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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/19/12

Guests: Barbara Boxer, Patrick Murphy

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. It was a really big day in politics today, and in news about politics today. Including for the first time in a long while, some surprising and very newsworthy news from Washington, D.C., from Congress. We`re going to have all of that coming up this hour. I have a feeling this hour I`m going to make some enemies on Capitol Hill, but it must be done. We do have to start this hour, though, with some breaking news from the campaign trail, the presidential campaign trail. What you`re looking at right here is a live shot from Miami, Florida. You see Mr. Romney there, Mitt Romney there, Republican presidential candidate with one of his sons. This is an event called Juntos con Romney. It`s a rally in Miami for Hispanic voters supporting Mr. Romney`s campaign. Nationwide, Mr. Romney trails President Obama by 45 points among Latino voters, but this event that you see live here is part of a concerted push by the Romney campaign to try to make up some of that enormous gap. It`s part of him appearing with his Spanish-speaking son there, his youngest son there, Craig. Now, as you know, we are not in the business of airing raw candidate stump speeches at rallies during campaign season. It`s because they are repetitive and because if we started just airing all the stump speeches: (a), you would think that you`ve heard it all before, because mostly you would have, but also, it would be all that we did for months. So, we are going to monitor Mr. Romney`s remarks tonight in Miami. We will bring these remarks to you if he says anything that is beyond his standard stump speech or if he makes any news about what`s going on in today`s headlines. But the fact that Mitt Romney is doing this event at all in Miami is newsworthy in itself. Because Mr. Romney has not been doing have many big, public events recently. And he has not been doing very many big, public events specifically in swing states, which is the very unusual way that his campaign is dealing with their troubles right now. It is how they are dealing with what started as media trouble for the campaign, largely, I think, confined to the Beltway, but which has now become really a nationwide crisis for Mr. Romney`s campaign. On Monday, of course, the Beltway press was full of stories about the Romney campaign panicking about losing Republican strategists and Romney campaign operatives going to the press and blaming each other, blaming even the candidate himself for what was going wrong in the campaign. That was Monday morning. Those were the headlines Monday morning. By Monday afternoon, with all of that bad press still ringing in everybody`s ears, by Monday afternoon, "Mother Jones" had posted video of Mr. Romney secretly filmed at a Florida fund-raiser. A video in which he tells a room full of rich Republican donors that 47 percent of country see themselves as victims and he will never get their vote and he`ll never try to get their vote, because he will never convince those people to take personal responsibility for themselves or to care about their lives. And all at once, what has started off to be a week of bad Beltway press suddenly became a real national nightmare for them. I want you to take a look at these front pages from headlines -- front-page headlines from around the country. These are from swing states across the country today. This is just today. Look, "The Miami Herald," "Video causes headache for Romney." In Lakeland, Florida, the headline is, "Romney Tries to Soften Damage." In Dayton Beach -- excuse me, in Daytona Beach, "Romney battles video fallout: candidate defensive over controversy." In Colorado Springs, "Romney trying to control damage from controversy." Marshalltown, Iowa, "Bad gets worse for Romney." Philadelphia, "Mitt versus moochers: can this campaign be saved?" Asheville, North Carolina, Republican congressional candidate Mark Meadows says, "I`m not Romney." Kent, Ohio, "Romney tries to stem damage from comments." Lynchburg, Virginia, "Video fallout proves taxing for Romney." Detroit, Michigan, "Romney`s 47 percent remark: will it sink his campaign?" Andrew Kaczynski at "BuzzFeed" has been doing this roundups of the visual image of swing state newspaper`s front-page headlines. And obviously, seeing a big list like that, it`s a great way to get a snapshot of how things covered in the national press are actually translating on the ground, where the voters who will decide this election will actually be reading about it in their local paper. And the Romney campaign`s media problem becoming a national problem, a coast to coast nationwide problem is evident now not just in newspaper headlines like you just saw across the country, but also in the polling. Every day now, we`re getting new waves of polling data from the nine or so states that make up the swing state map for the election. These are the latest numbers as of today: In New Hampshire, Mr. Romney currently holding a three-point lead. That is a Rasmussen Poll. In Virginia, it`s President Obama up by seven. In Florida, it`s President Obama up by five. In Colorado, it`s President Obama up by one. In Wisconsin, it`s President Obama up by six. In Michigan, it`s Obama by eight. In Ohio, it`s Obama by seven. And while it is those state-by-state numbers in the swing states that are the most important way to understand the math of who`s going to win on election night, obviously, the biggest big picture snapshot that we can take of the race is still just the straight national poll. The latest Gallup daily tracking poll out shows President Obama today with a slim one- point lead. That`s down from six points just after the Democratic convention. The latest national poll from NBC News that was released