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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/05/12

Guests: Dan Rather, Frank Rich

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: So, tomorrow we can take a right turn and go back to the policies that hurt the middle class or we can continue down the path of progress with President Obama. I ask you to do one thing tomorrow. Get out and vote. That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. God bless you, man. I`m really looking forward to being here with you all night, tomorrow night. It`s going to be great. SCHULTZ: Thank you. MADDOW: Thank you, man. Thanks for staying with us for the next hour. Four years ago tonight, November 5th four years ago, was actually the night after the `08 presidential election. We voted November 4th last time. We vote November 6th this time. So November 5th tonight, four years ago, was the night after Barack Obama had just walloped John McCain in that year`s presidential election. You remember the Electoral College map, the Electoral College total, 365 electoral votes for Obama and only 173 for John McCain. Barack Obama won that presidential election with almost 100 electoral votes to spare. After that decisive and emotional victory on this night four years ago, the country started to turn from appreciating what had the night before, appreciating what just happened in that historic election toward what was going to happen next. Now that we had Barack Obama as not just a candidate or as the winner, but as the next president, as the successor of two terms of George Bush. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: Elections have consequences. Elections are not just the end of the campaign. The concession speech, the victory speech, these are the sounds of a starting pistol for what the voters have signaled may now begin. Elections aren`t just about picking someone who we would like to win a contest. We are hiring someone to start work. Elections have consequences. Remember? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now, I intend to spend it. It is my style. That`s what happened after the 2000 election. I earned some capital. I earned capital in this election and I`m going to spend it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: If Bush had capital and his election had consequences, how much capital does Barack Obama have now and what are the consequences of his lopsided victory? Today is a new world. And it is a new world about which we know very little. The question tonight is not what just ended. We know what just ended. The question is what happens now? (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: That was four years ago tonight, November 5th. That was the night after the `08 election. And now, of course, we can answer that question. Now we know what happened. Now as we make our decision again as a country, as to whether or not Barack Obama should remain president or whether he should be replaced by a new Republican challenger, we now know what he would do with the office of presidency because we have seen him do it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: The White House started this day on a much different note as President Obama signed his first bill into law. The new law makes it easier for workers to sue for pay discrimination. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the stroke of a pen, another big break from the Bush era, Democrats in Congress have been trying to get this equal pay law through for nearly two years. Today, it became a reality. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for women, that was this president`s first order of business. It was the first bill that he signed into law, and signing that bill was the start of a lot more very quickly. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, the president signs the bill in imposing new rules on credit card companies. The bill is aimed at sparing consumers from sudden interest rate hikes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, President Obama signs a bill that gives the Food and Drug Administration unprecedented power to regulate tobacco. The bill will allow the FDA to reduce nicotine in tobacco products, block labels such as low tar and light, and tobacco companies will have to put large graphic warnings on cartons of cigarettes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lester, the president and Democrats can point to one imminent success here in Washington for the marchers. That is the imminent passage of a hate crimes bill that would make it a federal crime to commit an assault based on sexual orientation. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Senate has passed a bill that the president has been pushing that would extend government sponsored health insurance for about 4 million uninsured children. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Children`s health insurance for 4 million kids, a hate crimes bill, tobacco regulation, credit card reform. President Obama, along with a Democratic House and Democratic Senate got to work fast out of the gate on addressing the crises they were handed from the previous administration, but also on spending that political capital on problems that had lingered in this country for years but were always just being kicked down the road. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: The president did make an additional bit of history, a major revamping of how college student loans are going to be handed out for years to come. The legislation ends a 45-year program that provided federal subsidies to banks and private lenders that offered government-backed college loans. Starting July 1st, those guaranteed loans will be offered only by the Department of Education. CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Three major figures in the Democratic Party, President Obama, Senator Ted Kennedy and former President Bill Clinton all gathered together with Republican Orrin Hatch for the signing of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The bill triples the size of the country`s national service programs, which are known as AmeriCorps. WILLIAMS: We also have new numbers on just how successful this cash- for-clunkers trade-in program was in the end. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks for the cash-for-clunkers program, pretty much entirely to it, it`s going to be a pretty solid August in terms of those auto sales. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: It ended up being a lot of very solid auto sales months. The rescue of the American auto industry, despite its critics at the time -- you know who I`m talking about that -- that rescue of the American auto industry worked and it worked like gang busters. There was also the tripling in size of American`s national service programs, as you heard Chris described there, and a fundamental reform of this country`s broken but now fixed student loan system. It was also the small matter of pulling the country back from the second Great Depression. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Less than a month in office and the president made history with a simple stroke of the pen. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There you go. It`s done. (APPLAUSE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Signing into law America`s largest economic recovery package ever. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The stimulus bill signed into law by President Obama for the record was the single-largest tax cut ever, the largest investment in clean energy ever, the single largest investment in education ever, and it was largest in our nation`s infrastructure, things like roads and bridges, since the Eisenhower administration. And things were just getting started. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAMS: It`s as close to universal health care as America will likely ever come. And it will improve the health care of millions of Americans. In size and scope, it`s being compared to Medicare and Social Security. And tomorrow, health care reform will be signed into law by the president. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: After decades and decades of trying and failing, President Obama and the Democrats achieved what was long thought to be the unachievable -- real comprehensive health reform in a country that had no health system whatsoever. That was March 2010. This was four months later. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAMS: Almost two years now after the entire banking system almost collapsed, President Obama signed the financial reform bill into law. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the stroke of a presidential pen, the new financial regulatory reform law is aimed at curbing the excesses on Wall Street while protecting average Americans who live and work on Main Street. OBAMA: All told, these reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history -- in history. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: After seeing through the bailout of a financial sector that had collapsed, collapse that brought this country to its knees, a Wall Street conflagration that inched us towards a precipice of a second Great Depression, the president then pushed through the most significant set of financial reforms in two generations. Then there was more to do. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) WILLIAMS: We now know who will be the next Supreme Court justice. The U.S. Senate today confirmed Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court, only the third female justice in all of U.S. history. LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: History was made in this country today when the Senate confirmed Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court. Once she was sworn in this weekend, she will become the current court`s third woman member and the fourth ever named. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama is signing the new START Treaty, one of his key foreign policy goals that cuts U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals by one-third. More than nine years after the September 11th attacks, first responders who were sickened at Ground Zero will have new federal health benefits. President Obama signed the 9/11 health bill on Sunday. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, the president also put pen to paper, signing the repeal of the ban on guys in the military. OBAMA: Your country needs you, your country wants you, and we will be honored to welcome you into the ranks of the finest military the world has ever known. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: The repeal of "don`t ask, don`t tell", the 9/11 first responders bill that had been inexplicably blocked in Washington for way too long, a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, two women appointed to the Supreme Court including the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice in this nation`s history -- all of that was all accomplished in the first two years of his presidency. And then came the 2010 midterms and the House went to the Republicans. And they pledged to oppose everything the president did. That loggerheads between the House Republicans and the White House brought us to crises like the debt ceiling fight where congressional Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling even though they have voted multiple times to do so under Republican presidents. They refused to do it under this president and brought about the almost unthinkable downgrading of the country`s credit rating. But even opposition that intractable cannot stop a presidency in its tracks. Colin Powell`s endorsement of President Obama a little more than a week ago put part of this legacy of this presidency I think as succinctly as it could possibly get. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I also saw the president get us out of one war, start to get us out of a second war and did not get us into any new wars. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Obama did get all American combat troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011, as he promised. He sent Navy SEALs into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden as promised. On the one-year anniversary of killing Osama bin Laden, the president took a trip to Afghanistan to sign an agreement to get U.S. troops out of that country on the timetable he promised once and for all. In support of the uprising in Libya against the dictator Moammar Gadhafi, President Obama did not make it an American war despite pressure from the right to do so. Instead, he dispatched American resources and troops in support of a multilateral, multi-country effort which did ultimately overthrow that dictatorship without putting ever American boots on the ground. He escalated economic sanctions against Iran to a degree never seen before. He came out in favor of marriage equality for same sex couples. He extended employment benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. And in the face of a Republican Congress that turned against its own immigration proposals because he was in favor of them too, President Obama took executive action to stop the deportation of kids who were here without papers through no fault of their own -- kids who were successfully pursuing an education or career in the U.S. military. And, oh, by the way, the stock market doubled, unemployment is below 8 percent. We`ve had 32 straight months of private sector job growth, and he quit smoking. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s the most persistent fly I have ever seen. Nice! OBAMA: Now, where were we? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s four, long, tough years after he was elected. And we are now on the eve, literally, of another national decision about the American presidency. The case against this president from the Republican side, if you take only the serious criticism is essentially that things could be better. That yes, there`s been a recovery, but it`s not a good enough recovery. Yes, there`s been economic progress, but it`s not good enough progress. That Republican economic proposals they`re saying -- they are saying that Republican economic proposals this year in particular won`t do what they did during the George W. Bush years. The argument from the right this time is that if we try the Republican economic proposals from the Bush years ago again, this time, they will work better. Now, honestly, I think that`s what the case against President Obama boils down to. And that`s not always what the case against the president sounds like. But that is what it boils down to. And I believe that is true because the rest of the case against him that you hear so much about if you`re honest about it is stuff this president hasn`t done. I mean, they say that he`s raised taxes and he has not raised taxes. They say that he`s going to take away your guns, or he has taken away your guns. When this president hasn`t done anything to your guns except let you take them into national parks now. They say that he`s doubled the deficit. He`s actually brought the deficit down by hundreds of millions of dollars since he took office. You know, when the Republicans picked as their nominee this guy this year, a guy whose campaign book was called "No Apology" specifically because this guy invented the idea of an American apology tour for President Obama that he wanted to run against even though President Obama never actually apologized for America or took an apology tour. When they picked Mitt Romney, we should have known this was going to be a campaign that was going to aim its pointiest political attacks against things that President Obama never actually did. And so, whether it`s the deficit attack or the guns attack or the phony religious freedom attack or the phony apology tour attack, we have ended up with a campaign that has not much been about assessing the real things that really have happened these past four years -- whether you agree with them or not. And a lot has happened these past four years. It`s worthy of debate. It`s at least worthy of appreciating on the eve of this decision that we are about to make tomorrow. Four years after what you`re looking at right here, four years after that historic night when the nation elections our first African-American president, we are now in the position to make a decision -- not that will result in a historic election like that one -- we`re in the position of making a decision that will be a national verdict on what has been a historic presidency. From health reform that we have been seeking in this country for nearly a century, to the saving of the American auto industry, to the ending of the Iraq war, to the killing of Osama bin Laden, the advancement of historic civil rights measures, this has been a presidency of historic consequence. And again, it is not just because of the man himself. It is because of what this particular man did in office in this particular four-year period. So four years ago, it was Grant Park in Chicago. Tomorrow night, it`s Chicago again. President Obama will be at the McCormick Place Convention Center. At this point, he doesn`t have other campaign events scheduled for tomorrow. We are to see him in Chicago when the returns are coming in. His Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, will be in Boston tomorrow night, obviously hoping for a different outcome than John McCain had four years ago at that sad rally in Arizona. Before Mr. Romney gets to Boston tomorrow, he will actually do some extra campaigning, he`ll still be on the trail in Ohio and in Pennsylvania. Before the nation renders a verdict on not just a president, but a presidency whose achievements have been seen as almost beside the point in assessing whether this president gets a second term, it`s the virtue of this campaign or it`s the damning criticism of this campaign to know that this campaign, this decision has been set up for the American people as if it has very little to do with what this president has done with his last four years. It has not been about his record. It`s been about a caricature of his record. It`s been about the previous record of the previous president. It`s been about all sorts of things that aren`t about what`s actually done. And that`s why that list of things that have happened in the past four years maybe seems sort of unfamiliar. You`d think after a campaign this long, we could all memorize that list in our sleep, but that`s not what it`s been about. If Barack Obama does get a second term, given the achievements of this past four years, he will likely be enshrined as being one of the most consequential presidents in modern American history. If he does not get a one-term, he will be seen as a one term president whose political failures and not achieving a second term will ultimately overshadow what he got done in terms of policy. That is what we will decide tomorrow. That is why tomorrow is such a big deal. This is about one of the most consequential presidents ever and how it will be remembered and whether the achievements of that presidency will be held or whether they will be clawed back. This election is worth being excited about. It is worth your taking part in it, no matter how anybody tries to make it for you to participate in it. This is a big deal. Dan Rather joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We`ve got Dan Rather is here and Frank Rich here -- both straight ahead this election eve. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We`ve known many long days and short nights. And now, we`re close. The door to a brighter future is open. It`s waiting for us. I need your vote. I need your help. Walk with me. Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow. OBAMA: That`s why I need your vote. And if you`re willing to work with me again and knock on some doors with me, make some phone calls for me, turn out for me, we`ll win Wisconsin. We`ll win this election. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Joining us now is Dan Rather. He`s the anchor and managing editor of "Dan Rather Reports" on AXS-TV. Mr. Rather, thank you for being here. It`s always -- DAN RATHER, "DAN RATHER REPORTS"/AXS-TV: It`s always an honor to be here, particularly the night before the election. This is exciting. I`m having 3,000 calorie attack about every hour. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: I don`t want to talk about who do you think is going to win because I feel like at this point, it`s easier to wait to see who`s going to win rather than just speculate. But one thing I`m struck by and one of the reasons that I did that opening segment that I did is that I sort of feel would have, should have, could have about this campaign. This did end up being a campaign about what Barack Obama did in his first term in office. RATHER: No, and that may have been a mistake by the Obama forces. They came to the decision, for good reason from their standpoint, that they need to attack Governor Romney, particularly during the early summer months. But as you laid it out, they have a very strong case to make. This has been a consequential presidency. Now, plenty of people say yes, it`s wrong consequences. But, you know, it`s hard to go wrong in a campaign when you have positives to accentuate, not to accentuate the positives at least in the last say six or eight weeks of the campaign. I don`t know why they didn`t do it. I think -- when we look back on the election, particularly if President Obama should lose, they will regret not running some version of what you ran to open the program as the part (ph) of their campaign. MADDOW: I see the value, the political value in defining Mr. Romney because he was known but not well understood by the electorate. I think they took the opportunity to do that. The thing that struck me is that by not having the campaign be about President Obama`s first term, if you take the sort of pillars of it, ending the war in Iraq, killing Osama bin Laden, the automobile bailout, repealing "don`t ask, don`t tell", something that, you know, the president is obviously very proud of, but didn`t end up being a big part of what he did in this campaign. RATHER: And equal pay for women, knowing that women are going to be the decisive factor in an election for Obama will be, does he get the percentage of women he got the last time and do the women turn out for him this time. But, you know, one of the things that surprised me, Rachel, and actually nobody was surprised, nobody has really talked about the Supreme Court. MADDOW: Yes. RATHER: The incoming president will choose probably two and maybe three Supreme Court justices with all with that entails. And if it`s a Republican, if Mitt Romney wins, you can bet the Supreme Court will move even farther to the right. Now, many people think that`s a good idea, but I haven`t heard it discussed in the campaign. Again, I wonder why the Obama people didn`t raise it, at least pretty regularly. MADDOW: And I`m not sure -- again, I think it`s an opportunity cost in terms of what they did and what they didn`t do. I mean, if they win, it will all be genius and will look like genius (ph) for criticizing Romney on the eve of it. But, again, I mean, are they going to -- I mean, is anybody going to be able to make political liability for the president that he appointed Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor? I mean, you look the way that Scott Brown in Massachusetts has had to defend his vote against Elena Kagan -- RATHER: Exactly. MADDOW: -- and if you look at the way that the Republicans campaigned against Sonia Sotomayor, first Hispanic justice, and both of those things were such huge political wins for the Democratic side, it is amazing that they have been left out. RATHER: And particularly knowing how important women are to the Obama campaign. MADDOW: Yes. RATHER: Listen, if he doesn`t get women above 56 percent and particularly if younger women don`t turn out, then Obama`s chances may be doomed. And knowing that, why not emphasize, listen, I appointed two women to the Supreme Court who were the third and fourth women ever appointed to the court in the history of the country. I think they may have missed an opportunity not to accentuate that positive. MADDOW: They did draw a very sharp distinction with the Republicans on issues affecting women, though, in large part because they had such -- it`s so easy to do that, especially with Paul Ryan on the ticket. I mean, there have been anti-abortion absolutists on Republican tickets in the past, but never one with a legislative trail like Paul Ryan`s. And Mitt Romney frankly has gone almost as extreme as Mr. Ryan has in saying he would definitely like to overturn Roe versus Wade. He said he would appoint justices he would do that against the Planned Parenthood hostility, the contraception hostility. I mean, I can see on women`s issues in particular, yes, you want to be on offense talking about your own record. But they have to be on such and tremendous defense there. RATHER: But this was Governor Romney`s bet. The time