the Romney campaign headquarters, telling reporters specifically about this ad, quote, "I don`t think a world champion limbo dancer could get any lower than the Obama campaign right now." He accused the president and his allies of diminishing the Office of President and insulting the American people. The Romney campaign even put out their own rebuttal advertising saying that super PAC ad on the other side was a terrible, terrible, terrible ad. Even the Karl Rove Crossroads super PAC put out their own ad responding to it, calling it terrible, terrible, terrible. Here`s the amazing thing about this full-scale, code red, all personnel freak-out over the Priorities USA ad dominating this week in politics. Priorities USA did not air it anywhere. It is not running on television. So sure, it cost them something to make this ad. But this is how much they have spent to run it. Zero. Zero. And while that means the chronically underfunded pro-Obama super PAC is getting some really good bang for its buck -- bang for no buck in this case -- in context, the freak-out on the right about this ad is even weirder. Because while the Romney campaign and all of the pro-Romney outside groups are lighting their hair on fire and trying to get as much attention as they can criticizing this Priorities USA ad, this third-party, outside group, non-campaign ad about this steel worker and his wife dying of cancer after their lost their health insurance, while the right is losing its mind about this ad, that is not running anywhere. So far, there has been not a peep from the right about an actual Obama campaign ad that is not only out at the same time, but is actually running on television. In Florida and in Ohio and in Virginia and in North Carolina, all swing states where Mitt Romney is due to visit next week. The official Obama campaign ad actually running on actual TV in those four swing states, effectively poisoning the ground for Mitt Romney before he gets there on his next big campaign trip. And that ad makes a rather outrageous assertion, or at least it asks a rather outrageous question. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Was there ever any year when you paid lower than the 13.9 percent? MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven`t calculated that. I`m happy to go back and look. REPORTER: Did Romney pay 10 percent in taxes, 5 percent, zero? We don`t know. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Right. You don`t know. But you are suggesting that he paid nothing in taxes anyway. In an official campaign ad that is running in four swing states on TV, you`re paying a lot of money to get this message out there. No reaction from the Romney campaign so far. Just as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered no evidence other than hearsay for his allegation that Mitt Romney paid zero percent in taxes for a decade, the Obama is offering zero evidence for at least implying the same thing by asking the question in this ad (AUDIO GAP) go on to say this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: Did Romney pay 10 percent in taxes, 5 percent, zero? We don`t know, but we do know that Romney personally approved over $70 million in fictional losses to the IRS as part of the notorious Son of Boss tax scandal, one of the largest tax avoidance schemes in history. Isn`t it time for Romney to come clean? (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Son of Boss? Son of Boss was in fact a tax avoidance scheme that the Marriott Corporation used to avoid tens of millions of dollars in taxes while Mitt Romney was on the board of the Marriott Corporation. And, in fact he was on the audit committee of the board of that corporation, which means he had plenty to do with that company`s finances and presumably with how that company tried to avoid paying taxes. Marriott participated in this Son of Boss scheme to avoid taxes. They and a lot of other companies got caught doing it. For that and for other tax avoidance schemes while Mitt Romney was on the board and responsible for exercising oversight over the company paying its taxes, the company ended up paying hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to the government for what it got caught doing. All of that is in the new ad from the Obama campaign that`s running on television in the swing states. That apparently the Romney campaign does not want to talk about. They`re trying to raise a stink and attract attention instead to this other thing they found on the Internet. It should be noted that what the Obama campaign is alleging in the new ad, by putting the Son of Boss thing in the ad, it`s not about Mr. Romney personally. It`s not about Mr. Romney enriching himself, at least. It`s not about him personally avoiding paying his personal taxes. It`s whether or not he ethically or legally discharged his responsibilities as a member of a corporate board when that corporation was avoiding taxes. By raising that issue in this ad, the Obama campaign is adding to the evidence that Mitt Romney has spent his whole life dodging taxes. In his business life at Bain, and his business life at other companies he was involved in, and yes, in his personal life. That`s