yesterday shows the national lead for Mr. Obama at five points. Also of note in the NBC poll, the percentage of people who say the country is headed in the right direction is now at the highest level in this poll since 2009. The very latest national poll that was released earlier today is this poll from Pew research. And as you can see, it says President Obama with a very large lead, with an eight-point lead. If that seems like a significant lead, less than 50 days out from the election, historically speaking, it is. Here`s the analysis from Pew. They say, quote, "With an eight-point lead over Mitt Romney among likely voters, President Obama holds a bigger September lead than the last three candidates who went on to win in November, including Mr. Obama himself four years ago. In elections since 1998, only Bill Clinton in `92 and `96 entered the fall with a larger advantage over his challenger." So that`s the overall national number for President Obama in this latest national poll. It`s an eight-point lead. But when you dig into the specific issues, it is even more dramatic. Look at some of this. Improving the jobs situation, who`s best on these issues? Obama leads by one on improving the jobs situation. Dealing with taxes? It`s Obama by six. Representing your views on abortion? Obama by 13. Dealing with Medicare? Obama by 13. Making wise decisions on foreign policy? Obama by 15. The only issue in the Pew poll that Mitt Romney leads on is the issue of reducing the deficit, where he holds a three-point lead. When it comes to how voters feel personally about the candidates, it is a very similar story. In terms of how you feel personally, which candidate can get things done? It`s Obama by four. Which candidate shares my values? It`s Obama by 10. Which candidate is a strong leader? Obama by 13. Which candidate shows good judgment in a crisis? Obama by 14. Which candidate is willing to take an unpopular stand? Obama by 15. Look at this one. Look at that. Which candidate connects well with ordinary Americans? It`s Obama by 43. Not Obama with 43 percent of the -- no, Obama with a 43-point margin over Mr. Romney on which candidate connects with ordinary people. If you want Mitt Romney to be elected president in November, all that polling data is bad news. But it is not November. And it is not like Mitt Romney is quitting the campaign. One foot in front of the either, right? I mean, campaigns have been down before and have come back to win. Maybe they have not been down quite this far and this particular fall and come back to win, but stranger things have happened. And part of what determines whether a campaign collapse is survivable is how the campaign handles the fact of their collapse, how they manage the crisis, how they try to turn this ship around. Campaigning matters, right? And since Mr. Romney likes to market himself as a turnaround artist, as a Mr. Fix-it guy, well, boy, you know, an opportunity for a real story to tell here. This sure needs fixing. Think about it, what a story he could tell about how he turned this campaign around -- if and when he turns this campaign around. Do you know want to know how he is trying to turn this campaign around? By finding the nearest proverbial hole and climbing into it. I could not have seen this coming, but the campaign strategy from the Romney folks for how they`re going to turn this thing around and get themselves out of this mess that they`re in is a lot more evident in what they are doing each day on the campaign trail now than what they say they`re going to do to fix it. Honestly, word of advice -- do not listen to what the people from the campaign are saying they`re going to do differently now in order to turn things around. Don`t listen to what they say they`re going to do. Half the times they`re saying contradictory things depending on which member of the campaign you`re talking to. Don`t listen to what they say they`re going to do, look at what they`re actually doing with their time. Because what they are doing is a remarkable choice. What they are doing is hiding their candidate. They have put Mitt Romney under a rock. This past weekend, Mr. Romney had no public events on Saturday. He was back home in Massachusetts. On Sunday, he did have one public event, but it got canceled. The following day, on Monday, Mr. Romney had one event, a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in California. That was it. On Tuesday, his two events were both fund-raisers. They were closed to the public and those were in the great swing state of Utah, followed by the great swing state of Texas. OK, this is not what it looks like to campaign for president. These are not swing states. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters of Mitt Romney today, "He`s a great guy, he should win this election. But, being in Utah is necessary to raise money, but he doesn`t have to be there, in my view." Senator Graham continued, "I think what Romney needs to do is get into Virginia and run for sheriff. This is not rocket science." "Real Clear Politics" covered Mr. Romney`s mysteriously light schedule yesterday. They quoted a well-connected Republican fund-raiser saying, "There`s not really a campaign here. He`s getting ready for the debates and he`s out fund-raising. You`ve got enough money." "Real Clear Politics" also notes that in the 19 days following the conclusion of the Republican convention, Mr. Romney spent only nine of those 19 days, less than half of those days, in battleground states. Over the last seven days, Mr. Romney`s public events included just two rallies. During the same time frame, he sustained seven private fund- raisers and had two days that had no events scheduled at all. Their crisis management plan for dealing with the campaign in free fall, a campaign that is losing the election right now pretty badly, is that they`re going to keep the candidate under wraps. Which