for spin is over. Now time to vote. We`ll see. His bet was that women, while they care about all these other issues, social issues, anti-abortion/abortion, that basically the economy, in Governor Romney`s opinion, was in such bad shape that he could cut into Obama`s women vote margin large enough by saying, listen, you may not agree that we got abortion or any of these other issues, but I will put your husband and I will put you back to work. And there`s some indication that things that moved among women toward Romney, at least in some degree. And if Governor Romney, if he wins this election, I think it will be because women ages 24-55 were more worried about the economy than they were these other issues. MADDOW: Although I totally agree with you in concept and then he blew it in execution because he couldn`t say that he supported fair pay for women. And if you`re making an economic appeal to women and you won`t say that you`ll take action to make sure they get the same, for equal work with men, it`s sort of like stepping on a rake -- stepping on a rake and then trying to turn it into a pogo stick. RATHER: Well, having said we think President Obama made some mistakes. That obviously was a big mistake for Governor Romney. And if he loses that may be one of the reasons he loses. MADDOW: Yes. Dan Rather, it`s such a pleasure to have you here. It`s going to be such an exciting night tomorrow. Thank you for being here. RATHER: Thank you, Rachel. Always glad to be here. MADDOW: Dan will be hosting AXS TV`s election coverage tomorrow night starting at 6:00 Eastern Time. Isn`t that magnanimous of me to tell you that, given what I`m going to be doing tomorrow night starting at 6:00 Eastern? RATHER: Yes, but you know you don`t have to worry about it. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Well, I always worry. That`s my job. I actually get paid by the worry. OK. Changing demographics, the ethnic makeup of the country mainly discussed and analyzed but they rarely seen in some form that we can all recognize. Tomorrow, we will see what we are made of literally. Frank Rich joins us, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The Romney campaign has one very specific hope for how they can win the presidency tomorrow despite the way the polls look today. It`s probably the last time this kind of strategy could ever work. But it might work this time. "New York" magazine`s one and only Frank Rich joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you take the polls at face value, there`s reason to believe the election is going to be close. And there`s reason to believe President Obama is likely to be reelected. Honestly, it is difficult to look at the current polling and include that it is likely that Mitt Romney is going to win tomorrow. But it is certainly possible that Mr. Romney might win. That said, Republicans insist they are going to win. They at least think they have a good shot at winning. And to the extent that`s more than just bravado, Republicans right now will direct you to two things that give them cause to believe. One of them is the early voting numbers. In the swing states where we have data on this, Democrats are winning in the early voting and all of these states except Colorado. Why would that make the Republicans feel good about early voting? It`s because Democrats are not winning by as much as they did in 2008. In all of the swing states, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada and North Carolina, the Democrats won in 2008. And in all of them but Colorado right now, this year, the Democrats have banked big margins in terms of who is turning up for early voting this year. But look at the comparable numbers for 2008. In each of these swing states, the margins by which Democrats are winning the early vote is smaller this year than it was last time. Republicans tend to do better on Election Day itself, so Democrats, if they`re going to win, have to really run up the margin in early voting. They need to build up a big cushion, a big lead in early voting in order to win. And this year, the Democrats` cushion from early voting is smaller in all of these key states and nonexistent in Colorado. So Republicans feel good about that one thing. The other thing that gives Republicans hope right now is this -- notice anything in particular about this Romney rally in Kissimmee, Florida? We chose this photo more or less at random, but we chose it because it is pretty much demographically representative of what it looks like in the campaign trail with Mr. Romney right now. McClatchy News Service has an interesting and I think smart experiment recently. They had their reporter who had covering President Obama on the campaign trail and the reporter who had been covering Mitt Romney on the trail switch places and start covering the other campaign for a few days to sort of see things through the other end of the telescope. And the most pointed difference noted by the reporter traveling with Obama, who then started travelling with Romney, the most pointed difference had to do with the crowds. Quote, "The crowd is enthusiastic, very enthusiastic, much like Obama`s audiences in recent weeks. But they look different. They are noticeably whiter and older." Republicans and more conservative candidates have long had an advantage with older candidates, with older voters, excuse me. John McCain, even as he was getting clobbered in 2008, he won among early voters. But the point about whiter voters is very, very, very important to Republicans this year. In the last 20 years, this is the percentage of the electorate voting for president that is white. So you see the most recent one is on the left and the oldest one is on the right. The percentage of white voters has been declining steadily over the past 20 years, from 87 percent in 1992, down to 83 percent in 1996, down to 81 percent, down to 77 percent, down to 74 percent in the last election in 2008, white voters. And this is not a trend that was brought about by the first black presidential nominee. This is a long-term trend in the demographics of our country that predated President Obama running for office. What Republicans are now articulating in terms of their hopes for tomorrow`s election is that they may be able in this election to stop that 20-year