why they`re doing this. They`re trying to create a political impression that Mitt Romney`s life has been one scheme after another to dodge taxes. That is the impact of the Marriott Corporation Son of Boss thing. That is in the new Obama campaign ad that the Romney campaign is studiously avoiding and trying to distract from by talking about a web ad from a super PAC instead. That same issue, that idea of Mitt Romney as a chronic tax avoider is also the importance of the front page story about Mr. Romney`s finances that runs in "The New York Times" today. This is information. The story is based on information not from his tax returns which we have not seen, but instead from his investment disclosures, his financial disclosures that he legally had to make as a candidate. Among all of the other sources of income that Mr. Romney has declared, among all of those other things he`s done to make money, there`s this house that you see right there. A house in Missouri City, Texas, and the couple who lives in this house on gentle Bend Drive in Missouri City, every month, they write Mitt Romney personally a check for $600. They don`t have their mortgage on the house through a bank. Their mortgage is with Mitt Romney, personally. He`s their mortgage provider. He`s like Fannie Mitt. As recently as two months ago, they refinanced with him. They didn`t refinance with a bank. They refinanced with Mitt Romney personally while he was running for president. They send him their personal checks written out to him as a person. Why is Mitt Romney this one couple`s mortgage lender? Apparently, it dates back to an investment scheme he got involved with five rental homes in Texas back in the 1980s. Why would a high flying Boston future private equity financier rental homes in Texas? It was a tax avoidance scheme. Quote, "Mr. Romney jumped into a speculative deal geared toward affluent free enterprise capitalists who desire a quality investment with tax shelter benefits," according to a prospectus. The guy who set up this deal for him with these houses in Texas describes it as a marvelous scheme -- a scheme allowing investors to write off depreciation and mortgage interest on their taxes without risking their own money. This is a weird little detail in his finances. A couple that he does not know in Texas sent their monthly mortgage check to him because of a tax avoidance scheme he got involved in in the 1980s. The Son of Boss thing for the corporation that Mitt Romney was on the board of, it turns up in the new Obama campaign ad, that, too, was a tax avoidance scheme. A tax avoidance scheme is also at the heart of the controversy over Mitt Romney`s residency when he ran for governor in Massachusetts, which we reported on a lot over the last couple of weeks. Mr. Romney wanted to be seen as a Massachusetts resident even though his taxes showed him declaring his primary residence in Deer Valley, Utah, in what he described in "The Deseret News" as a tax avoidance scheme. Honestly, for a guy running on his financial wizardry, right, his financial background, for a guy who is running on that, we know next to nothing about Mr. Romney`s actual financial background. But what we do know about his background is a string of tax avoidance schemes. Even the Olympics thing, when the Olympics winding down over the next few days, we`re left to ponder the fate of poor Rafalca. Rafalca? Yes, Rafalca, the Romneys` dressage horse. The Romney dressage horse did not medal in the London Olympics, but Rafalca`s fame will be enshrined as an attempted $77,000 tax write off on Mitt Romney`s tax returns. Even his family`s multimillion horse ballet hobby, when it turns up in Mitt Romney`s financial records turns up as a tax avoidance scheme. This stuff adds up. I mean, financially, I`m sure it adds up. If you talk to really, really rich people about other really, really rich people, the rich people they envy, they say read the tax codes for fun. That`s how you get really rich. I`m sure, financially, pursuing this as a lifetime habit adds up, but politically, it`s adding up, too. Harry Reid has still offered no evidence for his hearsay accusation that Mr. Romney found ways to avoid paying taxes at all for 10 years. And that`s why he won`t release his tax returns. But while that unsupported allegation lingers in the political atmosphere, it`s also true that all of the real evidence we do have about Mr. Romney`s financial history is evidence of him using exotic, aggressive, and in the case of this Son of Boss thing, occasionally illegal tactics to avoid taxes. Tax avoidance. That`s a lifelong hobby. Since Harry Reid first made his unsupported heresy allegation about Mr. Romney not paying taxes for a decade, no evidence has emerged to disprove that allegation. And the only evidence that has emerged frankly points the other way. And so the issue is not going away. And Harry Reid is making sure it`s not going away. One of his staffers last night continuing to stoke the fire by asserting and partially retracting more tantalizing details about the supposed source of the hearsay. Nate Silver of "New York Times" tweeted today about the fact that all of the questions and the few pieces of evidence that