makes tonight`s event, where Mr. Romney is speaking in public, in a swing state, all the more newsworthy, all the more interesting, because it is so rarely what this candidate is doing anymore. This kind of thing that Mitt Romney is doing right now in Miami is the kind of thing that candidates typically try to do to win the presidency, but Mr. Romney has not been doing this stuff. He does have to do something with Latino voters, though. His campaign said earlier this year that their goal is to get 38 percent of the Latino vote. Right now they are 14 points off that goal in the latest Pew poll. And while Latino audiences may be flattered that a candidate who`s doing almost no public events at all anymore is still doing public events for Latino audiences. While his very presence may be flattering to the Latino electorate, Mr. Romney still has problems about what exactly he has to say to Latinos to persuade them that he is their guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We went to the company and we said, look, you can`t have any illegals working on our property. I`m running for office, for Pete`s sake, I can`t have illegals. Their answer is self-deportation. They`re going to self-deport. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve talked, Governor, about self-deportation. If businesses do their job asking for the right documents, that people will leave. But about arresting -- should there be aggressive, seek them out, find them, and arrest them, as Sheriff Arpaio advocates? ROMNEY: You know, I think you see a model here in Arizona. The question is, if I were to elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it? The answer is yes. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So vote for me, Latinos, I`m your guy. That stuff`s all still in his record, right? Etch-a-sketch or not? Before this rally tonight in Miami, Mr. Romney also participated in a Univision event. It was a Univision former in Coral Gables, Florida. The last time Mr. Romney spoke with Univision, on Univision America radio, he was asked about one of his controversial immigration advisers, a man named Kris Kobach. Kris Kobach is the Kansas secretary of state who helped write the papers please law in Arizona. And he does not have a great reputation for people who are not fellow hardliners on the immigration issue. Univision America radio asked Mr. Romney about having this guy on his campaign team, about having Kris Kobach involved in his campaign as his immigration adviser, the man who is the poster child for hard line Republican politics on immigration. Mr. Romney responded to the question about Kris Kobach by saying, quote, "As to the other individual that you mentioned, he may well be part of a policy team, but I have not met with him yet. And I don`t know whether he is or he is not. So, sorry, I can`t confirm that for you." After that interview, Mr. Romney`s campaign had to call up reporters and say, yes, actually what Mr. Romney just said there, he didn`t mean that. They clarified that Mr. Romney has, indeed, met with Kris Kobach. And so when Romney said that he hasn`t met with him, that wasn`t true. The campaign recently has had to similarly say that Mr. Romney didn`t actually mean what he said during an interview when he said he believed in a health exemption for criminalizing abortion. Also when he said that he didn`t want to repeal all of Obamacare. Also when he said he had the same red line on Iran`s nuclear program as President Obama had. Mr. Romney spoke to all of those issues in recent interviews and his campaign had to come out after those interviews and say, he does not actually believe that thing he told you there. What he said, that`s not his position. That is not really the thing he believes, even though he said it. Petty the poor Romney campaign advisor, right? I mean, if this were your candidate, if this is what happens when you do put him out there, would you put him out in public to try to clean up this mess? Or would you keep him under a rock? Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: I mentioned my dad. My dad was born in Mexico, of American parents living there. At age 5 or 6, there was revolution and they came back to the United States. And my dad had to get help, financial help. The government helped his family to be able to get on their feet again. By the way, that`s the way America works. We have big hearts. We care for people who have needs. We help get them back, we help lift them up. But then we don`t make that a permanent lifestyle. We don`t have that become government dependence. We help people. We get them on their feet. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mitt Romney speaking just moments ago at Univision`s Meet the Candidate Event at the University of Miami. Somewhat changing his language on immigration reform, talking about his dad as an immigrant from Mexico. Also defending his January remarks at another point in his speech that he was in favor of self-deportation. A video emerged the today on the campaign trail from when Governor Romney`s father, George Romney, was running for governor in the state of Michigan. His wife, Lenore, talking to an interviewer about how, in fact, George Romney had received welfare relief for a few years when first coming to this country as a young man. Joining us now is Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California. Senator Boxer, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to have you here. SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Good to be with you. MADDOW: Tonight you heard a clip of it, Mr. Romney making an appearance at a Latino voter event tonight. He has dramatically scaled back his public schedule, but he is continuing to do events with Latino audiences. You won 65 percent of the Latino vote in your last re-election effort. Do you have any advice for him on reaching a Latino