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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/07/12

Guests: Nancy Keenan

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts a very important show tonight, because it starts year number five. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: It`s true. SCHULTZ: THE RACHEL MADDOW started, enjoying its fourth anniversary today or tonight. Congratulations, Rachel. MADDOW: You know what I want for my birthday, my show`s birthday, Ed? SCHULTZ: What would you like? MADDOW: I would like you to commit to doing one show every week from here on out in your Clint Eastwood voice. SCHULTZ: Well, I`ll consider it. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Spectacular. SCHULTZ: Those guys over on the left, you know, that Rachel Maddow starting her fifth year, she`s been one of our biggest problems. MADDOW: You sound like a cross between Clint Eastwood and Ronald Reagan and Ed Schultz. SCHULTZ: There is definitely a tone similarity there, and I think you could also throw in a little bit of Dick Cheney. I work on imitations. But -- congratulations, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks, Ed. That`s awesome. SCHULTZ: And you did a wonderful job anchoring the coverage. It`s not easy off the top of your head many times, most of the night, fabulous talent. Very intelligent. I`m honored to work with you. Congratulations, and by the way, four years in cable is like eternity. Keep going. MADDOW: Thank you, man. It was so much fun this week. I can`t wait for the debates. SCHULTZ: Yes. MADDOW: All right. Have a great weekend, man. SCHULTZ: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Behold, the world`s least exciting graph. Look. This is Gallup`s daily tracking poll starting with the day before the Republican convention. And continuing through Monday, this past Monday. See what I mean by least exciting? We showed this graph on Monday night. Right before the start of the Democratic convention to try to understand if the Republican convention last week gave Mitt Romney a bounce. That`s no bounce. Well, today, the world`s least exciting graph gets updated. This is Gallup`s daily tracking poll, again, starting with the day before the Republican convention, but now, it goes through the first two days of the Democratic convention this week. And so, yes, even though this does not yet reflect any reaction to the president`s acceptance speech because it`s just the first two days of the Democratic` convention, at least from the first part of the convention, there`s some evident Obama bounce apparent to the naked eye. Mr. Obama went up one point to 48 points. Mr. Romney went down a point to 45 points. So, hey arithmetic, the president got a two-point swing and he leads by three now in what amounts to this national poll. So that`s something. But that`s not the election. National polling does not really matter because presidential elections are not won at the national level. Presidential elections are won state by state. You win individual states. You get their electoral votes from that state. It doesn`t matter how many votes Mitt Romney gets in California. He`s going to lose that state and that`s all that matters. It doesn`t matter how many votes President Obama gets in Oklahoma, he`s going to lose Oklahoma no matter what. It`s only the states in convention that really matter and they`re the only ones that get fought after once the campaign has been joined in earnest, which had now has. Barack Obama and Joe Biden went racing out of Charlotte today to get back on the stump. First, they went to New Hampshire and then they went to Iowa. You`ll remember that Governor Romney did not get on the campaign bus, get back on the stump after his convention. He instead got on his boat. Instead of making a big swing through the states where he really needs to go compete and win, Mr. Romney for the last week has been boating and debate prepping in Vermont in what is being described in the local Vermont press as a very fancy mansion. But, today, Mitt Romney finally did get back on the trail after his boating time and his mansion time. This is really telling. Here`s how you know it`s going to go for the rest of the year. As President Obama today went to New Hampshire and then Iowa, what did Mitt Romney today do? He went to Iowa and then New Hampshire. It`s not a coincidence that they`ve got parallel itineraries. Mr. Romney is also launching a huge, expensive ad blitz in Iowa and New Hampshire. He`s using a clip from his convention speech and making a promise about how many jobs he will bring. So, Iowa and New Hampshire, you`re not seeing a lot of Mitt Romney the candidate, Mitt Romney the man, you`re also going to be seeing Mitt Romney ads all the time. So are you North Carolina and Colorado and Nevada and Florida, and Ohio, and Virginia. The eight states that are being targeted in the ad campaign, an ad campaign so big the campaign describes it as a carpet bombing. And this list of states, the states you see marked on the map right here, that is pretty much where the election is going to be fought from here on out. This map, you will notice, doesn`t include all of the places we have been thinking about and talking about as swing states. The Romney campaign is not placing its new ads in Wisconsin, in Michigan, or Pennsylvania. The super PACs that support Mitt Romney have also pulled their ads from Michigan. Mr. Romney is trailing in Michigan by as much as seven points there. The pro Romney PAC money has also dropped out of Pennsylvania where Romney is also behind in the polls. The Romney campaign and the PACs together, of course, have more money than God and Mick Jagger combined, so they could still decide to spend money wherever, whenever. They almost have infinite resources in terms of ad dollars in this campaign season. But unless something changes in their