we`ve got about Mitt Romney`s taxes and his finances are in a quantitatively measurable way leading people in general to ask more questions about Mitt Romney`s taxes, to wonder about it, to try to figure out more. So, the red line there that you see, the red line represented Google searches over the past few months about Romney and Bain Capital. You can see the red line drops, that means those have tailed off in recent weeks. But look what has taken its place. The blue line, searches about Romney and taxes, just skyrocketed since the end of July. That sort of interest is translating into political pressure. Even on the Republican side. In an interview with Greg Sargent at "The Washington Post" today, Jon Huntsman`s dad, Jon Huntsman, Sr., who is one of Romney`s biggest longtime supporters, Jon Huntsman Sr. swatted down rumors he was Harry Reid`s source on the Mitt Romney didn`t pay taxes for 10 years allegation. But Mr. Huntsman nevertheless told Greg Sargent this, quote, "I feel very badly that Mitt won`t release his taxes and won`t be fair with the American people. Mr. Romney ought to be square with the American people and release his taxes like any other candidate. I have supported Mitt all along. I wish him well. But I do think he should release his income taxes," so says one of Mr. Romney`s biggest supporters. The Romney campaign may not want to talk about it. They may want to talk about anything other than this, but the story just keeps getting bigger, not smaller. Chris Hayes joins us in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Was there ever any year when you paid lower than the 13.9 percent? ROMNEY: I haven`t calculated that. I`m happy to go back and look. NARRATOR: Did Romney pay 10 percent in taxes, 5 percent, zero? We don`t know. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Right, we don`t know. Nevertheless, that`s the ad from the Obama campaign that is running in four swing states right now. It suggests that Mr. Romney may have paid zero percent in taxes at some unspecified point. You would expect the Romney campaign to set its hair on fire over an ad like that, but the Romney campaign curiously is not making much of a peep at all about the ad, even as it runs on TV in four important swing states and as they raise holy heck complaining about other unrelated anti- Romney ads. Joining us now is the host of MSNBC`s weekend morning show "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES." He`s also the author of "Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy." Mr. Hayes, it`s good to see you. CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: It is wonderful to see you. MADDOW: Our friend Chuck Todd, our colleague here, had an interview with Mitt Romney in which Mr. Romney said he wanted his business record to be off limits in the campaign. How did this happen? Wasn`t that going to be businessman versus Obama? HAYES: The entire argument. Primary debate after primary debate, in terms of his comparative advantage against other people in the Republican field, right, when he was trying to establish himself against lifelong politicians such as Rick Perry, or, you know, other folks that he was competing with, Newt Gingrich, et cetera, that was the comparative advantage there, and then in the general election, his comparative advantage this is someone who doesn`t know -- the argument in one sentence was Barack Obama has never been in the private sector. He doesn`t know how to create jobs. I`m in the private sector, I know how to create jobs. It`s just preposterous to now turn around and say the entire justification for the entirety of why you`re running for the president of the United States was that you have experience in the private sector, is out of bounds. MADDOW: Do you think it`s fair to relate his personal financial history in terms of tax avoidance and other issues that have been raised by the Obama campaign very directly now, to his experience as a business leader whose business experience can lead the country into a brighter economic future? Are those things closely enough -- closely related enough that the Obama campaign can rebut this assertion from Mitt Romney that his business career, at least his tax returns are irrelevant to his political future? HAYES: Oh, look, here is what I think is fair. I think the fact that what Mitt Romney is doing, this is the key point here, Mitt Romney`s experience with the American taxes isn`t just about Mitt Romney. It`s actually a deep and profound point. Not just about tax policy in this country, not just about whether the rich pay taxes and how they do or don`t pay taxes, but about the entire rigged game that is the American social system right now. In which people with a lot of money are able to subvert the rules to benefit themselves in ways that people making $40,000 and $60,000, $80,000, $100,000 a year, or $10,000 a year are not able to. That is a fundamental aspect of the American experience right now, and Mitt Romney has thrown in his luck with the fellow plutocrats in both policy, how he`s defended his activities and his actual behavior such as we have seen he has revealed. That is a deep, profound, substantive point. It`s a profound