audience and helping them hear his message? BOXER: Rachel, I`m for President Obama, but if I were to advise this candidate, I just think he`s already gone so far in the wrong direction with Latinos, I don`t know how he gets back. When you are very clear in a primary and you say, people will just have to leave, because we`re coming after them, when you say we would veto the DREAM Act, that means that you would actually make criminals of young people who have been here since they`re 2 years old, 3 years old, 10 years old, never knew another country. You can`t win these people back, because they`re smart and they know. You know, when I ran, I ran against someone who was also a corporate CEO, who had also shipped jobs overseas, who really didn`t feel for the people, for ordinary people, and you showed those polls, I listened carefully to you. And by 43 points, I think it was, you told us that in the poll, it says that President Obama connects better with people. Mitt Romney cannot connect with people. He has shown his disdain for almost half the population. So, frankly, I don`t think there`s anything he can do or say to win them back. I really don`t think so. MADDOW: You know, one of the things, Senator, that we saw consistently throughout the Republican convention, we are seeing it tonight from Mitt Romney in this appearance that he`s doing in Florida, it`s become sort of an aggregate Republican message, even when he hasn`t been a great messenger for it for himself. It`s a really up by the bootstraps message. They`ve been talking about social mobility. A lot of people talking about that they didn`t come from hard circumstances, but people in their family did. One or two generations back, there was hard circumstances in their family. Now we see Mr. Romney trying to talk about his father working his way up from poor circumstances to being the rich man he later became in life. What is the difference between the Democratic message on social mobility and the Republican message? Are there two different bootstrap stories to tell from the two parties? BOXER: Well, the question is, (a), do you have bootstraps? That`s the first question. And then the second point, I would say, is this: Mitt Romney believes that anyone -- and this is what he said in that private little fund-raiser, anyone who has gotten any help from the government, at any time -- and he says there`s 47 percent of those people, just are playing the victim and they absolutely don`t deserve his attention. And he said, I can`t teach them responsibility. Now, a new little tape emerges of his mom, Mitt Romney`s mom saying that Mitt Romney`s dad was on welfare. Now, if Mitt Romney dad were to hear that, he would be a little shocked at it. What he told those very wealthy people is, 47 percent of people who got help, who don`t pay income taxes, I`m writing them off. I can`t deal with them. I can`t take responsibility. You know, Rachel, those are wounded warriors, over 100,000 of our service men who are serving in Afghanistan and in combat zones. We`re talking about citizens who have paid into Social Security, who don`t pay into the income tax. We`re talking about millions of college students. We`re talking about people who are so disabled, it takes them longer to get their clothes on in the morning than it does for us to get up, get breakfast, and go to work. So he has written all these people off. And I don`t think you can compare him, even to other Republicans. Look, I`ve been involved in presidential politics since the `70s. That is a very long time. I never heard any Republican or Democratic candidate for president write off almost half the people, show disdain for almost half the people. And I never saw a candidate who would refuse to put out his income tax -- if he thinks paying income taxes are so important, show us the money. Show us the tax returns. So it`s rather stunning, to me, the whole thing. MADDOW: Senator Boxer, let me also ask you, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, one of the things that has received, I think proportionately less attention from that tape, from Mr. Romney`s fund- raiser, was his remarks about the Israeli and Palestinian peace process, essentially describing it as too hard to work on and saying that his strategy would be to not to expect anything to work and to just kick it down the road and hope that something would happen, to hope that something would get better. I don`t know why that would be an appealing message for donors to hear. I don`t understand why he would be trying to sell that message to people who he was trying to get to give him money. But I wondered if you feel like even saying that just as a candidate, that that affects America`s position in the world in terms of trying to be a positive influence in that region. BOXER: Rachel, it`s a message of despair. It`s a message of despair. And I can again say that I`ve never heard a candidate for the presidency that they wouldn`t at least try to be an honest broker, to bring people together. We have such an important role in the world to do that, and to bring peace and security to Israel. And side by side, the Palestinian states, which is what George W. Bush tried to do, and Clinton tried to do, and Obama is trying to do. And for him to just say that he would walk away from that, it`s just not what we do. We are a hopeful people and we do our best to bring people together. I was -- I think he has made one gaffe after another on foreign policy, and you know, from the time he went to the Olympics, it`s just been one disaster after another. Speaking out when our people were in danger, before he had all the facts. Again, I was -- I`m here a long time, and I will tell you, the very morning of 9/11, we had that attack on our soil, we were sitting just that morning in a meeting, talking about how we were worried about George Bush creating more of a deficit and dipping