strategy, it looks like Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania are out and so the 2012 election is down to these eight states. This is a very narrow playing field. And so the specifics of what happens in these few states, the technical aspects of how voting is going to go in these eight states becomes something of national importance. And so it`s of national importance that we got news today out of Ohio where Republicans tried to cut the final three days of early voting before the election. You know that the Obama campaign sued the state of Ohio over that trying to get those days of early voting back. Last week, a judge ordered the state of Ohio to restore those three days of early voting. Ohio`s Republican secretary of state, John Husted, announced that he would appeal that ruling and while he was appealing it, he would ignore the court order telling him to go ahead with early voting. He said there was no valid reason for him to restore the voting hours now. I mean, besides that whole federal court ordering him to restore the early voting hours. Yesterday, the judge in the case issued another order that ordered John Husted to come back to court personally and explain why he thinks a federal court ruling should not apply to him. That got Mr. Husted`s attention. Mr. Husted rescinded his original order and he filed a new brief with the court in which he apologized to the court for any misimpressions. He also asked for a stay of the court`s order that Ohio restore the early voting rights. So, while John Husted is very, very sorry and would like very much not to be held in contempt of court in Ohio, he would also like to not restore those three days of early voting right before the elect where last time around, 93,000 people voted in Ohio, including a large number of African- American voters who were voting for Barack Obama. In terms of voters knowing the basics of what to expect in Ohio, knowing when they can vote, it`s kind of a mess right now. And Ohio is going to be really important this year, and it`s getting late in the game. And then there`s Virginia. Virginia has been weird all year for quite different reasons. Virginia essentially did not have a primary for the Republican presidential nomination this year. Getting on the ballot in Virginia is hard. The state requires you to gather hundreds of signatures in each congressional district. So you can`t just go to the mall in Alexandria and have a good day and say it`s done for the state. You have to be all over the state. But in the Republican primary, over the half dozen candidates who are still in the running at the time that Virginia was holding its primary, only two of them qualified to make the ballot. That`s how hard it was to get on the ballot -- only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul got their names on the ballot. Rick Perry and New Gingrich and Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman, they all tried to make the ballot, but they all failed to make the ballot for that primary in Virginia. And so, that primary in Virginia essentially didn`t matter, it didn`t really exist. But you know who did make it onto the ballot for the general election in November? This guy, hello, who are you? He`s a former congressman named Virgil Goode. Virgil Goode is a traveling man ideologically speaking. He`s been a Democrat and an independent and a Republican. But this year, Virgil Goode is running for president as the nominee of the rather right libertarian- ish, pilgrim era, family values, constitution party and he`ll be on the ballot in November along with the major party candidates. Now, think about this strategically. Mitt Romney does not want to see Virgil Goode`s name on the ballot as another right-wing candidate, right? He doesn`t want to see Virgil Goode`s name there as a choice for conservative Virginians other than him. Virginia`s Republican Party challenged Virgil Goode`s nominating petitions last week. They said Virgil Goode really didn`t have enough valid signatures to qualify. Mr. Romney and the Republicans do not don`t want him on the ballot because look how high he`s polling, he`s polling as high as 9 percent. And presumably, those votes would otherwise go to Mitt Romney and he needs every vote he can get in Virginia. One Virginia Republican said, quote, "If you want to see Barack Obama re-elected president of the United States, do whatever you can for Virgil Goode." Virginia Republicans challenged Virgil Goode`s spot on the ballot and the Virginia board elections said put him on the ballot anyway, and Virgil Goode is going to be on the ballot -- unless Virginia`s attorney general, this guy, Ken Cuccinelli decides to kick Virgil Goode off the ballot. Ken Cuccinelli has been campaigning for Mitt Romney including last week at the Republican convention. Under Virginia law, Ken Cuccinelli gets to decide whether Virgil Goode gets his name on the ballot or not. He promises -- look at the headline -- he promises he will be absolutely objective -- absolutely objective -- about this whole thing. Absolutely. Virginia is getting three different Mitt Romney ads this week. Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Florida. That`s it, that`s the election. That is who the country is counting on to handle this decision about the presidency for the rest of us, eight states. So, when stuff gets weird in one of those eight states, when something like Virgil Goode happens in one of those eight states, while that might be a weird side bar Virginia story at any other time in any other political circumstances, right now, Virgil Goode is of national political importance. Joining us now is Steve Kornacki, co-host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE," and a senior writer for Steve, welcome back. Great to have you here. STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Great to be here. MADDOW: Did you have a good time at the convention? KORNACKI: A great time. The crowd was really -- there was a lot of energy there. I wasn`t ready for that, but there were tons of people and it was exciting to be there. MADDOW: Now that you are a big MSNBC TV star, were you weirded out that everybody knows who you were? KORNACKI: Well, I`d say, it doubled as an MSNBC convention, it felt like. A lot of people said you`re that guy with Rachel Maddow. Why isn`t she there? So, you were missed. MADDOW: I could have sent you a little cardboard me. If you are a Republican strategist, how concerned would you be about Virgil Goode on the ballot in Virginia? KORNACKI: Now, I think that this is legitimate. I mean, it`s a very narrow set of circumstances where it could be decisive in the presidential elections. It needs to be razor thin in the Electoral College. It`s basically, you know, a 50/50 race. And it comes down to Virginia. Virginia is a decider state, sort of the way Florida was in 2004. Ohio was in 2004. And then it comes into play, OK, how many votes does he have and who he`s stealing it from? And you think back to 2000, look at the example of like Pat Buchanan down in Florida. That was a result of ballot confusion. But you look at all of those accidental votes that Pat Buchanan got and how that skewed that state. Or you could look at Ralph Nader and say the same thing with 93,000 that he got. The thing about Virgil Goode is, everywhere else in the country, he would be a fringe candidate who would get a microscopic share of the vote. But he has a deep political base and he has a deep political roots in southwest Virginia. This is a guy -- when you say the name Virgil Goode in New York, in California, in Texas, who is he? MADDOW: Right. KORNACKI: You say the name in southwest Virginia, they know this guy. We have been talking all year about how Mitt Romney has the problem with the enthusiasm of the Republican Party base. So this is this one sort of very small corner of the country where not only does the Republican base have a problem with Mitt Romney but there`s a conservative on the ballot who they actually know and who to them is a legitimate political figure, a guy who served 12 years in the House. He was in the legislature forever down there in Virginia. This is the guy they know. And again, all he needs in that corner of the state is about 10 percent. That starts to affect the state-wide total. So, yes, it could be big. MADDOW: And we`re at the point in the campaign when the field is being narrowed and so therefore, we get magnified political import of these internal dynamics in these individual states. And because of that, I feel like we ought to question whether or not the field is narrowed. Like we`ve got this decision from the Romney campaign to get out of Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania. The Romney super PACs essentially followed suit in that. Are they doing that potentially as a fake? Is this a commitment that they have to now follow through on, leading up to this? It has big consequences. KORNACKI: I think part of this was, look, they wanted to make news coming out of the Democratic convention. They also have this pile of money they can start spending because he`s officially the Republican nominee. So, this is sort of -- they`re trying to make some hints now, leave some hints out there they could go back and expand this later to Wisconsin, to Michigan, to Pennsylvania. But the interesting thing to me is when we start talking about the swing states, I think the way this sort of gets conventionally talked about in politics, I think we have it slightly wrong, where we look at it and say we have the national polls, but let`s look at the swing states. And when you do that, you see that Obama is ahead in the swing states right now. And we come to this conclusion, I hear this a lot, that Mitt Romney has narrow path to 270, that there`s an extra challenge for Mitt Romney on top of the popular vote. I think we`re reading it wrong. I think the fact that Barack Obama is leading in the swing states tells us that Barack Obama has been leading in the presidential race all year. The race is commonly -- you hear dead even, neck and neck, virtual tie. That`s how this thing gets talked about. If you look at -- I think the best thing to do is not look at individual polls here and there, Gallup here, PPP there. Look at these poll averages. "Real Clear Politics" does them, "Huff Post" them, where they average everything together and they come up with the trend line. If you look back at "Real Clear Politics," Barack Obama has been ahead since Mitt Romney became the Republican nominee. And it`s fluctuated a little, but basically it`s two to three points. MADDOW: And that`s looking at an Electoral College count, right? KORNACKI: Yes. If you`re ahead two to three points nationally, you`re going to be ahead in Ohio, in Virginia, in Colorado. And all these states. If Mitt Romney could get ahead two to three nationally, he takes the lead, in these states. But I think the conclusion is, he`s been -- Barack Obama has been winning this year. MADDOW: Even without Virgil Goode. Steve Kornacki, senior writer at, co-host of "THE CYCLE," which is weekdays at 3:00 Eastern here on MSNBC. Steve, great to have you here. Thanks a lot, man. KORNACKI: Thanks. MADDOW: Appreciate it. All right. One of the most notable speakers at the Democratic convention is here tonight. She`s Nancy Keenan of NARAL. She`s going to be talking with us about the fresh news about the 2012 campaign and, of course, the lady parts. That`s the interview tonight. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Al Jazeera just made a really good documentary in which they interviewed a state legislator from Ohio. This guy is a cosponsor of a bill in Ohio to dramatically roll back the time in which a woman is allowed to have an abortion in that state. So, he`s interviewed by al Jazeera. He tells al Jazeera in the interview that what he really wants is for there to be no legal abortion at all in Ohio, except to save a woman`s life. But then, this is the important part, watch what happens next, watch what happens after he says, with the follow up question from the reporter. This is kind of amazing. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion? STATE REP. JIM BUCHY (R), OHIO: Well, there`s probably a lot of -- I`m not a woman so I`m thinking, if I`m a woman, why would I want to get -- you know, some of it has to do with economics. A lot has to do with economics. I don`t know, I have never -- it`s a question I have never thought about. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Why would a woman want an abortion? I have never thought about it, says the man who is doing his best to ban abortion in Ohio. Amazing moment from that new al Jazeera documentary, it`s called "The Abortion War." You can watch it on their Web site. We have posted a link to that at Maddow Blog if you want to see it. Highly recommend it. But that problem that legislator has there with the follow-up question, that puts in a nutshell this problem for Republican politicians that actually goes all the way up to the very top of the national ticket this year. It`s a problem they got specifically on this issue and it`s a whole lot of politicians who have this problem but Mitt Romney is among them. It`s a problem with follow-up questions. It is a problem that may get worse this Sunday morning. Hold on. That`s ahead. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUCHY: I don`t know, I have never -- it`s a question I have never thought about. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I wrote an op-ed piece in the "Boston Globe", described my view that I am pro-life, described why I had changed to become pro-life. I recognize it`s a change. You can find many, many instances of my indicating my position previous to that time of being effectively pro-choice. I didn`t call myself pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice, and that position changed. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney the last time he was running for president, speaking on "Meet the Press." Abortion was not an issue in the election the way it is this year. But even then, Mr. Romney had trouble explaining what he meant about it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: I didn`t call myself pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice. And that position changed. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: What exactly is Mitt Romney`s position on abortion rights? Well, here is what he says about it when he talks about it now. This year, in this election. This is just a couple weeks ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: I`m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: OK. Abortion should only be allowed rape, incest, health and life of the woman. At least he said it clearly there, right? Or not. After that interview, the Romney campaign said that actually, Mr. Romney does not believe abortion should be allowed to preserve a woman`s health. Quoting NPR here, "The Romney campaign won`t say the candidate misspoke, but a spokeswoman does say he does not support an exception to protect the health of the pregnant woman." Except wait -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: I`m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest and the health and life of the mother. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mitt Romney does not believe that thing he just said. Did he misspeak? No, he did not misspeak, but we want to be clear that he does not believe what he said he believes. But it was not a misstatement. Four years after my position has changed from the thing that wasn`t really my position, Mitt Romney is still devolving into incoherence when he tried to explain his own views on abortion rights. I mean, he`s fine with bumper sticker simple statements, but any further effort to explain just goes horribly wrong. I mean, honestly, NPR, this NPR statement about the CBS interview is he does not believe what he said he believes, and it wasn`t a misstatement. How does that make sense? This kind of thing has turned out to be the kind of problem that a lot of Republicans candidates have had this year. I mean, thanks to Todd Akin and his fairy tale legitimate rape science theory about using sexual assault as a form of birth control, thanks to Todd Akin, the media and voters are asking Republican candidates to really explain what they think precisely about abortion rights. Republicans are really going after abortion rights in the states and Republican candidates are getting a lot of hard questions about it and even follow-up questions and that is new. Republicans are used to having this political field all to themselves, dealing with this issue for them means just talking to true believers who want to push them further and further and further to the right on this issue. They really only faced questions on abortion rights from people who want them to be even more extreme on the issue. Because Democrats have traditionally been shy about talking about this issue in most election years, Republicans aren`t used to have to explain themselves to anyone who doesn`t already agree with them on the issue. They almost never face mainstream media questions on abortion rights. They certainly don`t face political opponents` questions on abortion rights. But that is no longer true. This year, many Republicans are getting follow-up questions on this for the first time and it`s not going well. From vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan who`s trying to explain forcing rape victims to bear their rapist`s children and his efforts with Todd Akin to redefine rape even as he criticized Todd Akin for