substantive point about whether the wealthy are going to be taxed, how they`re going to be taxed, whether we have the state that`s possible that has the capability to extract revenue from people at the top. All of that is fair game and also substantive. So, yes, I think it`s fair. MADDOW: And he has put himself in an ideological spot that would indicate a real difference between Republicans that have gone before him, specifically his father. We talked about this before on the show, and I feel like it hasn`t really -- it hasn`t really spread as a broader idea in terms of the discussion here about his taxes, but I think it`s really important. Mitt Romney`s dad not only put out a lot of tax -- years of tax returns and said one ought to, and famously said that you can`t just put out one year. It might be done for show. His son put out one year, that`s obviously a direct parallel. But the other parallel is that when Mr. Romney`s taxes, the senior Mr. Romney`s taxes, were released, the reporter who wrote a book about that experience noted there were a lot of places where he could have taken tax breaks that he did not take. And he didn`t do it because he didn`t like the way it would look when he was going to be running for president. Mr. Romney the younger now says if I paid a dollar more in taxes than I legally had to, that should disqualify me from being president. HAYES: Right. That is profound about -- that says two things. There`s two aspects to George Romney`s tax returns are fascinating. One, are the choices he made not to take exemptions he could, and two, how much the man paid in taxes. Our top marginal tax rate at the time was 90 percent. The amount that he paid as an effective rate was 35 percent, 36 percent. We`re talking 14 percent or 15 percent for Mitt Romney. And here`s the thing, those rules about taxation changed the norm of how elites comport themselves. There`s a connection between those two things. And so, in that sense, Mitt Romney is remarkably representative not just of who Mitt Romney is as a person but actually of an entire ruling class, frankly, that has loosed itself from the bounds of a kind of norm good conduct, of probity, of following the law in its intent and spirit and not just -- MADDOW: And of seeing their own behavior as rationally related to the health of a country. HAYES: Absolutely. MADDOW: I will say that I would like this discussion, those things you said in the discussion, to implicitly be the rebuttal to anybody who says the tax returns discussion is not substantive and it`s a discussion. It`s central to the economic issues in the campaign. HAYES: Absolutely. This is the big question. MADDOW: Yes. Chris Hayes, the host of "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES," which is back tomorrow? HAYES: We`re back tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. MADDOW: Back tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Chris` new book is called "Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy" and it`s great. Get some sleep, sir. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. HAYES: Thank you very much. MADDOW: All right. If you are a member of a Hall of Fame, any Hall of Fame, that should probably get you some special treatment, right? Or at the very least, it should give you fair treatment. Unless you have the temerity to try to vote this year. That story is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you want to know if you`re on the unofficial short list of the Republican nomination for vice president this year? You can confirm whether or not that`s true by checking to see if America`s major news gathering organizations have assigned someone to do surveillance of you. There`s someone being paid by all the networks to politely watch Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and Ohio Senator Rob Portman and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty right now to watch what they`re doing every single minute of the day and night, just in case. I`m not kidding. But at least in the case of Governor Pawlenty, you, too, can join in the fun surveillance very easily. This Sunday, Governor T-Paw who`s apparently on the V.P. short list again, he will be on "Meet the Press" on NBC this Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern. In between various Olympics telecasts, and I will be among those most closely monitoring his activity, because I`m excited to be appearing on "Meet the Press" also. So, please tune for that, Sunday morning. It ought to be fun, Sunday morning, 9:00 Eastern, Tim Pawlenty on "Meet the Press," followed shortly by that person there with the bad hair. Yes, along with my fellow panelists. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The great state of Pennsylvania is home to a civic geek`s dream come true. The state of Pennsylvania has a Voter Hall of Fame. Every year into this Hall of Fame, they induct new super voters -- Pennsylvanians who have voted in 50 consecutive elections. Quote, "The Voter Hall of Fame inductees hold a special place in Pennsylvania history. For 50 years, they have placed their responsibilities as citizens of this commonwealth first. We`re grateful for their lifelong commitment to democracy and we proudly induct them into the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame." In Pennsylvania, they like to say they take voting seriously. They take their civic responsibility as participants in a democracy seriously. Here`s this year`s Voter Hall of Fame ceremony in Lycoming County, where 100 new super voters were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Here`s the ceremony from Wayne County, 19 new Hall of Famers inducted. Here`s the Elk County induction from last year, 200 new Hall of Fame super voters inducted in Elk County last year -- awesome. The Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame has been around since 1982. Right now, there are almost 6,000 registered voters who are Hall of Fame super voters, whose vote in this year`s election would represent more than their 50th consecutive ballot cast. But if the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame super voters thought they were going to be able to waltz right into their precinct and cast a ballot like they have for the last 50 years, well, this year, they would be wrong. That`s because back in March, Pennsylvania`s Republican-led legislature passed and its Republican Governor Tom Corbett signed, a strict new voter ID law that requires voters to present up-to-date government issued photo ID they never had to show to vote before, before they`re allowed to vote this year. It`s documentation that a substantial number of Pennsylvania voters do not have. Last month, the state released data showing that more than three quarters of a million of Pennsylvania voters, almost 10 percent of the state`s registered voters do not have photo ID from the state. They are legal voters, they just don`t have this thing that they say you now have to show that you never had to show before if you want to vote. And it turns out there are a lot of Hall of Fame Pennsylvania super voters who are among them. According to an analysis by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, nearly a quarter of the Pennsylvania super voters who are in the Hall of Fame, who have cast ballots in the last 50 elections in a row, they do not have valid state issued ID and could therefore be prevented from voting in November. One of the super voters, a 91-year-old whose expired driver`s license is not considered valid form of ID because it`s expired told "Talking Points Memo," quote, "I wouldn`t be able to vote if I don`t get some form of ID. I wondered why it was, what was the problem they passed something like that. It`s awful funny." A 90-year-old who gave up her driver`s license three months ago told "TPM", quote, "I don`t know why, for what reason voter ID was passed. I couldn`t tell you." Zachary Roth, who is a senior writer and editor at went to Pennsylvania and talked to 101-year-old Pennsylvanian who doesn`t have the proper photo ID to vote in November. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ZACHARY ROTH, MSNBC.COM: How would you feel if you weren`t able to vote? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would feel very badly because I know we have come a long way where we could not vote. I remember when we black folks did not vote. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This is a state that takes the civic duty of voting so seriously that it has a voting Hall of Fame. But this year, the state of Pennsylvania is poised to deliberately disenfranchise many of its most dedicated voters. You voted in 50 elections straight? Congratulations. Here`s a glossy certificate and a special place in our civics Hall of Fame forever. Now, no more voting for you. So, that`s Pennsylvania. And the great state of Iowa, while Republicans tried for it, there is no new Iowa voter ID law for this year`s election. But that doesn`t mean that nobody gets disenfranchised. The Republican secretary of state in Iowa has suddenly moved to start a purge of the Iowa voter rolls. The Iowa secretary of state used an emergency procedure that allowed him to issue the new purge rule without giving notice to or taking input from the public. He tells "The Des Moines Register" that the usual notice and public participation are contrary to the public interest because these procedures, this voter purge had to be in effect before the November 6th presidential election. So he`s trying really quick like with no public oversight to purge the voter roll three months before the election. What could possibly go wrong? That`s Iowa. As long as we`re talking shady new Republican election rules in the swing states just in time for election day, we also need to make a quick stop in Ohio. For the past couple nights on this show, we`ve been talking about a new partisan disaster in voting rights in Ohio. Now, the big news, don`t pay attention controversy right now is Republicans moving to cut off the three days of early voting. Expansive early voting, of course, it`s the change that`s credited with turning the hours long nightmare lines in `04 election in Ohio into something that resembled a functioning election day in 2008. But that relatively trouble-free election in 2008 resulted in Barack Obama winning the state. So, coincidentally, this year, Republicans in Ohio would like to have fewer early voting days. Ohio`s Republican secretary of state, John Husted, has been trying to defend that move, trying to explain why the point is not to get fewer people to the polls, not to have longer lines on Election Day, why it would be so important to cut off early voting three days early. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) JOHN HUSTED, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: I don`t think the bar is too high there for anybody who really cares about the future of our country and wants to have their voice heard by voting. We try to make it easy, but we can`t -- you know, I say we`re not 7-Eleven. We can`t stay open 24/7 and let anybody vote by any rule they want to. We have standards. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: That is Ohio`s Republican secretary of state`s explanation for cutting off the last three days of early voting in the state, including the Sunday before Election Day, which is when African-American churches mobilize their congregations to go early vote en masse. You can`t go around voting whenever you want. We have standards. The fact that those standards are likely to result in longer lines in the big cities where Democrats are favored, I`m guessing the secretary of state would say that`s just a coincidence, but I would love a chance to ask him. Even the questions remain about the cut-off of the last three days of early voting in Ohio, so far, the secretary of state, John Husted, has not answered questions about the other election scandal in Ohio for this year, the one I find hard to believe is not front page news all over the country. The bigger election scandal in Ohio right now is that on a county by county basis, election polls are deciding whether to allow early voting on night and weekends. Each country`s election board -- and Ohio is 88 counties -- is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, equal numbers. In counties that tend to vote for the Republican candidate, like Warren and Butler Counties, where John McCain won in `08 by big margins, in those counties, Republicans and Democrats on the elections boards are voting together to allow early voting on nights and weekends. That means more voting in Republican counties. But in the counties that tend to go Democratic like Cuyahoga and Franklin and Summit, where Barack Obama won by huge margins in 2008, the Republicans on those county election boards are voting against early voting on nights and weekends. And guess who gets the break -- for the tie votes in those counties, guess who gets to break the ties? This guy, Republican secretary of state, John Husted, who is voting with the Republicans naturally to deny early voting on nights and weekends ion Democratic counties. He is personally intervening to make sure there are fewer early voting hours on nights and weekends in Democratic counties while there are more early voting hours on nights and weekends in the Republican counties. Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland who`s also a co-chair of President Obama`s re-election joins us on this, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Your right to vote and who is stopping you from having that right to exercise anymore -- that`s coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) HUSTED: We`re not 7-Eleven, we can`t stay open 24/7 and let anybody vote by any rule that they want to. We have standards. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: The debate about voting this year in the crucial swing state of Ohio continues mostly to be about the Republicans` new effort to cut off the last three days of early voting. But what no one in power in Ohio has yet answered for is the Republican effort in Ohio to allow people to vote early on nights and weekends in Republican-leaning counties, but to not make the night and weekend early voting hours available for voters in Democratic counties. Joining us now for the interview is former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who is a co-chair of President Obama`s re-election effort. Governor Strickland, thank you very much for being here. I appreciate your time. TED STRICKLAND (D), FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR: Good to be with you, Rachel. I`m happy to talk about this issue. It`s very important to my state. MADDOW: In Ohio, obviously, when Ohioans go out to vote, it matters to the whole country because Ohio is such a crucial swing state in every modern presidential election. This one is no exception. On this issue about different early voting hours and Republican leaning counties and Democratic leaning counties, is this a story of national significance? And is this a done deal or is this something that might yet be fixed and normalized across the state? STRICKLAND: Well, it could be fixed. I don`t know that it will be. But the fact is, Rachel, I think it`s become very clear as we have watched what has happened here in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Florida and Iowa and elsewhere, that the national leadership of the Republican Party is afraid of the American voter. And they are doing whatever they can do to limit voting among those