into Medicare. As soon as this happened, we pulled together as one nation. And I will say this. Again, I have never seen this before. And it`s disturbing. It really is disturbing. MADDOW: Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California -- thank you for your time tonight. I really appreciate having you hear tonight, ma`am. BOXER: Thank you. MADDOW: We were showing video earlier of Mr. Romney doing a rather energetic public appearance in a swing state, which is a rare thing for him. He`s not doing all that many public appearances right now, and he has not necessarily been doing them in swing states. This is a remarkably light schedule for someone who`s less than 50 days out from the election. But this event, this footage that we showed you here before, I said that that was at the Univision event at the University of Miami. That`s actually the event that he did earlier in the night. This footage that we were showing you was from Miami, an event called Juntos con Romney, which is a Latino group set up -- Hispanic voters supporting Mr. Romney. So that`s the event at which he was making the sort of barn-burning comments earlier tonight. All right. We have lots ahead tonight, including my plan -- I can`t really call it a plan -- my expectation that I`m going to make some enemies on Capitol Hill with my future segment. But it must be done. Don`t want to make enemies. I think I`m going to anyway. It must be done. It`s ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It was exactly a month ago today that Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri brought the phrase "legitimate rape" into this year`s political discourse. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: If it`s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: When Todd Akin said this on local TV last month, he had been ahead of Claire McCaskill in Missouri`s U.S. Senate race for months. Todd Akin was heavily favored in that race. After those comments in the latest polling, he is down by six. In the days following the debut of Mr. Akin`s fake science theory about rape and pregnancy, Republicans were tripping all over each other in a rush to condemn him or calling on him to drop out of the race. And why you can see why no one would want to be associated with what Todd Akin said, here is an important thing about everybody calling on him to get out of the race and condemning him on the Republican side. Absolutely zero of these national Republican candidates calling on him to get out of the race were going to be on the same ballot with Todd Akin this year. Todd Akin is running a state-wide race in Missouri, but that means he`s on the ballot in Missouri and nowhere else in the country. So while it makes sense for Republicans, even in places like Massachusetts, Wisconsin and North Dakota, it makes sense for them to be saying, please don`t think of me when you think of that Todd akin guy, Republicans in those other states are never going to share the ballot with Todd Akin this fall, right? Republicans` Todd Akin problem is not that bad. He is only on the ballot in Missouri. But now Republicans have a Mitt Romney problem. And a Mitt Romney problem is national. His problem holds true for every Republican candidate in every race across the country in November, from dog catcher up to senator. Every Republican who`s running for office shares a ballot and shares an "R" next to their name with Mitt Romney this year. And Mitt Romney, as you know, has spent the last couple of days to try to find a more elegant way to call 47 percent of the country, the working poor, and the young people, and the elderly in this country, trying to find a more elegant way to call them irresponsible and entitled -- more elegant than he said it in his secretly recorded comments to a roomful of $50,000 a plate donors, when he said that his campaign was not having trying to connect with the 47 percent of American who do not pay income taxes, and who he therefore sees as dependent and victims and not responsible citizens. And you can see the political effect of the Mitt Romney problem already, even 47 days from the election. As Mr. Romney has been dropping in the polls, so have been Republican Senate candidates. Just a this month, just during the calendar month of September, the folks at Real Clear Politics have moved three races further out of Republican race. The Wisconsin Senate race, which they had considered a Republican-leaning race is now considered a toss-up between Tommy Thompson and Tammy Baldwin. Both Ohio and Michigan, which previously had been rated by real clear politics as toss-ups, those have both been moved. Both Ohio and Michigan have been moved into the leans Democratic column. After mostly running neck and neck for months, polling out of Virginia this week shows Democrat Tim Kaine seven points ahead of George Allen, although that`s not that -- that`s not the right -- that`s not -- never mind. There we go. After months of polling, mostly behind Republican Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is up by five points in the latest poll out there this week. It`s the fourth straight poll showing her in the lead. And in Connecticut, after briefly ceding the polls to Republican Linda McMahon, Democrat Chris Murphy is back in the lead this week as well. If it was worth it for Republicans, particularly Republican running for office this year, to flee from Todd Akin, with whom they are not sharing a ballot, it is definitely worth it for the same Republicans to apparently flee from Mitt Romney. Republican strategists warning in "The Hill" newspaper today that the Mitt Romney`s fumbling campaign could cost Republicans in a number of down ballot races. One strategist working on Senate races saying, quote, "If Romney doesn`t improve, that could cost us our chance of picking up the Senate for sure." Honestly, I don`t know who`s driving the