his efforts to redefine rape, because all the down the ticket, though, the Republican House and Senate candidates are having similar problems. Just in the last week or so, we have seen new Todd Akin cropping up in races all over the country. Tom Smith is running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. He`s the Republican nominee for Senate. Here`s what happened when an "A.P." reporter asked Tom Smith a follow up question or two about his position on abortion rights? (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) REPORTER: In cases of incest or rape, abortion should or should not be -- TOM SMITH (R), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: No exceptions. REPORTER: No exceptions? SMITH: No exceptions. REPORTER: How would you tell a daughter or a grand daughter who God forbid would be the victim of a rape to keep the child against her own will? Is that something you -- do you have a way to explain that? SMITH: I lived something similar to that with my own family. But she chose life. And I commend her for that. She knew my views. Fortunately for me, she chose the way -- she wasn`t raped. REPORTER: Similar how? SMITH: Having a baby out of wedlock. REPORTER: That`s similar to rape? SMITH: No, no, no, but put yourself in a father`s position, yes. It is similar. But back to that original, I`m pro-life, period. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, who`s name is Tom Smith -- him explaining why getting pregnant outside of marriage is just like getting raped. Put yourself in a father`s position. Oh, and also, the government should force you to carry the pregnancy to term either way no matter what you want. Vote for me in November. Tom Smith, his name is. Then there`s Rick Berg. He is running for the U.S. Senate seat in North Dakota. He`s the Republican nominee for Senate there. This week, the folks at BuzzFeed reported on an anti-abortion bill that Rick Berg voted for in the state legislature there. It would criminalize abortion to the tune of life in prison for violators including victims of rape and incest. The bill doesn`t just classify abortion as a felony punishable by life in prison. It also essentially defines a fertilized egg as a person, which means even some forms of birth control could become felonies punishable by life in prison. So, using IUD? Life in prison for you. In vitro fertilization? Life in prison for you. That includes rape victims and incest victims. And then there`s Congressman Roscoe Bartlett running for reelection in the great state of Maryland. Roscoe Bartlett has served 10 terms, but this year, thanks to redistricting, he`s not running in a super safe district for the first time when he first won the seat in 1992. This year, Roscoe he really has to campaign hard to hold on to the seat, which is why it`s not a great time for him to be faced with follow-up questions about his anti-abortion policies that he`s not used to talking about with anyone who doesn`t agree with him on the subject. But that`s exactly what happened to the town hall last week that went very bad very quickly. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ROSCOE BARTLETT (R), MARYLAND: There are very few pregnancies as a result of rape, fortunately, and incest -- compared to the usual abortion, what is the percentage of abortions for rape? It is tiny. It is a tiny, tiny percentage. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty thousand pregnancies every year from rape. BARTLETT: And how many abortions? In the millions? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s 20,000 rapes. That`s 20,000 people who were violated. BARTLETT: I know. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like 20,000 too many. BARTLETT: Percentage of abortions for rape is compared to overall abortions is a tiny, tiny percent. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And incest is quite high. BARTLETT: Yes, yes. But again, it`s a tragedy for the family and the person, but in terms of actual numbers, it`s a pretty small percentage of the total number. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unless you`re the one. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Twenty thousand women a year. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett doing his best Todd Akin impersonation with some of his constituents. He`s facing a hard reelection effort already. Republicans ability to answer questions and follow-up questions on women`s reproductive rights is a skill that has atrophied. Republicans simply do not have all that much ability to take criticism from the center or from objective people or from people who are not activists on their side of this issue. This campaign season, when Mitt Romney has agreed to interviews, he has mostly agreed to them on the condition that they are conducted by the FOX News Channel. I don`t know why, but that`s how it`s been. But this Sunday, Mitt Romney is appearing for the first time in nearly three years on "Meet the Press." He`s going back to "Meet the Press." And if his answers to basic follow-up questions about his positions stay as incoherent as they have been on the issue, he could be in some trouble. Do tell. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NANCY KEEGAN, NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA PRESIDENT: I am proud to say that the Democratic Party believes that women have the right to choose a safe, legal abortion with dignity and with privacy. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, addressing the Democratic National Convention in primetime this week. Nancy Keenan joins us now for the interview. Nancy, thank you for rushing back from Charlotte to be here. KEENAN: Great to be here, and congratulations on the show. MADDOW: Thank you very much. Lots of speakers at this convention referred to a woman`s right to make her own health care decisions like sort of using language like that. You came right out and talked about a woman`s right to choose a safe, legal abortion. Did you get any feedback or any direction from the DNC or from the Obama campaign or what kind of language they wanted you to use? Did they tell you anything about that? KEENAN: Not at all. We wrote the speech, so obviously, it was the message I wanted to say, and having sat on the platform committee on what the Democratic Party holds as a value and that is that abortion should be legal in this country and women should make that decision, not politicians. MADDOW: When the decision was made by the Democrats that they were going to put the issue in primetime with your speech and a lot of other references and speeches with Cecile Richards speaking from Planned Parenthood, with a Planned Parenthood patient talking about her experience there, by putting that on TV, in their big 72-hour infomercial this week, do you think there were decisions to make about how to essentially pitch it? Essentially how to make a case that this is reason to vote for Barack Obama? Do you think it was a hard decision for him? KEENAN: Not at all. Not at all, and I think because women are going to make the difference in this election. And I think that, let`s take a look at `08 when the issue wasn`t quite primetime, and we saw in the 2010 elections and these guys ran on jobs, jobs, jobs, and then actually started attacking reproductive rights both at the state level, at the federal level. So, it`s come back into the consciousness of people in this country to say, whoa, this is at risk. Then we saw the debate on birth control. Same thing, people said, oh, no, really, birth control? We saw the next generation of young women say what`s at stake here and what`s at stake in this election? And so, it`s not surprising to me at all. I think we understand the role that women are going to play in this election for Barack Obama. MADDOW: We have seen Mitt Romney have trouble explaining his own position on the issue. I don`t just mean that he`s evolved over time. I think politicians can evolve on this and all sorts of different issues. But he appears to still be evolving even in this moment. He did an interview a couple weeks ago in which he said one of the exceptions he believes in criminalizing abortion is to save the health of the woman. His campaign then came out and said actually, he doesn`t believe that at all. Do you think that the -- those details about specific types of exceptions, about specific ways to criminalize abortion, specific ways to erode that right of privacy, are appropriate sort of needling when follow- up questions for the media to be pressing on this, or do you think they should just be focusing on the fact that he wants to overturn Roe versus Wade and that`s the full story? KEENAN: Well, I think the point you have to focus on is you can`t trust this man. You cannot trust Mitt Romney. And that`s what I said to women in this country. On any given day, he can have a different position. How do you trust him with our health? How do you trust he will not make every effort to overturn Roe v. Wade? He could have that opportunity with Supreme Court justices and the opportunity to fill a seat. So when people say what does a president have to do with this? A lot. He can be the backstop for all of the insanity that we`ve seen this last year come out of the Congress, and/or he can make sure that women`s rights and health are protected, and Barack Obama has done that. And Mitt Romney, you can`t trust. MADDOW: Do you feel like the articulation of the issues around the federal election, the presidential election, may have effects in the states? Because so many places where the restrictions have gone forward are in the states. Is this going to help with that? KEENAN: Absolutely. And I think you`re seeing it at the legislative level. Obviously, you`re seeing it in governors` races and you`re seeing people stand up and say this is not the role of government. These are the small government people unless it comes to women`s health. And they`re standing up and saying no. We can run on this issue. We can win on this issue, and it`s making a difference. Not only are they talking about broadly women health. They`re talking about the right to an abortion in this country without political interference, without him being him or her being in that examining room with a woman and her family. MADDOW: Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America -- again, congratulations on your high profile spot this week. Thanks for being here tonight. KEENAN: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. There was a big story that broke right in the middle of the Democratic convention that got just about zero news coverage because of when it broke, but it`s the kind of story you`ll talk about for a long time after you hear it and you`ll hear it here, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It isn`t fair to say that Mitt Romney doesn`t have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position. He said it was tragic to leave Iraq, and then he said it was fine. He said we should have intervened in Libya sooner. Then he ran down a hallway to run away from the reporters who were asking questions. Then he said, the intervention was too aggressive. And then he said the world was a better place because the intervention succeeded. Talk about being for it before you were against it. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: What a difference eight years makes. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, derided by the Republicans that year as the "for it before he was against it" guy who couldn`t be trusted to take over foreign policy from George W. Bush. Amazing as it sounds that Republicans ran on foreign policy in the era of George W. Bush, they certainly did. But now in the post-George W. Bush era, Republicans can do no such thing. I mean, yes, they`re still using the military for a prop. They unveiled their vice presidential nominee by having him literally run out from a battleship as if he had just been in there swabbing the decks or something when they happened to hear his name called, I guess I better get out there. There was no mention of the war we are currently fighting from either Republican nominee at their convention. No mention of the war. No real focus on foreign policy at all except some nonspecific chest-pounding about new wars they might want to start maybe in Iran, or Syria, maybe Russia. But it`s the Democrats, including a bellowing and aggressive John Kerry who were the ones who sound like this at their convention now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KERRY: He promised to focus like a laser on al Qaeda. And he has. And our forces have eliminated more of its leadership in the last three years than in all of the eight years that came before. And after more -- after more than 10 years without justice for thousands of Americans murdered on 9/11, after Mitt Romney said it would be naive to go into Pakistan to pursue the terrorists, it took President Obama against the advice of many, to give that order and finally rid this Earth of Osama bin Laden. Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: While that was all happening in politics this last couple weeks, something else was happening in justice. Back during that 2004 campaign that John Kerry versus George W. Bush campaign in the spring of that your, photos surfaced that showed something going horribly wrong in one of the Bush wars. They were photos from an American run prison in Iraq called Abu Ghraib. American soldiers guarding Iraqi prisoners, the photos showed the prisoners being mistreated horribly and bizarrely, sexual humiliation, obvious physical abuse, sexual assault, prisoners being menaced by dogs, obscene and medieval -- and it was Americans who were doing it. Ultimately, 11 soldiers were charged and convicted. The commanding general in charge of prisons in Iraq was demoted, but that was it. Donald Rumsfeld stayed, Bush got re-elected. The war went on for another seven years before we got a president who ended it. But as much as we may have just decided to move on from all that and consign it to the way we think of the Bush era, which is over, there has been all these years one element of Abu Ghraib that could not really just be over. And it was this -- these are Army reservists, we have blurred both faces, but Army reservists on the top of the screen -- Army reservists prosecuted posing with a dead man. The same man appears a few different times in the photo dossier from Abu Ghraib. He got described as the iceman in the descriptions of the photos because his body was packed in ice in this body bag. But he had a name. His name was Manadel al-Jamadi. This is his widow and this is his son holding that same picture. Al-Jamadi was killed in U.S. custody. Military autopsy ruled his death a homicide. The Justice Department announced this year they had reviewed about 100 cases of people being abused or tortured by American personnel abroad and decided they would not prosecute anyone, but they saved out two specific cases for full criminal investigation -- two cases where people in custody were killed. One of them was a prisoner who died while shackled half naked to the wall of a freezing cold cell in Afghanistan, and one was Mr. al-Jamadi. Of everything that happened in the Bush years they tried to push down the memory hole, these were the two cases, these two murders that were held out as maybe worthy of prosecution. A hundred cases, no prosecutions. But these two, OK, maybe we`ll look at those. No. Last week, on the last day of the Republican National Convention, when Mitt Romney was busy not mentioning the war in Afghanistan at all, the Justice Department announced that day they would not prosecute anybody for those last two cases either. "The New York Times" editorialized, "Any remaining hope for meaningful accountability for torture and other abuses under President George W. Bush has ended for all practical purposes. That`s it, the last two cases. It`s over, as of Thursday. And then all of a sudden, it wasn`t over anymore. Yesterday, a week after the Justice Department said that chapter in our history is over, yesterday, the book opened back up. This is a drawing of a box. A three foot by three foot box that a Libyan man says he was locked inside by the CIA in Afghanistan, three feet by three feet. Think about that. He and another man -- he and another man say that they were hung from handcuffs inside this box that they`ve drawn. There would have been multiple people in this, one in each stall that is barely wide enough for a man`s body. These drawings were published today by Spencer Ackerman at the "Danger Room" blog at The two circles you see in one of the stalls are speakers on either sides of the men who would be suspended in these boxes, speakers blaring loud music directly into their ears. A new report by Human Rights Watch also says that the man who describes having been locked inside the first cramped box, he was also waterboarded by Americans in 2003 in Afghanistan. That is a whole new allegation of waterboarding we never knew about before. The CIA only admits to doing water boarding to three people and this Libyan guy, this new guy is not one of the ones they admit to. The CIA is denying his claims. We`ve never prosecuted any of this not even the murders. We keep trying to put it behind us, but it keeps coming back. President Obama on his first full day in office banned torture by U.S. personnel. It is already illegal to torture are somebody and it was supposed to be banned. But we did torture people as a matter of policy during the George W. Bush administration. So banning it after that administration