who are the most vulnerable. I`m not talking about our minority population, our older citizens, our student population. And you know, when the secretary of state says we have standards, those standards ought to be consistent standards. But you have just mentioned something that is of great importance. Some counties are going to allow expanded voting hours, and other counties will not be able to have that privilege. And as it turns out, as it turns out, in the Democratic-leaning counties, those hours will be restricted. And in the Republican-leaning counties, those hours will be expanded. And that is unfair. And it`s something that could -- it could possibly affect the outcome of the election in Ohio. MADDOW: In terms of the last three days of early voting being cut off, we know that has been the subject of a lawsuit by the Obama campaign in Ohio and there`s been some -- a little bit of political wrangling over that, but a lawsuit has been filed. But that`s not specifically about that issue, about that disparate voting hours between different counties in Ohio. Do you anticipate that the Obama campaign, which you are co-chair, do you anticipate that the campaign may also take some sort of legal action or attempt to intervene in some other way about these different hours county by county? STRICKLAND: Well, Rachel, this issue has just recently surfaced. "The Cincinnati Enquirer" has done some stories about it, and I think Ohioans are only now becoming aware that this disparity is going to exist. And we all know about obviously the prohibition on voting during those last weekend days before the election. And four years ago, Rachel, about 95,000 people voted during those three days. And so they have limited that, and the Obama administration with the Ohio Democratic Party has brought suit to try to get that changed. But this issue about having inconsistent voting hours and opportunities from one county to another has only recently, I think, entered the public awareness. And so, we`ll just have to see how this plays out as more and more people become aware of this really terrible situation. MADDOW: With the restrictions on early voting, with the disparate hours between different counties in the state, are you confident that the Obama campaign, that the Democratic Party, that the other pro-Obama forces s in the state are going to be able to counter, essentially, those measures from the Republicans with a strong enough get out the vote effort that they`re going to be able to carry this thing? STRICKLAND: Well, I can tell you the Obama campaign is alive and well in -`Ohio. It`s a robust campaign. There are more than 70 field offices open across our state, and work is being done from daylight to way past dark. And the fact is that it`s showing in the polls. The president is looking very strong in Ohio. In all of the polls, and that lead seems to be increasing. But it will be a close race in Ohio. You pointed out accurately, Rachel, that Ohio is always at the tip of the spear when it comes to deciding who the president is going to be. And I think that is also going to be the case this year. I think that this disparity in counties that are Republican counties versus counties that are Democratic counties is so troubling to us. MADDOW: Former Ohio governor, Ted Strickland, a Democrat, co-chairman of the president`s re-election effort -- sir, thank you very much for your time tonight. It`s nice to have you here. STRICKLAND: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Thank you. All right. We have something important to explain and something important and undercover in today`s news. Big finish tonight on the show. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. But for those of us who are civilians, it can sometimes be hard to keep straight what a career path is like, what the different ranks mean, for example, in the American military. Yes, we get to know what the basics. We know what a general is, right? And we know for a general, the more stars, the better. Even we civilians just know some of these things colloquially. Like we know that "Saving Private Ryan" was about saving a relatively low ranking soldier and maybe know that those two bars on tax hanks helmet mean he`s not the private in question. He in fact is a captain. So, some of the stuff we just absorb even if we`re civilians and we don`t have a lot of knowledge about the military, we just absorb it through the news and through movies and through culture. It is worth appreciating though one important distinction about personnel in the U.S. Army that we civilians I think don`t always get. It took me awhile to figure it out and learn it once I sort of thinking about it for the first time. There are two separate career paths in the U.S. Army. This shows the officer career path or commissioned officers through officer candidate school or ROTC or the service academy at West Point for the Army. You can start on the officer career path that starts at 2nd lieutenant, then 1st lieutenant, then captain, then major, then lieutenant colonel, and then you`re a full bird colonel and then you`re a general, one star, two star and so on. That`s the officer career path. But there is also a