trend. Republicans are now arguing that if they can keep the proportion of the electorate that is white from continuing to drop, they might be able to pull out a Mitt Romney win. Republicans are arguing plainly if they can reverse this, if they can get the proportion of the electorate that is white people to actually go up this year, if they can reduce the proportion of the minority vote and increase the white vote, then, heck, nothing else really matters. They can win. Any questions about why the lines to vote in black neighbors in Cleveland are blocks and blocks long this week? Here`s the rejoinder from the side of the president`s reelection campaign, the rejoinder from their side. If people are allowed to vote, if the election does not come down to people in inconvenient demographic groups being stopped from voting, which at this point is an open question, if people are allowed to express their preferences in this election, there`s one very important and arguable thing about what people`s preferences look like right now. Back to 2008, when John McCain just got walloped by Barack Obama in that election, that was the margin by which John McCain lost the Latino vote. Being behind among Latino voters by 36 points means you cannot win the election. You must to do better than that with Latino voters if you want to win the presidency. Well, the National Pew Research poll that came out yesterday shows that the gap right now for Mitt Romney among Latinos is worse than John McCain`s was. McCain had a 36-point gap. Romney has a 39-point gap. And it should be noted that in `08, Pew`s last poll understated the degree to which John McCain was going to lose Latinos. It was even worse than their last poll said it would be. And their last poll this year is projecting a 39-point loss for Romney with Latino voters. In another poll, the last Latino Decisions poll out ahead of the election a couple days ago shows an even worse result. Pew has Romney down with Latinos by 39 points. Latino Decisions has him down by 49 points, 13 points worse than John McCain did when John McCain lost badly. So, yes, this race is close. The polls say President Obama is likely to win even though it`s going to be close. But if you are curious about why Republicans are projecting confidence in the face of the polls that show that they are likely to lose, the reason they think they might not lose is because of who they think will actually vote. Who will be able to vote and have their vote counted? They are counting on electorate choosing the president this year that turns back time in terms of how white the country really is. Here`s my question, though -- even if that works tomorrow, is that really a plan for the future? Joining us now is Frank Rich, "New York" magazine`s writer at large. Mr. Rich, it`s great to have you here on election eve. FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Great to be here with you. Thank you. MADDOW: I don`t usually do segments that have that many numbers in them, but when I started doing all the back of the envelope today stuff on white voters and Latino voters, I felt like I just ran into a brick wall. I feel like this is electorally determinative provided that people actually are allowed to vote. RICH: Allowed to vote and turn out. I mean, I think as we see what`s going on in Florida and Ohio, there are real obstacles being put in the way of minority voters, not just Latinos obviously, also African-Americans. But also I think, if you read Republican blogs and listen to sort of their conventional wisdom, they are possessed by the idea that Latinos are not going to come out, that there`s an enthusiasm gap. I don`t know if it`s based on anything or even if the polling is entirely accurate about the Latino vote. But they have to count on it because they have -- you know, Romney did everything possible in the Republican Party to drive away every Latino voters in the country. MADDOW: Why do you think that the appointments -- I was talking to Dan Rather about this -- the appointments of the Supreme Court weren`t more of a rallying call for the Obama campaign this year? It seems like for women voters, for people who are concerned about the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court, both on campaign finance and women`s rights, Roe versus Wade, but also on the issue of Latino voters and her being -- Sonia Sotomayor being the first Hispanic justice, why didn`t that end up being a more high profile issue? RICH: To me, it`s one of a number of things in the Obama record which you outlined earlier tonight that it`s in many ways a very impressive record that really wasn`t pushed by the campaign. It`s amazing how this very effective orator and brilliant guy, with a very smart campaign team, has been so lackluster in celebrating his own achievements. And that`s a perfect example. It didn`t come up in the debates. It didn`t come up in the discussion of women in the debates. It certainly -- immigration in general has not been much of an issue, let alone pointing to Sotomayor. So, that`s among the question marks. So, I dare say if Obama loses, it`s something that will be talked about and examined and we`d like to hear some answers about. MADDOW: Right. I will say, if I had to make the decision, first of all, if he wins, it`s going to look like genius. RICH: Yes, exactly. MADDOW: I think -- at least the polls right now make it look like President Obama is likely to win. RICH: Yes. MADDOW: But I do think that if I had to make the choice, and I would be the world`s worst candidate, but if I had to make the choice of defining Mitt Romney for the country, especially because I lived under Mitt Romney as governor and, boy, do I have stories to tell. RICH: You`re responsible for that. MADDOW: if I had to choose between defining Mitt Romney for the country and trying to make people feel better about the past four years because of things I had done as president when we were still struggling out of this economic catastrophe that we suffered before he even took office, I think I might pick let`s talk about Mitt Romney. RICH: Well, absolutely, because he`s a Wall Street guy, at least figuratively, in a time after that industry helped, you know, grease the skids for this collapse of our economic system. So I think that was a wise decision. And