train, but they need to get their message focused. And we are now seeing some of those candidates, who stand to maybe lose an otherwise close ranks, thanks to Mitt Romney calling half the country a bunch of lazy moocher bums, we are seeing those Senate candidates flee from Mr. Romney and his rhetoric, at least on this issue. Republican Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts saying that Mr. Romney`s vision of 47 percent of Americans as dependent and entitled is, quote, "not the way I view the world." Senator Dean Heller running for re-election in a tough race in Nevada, likewise saying, he does not view the world the same way Mitt Romney does. Linda McMahon, the wrestling mogul who is running for Senate in Connecticut, she says she disagrees with Mr. Romney. Mark Meadows, running for Congress as a Republican in North Carolina, says that he is different from Mitt Romney. Ovide Lamontagne, who is running as a Republican for governor of New Hampshire, promising not to be a partisan governor in the style -- is promising not to be a partisan governor in the style of Mr. Romney and his 47 percent speech. But here`s maybe the biggest panic button that there is on the Republican side right now. It`s from the "Huffington Post" today. A Republican operative working on congressional races, quote, "warned that in key swing states, Mitt Romney`s support and internal polling is well below that of Republican candidates in districts where the presidential nominee needs to get big support to have a chance at winning." This is the quote from the Republican operative. "He is just well under all of our other guys," this Republican said. "I`m very concerned." Think about what that means for a second. What they`re talking about here is key districts in key swing states. Ones where Mitt Romney really needs to win big in order to win that swing state. And Mr. Romney is underperforming the other Republicans who are going to be on the ballot in those areas. These are the places where Mr. Romney needs to do great. And in the internal Republican polling in those places, he is doing awful. And that speaks very poorly of his chances of carrying those swing states. But more ominously, for the Republican Party, it means that the lower level candidates who are running for Congress in those districts are now having their own races endangered by virtue of the fact that they share a ballot with a man named Mitt Romney. Safe Republican districts are getting less safe, because Mitt Romney is going to be on the ballot in those races too. How are Republicans going to solve this problem? How are they going to solve this problem? The answer to that question is the answer to who comes out ahead in this area`s elections and how they get there. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So it keeps getting worse, not better, at least in the press. At "The Hill" today, an unnamed Republican strategist says, team Romney has, quote, "the stench of a losing campaign". "The Hill" also reporting today on Republicans saying that stench of that losing campaign may cost the Republicans multiple Senate seats as well. In "Politico" today, a senior Republican described as deeply involved in the campaign this year says, quote, "As a candidate, Mitt Romney is just not going to improve." "Politico" quoting a Romney bundler, saying this, quote, "We`re just imploding." "Politico" quoting a McCain-Palin staffer from `08 named -- a man named Greg Stropo (ph), saying, "The problem now is the campaign is in a spiral and no one knows how to pull out." On the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page today, Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan says, "It`s time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one. It`s time for an intervention." George W. Bush ad guru, Republican Mark McKinnon, writes at "The Daily Beast," quote, "How can anyone support a candidate with this kind of vision of the country? I honestly don`t know what Romney can do to win support from the voters he needs to gain to win a majority." "The New York Times" saying today that Mitt Romney staffers now can no longer hide their annoyance, describing a Romney aide cursing loudly at a press event in California. "The Times" says Mr. Romney`s grim-faced aides are wondering in low volume, out of the way conversations whether victory is still possible. One person described as a flustered adviser telling "The Times" today, quote, "That the campaign was turning into is a vulgar, unprintable phrase," which -- a vulgar and unprintable -- I`m guessing that either starts with the word "cluster" or with the word "pig." I`m not going to guess which one. "The Huffington Post" quoting a Republican consultant with extensive contacts in the Romney campaign basically summing it all up today by saying this, quote, "There is a feeling almost that this thing is in free fall." Free fall. Free fall usually ends with a thump. It is not getting better for these guys, not yet. Those are all quotes from Republicans. More ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is Senator John Boozman. There`s a senator named John Boozman? Yes, apparently there is. It`s OK if you`ve never heard of him. Most people haven`t. Mr. Boozman is a senator from Arkansas. Interesting trivia about John Boozman, his older brother, Fay, almost won that Senate seat in Arkansas before John Boozman did, until Fay Boozman pulled a Todd Akin during his Senate campaign in 1988. He said that ladies secrete magical spermacide when they were raped. They don`t have to worry about rape victims ever getting pregnant. That was John Boozman`s older Fay. He lost that big for the U.S. Senate seat from Arkansas in 1998. Then his little brother won the seat anyway in 2010. Senator John Boozman is an optometrist. He played football for the Arkansas Razorbacks, and now he`s a senator. And if most of America is not