separate career path, a separate career path with different ranks for what they call enlisted personnel. This means you don`t start at officer candidate school or ROTC or West Point. You enlist as a private. And then from there, the ranks rise through private first class and then specialist and then sergeant and staff sergeant, then sergeant first class, master sergeant, first sergeant, sergeant major and then command sergeant major. Technically, there is one rank above command sergeant major but it`s sergeant major of the Army. There`s only one person who holds that rank in the entire U.S. Army at any one time, only one person. So really command sergeant major is it. The way the Army describes it, "Enlisted soldiers who attain the distinction of being selected by the Department of the Army for participation in the command sergeants major program are the epitome of success in their chosen field in this profession of arms. There is no higher grade of rank and there is no greater honor, perhaps slightly wiser and more experienced than the first sergeant, the CSM is, the command sergeant major is expected to be calm, settled and unequivocally accurate but with an energy and enthusiasm that never wanes even in the worst of times." So we are all familiar even us civilians are all familiar with the fact that being a general is a really big deal in the Army, right? Being a command sergeant major is way less familiar to us just in terms of its terminology but in important ways, it is just as big a deal. It is the top of the heap. It is the apex of the career Army personnel status to which very few people ever hope to ascend on the enlisted side of the Army ranks. This is a picture of the leadership of the Fourth Brigade Combat Team of the Army`s 4th Infantry Division, which is based in Fort Carson, Colorado. You know that size, it`s between 3,500 and 3,800 soldiers and that`s not counting a lot of support personnel. On the left, you see here the brigade`s commander, Colonel James Mingus, on the right is the brigade command team`s commands sergeant major. That rank I just explained, command sergeant major. In this case, it is Kevin J. Griffin. Both of these men specifically, the leaders of the entire 4th Brigade Combat Team were targets of a suicide attack a couple of days ago in the capital of Kunar Province in Afghanistan. Two suicide bombers reportedly detonated explosive vests as these two soldiers walked to a meeting with Afghan officials and tribal chiefs. The brigade commander, Colonel Mingus was not injured in the attack, but command sergeant major, Command Sergeant Major Griffin was killed. That makes him the most senior enlisted soldier from Fort Carson to die in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. Now, the Defense Department is not saying this officially, but based on our review of high profile casualties in both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we think that Command Sergeant Griffin may be among the most senior U.S. service members killed in either war, period. Major Thomas Kennedy and Air Force Major Walter Gray were also killed in that same attack, along with a State Department official, a USAID foreign service officer named Ragaei Abdelfattah. That attack as I said happened Wednesday in eastern Afghanistan. And then the next day, on Thursday, three Marines were killed in southern Afghanistan, in the latest so-called "green on blue" attack, which is what the military calls attacks by people we thought were supposed to be allies. The three Marines were reportedly shot and killed after they were invited to a meeting to discuss security. Another U.S. servicemember was injured in that same incident. The gunman in that case escaped. That all happened after another "green on blue" attack earlier this week, this one in eastern Afghanistan in which a U.S. soldier was killed and two others were wounded again by a gunman described as wearing Afghan army uniforms. NATO says there have been 24 "green on blue" attacks in Afghanistan since January which have killed 28 people. And today, a NATO spokesman tried to put that number into perspective. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIG. GEN. GUNTHER KATZ, ISAF SPOKESMAN: However, we must not forget that for the time being, as we speak actually, we have 500,000 soldiers and policemen working side by side, building trust, building confidence -- actually many of them building friendship, fighting together, fighting the insurgency and bringing peace for this country. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: We are approaching the 11th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. Starting this fall, we will be starting year 12. Is more time in Afghanistan than we`ve already been there going to build more trust and more confidence? Is more time there going to build more of what we need there? The story is undercovered because the war in Afghanistan is undercovered right now. That doesn`t mean it`s less real than it is any other day. All right. That does it for us tonight. I will see you again on "Meet the Press" on Sunday morning. Now, of course, you have to go to prison. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END