the guy -- you know, to me, Romney there`s no there there beyond the Bain career. And, yes, he helped the Olympics and he`s a good family man. So that is his record. And, of course, his governorship, which he disowned, including -- starting with Romneycare. So of course, they had to do it. And they might have pivoted better and a little sooner on the second half of the equation, which is what Obama accomplished during these four years. MADDOW: In terms of the overall changing demographics of the country and Republican strategy going forward, if Mitt Romney loses tomorrow, I think there`s going to be yet another round of conflagration within the Republican Party in terms of them trying to -- RICH: Yes, wait (ph). (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: It seems like whenever there`s a fight in the Republican Party, the side that says we weren`t conservative enough always wins. RICH: Always wins. MADDOW: So, it will be interesting to see what happens there. But there`s this larger, I think more sober reckoning that needs to happen among the Republican Party about what they are going to do in a country with changing demographics that reduces the proportion of white voters in every election, when they are holding on to the white voters by the skin of their teeth and they`re not expanding their appeal with non- white voters. RICH: I think you`re right. One piece that`s going to change is the Latino piece. I can tell you right now, this is the last cycle we`re going to see where they talk about self-deportation and building a fence and the Arizona law. I think that`s going to be over. Before Romney locked himself into those positions, you saw people like Marco Rubio trying to say maybe you don`t want to veto the DREAM Act. The writing is on the wall for him. And I think they`ll change it. And this was after all, Karl Rove and George Bush`s idea, they did court the Latino vote. And Bush came close to getting 40 percent of it in 2004. So it`s low-hanging fruit. And how they lock themselves in this mess this year with antagonizing the entire Latino population with these draconian positions. I just don`t think that`s going to be repeated. MADDOW: See, I think that they have to age out of it. I looked at the transcripts of the way Republican senators oppose Sonia Sotomayor and the kinds of language that was used on the right to denounce here, guys like Jeff Sessions and all the rest of it, and I realized, you know what? If that`s what`s going on in the Senate and those guys are going to stay there forever and ever, it`s going to take a long time for them to age out of this issue, in which case, they are break ins (INAUDIBLE) law. Unless they win -- (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Frank Rich, "New York" magazine, get a good night`s sleep. RICH: You, too. A long night. Yes, thank you. MADDOW: Appreciate it. All right. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. Preparing for tomorrow is not only important, it`s occasionally delicious. Stay tuned for that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hey, we might see marijuana legalized in three states tomorrow. Colorado, Washington and Oregon are all voting on measures that would legalize positions of small amounts of pot. Those pro-pot legalization measures appear to be winning in Colorado and also in Washington state. In Oregon, the last major poll showed the measure behind, but only by single digits. That`s one thing to deep in mind. Yea oldie drug war might look different at this time tomorrow than it does today. Tomorrow could also be a big night for gay rights. So far out of the 32 times that marriage equality for same sex couples has been on a ballot in an American state, the record for the gay rights side has been 0-32. But tomorrow, that might finally change, as voters in four states that will be deciding tomorrow on the rights of same-sex couples to get married. In Maryland, the latest polling on the referendum to allow marriage equality is that it`s a tossup. It could go either way. Same deal in Minnesota. There, it`s an amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The ban is losing in one poll and another poll shows it`s winning. Washington state is where it looks the best for gay rights. The polling says Washington state voters look ready to approve marriage equality by a rather comfortable margin. Also, there`s Maine where Maine voters rejected marriage equality back in 2009 but Mainers now seem ready to support it. Also, on another matter, do you remember the law in Michigan passed by the Republican legislature and the Republican governor there that lets them override your local vote? It`s their emergency manager law where in the governor claims the right to overrule whoever it is you voted for mayor or for city council in your town. The governor can install his own overseer with unilateral authority to do whatever he wants to your town. He can fire all the elected officials without any voters getting any say. He cancel contracts, sell off the town assets, even dissolve the whole town, without the consent of anyone in the town. The Michigan emergency manager law, it says democracy is not how we solve problems. Democracy is a problem and it can be shut down in Michigan on the governor`s say-so. If that sounds radical, it is. I think it`s the most radical thing that Republicans put into effect in any state in the country after the 2010 elections when Republicans took over so many states in the country. That radical law is going to be on the ballot in Michigan tomorrow for repeal. And if the polls are correct, it looks like it is going to be repealed. Only a third or so of Michigan voters say they support that law. Not even a majority of Michigan Republicans say they support it. So, we will see. But that emergency law may be caput this time tomorrow. Two other things to put on your radar for tomorrow if I may, the first is New Hampshire. I know New Hampshire is getting a lot of attention for swing state status in the presidential race. But you know what else is going on there tomorrow? New Hampshire appears poised tomorrow to pick an entirely female slate of top officials. Look, both New Hampshire`s U.S. senators already are women. One Republican, one Democratic, neither of them is up for