aware there`s a U.S. senator optometrist guy named John Boozman, then most of America is definitely not aware that this guy is also a senator. You recognize him? No? That`s okay. He`s not exactly a household name. His name is Mike Johanns. He`s a senator, too. Mike Johanns is a lawyer. He went to St. Mary`s University of Minnesota and got a law degree at Creighton. Here`s another one for you. Do you know me? Do you know me? You don`t know, likely. You don`t. No. I`m Richard Burr. And before Senator Richard Burr became a U.S. senator from North Carolina, he played football for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and he was in a fraternity, and then he distributed law equipment. This guy, Pat Toomey, also a senator, yes, who knew, right? Every seen him before? To get to the Senate, Pat Toomey worked at Chemical Bank and then he worked at an investment bank called Morgan Grenfell. He`s a Harvard guy, Pat Toomey. On your average day of news, your average day of life in America, the names and the basic bios of run-of-the-mill senators like this, they`re the furthest things from most people`s minds -- who they are, how they do their jobs. On most days, those things do not make a ripple. And then there are days like today, when these four men really deserve to be very, very famous, more famous than they`ve ever been before in their whole lives. Right now, American troops are fighting the longest war in America history. Until last year, American troops were fighting that war alongside a second war, too, in Iraq. Two of the longest wars in American history fought at the same time, by a population of troops that makes up less than 1 percent of the American population. Think about that. We have put an incredible burden on a proportionately tiny sliver of our population. And they did not get to those wars on their own. They didn`t start those wars. The government sent them to do that work, in our name, right? A grateful nation, and all that. Well, now, Americans coming home from those wars have an unemployment rate that is 35 percent higher than the national rate of unemployment. Everybody`s having a hard time in this job market, right? But veterans coming home from these wars have been at war. They have been doing things at their job for their deployment that employers may not understand on a resume. Kandahar and Baghdad don`t exactly easily compare to the other addresses that employers are seeing on people`s application for work. So the unemployment rate for vets is significantly higher, 35 percent higher than it is for the rest of the country. But that disadvantage in the market place for jobs, that disadvantage that vets are at, that disadvantage is something that we did as a country. The government, in our name, sent these folks abroad. And now they are coming home. And it is these guys you have never heard of before, like Senator Boozman and Senator Johanns and Senator Burr and Senator Toomey that today decided that the country doesn`t actually need to make good-bye veterans on this particular problem that we as a country created for our veterans. Today, Republicans in the Senate filibustered the bipartisan Veterans Jobs Corps bill, that was totally paid for and totally bipartisan. In the vote, five Republicans did cross party lines and sided with all the Democrats who voted for it, but the Republicans still blocked with a filibuster. So we have no Veterans Jobs Corps bill, thanks mostly to these guys, the lawyer, the football player fraternity guy and the investment banker guy. These four Republican senators all wrote parts of the bill. The Democrats said, we want this to be bipartisan. What do you Republicans want to be in the Veterans Jobs Corps bill, so that you can vote for it? So we can do this together? And the Republicans wrote most of the bill. These four superstars all added all their stuff that they wanted in the bill. They contributed Republican components to the legislation, what they suggested was included in the legislation. They got what they wanted. And then they voted no. If I could write their names in the sky, I would write their names in the sky. There is no plan "B" for a Veterans Jobs Corps bill. They killed it. They cannot try again for it until next year. Joining us now is former U.S. congressman from Pennsylvania, Patrick Murphy. Mr. Murphy is also a former Army paratrooper and a teacher of constitutional law at West Point. He has the distinction of having been the first Iraq war veteran to have served in Congress. Mr. Murphy, thank you for being here. It`s nice to see you. PATRICK MURPHY (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: It`s great to be with you, Rachel, even though it`s under these circumstances. MADDOW: Yes. We -- I`ll tell you -- have been monitoring this legislation for a while, watching it in the Senate. We did not in this show put it on TV before tonight because honestly, everybody thought it was a foregone conclusion that it would pass because it was such a bipartisan thing. I thought we might end up covering a fight over it in the House. But it seemed like a done deal in the Senate and then it died. I mean, nobody expects much from this Congress, but haven`t we been able to expect some minimum willingness to come together on the issue of veterans? MURPHY: You know, Rachel, today is an absence absolute disgrace. The Senate should be ashamed of themselves. The fact is that every 80 minutes, a veteran in America commits suicide, every 80 minutes. And the least we can do is these men and women fight for us overseas, the last thing they need to do is to come home and fight to get jobs. This Jobs Corps Bill was allowing them to become cops and firefighters back in their own community. And these guys stopped it. They should be ashamed. I don`t know how they look themselves in the mirror. It`s a disgrace. MADDOW: We contacted those four senators who I described