meant rescinding all the hokum pseudo-legal advice that Bush people used to supposedly justify it and protect people from prosecution. The president made it no longer the policy of the United States to torture, but his administration also decided to let the people who did torture get away with it. And the man he is running against for president now says that he would happily reinstate the old Bush era policies on torturing people on waterboarding. Prosecutions for torture would have made this a latter of law and justice and negativity policy. Not prosecuting it makes it just another policy issue, makes it just another choice between candidates. Just another choice that any president can make moving forward, because there is a precedent of it being known in this country and unprosecuted in this country, and therefore, effectively legalized -- which means as long ago and as far as away as 2004 seems from this year and this election, the American people have another choice to make in this election between torturing people or not. That is still not a settled matter for us as a nation. It`s just a decision made by one man depending on who`s in that office. The past is never dead. It is not even past. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. When President Obama gave his speech last night, did he so indoors. They had planned for the president to give his speech outdoors at the stadium where the local NFL team plays in Charlotte. But because of the threat of severe weather, they moved it indoors to the stage where the rest of the convention took place. Now, the practical consequence of that was that tens of thousands of people who thought they would get in to see the president`s speech at that giant stadium could not get in to the smaller arena. I think that may have been part of the reason there were these giant crowds mopping and cheering MSNBC, cheering for Chris Matthews and Al Sharpton and everybody else at the MSNBC set in downtown in Charlotte. I think people do love us, but people couldn`t get into the president`s gig so they came out to hang with us instead. It made it very, very fun for everybody there from MSNBC. But the other practical consequence was there was not enough time at the indoor arena to get a zillion balloons hung from big nets in the roof of the arena. So, while Mitt Romney got big balloon drop like every convention does when they pick their nominee, President Obama instead didn`t get balloons, he got doused in confetti. Thus raising the important political question of which is better. What is the best way to celebrate? Honestly, I have to say for us here at MSNBC, getting rid of the balloon drop is a load off our minds, because last election at the Republican convention, you may recall that our beloved Andrea Mitchell was nearly lost for good, totally subsumed in a balloon avalanche that nearly carried her away. And we love Andrea Mitchell. This was scary. This year it was by necessity, but getting rid of the balloon drop as a way to celebrate is itself a reason to celebrate. And so, we celebrate. The conventions are over. We did marathon coverage here and loved every minute of it. Incidentally, not to brag, but we were the number one network in the country for the DNC, which has never happened before in the history of this network. It`s exciting to know that people are so into following politics for this election. To celebrate and to gird our loins for these last 60 days in the election, I`m going to make you a Harry`s Pick Me Up. This is a classic cocktail from the "Savoy Cocktail Book". And it`s really easy to make and it`s delicious and it`s not too boozy, which either means you can have two or one for breakfast, depending on something about your religion I shouldn`t ask you in mixed company. All right. So, what you do is you take an ounce of brandy or cognac, in this case, we`re using cognac, and then you take the juice of half a lemon. You`ll get more juice if you don`t keep it in the fridge. Also, it has to be an actual lemon. Don`t use a fake thing. Juice of half a lemon, ounce of brandy or cognac and then the not so secret but crucial ingredient is grenadine. If you can get grenadine that`s not just like sugar water with red dye in it, there`s one that tastes like pomegranate. You want two teaspoons of grenadine -- one, two. And because this has fruit juice in it, technically you should mix this up with ice in a cocktail shaker. You should shake it instead of stirring it, but I find if you`re going to put some sort of liquor based thing in with champagne, you`re happier if the thing are you putting in the champagne is clear and stirring something is a better way to have be clear than if you shake it and it gets full of air bubbles. So, we stir. Again, an ounce of cognac, juice of half a lemon, two teaspoons of grenadine -- that makes a not very full glass which is good, not bad because you are going to top it with delicious champagne. It`s called a Harry`s Pick Me Up. I think it`s Susan`s favorite drink of 2012. Oh, no, it`s going to spill. I owe NBC a mouse pad. Sorry. Congratulations to both parties for their big conventions. Yea for the new tradition of the confetti drop. We worried about Andrea Mitchell. And incidentally, as my friend Ed noted at the top of the show, happy fourth birthday to THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. To everybody who works on the show. The show launched four years ago. We have loved every minute of it. We never thought we`d last this long, but it`s been great. Thank you. We couldn`t do it without you. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again Monday, and yes, it is Friday. But you are not going to prison. It`s time for Chris Matthews` really good documentary on the president, "Barack Obama: Making History." Have a great weekend. Cheers. Good night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END