re-election. That`s Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen. In the race for governor of New Hampshire, it`s the Democrat Maggie Hassan who`s leading her male Republican opponent. There are also two congressional seats, in one of them, it`s the Democrat Ann McLane Kuster who leads the Republican incumbent Charlie Bass. And in the other congressional seat in New Hampshire, it`s the former Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, Democrat, running even with the Republican incumbent she lost to last time, Congressman Frank Guinta. If the current polling for the other races hold and if Carol Shea-Porter beats Frank Guinta, not very close race, then I think we are looking at New Hampshire here, the technical political science term for that is lady time. One last thing to keep an eye on in tomorrow`s result, here`s the last CNN poll out of Ohio. This came out Friday. It`s a CNN poll. Head to head, President Obama versus Mitt Romney in Ohio. That CNN poll shows the president ahead 50-47. The president leading by three. But, look, CNN did the same poll in a slightly different way. Rather than just doing a head to head match up, they also polled on the other candidates who were going to be on the ballot. And in that one, President Obama still leads Mitt Romney by three, but it`s a way more interesting and complicated result. Obama, 47, Romney, 44, Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate at 5 percent, Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, with 1 percent, and even old Virgil Goode pulling in half a percent in Ohio. That`s not in Virginia, that is in Ohio. And maybe half a percent or even Gary Johnson`s 5 percent will mean nothing. Heck, maybe Ohio won`t even be close. When elections are not close, nobody even remembers who the third- party candidates are. But when they are close, all of a sudden, that might be the most important thing in the world. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I brought extra clothes to work with me today. See? If it becomes clear tomorrow that we have to be heading out to Colorado or Ohio or Florida for that matter, because it turns out that`s where this thing is going to be decided over a period of days and weeks and months instead of it just being called tomorrow night, I`m ready to go. You honestly never know and clean socks are a courtesy to everyone. So, that is how I am getting ready for tomorrow. I`m reading everything in sight, also laundry. How are you preparing for tomorrow? A third of the country has already early voted. If you already early voted, I`m guessing that your plans tomorrow are to bring people who have not early voted to the polls, right? Or maybe you have not early voted and tomorrow is the day you are going to vote. Either way, you should be prepared for something that may very well take a long, long time. In this election, in the places that are most important for you to vote, those places are turning out to also be the places where it is sometimes the most difficult to vote. So whether you are bringing people to the polling place tomorrow, standing with them in line or whether you yourself have to go out and vote tomorrow, or whether you are maybe baby sitting for someone so they can go out and vote, or maybe you are covering a shift for someone you know so they can go out and vote -- tomorrow, regardless, is going to be a big endurance day. And if, hallelujah, your responsibilities at the polls and for those people that you are helping to get to the polls tomorrow, if you miraculously end up having an easy time voting tomorrow and it doesn`t take all that wrong -- then, great, that`s a windfall. But that`s a windfall, don`t plan on that. Plan on a long day and be pleasantly surprised if turns out you don`t need it. Plan ahead. Really. I mean, if you normally head out for the day with a pocketbook, you need to head out tomorrow with a backpack. And in your backpack, maybe you`ll want some fruit roll-ups. They come in multipacks now. Maybe you`d want some water, certainly. Some jerky, do you eat beef jerky? There`s this goo stuff that I`m told that runners eat which scares me a little bit because it comes out of a pocket, they squeeze right into your face. But I`m told that it has lots of energy and it`s good for endurance things. If you are an older person or if you are a person who has mobility issues or if you are bringing people to the polls who are older or have mobility issues, have you planned to bring one of these? This is a chair. Are you planning on bringing a chair with you when you go to the polling place in the event that you have to be in a very long line or you need to offer somebody a chair who is in a long line? Do you have a chair? You should bring a chair in case you need it or you need to give it to somebody else to endure a very long line. That is the kind of way to think about and prepare for tomorrow. And even once all your responsibilities tomorrow are over, whether or not you are pleasantly surprised to find that there weren`t that much of a hassle at all or whether it did take you all day and you were out all day in the elements and you were very glad that you had your beef jerky and fruit roll-ups and your folding chair, and maybe your little space blanket to keep warm, even when it`s over, when it`s over, no matter how well it goes tomorrow or how long it takes, what you have to do? You have to come home and watch TV until very, very late at night. And so, carbs, carbo-loading. You need to carbo load now, tonight, in order to give yourself the energy to stay up tomorrow night into the wee hours. We`re going to be covering election night until at least 3:00 a.m. tomorrow. So one of these actually probably wouldn`t be that bad an idea, either, except you do not want to fill it with beer even though it`s a beer hat. Put some water, maybe some Red Bull, whatever you need to stay up with us at MSNBC to watch it all happen tomorrow. Tomorrow is a big day, everybody. Your country needs you. Plan ahead. Plan tonight. It`s going to take a long time. We`ll be back at 6:00 Eastern tomorrow night for election night coverage. Now it`s time "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Have a really, really, really good night. Pasta, people. Pasta. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END