there, Senators Burr and Johanns and Toomey and Boozman, we contacted their offices today and the ones who would talk to us basically said they weren`t voting against veterans on this, they said they were just voting against a rule that would have needed to be waived in order for the whole Senate to vote on the actual bill. In your experience in Congress, does Congress usually let rules fights derail legislation that they otherwise really actually want to pass? MURPHY: Not at all. These guys are looking for excuse after excuse after excuse. The fact is this: is they`re trying to obstruct any type of movement or accomplishment, even if it`s a bipartisan accomplishment just because there`s an election 6 1/2 weeks away. They`re pissed off because Barack Obama talked about this in the State of the Union address this past year. They came to get a Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, these guys coauthored the bill and then they shut it down because they are 6 1/2 weeks away? I mean, it`s blatant partisan politics. And this is why America hates the Senate and hates the Congress. And if people aren`t pissed off about this, when these veterans, over 225,000 of them are unemployed, we need to do all we can to come together as a country to serve them, to give them an opportunity. You know what? It`s not just a job, it`s their dignity, they come back home and get a job. And these guys stood in the way over it. And it`s a disgrace. MADDOW: Patrick, one of the groups that is fought over, as this close to an election, especially in the swing states, especially like your home state of Pennsylvania, are veterans. Veterans` votes are seen not just symbolically crucial, but literally crucial in terms of these state narrow state margins. Are veterans, and I know you`re involved to a lot of different veterans groups -- are veterans following issues like this closely? Is this sort of thing on veterans` political radar when they`re making their decisions how to vote? MURPHY: Yes and know. I mean, these veterans. You know, they`re going back and worried about getting jobs and the ones that have jobs, they`re trying to keep their jobs and their family and everything else, all the other life challenges that they have to deal with. So they`re not following it as closely as you and I are following it. But the simple fact is that for so long, decades after decades, the Republicans are like, look, we`re strong, we`re strong, we fight these wars. Yes, well, you know, we lost our focus on going after Osama bin Laden, who murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11, to go over to an unnecessary war in Iraq. We spent $3 trillion in Iraq, lost over 4,000 men and women, tens of thousands lost limbs, tens of thousands have PTSD or TBI, traumatic brain injury. And then these knuckle heads who send them overseas, send us into war, don`t want to take care of these veterans when they come home? I mean, that`s the cost of war. We need to make sure we give them the opportunity. We need to expand things like the G.I. bill. And to do it just so President Obama or Democrats and Republicans can`t say, hey, we have an accomplishment every once in a while is beyond me. I just can`t get over the fact that these men in the Senate turned their back on veterans who are in desperate need right now. It`s just un- American. MADDOW: Former U.S. congressman, Army combat veteran, Patrick Murphy -- you know it is a powerful interview when I have written in large letters on my script next to your name is knuckleheads. Thank you for giving me that. I needed a term that I could say on television about this. I appreciate it, Patrick. Thank you. MURPHY: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. Despite John McCain`s objections, the sky did not fall in one specific way. A reason to be cheerful coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Tonight is the eve of the one-year anniversary of "don`t ask, don`t tell" being repealed. Midnight on September 20th, 2011 was the first time it was legal to be in the United States military and also openly gay. And what happened to the U.S. military, aside from some partying on that first night? Were there riots? No. And now, just about a year after full repeal of "don`t ask, don`t tell", the first academic study of the consequences concludes thusly. Quote, "The repeal of "don`t ask, don`t tell" has had no overall impact on military readiness or its component dimensions, including cohesion, requirement, retention, assaults, harassment or morale." There you go. The repeal of "don`t ask, don`t tell" widely viewed of a nonevent one year ago -- except of course for the American men and service men whose lives have been immeasurably changed for the better because this policy was repealed. Do you remember who said it was going to be a disaster? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I hope that when we pass this legislation that we will understand that we are doing great damage and we could possibly and probably -- as a commandant of the Marine Corps said, and I`ve been told by literally thousands of members of the military -- harm the battle effectiveness which is so vital to the support, to the survival of your young men and women in the military. Today is a very sad day. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Senator John McCain, one of the most ardent and relentless opponents of repealing "don`t ask, don`t tell", fought it to the bitter end. Senator McCain I`m not sure what is on your agenda tomorrow, but you said repealing "don`t ask, don`t tell" was going to be a disaster and harm our battle effectiveness. It has been a year now. Do you still think you were right or were you wrong? And if you were wrong, is it time to say so? Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Thanks for being with us tonight. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END